Parshat Toldot Summary

Parshat Toldot is the 6th parsha in Sefer Bereshit (also known as Genesis).

This parsha is verses Genesis 25:19 – 28:9, or a total of 106 verses.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

Aliyah 1: Genesis 25:19 – 26:5, 21 verses

Isaac married Rebecca when he was 40 years old. At first, she was not able to conceive. They prayed to God and she became pregnant.

Rebecca felt as if a battle was going on inside of her. She was told that she would give birth to twins who would be the founders of two nations.

The battle she was feeling inside of her was because these 2 nations will often be in conflict. Due to the nature of their conflict, only one of them can prevail at any time.

She gave birth to twin boys. The elder was named Esau because of his reddish color. The younger was named Jacob. Isaac was 60 years old when his twin sons were born.

Isaac favored Esau and Rebecca favored Jacob.

One day Esau was extremely hungry and asked Jacob to give him some of the lentil stew he was cooking. Jacob gave him bread and stew. He also convinced Esau to sell him the birthright of the firstborn.

There was a famine and Isaac went to Gerar. God told him not to leave the land of Canaan, not to go to Egypt.

God promised Isaac that He would give the land to his offspring.

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Aliyah 2: Genesis 26:6 – 26:12, 7 verses

Isaac and Rebecca lived in Gerar. He became afraid that the people might kill him so that one of them could take Rebecca as a wife.

He used the same ploy as his father, Abraham, and told them that Rebecca was his sister.

However, as time went by, Isaac and Rebecca became a bit lax in their behavior. The king of Gerar, Abimelech spotted them behaving as husband and wife.

Abimelech rebuked Isaac for hiding the fact that Rebecca was his wife. The king warned his subjects to be careful and to not touch Isaac or Rebecca.

God blessed Isaac in Gerar. He planted crops which yielded 100 times the expected yield.

Aliyah 3: Genesis 26:13 – 26:22, 10 verses

God caused Isaac to grow rich with flocks, herds, and other projects. The people envied him and Abimelech asked him to leave.

The Philistines had plugged the wells that Abraham had dug. Isaac reopened those wells and again called them by the names his father had given them.

Isaac dug new wells, but the Philistines claimed that the water belonged to them. Isaac moved further away and his servants dug a new well. This one the Philistines did not claim.

water well

Aliyah 4: Genesis 26:23 – 26:29, 7 verses

Isaac moved to Beer Sheva. God appeared to him and blessed him.

In that place Isaac built an altar, he called on the name of God, pitched his tent, and his servants dug a new well.

Abimelech (with some of his friends) came from Gerar to meet with Isaac in Beer Sheva. Isaac rebuked them.

They claimed they now saw that God was with Isaac. They asked him to make a treaty with them since they had treated him so well.

Aliyah 5: Genesis 26:30 – 27:27, 33 verses

Isaac made a feast for Abimelech and his other guests. The next day they left and Isaac’s servants found water.

Esau married two local women (Judith and Basemath) when he was 40 years old. Isaac and Rebecca were not pleased with Esau’s new wives.

A number of years have passed. The text does not make it clear how many years.

Isaac fears that he is about to die. He wants to bless Esau. He asks him to hunt game and prepare a meal for him. Isaac tells him that he will eat the food Esau prepares and then he will bless him.

Rebecca overhears Isaac speaking to Esau. She disagrees with Isaac’s plan.

She tells Jacob to bring her two goats. She will prepare a meal for Isaac which Jacob will deliver to his father. In this way Isaac will bless Jacob and not Esau.

Jacob immediately sees a flaw in this plan. Esau is a hairy man, but Jacob is not. Jacob fears that Isaac may touch him and realize that he is not Esau and then his father will curse him.

Rebecca convinces Jacob to go along with her plan. She prepares the food her husband enjoys eating. She then dresses Jacob with some of Esau’s garments. She also covers his arms and neck with some of the hairy goat skins.

Jacob carries the food his mother prepared to his father. Isaac is suspicious about what is happening. He asks Jacob several questions. Jacob gives some misleading answers.

Isaac touches Jacob’s hands and smells his garments. After all of this, he is convinced that he is speaking to Esau.

Aliyah 6: Genesis 27:28 – 28:4, 23 verses

Isaac blesses Jacob with material and spiritual blessings. He also gives him dominion over other nations who will serve him.

Jacob leaves. A short time later Esau enters, carrying the food he prepared for his father.

Isaac is confused and wonders who has entered his tent. Esau identifies himself.

Isaac realizes that he has just finished blessing Jacob. Then he confirms and says, “He (Jacob) will be blessed.”

Esau is upset and asks his father to him. He also complains that Jacob has “stolen” from him two times: the birthright and now the blessing.

NOTE: It appears to me that Isaac is hearing for the first time about Esau selling his birthright to Jacob. I have often wondered what if Isaac had known this before? Would he have changed his mind about the blessing he planned to give to Esau?

I haven’t heard an answer to these two questions.

Because of Esau’s weeping and pleading, Isaac does give him a blessing. (This summary is not the place to discuss the differences in the blessings given to Jacob and Esau.)

Esau decides he wants to kill Jacob.

Rebecca hears about Esau’s plan. She tells Jacob to flee from home and travel to her brother Laban’s home in Charan / Paddan-aram.

Rebecca then convinces Isaac that she is concerned that Jacob will also marry a woman from Canaan just like Esau did.

Isaac commands Jacob not to marry a Canaanite woman. He tells him to go to Laban and marry one of his daughters. Isaac blesses Jacob and asks God to make him fruitful and to grant him the blessing of Abraham.

Aliyah 7: Genesis 28:5 – 28:9, 5 verses

Isaac leaves to journey to Paddan-aram with his father’s blessing.

Esau sees that his father has knowingly and willingly blessed Jacob. He also realizes that his Canaanite wives were upsetting to his parents.

Esau then married Mahalath the daughter of Ismael. However, he kept his Canaanite wives.

Haftarah Summary

Malachi 1:1 – 2:7

In the parsha, Isaac wanted to bless Esau. Rebecca saw that Jacob was more fit to receive that blessing. The prophet tells us God that loved Jacob and chose him over Esau. God will eventually bring down Esau and the nations descended from him.

Further Reading

Here’s an article about Esau selling his birthright.

A Note on the Translations
The translation of Bible verses is based on the Judaica Press Tanach.
The translation of Gemara is based on the Soncino Talmud.
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