B’reisheet (Genesis) 32:4 -36:43
The beginning of this weeks parasha starts with the direction Jacob gives to his messengers that he is sending out and what they should say when they meet his brother Esau. With the messengers return from their mission Jacob is gripped with fear about their news that Esau is coming to meet them and along with him four hundred men. With this news, Jacob separates all the people into two groups along with the flocks and herds so if Esau attacks not all will be lost. Then Jacob prays and reminds himself in his prayers of what HaShem has done for him and what has been promised to him. Gen 32:12 “But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’ One would think that Jacob, the son and grandson of Tzodiks, would have the experience of being apart of and have an awareness to the miracles of HaShem. And he did! So if a man such as this could struggle with his faith in what HaShem directly promised to him, it is understandable to why soo many of us can struggle in our own faith. We even had seen in the last parasha of Jacobs apparent lack of faith, when Jacob makes a quid pro quo prayer to HaShem in Gen 28:20-22. If one of the Avos can struggle in their faith and overcome, it teaches us a great lesson that in our faith with the guidance of the Ruach we can also overcome. But as continued in the reading, Jacob feels that a peace offering of gifts will make the reunion with his brother Easu a more peaceful one. Not a bad decision in my opinion.
The parasha leads next into the events of Jacob receiving a new name,or an additional name, that of Israel. Jacob is confronted by an unknown man which is commonly referred to as Yeshua. The wrestling match leaves Jacob with a wounded hip, a change of his name (or reputation) and an unknown blessing. A root word in the name Yakov is Ahkev which has the meaning of heel or deceit. We know that Jacob was holding on to the heel of Esau when they were born and we also know that Jacob, by deceit, received the blessing of the first born from Isaac. Although Esau sold that birth right. Now his additional name will be Israel. Stated by the Chumach to come from the root word of Sarut meaning, prevailing; superiority. Given the circumstances and future events about to come, Jacob would indeed prevail and be superior, but for the most of the remainder of his life he would also be referred to as Jacob. As stated in Ber 35:10 “Then God said to him, ‘your name is Jacob. Your name shall not always be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name." It is understood that from that time onward, the name Jacob would be used for matters pertaining to physical and mundane matters, while the name Israel would be used for matters reflecting the spiritual role of the Patriarch and his descendants. The changing of a name, Hebraicly is to change ones self, reputation and lifestyle, to be a new creation. As stated in 2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” The old lifestyle should no longer be with us, but a new lifestyle in Christ.
The reunion between Jacob and Esau take place and goes much better than Jacob expected. Jacob however does not journey to his brothers land but travels to succoth where he buys land and builds booths for his animals. Here’s where I personally see the difference between Jacob and Israel. Jacob allows his young daughter Dinah to enter mingle with the women of the land. There is no reason given as to why it was acceptable for Jacob the father, to allow Dinah the daughter to consort with a people that was not in covenant with HaShem. The moral standard would have been much less and the risk of Dinah wanting to learn the practices of other nations would have most certainly led to idolatry or worse, as is what happened. A lesson that can be learned today with the raising of our own children. If proper discernment is not made by a parent it puts the child at great risk as we see with the results from Dinah’s circumstances. Schechem the son of Hamor the Hivite ruler of that area had seen Dinah and was attracted to her to the point of violating her. Schechem pleads with his father to aquire this girl as his wife. Hamor tries to work out a deal with Jacob to aquire his daughter and a compromise is meet. All of the males living in Hamors city would have to be circumcised in order for them to intermarry. All of the males are then circumcised to enter into a covenant with the house of Jacob. It was not only the house of Jacob they were coming into covenant with, but they were entering into the Abrahamic covenant, the covenant of the land. It’s hard to believe that the Patriarch Jacob would of agreed to these terms knowing that they would be brought into the Abrahamic covenant. After three days of Hamor’s men being circumcised Simeon and Levi would take out revenge by killing all the males in the city. This would leave a lasting scar on these two sons of Jacob as we see later when Jacob blesses his sons before his death. Jacob was not pleased with the decision his sons had made and feared that the people of the land would seek vengeance on him. Plunder from the city is taken and much to Jacob’s credit, he orders that all the foreign gods will be left behind as they travel to Bethel as HaShem commanded.
The remainder of the parasha speaks of Rachel and Isaacs deaths and Jacobs and Esau’s descendants. The portion speaks of HaShem’s faithfulness even when faith towards Him may appear to be weak. Jacob seems to struggle with believing in HaShem’s promises but HaShem continues to do what he says he will do. In our walk with Yeshua we will undoubtedly have abundant faith one day and the very next day struggle with that same faith. Rom 3:3-4 reminds us of HaShem’s faithfulness, “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar.”