G-d’s best, nothing less!
Vayishlach (He Sent) B’resheet/Genesis 32:4-36:43
Haftorah Reading: Hosea 11:7-12:12
Today we study a Torah portion with many twists and turns. We read of Jacob’s return to the land after being gone more than 20 years. We also read of the death of Rachel and her burial. I would first like us to start our discussion talking about Rachel.
In Proverbs 18:21 we read, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” This verse plays out in Rachel’s death. Jacob and his family were making their way through the land of Canaan, going to the city of Hebron where his father Isaac still lived. On the way, Rachel went into labor with her second child. She had severe labor with this birth and died. Jacob buried her beside the road near Bethlehem. In Genesis 35:20 it says he set up a stone over her grave. Her grave is still a place where many people visit. She is the only matriarch not buried in the Tomb of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs in Hebron.
If you remember, in our portion from last week, Rachel had stolen her father’s idols and hid them in her tent. When Laban caught up with Jacob, one of his complaints was that someone had taken his family idols. In Genesis 31:32 we can read Jacob’s response. He said, “The one with whom you find your gods shall not live.”With these words Jacob inadvertently spoke a curse over his beloved wife. This verse sheds light on the words of Yeshua warning against swearing an oath. We read in Matthew 5:36-37 where Yeshua said not to make an oath but let your yes be yes and your no, no. Anything beyond that is from the evil one.
I believe this lesson is very important to us in our days. We see so much being spoken out that may or may not have an actual truth behind it. It is our role as G-d’s people to not become part of such speech. We are to be the light and speak the words of truth, love and peace, not half-truths, hate or anger.
Rachel is also mentioned in Jeremiah 31:15 and again in Matthew 2:18 where she is mourning the exiles being led off to Babylon.
Now on to our question of the week. Look at Genesis 34:9-10 where we read, “And you shall dwell with us, the land shall be before you; settle and move around in her and acquire property in her.” This conversation occurred between Jacob and Hamor the chief over the city of Shechem in Canaan. Jacob and Hamor met to discuss the assault of Jacob’s daughter Dinah by Hamor’s son. We will not go into the details of what happened between Dinah and the son of Hamor. We will concentrate on our verses in 34:9-10. Hamor made an offer to Jacob and his family. He offered them the opportunity to dwell in the land, to move about in the land and to acquire possessions in the land such as flocks and herds, They could have free movement in the land.
Think about this, Jacob had been a traveler for over twenty years. He had no place of his own. Here he arrived back in the land that G-d had promised him. This might have sounded like a good offer from Hamor. He would have the freedom to live his life free from trouble with the surrounding population. He could finally relax for a while. He could even acquire land legally with no argument. This was the most valuable part of Hamor’s offer. He, Jacob, would become a respected citizen.
Jacob probably thought, sure there had been trouble with Hamor’s son when he assaulted Dinah but he seemed to care for her so maybe this would work out well. Jacob would win all the way around.
However, all is not so rosy. We read in Genesis 34:23 Hamor had another more subtle reason for making Jacob this offer. In this verse we read, “Their cattle and substance and all their beasts will be ours. If we only agree to their terms so that they will settle among us.” Hamor’s generous offer to Jacob was only to eventually take all that Jacob possessed. Then they would become like all the other people of Canaan.
Tempting offer for sure but one not worth the price of giving away the promises of G-d. The Father gave Jacob the promises of Avraham and Isaac. The Father had said they would be His people. Hamor was basically saying, “come on over to us, why wait for some future promise, become one of the gang.
Where do we find the same kind of offer in the Messianic scriptures? In Luke 4:5-7 we read where satan made basically the same offer to Yeshua, bow down and worship me and I’ll give you the whole world. Yeshua answered him by quoting Deut. 6:13. Yeshua refused the offer. He stood on who He was and who His father was. In Hebrews 4:15 we also read, “Yeshua in every respect being tempted as we are yet without sin.”
My point in all this is that each of us also have been, or are, or will be tempted to accept a short cut to something we desire. We might be tempted to do things we know are not the will of G-d. The offer may give us the feeling of being accepted by others or our desires or needs finally being fulfilled. Satan is always ready to give us a counterfeit for G-d’s promises. Think back on Jacob and Yeshua. G-d has more for us than being accepted by the world. He has His world for us. Don’t settle for less than G-d’s best for you.
Bless you all this day. May you recognize the difference in His life giving promises and Satan’s deception as you experience every day of your life.