Parashah 7: Vayetze (He went out)
Genesis 28:10 through 32:3
Parashah 7: Vayetze (He went out) - Genesis 28:10 through 32:3.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): Hosea 12:13 through 14:10.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): John 1:43-51.
Tanach Scriptures are from Stern's Complete Jewish Bible; B'rit Chadash Scriptures from the Aramaic English New Testament.
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 last week's portion we saw that Ya'akov (the younger of Yitz'chak's twins) bought the birthright from his brother Esav in exchange for a bowl of lentil soup, and then tricked his aging father Yitz'chak into thinking he was Esav so he could also receive the blessing of the firstborn. Thus, Ya'akov became our third Patriarch. AND saw YHWH condoning it!
This week's Torah portion, however, is a true "soap opera" of human behavior as we learn the history of Ya'akov (Jacob), the son of Yitz'chak (Isaac), who - in order to escape the wrath of Esav - was sent to live with his grandfather B'tu'el (his maternal grandfather) and told to choose a wife from the daughters of his Uncle Lavan, Rivkah's brother (who, although he was "family" did not worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob).
So Ya'akov went toward Haran and one night he dreamed he was in the Presence of YHWH:
Genesis 28: 10 Ya'akov went out from Be'er-Sheva and traveled toward Haran. 11 He came to a certain place and stayed the night there, because the sun had set. He took a stone from the place, put it under his head and lay down there to sleep. 12 He dreamt that there before him was a ladder resting on the ground with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of ADONAI were going up and down on it. 13 Then suddenly ADONAI was standing there next to him; and he said, "I am ADONAI, the God of Avraham your [grand]father and the God of Yitz'chak. The land on which you are lying I will give to you and to your descendants.
14 Your descendants will be as numerous as the grains of dust on the earth. You will expand to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. By you and your descendants all the families of the earth will be blessed. 15 Look, I am with you. I will guard you wherever you go, and I will bring you back into this land, because I won't leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
Note that, at that point Ya'akov promised a tithe (a tenth) of everything he would ever own to YHWH (Gen. 28:22 - this is the first time we see "tithing"....); and then he continued on his way until he ended up living in the household of his Uncle Lavan, where he ultimately fell in love with Lavan's youngest daughter, Rachel.
NOTE: While Avraham's offering to Melchizedek in Genesis 14:20 is actually the first time we see "tithing" - a "tenth" given; notice that it is given to Melchizedek, and not to YHWH. Verses 18-20: Malki-Tzedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine. He was cohen of El 'Elyon [God Most High], so he blessed him with these words: "Blessed be Avram by El 'Elyon, maker of heaven of earth and blessed be El 'Elyon, who handed your enemies over to you." Avram gave him a tenth of everything. It is generally accepted that it is Arvam giving the tithe, though the original Hebrew is unclear in both who is the giver and who is the receiver.
But in Genesis 28:22, we have Ya'akov acknowledging that his tenth is to YHWH. "22 and this stone, which I have set up as a standing-stone, will be God's house; and of everything you give me, I will faithfully return one-tenth to you." Genesis 28 is where we see the "first" tithe to YHWH.
Genesis 29: 18 Ya'akov had fallen in love with Rachel and said, "I will work for you seven years in exchange for Rachel your younger daughter." 19 Lavan answered, "Better that I give her to you than to someone else; stay with me." 20 So Ya'akov worked seven years for Rachel, and it seemed only a few days to him, because he was so much in love with her.
And so Ya'akov worked seven years for his uncle in exchange for the beautiful Rachel's hand in marriage. But look what happened:
Genesis 29: 21 Ya'akov said to Lavan, "Give me my wife, since my time is finished, so that I can start living with her." 22 Lavan gathered all the men of the place and gave a banquet. 23 In the evening he took Le'ah his daughter and brought her to Ya'akov, and he went in and slept with her. 24 Lavan also gave his slave-girl Zilpah to his daughter Le'ah as her slave-girl.
Lavan ended up deceiving Ya'akov on his wedding night by bringing Ya'akov his oldest daughter, Leah to pretend she was Rachel, because their custom was that the oldest daughter was to be married first! Naturally Ya'akov was furious when he discovered he had been duped, but the deed was done, and there was nothing he could do about it.
How could he be so deceived? Well, Scripture doesn't say; however, we must remember, it was dark when the lights were doused, and since male/female interaction in those days was a lot more limited, Ya'akov probably had never touched either one of the women - and, considering the modest clothing, he may not really have much of an idea as to their form or shape.
So, Lavan promised to give him Rachel as well in exchange for another seven years of work - and this is how Ya'akov ended up with two wives, one he loved more than the other....(Please understand this does NOT mean YHWH condoned multiple wives as so many Messianic teachers suggest! Men (who, as you know, were given "free will" by YHWH) did this without His permission....)
Next, we see the birth of eleven of the twelve Tribes of Israel - some of whom were born to the slave girls of Ya'akov's two wives:
Genesis 29: 31 ADONAI saw that Le'ah was unloved, so he made her fertile, while Rachel remained childless. 32 Le'ah conceived and gave birth to a son, whom she named Re'uven [see, a son!], for she said, "It is because ADONAI has seen how humiliated I have been, but now my husband will love me."
33 She conceived again, gave birth to a son and said, "It is because ADONAI has heard that I am unloved; therefore he has given me this son also." So she named him Shim'on [hearing]. 34 Once more she conceived and had a son; and she said, "Now this time my husband will be joined to me, because I have borne him three sons." Therefore she named him Levi [joining]. 35 She conceived yet again, had a son and said, "This time I will praise ADONAI"; therefore she named him Y'hudah [praise]. Then she stopped having children.
Two things: It is important to note that YHWH caused the second wife (Rachel) to be infertile, and thus two very important tribes came out of the original wife (Leah): Levi and Yehudah. Levi, as we will ultimately discover, would be chosen to be the Tribe of priests who served YHWH; and Yehudah (where the term "Jew" originated!) would become the Tribe who were to bring Messiah Yeshua into the world, and to also continue keeping alive knowledge of the Torah. (This is why "the world" hates "the Jews" so much....)
Again, it is very important to note that YHWH never told men to have more than one wife; MAN did these things on his own, and YHWH allowed men that choice for some reason. In the meantime, an entire cult following has sprung up that insists YHWH condoned multiple wives.
Next we see some terrible jealousy and wrangling (another sign that God never intended men to have more than one wife!) between Rachel and Leah to bear sons for Ya'akov:
Genesis 30: 1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing children for Ya'akov, she envied her sister and said to Ya'akov, "Give me children, or I will die!" 2 This made Ya'akov angry at Rachel; he answered, "Am I in God's place? He's the one who is denying you children." 3 She said, "Here is my maid Bilhah. Go, sleep with her, and let her give birth to a child that will be laid on my knees, so that through her I too can build a family." 4 So she gave him Bilhah her slave-girl as his wife, and Ya'akov went in and slept with her. 5 Bilhah conceived and bore Ya'akov a son. 6 Rachel said, "God has judged in my favor; indeed he has heard me and given me a son." Therefore she called him Dan [he judged].
7 Bilhah Rachel's slave-girl conceived again and bore Ya'akov a second son. 8 Rachel said, "I have wrestled mightily with my sister and won," and called him Naftali [my wrestling]. 9 When Le'ah saw that she had stopped having children, she took Zilpah her slave-girl and gave her to Ya'akov as his wife. 10 Zilpah Le'ah's slave-girl bore Ya'akov a son; 11 and Le'ah said, "Good fortune has come," calling him Gad [good fortune]. 12 Zilpah Le'ah's slave-girl bore Ya'akov a second son; 13 and Le'ah said, "How happy I am! Women will say I am happy!" and called him Asher [happy].
14 During the wheat harvest season Re'uven went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Le'ah. Rachel said to Le'ah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes [so that I can be fertile]." 15 She answered, "Isn't it enough that you have taken away my husband? Do you have to take my son's mandrakes too?" Rachel said, "Very well; in exchange for your son's mandrakes, sleep with him tonight." 16 When Ya'akov came in from the field in the evening, Le'ah went out to meet him and said, "You have to come and sleep with me, because I've hired you with my son's mandrakes." So Ya'akov slept with her that night. 17 God listened to Le'ah, and she conceived and bore Ya'akov a fifth son. 18 Le'ah said, "God has given me my hire, because I gave my slave-girl to my husband." So she called him Yissakhar [hire, reward].
19 Le'ah conceived again and bore a sixth son to Ya'akov. 20 Le'ah said, "God has given me a wonderful gift. Now at last my husband will live with me, since I have borne him six sons." And she called him Z'vulun [living together]. 21 After this, she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah [controversy over rights]. 22 Then God took note of Rachel, heeded her prayer and made her fertile. 23 She conceived, had a son and said, "God has taken away my disgrace." 24 She called him Yosef [may he add], saying, "May ADONAI add to me another son."
The only "Tribe" missing is Binyamin, whom we will meet when he is born, in next week's parashah (Genesis 35:18). Note that, while we see a daughter (Dinah) born to Leah, only the sons became known as the "Tribes" of Israel.
After his eleventh son Yosef was born, Ya'akov decided it was time to return to his father's homeland. Because he had been so badly deceived and used as "free labor" for 20 years by Lavan, Ya'akov devised a scheme to "pad his pocket" by accepting Lavan's offer to give him a part of his huge herd of goats:
Genesis 30: 27 Lavan answered him, "If you regard me favorably, then please listen: I have observed the signs that ADONAI has blessed me on account of you. 28 Name your wages," he said; "I will pay them." 29 Ya'akov replied, "You know how faithfully I have served you and how your livestock have prospered under my care. 30 The few you had before I came have increased substantially; ADONAI has blessed you wherever I went. But now, when will I provide for my own household?" 31 Lavan said, "What should I give you?""Nothing," answered Ya'akov, "just do this one thing for me: once more I will pasture your flock and take care of it.
32 I will also go through the flock and pick out every speckled, spotted or brown sheep, and every speckled or spotted goat; these and their offspring will be my wages. 33 And I will let my integrity stand as witness against me in the future: when you come to look over the animals constituting my wages, every goat that isn't speckled or spotted and every sheep that isn't brown will count as stolen by me." 34 Lavan replied, "As you have said, so be it." 35 That day Lavan removed the male goats that were streaked or spotted and all the female goats that were speckled or spotted, every one with white on it, and all the brown sheep; turned them over to his sons; 36 and put three days' distance between himself and Ya'akov. Ya'akov fed the rest of Lavan's flocks.
37 Ya'akov took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white streaks on them by peeling off the bark. 38 Then he set the rods he had peeled upright in the watering troughs, so that the animals would see them when they came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, 39 the animals mated in sight of the rods and gave birth to streaked, speckled and spotted young. 40 Ya'akov divided the lambs and had the animals mate with the streaked and the brown in the flock of Lavan. He also kept his own livestock separate and did not have them mix with Lavan's flock. 41 Whenever the hardier animals came into heat, Ya'akov would set up the rods in the watering troughs; so that the animals would see them and conceive in front of them; 42 but he didn't set up the rods in front of the weaker animals. Thus the more feeble were Lavan's and the stronger Ya'akov's. 43 In this way the man became very rich and had large flocks, along with male and female slaves, camels and donkeys.
In Genesis 31 we see YHWH commanding Ya'akov to return to the land of his ancestors - which was good timing because by this time Lavan and his sons had figured out that Ya'akov had somehow ended up with the better animals, and they were angry and ready to go to war over the entire situation.
But Ya'akov decides to take his family and animals and all his possessions and flee across the Euphrates to return to his homeland. Just before they leave, unbeknownst to Ya'akov, Rachel stole her father's household idols/gods (which, of course, went over like the proverbial "lead balloon") and was part of the reason Lavan and his kinsmen pursued and confronted them - and look what happened:
Genesis 30: 25 When Lavan caught up with Ya'akov, Ya'akov had set up camp in the hill-country; so Lavan and his kinsmen set up camp in the hill-country of Gil'ad. 26 Lavan said to Ya'akov, "What do you mean by deceiving me and carrying off my daughters as if they were captives taken in war? 27 Why did you flee in secret and deceive me and not tell me? I would have sent you off with joy and singing to the music of tambourines and lyres. 28 You didn't even let me kiss my sons and daughters good-bye! What a stupid thing to do! 29 I have it in my power to do you harm; but the God of your father spoke to me last night and said, 'Be careful that you don't say anything to Ya'akov, either good or bad.' 30 Granted that you had to leave, because you longed so deeply for your father's house; but why did you steal my gods?"
31 Ya'akov answered Lavan, "Because I was afraid. I said, 'Suppose you take your daughters away from me by force?' 32 But if you find your gods with someone, that person will not remain alive. So with our kinsmen to witness, if you spot anything that I have which belongs to you, take it back." Ya'akov did not know that Rachel had stolen them. 33 Lavan went into Ya'akov's tent, then into Le'ah's tent and into the tent of the two slave-girls; but he did not find them. He left Le'ah's tent and entered Rachel's tent. 34 Now Rachel had taken the household gods, put them in the saddle of the camel and was sitting on them. Lavan felt all around the tent but did not find them. 35 She said to her father, "Please don't be angry that I'm not getting up in your presence, but it's the time of my period." So he searched, but he didn't find the household gods.
Ya'akov (who didn't know what Rachel had done) became angry with Lavan for falsely accusing of stealing the household "gods"; and ultimately, the two men made a pact to leave each other alone, and each went his own way.
In the last couple of Torah lessons we've come to realize that Ya'akov gained his "birthright" through deceptive means - and he also ultimately became rich through deceptive means! However, here's something to think about:
Deuteronomy 23: 19 "You are not to lend at interest to your brother, no matter whether the loan is of money, food or anything else that can earn interest. 20 To an outsider you may lend at interest, but to your brother you are not to lend at interest, so that ADONAI your God will prosper you in everything you set out to do in the land you are entering in order to take possession of it.
Lavan was a pagan! As we've seen, he had "household gods." So, we could conceivably view Ya'akov's becoming rich as the "interest" due him for the 21 years of basically free work he did for Lavan - especially after Lavan initially deceived him by giving him the wrong daughter and thus forcing him to work another seven years for him; and for all the times Lavan "changed the rules" on Ya'akov. Just a thought....
In this Torah portion we could again sense the mess mankind had made because of the original sin in the Garden of Eden. In the Garden all was well; there were no problems, no lying, no stealing, no deceit, no sickness, stress nor strife. Since that time we have seen time and time again where man's decadence became so great, that YHWH destroyed the entire earth by flood, and then He destroyed Sodom and Gemorah by fire for the horrendous decadence committed there.
So far, we have seen ungodly acts of all kinds committed - such as murder, incest, lying, conniving, stealing, etc. Ultimately, because man could never "get it right," YHWH sent us Yeshua who died on our behalf as our Final Sin Sacrifice, and whose sacrifice allows ALL who chose Him to be "clean" enough to enter eternity. Baruch haShem YHWH (praise God) for His awesome grace and mercy!
Our Haftara mentions Jacob's flight from home to the "field of Aram," an episode that is recounted in this week's Torah reading. The reading begins with the prophet Hosea's rebuke of YHWH's people for forsaking Him. Nevertheless, Hosea assures the people that YHWH will not abandon them, and not return to destroy Ephraim.
Hosea discusses the misdeeds of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the future degeneration of the Kingdom of Judea, contrasting their behavior to that of their forefather Ya'akov (Jacob) who was faithful to God and prevailed against enemies, both human and angelic. The haftarah also makes mention of the ingathering of the exiles which will occur during the Final Redemption.
At the end of the haftara portion, we see Hosea pleading with Israel to stop provoking YHWH and return to Him - words that echo into our sin-riddled world today!
Hosea 14: 1 Return, Isra'el, to ADONAI your God, for your guilt has made you stumble. 2 Take words with you, and return to ADONAI; say to him, "Forgive all guilt, and accept what is good; we will pay instead of bulls [the offerings of] our lips. 3 Ashur will not save us, we will not ride on horses, and we will no longer call what we made with our hands our gods. For it is only in you that the fatherless can find mercy." 4 "I will heal their disloyalty, I will love them freely; for my anger has turned from him. 5 I will be like dew to Isra'el; he will blossom like a lily and strike roots like the L'vanon.
6 His branches will spread out, his beauty be like an olive tree and his fragrance like the L'vanon. 7 Again they will live in his shade and raise grain; they will blossom like a vine, and its aroma will be like the wine of the L'vanon. 8 Efrayim [will say], 'What have I to do any more with idols?' And I, I answer and affirm him; I am like a fresh, green cypress tree; your fruitfulness comes from me." 9 Let the wise understand these things, and let the discerning know them. For the ways of ADONAI are straight, And the righteous walk in them, but in them sinners stumble.
This Haftorah portion points us to the ultimate desire of YHWH's heart in that it shows us that all is not lost and that, when we come to repentance, we can receive restoration and forgiveness! ADONAI always gives us hope!
B'rit Chadasha readings:
Our Brit Chadasha portion refers back to "Jacob's Ladder" in Genesis 28:10-13. It also reveals that Y'shua our Messiah came from the Tribe of Yehudah, whom YHWH loved:
John 1: 43. And on another day, Y'shua wanted to depart to Galeela and found Peleepa and said to him, Come after me! 44. Now Peleepos was from Beth-Saida, the city of Andraus and of Shimon. 45. And Peleepos found Nathaniel (Bar-Tulmay) and said to him, "He concerning whom Moshe wrote in Torah and the prophets, we have found him! He is that Y'shua, the son of Yosip of Nasrath." 46. Nathaniel said to him, "Is it possible that anything that is good to be from Nasrath?" Peleepos said to him, "Come, and you will see!" 47. And Y'shua saw Nathaniel while coming toward him and said concerning him, Behold, truly a son of Yisrael in whom there is no deceit!
48. Nathaniel said to him, "From where do you know me?" Y'shua said to him, Before you were called Peleepos, while you were under the fig tree, I saw you. 49. Nathaniel answered and said to him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of Elohim. You are the King of Yisrael." 50. Y'shua said to him, Because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree you have believed; for even greater than these things you will see. 51. He said to him, Truly I say to you that from now on you will see the heavens that are opened and the Messengers of Elohim while ascending and descending to the Son of man.
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....
Next week's Parashah reading will be:
Parashah 8: Vayislach (He sent) - Genesis 32:4 through 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.
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