Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #7: Vayetze (He went out) B’resheit (Genesis) 28:10-32:3
Haftarah: Hoshea (Hosea): 12:13-12:12
B’rit Chadashah: John 1:43-51
Today we are going to focus on Leah’s children, the essence of their names, and the applicability to Yahshua and the culmination of G-d’s plan for true believers.
First, we learn that Leah was substituted for Rachel whom Jacob had been promised by her devious father Lavan. Leah was unloved but G-d saw her despair and blessed her over and above Rachel in several ways. Leah was made fertile before Rachel, even though Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. Later in Genesis 35:19-20 we read that Rachel was buried on the side of the road rather than the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron alongside Jacob, where Avraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebekah are buried.
Diverting from our main discussion on Leah, we need to look at possible reasons that Rachel was not buried with the other matriarchs. One perspective is that Rachel died soon after arriving in Israel because it is forbidden to marry two sisters; a Torah prohibition that at the time only applied to the Patriarchs inside the holy land. Therefore Rachel died when Jacob returned to the Land of Israel with his family without violating Torah. Another opinion is that Rachel was a prophetess and being aware of this prohibition agreed to let Leah marry Jacob, thereby giving the ultimate sacrifice in order to be a mother. Another rationale is that Jacob foresaw that after the destruction of the first Temple the exiles would cry out as they passed her grave, and she would comfort them. These explanations while interesting and thought provoking cannot be verified by G-d’s Torah but an explanation that seems more consistent with G-d’s Torah and Kabbalistic diagrams of the 10 Sefirot describing the attributes of G-d is found in the Zohar.
Leah (She)did not give Re’uven a more descriptive name because he was to become a part of a triad with Shim’on and Levi. The name Levi is related to the term for joining (layoth) (1 Kings 7:30) “signifies the perfect combination of them into one scheme. R. Judah said that the same idea is implied in the phrase ‘The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power (Gen. 49:3), which is rendered in the Chaldaic paraphrase: “Birthright, priesthood, and kingdom”, kingdom belonging to the side of “power” (Gevurah).” Messianic Jewish insight provides the “rest of the story” as radio commentator Paul Harvey used to say. G-d’s Torah describes Yahshua as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:9-10), the Root of David (Gen. 49:9-10; Rev. 5:5), both verses being prophetic from the Old Testament to The B’rit Chadashah (Refreshed, renewed Covenant). From his birth, Yahshua rightly possessed the birthright to the throne, the High Priest status, and Kingship that will soon come to pass. When the first sacrificial system was intact, the priests, who were Levites, were joined to G-d in a special way. They heard G-d’s instructions and carried them out, hearing associated with the name Shim’on. According to the Zohar “R. Abba said that the birth of that triad, as implied in the name of Re’uven, was the goal to which Leah strove, as indicated in her utterance ‘Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons’(Gen.29:34), that is three joined together as one. [this does not mean a Trinity as taught by Christianity Rather, this describes the. Complex unity of the G-dhead as described in Yahshua’s Name (G-d Saves) with Yahshua further identifying Himself as G-d in Ex. 3:7-8,13-14, John chapter 14 and Revelation 22:13-15 just as a few references.
R. Abba, who was a well-known Sephardic rabbi and scholar [1924-1998]) goes on to say “Observe now that the Heavenly Throne consists of our three patriarchs, to whom King David was subsequently joined, making together a tetrad, symbolic of the Divine Tetragrammaton. Correspondingly we have Re’uven, Shim’on, and Levi” with the later addition of Judah, who inherited the kingship. When transliterating the paleo-Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton we read from right to left “hand, behold, nail/hook, behold.” In other words, the Name for the “I Am”, G-d, the Unknowable Infinite Light according to Ex. 3:14-15; Is. 42:8 incorporates Yahshua who is One! He is G-d who manifests himself in different forms according to the mission or task at hand. This is not some far-out science fiction concept. G-d created the universe and everything in it and he can manipulate energy in any form as He chooses.
The Heavenly Throne referred to in the Zohar described as consisting of the three patriarchs and Judah is not verifiable but presents an interesting subject for future research and discussion. As Messianic Jews we have the benefit of the B’rit Chadashah provided by YHVH/Yahshua for the continued history and prophecy regarding Israel, mankind, and the universe. We believe that in tandem with the TaNaKh and the Sefirot from which we may deduce application related to Yahshua’s place in heaven, that He represents the Middle Pillar in the kabbalistic diagram used to describe the attributes of G-d. Yahshua taught to this point; that there must be a balance between grace and law; chesed/kindness and justice/severity. He taught both from the teachings from the school of Hillel (liberal) and Shammai(strict). He taught us to live our lives according to His instructions/laws but with compassion.
Now according to Mark 16:19; Rom. 8:34; Ps.110:1; Heb. 1:3;1 Pet. 3:22; Acts 2:33; Luke 22:69; Acts 7:55-6; Heb. 12:2Col. 3:1; Heb. 8:1(also describes Yahshua as the high priest), Heb. 10:12, and other scriptures including Matt. 22:44 which also states “ The L-rd said to my L-rd, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your
enemies under your feet.’”
There is an interesting prophecy for all true believers related to this positioning on the Throne found in Revelation 3:21: “I will let him who wins the victory sit with me on my throne, just as I myself also won the victory and sat down with my Father on his throne.” So the comment about who occupies the Throne according to R. Abba cannot be accurate as stated when compared to G-d’s Torah. However there may be a mystical context to the comment that is not defined. This discussion is provided to invite the reader of this lesson to conduct further research on the subject with the goal of learning to discern Torahs’ facts from traditional rabbinic opinions and commentaries that cannot be verified in G-d’s Word. There are some things we simply will not be given privilege to until we are deemed to be good and faithful servants and allowed access to the heavenly realms.
Getting back to Leah’s children, first we identify them by their Hebrew names followed by the translation:
Re’uven (see, a son!), Shim’on (hearing), Levi (joining), Y’hudah (praise), Yissakhar (hire, reward), and Z’vulun (living together). When the meaning of the names is combined in the order of their birth through Leah, we have the phrase “See a son, hearing, joining, praise, reward, living together. Although she had two other sons by her slave-girl Zilpah (Gad and Asher; [good fortune and happy]) and had a daughter Dinah (controversy over rights), we will discuss Leah’s biological sons today. However, the other children’s names are prophetically significant and should be explored for their importance in prophecy related to Yahshua’s plan for mankind.
The Word was given to the Israelites first and is now available to the Gentiles to “hear” as the Sh’ma commands in Deuteronomy 6:4 and in the address to the Seven Assemblies (not churches) in Revelation chapters 2-3 as just two of many scriptures.
Levi (joining) implies several concepts related to Yahshua and salvation including the fact that if we want to achieve salvation and be written in the Book of Life, we must “join” and partake of the covenants of Israel (true believers defined by Yahshua throughout G-d’s Torah (John Chapter 14: Romans Chapters 1-3; and the Seven-fold witness in the Book of Revelation) as a few references. The book of Ezekiel also speaks of joining the two sticks, Ephraim- Israel with Judah-Israel into one stick in G-d’s hand.
Y’hudah (praise) alludes to the praise all true believers are to give Him daily, praises given Him by all creation (Psalm 148), and praise that will give Him when He returns to bring true and lasting peace to His people (Rev. 19).
We have already addressed Re’uven. Shim’on, Levi, and Y’hudah in moderate detail. Application to Yahshua’s life and ministry we can see through these first four names that He was the Son of G-d in several contexts although He is G-d simultaneously.
Yissakhar (reward) and Z’vulun (living together) allude to the eternal reward of salvation and living together for eternity in heaven with YHVH Yahshua for those who are reconciled to G-d through Yahshua’s faithfulness and sacrifice AND who keep the commands of G-d.
Haftarah: Hoshea 11:7-12:12
Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah and delivered some of the same frustration, crying out in vain against the deteriorating kingdom of Samaria and the ten Tribes of Israel. He contrasts G-d’s mercy with Israel’s failure to recognize that everything they have is only because of G-d’s kindness. Fortunately, G-d emphasizes that even with Israel’s sins, He says he will never desert Ephraim, the leader of the ten Tribes because he knows one day Ephraim will repent and return to G-d like a disobedient and wayward child to its Father.
Judah will also falter, although not be divorced as was Israel. G-d’s justice will be served. Hosea continues his rebuke of the Ten Tribes who though they were invincible and that they were responsible for their wealth and success. Ephraim sinned through arrogance and idolatry. Therefore, they earned defeat, exile, and death. This is a situation that continues to the present among individuals, societies, and nations. G-d will execute His judgement, whether we want to call it “tough love” or unfair. The G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is just and true in all His ways (Rev. 15:3; 16:6-7).
B’rit Chadashah: John 1:43-51
This narrative echoes the vision of Jacob’s ladder described in the beginning of our parashah. This vision provides a teaching not addressed today but available in previous lessons that may be located on our website at https://rabdavis.org. This is just one example demonstrating the validity of G-d’s Torah that consists of the TaNaKh and the B’rit Chadashah (Renewed, refreshed Covenant). Yahshua known as “Jesus” to Christians, is G-d and is not just a rabbi who taught and explained G-d’s requirements for salvation including the requirement to follow G-d’s (His) commands out of love and to become reconciled to G-d/Himself through His sacrifice (See John Ch.14, Romans 2-3; the Seven -Fold Witness in the book of Revelation). Yahshua told Philip that he “will see heaven opened and the angels of G-d going up and coming down on the Son of Man.” This description explains in part, what Ya’akov dreamt except for G-d’s name expressed as Adonai in the parashah.
It will be beneficial for the reader to research why G-d, Adonai, and the Son of Man are used when they are all names of G-d. We should never say we do not have time to study for there will be a day when our opportunities to learn will be no more. G-d will bless those who continually ask, seek, and knock (Matt. 7:17)
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart