“And He Sent”
Torah: Genesis 32:3 [4 heb]–36:43
PROPHETS: Obadiah 1:1–21
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Hebrews 11:8–20
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 and 2
Jacob Returns Home
GEnesis 32:3–12 [4–13 Heb]
VaYishlach concludes the tol’dot [generation] of Isaac and next weeks portion begins the tol’dot of Jacob. Remember, tol’dot is “generation” or “account of.” So, the account of a father is primarily told through his children’s lives. Isaac’s tol’dot began in 25:19, has focused primarily on Jacob and Esau and concludes this week. Next week’s portion will begin Jacob’s tol’dot by his life being lived out through his children, especially Joseph (37:2). This week’s portion concludes Jacob’s 20-year “boomerang” journey back from Padaan Aram to the Promised Land. According to 27:41–43, why did Jacob leave Beersheva in the first place? Consider the fear with which Jacob must have been wrestling. According to 28:15 and 31:3, why is he returning home now? Consider the faith that must have been required for Jacob to overcome his previous fear.
Jacob sends messengers ahead to test out his brother’s disposition.
The messengers’ reply paints a picture of impending attack.
While Jacob does respond to the situation with action (vv. 7–8) he does not neglect the most important thing: prayer (vv. 9–12). How easy it is to neglect prayer! Where do you need to grow in the area of prayerfulness? Pick one realistic and doable way that you can grow in this area and take a step out in faith!
Faith Over Fear
Genesis 32:13–29 [14–30 Heb]
Jacob sends his brother many gifts to assuage his wrath (vv. 13–21) and then after taking his family and possessions across the Jabbok river, Jacob returns to the northern shore (vv. 22–23).
Is Jacob’s wrestling opponent human or divine according to v. 24 (cf. Hoseah12:4)?
Who could have the power to wrench a hip with merely a touch?
A name is more than a title but represents someone’s character and destiny. Jacob’s opponent does not reveal his name but changes the patriarch’s name to “Israel” in response to Jacob’s demand for a blessing.
Are you currently “wrestling with God” over something? Is it hard to submit to His will when your circumstances don’t measure up to your personal preferences? What is He trying to teach you? What are you afraid of? Consider where fear is a driving force in your life. Spend time in prayer getting your eyes off your self and your circumstances and back onto God, Who is powerful and loving. “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). How can you act on your faith instead of your fear and let God’s light shine through your choices?
Torah 3 and 4
Israel Wrestles with God
Genesis 32:30 [31 Heb]–33:5
Realizing that he had seen God’s face in human form, Jacob names the place, Peniel.
Jacob’s limp reminds him of this divine encounter. Tradition has encoded this remembrance into the Jewish mindset by Jewish people not eating an animal’s tendon connected to the thigh.
After Jacob reunites with his family and sees Esau coming, he quickly divides his household into a long caravan with the most “precious” in the rear for safety.
Jacob leads the way to reunite with his brother in a touching display of Jacob’s humility and Esau’s receptivity.
Jacob Reunites with His Brother
Esau meets his brother’s family (vv. 6–7) and eventually accepts Jacob’s generous gifts (vv. 8–11).
After they negotiate travel plans, Esau returns home to Seir.
Jacob travels first to Succoth (v. 17) and then moves on to Shechem, the place where Abraham had lived (vv. 18–20; cf. Abraham had moved from Shechem to Bethel, 12:6, 8; 13:3).
torah 5 and 6
While in Shechem, the prince of the land defiles Jacob’s daughter (vv. 1–3). This prince wants his dad to go and make things right (v. 4). So, father Hamor goes to Jacob (vv. 5–7) and speaks to him and his sons (vv. 8–10). Prince Shechem speaks up for himself and pleads for them to give him Dinah for a wife (vv. 11–12). With insincere motives, Jacob’s sons set circumcision as the condition (vv. 13–17). When the Shechemites submit (vv. 18–24) Dinah’s brothers execute revenge (vv. 25–29). Think about what must have motivated Simeon and Levi to act in such a passionate way on behalf of Dinah. According to 30:19–21 and 35:23, how exactly are these siblings related in the bloodline from Jacob via 4 different women? While defending Dinah’s honor, they also disqualify themselves for paternal blessings due to their vengeful ways (vv. 30–31; cf. 49:5–7).
At God’s instruction, Jacob leads his family to meet with God back in the place where God had first met Him: Bethel (vv. 1–7). Isaac’s wife’s nurse Deborah dies there (v. 8; cf. 24:59; perhaps Deborah had traveled to Haran to tell Jacob to come home, 27:45) and God shows up to change a name and repeat a familiar charge (vv. 9–11; cf. 1:28, 9:1, 7).
The Land Heritage
God also reiterates a familiar promise to the newly renames Jacob, son of promise (cf. 15:18).
God confirms Isaac’s previous blessings (cf. 28:3–4) as well as His previous promises (cf. 28:13–15). Jacob responds in worship (vv. 14–15). On the way to Bethlehem, Benjamin is born (vv. 16–18) and beloved Rachel dies (vv. 19–20).
With Rachel out of the way, perhaps Leah hoped to finally gain her husband’s affections and the corresponding familial status. Reuben, Leah’s firstborn son, probably slept with Bilhah, Rachel’s maid, to defile and disqualify her from robbing his mother of this cherished opportunity (vv. 21–22a). It also may have been a challenge against his father’s authority that disqualified him also from receiving paternal blessings (cf. 49:3-4; 1 Chronicles 5:1).
Jacob’s family line is listed (vv. 22b–26) and then he reunites with his father who eventually dies and is buried by his two sons (vv. 27–29).
After Jacob’s lengthy life history and concise family line (from the end of Chapter 25 through the end of Chapter 35), Esau’s condensed history and family line are recorded in Chapter 36 to close out father Isaac’s tol’dot. Specifically, Esau marries and has kids in Canaan (vv. 1–5) and then moves eastward and settles in Seir (vv. 6–8) where his family grows (vv. 9–14) with “chiefs” as political leaders (vv. 15–19).
torah 7 and
Seir’s Land First
The Horites lived in the land of Seir before Esau moved there. The Horites had “chiefs” as well (cf. Deut.2:12).
Kings came from the line of Esau before they did from the line of Jacob (cf. God’s promise of kings immediately after Benjamin was born, 35:11, and the beginning fulfillment when Saul, who is from Benjamin’s line, becomes king, 1 Sam.9:1-2).
While Esau’s land was ruled by kings, they also had local “chiefs” according to regions.
Edom’s Land Next
Israel Will Prevail
Obadiah means “servant of the Lord” and is the shortest book in the Hebrew Bible (a.k.a. Tanach, or “Old Testament”). While there is ambiguity regarding when Obadiah lived and preached God’s rebuke to Esau’s descendents, the reason for the rebuke is clear (v.10). The children of Esau have not blessed the children of Jacob, but instead have treated them with contempt (cf. Psalm 137:7). God’s promise to “bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” was given to Abraham (Genesis 12:3) and then passing from father to son, rested on Jacob (Genesis 27:29). The nation of Edom would have done well to heed this warning. The nations of the world would do well to heed the same warning today.
Read vv. 11–15 and consider what national response God is looking for toward Israel (i.e. Jewish “seed” both in the promised land and scattered abroad) today? Why? (cf. Romans11:12, 15, 30–32)
Israel Will Develop Faith That Saves
Hebrews 11 is often called the “Hall of Faith.” While much is said of Abraham’s faith (vv. 8–19) little is said of Isaac’s faith (v. 20). The writer of Hebrews mentions only one thing from the life of Isaac to stand out as a role model for saving faith: Isaac’s blessing over his children. I wonder if Rebekah had told Isaac what God said to her regarding Jacob’s future (Genesis 25:23) but he just didn’t get it until after the “deception” had occurred. When his firstborn came to him to rectify the misplaced blessing, Isaac did not relent. Was this the faith choice referred to here?
What faith choice is before you currently? In what area of your life is God calling you to exercise your faith? What does obedience in that area look like?
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.