Parashah 8: Vayishlach (He sent)

Parashah 8: Genesis 32:4-36:43

“Ya’akov sent messengers ahead of him to ‘Esav his brother toward the land of Se’ir, the country of Edom, with these instructions …” (Genesis 32:3).

Jacob heads toward the land of Seir in Edom, the land of his brother Esau.  Jacob has become a wealthy man with wives, children, and livestock and he fears that his brother may attack him.  He divides his camp into two factions so that if he is attacked, one camp may escape.  He prays to Elohim,

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. Please! Rescue me from my brother ‘Esav!” (Genesis 32:10-11)

While messengers are sent to Esau,  Jacob divides his camp and sends his two wives and two concubines along with his 11 sons to the other side of the Jabbok River.   Jabbok in Hebrew means ‘to empty itself.’  The source of this river was in Edom (modern-day Jordan) where his brother lived.  When Esau is seen in the distance, Jacob further divides the camp.  The concubines and their children were sent out first, followed by Leah and her children.  Rachel and Joseph were last. 

Jacob divides his family to protect them as sometimes division is necessary for protection, but it also holds some allusion to the future.   Joseph, along with his mother (Benjamin has not yet been born), were kept behind the other women and Jacob’s other ten sons.  The separation of these ‘ten northern tribes’ from the ‘two southern tribes’ was part of Elohim’s plan to keep the nation of Isra’el protected from complete destruction.  There will come a time, according to the prophet Ezekiel, when all of the tribes will once again be brought together as the nation of Isra’el

Jacob, the Overcomer

Once the camps are divided, Jacob is alone for the night.  During the night a man comes to Jacob and they begin to wrestle.  When the man sees that he would not defeat Jacob, he strikes his hip socket so that it is dislocated.  At sunrise, the man requests that Jacob let him go, but Jacob refuses unless he receives a blessing.  The man asks his name and Jacob replies “Ya’akov.

The man blesses him, “From now on you will no longer be called Ya’akov, but Isra’el; because you have shown your strength to God and men and have overcome.” Jacob asks the man his name, but he refuses to give it.

Jacob named the place P’ni-El or ‘face of Elohim’ because he had seen Elohim face to face and his life had been spared.  The man who wrestles with Jacob is the Elohim of Hosts or the Commander of Elohim’s army–Yeshua.   This is another encounter with  Yeshua before his incarnation.  This is the reason Jacob can be ‘face to face’ with Elohim and live.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Peni’el (Face of God) or p’ni-el – פניאל – peh, noon, yod, alef, lamed

the source of life is the finished work of the first shepherd

“That is why, to this day, the people of Isra’el do not eat the thigh muscle that passes along the hip socket–because the man struck Ya’akov’s hip at its socket” (Genesis 32:32).

Up until Jacob wrestles with Yeshua, he lives his life in the flesh, doing things his own way which always includes some type of deception.  As he fears the meeting with his brother,  he separates himself from his family and flocks.  Alone and sitting by the Jabbok River, he ‘empties himself’ before Elohim.   His carnal and flesh ways of life battle with the strength of Elohim’s right hand.  He releases his carnality, limping for the rest of his life, takes on Elohim’s strength and receives the name, Isra’el

Isra’el means ‘because you have shown your strength both to God and men and have prevailed’ or ‘overcomer.’  In the book of Revelation, Yeshua rewards those in the Messianic congregations who ‘overcome’ with the right to eat from the Tree of Life, not being hurt by the second death, hidden manna, a new name, authority, white clothing, an eternal name, a pillar in the Temple, the name of Elohim, the New Jerusalem, and to sit down on the Father’s throne.  To ‘overcome’ the flesh and its unspiritual desires has everything to do with Isra’el.

There are now two ‘person’s within the same man: Jacob, the flesh physical man and Isra’el, the spiritual man.  In the  physical world, Jacob receives a land inheritance and physical descendants; in the spiritual world, Isra’el receives the inheritance of the coming eternal Kingdom.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Jacob (Supplanter) or Ya’akovיעקו –yod, ayin, koof, bet

the finished work sees and follows the house

Isra’el (Overcomer) or Yisra’elישראל–yod, shin, resh, alef, lamed

the finished work of the glory of God leads the shepherd

Jacob Meets Esau

“A person’s gift clears his way and gives him access to the great” (Proverbs 18:16).

Esau has become a nation of many people.  He brings 400 men with him to meet his brother.  Jacob sends Esau gifts to clear his way, but Esau is a rich man. His cry to Isaac, “Have you only one blessing, my father,” has proven unfounded.  Esau is a physical descendant of Abraham and Elohim blessed him just as he blessed Ishmael. It was the spiritual blessing of promise that Esau and Ishmael  didn’t receive, but Esau has seemed to have forgotten what happened in the past.  He is not interested in any of Jacob’s wealth or gifts.  He is just grateful to make peace with his brother.


Jacob left his brother and traveled on to Sukkoth where he built himself a dwelling and put up shelters for his cattle.  Sukkoth is a city located east of the Jordan River and is known today as Tel Deir Alla in the plain north of the Jabbok River. 

Sukkoth means ‘shelters.’  The last and final mo’ed of Elohim is Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles.   Sukkoth may be an allusion this is the season of Sukkot or the fall. 

Hebrew Word Pictures

Sukkoth (Shelter) or Sukkot סוכות– samech, vav, kaf, vav, tav

lean upon the binding, the palm of the hand, bound by nails, is the covenant sign

The Account of Dinah

“Here is what Adonai says: ‘Don’t learn the way of the Goyim [pagan nations] …’” (Jeremiah 10:2).

Dinah is the only mentioned daughter of Leah and Jacob.  In Genesis 34:1, it is written that she went out to visit the local girls.  In doing this, she left the security of the camp, her father, her mothers and her brothers.  The implication given by Josephus is that Dinah wanted to observe, and probably copy, the custom of her neighbors.

“Now as the Shechemites were keeping a festival,  Dinah, who was the only daughter of Ya’akov, went into the city to see the finery of the women of that country.”

Shechem, a descendant of Canaan who was cursed for his father’s sexual sin, rapes Dina, but then falls in love with her and tries to win her affection. Shechem’s father comes to Jacob to arrange a marriage.  Jacob maintains peace while his sons are outraged. This reveals a difference between the mature Jacob who has experienced deceptions and humiliations and has learned to deal with them rationally while his sons are willing to act immaturely and without thinking.  Their immaturity and how they deal with jealousy and anger is what will lead them to sell their brother into slavery.

There has been no command given by Elohim against intermarriage, Abraham and Isaac both desired that their sons not marry Canaanite women which suggests that there is a generational understanding regarding intermarriage with the cursed descendants of Canaan. Circumcision set Isra’el’s sons apart from the uncircumcised  nations around them, a separation instituted by Elohim.

The negotiation plan presented by Shechem’s father to Jacob had five considerations:

1. Begin the intermingling of the two nations.  This was irrelevant because Shechem was where Abraham’s first pitched his tents.  There had been intermingling since then.

2. Sign a treaty of peaceful co-existence.  Jacob had lived in this area for about 11 years before the event with Dinah.  The problem between Shechem and Dinah is the first recorded problem between the two nations.  A treaty was irrelevant to the negotiations. 

3. Jacob would be given rights of land possession in the territory.  Jacob had already paid 100 pieces of silver for the land on which he lived.  He already had the right of physical ownership.  Spiritually, he had taken possession of the land when he put up an altar to El Elohei.  This suggestion was irrelevant to the negotiation.

4. Shechem was part of the great trading route between the Far East, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.  Shechem’s father knew of Jacob’s vast wealth and perhaps wanted a share in it so he offered a trade agreement. This could be relevant to the negotiations and would be a perk when Shechem married Dinah.  However, Jacob did not accept this offer.

5. The last consideration was a bride price to be set by Dinah’s family.  A bride price is relevant to the negotiations as Dinah was raped which was the reason negotiations had to even take place.  It is not Jacob, the father, who sets the bride price, it is Dinah’s brothers.  Dinah’s brothers require circumcision of Shechem and the men of the city as Dinah’s bride price.   Shechem is willing to do whatever they ask because he is “honorable of all the men in his father’s house” and he loves Dinah.

Circumcision was the sign of the covenant given to Abraham, a symbol of his faith and obedience, his heart for El Shaddai. Shechem and the men of the city did not have a heart for the Elohim of Isra’el and therefore circumcision was not something they should have been required to do. The sons of Isra’el perverted the act of circumcision.   They used it as a deceitful way not only to humble the men of the city, but to destroy them.

Three days after the men were circumcised and were in pain,  Simeon and Levi took their swords and boldly descended on the city and slaughtered all the males.  They killed Hamor and Shechem and took Dinah and left.  The rest of the brothers climbed over the dead bodies of those they had killed and plundered the city as revenge for defiling their sister.

Dinah was found in Shechem’s house which means that she was betrothed, even married, and believed the pride price had been paid.  Shechem did what was honorable and paid the bride price of circumcision.  However, Dinah’s brothers  responded with vengeance and murder. 

Simeon and Levi do not regret killing the men of Shechem.  They viewed it has an honor killing for their sister.  Jacob is not pleased with their behavior and says that they made him a “stink in the opinion of the local inhabitants.” With this statement, Jacob makes it clear, and it becomes written in Torah, that honor killings are an unacceptable way for Isra’el  live and solve problems with their neighbors. 

Hebrew Word Pictures

Dinah (Controversy) – דינה – dalet, yod, noon, hey

finished work of the door of life, behold

Shechem (Shoulder) – שכם – shin, kaf, mem

consumed to cover the chaos

Judah and Reuben do not take part in the murders.  Later, it is Judah who saves Joseph’s life and Reuben repents for everything they did to their brother.  In spite of their shortcomings (Reuben sinning with his father’s concubine and Judah’s rejection of Tamar),  they have a deeper sense of value for human life, especially when it’s family. 


The account of Dinah and Shechem’s circumcision could be the first example of a gentile entering into Isra’el’s family because of a love for Isra’el’s virgin daughter. 

Immersion and Purification

“Get rid of the foreign gods that you have with you, purify yourselves, and put on fresh clothes.  We’re going to move on and go up to Beit-El.  There I will build an altar to God, who answered me when I was in such distress and stayed with me wherever I went” (Genesis 35:2-3). 

Elohim tells Jacob to return to Bethel. Before the camps leave, he instructs everyone to get rid of their foreign gods.   Apparently while living near Shechem, Isra’el’s family collected more foreign gods.   The household idols teraphim along with the women’s earrings were collected and buried under a Pistachio tree.

The Pistachio tree is known as a terebinth and is often translated in the Scriptures as ‘oak’  as in the ‘oaks of Mamre.’  The Hebrew word is for pistachio is elah.  It was in this Valley of Elah also known as the Valley of Pistachio trees where David fought Goliath.

Jacob also tells his family to purify themselves and put on fresh clothing.   The Torah given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai still has not been written, yet Isra’el and his family knows about purification.  They obviously understood there are ‘clean and ‘unclean’ issues even before Elohim gave specific instructions.

Many in the church teach that there are no longer ‘clean or unclean’ issues because the Torah was abolished with the cross.  They claim that Yeshua did everything for us therefore we have no need to purify ourselves.  This is not a Biblically sound argument when the apostles, James, the brother of Yeshua, and Sha’ul support purification rituals after the resurrection of Yeshua:

Purification or cleansing oneself refers to ritual cleansing done long before Torah.  Ritual washing was more than just taking a bath; it was symbolic of repentance by removing the impurities that pollute the soul by immersing oneself in water.   A ritual cleansing or immersion takes place in a mikvah. According to Jewish tradition, a mikvah is a pool of water that must be connected in some way to natural water or spring water.  Putting on clean clothes is part of the purification required to attend a holy event.  Jacob’s family is heading to Bethel or the ‘House of Elohim’ to meet with the holy Elohim of Isra’el.  They need to dress accordingly; they need to prepare their souls.

“And everyone who has this hope in him continues purifying himself, since God is pure” (1 John 3:3).

“Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Clean your hands, sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded people!” (James 4:8)

El Shaddai

Wherever Jacob and his family traveled, the fear of Elohim fell on the people so no one followed or tried to attack them.  During their travels, Elohim appears to Jacob a second time and blesses him.  By repeating  that Jacob’s name is changed to Isra’el, there is a witness of two and the nation of Isra’el is established forever. 

“Your name is Ya’akov, but you will be called Ya’akov no longer, your name will be Isra’el.  Thus he named him Isra’el.  God further said to him, ‘I am El Shaddai.  Be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed a group of nations, will come from you; kings will be descended from you.  Moreover, the land which I gave Avraham and Yitz’ak I will give to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you’” (Genesis 35:10-11).

This is the second time Elohim refers to Himself as El Shaddai.  The first time is when He changes Abram’s  name to Abraham.  El Shaddai emphasizes His all-pervasive power, influence, and authority in all of creation, while still having the nuance of being the “Elohim of the bosom.”  It is only El Shaddai who changes names and makes promises of land and descendants to Abraham, Isaac, and now Jacob.

Jacob sets up a second stone pillar.  Along with anointing it with oil, he pours out a drink offering.    This is the first time a drink offering  is mentioned in Scripture.  A drink offering was offered on the Sabbath as a symbol of rest celebration.    Only after El Shaddai defeated the enemies of Isra’el and gave them rest in the Land would He  accept drink offerings, but even then, the people did not drink the offerings as they were not the ones who defeated their enemies.  El Shaddai, the Mighty Elohim, defeated them by His arm of salvation, yeshua.

Jacob is at rest.  He is at peace with his neighbors and his brother.  His enemies have been subdued and he has received the eternal covenant given to his grandfather and father.  Since a drink offering was offered on the Sabbath, it suggests he set the stone and poured out the drink offering on the seventh-day.

Second, the drink offering was only given to El Shaddai.  While portions of animal sacrifices were set aside to be eaten by the priest and the person offering the sacrifice, the entire drink offering was poured out on the Altar.  This prevented the priesthood from drinking in the Tabernacle.

As there is no Tabernacle at this time, there are also no prescribed animal sacrifices. On the  stone altar that Jacob makes, he does not offer an animal.  Instead he pours the drink offering out for El Shaddai and Him alone.

Third, the drink offering symbolized the work of the worshipper.  Sha’ul refers to his life as being ‘poured out like a drink offering’ (Philippians 2:17).   Jacob has definitely worked hard to be at the place he has arrived,  but now he realizes the work was done through El Shaddai and not himself. He cannot deny that he wrestled with Yeshua, had his name changed, and limps!

At his last Passover seder, Yeshua takes a cup of wine and refers it as his blood being poured-out as drink offering (Matthew 26:26-29).   This drink offering would occur on the cross, symbolic of an Altar, as the required atonement for forgiveness of sin.  Once he became the High Priest, he would not drink from the fruit of the vine until the fulfillment of his Father’s kingdom on earth. 

“I am poured out like water; all my bones are out of joint; my heart has become like wax — it melts inside me; my mouth is as dry as a fragment of a pot, my tongue sticks to my palate; you lay me down in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:14-15).

Rachel Dies

While traveling to Efrat (Bethlehem), Rachel goes into labor.  She dies soon after giving birth to Jacob’s last son, but not before she names him Ben Oni (son of my grief).    She is buried near Efrat and Jacob changes the baby’s name to Benjamin (son of the right hand).  Rachel is buried near Efrat and Jacob continues to travel.

Isra’el pitches his tent on the other side of the Midgal Eder near Bethlehem.   Migdal Eder literally means ‘Tower of Eder.’  The prophet Micah refers to this place as the ‘watchtower of the flock’ (Micah 4:8). This was the same location where sheep were raised for the Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem.  On the night that Yeshua was born, it was the shepherds at the Midgal Eder who received the good news from the angels that the Messiah had been born.

“As for you, watchtower of the flock, hill of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem” (Micah 4:8).

“But you, Beit-Lechem near Efrat, so small among the clans of Y’hudah, out of you will come forth to me the future ruler of Isra’el, whose origins are far in the past, back in ancient times. Therefore he will give up [Isra’el] only until she who is in labor gives birth. Then the rest of his kinsmen will return to the people of Isra’el. He will stand and feed his flock in the strength of Adonai, in the majesty of the name of Adonai his God; and they will stay put, as he grows great to the very ends of the earth; and this will be peace…” (Micah 5:2-5).

Hebrew Word Pictures

Ephratha or Efrat (Fruitful) – אפרת – alef, peh, resh, tav

strong words of the head of the covenant

Bethlehem or Beit-Lechem – בית לחם – bet, yod, tav – lamed, chet, mem

house of finished work of the covenant – the mighty shepherd’s inner room

Bethlehem in Hebrew means ‘House of Bread’

Esau and the Edomites

The Edomites, the descendants of Esau, have an interesting Biblical history.  Esau had many Canaanite wives against his parents‘ wishes.  None of the marriages were blessed by Isaac or Rebekah and created an ongoing conflict between Isra’el (sons of Jacob) and Edom (sons of Esau). 

Though Esau was blessed in terms of physical wealth, he was not part of the spiritually blessed lineage. He behaved corruptly with sexual immorality and godlessness (Hebrews 12).   One of Esau’s wives, Adah, gave birth to Amalek from whom descended the Amalekites, Isra’el’s greatest  enemy.   King Saul was commanded destroy the Amalekites, but disobeyed.  Haman, an Amalekite, who came to power in Persia during the reign of King Xerxes wanted to destroy the Jewish people from earth and created a plan to accomplish it (Esther 3).

God commanded that Isra’el regard the Edomites as brothers despite their unwillingness to let the Israelites pass through their land (Deuteronomy 23:7).  During the reign of King Saul, Edom became a subject nation of Isra’el (1 Samuel 14:47) and David established a military fort there (2 Samuel 8:14).  In the days of Yoram, the son of Ahab, the Edomites became an independent nation.  Herod the Great, who wanted Yeshua killed, was an Edomite.  Since the Muslims conquered the region of Edom, the area has been virtually unoccupied except by Bedouins.

Prophecy and the Edomites

This parashah contains the genealogy of Esau because it is important to know one’s enemies, thus it is important to know who the Edomites are as they have always been an enemy of Isra’el.  Understanding the battles between these two nations is also important for understanding prophecies against Edom in the ‘last days.’  The Edomites along with the Ishamelites are the first of many nations mentioned who desire the destruction of Isra’el.

“O God, do not remain silent, do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God. See how your enemies growl, how your foes rear their heads. With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish. “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, so that Isra’el’s name is remembered no more.” With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you— the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites …” (Psalm 83:1-8).

“Therefore Adonai Elohim says, ‘I will stretch my hand out over Edom and eliminate both its humans and its animals. I will make it a ruin; from Teman to D’dan they will die by the sword.  Moreover, I will lay my vengeance on Edom through my people Isra’el; they will treat Edom in accordance with my anger and my fury; and they will know my vengeance’ says Adonai Elohim” (Ezekiel 25:13-14).  

The prophet Obadiah states that Edom will be completely destroyed for its hatred of its kinsman, Judah.

“You whose homes are caves in the cliffs, who live on the heights and say to yourselves, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?” (Obadiah 3).

Mount Seir is the hill country where Esau took his wives and children to live.  The Edomites held the rock fortress of what is known today as Petra, modern-day Batzra, Jordan, which can only be reached only through a narrow, winding gorge.  The fortress was so protected that it was said only 12 men were needed to defend it against an entire army. 

“Your warriors, Teman, will be so distraught that everyone on Mount Esau will be slaughtered” (Obadiah 9).

Teman is a city or region in southern Edom to the east of Isra’el.  It was named after the grandson of Esau and became synonymous with all of Edom.   Teman is possibly the modern-day Ma’an located about 135 miles southwest of Ammon, Jordan.

“For the violence done to our kinsman Ya’akov, shame will cover you …” (Obadiah 10).  

The word ‘violence’ in this verse is the Hebrew chamas or as it is spelled today Hamas.   It refers not only to violent crimes like robbing and extortion, but also false witness.  Hamas is an Arabic acronym for “Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya,” which means “The Islamic Resistance Movement.” Hamas in Arabic means ‘zeal.’

“Thus says the LORD: ‘For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because he pursued his brother with the sword, And cast off all pity; His anger tore perpetually, And he kept his wrath forever. But I will send a fire upon Teman, Which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah’” (Amos 1:11-12).

Who is this who comes from Edom, with garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, This One who is majestic in His apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength? It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.  Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press? I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger and trampled them in My wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, and I stained all My raiment. For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come. I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; So My own arm brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me. I trod down the peoples in My anger and made them drunk in My wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth” (Isaiah 63:1-6).

The prophet Isaiah asks, “Who is coming from Edom?”  Revelation 19:12-14 reveals that it is Yeshua, stained with blood of his enemies.  He is coming, not from a place called heaven, but from Edom in southern Jordan and the stronghold of Petra where he finally judges Edom for all of its chamas against Isra’el

Esau became a great nation, but as a man, he lived a faithless life passed that godlessness onto the generations after him bringing complete destruction of his own progeny in the ‘end times’ by none other than Yeshua, his brother from the Tribe of Judah.  The same may be said of Ishmael who also became a wealthy man,  but left the faith of his father, Abraham.  His descendants have become the ever-increasing population of Arabs, who embrace chamas and perpetuate violence on Isra’el.  Their destruction is prophesied along with Edom.

Yeshua’s Mikveh

“The [Jewish] people  were in a state of great expectancy, and everyone was wondering whether perhaps Yochanan himself might be the Messiah;  so Yochanan answered them all, “I am immersing you in water, but he who is coming is more powerful than I — I’m not worthy to untie his sandals! He will immerse you in the Ruach HaKodesh and in fire.  He has with him his winnowing fork to clear out his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the straw with unquenchable fire!  While all the people were being immersed, Yeshua too was immersed. As he was praying, heaven was opened;  the Ruach HaKodesh came down on him in physical form like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with you” (Luke 3:15-22).

“Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim [disciples], immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh … (Matthew 28:19).

“They replied, “When you are in your glory, let us sit with you, one on your right and the other on your left.” But Yeshua answered, “You don’t know what you’re asking! Can you drink the cup that I am drinking? or be immersed with the immersion that I must undergo?” They said to him, “We can.” Yeshua replied, “The cup that I am drinking, you will drink; and the immersion I am being immersed with, you will undergo” (Mark 10:37-39).

“His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now six stone water-jars were standing there for the Jewish ceremonial washings, each with a capacity of twenty or thirty gallons. Yeshua told them, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim” (John 2:57).

Haftarah (Readings from the Prophets)

Hosea 11:11-12

Obadiah 1-21

B’rit Chadashah (New Testament Readings)

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

Revelation 7:1-12 

Midrash Vayishlach:  Jacob and Isra’el

Jacob is now Isra’el, a physical man and a spiritual man.  In this parashah (and the ones to follow), make note of the events that happen to either the physical man or the spiritual man and discuss the possible reasons and allusions. For example, Reuben sleeps with Isra’el’s concubine, but Jacob buries his father.  Consider why the Tribulation is called ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble’ and not the time of Isra’el’s.

©2013 Tent Stake Ministries

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