Thursday, December 8, 2016
Vayetze (He went out)
Vayetze (He went out)
B’resheit / Genesis 28:10 – 32:3 (2)
In the first parashah (28:10 – 22) of this week’s parshiot I would like to focus in on the final paragraph or thought of this portion. Beginning at verse 20, and using Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) for the text, the following is recorded:
“And Jacob voweth a vow saying, ‘Seeing God is with me, and
hath kept me in this way which I am going, and hath given me bread to eat ,and a garment to put on—when I have turned back
in peace unto the house of my father, and Jehovah hath become
my God, then this stone which I have made a standing pillar, is a
house of God, and all that Thou dost give to me—tithing I tithe to
Thee.’” (28:20 – 22)
The conundrum I have every year when reading this portion is hearing the comments regarding Jacob’s requests of God to see if He will answer them, and if He does so, then he, Jacob, will serve HaShem, but only since HaShem has done Jacob’s bidding. At least that is the way the lesson comes across as I hear it and read about it year after year.
Most versions tend to begin Jacob’s quote in verse 20 with the word “if.” However, in my vastly limited knowledge of Hebrew, I do not see any word that could be considered “if.” Truth be told, I don’t see any word being translated as “seeing” the YLT does.
Upon further review, the Hebrew text does have אִם־יִהְיֶה אֱלֹהִים (im yiyeh elohim). According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, entry #111 gives the potential meanings as “if, not, whether, when, since. My thinking, and my point is why can this statement not be looked at in the same fashion as when Abraham told the two servants who remained behind as he and Isaac travelled on toward Mount Moriah, “…I and the youth go yonder and worship, and turn back unto you” (Gen. 22:5 YLT).
Another consideration, at least in my mind, is that Jacob did not initiate the conversation nor the issues mentioned in the revelation from HaShem. The Almighty promised him these things in verses 13 – 16! I take his statement to be saying that since or because HaShem is going to do these things I know I will be guarded, fed, clothed, return to my father’s house in peace (which I also believe he is stating that he will see his father again), and – or therefore the Almighty will be my God (from this time forward).
Well, that’s how I see it. I look forward to our discussion and any responses.