- Torah – Genesis 32:4-36:43
- Haftarah – Hosea 11:7-12:12, Obadiah 1:1-21
- Brit Hadashah– 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Revelation 7:1-12
In last week’s parashah (Vayetzei) we are told how Jacob fled from his brother Esau and went to Haran to find Rebekah’s family and to hopefully find a wife. On his way there, God appeared to him in a dream. In this dream Jacob saw a ladder reaching from the ground to the sky, with the angels of God ascending and descending, and then at the top of the ladder he saw YHVH. Yah spoke to him and renewed the covenant of Abraham with him. We also saw how Laban deceived Jacob when he switches Rachel for Leah, and how he changed Jacob’s wages. Jacob’s actions literally came back to haunt him making the word’s of Paul ring true when he says:
Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
This week’s parashah begins with Jacob preparing to encounter his brother Esau by sending messengers in hopes of reconciliation:
When the messengers returned they told Jacob that Esau was on his way to meet him with 400 armed men. Jacob was afraid that Esau would try to kill him, so he separated his family and possessions into two groups so that one could escape if the other was attacked. He then humbly prayed to the YHVH for deliverance. Apparently twenty years of living under Laban taught him what it was like to be on the receiving end, and how it felt to be deceived.
That night, Jacob took his family across the Jabbok River, but he remained behind. While he was alone “a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.” During this wrestling match, the Angel injured Jacob’s thigh, but Jacob refused to release his hold until he received the blessing. YHVH then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob”. The Angel then declared, “Your name shall no longer be Ya’akov but Yisrael (“contender with God”), for as a prince you have contended with God and with men and have prevailed.
This is a good picture of how we should wrestle with God in prayer. Not letting go or ceasing until we break through. All too often we give up, and all that time spent is then spent in vain never really seeing it through to the end. We simply accept defeat, or that whatever we are asking for just isn’t in God’s will for us. Yet He says that if we ask it shall be given, and if we knock it shall be opened unto us. However, we must make sure that our motives are correct, and I believe that is what the wrestling process helps flush out.
Later that morning, when Jacob saw Esau and his gang approaching, he placed each of his children in front of the child’s respective mother: First the handmaidens and their four children; then Leah and her seven children; and finally, Rachel with her only son Joseph (in the safest position). Jacob then went ahead of the entire family and bowed down seven times as he approached his brother. Miraculously, Esau ran to Jacob, embraced him, and they wept together.
Esau invited Jacob to live with him in Seir, but he decided to move south to Sukkot just outside the city of Shechem. There he purchased some land from the sons of Shechem and built an altar to “God, the God of Israel” (El Elohei Yisrael). After settling into the land, Jacob’s only daughter Dinah decided to visit some of the local women and gets herself in a bit of trouble with Shekem (the king’s son). The usual story is that Dinah is raped, but carefully reading the following account doesn’t seem to fit that narrative. Shekem is willing to do whatever he can to have her as his wife, and that just doesn’t fit if he had taken her by force. Messianic Family Fellowship did an amazing teaching on the threshold covenant that covers this topic. The link is posted below for your reference.
Whatever the motives, Jacob’s sons Simion and Levi are outraged by what happened and devised a plan of revenge. They offer an agreement but it stipulated that all the males of the city must be circumcised for intermarriages to be acceptable. Hamor and his son agreed to the terms and convinced the men of the city to undergo the circumcision. On the third day, when the men were sore, Simon and Levi, entered the town and executed all the men there, and the other brothers came and spoiled the city, taking all the livestock and wealth, and making slaves of the women and children.
After the destruction of Shechem, God commanded Jacob to return to Bethel (the place of his earlier vision and the place of his vow), where he built another altar to YHVH. God then again renewed His promise to give Canaan to Jacob’s descendants. If Jacob had been faithful to his vow and returned to Bethel to begin with, the whole episode at Shechem could have been avoided.
Jacob later leaves Bethel to return to his hometown of Hebron. On the way Rachel dies while giving birth to Benjamin, and was buried beside the road to Bethlehem. After her death, Jacob then moved on and set up camp beyond the tower of Eder. It was here that Reuben, his firstborn son, slept with Rachel’s handmaiden (the mother of Dan and Naphtali). This would cost him status of the first-born of Israel.
Jacob finally made it back home to Hebron, where he was reunited with his Isaac who is now 180 years old. Isaac dies sometime later and was buried by both Jacob and Esau. Since there wasn’t enough room for the twins to live together in the land, Esau decided to permanently settle in Mount Seir which is in the land of Edom.
Messianic Family teaching on Shekem and the threshold covenant
This is the series that relates to the incident with Dinah. But he covers so much more. It is definitely worth the time to listen to it. I am sure it will bless you as it did me.