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Parashat Vayishlach

Updated on December 2, 2017

Bereishit (Genesis) 32:1-36:43 ... (A Synopsis of)

Ya’akov has met with the angel-ambassadors of Elohim who he then sends ahead of him to his brother, Esau. When the angel-ambassadors return to Ya’akov they relate to Ya’akov that Esau is soon to arrive, with four hundred men. Ya’akov then prepares for war and then prays. He then sends a very large gift of several hundreds of head of livestock to his brother in the hopes that his brother might be appeased.

During the night, Ya’akov ushers his family and his possessions across the Jabbok River, he himself stays behind, though, and finds himself in a wrestling match with a Man until the break of day, when the Man says, “Let me go, for the day breaks.” (32:26), Ya’akov replies, “I won’t let you go, unless you bless me.” (32:26). Ya’akov receives a new name, Yisra’EL, meaning, “Elohim contended”, along with a wrenched thigh. Ya’akov, now Yisra’EL, names the place of his blessing Peni’EL, meaning, “face of Elohim”, because, Ya’akov declared, “I have seen Elohim face to face, and my life was preserved.” (32:30).

Esau and Ya’akov reunite, Ya’akov introduces each of his wives and his children in turn to Esau, Esau invites Ya’akov to his home, and Ya’akov refuses Esau’s request and heads toward Canaan, outside of Shechem, where he purchases some land to pitch his tents and allow his family and livestock to rest.

A young man also named Shechem, who was the son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of the region where Ya’akov had pitched his tents, takes an interest in Ya’akov and Leah’s daughter, Dinah. Shechem kidnaps Dinah and rapes her, then requests his father to acquire Dinah as his wife. When Ya’akov heard what had happened to his daughter, he was slow in deciding how to handle the matter, all the while Shechem was pushing to marry Ya’akov’s daughter. At the same time, Ya’akov’s sons also heard about what had happened to Dinah and they were outraged. When Shechem argues with Ya’akov and his sons to name a bride price, the sons state that Shechem and every male who lives in his city must be circumcised. Shechem and his father agree to this bride price and, as agreed, every male in the city of Shechem was circumcised. While the males of the city of Shechem were healing, Simeon and Levi sneak into the city and kill every male, including the ruler, Hamor, and his son, Shechem.

Ya’akov is directed, by Elohim, to return to Beth’EL, and is now to be known as Yisra’EL. Rachel, Yisra’EL’s beloved wife, births another son but in great pain and dies very soon after the baby is born. When her son is born, Rachel calls him Ben-Oni, meaning, “son of my sorrow”. Yisra’EL renames his son Benyamin Netanyahu, or Benyamin, meaning, “son of my right hand”.

Yisra’EL’s twelve sons are:

With Leah … Reuven (Yisra’EL’s firstborn son), Simeon, Levi, Yehudah, Issachar, and Zebulun.

With Rachel … Yosef and Benyamin.

With Bilhah (Rachel’s maid) … Daniyyel and Naphtali.

With Zilpah (Leah’s maid) … Gad and Asher.

At one hundred eighty years old, Yisra’EL’s father, Yitzhak dies, and both of Yitzhak’s sons- Esau and Yisra’EL - bury him.

Bereishit 36 tells of Esau’s (or Edom’s) descendants- his wives and his children and his grandchildren. These became the people of Esau and Seir. Of Esau’s lineage were eight kings who ruled in Edom: Bela, son of Boer; Jobab, son of Zerah; Husham, from the land of the Temanites, who was the son of Eliphaz, who was the son of Esau and his wife Adah; Hadad, son of Bedad; Samlah of Masrekah; Shaul from Rehoboth; Baal-Hanan, son of Achbor; Hadad, whose city was Pau and whose wife was Mehetabel, who was the daughter of Matred, who was the daughter of Mezahab.

What does this mean for Believers today?

Esau’s genealogy is usually one of those lineage tales skimmed or skipped over. For me, it’s sort of like reading the names in the White Pages with every name written in a foreign language. But Elohim considers Esau’s genealogy so important that He put it is in His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So, my question has always been, and is now, “Why? The man sought out to sell his birthright, sought out to kill his brother, and, later, the Edomites (the descendants of Esau) betrayed the nation of Yisra’EL. Give me the lineage of Adam, or Noach, or Yehuda, or Yeshua; those I can be interested in. But Esau?” Maybe you’ve asked the same question, or maybe not.

  1. Elohim’s word will always be fulfilled. In Bereishit 17:5-7, Elohim says, “Your name will no more be Avram, but your name will be Avraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you. Kings will come out of you. I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be Elohim to you and to your offspring after you.” What Elohim promises, Elohim will do; even if your name is Esau and you have forfeited your birthright and blessing.
  2. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River to possess the land of Canaan, there were peoples who were not to be harmed by the Israelites. The Edomites were one such people. Ergo, Esau’s lineage had to be documented throughout the generations so that the Israelites would know who the Edomites were and that they were not to be harmed.

  3. Yeshua ha-Meshiach was born into a very specific family lineage line. To separate the lines, each of Ya’akov’s and Esau’s individual descendant lines are specifically detailed.

  4. Elohim is reminding us through a detailing of Esau’s lineage line that all peoples are precious to Him. Each person’s name is representative of each person’s life, he or she is made in the image of Elohim, he or she is an Image-bearer, even if your name is Esau and you have forfeited your birthright and blessing.

  5. A reflection of Esau’s lineage line will show us that if we succeed by the standards that the world portrays as good and proper standards, we will surely fail; if however, we live by the grace of Elohim through the blood of Yeshua and by the leading of Ruach HaKodesh and find ourselves having failed, we fail by standards that Elohim has set for us, which is where it really matters … V’yakra (Leviticus) 11:44 says, “For I am Adonai Eloheinu. Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any kind of creeping thing that moves on the Earth.”

A Blessing

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-olam, asher natan lanu et derekh ha-yeshua ba’Meshiach Yeshua. Baruch hu. Amein.

Blessed are you Adonai our Elohim, King of all the universe, Who gave to us the Way of salvation through Yeshua ha-Meshiach. Blessed be He. Amen.


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