Hebrew Roots/Torah observance/Vayishlach

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Vayishlach Genesis 32-36

Twenty years have passed since Yaacov was in his homeland. Yahweh took him out and He brought him back in fulfillment of his prayer. During this period Yaacov had matured through the many experiences which he had while away.

Jacob (Yaacov) has prospered in all of his undertakings. He wishes to return to the land of his fathers, and sends messengers on ahead to his brother Esau, who lives in the land of Edom, to seek reconciliation. The messengers returned to Yaacov, saying, "We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him." Genesis 32: 6 These are presumably armed men. Yaacov went into panic! Immediately he went about devising a strategy so as to protect his family from possible annihilation. Yaacov prepares to meet Esau by preparing his family for a conflict and strategically placing them so as to preserve some alive, he also sends gifts to appease Esau's anger, meeting Esau's materialistic mindset. Most importantly, he prepared himself spiritually by calling upon Yahweh. Genesis 32: 9-12

Yaacov knew God, he acknowledged I'm sure His awesome power, but he never really trusted in God, he never really fully relinquished control of his life to Him. Now he had no choice, his options suddenly expired. Yahweh can't use us when we are in control, He needs broken spirits, contrite hearts and humility, and some times he has to afflict us in order to achieve them.

The three methods of preparation which he made seem contradictory, - aggression for battle and paying tribute in servanthood. His first recourse was to Yahweh and then to prepare on a natural level. He responds with understanding of Esau's loss of the blessings in making gifts to him, which shows a maturity which he did not previously possess, whilst also preparing to confront his anger by self-defence. His moment of truth had arrived and he was about to have the encounter of a lifetime.

Ya'acov Wrestled The name "YA'acov' (Ya'acov) means “Heel-grabber.” The name is a reference to his talent for not letting go. It is a wrestling name. Up till now, all the blessings Ya'acov had acquired were through deceit and cunning - the way of the flesh. Also he had heavily followed the wishes of his mother and lived up to his name 'heel' or a 'follower'. From the womb he had followed Esau, grasping for the blessings.

Ya'acov who had wrest the blessings from man in the past, now has to wrestle with the Angel and obtain the blessing on his own merits. He had to rise up out of the fleshly nature and attain the blessing on a spiritual level.

Before his encounter with Esau, Ya'acov finds himself wrestling during the night with this mysterious stranger. If we can imagine the situation, we see that under the canopy of a star-lit sky, a man and an angelic being are wrestling. Ultimately, the whole world would be affected by the match that took place in the quiet gorge. The audience, the heavenly hosts, looked on in awe, as the two rolled vigorously in the dust, limbs intertwined. Ya'acov clung tenaciously to the angelic being. Mysteriously, the angel could not overcome the human being, and yet he had the power to dislocate Ya'acov's hip with a touch. After wrestling all night, the angel said, "‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.' But Ya'acov replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.' The 'man' asked him, ‘What is your name?' ‘Ya'acov,' he answered" (Genesis 32:26-27, NIV).

The angelic being replied, "‘No longer will it be said that your name is Ya'acov, but Israel, for you have striven with the Divine and with human and have overcome'....and he blessed him there" (Genesis 32:29-30, ATS)

Yaacov's Encounter Who was the stranger with whom our forefather wrestled? Yaacov named the place Peniel where he strove with the "angel of Yahweh" during the night, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." (32:31). The name Peniel means the 'face of El' but if there were a different interpretation of vowel markings, it could mean "turn to El' or, 'my face (is toward) EL'. Yaacov saw the face of El and was changed. Each of the patriarch had a personal manifestation of Yahweh the Word, the 'face' of God. "Unto you who fear My Name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings" Malachi 4: 2

Yaacov was being released from his old nature in this struggle so that he would emerge in full submission and obedience to his Father. The man who had wrestled with Yaacov was Yahweh.

All his life he had wrestled with Yahweh to obtain things his way. He had been the believing heir to the promises but had sought to implement it in his own strength and by his own resources. Although his wrestlings in the past were with man in the natural, it was really with Yahweh that he was contending and finally in this final conflict Yahweh has broken the power of his natural strength and disabled his old nature. Now Yahweh could give him victory and he prevailed in his conflict with Esau.

Now Yaacov has a new identity, he is a "prince with God" and reigns victorious with Yahweh, and also over his previous enemy Esau. When we trust Him to overcome the difficulties of life we also reign in life with Him. How is it that Ya'acov became known as Israel, as one who prevails?

The Hebrew verb rendered as either "overcome" or "prevailed" is yakol, meaning "be able, to suffer, to endure, and thus to prevail, and overcome. " In this verse, it specifically speaks of "men in wrestling or battling."

Ya'acov “wrestled,” meaning he showed forth his strength, he fought, even as the Word instructs us to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). Ya'acov fought even though he was alone. He did not give up because no one joined him in the battle. Ya'acov drew on his God-given abilities and endured the situation. With resolute determination he grabbed hold of the God/man and refused to let go until He blessed him (32:26).

Ya'acov the deceiver, the supplanter, wrestles with Yahweh in such a consuming agony of soul that he as it were, almost wrenches from the "Angel" the spiritual transformation required for him to no longer function in his old fallen nature with its corrupt character traits of self-seeking and self-preservation, but instead to reign as a prince with Yahweh, to rule over the flesh and its inherent weakness and become the Israel of God, the man of spiritual stature that is able to birth the nation.

The struggle was so fierce that in the heat of the conflict, the sinew of Ya'acov's thigh was shrunk and thereafter he walked with a limp. What mighty wrestlings with the Almighty were necessary before Ya'acov was able to yield, and having been touched to the depths of his being, he was thereafter never the same again, he always walked with a limp. And Ya'acov saw the face of God and the evidence of that encounter was with him forever. He was a changed man. Genesis 32:24-32

Ya'acov's wrestling all night with the Angel resulted in him coming out a lame and a humbled man with a new name (identity). Did he gain the victory through appeasing Esau (v. 20) or by wrestling with his own limitations ? We all need to come to the place of our Peniel where we meet Yahweh face to face and come to the end of ourselves.

Herein lies the secret to becoming Israel: We must grab hold of the God/man, Messiah Yeshua; we must grab hold of the hem of His garment and cling to this, His tzit tzit. We must hold on to Him and resolutely refuse to let go (Numbers 15:38; Matthew 14:36). Then we will be made whole. Then we will prevail and obtain the blessing. Then we will be called Israel.

Israel is a name that was given as a blessing. It is variously said to mean, one who wrestles with God, or, powerful prevailing prince, a soldier of the Almighty, one who rules with God. Israel is a most important name, one that men have fought to claim for themselves for multiplied generations.

Who is the heir of this blessed title? To whom does it rightfully belong? We see a hint at the answer in Ya'acov’s division of his family into two camps prior to meeting with Esau. These two camps hint at the fact that Ya'acov’s family would one day be divided into two houses of Israel (Isaiah 8:14). Like their forefathers, they too would be sent forth in the earth. They would be used as “two witnesses” for the Holy One of Israel. They would declare the truth about the written Torah and about the Living Word. Ultimately, they will declare to the world that one is not completely understood without the other.

To Those Who Overcome In the book of Revelation, the Master describes Israel in terms of those who overcome. 1. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7) 2. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2:11) 3. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it. (Revelation 2:17) 4. He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, ‘To him I will give authority over the nations...’ (Revelation 2:26) 5. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Revelation 3:5) 6. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. (Revelation 3:12) 7. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:21) 8. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. (Revelation 21:7)

Esau's Response Esau is overwhelmed by Yaacov's generosity and by all his possessions, and it seems to make a deep impression. Yaacov bowed before him seven times. Is this a symbol of complete submission to Esau which touches his brother's heart to forgive?

Compare Matthew 18:21-22. The result was a beautiful reunion. Esau at first refuses the gift but he later accepts the gifts upon Yaacov's insistence that he has plenty.

Note Yaacov is giving out of a pure heart that which he had taken previously of that part of the blessing which Esau had desired - the material blessings. Is Yaacov outlining his possession so that Esau knows that he can now restore to him financially the loss of the material part of the birthright?

Yaacov has the true riches, the spiritual blessing and is content with what he has, therefore he has a freedom to give out from that with which he had been blessed. Genesis 33:10; Philippians 4:11-13; 1 Timothy 6: 6-11

The first time he was in Bethel, he was by himself and his vision was his alone. Now, he can proclaim the sanctity of the place to mankind. More importantly, he can use his own life as a demonstration and proof of Yahweh’s care: "And he built there an altar and he called the place E-l Bet-El (God the God of Bethel), because there HA’EL-HIM (this refers to the angels on the ladder) were revealed to him when he fled from before his brother (35:7). Yahweh appeared to Yaacov again when he came from Paddan Aram and He blessed him. And God said to him, “Your name is Yaacov; your name shall not be called only Yaacov, but Yisrael shall be your name.” And He called his name Yisrael (35:9,10).

This time, the name Yisrael is not derived, as the manlike angel said (32:29), from SIN-RESH-HEI, "he who strives," but from YUD-SHIN-RESH, "he who is upright with God." Yaacov is established in his newly attained walk of righteousness, the flesh has been dealt with.

And God said to him, “I am El Shaddai (the One Who is Sufficient). Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a congregation of nations shall be from you, and kings shall come forth from your loins. And the land which I gave to Avraham and to Yitzchak, to you I will give it, and to your seed after you will I give the land” (35:11,12).

Here Yahweh confirms the chosenness of Yaacov as one through whom the covenants of his forbears would be fulfilled and confirms the promises to his descendants. He also reveals His Name as He who is Sufficient to fulfill the promises to him, thus giving him reassurance and establishing him in his faith.

In the Land As they left Bethel after the covenant had been confirmed of his full inheritance of the promises, Rachel his beloved, goes into childbirth and in the process - dies giving birth to Benjamin, whom she chooses to name Ben-oni, son of my sorrow or my strength (passing). Yaacov chose to name him 'son of my right hand' (Bin Yamin) as a token to Rachel who was as his right hand. His name also has the meaning of 'son of the south' referring to the fact of being born in the land (to the south) and also, 'son of days' or 'son of happiness' - the son of his old age.

Rachel had stolen the household gods from her father Laban when they left the land, no doubt feeling justified to have a token of the family inheritance of their father after his spoiling of Yaacov. Yaacov had uttered a judgement of death upon whoever had stolen the 'teraphim', unknowingly that Rachel was the culprit. And so, the curse of the death sentence came upon her, but in His goodness He withheld it until she was in the land and she had delivered her second son and received her portion of the allotted inheritance in the building of the nation.

Some observe that it also fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Torah that Yaacov only have one wife in the land of their inheritance. It was no fault of Rachel that she was married to Yaacov after Leah, but it was contrary to Torah that a man marry two sisters, and to maintain the sanctity of the land of their inheritance, he could no longer be married to two sisters in the land of Israel. For that reason also she was not buried in the Cave of Macphelah as his wife, but was buried in the future territory of her son Benjamin in the land. Leviticus 18:18

Today that traditional site is located four miles south of Jerusalem and one mile north of Bethlehem. 1 Samuel 10:2 mention Rachels' tomb being well marked at that time.

At the time of Ya'acov's return, Esau was dwelling in the land and had the actual possession of the inheritance due to Ya'acov's absence. Although he had the blessing and the promises, he did not have possession of them experientially. In time Esau acknowledges the rights of Ya'acov to have the land and he departs to live in Seir. Genesis 36: 6-8

Just as Ya'acov took possession of his inheritance then, so it is prophesied that "the house of Ya'acov will possess their possessions" also in the future and none shall make them afraid. For it shall be for those who overcome. Obadiah 17

It is understood that Yaacov spent the next period of his life with his father Isaac before he passed on from this life. Yaacov and Esau bury him. (Genesis 35:27-29) The scripture says that He had fulfilled his days and we understand from that he had fulfilled all the purposes of Yahweh for his days.

The remainder of this scripture portion is given to Esau and his descendants. Esau obtained Mt. Seir which he gained from the Horites, descendants of Seir, and which Yahweh had allotted to him (Deuteronomy 2: 5) He became the father of the Edomites who later were hostile to Israel when they came through the wilderness to take their allotted inheritance in the land. Numbers 20:19-21