Genesis 32:4–36:43

What is a parasha?
This weeks Torah reading continues with the life of Jacob, focusing on the days before his reunion with his older brother Esau. The reading starts in verse four, with Jacob sending servants ahead to meet Esau, The two brothers had not spoken since Jacob fled from Esau for fear of being killed by him (Gen 27:41). Jacob had no way of knowing whether Esau’s anger and desire for revenge had subsided or whether Esau still wanted to kill Jacob for deceiving their Father Isaac into giving him Esau’s birthright and blessing. So, when Jacob’s servants returned to tell him that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob was rightly terrified! Assuming that Esau was coming to kill him, Jacob divides all of his livestock in two so that if Esau starts to destroy the livestock half might still be able to get away unharmed.

At this point (v.12) that in his desperation, Jacob cries out to God for deliverance and reminds God of the promise made over his life. That night-not knowing what the next day might hold Jacob took his family away from where they were camped and over a stream-there Jacob is left alone and wrestles with a man all night. When the man saw that he couldn’t prevail against Jacob he touched Jacobs thigh and dislocated it. But still Jacob would not be defeated, he would only let go once the man blessed him. The man then changes Jacobs name to Israel and blesses him. After this encounter has taken place, Jacob sees his brother Esau approaching in the distance and humbly bows to him seven times before the two brothers embrace and weep together.

The events leading up to Jacob and Esau’s reconciliation are truly phenomenal and are packed full of truths that are still relevant to all of God’s people today. I’m sure that we have all had nights where we have dreaded what the next day might hold. Jacob feared that the next day could be his last ever, yet Jacob had reminded God of his promise, ‘I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.’ Jacob being killed almost immediately after working for Laban for 20 years was not very ‘prosperous’. Even though Jacob’s circumstances looked very bleak God’s, promise that Jacob would be prosperous had not. It is encouraging to remember this when we look at the state of Israel today: regardless of some of the threats made to Israel, God’s promises have not changed toward them. When Jacob prayed to God for deliverance in verse 11, Jacob knew he couldn’t survive the potential attack from Esau on his own. Instead, he needed to turn to God for deliverance.

The reading from the book of the Prophet Hosea urges Israel to

‘return to your God, observe kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually’
This shows that ultimately God doesn’t just want Israel to turn to him when they need delivering, but to wait upon God continually. This remains God’s desire for Israel today that they don’t have to turn to God when they are in a situation that is out of their control but that all of Gods people can wait upon the lord and let him lead us in all circumstances.

The European Coalition for Israel is a unique grassroots movement, which is seeking to promote better relations between Europe and Israel through advocacy and education. More information: www.ec4i.org

Cover photo courtesy of Canva