My notes on Vayishlach

Parashat Vayishlach (Genesis 32:3-Genesis 36:43)

32:32          Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

Comment: Muslims and Jews have similar dietary habits: They do not eat pork. They both eat lambs. Is there anything that Muslims eat but Jews don’t?

Yes. Although they both eat meat of the lambs, Jews don’t eat the sinews of the lambs.  This is because their ancestor Jacob hurt his sinew when wrestling with an angel. In fact after the wrestling match he even got a new name Israel, as a souvenir. In fact, Jews in ancient China were called ‘Sinew-plucking Huihui'(挑筋回回) (Huihui is a Muslim people found in China).



Genesis 33

33:9          And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

Comment:  “I have enough”: According to the Hebrew text, Esau really said “I have many” (“Yesh li rav.”).


33:11          Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.


A. “I have enough”: According to the Hebrew text, Jacob really said “I have everything” (“Yesh li kol”). Upon the reunion of the twin brothers, one said “I have many”, another said “I have everything”. These two sayings are so similar, but which one is better? 

Rashi comments here that Jacob’s saying is better. “I have everything” implies that I am satisfied, since Gd supplies me with everything that I need. As David said later in Psalm 23: The LRD is my Shepherd , I lack nothing. On the other hand, Esau was boastful in Genesis 33:9 to say that “I have many” (which means that he had more than what he needed).

B. “enough”: this word in Hebrew is originally “Kol” (Everything).  This is the scripture basis of the third part of a blessing in the Jewish Grace After Meal prayer, which wishes Gd to bless us as He blessed our forefathers Abraham , Isaac, Jacob; “bakol, mikol, kol” (“in everything, from everything, everything”). See, e.g.,

C. “Take, … my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, …, and he took it.”:  Rashi’s commentary here tried hard to dilute the meaning of the word “blessing” ברכה , and argued that it only means a kind of greeting here, see, e.g.,

 However, to be objective, the Torah may well be intentional here in using the word “blessing”. Since Jacob tried so hard to get Esau’s blessing, it would be a full circle if he is now returning it to Esau in some sense, upon their reconciliation. I think this could allude to a New Testament concept that in the future, due to Gd’s grace, the Messiah, a descendant of Jacob, can bring blessing even to biological descendants of Esau, if they kill their “old selves” and become reborn spiritually in Messiah (i.e., in the image of Gd). As 2nd Corinthians 5:17 says encouragingly: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”


33:20          And he erected there an altar, and called it EleloheIsrael.

Comment: “EleloheIsrael”: Gd (is) Gd of Israel. Jacob is now acknowledging that Gd is his personal Gd. 

When Jacob left his father’s house, he said (v.28:21) “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LRD be my Gd:”  Now Jacob has not returned to his father’s house yet, why does he nevertheless want to acknowledge that Gd is his personal Gd already: Gd, Gd of Israel? 

This is because Jacob experienced Gd firsthand during his trip, Who even sent an angel to wrestle with him and give him a new name Israel.


Genesis 34

34:2          And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

Comment: The New Testament (Revelations 13:18) mentions a number 666: “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” 

Does the Torah contain a name whose number is 666, which is the number of the beast or the Antichrist in the New Testament?

Yes. “Shechem the son of Hamor”: שכם בן חמור in Hebrew has numerical value of 300+20+40+2+50+8+40+6+200=666. This is because each Hebrew letter can represent a number, just as xi in Roman numeral means 11. See, e.g.,

Also, this guy’s family name “the son of Hamor” hints about a beast , since hamor in Hebrew means a donkey. 

“Shechem the son of Hamor” can be regarded as an Old Testament analogy of “the beast” in Revelations 13:18, who “defiled her”, where the “her” is the daughter of Israel, which may symbolize the part of the church that was “defiled” (made impure) by the enemy of Gd’s people. (Gd’s people are symbolized by Israel in the Old Testament).


Genesis 35

35:14          And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.


(For reference, the complete Hebrew sentence of this current verse is:

וַיַּצֵּ֨ב יַֽעֲקֹ֜ב מַצֵּבָ֗ה בַּמָּק֛וֹם אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר אִתּ֖וֹ מַצֶּ֣בֶת אָ֑בֶן וַיַּסֵּ֤ךְ עָלֶ֨יהָ֙ נֶ֔סֶךְ וַיִּצֹ֥ק עָלֶ֖יהָ שָֽׁמֶן:


Jews think that the Messiah is human, while Christians think that he is also divine. Although the Torah does not teach about the messiah formally, does the Torah give any hint about the divinity of the Messiah?

Yes. Messiah means someone anointed by oil. The current verse Genesis 35:14 is a “Messiah” verse, which offers several hints about the messiah.

A. In this verse,  we see “he poured oil thereon”, a stone being anointed by oil, and even being “poured a drink offering thereon”, which usually is only offered to something divine. So this stone may represent the anointed one or Messiah,  and also something that is divine. 

B. “stone” אבן: “Aven”  in Hebrew), which is a contraction of Av (father) and Ven (son), (see Rashinon Genesis 49:24). I think this Hebrew form of “stone” alludes to Jesus’s claim that (John 10:30) “I and my Father are one”. This is because the New Testament believes that Jesus is the Son of Gd, and is unified with Gd the Father. 

C. “in the place where he talked with him” במקום אשר דבר אתו: In one version of Rashi’s comments, he humbly acknowledged that he did not know what this teaches us. See, e.g. ,

I think this phrase “the place where he talked with him” alludes to the New Testament John 1:1 “…and the Word was with Gd,…”. All three basic elements of this phrase in John 1:1 seem to be alluded to here:

Element 1: “Word” in John 1:1, corresponds to “he talked” here in Genesis 35:14.

This is because in Hebrew “he talked” דבר spells exactly the same as Davar or “Word”.

Element 2: “with” in John 1:1, appears in “with him” here in Genesis 35:14.

Element 3: “Gd”  in John 1:1, is related to “the place” here in Genesis 35:14.

This is because the Jewish tradition says that “the place” (Hamakom) is a name of Gd, see, e.g.,

So in this same verse Genesis 35:14 about the “anointed stone”,  we also find a hint of the New Testament teaching that the anointed one or Messiah is also related to the Word of Gd.


35:28          And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.

Comment: So Issac died at age 180. At what age did he worry that he was going to die and wanted to bless his children before his death (Genesis 27)?

According to Rashi’s comment there, in Genesis 27:2 when Isaac said  “Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death”, he was (only!) 123 years old, within 5 years of his mom’s age of death (127). Rashi cited that “R. Joshua the son of Korcha said: ‘When a person approaches the age at which his parents died he may well be anxious five years before and five years after.’” Although Isaac was anxious about 5 years before reaching his mom’s age of death, he actually died 5 years after reaching his dad’s age of death. Issac died at age 180, which was 5 more years than 175 (His dad Abraham died at 175).   

This rule of two periods of concern (mom’s age of death +/- 5 years and dad’s age of death +/- 5 years) may have some unknown genetic/hereditary reasons. An individual’s lifestyle or effort may change his lifespan. However, ultimately it’s Gd Who determines one’s individual lifespan in this world.  One who follows Gd wholeheartedly should be guaranteed to live his full years in this world, even if it was only 33 years as Jesus did. A life in this world is like a good song, or a good story, what matters about it is not how long, but how beautiful [1]. May we live a life on earth that is pleasing to the Creator, Who will give us eternal life in the future. 

[1] I learned about this concept from a Chinese Christian Pastor Sheng Zufeng:


Genesis 36

36:12          And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau’s son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek: these were the sons of Adah Esau’s wife.

Comment: This is the Amalek that Gd wanted King Saul to exterminate (1st Samuels 15:3). Did Gd want to terminate the Amalekites due to their having an inferior genealogy?

No. Our current verse proves that Amalek was Esau’s grandson, who shares with the Israelites the same blood from their common patriarch Isaac and common matriarch Rebecca! Torah does not discriminate against or favor certain people according to pedigree or ancestry.