Genesis 28:13-15: “And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.””
The ‘parsha’ (‘Torah’ portion) this week is ‘Parsha Vayeitzei’ (‘and he went out’), found in Genesis 28:10 – 32:3. It is the seventh weekly ‘Torah’ portion in the annual Jewish cycle of ‘Torah’ reading, and the seventh in the book of Genesis. The corresponding ‘haftorah’ (reading of the prophets) is found in Hosea 11:7 – 12:14.
‘Parsha Vayeitzei’ describes Jacob’s travels to Haran as well as his life there. The ‘parsha’ also describes the twenty years that Jacob spent out of the Holy Land.
When Jacob left Be’ersheva for Haran, he stopped at a place for the night and using a stone for a pillow, he slept and had a dream.
He dreamed that he saw a ladder to heaven on which G-d’s angels ascended and descended. G-d stood over him and promised to give him and his descendants the land on which he lay. G-d then promised Jacob that, through his descendants, all the earth would be blessed; G-d also promised to stay with him wherever he went and bring him back to the land.
Jacob woke up afraid and remarked that the place was the house of G-d, the gate of heaven; he called the place Bethel (House of G-d).
Jacob then took the stone from under his head, set it up as a monument, and poured oil on it. He then vowed that if G-d would protect him on his travels, give him bread and clothing and return him to his father's house in peace, G-d would be his G-d, the stone monument would be G-d’s house, and he would give G-d a tenth of all that he would receive from Him.
Jacob came to Haran where he encountered a group of shepherds waiting with their flocks at a well. The well was covered with a huge stone and the shepherds explained that only when all the other shepherds arrived would they, with their combined strength, be able to roll the stone off the well.
Jacob asked them if they knew Laban, and they said that they did and that his daughter would also come to the well. When Jacob saw Rachel arrive with her father's sheep, he rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered Laban’s sheep. He then kissed Rachel and wept and told her that he was her kinsman, and she ran and told her father, Laban, who extended a warm welcome to his nephew.
Jacob became a shepherd of Laban’s flocks.
After Jacob had been with Laban for a month, Laban asked Jacob what wages he wanted for his work. Laban had two daughters – an older daughter, Leah and a younger daughter, Rachel, who the ‘parsha’ tells us was beautiful.
Jacob loved Rachel and offered to serve Laban seven years for Rachel’s hand; Laban agreed and Jacob worked the seven years for Rachel’s hand.
However, Laban deceived Jacob and brought Leah to him. In the morning, Jacob discovered that it was Leah and he complained to Laban that he had served for Rachel. Laban replied that in his country, they did not give the younger before the firstborn; however if Jacob worked another seven years, he would give Jacob both daughters. Jacob did so, and Laban gave him Rachel as his wife.
Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, so G-d allowed Leah to conceive but Rachel was barren. Leah bore Jacob four sons in succession: Reuben, Simon, Levi and Judah.
Rachel envied her sister and told Jacob to sleep with her handmaid, Bilhah, so that Rachel might have children by her. Jacob agreed and Bilhah bore Jacob two sons, Dan and Naftali.
Not to be outdone, Leah gave her handmaid, Zilpah, as a wife to Jacob. Zilpah bore two children, Gad and Asher.
Leah then gave birth to two more sons, Issachar and Zebulun, as well as to a daughter, Dinah.
Finally, “God remembered Rachel and listened to her prayers”; she conceived, and bore Jacob a son; she called his name Joseph.
Jacob expressed a desire to return to his own country, and he asked Laban to allow him, his wives and his children to return to his own country.
However, Laban was loathe to let him go as he realized that G-d had blessed him for Jacob’s sake. Jacob recounted how he had served Laban and how Laban had benefited; he then asked when he could provide for his own family.
Laban pressed him again, so Jacob proposed that in return for his labour, Laban should give him the speckled, spotted, and dark sheep and goats so that Laban would clearly be able to tell Jacob’s flock from his. Laban agreed, but that day he removed the speckled and spotted goats and dark sheep from his flock and gave them to his sons.
Jacob then peeled fresh rods of poplar, almond, and plane trees in white streaks and set the rods where the flocks would see them when they mated. The flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted young. Jacob laid the rods in front of the stronger sheep and not the weaker sheep. So the feebler sheep became Laban’s, and the stronger sheep became Jacob’s.
Genesis 30:43 tells us: “Thus the man (Jacob) became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks, female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.”
Jacob had been in Haran for twenty years and G-d told Jacob to return to the land of his fathers and that He would be with him.
Jacob complained to his wives saying that Laban did not regard him as before; and he took his family and possessions and fled in secret. Before going, Rachel stole her father’s idols.
Laban, on hearing that Jacob had fled, pursued after Jacob seven days, overtaking him in the mountain of Gilead. That night, Laban has a dream in which G-d warned him against harming Jacob.
When Laban caught up with Jacob, he asked Jacob why he left in secret; he also wanted to know why Jacob had stolen his gods. Jacob answered that he fled secretly out of fear that Laban might take his daughters by force; and, not knowing that Rachel had stolen Laban’s gods, he told Laban that whoever had his gods would die.
Laban searched for the idols and found nothing; he then entered Rachel's tent. Rachel had hidden the idols in the camel’s saddle and sat upon them. Laban searched and felt about the tent, but did not find the idols.
Angered, Jacob asked Laban what he had done to deserve the pursuit and search. Jacob said that he had worked for Laban for twenty years only to have his wages changed ten times. Jacob said that had the G-d of Abraham and Isaac not been on his side, Laban would have sent Jacob away empty handed. Jacob also said that G-d had seen his affliction and awarded him what he deserved.
An unrepentant Laban told Jacob that they were his daughters, his children, and his flocks; however, Laban proposed that they make a covenant, and Jacob set up a pile of stones and they shared a meal by the heap and Laban then returned home.
When Jacob went on his way, the angels of G-d met him to escort him to the Holy Land.
’Haftorah Vayeitzei’, found in Hosea 11:7 – 12:14, makes mention of Jacob's flight from home to Padan Aram, an episode that is recounted in this week's ‘parsha’.
The ‘haftorah’ begins with the prophet Hosea’s rebuke of the Jewish people for forsaking G-d. Nevertheless, Hosea assured the people that G-d would not abandon them.
The prophet discusses the misdeeds of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the future degeneration of the Kingdom of Judea. He contrasts their behaviour to that of their forefather Jacob who was faithful to G-d and prevailed against enemies, both human and angelic.
‘Haftorah Vayeitzei’ also makes mention of the ingathering of the exiles which will occur during the Final Redemption.
What do we learn from ‘Parsha Vayeitzei’?
We see that Jacob had a tendency to ‘help G-d out’. Laban was a difficult father-in-law, constantly finding new ways to cheat Jacob. He switched Leah for Rachel after Jacob had worked seven years for Rachel and he constantly found ways to cheat Jacob in the ‘family business’.
There were times when Jacob responded according to G-dly principles; however at other times, he resorted to his own scheming and deception. Eventually G-d told Jacob to return home with the promise: “I will be with you”.
However instead of trusting G-d and making a clean break with Laban, Jacob began complaining about Laban to his wives. The result is that they secretly left Laban’s house and Rachel secretly stole her father’s gods.
Pursued and caught by Laban, a confrontation ensued where Laban accused Jacob of stealing his gods. Jacob, not knowing that Rachel had stolen her father’s gods, angrily told Laban that whoever had his gods would die’ unwittingly uttering a curse over his beloved Rachel. As we will read in a later ‘parsha’, this statement had dire consequences with Rachel dying prematurely in childbirth.
This could have been avoided if Jacob had trusted G-d and acted upon G-d’s promise that He would be with him. Instead he only complicated matter by trying to ‘help G-d out’, causing Rachel to turn on her father in deceit and thievery.
How about you? When you are frustrated or when you face difficult and problematic times, do you try and ‘help G-d out’ or do you allow Him to lead and guide you. Proverbs 3:5-6 declares: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Verse 7 tells us “Do not be wise in your own eyes”.
Do you run from conflict and problems and perhaps ‘help G-d out’ by resorting to scheming, or do you, with G-d’s help and direction, deal with them confidently and openly?
Sometimes, ‘helping G-d out’ will result in dire consequences, with the problem or situation becoming far worse. G-d has the perfect solution, you don’t.
Finally, do you create ways to avoid G-d’s will for your life or do you instantly obey Him?
Some of you reading this ‘Thought for the week’ are followers of Yeshua and some of you aren’t. Allow me to ask you: Have you ever thought of what G-d’s will is for your life?
First and foremost, G-d’s will is that you be in relationship with Him.
Secondly, G-d’s will is that your sins be forgiven you and that eternal life in heaven be granted you.
Thirdly, G-d’s will is that you fulfil the plans and purposes He has for your life.
Finally, G-d’s will is that you live a life of victory and fulfilment…and all of this can only come about through Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah.
You can’t ‘help G-d out’ by trying to attain the forgiveness of sin, eternal life in heaven, victory and the fulfilment of G-d’s purposes for your life in your own strength and by your works…it just won’t happen!
In fact, you can do nothing to attain to the forgiveness of sin and everlasting life in heaven. ‘Helping G-d out’ by doing good works, going to ‘shul’ (synagogue) or church or giving charity will not help.
Only through belief in and acceptance of Yeshua can this come about, and G-d doesn’t want your help. All Almighty G-d wants is for you to receive His grace by accepting His Son, Yeshua, as your Messiah and L-rd so that you will have a personal, intimate relationship with Him.
G-d, through the Old Testament Prophet Yo’el (Joel), declares in Joel 2:32: “And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.” And the L-rd’s name is Yeshua.
John 14:6 declares: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”” All you need do to have a personal, intimate relationship with Father G-d is to pray the Prayer of Salvation found at the end of this article.
Will you accept G-d’s offer of the forgiveness of sin, everlasting life in heaven, security, peace, joy and victory despite your circumstances…or will you ‘help G-d out’ by doing things your way?
Will you accept G-d’s outstretched hand by trusting in Him with all your heart, leaning not on your own understanding; acknowledging Him in all that you do and allowing Him to direct your path?
Being wise in our own eyes and trying to ‘help G-d out’ by doing it your way will mostly end in mediocrity or sometimes, even failure.
G-d’s way or your way – you choose.
We love you.
Scripture of the week: Genesis 28:10-19
Thank you Yeshua for Your love for me.
Thank you for giving up Your life on the cross for me and for taking my sins upon Yourself.
I confess that I have sinned.
I repent of my sins and I turn from everything I know to be wrong.
I invite You to come into my life as my Messiah, my Saviour.
By Your grace I will serve You all the remaining years of my life.