Parashat Toldot – Take Two
Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. (Bereshit/Genesis 26:3)
Two weeks ago, we looked at how Isaac may have been traumatized by his father Abraham's divinely inspired attempt on his life. While Abraham was commended for his great faith, Isaac had to live out his days with the memory of the knife over his heart. The aftermath of "the knife" was not Isaac's only challenge.
While he is remembered as one of Israel's forefathers, his name forever associated with the God of the Bible, who referred to himself as "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob", his life functions more as a link between two more significant characters. Abraham started it all, leaving family and the familiar to go into the great unknown. It is his faith, trusting against all odds that God would make him a great nation that would bless the whole world, that is the foundation of the faithful ever since.
His son Jacob's life was filled with drama, much of which was his own making, misguidedly striving after the promised blessing until God worked great change in his heart. He was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel and was part of the major transition to Egypt where the small clan would become a full-fledged nation.
Isaac's life was much more passive. He is best known for lying on the wood while his father prepared to sacrifice him. As far as we know he never received accolades for his submission. Later, in his old age, he was deceived by his own son Jacob who stole his older twin brother Esau's blessing.
Isaac's drama was more in what happened to him rather than what he actually did. Yet God did give him some specific directions, as quoted at the beginning. Here it is again with a bit more context:
And the LORD appeared to him and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father" (Bereshit/Genesis 26:2-3).
These words were given at a time when Isaac was likely considering leaving the Promised Land for Egypt due to famine. We cannot overemphasize how difficult it would