(Genesis 32:4 (3)-36:43) Week Eight
VAYISHLACH: “And He sent”
MALAKH: Angel … means Messenger
MALAKH ADONAI: The Angel of YHVH, The Angle of the Lord!
AVEK: To Grapple or Wrestle: To make oneself dusty, having descended to the ground
ISH: Divine Fire (male)
ISHA: Divine Fire (Female)
BRIT MILAH: Covenant of Circumcision, the Covenant SIGN between Israel and YHVH
ISRA’EL: ‘Contender with God’ Consider in the context of the Nation of Isra’el, blessed by ADONAI with the Torah – The way to go!
MAH SHEMEKHA: What is your name? Names in ancient times were descriptive of the true essence of your existence (who you WERE was understood as what you DID)
PENIEL: The Face of God Panim El Panim meaning face to face describes the showbread table of voluntary sacrifice inside the Tabernacle. The 18” low table was on the right side in front of the burning bowl of incense and THE VEIL or Parochet, separating the Holy of Holies.
AMANAH: Faith Agreement or “AMEN”. When we say ‘Amen’ we are saying, WE AGREE!
HALAKAH: Walk or Journey. A Hebraic word meaning our “walk, journey with Adonai”.
TEFILAH: Prayer IS the LABOR of the Heart! This LABOR or WRESTLING in ‘SELF EXAMINATION’ takes us into a state of AWE. Tefilah is like a ladder into the supernatural, to an open portal or doorway to the Father in heaven. Think about Jacob’s wrestling, and the vision of the ladder in this context. We know Jacob’s journey, up to the point of knowing he would intersect Esau and 400 men the next day. Notice how Jacob was wrestling out his FEAR and his PAST, with Esau. He DID not want to LET GO of the ANGEL of the LORD! He was not afraid of this ANGEL. He was afraid of Esau and the 400 with him! He was afraid of the condition of his relationship with Esau and how they parted! He grappled with his past and wrestled out the TRUTH about their relationship.
“The Wrestling of Jacob”
Genesis 32:24: “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” In verse 24 we learn that Jacob was alone and then he wrestled a man. The word alone in Hebrew is ‘badad’ which means solitary, separated, or alone. Not only that, but it is an intensive form meaning he was entirely alone. The word for wrestle is ’avek’, a noun meaning dust. As a verb it means to get yourself dusty.
To wrestle out the part of us that is just dust, the OLD NATURE, which will pass away, while our NESHAMA, or SPIRIT, is eternal. What a lesson!
In the past few years there has been growing acceptance among Hebrew scholars that a word found in the Niphal makes it reflexive.
In this context, “he wrestled with himself” before a presence that was with him. The Hebrew word ISH which is often rendered as MAN, could mean spiritual man or spiritual presence.
Jacob was utterly alone, yet WITH an abiding spiritual presence. (Divine Fire…ISH!)
An interesting side-note: Wrestling as a sport did not come into being until the time of the Greeks and Romans.
Was Jacob rolling in the ground and grappling with the angel of the Lord? Jacob ‘contended’ through the night in the dust with the Angel and refused to release his hold with the Angel of the Lord until he received a blessing. To receive a blessing meant that the Blessing ‘issuer’ was OVER the one being blessed!
See the IRONY of Jacob begging for the BLESSING, in lieu of ESAU’S begging from his father Isaac, for his firstborn blessing.
Have we NOT wrestled, contended FOR, grappled WITH a life issue so important that we stayed up all night WRESTLING AND BEGGING for God’s blessing in it, refusing to let this desire to be blessed go, before we got the assurance?
WE CONTEND FOR OUR FAITH, AND FOR OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ADONAI. CONTENDING is how we wrestle away from our NEFESH and fully embrace our NESHAMA, or Spirit of God within us.
Please see Jacob about to encounter Esau. This looming encounter must have been his greatest fear. Jacob orchestrates this time to be ALONE with Adonai. It is in this time that Adonai moves to encounter Jacob, coming to Jacob in the form of a man. Is this man an Angel or the Pre-Incarnate Christ? Different scholars have different takes on the question of who the wrestling man was with Jacob. What we do know is that the man wrestles with Jacob throughout the night. At daybreak the man realizes he cannot overpower Jacob, so he touches Jacob’s hip socket, so Jacob’s hip is wrenched. Then the man says, “Let me go–it’s daybreak”. But Jacob says, “I won’t let you go unless you bless me.” Even in the pain of a dislocated hip, Jacob will not LET GO until the blessing comes! This was the moment of true CONTENDING for Jacob’s future and his promised blessing by ADONAI, to carry the promised SEED into the Covenant Land.
We are tempted to judge Jacob here, as demanding to be blessed; but we see in Hosea 12:4 that Jacob was actually weeping and begging to be blessed. In much the same way that brother Esau wept and begged Father Isaac to bless him. The ironies of our broken lives are lived out in the ancient Patriarchal stories of God’s chosen people.
Jacob’s Name Change: The contending Angel asked Jacob his name, and declared “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, heel holder of Esau, but ISRA’EL, contender with God,” for as a prince you have contended with God and with men and have prevailed! When God changes a name, and replaces it with one of His choosing, there will be an ANOINTING by ADONAI! In this blessing and name change, Jacob’s successful striving for the firstborn blessing all those years before is confirmed here, as honorable.
The Hip Socket: The injury to Jacob’s hip socket had intentional implications. We do not know how long this injury lasted, or even if it was permanent. However, we must see that Jacob “LIMPED” his way to Esau between the 7 prostrations as they approached one another. What a vision! Seven times Esau saw his brother, the one who won the birthright, prostrate himself to Esau.
I believe with the 7 bows of humility, and the limping in between, Jacob FINISHED the restitution to Esau!
Consider Jacobs “alignment” of his family and possessions, as he approached brother Esau. Where was the favored wife and son in the lineup approaching Esau?
Were we surprised by Esau’s KISS or by his HUMBLE response to the procession of gifts from Jacob, led by his servants who processioned as ordered by their master?
We see the ‘spirit of deception’ in Jacob’s sons who lead the Edomite men into a slaughter over Dinah’s abduction and rape, by the Prince. By their plans to manipulate the men of the nation to be circumcised all together, deceiving the leader that this would enable the two nations to UNITE as ONE, Canaanites and Israelites (remember Isra’el comes from Jacob’s name!) the sons of Jacob plot to kill and plunder the entire region in retribution for the maltreatment of Dinah, their sister! Remember, Dinah was the daughter of Leah, Jacob’s least loved wife. Can we see how the retaliation of her brothers was exaggerated out of their hurt and pain, that their mother was not loved by their father? This was “over kill” in a literal and figurative sense. The sons of Leah were set free to avenge Dinah’s abuse, but they were uncontrolled in their emotions by their past hurt and disappointment from their mother’s less-loved status in the family.
Jacob is commanded by Adonai to return to Beit El, where he builds another altar to the Lord. God again renames Jacob, Isra’el meaning Contender with God. It seems that Adonai deliberately REMINDED Jacob that his name was now one given to Him by Adonai, and a CHANGE had taken place!
Rachel died in childbirth with the 12th son, Benjamin (Son of my right hand) and Jacob buries her NEXT TO THE ROAD which will be traveled on by their descendants for generations to come. This was to honor Rachel as the Matriarch of Israel. (After Joseph’s disappearance, Benjamin became the favored and most-loved son of Jacob)
It is very interesting that Rachel died before Jacob’s life truly begins in the Covenant Land! Consider how thought provoking it is that Leah was the wife of the Covenant Land as ordained by the Lord!
Jacob makes it back to Hebron to see father Isaac for the last time. Esau resettles in Mt. Seir or the land of Edom, which Esau populated and made prosper during his life. It was out of Esau’s lineage that the first Kings were established. Before this, there was never a King of Israel! Consider: Even though Jacob was the intended firstborn of Isaac, Esau’s line brought forth the order of the Kings of Isra’el!
HAFTARAH (Old Covenant) READING: Obadiah 1:1-21
Obadiah (Servant of YHVH) prophesizes about the enmity between the twin brothers and the Nations that came from them, all the way to the “END OF TIME” or OLAM HABA, when finally the Kingdom shall be THE LORD’S!
“For the Day of Adonai is near for all nations; as you did, it will be done to you; your dealings will come back on your own head. For just as you have drunk on my holy mountain, so will all the nations drink in turn; yes, they will drink and gulp it down, and be as if they had never existed.
But on Mount Tziyon (Zion) there will be a holy remnant who will escape, and the house of Ya’akov (Jacob) will repossess their rightful inheritance. The house of Ya’akov will be a fire and the house of Yosef (Joseph) a flame. Setting aflame and consuming the stubble which is the house of Esau. None of the house of Esau will remain.
Read the entire selection of Obadiah for this Parashah!
BRIT CHADASHAH (New Covenant) READING: Heb. 11:11-20; Matt. 26:36-45
The verses in Hebrews lift up the faith of Abraham…faith in what is hoped for but NOT seen; faith that our Father, God Himself, will provide the sacrificial lamb! And, so He did! (Se Ha Elohym, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!)
Baruch Haba B’Shem ADONAI! “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
The Akedah or Binding of Isaac is the foreshadow of the sacrifice by the heavenly Father of His only son, for the redemption of mankind.
By trusting, Avraham, when he was put to the test, offered up Yitzchak as a sacrifice. Yes, he offered up his only son, he who had received the promises to whom it had been said, “What is called your ‘seed’ will be in Yitzchak.”
The verses in Matthew recount ‘The Passion of Yeshua’ in the Garden of Gethsemane, with His talmidim, those who could not remain awake with their suffering Savior, to pray.
“Then Yeshua went with his talmidim to a place called Gat-Sh’manim and said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray”. He took with him Kefa and Zavdai’s two sons. Grief and anguish came over him, and he said to them, “My heart is so filled with sadness that I could die! Remain here and stay awake with me.” Going on a little further, he fell on his face, praying. “My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me? Yet—not what I want; but what you want!”
Dear seekers, in these beautiful Parallel Verses to our Torah Portion, we see that Divine Wrestling is part of our journey to faith. This is how our faith is built, and how our faith shines out for others who need to see the evidence of VICTORY as we SEEK GOD with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind; CONTENDING for our FAITH…against all odds…is a beautiful dusty, desert journey!