VaYishlach / And He Sent
HafTorah Portion Obadiah 1:1-21
Brit Chadasha Matthew 26:36:46
VaYishalch begins with Jacob returning to the land and after sending messengers to Esau, learns that his brother has prepared 400 armed men to fight. Jacob then sends gifts to Esau, in hopes to thwart off the attack.
Jacob moves his family over the river, while he remains in wait. During the night he wrestles with a spirit, endures a dislocated hip, where his name and walk is changed forever. Some of the sages argue that the spirit was that of Esau, others believe it was the spirit of God, others still Yeshua. The problem with the theory that it was the spirit of Esau, is that Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. Would the influence of Esau have the authority to change a name, direction and complete future of a nation? Genesis 32:28 describes; ‘Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Genesis 35:1 alludes to the fact that it was God; ‘Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.” And Genesis 35:9; ‘After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So He named him Israel.'
As this parsha continues, Jacob encounters Esau and Esau kisses Jacob’s neck. It is written in the Torah with 6 dots above the letters, alluding to the fact that it was an insincere kiss, ‘the kiss of death’, an incomplete kiss, and a kiss of retaliation. Genesis 33:4 ‘But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.’
In Genesis chapter 34 Dinah is coveted and raped by Shechem and a deceitful plot of revenge ensues. Genesis 34:13-17 ‘Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor. 14 They said to them, “We can’t do such a thing; we can’t give our sister to a man who is not circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us. 15 We will enter into an agreement with you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males. 16 Then we will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves. We’ll settle among you and become one people with you. 17 But if you will not agree to be circumcised, we’ll take our sister and go.”
Genesis 33:25-29 completes the horrific scene – ‘Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. 26 They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left. 27 The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where their sister had been defiled. 28 They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs in the city and out in the fields. 29 They carried off all their wealth and all their women and children, taking as plunder everything in the houses.’
Jacob continues on his journey, and in Genesis 35:1-5, God instructs Jacob with; ‘…then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. 3 Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem. 5 Then they set out, and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.’ In Genesis 35:9 God reiterates: ‘After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So He named him Israel.’
At the end of Genesis 35, a great sadness and tragedy befalls Jacob. His beloved Rachel dies while giving birth to Benjamin, whom she had originally named, Ben Oni. In Genesis 35:20 the English translations calls Jacob -Jacob. Suddenly in Genesis 35:21 he is referred to as Israel.
Beyond the tower of Eder, Israel journeyed and pitched his tent. It was as that place tha Reuben lay with Bilhah, an event that would continue to haunt him, for is says, “and Israel heard about it…” Genesis 35:22. Genesis 35 ends with the death of Isaac at the age of 180. This Parshah concludes with an account of Esau’s wives, children and grandchildren; the family histories of the people of Seir; among whom Esau settled; and a list of the eight kings who ruled Edom, the land of Esau’s and Seir’s descendants.
Vayishlach; five chapters in Beresheet/Genesis; chapters 32 through 36; complete with deceit, murder, rape, death, torment, extreme sadness, heavenly beings, names being changed, supernatural wrestling, and dismantling of ‘other gods’. These are the family puzzles that begot Jacob; could these be happening or have happened in our own lives?
We are plagued with generational curses which include secret sins? Psalm 90:8 ‘You have placed our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence.’
Has our sadness sometimes consumed us? 2 Corinthians 6:10 ‘Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.’
Do we have ministering messengers? Hebrews 1:14 ‘Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? Hebrews 13:2 ‘Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.’
Do we doubt and wrestle with the knowledge of God? James 1:2-5 ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.’
Have we deceived and have we been deceived? Proverbs 10:9 ‘Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.’ Proverbs 12:22 ‘Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.’ Psalm 52:2 ‘Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.’
Are we to put the other gods to death? Exodus 20:43 ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’
Do we keep traveling towards the Way? Job 17:9 ‘The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.’ Isaiah 43:18; ‘Forget what happened in the past, and do not dwell on events from long ago.’ Philippians 3:13; ‘Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.’
And finally, are we changed? 1 Peter 2:10 ‘Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.’ Hosea 2:23 ‘Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who were not My people,
‘You are My people!’And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’
Vayishlach / And He Sent
This Torah portion opens with the drama between Jacob and Esau as they approach one another, ‘Then Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.’ Jacob sends messengers to Esau along with goats, rams, camels bulls, donkeys and foals. Jacob prays to God to be delivered from his brother Esau, for he fears him. He reminds God of His promise: ‘ For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’ Genesis 32:12.
Does Elohim need to be reminded of His promises? Of course not. It is as if Jacob is reminded himself by speaking and praying to God. For Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed as it says in Genesis 32:7. These are two human emotions that can leave use immobile. Where else do we go with the grip of fear? To God, Himself. This is what Jacob did, he reminded himself of the promise that God made in Genesis 32:12.
We process the events of fear and distress the same. We often speak to God as if we remind Him as a child reminds a parent, ‘…but you said…’ God has spoken to us and to the patriarchs, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5. It is for our comfort that we ‘remind God’ of His promises. Jacob sends the gifts before him and lodges there that night. When he was left alone, an amazing event happens:
Genesis 32:24-30 ‘Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” 27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” 31 Just as he crossed over Peniel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.’
It is interesting that Jacob asks the entity that he wrestled with what His name was, which was denied. However Jacob seems to know who he wrestled with: ‘For I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved…’
Here we have a conversation regarding ‘names’. One name is changed from Jacob to Israel and one Name is hidden. It is almost as if the response ‘Why is it that you ask about My Name?’ translates as: you have no reason to ask My Name. The Name is as if it is hidden yet not hidden. It can only be concluded that this entity has no fixed name. The name He has now is not going be the name He will have at some subsequent time, as it is the same in Judges 13:18 ‘ And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is hidden (wonderful/incomprehensible)?’
By stating that at time there was no fixed name and that the name that will be in 'hidden and wonderful' might represent that Yeshua was there as Elohim yet not as Yeshua, salvation from YHWH as when He came in the flesh as the written Torah on earth. Isn’t His Name still hidden unless we are called into His Name? Yeshua – Salvation from YHWH.