IT IS IMPERATIVE TO DO OUR BEST TOWARD THE REPAIRING OF FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS.
ויאמר מי לך כל־המחנה הזה אשׁר פגשׁתי ויאמר למצא־חן בעיני אדני׃
ויאמר עשׂו ישׁ־לי רב אחי יהי לך אשׁר־לך׃
ויאמר יעקב אל־נא אם־נא מצאתי חן בעיניך ולקחת מנחתי מידי כי על־כן ראיתי פניך כראת פני אלהים ותרצני׃
קח־נא את־ברכתי אשׁר הבאת לך כי־חנני אלהים וכי ישׁ־לי־כל ויפצר־בו ויקח׃
`Esav asked, "What was the meaning of this procession of droves I encountered?" and he answered, "It was to win my lord's favor." `Esav replied, "I have plenty already; my brother, keep your possessions for yourself." Ya`akov said, "No, please! If now I have won your favor, then accept my gift. Just seeing your face has been like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me. So please accept the gift I have brought you, for God has dealt kindly with me and I have enough." Thus he urged him, until he accepted it.
(Gen 33:8-11 CJB)
In this parasha we read of Jacob/Israel's return to the land. As I often remind people when studying the Tanach, "The deeds of the parents are portent to the children."The whole issue of Jacob's 21 year exile, his marriage to two sisters, and the condition of his return to the Land, contain prophetic landmark messages for Israel and the Jewish people today. I will try to give a small summary here.
- Jacob = Israel
- Leaving for Padan-Aram = The current Roman Exile
- Twenty-one years in exile = Twenty-one centuries of diaspora.
- Marrying two sisters = These two sisters will give Jacob two messianic seeds which will give birth to the idea of two Messiahs. Messiah ben Joseph (Rachel) and Messiah ben David (Leah).
The word of Adonai came to me: "You, human being, take one stick and write on it, 'For Y'hudah and those joined with him [among] the people of Isra'el.' Next, take another stick and write on it, 'For Yosef, the stick of Efrayim, and all the house of Isra'el who are joined with him.' Finally, bring them together into a single stick, so that they become one in your hand. When your people ask you what all this means, tell them that Adonai Elohim says this: 'I will take the stick of Yosef, which is in the hand of Efrayim, together with the tribes of Isra'el who are joined with him, and put them together with the stick of Y'hudah and make them a single stick, so that they become one in my hand.' The sticks on which you write are to be in your hand as they watch. Then say to them that Adonai Elohim says: 'I will take the people of Isra'el from among the nations where they have gone and gather them from every side and bring them back to their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Isra'el; and one king will be king for all of them. They will no longer be two nations, and they will never again be divided into two kingdoms. (Eze 37:15-22)
- Jacob obeys Hashem's command that it was the time for him to leave Padan-Aram = Israel obeys Hashem's calling to return to the Land.
- Jacob meets again with Laban = Israel peacefully breaks ties with Diaspora to become an independent state.
- Meeting with Esau = Today's history of the children of Esau still fighting their sibling rivalry family feud and trying to kill Jacob/Israel.
And this is where we are today: Ya`akov went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
(Gen 32:1) (32:2)
As he left the land, angels met him on a ladder to encourage him and reassure him that he will return. On his way back, the angels again greeted him.
When Ya`akov saw them, he said, "This is God's camp," and called that place Machanayim [two camps]. Ya`akov sent messengers ahead of him to `Esav his brother toward the land of Se`ir, the country of Edom, with these instructions: (Gen 32:2-3 CJB)
Jacob knows he cannot go back home without first meeting Esau. Esau has an army, Jacob doesn't. A military conflict would be suicide for Jacob and his family, the custodians of the covenant of Abraham. Twenty-one years of exile has taught some wisdom to Jacob. He has learned that deceit and forceful actions only lead to more deceits and forceful actions, a vicious circle with no end in sight. He has to use a wiser way. As we will see, Jacob will again pull a page out of his father's book (Isaac's issue of the wells Gen 26:12-35) and of his grand-father Abraham's book on how he was able to stay in the land of promise while it was occupied, by coming in peacefully, even making a treaty with the Philistines; letting Lot take advantage of him, as well as the Hittites taking advantage of him in the issue of the Cave of Machpelah.(Gen 12:6-9; 13:7-11; 21:27; 23).
"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. 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." ' " 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." Ya`akov became greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people, flocks, cattle and camels with him into two camps, (32:9) saying, "If `Esav comes to the one camp and attacks it, at least the camp that is left will escape." (Gen 32:4-8 CJB)
Again we have two camps. It has been suggested by the sages that the House of Rachel (with Joseph) was one camp and the House of Leah (with Judah) was the other. Not only an effort to preserve the descendants but again a foreshadow of the separation of the two houses of Israel.
Jacob will now pray. As Yeshua did when pursued by the devil in the desert, Jacob reminds Hashem of his own words of promise. This is the essence of spiritual warfare, being in the will of Hashem and praying by the word of His promise.
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': 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. (Gen 32:9-10 CJB)
Jacob has learned to be humble. He knows he is not worthy, so he prays in the name of the righteousness of his father Isaac, and of his grand-father Abraham. We do the same when we pray not by virtue of our own righteousness (which we do not have) but in the name and virtue of Yeshua's righteousness who "...is totally able to deliver those who approach God through him; since he is alive forever and thus forever able to intercede on their behalf."(Heb 7:25).
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. 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.' "He stayed there that night; then he chose from among his possessions the following as a present for `Esav his brother: (Gen 32:11-13 CJB)
Prayer is not always enough. If there is anything we can do, we must do it. In this case, Jacob will put most of his financial assets on the line. For Jacob, the fulfillment of the covenant is worth more than all the cattle, silver and gold that he owns. He also knows that his brother hankers for material wealth. Yeshua taught discipleship according to the same ideas:
"Or again, suppose one king is going out to wage war with another king. Doesn't he first sit down and consider whether he, with his ten thousand troops, has enough strength to meet the other one, who is coming against him with twenty thousand? If he hasn't, then while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation to inquire about terms for peace. "So every one of you who doesn't renounce all that he has cannot be my talmid. " Luke 14:31-33)
Two hundred female goats and twenty males, two hundred female sheep and twenty males, thirty milk-camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten colts. He turned them over to his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, "Cross over in front of me, and keep a space between each drove and the next one." He instructed the servant in front, "When `Esav my brother meets you and asks you, 'Whose servant are you? Where are you going? And whose animals are these?' then you are to say, 'They belong to your servant Ya`akov, and they are a present he has sent to my lord `Esav; and Ya`akov himself is just behind us.' " He also instructed the second servant, and the third, and all that followed the droves, "When you encounter `Esav, you are to speak to him in the same way, and you are to add, 'And there, just behind us, is your servant Ya`akov.' " For he said, "I will appease him first with the present that goes ahead of me; then, after that, I will see him myself -- and maybe he will be friendly toward me." So the present crossed over ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp. He got up that night, took his two wives, his two slave-girls, and his eleven children, and forded the Yabok. He took them and sent them across the stream, then sent his possessions across; (Gen 32:14-23 CJB)
Before entering the land, Jacob had to make his peace with Laban. He also had to make his peace with his brother. Hebrews 3 and 4 teaches us a midrash about entering the land being similar to entering Shabbat. It is a good idea to try to repair relationship, say sorry to people we offended before we enter Shabbat. This is what Yeshua taught, "If you are offering your gift at the Temple altar and you remember there that your brother has something against you, leave your gift where it is by the altar, and go, make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift." (Mat 5:23-24)
Jacob had to have one more encounter to make before entering the Land.
And Ya`akov was left alone. Then some man wrestled with him until daybreak. 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. The man said, "Let me go, because it's daybreak." But Ya`akov replied, "I won't let you go unless you bless me."
(Gen 32:24-26 CJB)
Jacob, who could have thought one of Esau's men came to him, or even Esau himself, realizes that this is no ordinary 'man'. Jacob asks to be blessed.
The man asked, "What is your name?" and he answered, "Ya`akov." 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." Ya`akov asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he answered, "Why are you asking about my name?" and blessed him there. (Gen 32:27-29 CJB)
From his conception in Rebecca's womb, Jacob fought for this covenant. As Yeshua said, 'The violent take it by force' (Mat 11:12). Jacob's life has been the testimony of a man in love with the Covenant. Contrary to his brother who exchanged it for a bowl of soup and cana'anite girls, Jacob gave everything he had for it. He fought and never stopped fighting for it. That's what the name Jacob means, 'heel-grabber'. Even when all seems lost, he still hangs on to his opponent, even by the heel, and doesn't let go. Jacob did so with man and with God.
now Jacob knows that his nocturnal wrestler is no ordinary man. Yeshua was really Jacob's night wrestler. The answer he was given reminds me of this:
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it will be enough for us." Yeshua replied to him, "Have I been with you so long without your knowing me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? (John 14:8-9)
Ya`akov called the place P'ni-El [face of God], "Because I have seen God face to face, yet my life is spared." (Gen 32:30 CJB)
Before entering the Land in peace, Jacob had to have a personal encounter with Messiah. This is a foreshadow of the end of time when Messiah will appear in Jerusalem,
"When that day comes, I will seek to destroy all nations attacking Yerushalayim; and I will pour out on the house of David and on those living in Yerushalayim a spirit of grace and prayer; and they will look to me, whom they pierced." They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son; they will be in bitterness on his behalf like the bitterness for a firstborn son. (Zec 12:9-10)
AND WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM ALL THIS?
If someone sues you, come to terms with him quickly, while you and he are on the way to court; or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer of the court, and you may be thrown in jail! Yes indeed! I tell you, you will certainly not get out until you have paid the last penny. (Mat 5:25-26)
Before entering Shabbat, before entering the full peace that redemption can bring, we ought to make peace with the Labans in our lives. And if we ought to make peace with strangers, how much more should we make peace with our brothers and sisters, our families and relatives, even if they have a different lifestyle. Jacob knew the importance of this principle within the framework of the Covenant. As a result, he was willing to invest everything he had for it, even his life. He did not go back and live with Esau, but he initiated the first steps for peace which provoked Esau to reciprocate. That's what leaders do; they lead!
Ya`akov raised his eyes and looked out; and there was `Esav coming, and four hundred men with him. ... he himself passed on ahead of them and prostrated himself on the ground seven times before approaching his brother. `Esav ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him; and they wept. ... Then the slave-girls approached with their children, and they prostrated themselves; Le'ah too and her children approached and prostrated themselves; and last came Yosef and Rachel; and they prostrated themselves. `... Ya`akov said, "No, please! If now I have won your favor, then accept my gift. Just seeing your face has been like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me. So please accept the gift I have brought you, for God has dealt kindly with me and I have enough." Thus he urged him, until he accepted it. ... Ya`akov arrived safely at the city of Sh'khem, in Kena`an, and set up camp near the city. From the sons of Hamor Sh'khem's father, he bought for one hundred pieces of silver, the parcel of land where he had pitched his tent. There he put up an altar, which he called El-Elohei-Yisra'el [God, the God of Isra'el].
MAY WE BE PEACEMAKERS
AS YESHUA ENCOURAGED US TO BE THROUGH THE FOLLOWING WORDS,
"How blessed are those who make peace!
for they will be called sons of God.
(Mat 5:9 CJB)
R' Gavriel Lumbroso