Thursday, November 23, 2017

Vayetzei "and he went out" Bereshit 28:10-32:3

Vayetzei (and he went out) 

Bereshit (Genesis) 28:10 - 32:3

In this weeks Parashah Bereshit 28-32, Jacob left Beersheba for Haran to his uncle Laban's house. Approximately 51.9 miles into his 3318.3 mile journey (approximately an 8 week walk) towards Haran, Jacob stopped for the night in a place called Luz. Jacob laid his head on a rock and while sleeping he dreamed of a ladder from earth into heaven with angels ascending and descending and HaShem stood at the top. Later in John 1:51 Yeshua also referred to this vision when talking to Nathanael. When Jacob woke from his dream he was so moved by its reality he said 28:17:

“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

Jacob took his rock pillow and set it up as a pillar, poured oil on top of it and renamed Luz to Bethel, meaning “House of God”. In this dream HaShem spoke to Jacob reassuring him that he will be kept safe, and HaShem gave the promise to Jacob of the Promised Land. Jacob was so moved by this whole experience that he made a vowel to HaShem that would be considered and debated in the local church for  thousands of years - that’s the matter of tithing. Jacob promised HaShem:

“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, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 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.”

Note: Jacob made this vowel to tithe, on the proviso that HaShem fulfilled His word to Jacob.

So Jacobs journey continued where he stopped at a well, just off from his destination at Laban's house. Jacob approached the well at the same time most of the local herders had their flocks at the well to be watered. Not too long after, Laban’s Daughter Rachel brought her sheep to the well also. This encounter with Rachel brought Jacob to end up at uncle Laban’s house to stay and serve him, however Laban asked Jacob what he desired in turn for his service - out of Laban’s two daughters Jacob chose the beautiful Rachel in turn for his service. After an agreed upon 7 years of service Jacob asked for Rachel in marriage, however Laban was deceitful and gave Rachel’s sister Leah to Jacob in marriage. The next morning Jacob finally realised Leah was not Rachel (perhaps her eye colour gave it away), and therefore Jacob decided to work another 7 years for Rachel (the one he loved). 

Jacob now surrounded by women, being Leah and her maid Zilpah, as well as Rachel and her maid Bilhah, had to manage the relationships wisely as Rachel felt his love, and Leah longed for it, and due to this HaShem opened Leah’s womb and Rachel was barren. In a similar way as with Abram and Sarah being barren, now also Rachel was barren and Rachel also gave her maid to conceive with Jacob to have children for her, just as Sarah did to Abram. Then Leah followed the example of her sister and also gave her maid to Jacob in marriage whom also bore children to Jacob. After children coming from both maids and Leah, finally HaShem blessed Rachels womb and she bore her own child, Joseph. Many years have gone by and Jacob has been deceived by Laban so the time to depart came, however Laban again tried to keep Jacob from leaving. After much disagreement, and due to the blessing Laban had received since Jacob has looked after his flocks, Jacob managed to talk Laban into letting him take the worst of the flock marked by speckles and stripes, while Laban would keep the pure perfect stock. Jacob was favoured by HaShem and in his wisdom and from a dream Jacob came up with a method to breed strong good spotted and speckled stock - this led to much blessing and wealth for Jacob.

It came to pass that Laban and his sons saw all that Jacob had acquired in live stock, servants, wives, children, camels and they didn’t look favourably upon it, so HaShem said to Jacob:

“Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.”

Jacob left to go back to Beersheba, however as he did so Rachel stole Laban’s idols… the question is, Why? It reminds us of Lot’s wife looking back - Did Rachel trust more in her fathers idols than the God of Jacob? Was it for keep sake and memories? Or was it to cause her father to reconsider his gods and see HaShem as the true God that blesses as He did for Jacob? Laban through anger and jealousy chased Jacob down and searched their tents for the stolen idols, however came up empty as Rachel was sitting on them on her camel (deception taught her by her father). Though to the very end Laban was deceived about his rights, his wealth, his daughters (as his own though married to another) - he made a covenant with Jacob that day, that allowed Jacob depart without the concern of Laban’s wroth following him.

This parashah has looked at a portion of Jacobs life that set him up for his dependance upon HaShe. Jacob walked in the blessing and protection promised him in a dream both financially and materially, Jacob also learnt the power of honouring his word and staying true to himself and the God that guides him - this was a foundational part of Jacob’s life.


Graeme Politanski

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