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Jacob's Dream of Messiah

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

WEEKLY SCRIPTURE READING

Torah Portion: Vayetzei (“and he went out”)

Shabbat: Dec. 3, 2002 / Kislev 9, 5783

Torah: Gen. 28:10-32:3

Prophets: Hos. 12:13-14:10

New Covenant: John 1:19-51


TODAY’S PRAYER OF AGREEMENT

The Our Father

“In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,Hallowed be Your name.Your kingdom come.Your will be doneOn earth as it is in heaven.Give us this day our daily bread.And forgive us our debts,As we forgive our debtors.And do not lead us into temptation,But deliver us from the evil one.For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you”.

Matthew 6:9-14

The Our Father

“In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,Hallowed be Your name.Your kingdom come.Your will be doneOn earth as it is in heaven.Give us this day our daily bread.And forgive us our debts,As we forgive our debtors.And do not lead us into temptation,But deliver us from the evil one.For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you”.

Matthew 6:9-14

 

In our Torah portion this week (parashat Vayetzei), we read that when Jacob fled from his home in Canaan, he "came upon a certain place and stayed there that night" (Gen. 28:11). The Hebrew text, however, indicates that Jacob did not just happen upon a random place, but rather that "he came to the place" -- vayifga ba'makom (וַיִּפְגַּע בַּמָּקוֹם). The sages therefore wondered why the Torah states ba'makom, "the place," rather than b'makom, "a place"? Moreover, the verb translated "he came" is yifga (from paga':פָּגַע), which means to encounter or to meet, suggesting that Jacob's stop was a divine appointment.


The Torah then relates that Jacob laid down to sleep, "and he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you" (Gen. 28:12-15).


The Hebrew word makom ("place") comes from the verb kum (קוּם), meaning "to arise," and in Jewish tradition, ha-makom became a Name for God. The early sages therefore interpreted the place to refer to Jerusalem, and the Talmud further identifies "the place" Jacob encountered as Mount Moriah - the very location of the great Akedah - based on the language used in Genesis 22:4: "On the third day, Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place (i.e., ha'makom:הַמָּקוֹם) in the distance" (Sanhedrin 95b, Chulin 91b). If that is the case, then Jacob's dream of the ladder would have functioned as a revelation of the coming glory of the resurrected Messiah - the Promised Seed whom Isaac foreshadowed and through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. It was Yeshua, the Angel of the LORD, who came to "descend" (as the Son of Man) and to "rise" (as the resurrected LORD) to be our mediator before God (see John 1:47-51). Perhaps the Talmud makes the claim that Jacob's vision occurred in Jerusalem because Bethel later became the site for one of two idolatrous shrines (i.e., the golden calves at Bethel and Dan) established by King Jeroboam of the Northern Kingdom which he set up to discourage worship at Solomon's Temple in the City of Jerusalem (see 1 Kings 12:28-29).


At any rate, the Hebrew word for "intercessor" (i.e., mafgia:מַפְגִּיעַ) comes from the same verb (paga') mentioned in our verse.Yeshua is our Intercessor who makes "contact" with God on our behalf. Through His sacrifice for our redemption upon the cross (i.e., his greater Akedah), Yeshua created a meeting place (paga') between God and man. Therefore we see the later use of paga' in Isaiah 53:6, "...the Lord laid on him (i.e., hifgia bo: הִפְגִּיעַ בּוֹ) the iniquity of us all," indicating that our sins "fell" on Yeshua as He made intercession for us (i.e., yafgia: יַפְגִּיעַ) for us (Isa. 53:12). Because of Yeshua, God touches us and we are able to touch God... And today, our resurrected LORD "ever lives to make intercession (paga') for us" (Heb. 7:25). He is still touched by our need and sinful condition (Heb. 4:15).


Paga' is also a term for warfare or violent meetings, and this alludes to the collision between the powers of hell and the powers of heaven in the outworking of God's plan of redemption: "... he (i.e., the Savior/Messiah) will crush your head (ראשׁ), and you (i.e., the serpent/Satan) will crush his heel (עָקֵב)." This was the original prophecy of redemption, an encounter with evil that would provide atonement and retribution (see the "Gospel in the Garden"). Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein, the mashgiach of Ponevezh, points out that the entire future of the Jewish people hinged on the vision given to Jacob - and in Jacob's response to it. Had he been prevented to return (i.e., through Laban's schemes to keep him in Charan), the Jewish people would have become enslaved and assimilated into the people of Aram, and ultimately the Messiah Himself would not have been born. Laban, then, embodied the desire of Satan to thwart the coming of the Promised Seed, and therefore he may be compared to Pharaoh, who likewise tried to enslave Israel in Egypt...


As I mentioned in my additional commentary on parashat Balak, Laban's worship of the serpent (nachash) led him to become one of the first enemies of the Jewish people (see "The Curses of Laban"). He tried to make Jacob a slave from the beginning, later claiming that all his descendants and possessions belonged to him (Gen. 31:43). After Jacob escaped from his clutches, Laban had a son named Beor (בְּעוֹר) who became the father of the wicked prophet Balaam (בִּלְעָם). In other words, the "cursing prophet" Balaam was none other than the grandson of diabolical Laban.


In Jewish tradition, Laban (the patriarch of Balaam) is regarded as even more wicked than the Pharaoh who enslaved the Jews in Egypt. This enmity is enshrined during the Passover Seder when we recall Laban's treachery as the one who "sought to destroy our father, Jacob." Spiritually understood, Laban's hatred of Jacob (i.e., Israel) was intended to eradicate the Jewish nation at the very beginning. Had Laban succeeded, Israel would have been assimilated and disappeared from history, and more radically, God's plan for the redemption of humanity through the Promised Seed would have been overturned....


Thankfully, Jacob was enabled by God's grace to overcome Laban and to return to the Promised Land, and even more thankfully, the Messiah was able to crush the rule of Satan through His atoning sacrifice and resurrection at Moriah. Yeshua, our ascended LORD, is ha-makom - the place where we encounter the Living God....


©️ hebrew4christians.com


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