Vayeitzei / And He Went Out
Deception and Vows…
In this Torah portion, the deception continues. This time it continues with Rebecca’s brother Laban. Rebecca deceived, Jacob deceived and now Laban continues the deception.
We first encounter Laban welcoming Abraham's servant Eliezer when he comes to Charan to find a bride for Isaac. A generation later, Isaac and Rebecca send Jacob to Charan to "take a wife from the daughters of Laban, your mother's brother."
In Genesis 29 Jacob sees Rachel: ‘Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s relative and that he was Rebekah’s son. So she ran and told her father.’ Genesis 29:11-12.
Jacob works for seven years to complete the agreement to marry Rachel. But Laban replaces Rachel with her older sister Leah on the wedding night and Jacob discovers the deception the next morning. This mimics the switching that happened to Issac; Jacob for Esau. When Jacob discovered that it was Leah not Rachel, it is written in ancient scrolls that Leah told Jacob that ‘she was meant for Esau as the first born to the first born. As in the manner that you took the birthright, I was given to you. As you deceived your father, you have been deceived.’
Laban then agrees to give him Rachel in marriage as well — in return for an additional seven years of labor. For the many deceptions that accompany this incident, as well as numerous other ways in which Laban attempts to deceive Jacob in the twenty years that Jacob works for him (Jacob works for an additional six years to earn flocks of his own), Laban is known in Midrashic literature as Laban HaRamai, "Laban the Deceiver". Yet Jacob recounts that, in the end, he out did his father-in-law at his own game, turning Laban’s deceptions against him to earn for himself the great wealth with which he returns from Charan to the Holy Land. (Genesis 30:41-43).
The deception continues in Genesis 31:33-35 as Rachel steals the idols from Laban and lies as she hides them from him. Midrash suggests that Rachel stole the teraphim / idols from her father to either wean him from idol worship and/or keep him from discovering the route that Jacob took. If this was the only case, why not bury them along the way? Or burn them? Why steal them and keep them and then purposely lie to Laban?
In Genesis 28:20-22 Jacob makes a vow to God promptly after being robbed. (It is written that he was robbed by Esau’s son). ‘Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” In Genesis 31:13 God reminds Jacob of his vow; ‘I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.’
It is noteworthy to see that God reminded Jacob of his vow. God could have simply commanded Jacob to go, but He not only reminds Jacob of the vow, but of the place where he made it. This vow followed the declaration ‘God is in this place.’
Genesis 28:10-16 ‘ Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it….Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
Jacob wakes with a start and exclaims, “Achein yesh Adonai bamakom hazeh v’anochi lo ya’dati! ‘Surely God was in this place, and I did not know it!’ Awestruck, he said, Mah norah hamakom hazeh! ’How awesome is this place! This is none other than the place of God, and that is the gateway to heaven.’” (Gen 28:16-17).
God was in this place, and he did not know. How awesome is this place. Until Jacob’s incredible dream, the place where he slept, where he put down his head on a stone, was just that - a place. A place along his journey. A place without any significance – until God reminded him of His Greatness. But Jacob did not realize this until after he woke.
God was in that place, and he did not know it.
'Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
Does Yeshua reference this in Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
May you be blessed as you study VaYeitzei…