- Torah – Genesis 28:10–32:3
- Haftarah – Hosea 12:12–14:10
- Apostolic – John 1:19–51
In last week’s parashah we saw how Jacob (under the direction of his mother) successfully supplanted his twin brother Esau by tricking his father Isaac into giving him the blessing that Isaac actually intended to give to Esau. Because Jacob had swindled Esau out of the blessing, Esau planned to kill Jacob as soon as his father died. Rebekah got wind of his plan and convinced Isaac to send Jacob back to her home to find a wife, hoping that Esau’s anger would be assuaged while he was gone.
It is at his departure that Isaac gives Jacob the blessing that his father Abraham had given him, thus passing the covenant to his son Jacob.
This week’s parashah begins in Genesis 28:10 with Jacob’s flight from his childhood home in Beersheva to Haran.
While Jacob was on the way to Haran, he came to a “certain place” (bamkom) and camped there for the night. Using a stone for a pillow, he had a dream and in that dream, he saw a ladder (sullam) that was set on the earth that reached to the heavens, with the angels of God (malakhei Elohim) ascending and descending upon it. Then the LORD Himself (YHVH) stood above the ladder and promised Jacob that his offspring would be like the dust of the earth, and that through Him all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
This dream parallels a statement made by Yeshua after Nathaniel exclaimed “You are the son of Elohim! You are the Sovereign of Israel!”
John 1:51 And he said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the messengers of Elohim ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
When he awoke from this dream, Jacob was amazed and called the place “the house of God” (bet Elohim) and the “Gate of Heaven” (sha’ar hashamayim). The following morning, he took the stone he used as a pillow, anointed it with oil, and consecrated the place as Bet ‘El (Bethel). Then he made a vow that if YHVH would be with him, providing for his needs until he returned home to Beersheva, he would give to God one-tenth of all of his possessions and would return to worship and pray at the altar he had just consecrated.
When he finally reached Haran, Jacob encountered some shepherds who were gathering their sheep at the local well. After enquiring about the welfare of his uncle Laban, he saw his Rachel bringing her father’s flock to the well. Jacob rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, watered her flock, and kissed her. He told her that he was her father’s sister’s son, and that he had traveled from the land of Canaan. Rachel then ran home and told her father Laban, who invited him to stay with him.
Jacob immediately falls in love with Rachel and agrees to work for Laban as a shepherd for seven years in so he can marry her. After the seven years had gone by, Laban tricked Jacob by swapping his eldest daughter Leah for Rachel on the wedding night. It’s funny how Jacob’s deception by pretending to be his brother is now playing out as Laban has Leah pretend to be Rachel. This is a perfect example of things coming full circle, and a fulfilment of a Biblical principle of sowing and reaping.
Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
After confronting Laban, Jacob was finally allowed to marry Rachel provided that he agreed to work seven more years for her. Keep in mind that Jacob is at least in his seventies if not his eighties at this point.
What happens next is what I refer to as the birthing wars from which we get the account of Jacob’s twelve sons and their births, it is from these twelve that we get the tribes of Israel.
- Rachel – “Ewe lamb”
- Leah – “Weary”
- Bilhah (Rachel’s handmaid) – “in languishing, decrepitude”
- Zilpah (Leah’s handmaid) – “Flippant mouth”
Jacob’s Twelve Sons:
- Ruben – “See, a son”
- Simeon – “hearing or heard”
- Juda – “Praised”
- Dan – “A judge”
- Naphtali – “Wrestling”
- Gad – “a troop or company”
- Asher – “Happy”
- Issachar – “there is recompense”
- Zebulon – “Exalted or honored”
- Joseph – “May he add”
- Benjamin – “Son of my right hand”
During his time serving Laban, Jacob prospered despite Laban’s repeated attempts to cheat him. After six more years of service, Jacob received a vision from the YHVH telling him it was time to return to the land promised to his descendants. Jacob decided make his exit while Laban was away shearing sheep, since by this point it was apparent that his father-in-law never would let him leave in peace.
Before they left Haran, Rachel stole her father’s idols. Three days later, Laban discovered that Jacob had fled and that the idols were missing. In a fit of rage, he gathered his men and pursued after Jacob, finally catching up to him at the mountains of Gilad. However, YHVH appeared to Laban in a dream and warned him not to try to influence Jacob to return to Haran. Laban then rebuked his son-in-law for sneaking away as he had and accused him of stealing his idols. Jacob denied the accusation and (unwittingly) proclaimed that the real thief would die not knowing that Rachel had them. Rachel hid them under her stuff, and so Laban never discovered them. It was after this even that Jacob finally lets Laban have it.
“These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”
If Jacob was seventy when he fled from Esau, then he is now at least ninety years old at this point. Not quite the young man that is often portrayed in many Sunday school classes.
Laban and Jacob parted ways after making a peace treaty attested to by a pile of stones. Laban the pile of stones Yegar-sahadutha (Aramaic) but Jacob called it Gal-Ed (Hebrew for “heap of witness”).
Jacob then continues on his way back to the land of Canaan, where he was met by angels from God (malakhei elohim). When he saw the angels, he exclaimed, “This is God’s camp!” and called the name of the place Machanayim (“two camps”). The parashah ends with Jacob sending messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Edom, explaining that he was returning to his homeland after his long sojourn in Haran
Below are the links to videos for this weeks Parashah – Enjoy!