Posts Tagged ‘Shechem’

Parashah 8: Vayishlach (He sent)

Genesis 32:3-36:43

“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. He has become a wealthy man with wives, children, and livestock. Because he fears that his brother may attack him, he divides his family into two camps so 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 are sent out first, followed by Leah and her children; Rachel and Joseph are last.

Jacob divides his family to protect them as sometimes division is necessary for protection, but the division is prophetic. Joseph, along with his mother (Benjamin has not yet been born), were kept behind the other mothers and Jacob’s other ten sons. The separation of the ‘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.  At the ‘appointed time,’ all of the tribes will be brought back together as the nation of Isra’el (Ezekiel 37:17).

Jacob, the Overcomer

Once the camps are divided, Jacob is alone. During the night, a man comes to him and begins to wrestle with him. When the man sees that he will not defeat Jacob, he strikes his hip socket so that it becomes 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” (Genesis 32:28). Jacob asks the man his name, but he refuses to reveal it.

Jacob names the place Peni-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 a personal encounter with Yeshua and the reason Jacob can be ‘face to face’ with Elohim and live.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Peni’el (Face of Elohim) – פני – אל – peh, nun, yod, alef, lamed
– source of life, finished work of first strength urging forward

Up until Jacob wrestles with Yeshua, he lives his life in the flesh doing things his own way, which always includes some form 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 ways of life battle with the strength of Elohim’s hand on him.  He releases his carnality, limping for the rest of his life, and takes on Elohim’s strength, the Ruach Elohim, and receives a new name –– Isra’el.

“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).

Isra’el means ‘because you have shown your strength both to Elohim and men and have overcome.’ 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 his Father’s Throne.  To ‘overcome’ the flesh and its unspiritual desires has everything to do with ‘becoming’ Isra’el.

There are now two ‘persons’ within the same physical man: Jacob, the carnal 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’akov–יעקו –yod, ayin, kof, bet
– finished work, understand what is behind the family

Isra’el (Overcomer) or Yisra’el –ישראל–yod, shin, resh, alef, lamed
– finished work consumes the highest authority, first strength urges foward

Jacob Meets Esau

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

Esau has also grown into a nation of people. He brings 400 men with him to meet his brother. His cry to Isaac, “Have you only one blessing, my father,” has proven unfounded. He has become a wealthy man and, as a physical descendant of Abraham, Elohim blessed him just as He blessed Ishmael. Esau seems to have forgotten what happened in the past and is not interested in Jacob’s gifts or his wealth. He is just grateful to have shalom with his brother.


Jacob leaves his brother and travels on to Sukkoth where he builds himself a temporary dwelling and puts up shelters for his cattle. Sukkoth is a city located east of the Jordan River in the plain north of the Jabbok River. It is known today as Tel Deir Alla. As there is a fall ‘appointed time’ called Sukkot, the site of this temporary dwelling may be an allusion to the season when Jacob and his family camped at Sukkoth.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Sukkoth (Shelter) or Sukkot – סוכות– samech, vav, kaf, vav, tav
– support the finished work, allowing the binding of the covenant

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 daughter of Jacob and Leah. In Genesis 34:1, it is written that she went out to visit the local girls in Shechem. She leaves the security of the camp, her father, her mothers, and her brothers. The implication given by Josephus, the Jewish historian, is that Dinah wanted to observe, and probably copy, the customs of her neighbors.

“Now as the Shechemites were keeping a [pagan] 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 because of his father’s sexual sin, rapes Dinah, but then falls in love with her and wants to marry her.  Shechem’s father goes to Jacob to arrange a marriage.  Jacob maintains his personal shalom while his sons, Dinah’s brothers, are outraged. Their immaturity in dealing with jealousy and anger will lead them to sell their younger brother into slavery.
There has been no direct command given by Elohim against intermarriage. Abraham and Isaac desired their sons not marry Canaanite women, suggesting there was a generational understanding about intermarriage with the cursed descendants of Canaan.

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

  1. Begin the intermingling of the two nations. This was irrelevant because Shechem was the first place where Abraham pitched his tents. There had been intermingling between the two nations since that time.
  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 the right 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 built an altar to Elohim in Beit-el. 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 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 option was a bride price to be set by Dinah’s family. A bride price was definitely relevant to the negotiations as Dinah has been raped, which was the reason negotiations had to take place. It is not Jacob, Dinah’s father, who sets the bride price; it is her brothers. They require the circumcision of Shechem and all 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.

Shechem’s circumcision could be the first example of the nations entering into the covenant given to Abraham because of a love for a virgin daughter of Isra’el.

Circumcision was the ‘sign’ of the covenant given to Abraham, a symbol of his faith and obedience, and his heart for El Shaddai. Circumcision set Jacob’s sons apart from the uncircumcised men around them, a separation instituted by Elohim. Shechem and the men of the city did not have a heart for Elohim; therefore, circumcision was not something they should have been asked to do. The sons of Jacob perverted the act of circumcision and used it in a deceitful way, not only to humble the men of the city, but to destroy them.

Three days after the men are circumcised and in pain, Simeon and Levi take their swords and descend on the city and slaughter all the males, including Hamor and Shechem. The remaining brothers climb over the dead bodies Simeon and Levi had killed and plunder the city as revenge for defiling their sister.

Dinah is found in Shechem’s house, which means she was betrothed, even married, and believed the bride price had been paid in full with the circumcisions. Shechem had done what was honorable and paid the required bride price. Dinah’s brothers, however, respond with vengeance and murder Shechem.

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 they made him a “stink in the opinion of the local inhabitants” (Genesis 34:30). Jacob makes it quite clear and it becomes written in Torah that honor killings are an abomination to Elohim and an unacceptable way for Isra’el to solve problems with their neighbors.

Judah and Reuben do not take part in the murders. Later, it is Judah who saves Joseph’s life and Reuben repents for everything done 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 comes to family.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Dinah (Controversy) – דינה – dalet, yod, nun, hey
– pathway of finished work of life, revealed

Shechem (Shoulder) – שכם – shin, kaf, mem
– consume and open chaos

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 Beit-el.  Before the camps set out, he instructs everyone to get rid of their foreign gods.  Apparently while living near Shechem, his family collected more foreign gods.   The household teraphim, along with all the women’s earrings, were collected and buried under a Pistachio tree.

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

Jacob tells his family to purify themselves and put on fresh clothing. The Torah still has not been written, yet Isra’el and his family know the requirements for purification. They obviously understand there are ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ physical issues even before Elohim gives His written instructions.

Many teach there are no longer ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’ regulations because the Torah was abolished at the cross. They claim Yeshua did everything for us; therefore, we have no need to purify ourselves. This is not a Biblically sound argument when both John and James support purifying oneself even after the resurrection of Yeshua.

“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)

Purification or cleansing refers to ritual washing long before Torah. Ritual washing was more than just taking a bath; it was symbolic of repentance and removing the impurities that pollute the soul through immersion in water. A ritual immersion takes place in a mikvah. A mikvah is a pool of water that must be connected in some way to natural or spring water. Putting on clean clothes is part of the purification required to attend a holy event. Jacob’s family is heading to Beit-el to meet with the Holy One of Isra’el. They need to wash and dress accordingly; they need to prepare their souls.

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 35:10-12).

This is the second time Elohim refers to Himself as El Shaddai. The first time occurs 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 a ‘bosom friend.’ It is El Shaddai who 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. Only after El Shaddai defeated the enemies of Isra’el and gave them rest in the Promised Land did 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 defeated them by His arm of salvation –– Yeshua.

Jacob is now at rest.  He has shalom with his brother and his neighbors. His enemies have been subdued and he has received the eternal covenant given to his grandfather and father. Since drink offerings were poured out on the Sabbath, it may be inferred that he set the stone and poured out the drink offering on this day.

The drink offering was only given to Elohim.  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 no prescribed animal sacrifices or rules for drink offerings. On the  stone altar that Jacob makes, he does not offer an animal; he pours out a drink offering for El Shaddai and Him alone.

The drink offering symbolizes the life of the worshiper.  Sha’ul refers to his life as being “poured out like a drink offering” (Philippians 2:17).  Jacob has definitely ‘poured out his life’ to be at the place he has arrived, and now acknowledges the work was done through El Shaddai. He cannot deny that he wrestled with Yeshua and had his name changed –– he limps!

At Yeshua’s last Passover seder, he takes a cup of wine and refers to it as his blood being ‘poured out’ as drink offering (Matthew 26:26-28). This drink offering would occur on the cross as the required offering with the ‘meat’ of the lamb. Yeshua also said that he would not drink from the fruit of the vine again until the Kingdom of Elohim comes.

“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).

“I tell you, I will not drink this ‘fruit of the vine’ again until the day I drink new wine with you in my Father’s Kingdom” (Matthew 26:29).

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).  Jacob changes the baby’s name to Benjamin (Son of the Right Hand). Rachel is buried near Bethlehem; Jacob continues to travel.

Beit-Lechem (Bethlehem) in Hebrew means ‘House of Bread.’

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

“You, tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Tziyon, to you your former sovereignty will return, the royal power of the daughter of Yerushalayim” (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
– first strength source of the highest authority of the covenant

Bethlehem or Beit-Lechem – בית לחם – bet, yod, tav – lamed, chet, mem
– house of the finished work of the covenant
urging forward to protect the mighty

Esau and the Edomites

The Edomites, the descendants of Esau, have an interesting Biblical history. Esau took many Canaanite women as 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 through sexual immorality and godlessness (Hebrews 12:15-17). 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. An Amalekite named Haman came to power in Persia during the reign of King Ahasuerus and wanted to destroy the Jewish people from the kingdom (Esther 3).

Elohim commanded Isra’el to regard the Edomites as brothers despite their unwillingness to let them 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 King 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.

Isra’el and the Edomites

This parashah contains the genealogy of Esau because it is important to know one’s enemies. Understanding the battles between the two nations of Edom and Isra’el is important for understanding prophecies against Edom in the ‘last days.’ The Edomites, along with the Ishmaelites, are the first of many nations mentioned in Scripture that desire the destruction of Isra’el.

“God, don’t remain silent! Don’t stay quiet, God, or still; because here are your enemies, causing an uproar; those who hate you are raising their heads, craftily conspiring against your people, consulting together against those you treasure. They say, ‘Come, let’s wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Isra’el be remembered no more!’ With one mind they plot their schemes; the covenant they have made is against you — the tents of Edom and the Yishmaelim”… (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’” … (Ezekiel 25:13-14).

The prophet Obadiah states that Edom will be completely destroyed for his hatred of his 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 was 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 Bozrah, Jordan, which can only be reached through a narrow, winding gorge. The fortress was so protected that it was said only twelve 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 in southern Edom to the east of Isra’el.  It was named after the grandson of Esau and became synonymous with the region 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’ is the Hebrew word 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.’

“Here is what Adonai says: ‘For Edom’s three crimes, no, four — I will not reverse it — because with sword he pursued his kinsman and threw aside all pity, constantly nursing his anger, forever fomenting his fury; I will send fire on Teman, and it will consume the palaces of Botzrah’” (Amos 1:11-12).

“Who is this, coming from Edom, from Botzrah with clothing stained crimson, so magnificently dressed, so stately in his great strength? ‘It is I, who speak victoriously, I, well able to save.’ Why is your apparel red, your clothes like someone treading a winepress? ‘I have trodden the winepress alone; from the peoples, not one was with me. So I trod them in my anger, trampled them in my fury; so their lifeblood spurted out on my clothing, and I have stained all my garments; for the day of vengeance that was in my heart and my year of redemption have come. I looked, but there was no one to help, and I was appalled that no one upheld me. Therefore my own arm brought me salvation, and my own fury upheld me. In my anger I trod down the peoples, made them drunk with my fury, then 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 the answer: Yeshua, stained with blood of his enemies. He is not coming from ‘heaven,’ but from Edom in southern Jordan, and the stronghold of Petra, where he finally judges the Edomites for their chamas against Isra’el.

“Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that he passes judgment and goes to battle. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on his head were many royal crowns. And he had a name written which no one knew but himself. He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which he is called is, ‘THE WORD OF GOD’” (Revelation 19:11-14).

Esau became a great nation, but he lived a faithless life and passed his godlessness onto his descendants ultimately bringing complete destruction to his own progeny by none other than Yeshua, his brother.  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 Arab population who embrace chamas and perpetuate violence on Isra’el. Their destruction is prophesied along with Edom.

Yeshua’s Immersion

“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 [authority] 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 [immersion], 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 2:5-7).

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