(1) ואלה תולדות יצחק AND THESE ARE THE PROGENY OF ISAAC — viz, Jacob and Esau who are spoken of in this section. (2) אברהם הוליד את יצחק ABRAHAM BEGAT ISAAC — Just because Scripture wrote, “Isaac, son of Abraham” it felt compelled to say “Abraham begat Isaac”, because the cynics of that time said, “Sarah became with child of Abimelech. See how many years she lived with Abraham without becoming with child”. What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He shaped Isaac’s facial features exactly similar to those of Abraham’s, so that everyone had to admit that Abraham begat Isaac. This is what is stated here: that Isaac was the son of Abraham, for there is evidence that Abraham begat Isaac (Midrash Tanchuma, Toldot 1). (1) בן ארבעים שנה FORTY YEARS OLD — For when Abraham came from Mount Moriah he received the news that Rebecca was born (22:20). Isaac was then thirty-seven years old, because at that time Sarah died and from the birth of Isaac until the Binding — when Sarah died — there were 37 years since she was 90 years old when Isaac was born and 127 when she died, as it is said, (23:1) “And the life of Sarah was [one hundred and twenty seven years]” — thus Isaac was then 37 years old. At that period Rebecca was born and he waited until she was fit for marriage — 3 years — and then married her (Seder Olam). (2) בת בתואל מפדן ארם אחות לבן THE DAUGHTER OF BETHUEL THE SYRIAN OF PADAN-ARAM, THE SISTER TO LABAN —Has it not already been written that she was the daughter of Bethuel and sister of Laban of Padanaram? But we are told these facts once more to proclaim her praise — she was the daughter of a wicked man, sister of a wicked man, and her native place was one of wicked people, and yet she did not learn from their doings (Genesis Rabbah 63:4). (3) מפדן ארם FROM PADAN-ARAM — Because there were two Arams — Aram-Naharaim (Mesopotamia) and Aram-Zoba — it is called Padan-aram, (Padan meaning pair). It has the same meaning as צמד in the phrase צמד בקר (Samuel 11:7) which we know signifies a pair of oxen and which is translated in the Targum by פדן תורין a Padan of oxen, so that we see that Padan means a pair. Some, however, explain Padan-aram to be the same as (Hosea 12:13) “the field (country) of Aram”, because in the Arabic language a field is called Padan. (1) וַיֶּעְתַּר AND ISAAC ENTREATED —He prayed much and urgently. (2) וַיֵּעָתֶר לו WAS ENTREATED OF HIM — He let himself be urged, conciliated and influenced by him. I say that wherever this root עתר occurs it has the meaning of heaping up and increasing. E. g., (Ezekiel 8:11) “And a thick (עתר) cloud of incense” which means an abundance of ascending smoke; (Ezekiel 35:13) “You have multiplied (העתרתם) your words against me”; (Proverbs 27:6) “The kisses of an enemy are importunate (נעתרות)”—they appear to be too many and therefore they are burdensome. old French encresser; English to increase. (3) לנכח אשתו FACING HIS WIFE — He stood in one corner and prayed whilst she stood in the other corner and prayed (Genesis Rabbah 63:5). (4) ויעתר לו [AND THE LORD] WAS ENTREATED OF HIM — of him and not of her, because there is no comparison between the prayer of a righteous person who is the son of a righteous person and the prayer of a righteous person the child of a wicked-person — therefore God allowed himself to be entreated of him and not of her (Yevamot 64a). (1) ויתרצצו AND [THE CHILDREN] STRUGGLED — You must admit that this verse calls for a Midrashic interpretation since it leaves unexplained what this struggling was about and it states that she exclaimed “If it be so, wherefore did I desire this” (i.e. she asked whether this was the normal course of child-bearing, feeling that something extraordinary was happening). Our Rabbis explain that the word ויתרוצצו has the meaning of running, moving quickly: whenever she passed by the doors of the Torah (i. e. the Schools of Shem and Eber) Jacob moved convulsively in his efforts to come to birth, but whenever she passed by the gate of a pagan temple Esau moved convulsively in his efforts to come to birth (Genesis Rabbah 63:6). Another explanation is: they struggled with one another and quarrelled as to how they should divide the two worlds as their inheritance (Yalkut Shimoni on Torah 111:2). (2) ותאמר אם כן means AND SHE SAID, “IF the pain of pregnancy be so great, (3) למה זה אנכי WHY IS IT that I longed and prayed to become pregnant?” (Genesis Rabbah 63:6). (4) ותלך לדרש AND SHE WENT TO ENQUIRE at the school of Shem (Genesis Rabbah 63:6). (5) 'לדרש את ה, TO ENQUIRE OF THE LORD, that He might tell her what would happen to her at the end. (1) ויאמר ה' לה AND THE ETERNAL SAID UNTO HER through a messenger: it was told to Shem by holy inspiration and he told it to her (Genesis Rabbah 63:7). (2) שני גויים בבטנך TWO NATIONS ARE IN THY WOMB —The word is written גיים (exalted, noble persons), an allusion to Antoninus and Rabbi (Rabbi Judah the Prince) from whose table neither radish nor lettuce was absent neither in summer nor in winter (Avodah Zarah 11a) (3) ושני לאמים AND TWO RACES — The word לאם always denotes a people that has all the characteristics of a kingdom (Avodah Zarah 2b) (4) ממעיך יפרדו SHALL BE PARTED FROM THY BOWELS —as soon as they leave thy body they will take each a different course — one to his wicked ways, the other to his plain life (Genesis 5:27) (5) מלאם יאמץ SHALL BE STRONGER THAN THE OTHER RACE —They will never be equally great at the same time: when one rises the other will fall. Thus it says, (Ezekiel 26:2) “[Because Tyre (colonised by Esau) says about Jerusalem] I shall be filled with her that is laid waste” — Tyre became full (powerful) only through the ruin of Jerusalem (Megillah 6a). (1) וימלאו ימיה AND WHEN HER DAYS TO BEAR WERE FULL — But in the case of Tamar it is written, (37:27) “And it came to pass at the time of her travail”, for her days were not fulfilled as she gave birth to them (her children) at the end of seven months. (2) והנה תומם BEHOLD, THERE WERE TWINS — The word for twins is written defective (without א and י) whilst in the case of Tamar it is written תאומים (with א and י); because in the latter case both children proved righteous whilst here one was righteous and the other wicked (Genesis Rabbah 63:8). (1) אדמוני RED — a sign that he would always be shedding blood (Genesis Rabbah 63:8). (2) כלו כאדרת שער means full of hair like a woolen garment that is full of hair old French floche; English flock). (3) ויקרא שמו עשו AND THEY CALLED HIS NAME ESAU — every one called him thus because he was made (עשה means to make) and fully developed with hair as a lad several years old. (1) ואחרי כן יצא אחיו וגו AND AFTERWARDS HIS BROTHER CAME OUT, ETC. — I have heard a homoletical midrash that expounds it according to its simple meaning: It was with justice that he was grabbing him to hold him back. Jacob was conceived from the first drop and Esau from the second. Go and learn from a tube with a narrow opening - put in it two stones, one after the other. The one that goes in first will come out last, and the one that goes in last will come out first. It comes out that Esau, who was conceived last, came out first, and Jacob, who was conceived first, came out last. And [so] Jacob came to hold him back, so that the first for birth would be the same as the first for conception; and he would open [his mother's] womb and take the first-born status with justice (see Genesis Rabbah 63:8). (2) בעקב עשו ESAU’S HEEL — a sign that this one (Esau) will hardly have time to complete his period of domination before the other would rise and take it (his power) from him (3) ויקרא שמו יעקב AND HE CALLED HIS NAME JACOB — The Holy One, blessed be He, thus named him (Midrash Tanchuma, Shemot 4). [Some versions add: He said to them (to those who gave Esau that name cf. Genesis 5:25): You have given your first-born a name, I, too, will give my son, my firstborn, (cf. Exodus 4:23) a name. That is what is written, “And He called his name, Jacob” (Genesis 26:26). Another explanation is: his father called him Jacob because he was grasping Esau’s heel (4) בן ששים שנה THREESCORE YEARS OLD — Ten years passed from the time when he married her until she became thirteen years old and capable of child-bearing, and a further ten years he hopefully waited as his father did in regard to Sarah. When even then she did not become with child he realised that she was barren and he prayed for her. But He did not wish to take a maidservant as a second wife because he had been sanctified on Mount Moriah to be a burnt-offering without blemish. (1) ויגדלו… ויהי עשו AND THEY GREW … AND ESAU WAS — So long as they were young they could not be distinguished by what they did and no one paid much attention to their characters, but when they reached the age of thirteen, one went his way to the houses of learning and the other went his way to the idolatrous temples (Genesis Rabbah 63:10). (2) יודע ציד A CUNNING HUNTER literally, understanding hunting — understanding how to entrap and deceive his father with his mouth. He would ask him, “Father how should salt and straw be tithed”? (Genesis Rabbah 63:10) (although he knew full well that these are not subject to the law of tithe). Consequently his father believed him to be very punctilious in observing the divine ordinances. (3) איש שדה A MAN OF THE FIELD — Explain it literally (i.e., not in a Midrashic manner): a man without regular occupation, hunting beasts and birds with his bow. (4) תם A PLAIN MAN — not expert in all these things: as his heart was his mouth (his thoughts and his words tallied). One who is not ingenious in deceiving people is called תם plain, simple. (5) יושב אהלים DWELLING IN TENTS — the tent of Shem and the tent of Eber (Genesis Rabbah 63:10). (1) בפיו [THERE WAS HUNTING] IN HIS MOUTH — Understand this as the Targum renders it: in Isaac’s mouth (i. e. Isaac ate the venison he brought home). But its Midrashic explanation is: there was hunting in Esau’s mouth, meaning that he used to entrap and deceive him by his words (Genesis Rabbah 63:10). (1) ויזד means boiling, as the Targum renders it. (2) והוא עיף AND HE WAS FAINT through murdering people, just as you mention faintness in connection with murder, (Jeremiah 4:31) ‘‘For my soul fainteth before the murderers” (Genesis Rabbah 63:12). (1) הלעיטני LET ME SWALLOW — I will open my mouth and you pour a lot in. The word is really used of feeding animals as we find the word in the Mishna, (Shabbat 155b) “One may not fatten up a camel on the Sabbath but one may put food (מלעיטין) into its mouth. ” (2) מן האדם האדם הזה FROM THIS RED, EVEN THIS RED THING —red lentils. On that day Abraham had died in order that he might not see his grandson Esau falling into degenerate ways. This would not have been the “good old age” (cf. 25:8) which God had promised him; therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, cut his life short by five years — for Isaac lived 180 years and he only one hundred and seventy five. Jacob was boiling lentils to provide the customary first meal for the immediate mourners. Why should lentils be the mourner’s food? Because they are round like a wheel and mourning (sorrow) is a wheel that revolves in the world (it touches everyone sooner or later as a revolving wheel touches every spot in turn) (Bava Batra 16b). And a further reason is: just as lentils have no mouth — (the word mouth פה is used in Hebrew of a serrated edge) — so, too, mourners have no mouth (appear dumb), for speech (greeting others) is forbidden to them. For this reason, also, it is customary to give eggs to a mourner as his first meal, because they are round and have no mouth (serrated edge) and similarly a mourner has no mouth (may not greet others), just as we say in Moed Katan 21b. “A mourner during the first three days (of the week of mourning) may not respond to the greeting of any person — it follows, of course, that he may not be the first to greet anyone — and from the third to the seventh day he may respond to a greeting but may not be the first to offer a greeting etc.” From “And a further reason” is to be found in an old Rashi text. (1) מכרה כיום SELL ME THIS DAY (literally, like the day) — Explain it as the Targum renders it “as this day”: just as this day is certain, so make me a sure sale. (2) בכרתך THY BIRTHRIGHT — Because the sacrificial service was then carried out by the first-born sons, Jacob said, “This wicked man is unworthy to sacrifice to the Holy One, blessed be He” (Genesis Rabbah 63:13). (1) הנה אנכי הולך למות BEHOLD I AM IN PERIL TO DIE — The birthright is something unstable, for not always will the sacrificial duties be performed by the first-born, for the tribe of Levi will assume this. Further Esau said: What is the nature of this Service? Jacob replied, “Many prohibitions and punishments and many acts involving even the punishment of death are associated with it — just as we read in the Mishna, (Sanhedrin 22b): The following priests are liable to death: those who carry out their duties after having drunk too much wine and those who officiate long-haired. He said: If I am going to die through it, why should I desire it. (1) ויבז עשו THUS ESAU DESPISED—Scripture testifies to his wickedness: that he despised the Service of the Omnipresent!