Torah Pearls #8 – Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43)

Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43) - Torah Pearls - NehemiasWall.comIn this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43), Nehemia Gordon explains the truth about the "613" commandments, Jacob's prayer for salvation, and the identity of who appeared to Jacob and Joshua.

Image courtesy of the Jewish Museum.

Download Torah Pearls Vayishlach


Torah Pearls #8 - Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43)

You are listening to The Original Torah Pearls with Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson, and Jono Vandor. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at

Jono: G’day to everybody listening wherever you may be around the world, thank you for your company. Joining me this hour is Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. My friends welcome back to Pearls from the Torah Portion.

Nehemia: Shalom, it’s great to be back.

Keith: It sure is good to be back, Jono. You’ve got us pretty excited these days. I’m telling you we’re getting used to this. I look forward to this every single week. Like, when do I get to talk to Jono and Nehemia? I’m really getting into this.

Jono: Listen, Keith, we’ve had some great feedback with the comments. A lot of people are telling us that they absolutely love the Torah Pearls and that they look forward to it every week, like you do, and like I do, and I’m sure Nehemia does. We love to get together and discuss this. And thank you to the listeners. Thank you to the listeners who write in and encourage us and say that you appreciate it, that it’s a blessing to you. That really makes it worth it. So thank you to the listeners.

Keith: Jono, what I want to say, one of the things that I was dealing with just yesterday. I’ve been talking to Nehemia, there’s just a bunch of different things that are happening this year, I think, that have been really significant. But the thing that really blessed me as I was thinking about what we do is that here we have a chance, every single week, to get together and spend an hour, and the primary focus of the entire discussion is the word of God. I could do this literally every day, all day, if this was what my life was about. It’s like this refreshing oasis. Here we open up the word of God and we get the perspective of yourself, Nehemia, and me. Of course, the people, I’ve even had people send me emails saying, “I listened to the Torah portion, did you think about this and did you think about that?” That is exactly what we’ve been trying to do - is just getting people to interact with the word of God. Again, I want to tell you how much we appreciate this. It really is a part of purpose, and it’s a blessing. Wow, I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoy this.

Jono: It’s a wonderful opportunity. And this week, of course, we are in Vayishlach?

Nehemia: Vayishlach

Jono: Okay. Bereshit, Genesis 32 verse 3 to 36:46, and this is how it begins. By the way, we’re dealing with... this is really pretty much Jacob and Esau, and also the death of Rachel, and the rape of Dina. A whole lot of stuff happens here. But it begins like this, “Then Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau, his brother, in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. And he commanded them, saying, ‘Speak thus to my lord Esau, Thus your servant Jacob says: I have dwelt with Laban and stayed there until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight.’”

Now, Nehemia, let me ask you. This is my first question, he refers to Esau as “my lord,” he refers to himself as “Esau’s servant”. How is this to be understood?

Nehemia: “Lord” is the way of… really you could translate it as in the sense of “sir”. I mean think about the term in English, “mister”, which comes from the word master. When I say Mr. Johnson, I don’t mean literally he’s my master. I think it’s meant to be taken as a sign of respect, rather than a literal term. It’s actually very common for somebody to refer, even in modern Hebrew, to refer to somebody as “adoni,” as “my lord”, and you don’t literally mean he’s your lord, it’s just a way of expressing respect for someone.

Jono: It’s just common courtesy, right?

Nehemia: Absolutely right.

Jono: There’s nothing too much to read into this.

Nehemia: I would say it’s maybe even extraordinary courtesy in this instance, because he says, “Not only is he my lord but I’m his servant.” He’s trying to be extra courteous. He’s brown-nosing him, let’s call a spade a spade.

Jono: Right. He’s doing his best to get into the good books.

Nehemia: Right. He stole the guy’s birthright; got his birthright, got his blessing, and now he’s saying, “Look, I’m giving this all to you, don’t worry about it.” And Esav, being this materialist, he’s going to look at that material and say, “I don’t need that blessing. What good is that for anyway?” Then his response is, “You know what, I’m wealthy. I don’t have a problem.” What Esav is missing is the spiritual blessing that Jacob has. All that stuff, all that prosperity - that’s not what it’s about. That’s only part of it. That’s not the key thing. The key thing Esav is still missing.

Jono: That becomes evident throughout this whole Torah portion. So verse 6, “Then the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, ‘We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.’ And understandably Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies. And he said, ‘If Esau comes to one company and attacks it, then the other company which is left will escape.’”

So he starts to make these plans, but he prays. He says, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, Yehovah who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you.’ I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”

So it seems… well, it says he’s afraid and he’s pleading with Yehovah and seemingly reminding him of the promise that He made him. Is that fair?

Nehemia: Yeah. Before we rush ahead, can we look at a couple of things in some of the earlier verses?

Jono: Please.

Nehemia: Because there are some pearls here. One of them is in verse 8, where it says he divided everything into two camps. You translated it as “two companies,” but the word is mahanot - camps. That’s actually a play on words related to something in verse 3, where it says he saw the angels and he says, “this is the camp of God”, and he called the name of the place Mahanaim, which means two camps. And last week we asked, why two camps? He only sees one camp.

Here’s one of the answers: Part of the answer is he saw those angels, and maybe there were lots of them, so that was two camps. But then there’s very often, when you have these name explanations, you’ll often have two reasons. The second reason is now given here, afterwards, as it’s his two camps that he split his people into. That’s one point worth pointing out.

In verse 5 we have this little statement, where he says to that word “I have dwelt,” or “I have lived,” the word is garti. The rabbis looking at this - and I was taught this as fact, and I’m going to say what it is and then we’ll consider it. So they looked at this and they said, “Why did he say that? That he lived with Laban? What was the significance of this?” They said if you look at the word “I dwelt” the word is garti, and if you add up the numerical value of it you get to 613. This is where they get the idea of the 613 commandments - from this verse.

Jono: Really?

Nehemia: The rabbis say there are 613 commandments and they understand this to be a coded message that Jacob was proclaiming, “With Laban I observed the 613 commandments” - that’s how they interpret that statement. I want to ask the question, is there really any evidence anywhere in the Scripture that there are 613 commandments? And if not, what is the number? I’m going to throw that out to you guys.

Keith: Wait. No, Nehemia. You can’t take that away from us, this is something that we both come into Torah, that start understanding these things. This is our shtick; this is what we say. There’s 613 - we never check it. You’re going to take that away from us?

Nehemia: Here’s the really interesting thing. There are various rabbis throughout the generations who have written books listing the 613 commandments. No two lists are identical. No two lists are even close. That’s because if you think about it, how do you count the commandments? Think about something as simple as the Sabbath. So on Shabbat, we have the commandment to rest. We have another commandment: don’t work. That’s two commandments in the 613, right?

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: There are all kinds of specific details. There’s one in Exodus chapter 35 verse 3 about not kindling a fire. Okay, that’s number three. Then we have various other commandments about not plowing and not harvesting on Shabbat. Okay, that’s four and five. So what you thought was one commandment, the commandment of Shabbat, some other Rabbi a thousand years ago trying to list the 613 comes up with five. Why does he come up with five? Because he has to fill out the list of 613.

Jono: In order to satisfy this verse, is what you’re saying.

Nehemia: Exactly. The bottom line is that the Torah doesn’t tell us how many commandments there are. Why are we trying to invent a number when the Torah doesn’t give us that number?

Jono: Fair enough. Keith?

Keith: We have 613, and they tell us there are 613. You mean to tell me that this is somebody’s opinion? You mean to say that I can’t find 613? Are you telling me that there’s more than 613? What are you saying?

Nehemia: You can count them any way you want to count them. Different rabbis throughout the generations have counted them differently is my point. You could count them as 850 if you want. Or you could count them as a much smaller number. The point is that the Torah doesn’t give a number, and trying to put a number on that, I think that actually limits God. I think that that confuses what His word is about.

Now think about a commandment as something as simple as “v’ahavta l’re’acha kamocha,” which appears in Leviticus 19, which means “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” That’s one commandment, right? Actually, you could say it’s two commandments. The first commandment is you have to love yourself; it’s got to start off loving yourself. Then you’ve got to love your neighbor the same way you love yourself. So that’s two commandments, right? But those two commandments or one commandment, however you count it, is something that could encompass your entire life. A lot of people out there think they’re very righteous because they’ve got a really, really big shofar. Or they’re very righteous because they keep the Sabbath with all the details, at least as far as they understand it. And a commandment like “love your neighbor as you love yourself” - that’s something you could spend your entire life just trying to fulfill that commandment and falling short; doing the best that you can. I mean think about that. The prophets spoke day and night about feeding the hungry and clothing the poor and the homeless, and all that falls under the category of “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” So counting them I think kind of belittles the significance of some of the commandments.

Keith: This is a Torah problem, because here you have this whole idea, and there have been books and articles written about this. I can go online right now and say, “How many commandments are there in the Torah?” 613. I guess the thing I want to clarify here, Nehemia, is you’re saying from this verse specifically is where it came from?

Nehemia: Amen. This is proof. This is what I was taught as a child. This is what every Orthodox Jew knows. It says, “Im Lavan garti,” garti is gimel resh tav yud. If you rearrange the letters it’s tariag, 613. Tariag means 613 commandments. It’s the numerological or numerical value of the word “I dwelt,” garti.

Keith: So garti is where we get the 613?

Nehemia: That’s where they get the 613 from this one word in this one verse. The reason is they want to be able to say that Jacob is proclaiming as he’s reentering the Land of Israel, “I kept all the commandments when I was with Laban,” which is kind of ridiculous because he married two sisters, so we know he didn’t keep all the commandments. He sinned certainly on the terms of Leviticus chapter 18 that was later commanded, but whatever. And he deceived Laban and stole from Laban, whatever, arguably.

Anyway, the point is that they want to say he kept all the commandments and they take this word and they say there are 613. The rabbis who said this, you have to understand, I don’t think they even had an idea of what those 613 were. Later rabbis were the ones who sat down in the Middle Ages, a thousand years later, and started to cook up, “Okay, well, we’ve got to start listing them,” and they came up with all kinds of different numbers. But at the time when they said this, it was a pretty little thing, the 613 commandments.

We can break that down into two into different categories: the positive commandments and the negative commandments. One of those turns out to be, if I’m not mistaken, 365, which are the days of the year. The other is 248, which is the traditional number of bones in the body. So these are symbolic things - everything has symbolism here.

Jono: This is the first I’ve ever heard that this verse 4 of chapter 32 in Genesis.

Nehemia: In the Hebrew, it’s verse 5.

Jono: Oh, okay. In Hebrew, it’s verse 5.

Nehemia: We don’t need to count the commandments; we need to make this our way of life. If it’s your way of life, it’s not about counting them and adding up all your brownie points and all your negative demerits. It’s about having a relationship with the Creator of the universe and maintaining that relationship.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: You both are married, you guys know that to have a successful marriage, it’s not about, “Well, honey, I took out the garbage 412 times, but I committed adultery, and that’s only one thing - so it’s okay.” No! It doesn’t work that way! It’s about maintaining that relationship of faith.

Jono: About maintaining faithfulness, it’s not a mathematical challenge.

Nehemia: It really is about maintaining faithfulness. It’s not about adding up merits and demerits. When you end up counting the commandments that’s what you end up with. You end up with the merit and demerit system and then you come up with really interesting things. How well we’re going to prorate this and make this more valuable and less valuable. That’s not what it’s about, that’s legalism.

Keith: Now, can we move on?

Nehemia: Bevakasha.

Jono: Go on.

Keith: So it says after this problem his brother’s coming, he says, “Okay, I better pray about it.” And we have the prayer of salvation here in the NIV. He prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O LORD, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and to your relatives.’” Then it says in verse 11, “Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau,” So I wanted to stop there for a second. Is he literally asking God to save him? Is there something else going on here? I mean, is the salvation he’s calling for something different? I just wanted to slow down and ask that question.

Nehemia: Well, we all know he can’t be saved because he doesn’t have...

Keith: Well, no, no, I’m just…

Jono: Oh, man. Do you know how many comments this is going to get?

Keith: I was just wondering if it said that in your version, and Nehemia, how you read that in verse 11 in the Tanakh.

Nehemia: Okay, so in Hebrew it’s verse 12 and it says, “hatzileni na miyad achi, miyad Esav, ki yare anochi oto pen yavo v’hechani em al banim.” “Save me please from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esav; for I am afraid of him, lest he come and he smite me, mother with children."

Jono: Keith?

Keith: So you didn’t mind saying it according to the NIV, “Save me,” and of course, the King James Version says, “Deliver me,” I believe it is.

Jono: That’s correct.

Keith: What’s the actual word that’s used there?

Nehemia: So the word is hatzileni from lehatzil. It’s not the word lehoshia, that’s another word for save. They have essentially the same meaning, very similar meanings. They both talk about saving someone from some kind of danger or destruction in the Tanakh.

Keith: I just think it’s interesting that when it’s said and done he does his plan, he sees his brother coming, and then he does that thing that we’ve all got to learn to do - he turns to the God who can actually deliver, to save, to bring him out of his trouble and begins to pray. I just liked that it kind of jumped off the page when I saw it, I wanted to slow down a little bit. Now we can move on.

Nehemia: Here’s something to point out - he makes his prayer, but then he also takes action. He has a strategy, and his strategy is to send these gifts and try to placate his brother. So, on the one hand, he’s praying to God. On the other hand, he is…

Jono: Being cautious.

Nehemia: …using his own ingenuity and own skills to resolve the situation.

Jono: And placate his brother.

Nehemia: To dispel his brother’s anger. I think that’s a very important lesson. A lot of people will have this, what’s called a quietistic attitude, which means they think, “Well, all we’ve got to do is pray and God will come and do everything for me. I don’t have to take any action. I’m just going to sit here and pray to God, and if God wants me to do X Y Z, then it’ll just happen. I don’t have to work for it.”

What we see actually in Scripture is people work for things, and they work hard for things, and they risk their lives for things, and they pray. It’s a combination. It’s almost like a partnership that we have with God – that we can’t do it without him, but we’ve also got to do it. Because if it was not important for us enough for us to do then why should He help us?

Jono: Yes, I guess so.

Keith: Thank you, brother. I just want to tell you, you’re really on a roll. You’re in the zone right now, so let’s continue. This little section I love. Jono, can I read this section?

Jono: Please, verse 13.

Keith: So after he does all of this preparation and all of his prayer, there’s this wonderful section it says, “That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maid servants,” I’m in verse 22. “After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone.” I love that phrase. I mean, he’s not got his family, he doesn’t have a strategy, they’ve gone across to do this thing, and he’s left alone. And then, “a man wrestles with him until daybreak.”

But just the idea that God waits until Jacob has had his prayer, had his strategy, got his family, he moves them up there and then he’s alone, and then the wrestling match starts. I don’t know, there’s just like this picture about that. But I wanted to stop for the Torah Pearl. What does it say, Nehemia? So Jacob was left alone and a man did what?

Nehemia: Wrestled with him.

Keith: And where does the word wrestle come from?

Nehemia: Well, it comes from the word “avak,” which means dust. And so “vaye’avek,” presumably means “to roll around in the dust”.

Keith: So when I saw that it kind of jumped off the page for me. Because when it said that a man wrestled with him, I didn’t think about this sort of spiritual thing where it was, “Oh, we had a little bit of conflict in the discussion.” No, they got down and dirty in the dust.

Jono: We’re really talking about a wrestling match, aren’t we?

Nehemia: Oh, yes.

Jono: Because it says, “Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man,” and I don’t know about you Keith, but in my Bible, it’s a capitalized Man, “wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.”

Keith: Let’s do something just before, Jono, please, I apologize in advance. Before we get off of this verse, and this is a good example, your translation capitalizes “man.” Why do you think that is?

Jono: There’s a suggestion of deity there, I would think. I mean a little later on it seems to identify this man.

Keith: Let’s slow down. So here’s my question: is there anything in the Hebrew, and of course we know the answer to this, that would make the translators say we should say Man with a capital?

Nehemia: Right, so Hebrew doesn’t have capital letters, in case that wasn’t obvious to everybody. In the Hebrew, it’s obviously not capitalized because there are no capital letters.

Keith: Why is this happening in Jono’s translation? What are they trying to say?

Nehemia: They’re trying to say that man is… And actually, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they’re not interpreting it as what’s called Christologically. But let’s just say they’re trying to understand it from a totally Tanakh perspective. Maybe they say, in the end, he says, look, in verse 31 in the Hebrew, I guess that would be 30 in English, or is it 32? “And Jacob called the name of that place Peniel for ‘I saw God face to face and my life was saved,’” or “my soul was saved”, literally. So he saw God face-to-face, so if you understand that to be God in English with a capital G, then you would say that man is God, which certainly to the Jewish mind doesn’t make any sense, but I can understand how a Christian would see that.

This could be understood in different ways, that this was an angel of God, somebody that therefore representing God, or Elohim in the Hebrew also sometimes means angel. The angels are also called Elohim. So maybe here Elohim means, “I saw an angel face-to-face and my soul was saved.”

Keith: All right. We’ll let that sit for a while.

Nehemia: But he definitely understands that it wasn’t a regular man that he wrestled with, to be fair…

Jono: Yes, that seems to be the case. But as we’ve touched on before in the program, and I think we may have spoken about this when we were speaking about Genesis chapter 18 when the three men appear before Abraham, and one of them speaks, at least certainly speaks on behalf of Yehovah, and the discussion takes place there, and this could well certainly be a very similar situation that a man wrestles with him and speaks with him in the authority of Yehovah. In any case, he knocks his hip. I mean it says, “He touched,” he touched? I mean to knock someone’s hip out of the joint; I mean that’s a bit more than a touch, isn’t it?

Nehemia: Yes, well, let’s hold on. We talked about that in a previous… Actually before we get to that, can I quickly just jump ahead to Joshua chapter 5 verses 13 and on? Because we have a very similar incident there where someone appears before Joshua with a sword drawn. I see it as similar because I think the function of that entity that appeared before Joshua is the same as the entity that appeared with Jacob.

It says here in verse 13, “And it came to pass when Joshua was at Jericho and he lifted up his eyes and he saw and behold a man was standing before him his sword was drawn in his hand. And Joshua went to him and he said, ‘Are you with us or you with our enemies?’”

Verse 14, “And he said, ‘No, but rather I am a sar,’” which is a minister or a general, “‘in the army of Yehovah. And now I have come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the ground v’yishtachavu,” and he worshipped or he bowed down. “And he said to him, ‘What does my lord speak to his servant?’” And by the way, this isn’t adonai, referring to Yehovah, it’s adoni, the same thing that Jacob called Esav, meaning “sir”.

“What does sir, or my lord, speak to his servant?” And this officer or the general of the army of Yehovah said to Joshua, “‘Take off your shoe from your foot because the place that you are standing is holy,’ and Joshua did so.”

Now what was the purpose of that angel? Or it doesn’t actually say angel, but it’s an officer of the army of Yehovah. What was the purpose of this entity appearing before Joshua? To me, it seems the answer is that he was trying to give Joshua confidence. That Joshua would know, “You’re not alone, there’s somebody with you. You’re going up against this enemy, and there’s a spiritual army at your side.” I think that was the purpose of this angel wrestling with Jacob. That, in the morning, he said, “You have wrestled with man and God and you have overcome. You won the wrestling match. And if you can beat me, the angel, guess what? I’m on your side, and I’m going with you up against Esav. So you don’t have to be afraid.” That’s how I understand, at least, the purpose of why this angel or man or whatever he was appeared and wrestled with Jacob.

Keith: I want to be a little bit prophetic in this matter I was sharing with some folks. When I see this same passage, the thing that jumps off the page more than anything, more than anything to me, is after the wrestling match, he says, “Now, you’ve done this.” And then, and this comes to our present and prophetic future regarding Israel, because what did it say about Jacob? He says, “You have wrestled, and now, as a result of this wrestling match down and dirty in the dust,” that’s the word he uses there for wrestling, “and now I’m going to do something really radical, I’m going to change your name.”

Jono: What we have is, “And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.’”

Keith: I keep hearing about what’s happened in the past, in the present, and the future with Israel. It’s like when I keep hearing about the past and the present of Israel, I keep looking at this verse. I keep thinking about this wrestling match that took place, and saying, “Look, you have wrestled with God and with man,” and the part that I love more than anything is that, “and you have overcome.” This is what I expect, and this is what we believe, this is what we understand. We expect there’s a wrestling match, and Nehemia, you live in Israel right now, is there any wrestling going on over there?

Nehemia: Oh, there’s some major wrestling.

Keith: Has there been wrestling in the past?

Nehemia: There’s a lot. This is a long history of wrestling.

Keith: Do you think there’ll be wrestling in the future?

Nehemia: I think that’s realistic, yes.

Keith: Okay. But guess what’s going to happen? Somebody get excited about this.

Nehemia: Come on!

Keith: “Because of the name change, Israel, you will overcome.”

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: I mean when I think about that, God said, “Jacob, look, I’m going to say something. I’m thinking about 2011. I’m thinking about votes. I’m thinking about 1948. I’m thinking about 1967. I’m thinking about all that in the future because I’m God, I can see in the future. I’m going to give you a new name, and you’re going to walk that name out. You’re going to wrestle. You’re going to be in some down and dirty dusty fights.” But in the end, tell them, Jono.

Jono: In the end…

Keith: In the end what, Jono?

Jono: You’re going to prevail.

Keith: That’s what I wanted to hear! This is the exciting thing. I mean it’s not easy. Are you kidding me? Jacob is limping after that. You think he’s not in pain? He had no pain medication. He’s limping, and we can get to why that happened. But the thing that just excites me is that when I read the newspaper I think, “Wow, wrestling. Oh, my goodness wrestling. But. You. Will. Overcome.”

Jono: You will overcome.

Keith: Israel will overcome, ladies and gentlemen. I’m just telling you.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: I’m excited about it because God’s eyes are on Israel, and when He changed his name, He put purpose in that name, and that’s all I’ll say. Let’s get to the more technical aspect that you and Jono like to talk about, Nehemia. What’s the hip?

Nehemia: We talked about that in a previous one.

Jono: We did. We talked about it in a previous one. Let me read this because I have a different way to ask this question. Here we go. Now, by the way, before we get there. Let me just read these verses in order. “Then Jacob asked, saying, ‘Tell me your name, I pray.’” Now, this reminds me of, what is this, in Judges when this happens as well.

Nehemia: Judges 6.

Jono: Judges, no, no, this is… not Judges 14?

Nehemia: Oh, you might be right. Sorry.

Jono: Yes, so I’m not exactly sure where it is. But it happens that now Manoah, that’s Manoah, right? It’s 13 verse 17-19, that’s the one. And he says, “‘What is your name, that when your words come to pass we may honor you?’ And the Angel of Yehovah said to him, ‘Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?’” Which is interesting.

Nehemia: Eli can also mean hidden, that would be the more natural meaning there, I think.

Jono: Seeing that it is hidden. Verse 29, “Then Jacob asked, saying, ‘Tell me your name, I pray.’ And he said, ‘Why is it that you ask about my name?’ And he blessed him there.” What do you think the significance is there, Nehemia, in verse 29? Why is it that the man that he wrestled with said, “Why is it that you ask about my name?”

Nehemia: I think that’s very clear.

Jono: It’s obvious, isn’t it?

Nehemia: Well, to me it’s obvious. Maybe I’m wrong, but the obvious answer to me is that why is Jacob asking his name - because he wants to worship him. And he’s saying, “What do you want to ask my name for? Don’t worship me. Worship our Creator, worship Yehovah.” That’s very clearly what the angel is responding to Manoah in Judges, saying, “My name is hidden, you don’t need to know my name. I don’t want you to worship me. Don’t worship an angel. Worship the Creator.”

Jono: Okay, but then we have a problem because Joshua, we read, bowed down and worshiped before the commander of the armies of the Lord.

Nehemia: Oh, yes, but then Jacob also bowed down to Esav. That was kind of a way of shaking - it’s kind of how the Orientals do where they bow. That doesn’t mean that someone’s God. That just means that you’re showing honor to that person.

Jono: Yes, sure, respect.

Nehemia: It’s a sign of respect, exactly. In fact, there’s an expression in ancient Akkadian writings where whenever they write a letter to a king, they say, “I honor you seven and seven.” And that phrase “seven and seven” means, “I bow down to you seven times forward and seven times backwards.” That was a way of honoring somebody, like, that’s the greatest honor you give to a king, you bow down seven times in each direction. But it didn’t mean that that king was God. It just meant that this is a superior whom I’m honoring.

Jono: “So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel.” Does that mean the face of God?

Nehemia: It does, yes.

Jono: Okay. “For I have seen God face-to-face,”

Nehemia: But then “God” can also mean “angel” like I said. The same word that we translate as God can also mean, literally, “mighty one,” and it also can mean angel.

Jono: Sure, “‘and my life is preserved.’ Just as he crossed over Penuel,” Penuel?

Nehemia: Well, that’s an interesting thing. Sometimes it’s called Penuel and sometimes it’s called Peniel. That’s a whole complicated topic I won’t go into. But you often have an U that in other instances will become an E and sometimes an O.

Jono: Interesting. There’s some homework for the listeners. “Just as he crossed over the sun rose on him and he limped on his hip.” Here we are back with the hip. “Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.”

Nehemia: You’re not going to get me to say it. I said it in a previous portion.

Jono: All right. So for everyone, if you missed that, it’s in the last one. What we’re talking about is the servant putting his hand under Abraham’s thigh, “Put your hand under my thigh and swear to me,” this that and the other. And so we talk about that, am I to understand that the muscle that shrank is what we described back there in that Torah Pearls?

Nehemia: I believe it’s the same one, and we actually quoted this verse, as well, yes. Here’s what I would ask the listeners, ask yourselves what is it that you could apply a little bit of pressure on and cause a man to limp? I’ll leave it at that.

Keith: I’ll just say this - I think this is a Torah Pearl. Let’s move on.

Jono: Let’s move on. Now, one more question about this before we move on. The muscle that shrank, are we saying they don’t eat that part of the… all right, we’re moving on.

Nehemia: Well, anyway, the rabbinical interpretation, for those who don’t know, is that this refers to something called the sciatic nerve, which I may be mispronouncing. And so actually it’s a very difficult part of the animal to remove. For example, in the United States, American-Jews only eat the front half of cows and bulls because it’s too difficult and doesn’t pay for them to extract the sinew from the back half of the animal. So what they end up doing is slaughtering animals, eating the front half, and selling the back half to the Gentiles.

Jono: Is that right?

Nehemia: That’s literally what they do. Because they say it’s difficult to extract that nerve, the sciatic nerve.

Jono: Now, Nehemia is this not an example, though, from the rabbinical point of view, that they would view that as a commandment, am I fair to come to that conclusion?

Nehemia: They definitely say it’s a commandment. I would say that it’s not so clear that it’s even required. Meaning, it might be saying, “And therefore the children of Israel…” Like in the Book of Ruth there’s this report that whenever they would make an agreement, the way they would do it is the man would take off his shoe and give it to the person he was making the agreement with. I don’t think that means we necessarily need to take off our shoes every time we make an agreement with somebody. That simply was the ancient custom at that time.

Jono: Fair enough.

Nehemia: So it’s telling us the origin of this custom. Whether it’s actually forbidden or not, I don’t know. That’s definitely the common Jewish understanding, but I don’t see that in the verses, frankly.

Jono: Chapter 33, “Now Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and there, Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred men. So he divided the children,” we get to see the ranking here in what’s most important, “So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maidservants. And he put the maidservants and their children in front,” I mean imagine that, thanks a lot. “and then Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last.” Obviously, he valued them the most. “Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself,” and here it is that you mentioned before, Nehemia, “bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.”

Now, I have a big question. Everyone pay attention, all right? “Esau ran to meet him,” and I’ve heard stories about this verse, “and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” Now, I’ve got my trusty Tanakh, and I opened it up to Bereshit 33 verse 4. I’m looking at it here and lo and behold there is some odd, what might be described as cantillations above the word “kissed.” What is that?

Nehemia: They’re not cantillations.

Jono: What are they?

Nehemia: Those are what are called scribal dots. These are dots that evidently in ancient times they used if they wanted to erase a word. Apparently what happened is somebody was copying a manuscript of the Torah and he believed at least that he had made a mistake. The way he removed the word was to put a dot over each letter that he thought should be deleted. He didn’t actually take the word out because he said, “Well, maybe that is supposed to be here.” He may have been unsure.

Jono: Interesting.

Nehemia: So it’s very possible that what it originally said is, “And he fell upon his neck and they cried.” In Hebrew, “and he kissed him,” is one word, and then that word maybe isn’t supposed to be there, that’s possible. That’s what those dots indicate, according to the scribe who put those dots in there, that that word should have been deleted.

There’s a rabbinical tradition that Ezra the Scribe added those dots and that he believed the word should have been deleted, but he said, “I dare not remove a word from the Torah -when Elijah comes he’ll settle the question. Until then, leave the dots so everybody knows that I think it shouldn’t be there.”

Jono: Can I ask, are there any other words in the Tanakh that contain those dots?

Nehemia: Oh, yes. There’s about, and I don’t know off the top of my head, I have a list somewhere, it’s something like a half a dozen words that have dots like that.

Jono: Is that right?

Nehemia: Yes.

Jono: Look, I’m really glad that we cleared that up, because can I share with you some of the speculations I’ve heard on that verse?

Nehemia: Okay. Sure

Jono: You tell me if you recognize any of these. But a number of times I’ve heard people say, “Those dots are there to indicate Esau’s teeth that when he went to kiss him, he actually tried to bite his jugular.”

Keith: Are you kidding me?

Jono: No, people have said it on the program.

Nehemia: That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard in my life.

Jono: People have said it on the program, various people. This is not an unusual thing in the Messianic world that they say this.

Keith: You’re telling me… Just hold on… Can I stop you here for a second?

Nehemia: Are you kidding?

Keith: Jono, you’re telling me that someone had seen the dots above this word and they have interpreted that this is what?

Jono: What I’m saying to you, Keith, is that there is a teaching out there, and I don’t know exactly where it originates, but I’ve heard it on numerous occasions from different Messianic teachers. And look, I’m not having a go at them, I’m just saying this is kind of bizarre, and I wanted to hear what Nehemia had to say. I’m simply sharing what I’ve heard, and you can find these on the program, no doubt. That those six dots above the word “kissed” are meant to represent Esau’s teeth as he attempted to bite. I remember one valued guest saying, “tried to rip out the jugular of Jacob.” So that it wasn’t a kiss of “welcome home”, it was a kiss of “I still want to kill you.”

Keith: Can I say something?

Jono: Please.

Keith: That’s absolutely ridiculous, and it’s absolutely wrong. It’s an example of, “I heard from someone who heard from someone who heard from someone,” and I’m not talking about you, Jono, I’m talking about people that then will take something like that in some of the movements that we have been amongst in the last couple years, where "This is the ancient secret.” And, “Oh, here’s this thing that no one knows about...” It’s ridiculous.

Nehemia: These are simple scribal erasure dots; erasure from the word “erase”. You see them, for example, in the Isaiah scroll on display at The Shrine of the Book. I mean these are very common things you see in the Dead Sea Scrolls. And you see them in Hebrew manuscripts throughout different periods.

These particular erasure dots are a fixed part of the text. Actually, in the Masoretic manuscripts there’s a note in the margin that says those dots are supposed to be there. And that’s because they’re so ancient that all of the Bibles that exist have those dots because the source had those dots. That’s where the tradition about why Ezra must have put them in there, and Elijah will come and decide if that word is really supposed to be there.

There are other examples, we could go through the list sometime if you want to, I’ll pull it up sometime. But there are other examples of it. If you want to say that they’re Esau’s teeth, you’re entitled to say that, but there’s really not any evidence of that sort of thing. Whereas there is evidence of these being used as erasure dots in other documents.

Jono: Okay, so you haven’t heard of this? This is the first time you’ve heard this, Nehemia?

Nehemia: I have not heard that before.

Jono: You haven’t heard them. I’m very pleased we’ve clarified that. So what happens is that Esau arrives and he says, “Who are all these people?” And they have the conversation. Verse 8, “Then Esau said, ‘What do you mean by all this company which I met?’ And he said, ‘These are to find favor in the sight of my lord,’” said Jacob. “But Esau said, ‘I have enough, my brother, you keep what you have for yourself.’” So here’s a little bit of, “You thought you got the blessing, right? But believe me, sunshine, I’m better off than you. So you keep what you’ve got.” There’s a bit of that going on, I think, perhaps.

Keith: I think it’s funny at the end of that verse, verse 11, he says, “No, I have all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, he said, “Okay, I’ll take it. I’ll take it if you insist.” But I mean, still, if he doesn’t get the more important thing, which Nehemia brought up earlier, the spiritual blessing.

Jono: Which we’ll read about just a little further on. Let’s get to 34 because there are some questions here. We’ve got to rush ahead. This is the rape of Dinah. “Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had bore to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, he lay with her and he violated her,” is what it says in my Bible. “His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to…” Now, this is kind of weird, because, Nehemia, it suggests that many would say that he raped her and then he tried to talk her up.

Nehemia: Yes, so it doesn’t actually say that he raped her. Sounds to me like he seduced her. I think it would say if he raped her. It doesn’t say that. It does say that he spoke to her heart and he loved her and he had sex with her. Jacob was upset because you’re supposed to marry the woman before you do that. The brothers were upset because they said, at the end, “He’s going to treat our sister like a prostitute?” they say later on. And what does that mean? Well, a prostitute has sex with men that aren’t her husband. And so that’s essentially what Hamor turned Dina into.

Jono: So when it says he violated her, it’s just that he’s out of order. Keith?

Nehemia: Oh, it doesn’t say in Hebrew - it says, “he defiled her”, which means he had sex with her when he wasn’t married to her.

Jono: Right, so he’s out of order.

Keith: Here’s the problem that I have with this section. The problem that I have with this section is, okay, so we can soften it a little bit and say, “No, he spoke tenderly to her.”

Nehemia: But it says that. We didn’t make that up.

Keith: That’s what it says, and I want to give you that. That’s what it says. But there’s a verse that jumps off the page for me, and I just want to stop here. Because as he goes about this business and he takes care, and we can get into the technical terms of what the words were, “to defile”, to whatever we want to use. And then later the brothers say to them, it says here, “Their proposal seemed good,” yes, this is the situation. It’s almost like the idea is, “Look, the two saw each other in the street, he took her home, he had sex with her, he talked tenderly to her. And then said, ‘Hey, can I have your daughter in marriage?’” Sounds nice. The problem is this: when they actually go, “Three days later, while all of them were still in pain,” pain from what? “they agreed to be circumcised.” Why did they agree to be circumcised? They said, “Look, we’re going to get everything these guys have.” And then it says, “They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house.” Here’s how I see it: He took her, he has her in the house, now he wants to negotiate with her. What’s she still in the house for? He’s kidnapped her, for God’s sakes. She’s in the house, the brothers go and they say, “Look, here’s the deal - you can have our sister, be circumcised.” But the part that jumps off the page for me, and I just want to say it, is they went and got Dinah out of the house. What she’s doing in the house?

Nehemia: I don’t know. So why is it that Jacob is upset that they did that? That wasn’t Jacob’s desire, meaning Jacob was not happy that this man violated his daughter. But okay, if you’ve already done that and she likes you, then alright - let’s do this properly; cut what needs to be cut, and let’s move on. Instead, the brothers, the deal that Jacob tried to make, they violated and then killed the people of Shechem.

Jono: So let me get this straight, Keith, because I’ve never thought of it that way. What you’re saying is that when the Prince of Shechem lay with her and he was strongly attracted to her and so on and so forth that she remained in his possession.

Keith: “She’s mine, and now let’s talk about how I love her, and let’s work this out.” And then, of course, the brothers are in negotiation with them. So the brothers have the negotiation.

Jono: So she may be in his house.

Keith: They’re thinking to themselves because they’re smart, they’re saying, “Look, we're going to get it our sister back. How are we going to do this? We’re going to have them agree, and they need to be circumcised.” And they planned, “We’re going to go in there, and we’re going to not only take them out because they’ve taken our sister and they treated her like a prostitute, we’re also going to wipe them out.”

And Jacob said, and I agree with Nehemia, Jacob is the one who says, “Look, you guys, I’m a stench in these people’s nostrils.” But be the brothers, let’s not be Jacob for a second. These are human situations here. Jacob, he sees it like Nehemia, “Look, you want her, here’s the deal. You’re not supposed to do that.” The brothers are like, “Look, you’re not just going to take our sister, have sex with her, then tell us you love her, and now we got to work it out. We’re going to work it out because we’re going to get her back.” This is my opinion.

Nehemia: I want to say something extremely controversial, which is that in the Middle East you have something called honor killings. And in the Islamic culture, if a woman has sex out of wedlock, her brother’s duty is believed to be that he is supposed to go and kill her. I think it’s really interesting that the Hebrew culture… First of all, what Simon and Levi did was wrong, and Jacob rebuked them for it. But even in that culture, it never occurred to them that we’re going to go kill our sister; they went and killed the person who they felt violated their sister. I think there’s something profound there about the different way that women are seen.

Jono: And well worth pointing out.

Keith: I didn’t really see this verse until recently when it jumped off. Before it, I just kind of read this that here was the idea the man liked the daughter, went and got the daughter, and then she’s back at the house, and they’re negotiating for what’s going to be the bride price, how are we going to work this out? They’ve got their opinion. But this one little line is what caught me, that they went and took her from his house.

So I’m looking at it from the perspective of maybe this is two. It’s like, “Yes, we’re going to negotiate this is a deal, but we’re also going to get our sister back. And so how are we going to get her back? We’re going to have to make you guys think that we’re really negotiating for her. If we just say we’re going to have a fight, it’s not going to be so good.” So what do they do? They brought in this wonderful covenant sign of circumcision, and while they were all sore from their circumcision, they went in and did what they did and got their sister.

Jono: Now, this brings us to the point that they did actually enter into – I mean they did it. This is no small thing. It even says in verse 19, “So the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he delighted in Jacob’s daughter.” He did not delay. And then it goes on to say, “He was more honorable than all the household of his father.” I mean this guy rushed out and was circumcised, and not only that but at his command, everybody was circumcised. What I’m wondering is, are we to understand that they were entering into the Covenant?

Keith: I want to say the answer to this, and Nehemia, you give the technical answer, and you can blow this out of the water, okay? It says this, “But the men will consent to live with us as one people only on the condition that our males must be circumcised, as they themselves are. Won’t their livestock, their property, and all their other animals become ours? So let us give our consent, let’s do what’s required, let’s have the outward circumcision, but our hearts are bad.” To me, when I read this, it makes me think, “So, hey, we can get it all. We can get all the blessings. We can get all the benefits. Let’s just get circumcised here.” I mean is this not a radical picture of the approach that these guys have? Well, I don’t know how far I can go on this.

Jono: Well, let me. Can I go far on this? Because I’ll say…

Nehemia: Are you talking about the spirit of Shechem? Are you saying the spirit of Shechem is alive today?

Keith: No, there’s a spirit of Shechem that exists, it says, “You know what, what do the Jews have? We like the blessing. We like what they got. Let’s be Jews, let’s look like them, let’s act like them; heck, let’s even get circumcised, but our heart is bad.” Now, I think the prophets talk about this, but Jono, you go ahead.

Jono: Well, I was just going to say don’t we even see more of the opposite where they say, “I want to enter in, I want to be part of the people of God. I want this and I want that. And I’m circumcised of heart, but I’m not going to get circumcised. But hey, I’m circumcised of heart.”

Keith: There’s the other side of it, and in both situations, I think the picture, Nehemia will tell us, look, being circumcised in flesh, but having a bad heart doesn’t work. Having a good heart and not having the sign of the Covenant, can I say this as the Methodist, doesn’t work. The spirit of Shechem said, “I’ll just take a part of this so I can get what I want.” And I know that that exists certainly amongst a lot of movements, including the one that I come from. We want the blessings; we don’t want no pain. We want the blessings; we don’t want the obedience. We want the blessings; we don’t want any signs of the covenant. And then you got the other end, we’ve got the sign of the covenant, we’ve got it all, but we’re as evil in our hearts as Shechem. That’s all I’ve got to say.

Jono: Let me just say again, it’s verse 23, “Will not their livestock, their property, and every animal of theirs be ours?”

Nehemia: Spirit of Shechem.

Keith: Spirit of Shechem.

Jono: Spirit of Shechem. “Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us.” And we’ve scored. We’ve scored it all. It’ll be good. So circumcision, it’s just a little bit of pain, but it will come good. Anyhow, they take the opportunity while they’re in pain to get their sister back. They plundered them entirely. They kill all the males, and they take everybody really and clean up.

Keith: Well, hopefully, people are going to get context here and they’ve been listening to us. If this is their first time listening to us, get a chance to look back in terms of how we talked about this issue of circumcision in the earlier Torah portion. But again, this is one of those things that kind of jumps off the page for me. They wanted the goods and they were willing to do what was necessary to get the goods, but the motivation was wrong.

Jono: Exceptionally valid point.

Keith: That’s the spirit of Shechem.

Jono: Spirit of Shechem. Chapter 35, “Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.’ And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.’” I mean it wasn’t like there was no question about it, it’s like, “Oh, yeah. That’s right.” Well, here they are. “So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears.” What’s that about Nehemia - the earrings?

Nehemia: These were evidently some earrings that indicated… we actually see this later on in Exodus that if someone is a slave and wants to remain a slave permanently, then he gets his ear awled, they make a hole in his ear, and presumably, you put an earring there with the name of his master. Probably, that comes from the practice of having an earring that indicated that I’m a servant of Marduk, or a servant of Baal, or a servant of some other deity. So those were presumably the earrings that they took off. I don’t think they were golden studs. I think they were probably earrings that indicated devotion to a certain deity.

Jono: Earrings per se are not evil is what we’re saying, right?

Nehemia: Oh, no.

Jono: Okay, there we go. Let me jump to verse 9, “Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan Aram and blessed him. And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.’ So He called his name Israel. Also God said to him: ‘I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply.’” There it is again. “Be fruitful and multiply.” “‘A nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.’ And God went up from him in the place where He talked to him. So Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He talked with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured a drink offering over it, and he poured oil on top of it. And Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him, Bethel.”

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: Amen. All right, moving on. Unfortunately, we have the death of Rachel, and this is pretty sad because she’s giving birth and she dies while in childbirth. And we’ll read just after, “And it came to pass that when she was in labor, that the midwife said to her, ‘Do not fear; you will have a son.’ And it was so that while her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benyamin.” Nehemia?

Nehemia: So Ben-Oni means, “son of my strength” and Benyamin means, “son of my right hand.” So the names actually mean very similar things. It really is interesting. I don’t know if there are any other examples in the Bible where the mother called the child by one name and the father called him by a different name, and the father’s name won out. It’s very interesting.

Jono: That is interesting. Can I just clarify, did you say “son of my strength” or “son of my sorrow”?

Nehemia: No, son of my strength.

Jono: Really? I’ve got here “son of my sorrow.” What do you have in the notes there in the NIV, Keith?

Keith: It says “son of my trouble”, is what’s put down here.

Nehemia: I guess there are maybe different ways of interpreting it.

Jono: Okay. “And so she died and was buried on the way to...” I mean this is it, he set up another pillar on her grave, “which is the pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day.” Do we know where that is?

Nehemia: That’s a really interesting question. So there is a place…

Keith: You can see it in the book, A Prayer to Our Father.

Nehemia: Yes, so we actually talked about this in A Prayer to Our Father, so I’m going to let people read that. It’s in the introduction where we talk about the tomb of Rachel.

Jono: All right. There it is.

Keith: Well, at least, there’s a tradition and then there is what we understand.

Nehemia: And there’s facts.

Keith: Facts, yes.

Jono: A Prayer to Our Father: Hebrew Origins of the Lord’s Prayer by Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. Thank you, my friends, for coming back on to the Pearls from the Torah Portion. Next week we are going to be in Veyeshev, is that right?

Nehemia: Va-yeshev.

Jono: Va-yeshev, thank you. Bereshit, that’s chapters 37 to 40 verse 23. Until then, dear listeners, be blessed and be set apart by the truth of our Father’s word. Shalom.

You have been listening to The Original Torah Pearls with Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson and Jono Vandor. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon’s Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at

We hope the above transcript has proven to be a helpful resource in your study. While much effort has been taken to provide you with this transcript, it should be noted that the text has not been reviewed by the speakers and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. If you would like to support our efforts to transcribe the teachings on, please visit our support page. All donations are tax-deductible (501c3) and help us empower people around the world with the Hebrew sources of their faith!

Makor Hebrew Foundation is a 501c3 tax-deductible not for profit organization.

Subscribe to "Nehemia's Wall" on your favorite podcasts app!
iTunes | Android | Spotify | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn

Share this Teaching on Social Media

Related Posts:
Prophet Pearls - Vayishlach (Obadiah 1:1-21)
Torah and Prophet Pearls
Hebrew Voices Episodes
Support Team Studies
Nehemia Gordon's Teachings on the Name of God

  • Michael Tom says:

    This is a question for Nehemia, I hope you see this and can answer it. I always read the names because I think they’re important. Yehováh thought it important enough to include them, even if I don’t understand the meanings of each name (since I don’t know Hebrew…yet) I still read them in English. I have learned many things from reading them in English.

    In Genesis 36 it lists the wives and descendants of Esau and the ‘dukes’, or ‘chiefs’, of Esau and that’s where it gets interesting.

    Now, Esau had 3 wives. Right? His first 2 wives he took – in the same year! – from the Canaanites. Then when he heard his mother complain to Isaac about them and had Isaac send Jacob away to get a wife from the family she came from, he took a third wife, this time a daughter of Ishmael.

    His first 2 wives (respectively) were Adah and Aholibamah and the third wife was Bashemath (daughter of Ishmael).

    Aholibamah is listed in verse 2 as “…Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite.” Don’t you find it interesting that 2 women are listed in this geneology?

    IF that’s a correct translation, it’s very interesting because in verses 40 & 41 it lists the chiefs of Esau and “Aholibamah’ is listed as a chief! A woman! Is this the SAME Aholibamah? Timna is also listed as a ‘chief’ and there is a Timna in Esau’s lineage listed – and it’s a woman, too. Am I seeing this correctly?

    I would LOVE to hear you guys hash this one over!!

    P.S. This is Terri, wife of Michael, son of Hangfat. 🙂

  • Rachel says:

    The text doesn’t say whether Jacob’s hip was dislocated anterior or posterior. Either was possible, with different after effects. In either case Jacob would not have been able to use the leg – at all. He might have scooted using one leg. Hopefully someone came back looking for him. Perhaps the angel put his hip back in to place. He would still be very sore and painful after. There is another option. His hip might have been subluxed (rather than fully dislocated). That’s when the ice cream scoop comes partially out of the cone, but not all the way out. That would have been painful, but Jacob could still limp, using a crutch.

  • Reyes Nava says:

    It is so revealing that the “prosperity gospel” (spirit of Schechem) has been around ever since the incident with Dinah at Schechem.

    Somethings never change… just the label.


  • donald murphy says:

    Guys now where in the Torah does it say u can’t marry sisters???now it does say that a man is not to marry a woman and her daughter at the same time, because of jealously.

  • Cymmie says:

    I was hoping that you would bring up what the age of Dinah could be. Since Yakov was with Lavan for 20 years, married 13 years of them with 13 children made, Dinah being the youngest, I am pretty sure that she had to be a baby. Unless of course they stayed at Sukkot for 10 or more years. What is your thoughts on this?

  • Owen Murphy says:

    Great study – Intriguing that many ‘Christians’ have such a negative view of the Ten commandments, let alone 613. Do they not tend to lump all as one whole ‘law’ to be avoided as legalistic, yet, ‘generally’ approve of nine except Sabbath. Was not the Sabbath the test God gave Israel way before they received all ten at Sinai?

  • Roberta says:

    A couple questions:
    When Isaac married Rebecca, he took her into his mother Sarah‘s tent. There was no marriage ceremony. That was not the custom, as Nehemia pointed out in the discussion on that portion of Scripture. But when Dinah was “violated”, had there already been established some ceremony?

    If she was seduced, as Nehemia suggests, why were her brothers on the warpath? Hamor and Shechem offered the men of their city a good reason to endure the pain of circumcision: will not their “stuff” be ours? Jacob’s sons didn’t know this. It wasn’t even spoken until after they told them to be circumcised.

    • Neville Newman says:

      “If she was seduced, as Nehemia suggests, why were her brothers on the warpath?”

      It seems to me that it is a matter of honor, her’s and her family’s. Other places where this (root) word is used, it describes “humbling” a virgin. “Defiled” is later used to describe becoming or being made ceremonially unclean.

      Thus, it seems that this can be read as an “honor killing”, but of the man and his family instead of the woman.

  • William E Black says:


  • cheryl says:

    when Jacob wrestled & limped, I listened to a teaching years ago that stated, that after Jacob wrestled , his walk changed, or his walk changed with Yehovah, just like his name

  • Kalev says:

    Thank you now I know where they get 613 more adding my God one of Yahs commands is not to add or subtract Deut 4:2, so simple if we take Gods word’s as they are! Not doing a EVE
    Adding seems to be in our DNA, as she said do not touch the first sin was adding in my view

  • Bob Pickle says:

    Hosea 12:3-5 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us; Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial.

    Certainly sounds like the “angel” or messenger he wrestled with was also the LORD God of hosts.

  • Roberta Page says:

    I am curious about why Jacob built himself a house at Succoth (Gen 33:17) when verses 13-14 seemed to imply that his children and livestock needed a slower pace than being “driven hard one day.” Was his intention to live at Succoth until they were no longer nursing?

    I am also wondering why Jacob hid idols (v 35:4) and why his household would even have idols! When Rachel stole her father’s idols (31:19), Jacob didn’t know it (31:32).

    • Neville Newman says:

      “I am also wondering why Jacob hid idols (v 35:4) and why his household would even have idols!”

      This was after the plunder of Shechem. Jacob’s family now had all of the possessions of the people of Shechem (and had the women and children of Shechem, as well). So, I believe it is probably referring to things of theirs

  • Gideon hisel says:

    The negatives we have here in this life come because of sin and it’s fallen affect upon this world we live in. It can be because of our direct sins or just the state of sin in the world. These negatives have a tendency to test us to see if we get bitter or focus rightly & get better by getting dominance over it. To blame God or others only serves to make us bitter & steals away from our learning to overcome (Israel-overcome with God). With God is the only true way we overcome in this world & in this life & all else becomes distractions & deceptions. We want perfection now (& of course our way) but truth is, perfection is only God’s time God’s way & we don’t always see or understand that & MUST rely on God’s wisdom. That is why the just live by faith, & why God doesn’t do things by our wants or ideas but does allows them for our best. This life now is very short compared to eternity & to have better there than to have now is wisest. It reminds me also of paul, who sought God three times but was told my grace IS sufficient for you. He received grace rather than his wants but God was in charge & knew better & he was ok with it, even to live out the rest of this life that way. This is why God allowed these things & also Israel to meet these hardships, to prevail & overcome & be the true priests of the Most High God not only in word but also a witness by deed, that they are of the One True God & that He alone is perfect, righteous & can & does save & deliver.

  • Thomas Garza says:

    Keith’s “prophetic” analogy of Ya’akov and the “angel” to signify that Yisra’el would have a future of violence yet prevail, would make sense if Ya’akov were wrestling an adversary of Yisra’el. However, this is not the case and regardless whether one believes Ya’akov was wrestling God personally or one of God’s Messengers, Ya’akov is wrestling with an entity that ends up BLESSING him, not seeking his destruction. If one watches a MMA contest, they can see that after most fights, there are exchanges of honor between contestants. Many MMA folk hang out together before and after their bouts. In my opinion, this incident is alluding to something quite different than Yisra’el’s bloody “down and dirty” future.The confrontation MUST BE interpreted from it’s RESULTS, yes ? Clearly it was a TEST on many levels and I must ask, How was Ya’akov made stronger or more resolute by receiving a limp ? The limp only manifests when one WALKS. To have a bad hip and know that one’s WALK will be of a great distance requires a resolve that many men simply don’t possess. The limp becomes my catalyst for maintenance and further development of my CHARACTER. If I keep my limp in context, I will always remember that no matter how great I become, I have limitations. My limp becomes my friend. This thought keeps me studying. Shalom !

  • mathewjy says:


    How would one reconcile Genesis 32 : 31 with Leviticus 21 : 18 ?
    Was Ya’aqob’s limp permanent or temporary ?

  • Jeffrey Manresa says:

    What a blessing this is! As Yom Teruah approaches i love to hear His promise – it is water to my thirst, it is food to my soul.

  • Dori says:

    Jacob gives Esau gifts and exclaims his face is as the face of God. Perhaps this it Jacob giving back the 10th he had promised to give God, back at the beginning of his journey. If we do the math we can see how rich Jacob had become.

  • In reference to what the angel said to Jacob when asked his name it reminded me of what Yeshua said in the Four Gospels… “Gen. 32:29 “But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.”
    “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.” Luke 18:19. The response seems to come from the same person or character. Just my opinion, not necessarily fact!

  • shaun says:

    I am sorry but Keith is incorrect because what is talking about is “sIn” for sin is transgression of the torah, so you would have to know what are doing is wrong, and to stay in your wrong is what he is talking about, that is immortal sin, and deserves no part in the covenant so in essence we see no part of this throughout this portion or why would he get into the covenant in the first place. So what they were doing was acting upon there own ego, killing off that town.

  • shaun says:

    the 2 dots is completely absurd, I am a believer in Yeshua, but those who choose come up with an interpretation like that is without evidence and trying to cook up evidence this is not investigating