Parashah 8: Vayislach (He sent)
Genesis 32:4 through 36:43
Parashah 8: Vayislach (He sent) - Genesis 32:4 - 36:43.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): Hosea 11:7 through 12:12.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; Revelation 7:1-12.
Tanach Scriptures are from Stern's Complete Jewish Bible; B'rit Chadash Scriptures from the AENT.
Welcome "newbies" and "oldies!" By now you all know that Torah was written by Moshe (Moses) and consists of the first five Books of the Bible which contain God's original Divine Instructions in Righteousness. Since this is a Netzarim (Nazarene/Messianic) website, we refer to God by His proper Name: Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, transliterated into English as YHWH, and most likely pronounced "Yah-way" (see Exodus 3:13-15). His Son's Name is Y'shua (most likely pronounced "Ye-shoo-ah"). Enjoy this week's Torah portion!
In the previous Torah portion we saw Ya'akov (Jacob) fleeing from his father-in-law Lavan as he heads back to his homeland and his own father. Unfortunately, he still needed to face his twin brother, Esav (Esau), who squandered his his birthright in exchange for a bowl of lentil soup (Genesis 25), and later, getting his father Yitz'chak (Isaac, the second Patriarch) into giving him (Ya'akov) the blessing of the firstborn (Genesis 27). Please read Genesis 32:4 - 22 to get a feel for Ya'akov's anxiety and frustration about meeting Esav for the first time in more than 20 years.
This week's parashah is exciting on several levels because we get to see YHWH's "grand plan" in birthing Israel as a people and a nation! Here's how it unfolded:
Genesis 32: 22 He got up that night, took his two wives, his two slave-girls, and his eleven children, and forded the Yabok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, then sent his possessions across; 24 and Ya'akov was left alone. Then some man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When he saw that he did not defeat Ya'akov, he struck Ya'akov's hip socket, so that his hip was dislocated while wrestling with him. 26 The man said, "Let me go, because it's daybreak." But Ya'akov replied, "I won't let you go unless you bless me." 27 The man asked, "What is your name?" and he answered, "Ya'akov." 28 Then the man said, "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."
Please note verse 24 where "some man wrestled with him until daybreak." As we continue reading, you should have noticed that this couldn't be just any man; it was Yeshua, the arm of YHWH (Isaiah 53:1) sent in the form of a man to wrestle with Ya'akov! How do we know this? Please refer back to Genesis 32:3-5 and also Genesis 35:1 where YHWH says: "Get up, go up to Beit-El and live there, and make there an altar to God, who appeared to you when you fled 'Esav your brother. (Genesis 32:3-5)"; plus nobody but YHWH has the power to rename someone - especially the man who would end up giving birth to what became known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel!
Plus, as we read on, Ya'akov himself says:
Genesis 32: 29 Ya'akov asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he answered, "Why are you asking about my name?" and blessed him there. 30 Ya'akov called the place P'ni-El [face of God], "Because I have seen God face to face, yet my life is spared." 31 As the sun rose upon him he went on past P'ni-El, limping at the hip. 32 This is why, to this day, the people of Isra'el do not eat the thigh muscle that passes along the hip socket - because the man struck Ya'akov's hip at its socket.
This is confirmed in our Haftarah reading in Hosea 12:4-5 (3-4 in some versions):
Hosea 12: 3 "In the womb he took his brother by the heel; in the strength of his manhood he fought with God. 4 Yes, he fought with an angel and won..."
We know from Exodus 33:20 that nobody can look upon God without dying, and so YHWH in His Mercy and Grace, sent His "Son" in His place. If this doesn't bring tears to your eyes....
So here comes that "million dollar question" that is surely on everyone's mind: "You believe 'the man' that Ya'akov was wrestling was Yeshua, yet in the Hosea reading it refers to Ya'akov wrestling with an angel. Yeshua is higher than the angels in that He is ONE with YHWH and he came from Him, so why would he be called an angel?" Angels don't "forgive" or "save"....
One possible answer is: Perhaps Ya'akov didn't have the words to describe exactly "whom" Ya'akov was fighting and saw him as an angel. In the Genesis account, Ya'akov said he saw a "man" and yet called him "my lord"....Hosea is simply describing the event as if it was a spiritual thing. And don't forget that Yeshua comes long AFTER Hosea, so what else is Hosea going to describe Him as, except as an angel?
The second, and more rational response comes from author Andrew Gabriel Roth:
A question we need to ask ourselves is this: Can/does YHWH act as His own "Messenger" sometimes? For example, Genesis 18 - one "messenger/man" says, "shall I HIDE from Abraham what I am about to do?" I believe the first person "shall I hide?" and the fact that the "Messenger" is deciding to make a change on the fly rather than carry out orders without question...proves the "angel" there was YHWH.
Now, if that is true...Jacob clearly calls the "Messenger" as "Elohim" (and I grant you that "elohim" can refer to angels). But look at the way it is phrased: 28 He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed." (Gen 32:28 NAU)
So, we agree I think that the "man" is not a man only; the "man" then says of HIMSELF, "you have wrestled with ELOHIM" with verbs in the singular - therefore, Jacob wrestled with YHWH. "Ki-sarit" (striven) is masculine singular. The verb must match the noun in gender and number. I would need to check to be 100% certain but I believe references to ELOHIM that are SINGULAR always refer to YHWH - meaning that the verbs are also SINGULAR.
For example, some might say..."If Y'shua came in His Father's name and He is YHWH in that sense, could this not be Y'shua?" Can we speak on "Godhead" once Y'shua manifests in the flesh? Yes, of course, we can. But speaking of it retroactively is harder! In other words. we know Y'shua is the Word, and we know the Word becomes flesh at the start of the Gospels, but HOW Y'shua may appear as flesh (as opposed to YHWH) and then return to be the Word and then come down as flesh later--we don't have that info. It's COMPLICATED!
Returning to our Torah study:
Genesis 33 outlines the events that unfold when Esav and his 400 men come to meet Ya'akov. In the end, it's a tale of "All's well that ends well" as Esav has obviously forgiven his brother and greets him and his family with open arms. Eventually we realize their father's (Yitz'chak) blessing/prophecy in Genesis 27 came true in today's parashah:
Genesis 27: 40 You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you break loose, you will shake his yoke off your neck."
Genesis 36: 6 'Esav took his wives, his sons and daughters, the others in his household, his cattle and other animals and everything else he owned, which he had acquired in the land of Kena'an, and went off to a country distant from his brother Ya'akov. 7 For their possessions had become too great for them to live together, and the countryside through which they were traveling couldn't support so much livestock. 8 So 'Esav lived in the hill-country of Se'ir. ('Esav is Edom)
In other words, the twin brothers "kissed and made up" and then went their separate ways.
In Genesis 34, we once again see humanity at its basest level, as deceit begets deceit, and that, even YHWH's people - as blessed as they are - are still "human" in their reactions to others and to "the world" in general.
It all starts when the pagan Sh'khem (son of a local ruler) raped Ya'akov's daughter, Dinah. Naturally, Ya'akov is furious, but he restrains himself until he speaks with Sh'khem's father Hamor, who ends up asking on behalf of his son for Dinah's hand in marriage. Ya'akov ultimately accepts with the condition that every male among Hamor's people become circumcised - which they surprisingly agree to do because there's an ultimate agenda:
Genesis 34: 20 Hamor and Sh'khem his son came to the entrance of their city and spoke with its leading men: 21 "These people are peaceful toward us; therefore let them live in the land and do business in it; for, as you can see, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters as wives for ourselves, and we'll give them our daughters. 22 But the people will consent to live with us and become one people only on this condition: that every male among us gets circumcised, as they themselves are circumcised. 23 Won't their cattle, their possessions and all their animals be ours? Only let's consent to do what they ask, and then they will live with us." 24 Everyone going out the city's gate listened to Hamor and Sh'khem his son; so every male was circumcised, every one that went out the gate of the city.
However, unbeknownst to them, Ya'akov, too, has an agenda:
Genesis 34: 25 On the third day after the circumcision, when they were in pain, two of Ya'akov's sons, Shim'on and Levi, Dinah's brothers, took their swords, boldly descended on the city and slaughtered all the males. 26 They killed Hamor and Sh'khem his son with their swords, took Dinah out of Sh'khem's house, and left. 27 Then the sons of Ya'akov entered over the dead bodies of those who had been slaughtered and plundered the city in reprisal for defiling their sister. 28 They took their flocks, cattle and donkeys, and everything else, whether in the city or in the field, 29 everything they owned. Their children and wives they took captive, and they looted whatever was in the houses.
30 But Ya'akov said to Shim'on and Levi, "You have caused me trouble by making me stink in the opinion of the local inhabitants, the Kena'ani and the P'rizi. Since I don't have many people, they'll align themselves together against me and attack me; and I will be destroyed, I and my household." 31 They replied, "Should we let our sister be treated like a whore?"
Moving on to Genesis 35 we see Ya'kov and his huge family continuing their journey toward his father Yitz'chak's home. In the vicinity of Beit-El, Rachel went into labor and gave birth to Ya'akov's twelfth son, Binyamin and then she died.
NOTE, in this chapter Moshe (writer of the Torah) reiterates who the Twelve Tribes are:
Genesis 36: 22 It was while Isra'el was living in that land that Re'uven went and slept with Bilhah his father's concubine, and Isra'el heard about it. Ya'akov had twelve sons. 23 The sons of Le'ah were Re'uven Ya'akov's firstborn, Shim'on, Levi, Y'hudah, Yissakhar and Z'vulun. 24 The sons of Rachel were Yosef and Binyamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah Rachel's slave-girl were Dan and Naftali. 26 And the sons of Zilpah Le'ah's slave-girl were Gad and Asher. These were Ya'akov's sons, born to him in Paddan-Aram.
Just before we are given the genealogy of Esav's line in Genesis 36, toward the end of today's parashah, we get to witness the death of our second Patriarch, Yitz'chak at the ripe old age of 180. At that point, Ya'akov (Jacob) became our third Patriarch.
A quick observation.
In ancient times, men knew to marry women. Even Sh'khem who raped Dinah, felt strongly enough about this woman to marry her. In our age, marriage has seemingly become less and less important. As a matter of fact, not too long ago one of the major television networks announced some poll which revealed that most Americans believe the "institution of marriage" to be obsolete. Today, sadly, our values no longer reflect YHWH's teachings concerning marriage.
If they did, we wouldn't have "latch-key kids" coming home from school to an empty house because their parents are both working to make ends meet in our "possession hungry" society where everybody feels they have to "keep up with the Joneses." We wouldn't have single-parent homes, or homes where "Tommy has two mommies or two daddies" - all things that are being integrated, against Torah, into our decadent society which is on the brink of falling apart.
As an aside, have you ever noticed how the people or things YHWH considers holy all begin with a Yod (the letter Y)? YHWH, Yeshua, Yisrael (Israel), Yerushalaiym (Jerusalem), two of the Patriarchs - Yitz'chak and Ya'akov, and a host of other people and things.
The impression that words that begin with the the Hebrew "yud" indicate something holy, is mostly anecdotal, but does seem to have some foundation in truth:
The "Yud" (Y) is the tenth letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet, and has the numeric value of 10. Leviticus 27:32 says "All the tenth from the herd or the flock, whatever passes under the shepherd's crook, the tenth one will be holy to YHWH."
It might only be interesting, but the "Yud" itself is spelled "yod-vav-dalet", and the yod, being essentially a "dot" is one dimension, the "Vav" is a line which is two dimensions, and the "dalet" is a line and line at right angles to it, indicating not only length, but width as well. So the Yud (or Yod) represents "full dimensionality" which is certainly appropriate for YHWH!
B'rit Chadasha readings:
Our Brit Chadasha portion today reflects our Torah portion by discussing man's wickedness and the importance of remaining set apart/holy.
1 Corinthians 5: 1. In short, it is reported, there is sexual sin among you; and such sexual sin as is not even named among the pagans, that a son should even take the wife of his father. 2. And you are puffed up, and have not rather sat down in grief, that he who has done this deed might be separated from you. 3. And I, while distant from you in body but present with you in spirit, have already, as if present, judged him who perpetrated this deed; 4. That all of you assemble together, in the name of our Master Y'shua Mashiyach, and I with you in spirit, together with the power of our Master Y'shua Mashiyach;
5. And that you deliver him over to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that in spirit he may have life, in the day of our Master Y'shua Mashiyach. 6. Your bragging is not praiseworthy. Don't you know, that a little leaven leavens the whole mass? 7. Purge out from you the old leaven, that you may be a new mass, as you are unleavened. For our Passover is the Mashiyach, who was slain for us. 8. Therefore let us celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of wickedness and bitterness, but with the leaven of purity and sanctity. 9. I wrote to you by letter, not to mingle with sexual sinners.
10. But I say not, with the sexual sinners who are in the world, nor (speak I) of the avaricious, or of the rapacious, or of the idol-worshippers, otherwise you would be obliged to go out of the world. 11. But this is what I wrote to you, that you don't mix, if anyone is called a brother, and is a sexual sinner, or avaricious, or an idol-worshipper, or a charlatan, or a drunkard, or rapacious, with him who is such, not even to eat bread. 12. For what business have I to judge them who are without? But those within the body, judge you, 13. And those without, Elohim judges; and remove you the wickedness from among you.
 And that "name" is the same as YHWH's (John 17:11) and means "YHWH is salvation." Once the basic understanding is in place of how all this comes from Him, it is acceptable to gather it all together and declare this affirmation of faith in YHWH and give thanks to His Son.
 The word for "leaven" here is makhmae, the cognate in Hebrew of which is chometz. Therefore, Rav Shaul is teaching the Corinthians by using Passover imagery, by commanding them to purge the chometz from the house of their hearts, so that they can be sanctified. Of course, the rest of this verse and the next proves this interpretation.
 Breaking of bread, of course, is a timeworn Middle Eastern custom that is done only with family and friends. If you cannot eat with someone (as Peter tried to separate himself in Galatians 2:13), then you cannot associate with them at all. If the sinner was out of the assembly, you were not permitted to persecute them. However, you could, and in fact you must, demand that such a person put away detestable habits if they are to join the assembly and partake of the communal and havdilah meals that Y'shua and his disciples enjoyed.
There is so much more that could be said about today's study, and we wholeheartedly urge you to read the cited scriptures through, if you haven't already done so. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to write! Thank you for reading our Torah study notes for this week, and we pray for you a blessed week ahead, that may you ever grow in your knowledge of YHWH. And, as always, please let us know if you ever see anything in our studies that sounds "off the mark"! Nobody has the market cornered on absolute Truth; we are all learning and obeying to the best of our abilities....
The next Parashah reading will be:
Parashah 9: Vayeshev (He continued living) - Genesis 37:1 through Genesis 40:23.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): Amos 2:6 through 3:8.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Acts 7:9-16; Revelation 7:1-12.
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