Parashat Vayetse - November 25th

ויצא  Vayetse

Genesis 28.10 — 32.3

Genesis 28.10-19: Soon after fleeing from his home to go to his uncle Laban, Jacob receives a blessing and a revelation from God in a dream. God confirms also to Jacob the continuity and eternity of his promise to Abraham and Isaac. In fact, he blesses Jacob’s seed: “In you and your descendants [seed] shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” What a wonderful blessing for all the families of the earth.

Even so, we must ask how the content of the dream is connected to the blessing. Without question, the greatest blessing any father can receive—and certainly the father of the nation—is that his descendants be saved, that his offspring will be in fellowship with God, in the house of God, Bethel. Forever. And that is in fact the meaning of the dream.

We see angels going up and down on the ladder or stairway. Who or what is this stairway that brings us into the presence of God? We can read quite explicitly that the Messiah himself is this stairway: “You will see heaven open and God’s angels going up and coming down on the Son of Man.” (John 1.51). The angels are the servants of God who carry out this assignment; he uses them to bring the seed of Jacob and Israel to himself (Hebrews 1.14). We know too that the Torah was given through the agency of angels (Acts 7.53; Galatians 3.19), and it is the Torah that leads us to the Messiah (Galatians 3.24).

Jacob calls the place “the gate of heaven.” This is a good title for the Messiah. Jesus himself said that he is the door of the sheep (John 10.7, 9) and that no one can come to the father except through him (John 14.6). He is indeed the true gate of heaven.

Even though Jacob was a deceiver, God confirms his promise to him, because God never changes and because this is his plan of salvation for all nations. It is interesting to note that Jesus reveals himself as God’s stairway to “an Israelite in whom there is no guile” (in contrast to Jacob). Jesus promises that Nathanael will see great things, and this is indeed what happens, as he will see many more Israelites like himself coming to salvation. Right up until today God uses his angels in different ways to bring descendants of Israel to that same staircase through whom they come to the “gate of heaven,” into the very presence of God, to Bethel.

[BSI/vk]

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Genesis 28.14: “In you and your descendants [seed] shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Compare this with Genesis 3.17, “cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life”; and Genesis 5.29, “called his name Noah, saying, ‘Out of the ground which the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands.’” The Messiah is the descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; he is the blessing promised to all nations. He will heal the curse of sin.

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Haftarah: Hosea 11.7—14.10

 

Hosea 12.3-4: “In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his manhood he strove with God. He strove with the angel and prevailed.” This passage was chosen as the haftarah primarily because of these verses. They add to our understanding of the story in Genesis 32 by telling us that the “man” Jacob wrestled with was an angel, who was indeed God himself. This man who is God is none other than the Messiah.

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Hosea 13.4: “I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.” Here is another confirmation that, if the Messiah is to be a savior for Israel, then he must be God himself. (See also Isaiah 43.11; 45.21-22.)

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Hosea 13.14: “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction?” This verse is referred to in the NT (1 Corinthians 15.55), when Paul says that there is indeed resurrection from the dead, brought by the Messiah.

 

The same verse was quoted by the 15th century commentator, Isaac Abarbanel, to show that the Gentiles would be saved from Gehenna when they turned to the Messiah.

 

He also said that when the prisoners in Gehenna saw the light of the Messiah, they rejoiced and said, “This is the one who will redeem us from this darkness.” Here is a hint, that after the coming of the Messiah, all the inhabitants of the world will know and recognize the divinity of the blessed Lord, all will call upon his name and serve him together. Therefore, those who die from that point onward will not descend to Gehenna, as they do during the time of the exile, for the glory of the Lord. Furthermore he said in his flowery language that the prisoners of Gehenna (alluding to the nations of the world, those who do in fact inherit Gehenna), that when they see the light of the Messiah (a hint that they will adopt his teaching and believe in him themselves), they will rejoice and say “this is the one who will redeem us from the darkness of narrow faith that we are drowning in”; and as it is written (Hosea 13.14), “I will redeem them from Sheol and ransom them from death,” which is to say that he will redeem them from going down to Sheol and will ransom them from spiritual and eternal death. And when Isaiah says (Isaiah 51.11), “and the ransomed of the Lord will return and will come to Zion with singing,” after that he says “and everlasting joy will be on their heads,” meaning “with their crowns on their heads they will enjoy the shining light of the presence of God.” (Isaac Abarbanel, The book of messianic salvation, part 2, third reflection, chap 12)

Shabbat Shalom!

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