Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #7: Vayetze (He went out) B’resheit (Genesis) 28:10-32:3
Haftarah: Hoshea (Hosea) 11:7-12:12
B’rit Chadashah: Yochanan (John) 1:43-51
This week we are going to look at a part of Ya’akov’s (Jacob) life before he was renamed Israel by G-d in the role of “some man” as scripture states it in Gen. 32:26. This is significant as we are exploring a part of Jacob’s life when he was still somewhat immature, and this section of his life described the “supplanter” aspect of his mission. We will start with Gen. 29:18-27 and forward.
The sequence of the narrative describing Jacob’s interaction with Laban after meeting and desiring to marry Rachel. Jacob is immediately attracted to Rachel rather than Leah without taking time to figure out what their personalities were like. This is a problem with negative consequences we often see and hear about today. People are attracted to the physical appearance often without taking any time to learn about the other in matters that can make or break a marriage. Examples are goals, professions, personal history patterns, attributes such as kindness, loyalty, but most important, what is the faith system of the individual?
Jacob offers to work for seven years for Rachel’s hand in marriage and Laban agrees without telling Jacob of the custom to marry off the oldest daughter first.
In our contemporary society, working for something or someone we desire is often not an option. Instant gratification is the order of the day and this is promoted by the media. We watch movies and shows that may present complex life situations. But they are always resolved in a matter of one or two hours. Life does not work that way and trying to wrap up life’s events in our own unrealistic timeframes only leads to settling for less than the ultimate outcome.
Even after being tricked, Jacob agreed to work seven more years for Rachel. He was enraged when he learned that he was tricked. I submit perhaps his own experience with deceiving Esav may have come back to his mind. The supplanter was now the one deceived. It is natural for us to get very upset and judgmental at an injustice done to us, especially when we fail to admit injustices we may have committed against others. Yahshua spoke of this in the B’rit Chadashah (Refreshed, Renewed Covenant) in Matthew 7:3: “ Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you have the log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly, so that you can remove the splinter from your brother’s eye!” Indeed, Jacob did mature spiritually as we read of his preparation and encounter with Esav in the next parashah. Such spiritual growth is a process just as salvation is a process and not an instantaneous occurrence that requires no further effort on our part. Although Lavan gave Rachel to Jacob after the wedding week which was in this case 7 days, Jacob fulfilled his obligation to work for Lavan another seven years which was the traditional timeframe for an indentured servant. Thus, Jacob married both daughters to whom were born, along with their maids, the twelve seeds that would flourish into the 12 Tribes of Israel.
Now we will address one of the first examples of animal husbandry which is the science of breeding and caring for farm animals. Jacob is ready to leave Lavan’s house and go back to his own country. However, Lavan is hesitant because he knows Jacob is responsible for his prosperity through G-d’s blessings. Rather than asking for wages to stay, Jacob proposes a deal based on his G-d-given knowledge of breeding the sheep and goats. He offers to give Lavan (white) the lavan (white) ones and keeping the non-white (supplanted) ones. Jacob’s livestock increases substantially over the next six years, and Lavan develops a bad attitude.
Finally, G-d tells Jacob to Tse’ (Go out)! (Gen. 31:3,13). This command echoes the title of the parashah va Yetse ( and he went out).
There is an interesting arrangement in the account of Jacob preparing to leave Lavan’s house and Esav’s preparation to leave Kena’an in Gen. 36:6. In Jacob’s case Genesis 31;17 reads “ Then Ya’akov (Jacob) got up, put his sons and wives on the camels, and carried off all his livestock, along with all the riches he had accumulated, the livestock in his possession which he had acquired in Paddan-Aram, to go to Yitz’chak his father in the land of Kena’an.” Note that sons are addressed before wives.
In the account of Esav leaving Kena’an, Genesis 36:6 reads “ Esav took his wives, his sons and daughters, the others in his household, his cattle and other animals and everything else he owned, which he had acquired in the land of Kena’an, and went off to a country distant from his brother Ya’akov.”
According to Jewish commentators, Esav placed his wives ahead of his sons who would be his progeny which was extremely important at that time. Jacob placed his sons before his wives, indicating Ya’akov assigned primary responsibility to fathering a nation- his household.
Jacob’s wealth made Laban’s sons jealous. It is sometimes difficult to be happy when others are perceived as doing “better” than we are in our own lives. But to compare our success with that of others is immature, human nature and it is a dangerous way to judge the quality of our lives. By comparing ourselves to others, we often give jealousy a foothold. That we are to be content with what G-d provides is found in 1 Tim. 6-9: “ Now true religion does bring great riches, but only to those who are content with what they have. For we have brought noting into the world; and we can take nothing out of it; so if we have food and clothing, we will be satisfied with these.” Furthermore, , those whose goal is to be rich fall into temptation; they get trapped in many foolish and hurtful ambitions which plunge them into ruin and destruction”
Hebrews 13:5 reads : Keep your lives free from the love of money; and be satisfied with what you have; for G-d himself has said, ‘ I will never fail you or abandon you.’ Therefore, we say with confidence, ‘Adonai is my helper; I will not be afraid-what can a human being do to me?’”
G-d’s power is not limited by the lack of fair play. He has the ability and desire to meet our needs and make us prosper and thrive even though others may mistreat us. We are to respond not as Laban’s sons toward Jacob, but as Jacob did; always attentive to G-d’s instructions, and zealous to carry out his instructions.
Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah who experienced some of the same frustrations, crying out in vain against the deteriorating kingdom of Samaria and the ten Tribes of Israel. He contrasts G-d’s mercy with Israel’s failure to recognize that everything they have is only because of G-d’s kindness. Fortunately, G-d emphasizes that even with Israel’s sins, He says he will never desert Ephraim, the leader of the ten Tribes because he knows one day Ephraim will repent and return to G-d like a disobedient and wayward child to its Father.
Judah will also falter, although not be divorced as was Israel. G-d’s justice will be served. Hosea continues his rebuke of the Ten Tribes who though they were invincible and that they were responsible for their wealth and success. Ephraim sinned through arrogance and idolatry. Therefore, they earned defeat, exile, and death. This is a situation that continues to the present among individuals, societies, and nations. G-d will execute His judgement, whether we want to call it “tough love” or unfair. The G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is just and true in all His ways (Rev. 15:3; 16:6-7).
B’rit Chadashah: John 1:43-51
This narrative echoes the vision of Jacob’s ladder spoken of in this week’s parashah; a subject not covered in today’s lesson. This vision provides a teaching in itself , demonstrating just one example of the validity of G-d’s Torah that consists of the Tanakh and the B’rit Chadashah (the Renewed, Refreshed Covenant). Yahshua known as “Jesus” to Christians, is G-d and is not just a rabbi who taught on the requirement to follow G-d’s (His) commands as part of the equation necessary for salvation (See John Ch.14, Romans 2-3; the Seven -Fold Witness in the book of Revelation). Yahshua tells Philip that he “will see heaven opened and the angels of G-d going up and coming down on the Son of Man.” This description explains in part what Ya’akov dreamt with the exception of G-d’s name as Adonai in the parashah. I invite you to research why G-d, Adonai, and the Son of Man are used when they are all names for G-d. This knowledge will assist you in understanding more of G-d’s various rolls and character as He executes His plan for mankind and Israel.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart