Parashah 8: Vayishlach “and he sent”
B'reisheet “in the beginning” (Genesis) 32:3-36:43 Psalm 140
'Ovadyah (Obadiah) 11:7-14:9 Hebrews 11:11-20
by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley
3 Ya'akov sent messengers ahead of him to 'Esav his brother toward the land of Se'ir, the country of Edom,
messengers: מַלְאָכִים [mal-a-khim] = angels, messengers, envoys, ambassadors
4 with these instructions: “Here is what you are to say to my lord 'Esav: 'Your servant Ya'akov says, “I have been living with Lavan and have stayed until now. 5 I have cattle, donkeys and flocks, and male and female servants. I am sending to tell this news to my lord, in order to win your favor.”'”
With two sons, the inheritance Yitz'chak would have passed on would have been split into thirds, with the “firstborn” getting a double portion (compared to the other portions). Even so, Jacob could not use or enjoy any of it as his own until:
Yitz'chak died, and
Ya'akov took possession of it.
Yet Ya'akov had fled the land “with only my staff” in his hand (Gen. 32:10).
And so, for these 20 years, the rights and responsibilities of the firstborn have fallen to 'Esav after all.
6 The messengers returned to Ya'akov saying, “We went to your brother 'Esav, and he is coming to meet you; with him are four hundred men.” 7 Ya'akov became greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people, flocks, cattle and camels with him into two camps, 8 saying, “If 'Esav comes to the one camp and attacks it, at least the camp that is left will escape.”
God had told Ya'akov to “return to the land where you were born” (Gen. 31:13), but had not told him what would happen once he did.
He often does the same with us, but when He does give us clear direction (or even just clues), we need to trust in what He tells us; and that He knows what He is doing.
E.g. in Luke 8 (22ff) Yeshua told His talmidim, “Let's cross to the other side of the lake.” He fell asleep in the boat, a great storm arose, His talmidim were afraid they were about to die. Yeshua rebuked the wind and rough water and they calmed right down. Then He rebuked His talmidim, “Where is your trust (faith)?”
Yeshua had told them, “Let's cross to the other side of the lake,” not “Let's go drown in the middle”!
Awestruck, they marveled, asking one another, “Who can this be, that he commands even the wind and the water, and they obey him?” (The bold, red, and italic words are strongly emphatic in the original Greek of this passage.)
The last time Jacob had seen Esau he was “a skillful hunter, an outdoorsman” (Gen 25:27). The last he had heard about Esau was, “Here, your brother 'Esav is comforting himself over you by planning to kill you” (Gen 27:42).
For all he knew Esau had been nursing a grudge all these years.
9 Then Ya'akov said, “God of my father Avraham and God of my father Yitz'chak, Adonai, who told me, 'Return to your country and your kinsmen, and I will do you good': 10 I'm not worthy of all the love and faithfulness you have shown your servant, since I crossed the Yarden with only my staff. But now I have become two camps. 11 Please! Rescue me from my brother 'Esav! I'm afraid of him, afraid he'll come and attack me, without regard for mothers or children. 12 You said, 'I will certainly do you good and make your descendants as numerous as the grains of sand by the sea, which are so many they can't be counted.'”
Everything of worth, everything of value gets tested:
gold and silver through the furnace
learning through tests and exams
even cars get a “test drive”
Ya'akov had a word from the LORD that would be tested as well.
Every word from God, every revelation, will be tested; we can count on it.
He became greatly afraid and distressed (verse 7); started devising a plan (verse 7); and a rational (verse 8); then he prayed (verse 9)!
In our humanity we often do the exact same thing. We stress and “freak out,” start thinking of contingency plans, and then … oh, yeah pray.
If we would pray first we could avoid a lot of the stress and not “freak out” so much. (What's the saying? “If you can't say 'amen!' say 'ouch!'”)
“God of my father Avraham and God of my father Yitz'chak, Adonai (יהוה), Who told me … I'm not worthy of all the love and faithfulness you have shown your servant ….”
Praying as Ya'akov did, beginning with acknowledging Who the LORD is to us, is not for God's benefit: He already knows it. It is for our benefit – to help us remember.
It helps us put, and keep, things in a more proper perspective. As the saying goes, “Don't tell God how big your storm is. Tell the storm how big your God is.”
It also helps us recognize and remember “the love and faithfulness You have shown.” The LORD is loving and faithful in all His dealings with us: and gracious and merciful beyond comprehension.
Early in our time as missionaries in northern Belgium the Dutch missionary / pastor we were working with asked the congregation, “Where would you be without the grace of God?” Without thinking I said, “Burning in hell.”
the Hebrew root word translated “love” here is from the plural form of חֶסֶד [kheh-sehd] which is a multifaceted word variously translated: kindness, piety, reproof, beauty, favor, goodness, kindly, loving-kindness, mercy, pity, grace, devotion, steadfast love, and faithfulness
added to this is the prefix הַ [ha] meaning “the”
the Hebrew root word translated “faithfulness” here is אֶמֶת [eh-meht] meaning:
Strong's: stability; (figuratively) certainty, truth, trustworthiness
BDB: firmness, faithfulness, truth
used of testimony and judgment
used of divine instruction
truth as a body of ethical or religious knowledge
added to this is the prefix הַ [ha] meaning “the”
Verse 11: Please! Rescue me from my brother 'Esav! I'm afraid of him, afraid he'll come and attack me, without regard for mothers or children.
Be honest with God: He knows the truth already. Don't lie to yourself, or to Him.
There is a teaching that gets promoted now and again that says we have to “maintain a positive confession.” It goes hand-in-hand with such ideas as
“Never admit that you have problems.”
“Never give the devil any credit.”
“If you have problems or sickness, you must have sin in your life.”
While popular in some circles, these are more the doctrines of demons than Scripture.
Maintaining a “positive attitude” is a good thing (especially in aviation), but you don't find it in God's Word.
What we find in Scripture is men and women being open and honest with the All-Mighty, and then trusting that He can change and remedy the situation. This is what Ya'akov is doing in this passage; this is what David does in the Psalms. This is very different from “maintaining a positive confession” or pulling ourselves up by the spiritual bootstraps.
Sin can cause problems and / or sickness in our lives: that should be obvious. But to say that because someone has problems or sickness it is a direct result of personal (or possibly hidden) sin in their lives is to assume the place of God and make judgments that are not ours to make.
We live in a sin-stained world, and (to paraphrase a bumper sticker) “stuff happens.”
When Adam and Eve fell, sin, sickness, rot, destruction, and death entered the world, and the results of the Fall have been felt ever since.
There is strong reason to believe that atmospheric dust is the result of collision and destruction brought on by the Fall.
Do we hear anyone preaching that “the presence of dust in your house means you must have hidden sin in your life”? How preposterous!
Yet, by the same logic we are told that if we have problems or sickness it must be because of hidden sin in our life. How preposterous!
If you don't have sickness in your life and your joints are not aching, you are fortunate and extraordinarily blessed.
If you don't have problems in your life … well, you better lay down, you're already dead!
Ya'akov knew what Esav was like when he left. Now that 20 years have past, all he has to go on is the way things were.
As we go through life, we know how the LORD is working in our lives; how we have been changed.
But without being around to see any changes in another person, we tend to expect that they will be just the same as when we knew them before we parted ways.
It is not “reality,” but it is “normal,” and something to keep in prayer.
13 He stayed there that night; then he chose from among his possessions the following as a present for 'Esav his brother ….
Ya'akov prayed and took action.
Some advocate prayer only – and then sit and “wait on God.”
Others practice action only; either forgetting or ignoring prayer.
Prayer is a “religious” and / or “legal” request for help: but it does not alleviate our need for action.
Our greatest action is in spending time before the throne of God, seeking His face, guidance, and direction; verbalizing our requests, and then sitting quietly, listening for His reply.
It is also in spending time in His Word; getting to know Him and His ways better and better.
Another part of our action may be very physical and practical,
as Ya'akov did here,
as Nehemiah did in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and
as Hezekiah did in diverting the city's water supply by building an underground aqueduct that is still operational today.
Thinking that all we ever have to do is simply pray and wait for God to move reminds me of the story of a man during a terrible flood.
As the water was rising someone came by in a boat and offered him a ride. “No, I'm waiting on God. He will save me.” Later as the water reached the second story he saw another boat. The people told him to get in, they could help him. “No, I'm waiting on God,” he said. “He will save me.” Late in the day as the water covered the roof, the man clung to his chimney. A helicopter flew by and lowered a rescue line. “No,” the man shouted, “I'm waiting on God. He will save me,” and waved off the helicopter.
The next thing the man knew, he was standing before the All-Mighty. “Lord, I don't understand. I prayed and I trusted You to save me. What happened?” The LORD replied, “I don't understand it either. I sent you two boats and a helicopter!”
24 and Ya'akov was left alone. Then some man wrestled with him until daybreak.
It is often when we are at the end of ourselves, left alone, and in the dark that we wrestle with the issues of life.
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.
What we truly confront and wrestle with will change our walk.
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.”
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue
The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” is a deception. The truths and lies we believe will feed life or death to our spirit, our soul, and eventually our body.
Acts 3:6 Kefa said, “I don't have silver, and I don't have gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of the Messiah, Yeshua of Natzeret, walk!”
We can not give what we do not have, but we can give what we do have. A candle looses nothing of itself by lighting another.
27 The man asked, “What is your name?” and he answered, “Ya'akov.” 28 The 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.”
NIV … Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.
NASU … Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.
NKJV … Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.
NLT … Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.
Ya'akov (יַעֲקֹב) = “heel holder” or by implication “supplanter” [his name given at birth]
Isra'el (יִשְׂרָאֵל) [his name given as an adult with a proven character] is from two words:
שָׂרָה [sa-rah] meaning: and – אֵל [el] meaning:
to contend, – God, God-like One, the Mighty One
to have power, – angels
to contend with, – a god, a false god, (demons,
to persist, imaginations
to exert oneself, – God, the one true God, Yahweh
Notice that Isra'el does not necessarily mean “to contend,” etc against God, though in reading Scripture we see, at times, he may have done that.
However, who has ever really contended, persisted, exerted himself, persevered, etc., against God and prevailed?!?
“To contend with” may also carry the meaning of working along side God as they both looked toward the same goal(s).
Strong may have something like this in mind as he defines Isra'el as coming from שָׂרָה and אֵל and meaning “he will rule as God.” (in Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: Together with Dictionaries of the Hebrew and Greek Words Of the Original With References to the English Words, by James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D. – popularly called “Strong's,” or “Strong's Concordance.)
The New King James Version has a footnote saying that “Israel” literally means “Prince with God.”
The King James Version renders it, “… Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”
שָׂרָה [sa-rah: princess] is also the feminine form of שַׂר [sar: prince, chief, commander]
The word picture for שַׂר is a devouring man or a devourer of men: this can be in a positive or negative sense.
In a negative sense, Psalm 119:161 says, “Princes persecute me for no reason ….”
In a positive sense, Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace [sar shalom].”
The word picture for שָׁלוֹם [shalom] tells us that peace comes when we destroy the authority that establishes (or connects with) chaos.
True “peace” is not the “absence of conflict” but rather the presence of God.
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.”
Verse 24 identifies this individual as “a man” (אִישׁ [ish]), yet here as “God” (אֱלֹהִים [eh-lo-him]). This has led many to see this as a pre-incarnate appearance of Messiah: a theophany.
The following article is copied from Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.
Manifestation of God that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period often, but not always, in human form. Some would also include in this term Christophanies (preincarnate appearances of Christ) and angelophanies (appearances of angels). In the latter category are found the appearances of the angel of the Lord, which some have taken to be Christophanies, reasoning that since the angel of the Lord speaks for God in the first person ( Gen 16:10 ) and the human addressed often attributes the experience to God directly ( Gen 16:13 ), the angel must therefore be the Lord or the preincarnate Christ. Yet, though the angel is clearly identified with the Lord, he is distinguished from him (he is called "angel, " meaning "messenger" similar patterns of identification and distinction can be seen in Genesis Genesis 19:1 Genesis 19:21 ; Genesis 31:11 Genesis 31:13 ; Exodus 3:2 Exodus 3:4 ; Judges 2:1-5 ; Judges 6:11-12 Judges 6:14 ; Judges 13:3 Judges 13:6 Judges 13:8-11 Judges 13:13 Judges 13:15-17 Judges 13:20-23 ; Zech 3:1-6 ; 12:8 ). In the ancient oriental world, a king's messenger spoke in the name of the king. Any insult rendered him was interpreted as an insult to the king himself (cf. Hanun's treatment of David's embassy, 2 Sam 10:1-4 ; 1 Chron 19:2-6 ). There seems, therefore, no necessity to posit a theophany for the angel of the Lord. In Joshua 5:13-6:5, the conquest narrative is interrupted by the abrupt appearance of a being who calls himself the "commander of the army of the Lord" (5:14). To interpret this event as an encounter with God or with the preincarnate Christ forces the text. Angels were sent on missions of this kind ( Judges 6:11 ; 13:3 ), and some were identified as captains over heavenly armies ( Daniel 10:5 Daniel 10:20 ; 12:1 ). While there are no indisputable Christophanies in the Old Testament, every theophany wherein God takes on human form foreshadows the incarnation, both in matters of grace and judgment.
Following are a number of what may be considered classic theophanies. The Lord appears to Abraham on his arrival in the land, wherein God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants ( Gen 12:7-9 ); God reaffirmed his promises of land and progeny when Abraham was ninety-nine years old ( Gen 17:1 ), and on the Plains of Mamre on his way to destroy Sodom ( Gen 18:1 ). God appeared to Jacob in his dream at Bethel ( Gen 28:11-19 ). It is also clear that in the events at the Jabbok ford, Jacob somehow received a revelation through an encounter with God, although neither a strict reading of the text ( Gen 32:22-32 ) nor its later interpretation by Hosea ( 12:3-4 ) demand a theophany.
God appeared to Moses alone on the mountain ( Exod 19:20 ; 33:18-34:8 ). God also appeared to Moses, with Aaron and his sons and the seventy elders ( Exod 24:9-11 ) and in the transfer of leadership to Joshua ( Deut 31:15 ).
While he suffered, Job had complained that he sought an audience with God ( 31:35 ). At the conclusion of the book the Lord appears in a thunderstorm to deliver two discourses, designed to grant Job's request for a hearing and arguably to supply at least one of the meanings for Job's affliction: God is sovereign.
In a looser sense, God's promise of the land to Abraham ( Gen 15 ), as well as his commission that Abraham sacrifice Isaac ( Gen 22 ), could be considered theophanies. Frequently the term, "glory of the Lord, " reflects a theophany, as in Exodus 24:16-18; the "pillar of cloud" has a similar function in Exodus 33:9. The Spirit of God or the Spirit of the Lord must be considered theophanous, particularly when it comes upon men, transforming them ( 1 Sam 10:6 ) and equipping them for divine service ( 1 Sam 16:13 ). The Lord appears to people in visions ( Gen 15:1 ; 46:2 ; Job 33:15 ; Psalm 89:19 ; Dan 2:19 ; Acts 9:10 ; 18:9 ) and in dreams ( Gen 20:3 ; 31:24 ; 1 Kings 3:5 ; Matt 2:13 ) to reveal his plans for them or to unveil mysteries for the future.
The Lord appears in theophanies both to bless and to judge. A frequent introduction for theophanies may be seen in the words, "The Lord came down." Examples may be found in Genesis 11:5, Exodus 34:5, Number 11:25, and Numbers 12:5. Although the most common verb for the manifestation of the glory of the Lord is "appeared" ( Lev 9:23 ; Num 14:10 ; Numbers 16:19 Numbers 16:42 ; 20:6 ), God's glory also "settled" on Mount Sinai ( Exod 24:16 ).
William C. Williams
Bibliography. Th. Booij, Biblia65 (1984):1-26; J. Vander Kam, VT23 (1973):129-50; M. G. Kline, WTJ40 (1977):245-80; J. Lust, VT25 (1975):110-15; E. W. Nicholson, VT24 (1974):77-97; idem, VT25 (1975):69-79; K. L. Schmitz, Faith and Philosophy1 (1984):50-70.
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell. Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan USA. From http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/theophany.html accessed 05 Dec 14.
1 Ya'akov raised his eyes and looked out; and there was 'Esav coming, and four hundred men with him. So Ya'akov divided the children between Le'ah, Rachel and the two slave-girls, 2 putting the slave-girls and their children first, Le'ah and her children second, and Rachel and Yosef last.
Being concerned for their survival and the fulfillment of God's promise of future generations, Jacob has the children stay by their mothers.
The children are then with the adult with the most natural concern for their wellbeing. If they need to flee from Esau and his men, they would be with someone to care for them and help protect them.
3 Then he himself passed on ahead of them and prostrated himself on the ground seven times before approaching his brother.
Isra'el then puts himself between the possible threat and his family.
Even exhausted as he would have been from the night's encounter, and now wounded with his hip out of joint, the shepherd puts his life on the line to protect his flock.
Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, since he isn't a shepherd and the sheep aren't his own, sees the wolf coming, abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf drags them off and scatters them. 13 The hired worker behaves like this because that's all he is, a hired worker; so it doesn't matter to him what happens to the sheep.” (John 10:11-13)
Some think, after Jesus lays down His life, then the wolf can get the sheep. That is not what He is saying.
Yeshua is saying here that He will do whatever it takes to protect His sheep, even if it costs His life the sheep will be protected.
Prostrating himself on the ground seven times
in complete humiliation, humbleness, and submission to his brother
4 'Esav ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him; and they wept.
A peaceful reunion that prompted the release of great emotion.
5 Esav looked up; on seeing the women and children, he asked, “Who are these with you?” Ya'akov answered, “The children God has graciously given to your servant.”
As humans, we tend to resent (and can eventually despise) what we feel we are “stuck” with, but we tend to appreciate what we feel we have been “blessed” with.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)
Much of our attitude(s) are a matter of choice, e.g.
Do I choose to serve the LORD with gladness?
Do I choose to find enjoyment in reading and studying His “love letters” to us?
Do I choose to look forward to worshipping together and hearing the Word preached?
Do I choose to look for the best in my spouse and to love her in ways that are meaningful to her (i.e. her “love language(s)”)?
Do I choose to speak kindly to and about my spouse?
Do I choose to think romantically and sexually about only my own spouse?
Do I choose to bless, pray for, confide in, talk with my spouse every day?
Do I choose to physically, verbally, and demonstrably show my spouse love every day?
Real love always puts the other person and their relationship with the LORD first.
What does “love” look like? Adonai, God, the LORD, Yeshua, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Ruach HaKodesh
Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful, 5 not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not gloat over other people's sins but takes it delight in the truth. 7 Love always bears up, always trusts, always hopes, always endures. 8a Love never ends. (1 Cor 13:4-8a, emphasis original)