In this week’s portion, Jacob prepares to face his brother after many years apart, cognizant of Esau’s vow to destroy him one day. He readies his camp and prays, and sends gifts to appease his brother. Before the encounter, Jacob struggles with an angel who blesses him and gives him a new name. When Jacob finally meets up with Esau, the reunion is more positive than he had hoped.
Topic 1: Preparing to Meet EsauJacob sends messengers ahead to his brother to alert Esau that he is coming home. The messengers return with an ominous report: Esau is coming out to greet him with four hundred men! To prepare for the potentially hostile encounter, Jacob divides his camp into two groups, so that if one is attacked, at… Read More »
Topic 2: Striving with an AngelOvernight, Jacob rises and crosses the Jabbok river with his family and belongings. Jacob is left alone, however, at some point in the night, and spends the rest of it striving with a mysterious opponent. The two wrestle throughout the night, and Jacob’s opponent cannot overcome him. At daybreak, the mysterious stranger inflicts a serious… Read More »
Topic 3: An Encounter with EsauWhen Jacob spies Esau in the distance, he again divides and organizes his camp. He walks ahead of them and bows seven times before his brother. Esau embraces Jacob, and the brothers weep. Esau is awed by the magnitude of Jacob’s camp. Jacob tells Esau that everything he sent before him is a gift for… Read More »
Topic 4: Dinah in ShechemDespite Jacob’s hope that he could settle peacefully in the land of his fathers, tragedy strikes his family when his daughter, Dinah, is kidnapped and raped by the eponymous prince of the city. Prince Shechem becomes enamoured with her and wishes to marry her, so his father, Hamor, seeks Jacob’s permission. He insists, however, on… Read More »
Topic 5: Jacob’s Return Home and Esau’s Family TreeGod now tells Jacob he should fulfil his early promise and return to build an altar at Beit El. Jacob prepares his household, stripping members of vestiges of idolatry and burying them in Shechem. The family then travels unmolested towards Beit El, as God has extended His protection over them. The Torah notes that… Read More »