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Genesis 25:26: “It’s Gonna Be Biblical”

Screenshot from clip of “Law Abiding Citizen” via YouTube.

The 2009 movie “Law Abiding Citizen” centered on a man who not only loses his wife and tiny daughter to a rapist-murderer, but also will never see justice within the system due to corruption. In one well-known he says:

“I’m going to pull the whole thing down. I’m going to bring the whole diseased corrupt temple down on your head. It’s going to be Biblical.”

This week in synagogue we read the Biblical source of that quote.

Verse Genesis 25:26 tells us that Jacob emerged from Rebecca’s womb holding on to Esau’s heel, signifying his attempt to be born first.

“יָצָ֣א אָחִ֗יו וְיָד֤וֹ אֹחֶ֙זֶת֙ בַּעֲקֵ֣ב עֵשָׂ֔ו וַיִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ יַעֲקֹ֑ב”

“His brother emerged, holding on to the heel of Esau; so they named him Jacob.”

Photo credit: Juan Luis Torres/Pixabay (free for commercial use; no attribution required)

The verse brings a couple of questions to mind:

The commentator Rashi tells us that the language imparts additional meaning to the text.

  • Citing Genesis Rabbah 63:8: Jacob was seeking justice. He was the rightful firstborn — was conceived first and thus went into the womb first. But naturally this meant that he would physically be born last (what goes in first, comes out last). He therefore sought for his physical birth to reflect his actual birth order.
  • The action portended the future, in which Esau (Edom/Rome) would dominate the world before Jacob did. (Good and evil cannot have power simultaneously). It was “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.” In grabbing Esau’s heel, Jacob was indicating that although Esau would rule for a long time, when his time was up, Jacob would be right there to take the reins for God.

The commentator Sforno explains that nothing will be left of Esau once his reign of terror ends:

“He [Yaacov/Jacob] will remain at the heel, and the tail-end. This is based on the future mode of the word Yaakov.

“Our sages (quoted by Rashi) say that the subject in our verse is G’d Who named Esau’s brother Yaakov, the reason for the unusual formulation being that after the destruction of the Kingdom of Edom and other nations, successor of Esau, only Yaakov and his descendants will remain. Our sages base all this on Jeremiah 46:28: ‘I will make an end of all nations…but I will not make an end of you.’”

I like the translation at Bible Gateway:“‘Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant,
    for I am with you,’ declares the Lord.
“’Though I completely destroy all the nations
    among which I scatter you,
    I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you but only in due measure;
    I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’”

Obviously God is not saying that only an infinitesimal percentage of the world (the Jewish people) will remain in the future. What He is saying is that the “nations,” meaning those who reject God, the ones who have accepted evil as a way of life and repudiate God, will have no basis for existence when there is a universal consciousness of Him.

We see this in the Scripture repeatedly, for example:

  • “Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3)
  • “And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory.” (Isaiah 66:18)
  • “All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.” (Psalms 86:9)

Sometimes it might seem like Esau/Edom/Rome will rule forever. This week the Scripture teaches us that nothing could be further from the truth.


By Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.


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