Parasha #7

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 Parashah #07: Vayetze (He went out)

(Genesis 28:10 – 32:3(2))

Additional Readings:
Hos. 12:13(12)-14:10(9); Joh. 1:43-51

Previous parashah recap At the end of the last Parasha, Jacob had to leave his family, flee in fact because his brother wanted to kill him. So as his father Isaac and his father before him, Abraham, he had to leave the country he lived in. And he went back to where his family came from to find a wife for himself. It’s interesting to note that Esau had no idea before that event, that his parents didn’t want their sons to get wives from a different people, there was really no proper communication in that family! 

  • Remember that Esau was described as a hunter and outdoors man whilst Jacob was described as a tent-dweller and quiet man (Gen. 25:27); so Jacob was clearly out of his comfort zone when he was told to travel to another area to find a wife. He was a tent dweller who all of a sudden had to sleep outside with a rock for a pillow (Gen. 28:11).

  • In a way, Jacob was ‘crossing over’ just as when Abraham ‘crossed over’ and became a iv’ri (Hebrew) – meaning a crossing over from the world into God’s kingdom – Just as we look at Abraham’s life as a guide for our Christian walk, we can also do the same with Jacob’s life. That’s why Jacob, Isaac and Abraham are seen as the main three patriarchs of Israel; because their lives teach us that we are to cross over from our worldly life into the unknown of the spiritual life in order to find the kingdom of God. Like Jacob, it may seem as if we are alone in the first steps of our walk; this is the moment we wilfully make the choice to faithfully move out of our comfort zone and into the unknown. But we need to know that we are never alone; one way or another God will reveal Himself to let us know that He is with us (Zep. 3:17, Deu. 31:6). And this is what happened with Jacob, the Lord appeared to him (Gen. 28:13).

  • Jacob’s ladder (Gen. 28:12) – when we become a believer and follower of Christ there is a link forming between us and heaven, where the Lord will send his angels to protect and watch over us (Psa. 91:10-12). The Lord sends his angels, for the kingdom of God is within us (Luk. 17:21), and as we establish this within us and learn to follow his precepts, the light will start shining through us and touching others. To establish that kingdom, we need to do exactly what Jacob did (Gen. 28:20-22).

  • The Lord’s prayer (Mat. 6:9-13, Luk. 11:2-4) lines up with the vow Jacob took in Gen. 28:20-22. We pray for the Lord to protect us, to give us the bread of our need (in other words to provide for all our needs), that we can enter our Father’s house clothed with an immortal and imperishable body coming from Heaven (1 Cor. 15:51-55). This vow/prayer comes with a condition; in Jacob’s case he vowed that if God would guard him, feed him and clothe him, he would return one-tenth (tithe). When we put ourselves in God’s hands we realise that nothing comes from ourselves; instead everything comes from the Lord. What we give back is our dedication to following his instructions and laws, and being completely obedient to His will. This is what it means to pray the Lord’s prayer; you cannot pray this prayer and remain in your sins. If we want to receive from the Lord, we must be willing to put our life in His hands and walk in obedience to Him. We have to realize that all good gifts come from God (Jam. 1:17), we can labour but God is the provider, He gives and takes away (Job 1:21); therefore we are to make that effort of moving out of sin and into repentance and holiness. Part of Jacob’s vow was made so that he would return to his father’s house in peace; and this is the same hope we have, that one day we can come into the Father’s house

  • Tithing is one of the physical earmarks of the obedient follower. It is used here to represent obedience to God’s laws, precepts and instructions, which bring God’s blessings.

  • God was re-establishing the same covenant with Jacob as he did with Isaac and Abraham. When we decide to walk in the Lord’s ways, then all the blessings that were bestowed on Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, are also opened unto us. We can claim them because by crossing over from our worldly life and into following the Lord and His commands we then become true Hebrews, or what Paul calls true Jews in the NT (Rom. 2:28-29).

  • What is the process of crossing over into becoming Hebrew? – first we are called by the Lord (Mat. 22:14), and when we answer this call we get a spiritual inheritance/blessing, the same as what Jacob had. When we move in obedience this spiritual inheritance expresses itself in the physical. It is possible to be Christian yet not have any physical blessing due to not fully moving in the Lord. We see through the story of Jacob, that moving in the Lord doesn’t mean to wait, stay, pray etc. Moving means doing. We should not wait to be blessed with the right circumstances or possessions in order to move in obedience. We should first be moving in faith and doing what is asked of us, and then the blessings will come (Mar. 16:17); and then through our actions, other will be blessed. We see this happen with Laban; he was a bad person yet he was blessed because Jacob was with him. So when we move in the Lord we not only receive blessings ourselves, but all those around us will also be blessed, including our household (Act. 16:31); this also serves to bring conviction to the people around us who are living ungodly lives.

  • In Gen. 9 a prophetical event takes place – The well represents Zion; the three flocks represent Babylon, Persia and Greece (worldly kingdoms drawing from the well of wealth of Israel – seen in the new testament as the time of the gentiles Luk. 21:24).

    The rolling away of the stone is a two-fold representation:

    1. Opening of the well of water for God’s people – it is the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus which opened the well for all God’s people. The rolling away of the stone in this chapter matches Mar. 16:3-4. The Lord opened the living waters for the people who would come to Him; not the nations, His people.

    2. Future messianic age when the stone will be rolled away once and for all, for all nations which will be blessed when the time of the gentiles is over.

    The flock of Rachael represents God’s people; the lost, for they don’t know Him yet until they meet Him. Jacob symbolises the Messiah opening the way for His people to be blessed first, and then all others after, by bringing living waters (Jer. 2:13; Joh. 7:38, 1 Cor. 10:4; Eze. 1). The water from the well represents the word of God, His laws and instructions (Eph. 5:26).

  • Gen. 29:17 – Some people understand this scripture to mean that Leah was ugly. Research into the true meaning of this scripture actually reveals that Leah was beautiful, but she had a problem with her eyes (meaning she would likely have been in need of glasses if they existed in those days).

  • Jacob was tricked by Laban and didn’t get the reward he wanted and worked so hard for (Rachael). This shows us something about the character of Jacob that we should also have. Jacob made a work agreement with Laban to get Rachael. This shows that Jacob was not relying on God to simply hand him everything on a silver platter; many Christians believe we have entered God’s rest and therefore we do not have to strive or work anymore, but this is not the case (Luk. 10:2, 13:24; Heb. 4:11; Phi. 2:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-6; Mat. 9:37-38, 10:6-10, 24:46). We need to work/strive to hold onto our salvation and gain our reward. Yes, we are saved by grace, but we have work to do. If God the Father Who is resting from His works and still active, It’s the same for us (Joh. 5:17).

  • Jacob knew that he had the blessing, but he also had to work in order to bring the spiritual blessings into the physical.

  • Gen. 31:36-41 – Jacob went beyond what was required of him – that is what is required of us as Christians. We are to go beyond, and lay down our lives. Jacob went through hard times whilst working for Laban. We are to strive to enter the kingdom, we are not to sit and wait and do nothing. We are to move as the Lord commands, and labour, regardless of the circumstances and the injustice of the world; Laban was unjust and cheated Jacob, but God turned every situation around to Jacob’s advantage. Laban seemed to be a nice guy in helping Jacob, but he was deceitful and only looked out for his personal gain. This is something we also need to look out for in our walk. We must remember to test the spirit and see the fruit of the person, ministry, church etc. before getting caught up with the wrong people and environments (1 Joh. 4:1-6).

  • 1 Pet. 1:3-7 – Tough times will come, but we are to continue praising God through it all as we know times of testing refine us and bring us closer to our reward. Jacob worked hard for 20 years under Laban, he came with nothing but left with everything.

    It’s interesting to note here that each working period was of 7 years, in line with the 7 days of creation, or with the commandment given to Moses that every 7 year would be a Sabbath year of rest. Not that Jacob rested, but it was his year of rewards, and that what the 7th year was intended for also in the Law of Moses. That commandment was already one before; it just got more set and codified.

  • Jacob loved Rebecca but was tricked into marrying Leah; he wasn’t happy with that and he disregarded Leah. The root of that anger is quite understandable in regards to the commandment stating that a person is not to marry a woman and her sister (Lev. 18:18). He actually confronted Laban about it, who recognised that he wronged Jacob and told him to work 7 more years for Rachel. This was due to the fact that Rachel had been promised to Jacob, vows had been passed, and at the same time and it wasn’t possible to undo what had been done with Lea. So Jacob ended with the 2 sisters (Gen. 29:31).

  • To disregard Leah was one of Jacob’s biggest failings – nowadays we are to have only one partner; But we are to love and look after them wholeheartedly because they belong to the Lord and have been entrusted to us by God (never think that your partner or children belong to you, they belong to the Lord first and foremost). Regardless of whether or not Jacob loved Leah, he was married to her and it was his duty to love and care for her wholeheartedly. This was a sin on Jacob’s part, which is why God made Rachael barren and opened Leah’s womb. One of God’s first instructions was to be fruitful and multiply. Reading the text carefully we can see that both sisters were cursed with barrenness, but God had compassion on Leah and lifted the curse so that the circumstances of the whole family could be changed. Jacob, in a way found himself cursed too, as he could not have children with the woman he loved. The Lord made Leah fertile and left Rachael barren because he was trying to show Jacob that there was a problem needing to be addressed, but Jacob never realise nor changed his ways. When we consider that piece of information, add to it that Sarai was barren too (Gen. 11:30), we can see that this was a family curse coming from either adultery (like in Gen. 20:18) or more likely some form of incest (Lev. 20:20-21), since they didn’t have a problem with marrying their step sisters, or even get their father drunk to continue the line, like in the case of Lot (Gen. 19:32-35). However, the Lord took notice of Rachael’s suffering and so He opened her womb again, which shows that with prayers and supplications curses can be lifted, it takes a long time though compared to casting out the problem. But at least we are sure of the person’s heart’s intent.

  • Jealousy entered the family as well as something that was present right from Adam and Eve; the lack of care for a brother. When God entrusts someone to us we need to be their keeper, including our brothers and sisters in Christ. While no one is the absolute “keeper” of others in that we are not responsible for everyone’s safety when we are not present, every man is his brother’s keeper in that we are not to commit violent acts against them or allow others to do so if we can prevent it. This sort of “keeping” is something God rightfully demands of everyone, on the grounds of both justice and love. But Cain’s reply indicated a total lack of any kind of feeling for another human being—not to mention the absence of brotherly love—and the overriding presence of the kind of selfishness which kills affection and gives rise to hatred. So are Christians to be the keepers of other Christians? Yes, in two ways. First we are not to commit acts of violence against one another. This includes violence of the tongue in the form of gossip and “quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder” (1 Cor. 12:20). Second, we are to exhibit brotherly love toward our brothers and sisters in Christ with a tender heart and a humble mind (1 Pet. 3:8). In this way, we “keep” those for whom Christ gave His life. One of the golden chapters of the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13. In this magnificent portion of the Scriptures, we are reminded that love is even greater than faith and hope. Chapter 13 comes on the heels of Paul’s explanation of how the Body of Christ (the Church) is like the human body and is made up of many members, all of whom are important to the function and well-being of the Body. We are continually encouraged throughout the NT to love one another (Heb. 13:1; Rom. 12:10; 1 The. 4:9). Sometimes love must correct, admonish, reprove, or expose the works of darkness (2 The. 3:13-15; Mat. 18:15; Eph. 5:11). However, correction is always to be done in the spirit of love with the goal of reconciliation. Paul the apostle wrote to the church at Thessalonica, “And we urge you, brethren, to recognise those who labour among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all” (1 The. 5:12-15). So, as Christians, we are to be our brother’s keeper. As Paul wrote, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify (build up) another” (Rom. 14:19). And we are to make sure we don’t become stumbling blocks to others (Rom. 14:13; 1 Cor. 8:9). Through Jacob’s failing came many of the problems Israel will have later on, this is because Jacob never realised and repented of his sin.

  • If we are suffering illnesses, sicknesses etc. it is a possibility that we have stepped out of God’s umbrella of protection somehow. For a wife, it can be due to either her own personal problem, or it can be coming from her husband (as husband and wife become one – Gen. 2:24). As we saw in the case of Rebecca, the Lord will sometimes affect the wife or children in order to alert the husband and prompt him to recognise his failings, which hopefully should lead him to repentance and change. But if the husband does not respond to the promptings of the Lord, there is still hope for the ones suffering. Remember Rachel kept praying, regardless of Jacob’s sin, and God lifted the curse from her.

  • Then from Laban’s daughters (and their servants) came the birth of the 12 tribes of Israel.

  • Reading carefully this parasha we can see that Leah was not loved, for which the word in both Hebrew and Greek is actually “hated”. So when someone is in a situation where they should receive loving precedence or on par with someone else and they don’t this is considered a form of hatred. This first explains what Yeshua meant when He told the people that to be His disciples we are to hate those who are close to us, even our own life (Luk. 14:26). That meant to give precedence to Yeshua over everything and everyone else. So that part of Leah being “not loved” had to do with the fact that Jacob spent more time with Rachel, including more bed time, he preferred to spend his nights with Rachel.

  • Love-making is to the couple what tithing is to the Lord, it is one major physical earmark of love between spouses. Being married is not a finite deal though; spouses become one flesh (Gen. 2:24), one soul through sexual intercourse (Gen. 34:3), the same way we are one with the Lord through our prayer life. If we stop praying we lose that oneness with God, so it is with lovemaking in the marriage. This is why this parasha talks about Leah being unloved or even hated. Like with the episode of Reuben bringing the mandrakes, Leah would have had to fight to be able to bed Jacob, to get close to him. And with each son she hoped that that would soften his heart towards her.

  • It’s interesting to note that all the sex life is in the hands of the women. They chose who and when. Clearly Jacob here, like Abraham before when Sarah told him to bed her servant, doesn’t have much say in the matter. He clearly showed whom he preferred but each time Rachel said Leah’s turn, it was so. The women were in charge of the succession.

  • Jacob’s preference for Joseph and Benjamin is quite understandable since the only one he always wanted to be with was Rachel. They represent the children out of love instead of out of duty (as Isaac was the child of promise compared to Ishmael being the child of bondage).

  • This brings us to another important point and that is about sexuality.

  • Before marriage the children are entrusted by God to the parents as the wife is entrusted to her husband (we can see that with the redeeming of the children under Moses (Exo. 13:13-15; Num. 18, 30). Since it is forbidden to practice incest (Deu. 27:20-23; Lev. 20:11-22), and God requirements for us is to pray to Him, nothing sexual here; then no sex before marriage is allowed.

  • And this goes in line with the NT which says that fornication (According to the Oxford dictionary fornication means sexual intercourse between people not married to each other) is a sin (1 Cor. 6:18; 2 Cor. 12:21). So what would be considered sex before marriage?

  • Eph. 5:3 – The biblical definition of “immorality” is any form of contact outside of marriage (1 Cor. 7:2). And since you do not belong to yourself, either you belong to your parents, when not an adult, or to God when in adulthood but unmarried, masturbation is prohibited too. There shouldn’t be any talk about it, or anything said or done which can generate arousal in someone you are not married to for that’s part of pornography (porneos + graphy).

  • The word is very clear about all this, to the point of saying that passionate hugs between people who are in love but not married is sin too, for it generates arousal (Eze. 23:3, 8 specially KJV). Anything that can generate arousal is prohibited, this is based on unholy coveting (check the 7th commandment and it’s expounded version in Exo. 20:14 and Mat. 5:27-28; and the 10th commandment which is not to covet in Exo. 20:17 and what Paul said about it in Rom. 7:7). The only one remedy to fornication is found in 1 Cor. 7:7-9: that is to marry. Because only the married bed is kept pure. The way to defeat ungodly envy or covetness is to have a godly one. Either by focusing on helping others and being able to subdue all sexual lust, but only few can do that (Mat. 19:11-12), or by getting married and turning that part of your attention on your spouse.

  • Now on the topic of envy and covetness, as we go back to our parasha, we find that it was out of envy and jealousy that Rachael and Leah gave their servants to Jacob. They thought that having more children would gain, or retain the love and attention of Jacob, and his inaction created a massive mess in the family. The jealousy was not only in the house between the wives, but it was also coming at Jacob from Laban and his family as he began to prosper. This all started due to Jacob’s failings. In the spiritual this is a good example of how an evil spirit (e.g. jealousy) can be in one person acting in one of two ways, it can cause the person to be jealous, or it can bring jealousy toward the person from others

  • Gen. 31:23-24 – Then, seeing that Laban was becoming very envious of him, Jacob decided to flee back to his country, with all his possessions, wives and children. And Rachel stole the house Gods (idols, statues) from Laban. 3 days after his departure, Laban went to pursue Jacob and finally overtake him. He meant to be very nasty to Jacob but God saved him by appearing in a dream to Laban instructing him not to say anything good nor bad; what does this actually mean? In the Septuagint bible it says something different “God came to Laban the Syrian in sleep by night and said to him, take heed to thyself that thou speak not at any time to Jacob evil things”. The word ‘good’ in our translation of the bible is meant to be there, but why? More research revealed that it’s an old Hebrew saying; however, this is how it should have been translated “and Elohim came to Laban the Syrian in a dream of the night and said to him, watch out for yourself that you do not speak with Jacob FROM good to evil” – We usually greet people kindly e.g. hello how are you? This is a kind greeting that enquires as to the well being of the person. According to the instructions of the Lord we should not start kindly and end up with evil words. We must make sure we are not the one speaking or doing evil – Keep in mind that speaking the truth is not evil; if you speak it in the right manner and someone still gets upset about it, that’s not your wrongdoing. Also, if you are approaching someone to discuss an issue you have with them, do not come with kindness/falsities, and then take them by surprise with the real nature of your approach; get straight to the point – don’t go from good to evil.

  • Follows an agreement made between Laban and Jacob that they will keep the stones as a boundary line not to cross to do evil to the other. Part of that agreement made between Jacob and Laban in Gen. 31:44-54 was that Jacob was not to have any more wives than the ones he already had.
    In Gen. 31:43 there is a mistranslation. The Septuagint bible says “Laban answered and said to Jacob, the daughters are my daughters and the sons my sons, and the cattle are my cattle and all things which thou seest are mine and the property of my daughters. What shall I do to them today or their children which they bore”. This is why he insisted that Jacob have no more wives. Because with that agreement he made sure all the possessions remained for his daughters, their children and the entire line; that was how Laban satisfied himself instead of harming Jacob. To finish this parasha Jacob offered a sacrifice to the Lord and him and his kinsmen ate it. Then Jacob and Laban went their own ways, and as he parted ways with Laban, Jacob had another encounter with angels.

  • Gen 32:2 – the “two camps” are two armies:

    1. The camp in heaven, made of heavenly hosts;

    2. The camp composed of all the righteous believers.

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