Vayetze(He Went Out)B’resheet(Genesis) 28:10-32:3
Haftorah Reading: Hosea 11:7-12:12
Today I want us to look at something that I feel will speak to each of us. Let’s begin with reading Genesis 29:1. In this verse we read where, “Jacob went on his way.” However, when we read this verse in Hebrew it reads differently. In Hebrew it more accurately reads, “he lifted his feet and went on his way.” What difference does this make in how we understand the verse? I believe when we read it as originally written it shows us that Jacob made the effort or commitment to do what had been set before him.
Jacob was leaving home, the place of his birth and setting off on a journey. He set his feet on the right road and took control of his actions. We often find ourselves in a place where action is called for, a time to lift our feet. Jacob left his home, the place of his birth and went on his way. Each of us have or will have a time when we must step out, lift our feet and go on, a time when it might be more comfortable to just take a little more time before moving. If we are not careful we may miss an opportunity sent by our loving Father.
Think of his life. He was born and raised in Beer Sheva. On his journey he would face many challenges or obstacles. However, Jacob’s children alone were the only ones to become the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel. His children alone would settle the land. Avraham and Isaac both had sons that were not to be counted among the people of G-d.
Jacob found that life is not always easy. But with G-d all things to which He has called us are in our grasp. We just need to lift our feet and not give up but to trust G-d.
Now let’s look at Jacob a little closer and see some possible reasons why He was chosen to be the founder of the 12 tribes of Israel. Why Jacob? Noah was described as perfect in his generation, one who walked with G-d. Jacob did not, like Avraham, leave all he was used to, land, birthplace and father’s house in response to G-d’s divine call. He left to escape the wrath of his brother. Nor did Jacob have the burning sense of justice that we saw in Moshe’s early life. He also did not, like Isaac, offer himself up as a sacrifice. So we ask why Jacob?
In our portion this week we get a hint from another Hebrew word. As Jacob slept he saw the ladder of G-d and the angels of G-d descending and ascending on it. He spoke these words, “ve-hinei.” These words in English mean behold. We see this word in Genesis 28:12,13,15. Jacob was able in each verse to comprehend G-d and His promises even as he was in such a spiritually challenging place in his life, wondering if G-d was with him, how would he be accepted in Haran? All those questions probably swirled around in his head as he lay on that rocky hilltop in the land of Israel. This vision reassured Jacob that G-d was with him. He was not alone. Jacob gave the place the name Beit El or House of G-d.
G-d surprised him. When he felt the most vulnerable he saw G-d was with him. In fact the place he stopped for the night is described in Hebrew as “ha macom,” the place. G-d led him to this place even though Jacob did not understand that in the beginning. He was not expecting to meet G-d there yet in this unexpected encounter G-d came to him.
We, like Jacob sometimes encounter G-d when we least expect it. So in Jacob we learn to never give up and never lose hope. In difficult times, when we may feel most alone, like Jacob we can find G-d there. He will give us the strength to carry on. He can give us peace knowing and believing we have come to this place in our life and G-d will meet us there. In King David we see this same truth in Psalms 69:2-3 and Psalms 130:1. Many times our most profound spiritual experiences come when we least expect it. It is in those times of worry or despair that we are most open to the arms of G-d. Other verses that give us this assurance are Psalms 34:18, 51:17. In the Messianic scriptures we read over and over of Yeshua in his darkest hour standing strong because He was certain that His Father was with Him. We too can face our days in this manner. In times when we feel the most vulnerable and alone He has not left us. He is there in that place (Ha macom). He will never leave us.
Jacob thus became the father of the 12 tribes of Israel who through time would have their closest encounters with G-d in their wilderness experiences. Bless each of you this week with the reassurance that you are not alone no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.