Genesis 32:3–36:43: Peace on Earth depends on a transformed you

The LORD sends us into the world to be His ambassadors and part of the kingdom of priests. Will we go? How will we face challenges of our own making or ones that are out of our control? There will be times when we reap the consequences of our behavior and times we are victims of injustice inflicted on us. In scenarios, we need to look to the only one who can give us wisdom to react to those situations. That’s one lesson threaded through the Torah reading וישלח Vayishlach (“[and] he sent,” Genesis 32:3–36:43).

Another lesson is how division is toxic to the Kingdom of God. How are we living out apostle Paul’s counsel for unity and peace?:

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18 NASB)

In Vayishlach we see what happened when Ya’akov (Jacob) and and Eysau/Eysav (Esau) met again after 20 years. Edom/Eysau was born “red” and “hairy,” symbols associated with humanness, and his life is an example of living “by the flesh” versus “by the Spirit.”

Genesis 32: Sending the malachim

The context of (Gen. 32:3) muddies whether the mal’akhim (messengers, human or celestial) were one or the other. Sages waffled over whether Ya’akob sent human or heavenly mal’akhim to Eysau. The pendulum of Eysau’s life swings went between murderous rage and accepting love for Ya’akob. We see this swinging pendulum continuing in Eysau/Edom’s history through all their interactions with the family of Israel.

Makhanim (Two camps/division) 

One commentator speculated that Ya’akov’s splitting of his family and resources into two camps to perhaps save some was a prophecy of:

  • Splitting of Yisrael into two kingdoms
  • Splitting the family of God into Judaism and Christianity

God’s three-fold name

Ya’akov addressed the prayer to “the God of my father Abraham and of my father Yitskhak,” reminding God of the promises made to both.

Many people in Scripture, including Yosef, Moshe, Yeshua, Peter and Stephan referenced to God as “The God of Abraham, Yitskhak (Isaac) and Ya’akob” when reminding those hearing about God’s promises through those three. For more information about this, check out a previous discussion of Vayishlach with a lesson on the Name.

With whom did Ya’akob wrestle?

With all that Ya’akob had accumulated in his 20 years apart from Eysau, we see that Ya’akob made a distinction between his material assets and the people who he regarded as precious.

"Jacob Wrestling With the Angel" by Rembrant
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, “Jacob Wrestling With the Angel,” Wikimedia Commons, c. 1659

This account has troubled a number of Jewish and Christian interpreters because a plain reading reveals:

  • Ya’akob wrestled with God directly.
  • God appears to be overcome physically by a human.
  • God appears to be afraid of the coming dawn, like phantoms of ancient mythology and vampires of modern lore.

Was this a theophany? If so, did God want to leave before daylight because, like He said to Moses, that a human can’t look at Him and live?

When a child is being punished by a parent, some will flee their parent’s chastisement while others will cling to the parent because they have nowhere else to go.

The Bible is a personal testimony of who God is and His character but also a personal testimony of those who He interacted with the most and their character. Some are a holy example, some are a dire warning.

Not everyone wants to live at peace with the Kingdom of God and how God deals with them reveals His character.

Ephraim feeds on wind, And pursues the east wind continually; He multiplies lies and violence. Moreover, he makes a covenant with Assyria, and oil is carried to Egypt. The LORD also has a dispute with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; He will repay him according to his deeds. In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his maturity he contended with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor. He found Him at Bethel And there He spoke with us, Even the LORD, the God of hosts, The LORD is His name. Therefore, return to your God, Observe kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually.” (Hosea 12:1–6 NASB)

The Midrash Rabbah asserts that Ya’akob wrestled Eysau’s guardian angel, but the prophet Hoshea (Hosea) wrote that Ya’akob wrestled with God through an angel (Hosea 12:3, 4). There is a Hebrew parallelism between “he (Jacob) contended with God” and “he (Jacob) wrestled with the angel.”

A more likely event, because it’s not described as a dream or vision, is that this was a real event with an unexpected, deliberate outcome — a sign, a miracle — to teach a point.

Genesis 33: Ya’akob reunites with Eysau

Is chivalry dead here? We see that Jaocb sends his material blessings first, then the woman and children and the patriarch “leading from the rear.” But what we see here is Jacob telling Eysau that he is putting what he considers most precious at his mercy. Puts the ball in Eysau’s court to decide if he is going to act with compassion or terror.

Eysau’s descendants were tested again during the Exodus. Will they attack or bless Israel when they are vulnerable.

Seeing Eysau = seeing the face of God

Ya’akob was at God’s complete mercy and lived and he was also at Eysau’s complete mercy and lived through that, too.

In other words, Eysau did not lash out at Ya’akob when they met, as the LORD had mercy on Ya’akob and protected him from the powerful presence of God at Beyt El.

Revelation 6:12–17: ‘Wrath of the Lamb’

Fear of the presence of the LORD is seen in the foretelling of the Day of the LORD (Revelation 6:12–17). Who will be able to stand in the time of Judgement? Will you cling to the LORD or flee from Him when that Day comes?

Newborn spring lamb (Petr Kratochvil /
Newborn spring lamb (Petr Kratochvil /

The details of the Day of the LORD with the opening of the sixth seal were prophesied by The Prophet (Messiah Yeshua) and other prophets (Isaiah 2:10–12, 2:19, 13:10, 34:4, 50:3; Jeremiah 4:23-29; Joel 2:31, 4:15 3:15; Nahum 1:5–6; Haggai 2:6; Matthew 24:29; Luke 23:30).

Enter the rock and hide in the dust from the terror of the LORD and from the splendor of His majesty. The proud look of man will be abased and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty and against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be abased.” (Isaiah 2:10–12 NASB)

When Jacob bowed to the angel and then later to Eysau, this shows us that Ya’akob had a humble spirit. He was willing to consider himself lower, not only lower than God (aren’t we all?) but also lower than Eysau.

The prophet Yeshiyahu/Isaiah in this chapter is passing along a call to “the house of Ya’akob” to “walk in the light of the LORD” (Isa. 2:5) and come back to God, rather than chasing after teachings from the east and mystery-revealers from Philistia, reveling in riches, worshiping idols and trusting in chariots and war horses for the nation’s safety (Isa. 2:6–9).

Ya’akob and Eysau’s struggle with pride was real. Mountains are not as secure as we think, and they are not secure from the judgement of God.

The problem was and still is pride in what mankind can do and conceive of, rather than having awe in the Source of life and all that exists.

Genesis 34: Dinah & devastation of division

This is a problem that has been brewing behind the scenes in a good portion of the book of Genesis. This shows us that division within a family, or a body, it will grow, and take over as a cancer and can destroy the body.

Dinah was the daughter of Leah (Gen. 34:1), the unloved or less-loved wife of Ya’akob (Gen. 29:30, 32). Shimon (Simeon) and Levi were older brothers of Dinah (her name means “judgess”), making them also children of unloved Leah.

The majority of Ya’akob’s children were not cherished and loved by their own father. When Jacob first learned of Dinah’s molestation, he did nothing. He bided his time until the sons came home but even when the older son’s came home, Ya’akob was silent.

On the other side, Hamor was not leading his son, but enabling and following him along towards disaster. Hamor’s actions did not soothe the situation but made it far worse. He threw gasoline on a fire.

Shechem’s unrestrained passions were going to ruin all of them.

As Jacob delays and sits on his hands, his daughter Dinah is captive in the house of her rapist. Her rapist’s family are enabling this situation and the entire city is conspiring to make her captivity permanent.

Shekhem (Shechem) is an example of how husband and wife aren’t to become אחד ekhad “one [flesh]” (Genesis 34:2–3).

“When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force. He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her.” (Genesis 34:2–3 NASB)

  • by force = עָנָה ʿanah (H6031a), be bowed down, afflicted, i.e., humbled

Shekhem “humbled” — humiliated — Dinah then tried to conspire to make her accept her degradation and humiliation. Shekhem’s judgment brought on him via Shimon (Simeon) and Levi reminds me of the scandal in King David’s house when his son Amnon “humbled” his stepsister Tamar and judgment came on him via Abshalom (Absalom, “father of peace”) (2Samuel 13). David’s failure to act against Amnon was one step toward the rebellion against David that Absalom led.

There have been many well-known public figures this year who have been embarrassingly humbled after actions they took to humble women. The common denominator is using one’s power for domination and humiliation of someone under their authority. It’s manipulative and a horrible way to run a household, or a corporation.

“The wrath of the Lamb” is the most oxymoronic phrase in the Bible. But when we go back to the Exodus we see that the blood of the lamb pushed away the Destroyer. The Kingdom of God is always about reconciliation, not domination. God doesn’t take His people by force, by seizure. He doesn’t subjugate His people.

God is love, but not a squishy, grab it while you can kind of love, but a self-sacrificial love. God wanted to be with mankind so much, that He walked alongside mankind to lead them to food, water and a new home. He came in His fullness in Messiah Yeshua, who loved the world so much that He subjected himself to ridicule, attach and unfair judgement by wicked authorities and died a horrible death for one reason: love of mankind.

Yeshua learned obedience through what He suffered and endured (Heb. 5:8–9). We need to go to the true “tree of knowledge” in Yeshua (Gen. 2:9; John 8:12).

With all of us as part of the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2:11–13), who struggle with God and prevail, what do we want to get from our struggles? We want to get closer to God. We overcome our old way of life and walk in His light.

Banner Photo: God sent His people into the world as His Ambassadors and Priests. How can they bring peace if they aren’t at peace themselves? Photo by Tiago Costa/ available via Creative Commons License.

Summary: Tammy.




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