Learn the symbolism of Ya’akov wrestling with God against the “self” and overcoming and receiving a new name in contrast to Esau who only suppressed his bitterness and thus carried it down though his lineage and the ages.
Teaching From Shabbat of December 2, 2017
Vayishlah (וַיִּשְׁלַח) — Hebrew for “and he sent,” it the first word of the parashah and the eighth weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) in the annual cycle of Torah readings. The parashah covers Genesis 32:4–36:43 and tells of how Jacob reconciles with Esau after wrestling with a “man”. The prince Shechem rapes Dinah, whose brothers sack the city of Shechem in revenge. In the family’s subsequent flight, Rachel gives birth to Benjamin and dies in childbirth.
Torah Parashah Vayishlach Summary
Jacob returns to the Holy Land after a 20-year stay in Charan, and sends angel-emissaries to Esau in hope of a reconciliation, but his messengers report that his brother is on the warpath with 400 armed men. Jacobprepares for war, prays, and sends Esau a large gift (consisting of hundreds of heads of livestock) to appease him.
That night, Jacob ferries his family and possessions across the Jabbok River; he, however, remains behind and encounters the angel that embodies the spirit of Esau, with whom he wrestles until daybreak. Jacob suffers a dislocated hip but vanquishes the supernal creature, who bestows on him the name Israel, which means “he who prevails over the divine.”
Jacob and Esau meet, embrace and kiss, but part ways. Jacob purchases a plot of land near Shechem, whose crown prince—also called Shechem—abducts and rapes Jacob’s daughter Dinah. Dinah’s brothers Simeon and Levi avenge the deed by killing all male inhabitants of the city, after rendering them vulnerable by convincing them to circumcise themselves.
Jacob journeys on. Rachel dies while giving birth to her second son, Benjamin, and is buried in a roadside grave near Bethlehem. Reuben loses the birthright because he interferes with his father’s marital life. Jacob arrives in Hebron, to his father Isaac, who later dies at age 180. (Rebecca has passed away before Jacob’s arrival.)
Our Parshah concludes with a detailed account of Esau’s wives, children and grandchildren; the family histories of the people of Seir, among whom Esau settled; and a list of the eight kings who ruled Edom, the land of Esau’s and Seir’s descendants.
Haftarah (Prophets) Summary
This week’s haftorah mentions the punishment of Edom, the descendents of Esau, whose conflict with Jacob is chronicled in this week’s Torah reading.
The prophet Obadiah, himself an Edomian convert to Judaism, describes the punishment destined for the nation of Edom. The Edomites did not come to Judea‘s aid when she was being destroyed by the Babylonians, and even joined in the carnage. Many years later the Edomites (the Roman Empire) themselves destroyed the Second Temple and mercilessly killed and enslaved their Jewish cousins.
Though the Roman Empire was one of the mightiest to ever inhabit the earth, the prophet forewarns: “If you go up high like an eagle, and if you place your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down, says the Lord. . . And the house of Jacob shall be fire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau shall become stubble, and they shall ignite them and consume them, and the house of Esau shall have no survivors, for the Lord has spoken.”
After describing the division of Esau’s lands amongst the returning Judean exiles, the haftorah concludes with the well known phrase: “And saviors shall ascend Mt. Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the Lord shall have the kingdom.”
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Torah Parashah teaching with video and audio and illustrations by Pastor Isaac. © 2017 Assembly of Called-Out Believers. Use by Permission.