Parasha #8

* FOR A LIST OF RESOURCES AND ABBREVIATIONS USED CLICK ON THE ‘Sabbath Teachings’ Tab *

 Parashah #8: Vayishlach (He sent)

(Genesis 32:4(3) – 36:43)

Additional Readings:
Hos. 11:7-12:12(11); 1 Cor. 5:1-13; Rev. 7:1-12

Previous parashah recap – In last week’s reading, Jacob left his unjust father-in-law, Laban, while he was off shearing his sheep. Fearing that Laban would keep his daughters, Leah and Rachel, Jacob stole away with all he had: his sons, his two wives, and all of his livestock, heading for the mountains of Gilead. As he parted ways with Laban, Jacob had another encounter with angels and out of that encounter he realised that God has 2 armies, 2 camps. A heavenly one made of heavenly hosts and an earthly one made of His righteous followers.

  • Jacob heads, with all that he has, back to his ancestral homeland, but to do so he had to first pass through Edom, the territory of Esau, his estranged brother. The same one Jacob had to flee from because he wanted to murder him.

  • So Jacob didn’t know if he should expect to go to war, or to have a peaceful reconciliation. Therefore he prepared for both. Jacob was very anxious about the whole affair and he sent messengers ahead of himself to try to get an idea of Esau’s mind set towards him. And the answer didn’t look favourable: Esau was coming to meet him with no less than 400 men! So Jacob being very afraid now had to devise plans to ensure the survival of his clan and posterity

  • Gen. 32:7 – Therefore Jacob divides his people and flocks into 2 camps, in a replica of what he understood the Lord had set in place for Himself; which fits in with Gen. 32:2. He was hoping that if one group was to be attacked the other one would escape and survive. Interestingly the word ‘people’ in this verse 7 means a ‘nation’ – so right there it tells us that Jacob has become a nation. This is why even today the Jewish people are called the house of Jacob.

  • Gen. 32:9-10 – after dividing everything into two camps Jacob realises that his strength is not enough and therefore starts to relinquish everything into God’s hands.

  • Jacob’s prayer (Gen. 32:9-13) – this is a good prayer if we are entering battles; going into the unknown; or unsure of what lies ahead. How do we pray this prayer like Jacob:

    1. Remind God of His covenants/promises made with our forefathers/congregation of the Lord.

    2. Acknowledge our own shortcomings and unworthiness.

    3. Ask for help and stand on the Lord’s promises; we are entitled to them as children of God.

  • Then we see Jacob’s struggle with himself. Even after having prayed to the Lord he’s still distraught and comes with another strategy, which is to prepare waves of gifts to try to appease his brother’s perceived fury towards him. In other words, Jacob had fallen prey to his own imaginings! – he didn’t fully stand on the promise God had made to him, but instead went into fear about what Esau would do to him.

  • Gen. 32:24 – After he’s prepared everything and sent everyone away, he’s left alone and is attacked by a man. Nowhere in the original language, be it Hebrew or Greek, do we find the word for angel. Jacob wrestled with this man for the rest of the night, and over-powered him. But the struggle was intense, a wrestling contest, with Jacob even getting his hip dislocated, or so the Masoretic text tells us. But reading the story in the LXX, the word used is quite different, we are told that the man touched Jacob’s hip and it got numbed. So He finished the fight with no feelings left in one of his legs, and kept asking for the man to bless him:

  • Gen. 32:25-32 (LXX) – It is interesting to note few things here:

    1. First we have learnt that Jacob had become a nation;

    2. Second Jacob’s thigh was stricken with numbness, to the point of him limping after the fight ended;

    3. Third the fight was to come to an end because it was daybreak;

    4. Fourth the word used for god is Elohim in Hebrew, meaning gods, and since it’s not associated with any of the words for Yahweh (either Jehovah, Adonai, etc…), we can conclude that a god is meant here and not God. That’s how the Greek of the LXX takes it, since the word “theos” is not associated with the word “ho”, which would then have meant the Supreme God. So instead we are to read here “a god”;

    5. Fifth that god told Jacob “From now on, you will no longer be called Ya’akov, but Isra’el; because you have shown your strength to both God and men and have prevailed”.

Before receiving his blessing in the form of his new name Jacob had to give his name in order to acknowledge who he was and his nature as a sinner, for the name Jacob means: supplanter, deceiver, and conniver. By being asked what his name was, Jacob was forced to face his own true nature. And as we have seen before, freedom comes only when we acknowledge who we were (if fearful, a coward; if into fornication, a he or she whore; etc…). Then and only then he can receive his new name Israel which comes from two Hebrew words: strive (sar שר) and God (El אל). Since the word sar also means prince, there is a connotation of princely power and Israel can also mean Prince with God (Strong says: he will rule as God). . Israel became the right hand man of God, or one of God’s princes – As Christians, in Yeshua we become one body, and since He is seated at the right hand of God, so too, are we – just like Israel, we are ruling with God, being of a royal priesthood.
So putting all these elements together, what we could deduce that now Jacob had become a nation, to be set under the Almighty’s rulership, the previous prince, or god over the nation/people Jacob came from, came down to contend with him to refuse to release him (one of the gods mentioned in Deu. 32:8 LXX in reference to Gen. 10). We could go as far as stating that this god was a moon or star or night god, since he had to flee due to the coming of day.
So what we had here was the first deliverance from an evil power. A power which got defeated as Jacob stood his ground against it and, as it fled, it had to bless Jacob, which is to give back to Jacob what was meant for him: rulership. We read after that it’s only some time later, after some more testings, that the Most High ratifies Jacob’s new name and gives him all the blessings associated with it:

  • Gen. 35:9-13 – We can read here God saying that Jacob is still Jacob and He names him Israel only then. This new name being for Jacob and all his posterity. As we have seen before with Abraham, we are to follow in his footsteps to become Hebrews, crossing over from the world into the kingdom of God. So it is with Jacob, we are to acknowledge our nature as sinners and overcome man and God to be part of his posterity.

  • What does this look like?

  • To become engrafted in Israel means, that like Jacob, we have two main fights to do;

    1. Against men and our self – like Jacob against Laban (who represented the world system). We have to fight to come out of the world. We are in the world but are not to partake of its ungodliness (Joh. 15:19, Rom. 12:2);

    2. The second one being a wrestling contest against the strongmen in us, by standing against them and who they are, letting go of who we were, our old man/nature, to embrace who we are meant to be in the Most High (Eph. 6:12). Then what’s remaining is the renewal of the mind, the changing of our ways so that we put in place the kingdom of God in, around and through us.

And it is only when we are victorious, that this name and the blessings associated with it are fully applicable to us; hence the different rewards and gradation of them to those overcoming in the chapters 2 and 3 of the book of Revelation, for they don’t overcome the same difficulties. 

  • The good news is that when we come to Yeshua we are saved from the world and the wrath coming upon it (Joh. 3:17-19; Heb. 11:7, Luk. 1:68-74, Jam. 4:4). So the first part of the fight, that is the fight against men, is to keep out of the world systems and attractions, to be in the world but not part of it. And being saved doesn’t necessarily mean we will end up in heaven; it means that we are saved from the wrath coming upon the world; we are removed from that punishment but can still go to hell, which is why the bible tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Php. 2:12).

    The focus then is more on the second part which is to implement in our lives the laws of Yeshua, and by doing such die to ourselves to be alive in Him (the whole letter to the Romans is about this).

  • Eph. 4:17-32, 1 Cor. 5:1-13 – Part of Israel are the descendants of Jacob; the ones who recognise Yeshua as the messiah. The other part of Israel are the gentiles who come to the Lord. All are working out their salvation with fear and trembling (i.e. the 2 aspects of the fight of Ya’akov, in fear of being cut away).

    And we can see that these are the problems that Reuben, Simon and Levi faced and didn’t overcome nor repent of. Reuben for having sexual intercourse with one of his father’s wives (and Jacob hearing of it meant that Reuben never confessed it nor repented of it), and the 2 brothers killing everyone in their anger at what happened to their sister when all the people were ready to right the wrongs.

  • But let’s go back to Jacob and his confrontation with God.

  • To become the overcomers that we are called to be and experience full victory in our lives, there are times when we must be tenacious in our faith and times when we must prevail in prayer. And it’s not easy, it’s even very painful, Jacob himself left the fight limping. Reading in depth we find that the limping was temporary though, for when Jacob met Esau, it was agreed between the 2 that Jacob would continue his journey very slowly on account, of the cattle and children, not on him limping badly (Gen. 33:14).

  • Gen 33:4 – Here we see that all Esau wanted was to lovingly welcome his brother. All of Jacob’s vain imaginations and worrying were for nothing; not only that, but all the worry took its toll on Jacob and spread fear, dread and despair amongst all the people as well.

  • While there is obvious reason to be prepared for the worst (like Jacob was), the bible teaches us that worrying about the future is pointless, since most of what we worry about never comes to pass anyway (Mat. 6:25, 34). Remember that if the Lord is with you who can be against you (Rom. 8:3; Psa. 118:6). It’s not that we should deliberately fail to recognise the pitfalls before us and go ahead blindly, but rather put all of our cares and concerns in the hands of God, trusting Him to take care of us in any and all situations, even those that could cause us to be fearful or distressed (Php. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:6-7; Psa. 55:22). If we allow the cares of this world to affect us, it can choke the word and make us unfruitful (Mar. 4:19).

  • Then Jacob goes back towards his homeland, buys a piece of land there to live in peace.

  • But his daughter Dinah gets raped by the son of the ruler of the place, who falls in love with her and tries to marry her – according to God’s instructions, if someone gets raped and the woman is in agreement with that, the man should marry her. If she is not in agreement, then the man should be killed.

  • Gen. 34:1-3 (LXX) – Dinah went to check the local girls, in other words, she went to make friends. According to Josephus, she did that during the time of a festival, so there would have been quite a crowd, and drinks available there.

  • Now when we look at the Greek word behind, “he took her”, we find the word ‘lambanō’, which means to take in order to carry away without the notion of violence, to take by craft. No violence here whatsoever, then we read that “he lay with her”. The Greek word behind it is ‘koimaō’ which means to cause to sleep, put to sleep, not to lay with. And then we read that he humbled/humiliated her. Now when we put all these info together we find exactly what happened:

  • Dinah went to a festival in the land, Shechem saw her there, went and mixed with her, as in talked to her, probably got her a drink of some sort which he spiked to have sex with her while she slept. He fell deeply in love with her and later on spoke gently to her, the HRB translates it as spoke to her heart and the Aramaic added that he did win her heart. So after the act of treachery he repented to her and she ended up falling in love with him. And that’s when he came with a sincere heart to make things right.

  • He went and told the family that he was ready to give anything for that. So even if it started terribly and that justice needed to be rendered he was ready for it, being ready to pay any type of cost for that.

  • But the sons of Jacob didn’t tolerate for the man to get a second chance and deceived him. Not only him but the whole townsfolk by asking all of them to be circumcised if they wanted peace. Which the whole city accepted and when they were at the height of the pain after being circumcised, incapacited by it, Simon and Levi went in and killed all the males, then all the brothers looted the city and took everything and everyone as their possessions. Jacob himself acknowledging that justice had to be done but not like this (this will show in the blessings he gives later on to Simon and Levi).

  • They committed an unjust act, and Jacob was not happy about it.

  • As Christians, we are told that we can be angry but not sin in that anger (Eph. 4:26). We are to be like our Lord, who is slow to anger and abounding in mercy (Num. 14:18; Psa. 103:8; 145:8; Jam. 1:19-20).

  • Gen. 34:30 – 35:5 – After what his sons had done, Jacob feared what the local inhabitants would do to him; but instead, a fear from God fell upon all the surrounding cities so that they wouldn’t pursue them. There are 2 lessons for us to learn from this:

    1. If we recognise God to be the only one, and we put away all our idols and false gods, the Lord will put the dread of Himself on all the people we face, and all our enemies will fear us (Deu. 2:25; 11:25). By removing all false gods, Yahweh renewed with Jacob, the covenant He made with his ancestors; blessing Jacob so much that whatever he decreed would come to pass.

    2. If we have a high standing with God, are in Him and we turn from His ways and decide to move into sin, bad things will happen to us the point of being destroyed. Why am I stating this here? Let’s look at things in details:

  • Gen. 33:18-20 (LXX) – The city they decided to pitch their tent in front of was Salem, having for king Hammor, a ruler whose son would go about raping girls. This seemed to have been a common occurrence for none of the people of Salem got up in arms about Shechem having done it, and the Sons of Jacob poured out their anger upon all the men of the city, holding them all accountable. What a fall from when Abraham met Melchizedek, the king of Salem and Priest of the Most High God, so knowledgeable in God’s ways to the status of wickedness in which we find all the inhabitants of Salem during the time of Jacob! This can explain why destruction came upon the inhabitants of the city, without much punishment for its instigators.

  • Gen. 35:16-18 – Then to go back to Jacob and all his people running away from Salem, we are told that on the way Rachel, went into labour, having another baby but things were not going well and Rachael died whilst giving birth – this was a surprise to everyone, however, it was already announced/decreed beforehand by Jacob (Gen. 31:31-32). With Rachel having stolen the family gods and Jacob having gotten rid of all false gods to put the one true God first, that implemented the decree he had proclaimed and Rachel died…

  • Gen. 35:21 – We then have Reuben sleeping with his dad’s wife and Jacob will bring that back when it’s the time of blessing his children. This is also a reminder for us that sexual immorality is a sin and we should stay away from it, and from the brethren practising it (1 Cor. 5:9-13). This applies to the brethren being in any sin and not willing to address it and turn away from it. As Paul said to the Corinthians, it’s not about the people in the world, it’s about fellow believers. Our own actions are what will convict the world. If we were not to associate with unbelievers, how could they ever be convicted? It is the only chance they have to be saved. We are to go into the world but not partake in the sins of the world.

  • Gen. 36 goes into the genealogy (the proper meaning is plural – generations/histories) – some of the names appear a few times in the bible, and they are always people who are going up against Israel, to the point where God decides to obliterate Esau’s descendants; they don’t exist anymore and cannot be found; they have been completely eradicated (Jer. 49:8+).

  • In chapter 36 there are two sets of genealogies:

    1. Esau, his children, and their children – 3 generations;

    2. The inhabitants of mount Seir, before Esau and his tribe arrived there. Seir, his children, and their children – 3 generations. Seir means rough, hairy, shaggy. His name is also related to another Hebrew word meaning he-goat, faun, Satan, devil. He was a Horite (meaning cave dweller) and they were known to the ancient Greeks as troglodytes (cave men: could theses cavemen be some of our so called prehistorical ancestors as taught in school?).

It’s interesting to note that most of the time when we are told about “generations”, they go by 3, with a forefather then his children and the children of his children. Like when the bible refers to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – 3 generations.

  • Gen. 2:4 speaks of the generations of the heavens and earth (not the inhabitants). Not as one generation, but as 3, one creation, the forefather, then 2 rebirths. So we then, as children of Adam are living in the 3rd generation of the earth, waiting for the 4th one to come, when heaven and earth will pass away in a big bang to be consumed by fire and then birthed anew (2 Pet. 3:7-13; Rev. 21:1).

  • We must pray for our nation/s as we are in a time where sin is everywhere. The Lord will raise a standard/banner, but we are the banner; His people are the standard. He is showing His kingdom, and where is the kingdom? Within us. This is why we must live a sinless life, because sin is abounding. When darkness surrounds we need to be that light shining bright (Mat. 5:14-16; Joh. 1:5; 2 Cor. 4:6). No more fornication for God’s people which is any kind of thing bringing arousal outside of marriage, as we saw last week.

  • As per in the marriage: first marriage is between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:24) and members of the same sex aren’t to have sex, or anything close to it, with one another, for that is an abomination to the Lord (Lev. 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27: the word “unseemly there refers to the sexual organs in Greek). So what does homosexuality encompass?

  • 1 Cor. 6:9-10 (KJV) – Let’s look at the words used here:

    1. Fornicator – Strong’s #4205 ‘pornos’ “to sell, a male prostitute (as venal), a debauchee (libertine): fornicator, whoremonger.” à Paramours in English.

      • Prostitute: “one who solicits and accepts payment for sex” (American Heritage College Dictionary).

      • Venal: “capable of betraying honor, duty, or scruples for a price, corruptible” (AHCD).

      • Debauchee/debauchery: “to corrupt morally, to lead away from excellence or virtue, indulge in dissipation [lacking moral restraint, indulgence in sensual pleasure], orgies [unrestrained sexual activities],”

      • Libertine: “one without moral restraint” (AHCD)

    2. Effeminate – Strong’s #3120 malakos “soft, fine clothing, a catamite, effeminate.” à Catamites in English

      • Catamite: “a boy who has a sexual relationship with a man” (AHCD).

      • Effeminate: “having characteristics more often associated with women than a man” (AHCD).

    3. Abusers of themselves with mankind – Strong’s #733 arsenokoites “a sodomite, defile self with mankind.” à Sodomites in English

  • The elements of the Greek word arsenokoites are “male-lier”-A male who lies with a male. “Male bed partners”–Wycliffe Bible Dictionary.

  • So beyond fornication which was explained last week we see that sex with children and between persons of the same gender are prohibited.

    But looking at this we see something else too: the word sodomy used to be defined as anal and oral sex between persons of same or different genders. This is now changing, but a change also happened in the past from what that word originally meant, that is when the word homosexual first appeared. The word homosexual is a German made word from the mid 19th century which came to replace the word sodomite. Sodomite being one who practises sodomy. There that affected in turn that word too, which used to be linked only to homosexuality.

  • So when reading the word carefully we come to see that not much is said about what is okay or not within the boundaries of the marriage covenant, and we have to look mostly in the NT to find our answers:

    1. Firstly we are to change our views on sexuality. We are told not to desire/covet someone else’s spouse (Exo. 20:17) nor covet anyone outside the marriage covenant (Exo. 20:14; Mat. 5:27-28). But as the Lord is jealous for us that means we are to be jealous for our spouse, in a godly way and desire/covet our spouse, in a godly way, which is keeping God first and foremost (1 Cor. 7:29; husband and wives are to look after one another and please one another as in 1 Cor. 7: 33-34 but since the time is short, it has to be subject to looking after the things of God). A Godly jealousy is not a jealousy that chokes and stifles but that guard and grows the spouse.

    2. Secondly, in light of pleasing and desiring one another, everything needs to be subject to few elementary rules:

      • if it’s prohibited don’t do it (like anything which has a spouse lusting after someone else other than their spouse, or/and not having their spouse at the centre of their sexual desire; having sex during menstruation, or when one of the spouses has some illness directly related to the genitalia, with the secretion of some abnormal substance. Also keep in mind that what the body ejects is unclean, so is the semen, so no eating it (Exo. 20:14, 17; Mat. 5:27-28; 15:17; Lev. 15);

      • if nothing is directly stated about it (like for masturbation, oral or anal sex) then follow Paul’s set of guidelines: everything is to be done with mutual consent (1 Cor. 7:5; no spouse should be forced or coerced into anything, there has to be 100% agreement); it has to be according to the natural purpose for it (Rom. 1:26); but keep in mind that some parts of our bodies have dual or more functions (breasts are for feeding the baby for example, but also for pleasure: look at ). After, all things have to be done in kindness, if it hurts one spouse it’s not right (1 Cor. 13:4; Eph. 4:32). The wife is to instigate, in most of the cases, the lovemaking (check the analogy husband-wife and God-believer in the Word). Also since a spouse doesn’t have authority over their own body (1 Cor. 7:4), everything is therefore done to pleasure the other and not our own self. So no act can be done towards ourselves unless directly instigated (physically or verbally) by the spouse, not you. And as a final principle everything which concerns the couple needs to be prayed about by the couple, together.

      • And as you follow these guidelines the marriage bed is kept pure and undefiled (Heb. 13:4).

  • As a last point concerning marriages, I’d say that things are quite different than when unmarried. When unmarried, and adult, your headship is the Lord. When married, the 2 become one, belonging to the other spouse. The lord being the headship of that new formed being. Therefore you will find the fullness of your relationship in Him through one another. Everything has to have a shared component, where the wife is submitted to the husband as long as what he presents is in agreement with the Word and doesn’t hurt her (if not she has to respectfully stand against). The husband needs to protect his wife, bringing all the things which will keep her safe and loved (at a physical, soulish and spiritual level).

Comments are closed.