Day 3: Vayishlach/Genesis 33:1-20
Throughout Yacov’s hiatus in the land Paddam-aran he learned some invaluable lessons of obedience. Paddam-aran proved to be a twenty-year crucible for Yacov. Consequently, on his way there he was granted a vision from YHVH known as the “Jacob’s ladder” and called that place Bethel/the House of El. On his way back from Paddam-aran, in anticipation to see his long-lost brother, Esau, he had another experience of YHVH’s presence with the gathering of angels. He named that place Mahanaim, i.e. Two Companies.
Just after Yacov’s second encounter with YHVH at Mahanaim, he gathered his vast flocks and herds, along with his male and female servants, to send to Esau as an appeasement for the past. Clearly, Yacov had become overwhelmed with fear regarding his reunion with Esau, after his messengers returned to tell him about the great company of four hundred men on their way to meet him.
In Yacov’s distress, he divided up his people along with his flocks, herds, and camels into two companies as a strategy of defense. In his humility, he believed by dividing his family and livestock into two groups that he could cause Esau to deviate from attacking the whole entourage.
Then, the eve before meeting Esau, Yacov had a third encounter with YHVH, as he wrestled with a man throughout the night. This scene impacts the future of all mankind. Yacov strived with the angel of YHVH. Yacov clung to Him and was humbled in his thigh and his name was changed to Israel as he strived and prevailed with YHVH and man.
Just after this experience with YHVH, Yacov named this third encounter Peniel, for he said “I have seen YHVH face to face, yet my life has been preserved.”
Finally, when Yacov met up with Esau he humbled himself and bowed low to the ground seven times. Much to his chagrin, Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, and fell on Yacov’s neck, kissing him as they both wept. The ramifications of this reunion were precarious in many respects. But suffice it to say, Yacov was spared from the wrath of Esau and he was allowed to make his journey onward to Succoth, unscathed.
That next station of rest was named Tents, for their Yacov found respite from his struggles.
There are various lessons that can be observed in this narrative. Yacov learned humility, which was the precursor to the honor he received each time he encountered the presence of YHVH. When Yacov bowed down to the ground seven times before his estranged brother, he exemplified that humility. The number seven is traditionally associated with refinement and perfection. Scripture states, “The Words of YHVH are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.” Yacov was purified by the Words of YHVH during his time in Paddam-aran.
Furthermore, Yacov divided his family and belongings into two camps just after his encounter at Mahanaim. At that juncture, the theme of two camps dovetailed into many facets. Two camps have been an ongoing theme for YHVH’s people, Israel, throughout history, culminating with the division between the house of Judah and the house of Israel.
During Yacov’s third encounter with YHVH, a unique nation was proclaimed and became Yacov’s namesake. Immediately following that encounter, the fledgling nation sojourned at a place called Succoth/booths. There, Yacov sanctioned his new name given by YHVH as he erected an altar called El-Eloh-Israel/The Mighty Elohim of Israel.
Yacov/Israel named his personal encounters with Elohim—names which we still identify today. We, even, have inherited Israel’s name in our ongoing quest, struggle if you will, with Elohim as we search for Him with all of our hearts. With this wrestling, we walk out our salvation with fear and trembling through Yeshua Messiah, the Gate to all Heavenly encounters.
Someday, possibly soon, we will be reunited with the whole house of Israel and remember our sojourning on earth with the names He provides for each difficult step up to Tzion. Until then, it is important to remember the names that our forefathers used to commemorate and memorialize their encounters with El-Eloh-Israel. It is in those encounters that the Covenant is repeatedly confirmed and that our lessons in faith in obedience are exemplified. If we look closely at those encounters throughout the narratives of Torah and the Prophets, we will gain insight to humility, the character of Elohim, and the importance of remembering El-Eloh-Israel.
Dwell upon Psalm 105:8-11, “He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.’”