Parashat Vayishlach (And he (Jacob) sent…)
Torah portion: Genesis 32:4-36:43
Haftarah reading from the prophets: Obadiah 1-21
The Bible is a supernatural book which has one primary purpose—revelation. That is, G-d wants to reveal His truth to all those who are wise enough to read His word. It does not take long for one who begins reading the Bible to realize that it can be difficult sometimes to understand. There are several principles that can assist one in understanding the Word of G-d. First there are not any errors in the Bible. The second principle is that although it may seem that there are contradictions in the Scripture, there are not.
In this study we will deal with two seemingly contradictive issues. Three weeks ago in Parashat Chayei Sarah, Abraham commanded his servant Eliezer not to allow his son Isaac to leave the land of Israel in order to take a wife. This point was strongly emphasized. However last week in Parashat Vayeitzei, Jacob departed from Israel in order to take a wife. Is it not contradictive that it was forbidden for Isaac to depart and permissible for Jacob? In this account one learns an important truth. The Patriarchs often represent the Jewish people. After the Exodus from Egypt it was G-d’s will that His people never go into exile again. However one learns from Parashat Nitzavim that Israel will go into exile because of their disobedience to the Torah (see Deuteronomy 30:1-3). Hence, in Isaac we learn that G-d does not want the His people to live outside of Israel, but from Jacob we learn that His people nevertheless will go into exile.
This week there is another difficulty in regard to Esau. Esau is wicked and ruled by his evil inclination. He is not interested in the things of G-d; in fact he works against the things of G-d. This fact was evident when Esau, who despised his birth right, sold it to Jacob. With the birth right comes the blessing from the father. G-d had already revealed to Rebecca that Jacob would be the child who would be used to continue the heritage of Abraham and the covenantal promises. Esau’s actions and hatred for the birth right only confirmed this choice. In last week’s parasha, it was dishonest and deceiving Esau who attempted to steal the right to the blessing which Jacob had purchased from him openly and fairly.
This act of Esau demonstrates how he wants to hinder G-d’s will in the life of the Jewish people (Israel: as we see in this week’s Torah portion, Jacob is Israel). Why does Esau continually behave in such a manner? The answer is because Esau is connected to Satan, while Jacob is connected to G-d. Satan wants to keep the will of G-d from being realized with Israel. Why? Because when Israel gets right with G-d the outcome will be that all the families of the earth will be blessed! Satan does not want this.
In this week’s Torah portion Esau does not behave against G-d’s will, but is kind to Jacob. Is this not a contradiction to his character? Yes it is. However from this one learns what G-d desires Esau to do: submit to Jacob and not to hinder him (make war with him). Finally, as the Jewish people (Israel) came out of Jacob, so too does Edom descend from Esau. If one reads this week’s prophet reading from Obadiah he will learn that Edom is eternally cursed from G-d. Why? Because Edom makes war with Israel and the battle is over land—the land of Israel.
I have spoken numerous times about the importance of the Land of Israel in G-d’s prophetic plan. From the prophecy of Obadiah one learns that Israel is not suppose to get smaller like President Bush wants as well as President elect Obama (this is also the desire of the United Nations and the world) but Israel will actually get bigger before the Kingdom of G-d is established (see Obadiah 19-21). This is yet another example of how what man thinks is a way for peace will actually bring about the wrath of G-d and what man is working against is exactly want G-d wants to happen.
It is most interesting that Obadiah reveals before the Kingdom will come, there will be a war between Jacob and Esau, Israel and Edom over land. We know that the Jewish people are Israel, so who is Edom? This is your homework assignment.
Share this Post