Parashah: “VaYishlach” (and he sent)
GENESIS: 32:3-36:43................OBADIYAH 1:1-21.............MATT 13:1-58
We see in this week's parashah, that Ya'akov is on his way home to Beth-El, He comes to his “encounter” with his brother Esav. It is a time of tension for him, as we know, he “stole” from him the blessing. Or was it really theft? Remember that Esav “sold” or “traded” his birthright for a “bowl of red lentils” so, was it really theft? Perhaps we can say that Jacob took advantage of his brother's worldliness and carnal nature, some say it was “deceit” but was it really?
Jacob and Esau departed as enemies. Time has passed and Jacob has had much to think about. He feels perhaps guilt and remorse for having taken advantage of his brother. YHVH has blessed him with wives and children, the future “Am Yisrael” He now feels a need for “compensation” for wrongdoing. Therefore, to “ease” the angry spirit of Esau, (so Jacob thinks) he sends him gifts of cattle, hoping to “cool him off”
But let's think about that, are compensation and restitution necessary for wrongdoing? The Torah says YES, it is. If I borrow your camera, and I drop it, break it, I will owe you another camera, if you and I have a wrestling match, and I accidentally break your hand, I would have to pay the doctor's bill, etc. This is the true meaning of “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”
Just for precautionary measures, he separates his family, “just in case” Esau is still on the war-path. Can we blame Jacob? Esau is coming to meet his brother with 400 armed men! Oi Vey, why with 400 men? Armed too! Could this be an attack? Or friendship rekindled? Jacob is “Schvitzen” (sweating). But now he is about to encounter “GOD” in the flesh
He says “Adonai, help!” hey God, remember your promise? To keep me safe? You aren't going back on your promise, are you? YHVH responds with a personal visit that night. A very interesting visit.
The Torah says that during the night “a man wrestled with him until the break of day” Ya'akov didn't know it then, but he was wrestling with “HaMalach Elohim (The Angel of the LORD). How do we wrestle with God today? Ever think of that? Good question! We all “wrestle” with God in trying to understand his ways in our lives, some of his ways are uncomfortable, his ways might be testings, trials, hardships, and trying to understand how these events will work for “good” in our lives.
Trying to find HIS perfect will for our lives is one way, dealing with “flesh vs spirit” issues is another way. Trying to get HIM to follow “us”, instead of “us” following HIM is another way. Just seeing where we fit in with his plan for our lives is a wrestling match, yet “Jacob prevails” he says, “Bless me before you go!” YHVH says to him “Your name will no longer be Ya'akov, but Yisrael” Jacob prevailed, he passed the test, and now, he has a new name. If we look at the letters; Y I S R A E L we see YaSheR – EL “Straight to God”. And the name YISRAEL has the names of the patriarchs (Ya'akov, Sarah, Rivkah, Avraham, Leah).
It is also interesting that both the angel and Jacob ask for names? First, the angel asks for his name, then, Jacob asked for a name. Remember that in the book of Exodus, Moshe asks God his name also. The same answer is given; “Why do you ask me my name?”
We are so different from G-d, since we are finite beings, our names (at times) describe who we are. We are, in a sense, boxed in by names. We tend to act according to our names. Yet, G-d is very different. Why is that?
Adonai-Elohim can not be “boxed in” by a name, He is “beyond names,” He told Moshe; “Ehye Asher Ehye” (I am who I am) which is not really answering the question, He is telling him “I have existed, I exist, I will exist” Now that answer was not given to Jacob (now Israel) Adonai answered his question with a question; “Why ask me my name?” Today, we have many, many names that describe who God is. The most common three have been and are Elohim, El, and Yah. When we read the names of prophets, they contain either of the two “El” or “Yah”. We also see that Israel states; “I have seen the face of God and have lived (Panim el Panim) But why “faces?” why not “face?” one could say “13 faces” or “attributes” which describe who Elohim is.
Jacob finds himself alone, facing, as he thinks, eminent danger from being slaughtered by his brother Esau, He puts his family in hiding, he sends gifts of cattle to Esau to maybe “soften him up” he might think. Now comes a wrestling match. Jacob is at his wits ends, it is only he and Elohim. Elohim comes to visit him in form of the “Angel of YHVH” the Torah says that he “wrestled with a man all night” and Jacob did not relent, he did not give up the wrestling match until the Angel touched his thigh, thus wounding him. Then comes the interesting part, the Angel gives him a blessing, he changes his name from “Jacob” to “Israel”
From “trickster, deceiver” to “straight to G-d” When we see the name “Yisrael” it can be divided into two parts; “Yasher- El” (straight to G-d) the name “Yisrael” also contains the acronyms of the patriarchs and matriarchs who played a part in forming the nation of Israel; “YI” Yitzchak “S” Sarah “R” Rachel and Riv’kah “AE” Abraham “L” Leah. The gematria for the word “Yisrael” (Yod, Sheen, resh, aleph, lamed) adds up to 541, when we add together 5+4+1 = 10. “10” symbolizes the Torah, it was to the nation of Israel that the 10 Commandments were given as a “wedding contract” or “contract of nationhood”
Israel now says something interesting; “Vayikra Ya’akov Shem haMakom Peniel Ki ra’iti Elohim Panim Et Panim” (and Jacob called the name of that place “Peniel” (face of God) for I have seen Elohim “faces to faces”.What is interesting is that here, the word “face” is used in the singular and in the plural. Peni-el, (face of God) in the ancient paleo-Hebrew letters, the word is symbolized as “mouth, life, action, God, Leader” in gematria, the word “Peniel” adds up to 171, (the unique, one (Echad) G-d is perfect) when we add 1+7+1 = 9. “9” is the number of “emet” (truth) and “Yeshua” also has that title.
But “Panim El Panim” (faces to faces) is somewhat strange, or is it? How many faces does God have? Or does he even have a face, since he is “spirit”? In one way, he “has a face” in physical form as the “Angel of YHVH, Jacob saw him, Abraham also saw him. But now “faces?” what could that mean? Here is one idea;
I am sure you can remember as a child, making “funny faces” in the mirror. You might have seen in elementary school; school work papers that have different “faces” and you have to guess what they are. A “sad” face, a “happy” face, an “angry” face, etc. do the “faces” describe the person? Or are “faces” an indication of the person’s internal being? I am sure you can remember your mother or father’s face when you disobeyed or goofed up something, you knew you “were in trouble” just by looking at their face. Just as our parents had their “faces” which illustrated what was going on inside their soul and being, so our Heavenly Father has different attributes, personalities, feelings, attitudes, etc. that “could” be compared with “Panim” (faces).
He has the “Panim Rachamim” (faces of Mercy) or “mercies” (endless mercy!”) He has the “face of forgiveness” the “face of longsuffering” the “face of patience” yet the faces of “punishment” “chastisement” “judgment and condemnation” for unrepentant sinners, the faces of “joy” and “wrath” of “happiness and sadness” “approval and disappointment” the face of a “God who listens and responds” the list could go on.
We can just imagine the “face” of God when he sees us doing certain things, both “kosher” and “un-kosher”
If we can imagine his faces, then, we can imagine how he is feeling inside when we are in obedience or disobedience. Another way of seeing “Panim El Panim” is “Faces God Faces” because “El” is one of G-d’s names. (the shortest one)
Can we say that during that night of ordeal, when Jacob wrestled with the “Malach Elohim” he saw the different “faces” of G-d? perhaps he saw in the “Panim Elohim” the future of his descendants, his 12 sons! Of course, we know that YHVH is spirit, and in the natural realm, the creator of the universe doesn’t really have a “human-like” face, yet we still use the word “face” and “faces” to try and imagine our heavenly father. Something to think about.
Israel is now surrendered to the will of YVHV. He meets Esau, the meeting is touching, no hard feelings. And Israel renders homage before his brother, a very penitent attitude. They fall upon each other’s necks and kiss and weep! The “Midrash” has a funny explanation for that. The “Midrash” (a rabbinical commentary) says that the reason Esau wept was that he tried to bite Israel's neck, yet Israel's neck has turned to iron, and Esau broke his teeth, trying to bite him! Kinda funny, but when we look at the symbolism, we see the idea of Israel being a “stiff-necked people” (I would say iron is stiff, just try to bend it) yet many will try to “bite” or destroy Israel, and Israel will prevail! But not before suffering because of having a “stiff neck”. Here’s this to think about. How do you bend an “iron neck?” You HEAT it up in the fire, and then, it will bend. Israel went through a lot of testings and trials and still is going through times of trouble. Sometimes, God must apply the HEAT in order that we might BEND to His will.
Here’s an interesting word. The word is “garti” (in Hebrew) meaning “I stayed with”. Jacob sent “messengers” to seek out Esau to tell him that his brother Jacob wanted to meet with him. These “messengers” were non-other than “Malechim” (Angels). There were there as an “encampment” to watch over and protect Jacob. The message was; “I stayed with Laban and remained until now…” (Gen 32:4) The word “garti” is rather interesting in that the gematria of that word adds up to “613” which is the number of the commandments in the Torah. One way to look at that is to say that even though Jacob stayed with Laban, and in spite of Laban’s trickery, and his idolatry (since he had pagan idols in his house, remember that Rachel stole them) Jacob did not become corrupted by him. Jacob kept his eyes on God, He revered the teachings of Adonai. This was before the written Torah. The 613 commandments didn’t come until after the 400 years of slavery in Egypt. We could say then that this was about 600 years before the event of Sinai and the written Torah.
One can say that Jacob was following the Oral Torah, that which was learned from his father Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham. Who is to say that Adonai didn’t teach Jacob also, perhaps in dreams. One can only imagine. We can also look at “garti” in this manner. It adds up to “613” yet 6+1+3 = 10. “10” is the number of the “whole Torah” The most important commandment of the Torah is “Love thy God with all of thy heart, soul, might, and strength, and love thy neighbor as thyself” These are Yeshua’s words! That is the way he summed up the whole Torah. That is how Jacob lived, he loved God and showed love for his neighbor, “his brother” whom he defrauded and who is now making “restitution” by sending him all the gifts of cattle. Making amends is very important. There is such a thing is “restoration” (of relationships) and “restitution” (for things, perhaps stolen, destroyed, etc.)
Israel and his children go to Shechem, where we see that “Dinah is raped” and the brothers take drastic action and retaliate, destroying the city. I would say very “rash” and “violent “action. But why would they want to associate with people who are idol worshipers? Case being, they had no business there in the first place. If you are in the wrong place and at the wrong time, you're bound to get “bit”. However, Jacob (Israel) builds an altar there and called it “El-Elohei-Israel” (God, the God of Israel) He stands firm in his convictions, yet his sons have a lot to learn. There are probably many times when we act rashly, and do not so kosher things, embarrassing our relationship with YHVH.
Yes, Israel was very angry with his sons, plus they used “circumcision” as a trick to weaken the men of Shechem, something sacred was used for vengeance. There are quite a few things we can learn NOT to do, by observing the “sons of Jacob”. What we learn from this Torah portion is; from wrongdoing, we offer restitution, and from restitution, we get restored fellowship. But at times, we cannot offer material restitution for wrongdoing, only a sincere “I am very sorry for what I did, please forgive me” and we must leave it at that, now the ball is in the other person's hand, they can either throw it back to us with forgiveness or “throw it away” with forgiveness. We just have to leave it in God's hands.
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