1#Jacob’s negotiations with Esau. Laban kisses his daughters and grandchildren good-bye but not Jacob. On leaving Mesopotamia, Jacob has an encounter with angels of God (vv. 2–3), which provokes him to exclaim, “This is God’s encampment,” just as he exclaimed upon leaving Canaan, “This is the house of God, the gateway to heaven” (28:11–17). Early the next morning, Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them; then he set out on his journey back home. 2Meanwhile Jacob continued on his own way, and God’s angels encountered him. 3When Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s encampment.” So he named that place Mahanaim.#Mahanaim: a town in Gilead (Jos 13:26, 30; 21:38; 2 Sm 2:8; etc.). The Hebrew name means “two camps.” There are other allusions to the name in vv. 8, 11.
Envoys to Esau. 4Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom,#Gn 36:6. 5ordering them: “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: ‘Thus says your servant Jacob: I have been residing with Laban and have been delayed until now. 6I own oxen, donkeys and sheep, as well as male and female servants. I have sent my lord this message in the hope of gaining your favor.’” 7When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We found your brother Esau. He is now coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”
8Jacob was very much frightened. In his anxiety, he divided the people who were with him, as well as his flocks, herds and camels, into two camps. 9“If Esau should come and attack one camp,” he reasoned, “the remaining camp may still escape.” 10Then Jacob prayed: “God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac! You, Lord, who said to me, ‘Go back to your land and your relatives, and I will be good to you.’#Gn 31:3. 11I am unworthy of all the acts of kindness and faithfulness that you have performed for your servant: although I crossed the Jordan here with nothing but my staff, I have now grown into two camps. 12Save me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau! Otherwise I fear that he will come and strike me down and the mothers with the children. 13You yourself said, ‘I will be very good to you, and I will make your descendants like the sands of the sea, which are too numerous to count.’”#Gn 28:14; 48:16; Ex 32:13; Heb 11:12.
14After passing the night there, Jacob selected from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau: 15two hundred she-goats and twenty he-goats; two hundred ewes and twenty rams; 16thirty female camels and their young; forty cows and ten bulls; twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 17He put these animals in the care of his servants, in separate herds, and he told the servants, “Go on ahead of me, but keep some space between the herds.” 18He ordered the servant in the lead, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? To whom do these animals ahead of you belong?’ 19tell him, ‘To your servant Jacob, but they have been sent as a gift to my lord Esau. Jacob himself is right behind us.’” 20He also ordered the second servant and the third and all the others who followed behind the herds: “Thus and so you shall say to Esau, when you reach him; 21and also tell him, ‘Your servant Jacob is right behind us.’” For Jacob reasoned, “If I first appease him with a gift that precedes me, then later, when I face him, perhaps he will forgive me.” 22So the gifts went on ahead of him, while he stayed that night in the camp.
Jacob’s New Name.#As Jacob crosses over to the land promised him, worried about the impending meeting with Esau, he encounters a mysterious adversary in the night with whom he wrestles until morning. The cunning Jacob manages to wrest a blessing from the night stranger before he departs. There are folkloric elements in the tale—e.g., the trial of the hero before he can return home, the nocturnal demon’s loss of strength at sunrise, the demon protecting its river, the power gained by knowledge of an opponent’s name—but these have been worked into a coherent though elliptical narrative. The point of the tale seems to be that the ever-striving, ever-grasping Jacob must eventually strive with God to attain full possession of the blessing. 23That night, however, Jacob arose, took his two wives, with the two maidservants and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 24After he got them and brought them across the wadi and brought over what belonged to him, 25Jacob was left there alone. Then a man#A man: as with Abraham’s three visitors in chap. 18, who appear sometimes as three, two, and one (the latter being God), this figure is fluid; he loses the match but changes Jacob’s name (v. 29), an act elsewhere done only by God (17:5, 15). A few deft narrative touches manage to express intimate contact with Jacob while preserving the transcendence proper to divinity. wrestled with him until the break of dawn. 26When the man saw that he could not prevail over him, he struck Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that Jacob’s socket was dislocated as he wrestled with him.#Hos 12:5. 27The man then said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” 28“What is your name?” the man asked. He answered, “Jacob.”#Gn 35:10; 1 Kgs 18:31; 2 Kgs 17:34. 29Then the man said, “You shall no longer be named Jacob, but Israel,#Israel: the first part of the Hebrew name Yisrael is given a popular explanation in the word saritha, “you contended”; the second part is the first syllable of ’elohim, “divine beings.” The present incident, with a similar allusion to the name Israel, is referred to in Hos 12:5, where the mysterious wrestler is explicitly called an angel. because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.” 30Jacob then asked him, “Please tell me your name.” He answered, “Why do you ask for my name?” With that, he blessed him. 31Jacob named the place Peniel,#Peniel: a variant of the word Penuel (v. 32), the name of a town on the north bank of the Jabbok in Gilead (Jgs 8:8–9, 17; 1 Kgs 12:25). The name is explained as meaning “the face of God,” peni-’el. Yet my life has been spared: see note on 16:13. “because I have seen God face to face,” he said, “yet my life has been spared.”#Jgs 13:22.
32At sunrise, as he left Penuel, Jacob limped along because of his hip. 33That is why, to this day, the Israelites do not eat the sciatic muscle that is on the hip socket, because he had struck Jacob’s hip socket at the sciatic muscle.
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B'resheet (Gen) 32
1(Maftir) Early in the morning Lavan got up, kissed his sons and daughters, and blessed them. Then Lavan left and returned to his own place. 2Ya‘akov went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 3When Ya‘akov saw them, he said, “This is God’s camp,” and called that place Machanayim [two camps].
Haftarah Vayetze: Hoshea (Hosea) 12:13(12)–14:10(9) (A); 11:7–12:12(11) (S)
B’rit Hadashah suggested reading for Parashah Vayetze: Yochanan (John) 1:43–51
Parashah 8: Vayishlach (He sent) 32:4(3) –36:43
4Ya‘akov sent messengers ahead of him to ‘Esav his brother toward the land of Se‘ir, the country of Edom, 5with these instructions: “Here is what you are to say to my lord ‘Esav: ‘Your servant Ya‘akov says, “I have been living with Lavan and have stayed until now. 6I have cattle, donkeys and flocks, and male and female servants. I am sending to tell this news to my lord, in order to win your favor.” ’” 7The messengers returned to Ya‘akov saying, “We went to your brother ‘Esav, and he is coming to meet you; with him are four hundred men.”
8Ya‘akov became greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people, flocks, cattle and camels with him into two camps, 9saying, “If ‘Esav comes to the one camp and attacks it, at least the camp that is left will escape.” 10Then Ya‘akov said, “God of my father Avraham and God of my father Yitz’chak, Adonai, who told me, ‘Return to your country and your kinsmen, and I will do you good’: 11I’m not worthy of all the love and faithfulness you have shown your servant, since I crossed the Yarden with only my staff. But now I have become two camps. 12Please! Rescue me from my brother ‘Esav! I’m afraid of him, afraid he’ll come and attack me, without regard for mothers or children. 13You said, ‘I will certainly do you good and make your descendants as numerous as the grains of sand by the sea, which are so many they can’t be counted.’”
(ii) 14He stayed there that night; then he chose from among his possessions the following as a present for ‘Esav his brother: 15two hundred female goats and twenty males, two hundred female sheep and twenty males, 16thirty milk-camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten colts. 17He turned them over to his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Cross over in front of me, and keep a space between each drove and the next one.” 18He instructed the servant in front, “When ‘Esav my brother meets you and asks you, ‘Whose servant are you? Where are you going? And whose animals are these?’ 19then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Ya‘akov, and they are a present he has sent to my lord ‘Esav; and Ya‘akov himself is just behind us.’” 20He also instructed the second servant, and the third, and all that followed the droves, “When you encounter ‘Esav, you are to speak to him in the same way, 21and you are to add, ‘And there, just behind us, is your servant Ya‘akov.’” For he said, “I will appease him first with the present that goes ahead of me; then, after that, I will see him myself — and maybe he will be friendly toward me.” 22So the present crossed over ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp.
23He got up that night, took his two wives, his two slave-girls, and his eleven children, and forded the Yabok. 24He took them and sent them across the stream, then sent his possessions across; 25and Ya‘akov was left alone. Then some man wrestled with him until daybreak. 26When he saw that he did not defeat Ya‘akov, he struck Ya‘akov’s hip socket, so that his hip was dislocated while wrestling with him. 27The man said, “Let me go, because it’s daybreak.” But Ya‘akov replied, “I won’t let you go unless you bless me.” 28The man asked, “What is your name?” and he answered, “Ya‘akov.” 29Then the man said, “From now on, you will no longer be called Ya‘akov, but Isra’el; because you have shown your strength to both God and men and have prevailed.” 30Ya‘akov asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he answered, “Why are you asking about my name?” and blessed him there.
(iii) 31Ya‘akov called the place P’ni-El [face of God], “Because I have seen God face to face, yet my life is spared.” 32As the sun rose upon him he went on past P’ni-El, limping at the hip. 33This is why, to this day, the people of Isra’el do not eat the thigh muscle that passes along the hip socket — because the man struck Ya‘akov’s hip at its socket.
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