Toldot (תולדות | Family history) Philistine Apologies

The godly person accepts the half-hearted apology without demanding more than a person’s dignity will allow.

Regular Shabbat Readings


  • Toldot (תולדות | Family history)
  • Torah: Genesis 25:19-28:9
  • Haftarah: Malachi 1:1-2:7
  • Gospel: Matthew 10:21-38

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

    • Genesis 25:19 | The Birth and Youth of Esau and Jacob
    • Genesis 25:29 | Esau Sells His Birthright
    • Genesis 26:1 | Isaac and Abimelech
    • Genesis 26:34 | Esau’s Hittite Wives
    • Genesis 27:1 | Isaac Blesses Jacob
    • Genesis 27:30 | Esau’s Lost Blessing
    • Genesis 27:41 | Jacob Escapes Esau’s Fury
    • Genesis 28:6 | Esau Marries Ishmael’s Daughter
    • Mal 1:1 | Introduction
    • Mal 1:2 | Israel Preferred to Edom
    • Mal 1:6 | Corruption of the Priesthood

Portion Summary

The sixth reading from the book of Genesis is named Toldot (תולדות), which means “generations.” It is so named because the Torah portion begins with the words “Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac” (Genesis 25:19). Toldot tells us the story of the birth of Jacob and Esau and their struggle for the birthright and blessing of their father, Isaac. We also learn about Isaac’s trials and difficulties in the land of Canaan. The portion concludes with Jacob’s deception of Isaac in order to procure the family blessing.

The LORD prospered Isaac while he dwelt in the Philistine territory, but that prosperity incited the jealousy of the Philistines who drove him out. Isaac returned to the arid soil of the Negev, where his father, Abraham, had dwelt. There he found that his father’s wells had been filled in by the Philistines. Isaac reopened the wells, but each time he did, the Philistines came, claiming the well as their own. Rather than fight with the Philistines, each time it happened, Isaac moved on and attempted to open a new well.

Who then among you is noble-minded? Who is compassionate? Who is full of love? Let him declare, “If sedition and disagreement and schisms have arisen because of me, I will depart, I will go wherever you want, and I will do whatever the majority commands; only let the flock of Messiah live peacefully with the elders set over it.” He that acts in this way will acquire for himself great glory in the Lord; and every place will welcome him. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” This is the way that those who live a godly life … have done and always will do things. (1 Clement 54)

When we are pushed by others, our tendency is to push back and demand our rights. Rarely do we see someone turn the other cheek. Even among disciples of Yeshua, it is rare to see someone back down from a slight or injury.

Isaac and his servants were busy opening another well when Abimelech and his men showed up. Here we go again, Isaac must have thought. To his astonishment, though, the Philistines did not claim his well this time. Instead they announced a reversal of policy and asked for a covenant-truce with Isaac.

Why the sudden change in attitude? The Philistines explained, “We see plainly that the LORD has been with you” (Genesis 26:28). The testimony of Isaac’s life had an impact on them. They saw that God was with him. Perhaps they noticed that he conducted himself in a godly manner, and they felt ashamed.

Things would probably have been different if Isaac had quarreled and fought for his wells. His testimony of peace would have been compromised. He might have been able to keep his wells, but he would have earned lifelong enemies.

The Philistines claimed, “We have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace” (Genesis 26:29). They asked Isaac for a covenant of peace on that basis. Isaac must have had to bite his tongue. Nothing but good? Sent me away in peace? Weren’t these the same Philistines who had driven him out their territory? Weren’t they the same Philistines who had pursued him into the Negev and took away his wells? How could they say they had done nothing but good?

Actually, this was how the Philistines apologized for the evil they had done to him and for sending him away in strife. Some people cannot apologize properly. Their ego prevents them from ever admitting any wrong on their own part. Deep inside, such a person knows that he is at fault and that he needs to make some sort of conciliatory effort, but an apology is not even a remote possibility. His pride forbids him.

Isaac was willing to overlook the foolish pride of the Philistines in order to make peace with them. So too we should accept even half-hearted attempts at reconciliation. We should not demand a formal apology. Instead we should be willing to take whatever modicum of peace our adversary offers. (Click to Source)

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