Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau

32:4 Having successfully fled his father-in-law Laban, Jacob prepared to confront his brother Esau. His mother Rebecca had told him that although Esau still harbored his longstanding hatred against him, the passage of time had softened it somewhat, so Jacob hoped that a conciliatory message might assuage it altogether.1 He did not risk sending human messengers whom Esau could harm;2 instead, Jacob dispatched angels as messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau. These angels assumed human form for this mission, for Esau was not sufficiently spiritually refined to survive a face-to-face encounter with angels.3 He sent the messengers to the land surrounding Mount Seir, which, ever since Esau had started frequenting it, had become known after his by-name4 as the field of Edom.

5 He instructed them as follows, "Thus shall you say to my master, Esau, 'So said your servant, Jacob: "There is no need for you to be concerned about our father's blessing to me that I shall rule over you,5 for he made this blessing contingent on my first becoming a recognized political leader,6 and I am anything but that. In fact, I have been sojourning with Laban in his land for the past twenty years, during which time my social status has not risen above that of a simple sojourner. Because I have been dependent on Laban for my livelihood all these years, I have delayed my return home until now. But I am also proud to say that even though I have been sojourning with Laban all these years, I have continued to faithfully observe the Torah's commandments, and I have not been influenced by his corrupt ways.

6 As further proof that our father's blessings to me have not yet been fulfilled, you should recall that, although he blessed me with the dew of the heavens and the choicest fruits of the land,7 I in fact possess no land at all; all I have acquired is cattle, donkeys, flocks, menservants, and handmaids.

It is thus clear that our father's blessing to me will probably not take effect during our lifetimes.8 Since we can therefore live in peace, I am now sending word to you, my master, that I am coming to you in a spirit of friendship, in order to gain favor in your eyes." ' "

7 The angels approached Esau, as Jacob had charged them to, and delivered his message. The angels then returned to Jacob, saying, "We came to Esau, whom you had hoped would be willing and ready to relate to you as your brother, but he evinced no brotherly sentiments; we found we had come to none other than the infamous, unreformed, and malevolent Esau. In response to our announcement of your arrival, he himself has set out and is heading towards you, and he has 400 armed men with him."

8 Jacob was very frightened over the prospect that he might be killed, and distressed over the prospect that he himself might have to kill others.9 He therefore decided to employ the following three strategies, in this order: (a) to prepare for battle, (b) to pray to God to either obviate the need for battle or to grant him victory, and (c) to prepare a propitiatory gift for Esau. Since he intended to rely mainly on his prayers, it would have been more logical for him to pray first. Nonetheless, he prepared for war before praying, because he planned to base his prayers on the manner in which he prepared for battle: He divided the people who were with him—along with the flocks, cattle, and camels—into two camps, one camp comprising his servants and possessions, and the second comprising himself and his family. Because God had promised Abraham and Isaac to multiply their descendants, and it was on the strength of this promise that Jacob planned to ask God to protect his family, he separated his family from his estate (for God's promise applied to his family, not to his estate).

9 "Thus," he said, "even if Esau is not appeased by my propitiatory gift, and Esau comes to the first camp and attacks it, and overcomes it because it lacks God's promised protection—and I will then be forced to defend the remaining camp against his attack—I am sure that I will succeed in repelling him and that the remaining camp will survive, because after all, God did promise to protect me and my family."

10 Having prepared for battle in a way that reflected the Divine promise he planned to invoke, Jacob was now ready to approach God in prayer.10 Jacob thus said to God, "When You appeared to me at Bethel11 and identified Yourself as God of my forebear Abraham and God of my father Isaac, You promised to protect me wherever I would go. When You appeared to me in Padan Aram12 and identified Yourself simply as God, You said to me, 'Return to your land and to your birthplace, and I will make things go well with you.' As I am now preparing to confront my brother Esau and am desperately in need of Your aid to do so, I must now invoke both of these promises.

11 Yet, I fear that my numerous sins may have offset most of my merits, and that the kindness You have already shown me therefore constitutes the full reward for whatever merits may have remained to my credit. If so,13 I am no longer worthy of Your promised protection, due to all the acts of kindness and trustworthiness that You have already done for me, your servant. After all, I crossed this Jordan River on my way to Charan with nothing to my name but my staff, and now, thanks to Your kindness, I have become the head of two camps: one consisting of a large family and the other consisting of the great wealth I have amassed.

12 Therefore, I must petition You anew for Your protection, this time in the merit of my forebears. Save me, please, from the hand of my brother, who is not preparing to greet me with brotherly affection; save me from the hand of Esau, the wicked, for I am afraid that he may come and attack me and my family, mothers and children alike.

13 And You have already said, 'I will surely make things go well with you, both in your own merit and in the merit of your forebears, and I will fulfill through you14 the promise I made to Abraham: "I will make your descendants like the grains of sand on the seashore, i.e., that they will become too numerous to count."15 ' "16

Second Reading 14 He spent that night there, and the following morning he implemented his third strategy: sending Esau a propitiatory gift. After first tithing his possessions, as he had promised God he would,17 he selected a gift for his brother Esau from among what remained and was therefore rightfully his to give away.

15 He first prepared a gift of precious stones and jewels. He then prepared five types of animals, providing the females of each species with the appropriate number of males of that same species with whom to mate: 200 she-goats and 20 he-goats; 200 ewes and 20 rams;

16 30 nursing camels with both their young and 30 male camels with whom to mate; 40 cows and 10 bulls; 20 she-donkeys and 10 he-donkeys. (Because camels mate modestly, the Torah does not mention the male mates explicitly.)

17 He put all these in the charge of his servants, drove by drove, and said to his servants, "Go on a day's journey ahead of me, and I shall follow behind. Be sure to keep a distance between one drove and the next. This will make the gift look more impressive and hopefully appeal to my brother's avarice."

18 He instructed the first one as follows: "When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, 'Whose man are you, i.e., Who sent you? Where are you headed? And to whom are these droves in front of you being sent?'—

19 you shall reply, answering his questions in the order in which he asked them, 'I am an emissary of your servant, Jacob. This is a gift sent to my master Esau, and Jacob himself is also right behind us.' "

20 He gave similar instructions to the second one, to the third, and to all the others who were following the droves, saying, "With such words shall you speak to Esau when you meet him,

21 and you shall also say, 'Your servant Jacob is also right behind us' "—for he reasoned, "I will appease him with the gift that is being sent ahead, and then I will face him; perhaps he will then show me favor." Jacob was angry that he had to take all these measures in preparation for his meeting with Esau.

22 And so the gift of jewels and animals passed on ahead of him. Jacob sent an escort composed of some of the angels that God had sent to protect him. When these angels confronted Esau and his men, they assumed human form18 and asked them who they were. When they replied that they were Esau's men, the angels attacked them. Esau's men pleaded for mercy, invoking Esau's merit as Isaac's son, but this did not stop the angels from continuing their onslaught. Esau's men then invoked Esau's merit as Abraham's grandson, but this, too, did not stop them. They then invoked Esau's merit as Jacob's brother, to which the angels responded, "If so, you are one of ours," and finally desisted, allowing Esau and his men to proceed.19

Jacob spent that night in the camp.

23 That night he arose, took his two wives, his two handmaids, his eleven sons, and all their twin sisters,20 and crossed the ford of the Yabok River. He hid his daughter Dinah in a crate so that Esau would not see her and desire her. Although the motive for his cautiousness was praiseworthy, he in fact erred, for Dinah's extraordinary righteousness would have enabled her to reform Esau.21

24 He took them and carried them across the stream one at a time, lifting them up on one bank and setting them down on the other, and then carried all his possessions across the stream in the same way. He then went back to get some small articles that had inadvertently been left behind.

25 Thus Jacob remained on his own on the north shore of the Yabok River. Esau's guardian angel assumed the physical form of a man and wrestled with him until the break of dawn. Their wrestling was a physical manifestation of the two brothers' inner, spiritual struggle over the birthright.

26 When Esau's guardian angel saw that he could not overcome him, he touched Jacob's hip joint, so that Jacob's hip joint became dislocated as he wrestled with him.

27 The angel then said, "Let me leave, for I must go sing my daily morning praise to God, for dawn is breaking." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you leave unless you first bless me by acknowledging my right to the blessings my father gave me, which Esau is now contesting."

28 The angel asked him, "What is your name?" and he answered, "Jacob."

29 The angel then said, "Be patient. God will soon appear to you and give you an alternative name. No longer shall it be said that your name is just Jacob [Ya'akov, from the verb akov—"ensnare"22], implying that you usurped Esau's blessings, but rather, you will also be called Israel [Yisrael, from serarah, "nobility," and also meaning "striven with God"], implying that you obtained the blessings from your father honorably, for you have striven with me—an angel of Godand with men—i.e., Esau and Laban—over what is rightfully yours, and you have prevailed over the three of us. I will be present to consent to this additional naming, thereby acknowledging your right to the birthright."

30 Jacob inquired and said, "Please tell me your name."

He replied, "Why do you ask what my name is? We angels have no fixed names; our names merely express the missions we are sent on; they therefore change as our missions change."

Jacob did not agree to wait until God would appear to him at some unknown point in the future, because he wanted Esau's guardian angel to acknowledge his right to the birthright before he confronted Esau himself. So, as Jacob had requested, the angel blessed Jacob then and there. Jacob then released his hold on the angel and he disappeared.

Third Reading 31 Jacob named the place Peniel ["the face of God"], "for," he said, "I beheld an angel of God face to face, yet my life was spared."

32 While Jacob was still at the site of the struggle, the experience of seeing the angel was foremost in his mind, so he alluded only to "the face of God" when he named the place. But after leaving the site of the struggle, the memory of the direct experience was overshadowed by the remarkable fact that he had survived the awesome experience of confronting Esau's guardian angel. Therefore, he began to refer to the place not as Peniel but as Penuel [a contraction of the words panav El, "his face (beheld an angel of) God"].23 Miraculously, the sun rose upon him earlier than it naturally should have as he passed Penuel—just as it had set earlier than it naturally should have when he returned from Charan in order to pray at Mount Moriah24—because he was limping, favoring his dislocated hip, and God wanted the sun's healing power25 to speed his recovery. The injury did not heal completely, however, until a year and a half later.26

33 Therefore, to this very day, when they eat animal meat, the Israelites do not eat the nerve that became displaced when Jacob wrestled with Esau's guardian angel, i.e., the nerve of the hip joint—the sciatic nerve—because the angel touched Jacob's hip joint, causing this nerve to be temporarily displaced.

Jacob Meets Esau

33:1 Jacob raised his eyes and saw Esau approaching, accompanied by 400 men, so he went to the second camp, which comprised his family members, and divided up the children among their respective mothers: Leah, Rachel, and the two handmaids.

2 He placed them in order of increasing importance: the handmaids and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and her son Joseph last.

3 He went ahead of them, stationing himself at the head of his camp in order to confront Esau first in case he would begin to fight, and prostrated himself seven times as he approached his brother.

4 Esau, seeing his brother prostate himself, was deeply touched by this display of deference and abandoned his plans to attack Jacob. Instead, he ran towards him, embraced him wholeheartedly, and threw himself on his shoulders. Nevertheless, he was not entirely overcome by emotion: he kissed him, but not wholeheartedly. From another perspective, Esau did kiss him wholeheartedly, but this spontaneous display of emotion was only fleeting.27 And they wept for joy28 as they embraced.

5 Esau raised his eyes and saw the women and children, and asked Jacob, "Who are these to you?"

He replied, "These are the wives and children whom God has been kind enough to grant your servant."

Fourth Reading 6 The handmaids drew near, followed by their children, and prostrated themselves before Esau.

7 Leah and her children also drew near and prostrated themselves before Esau, and finally Joseph and his mother Rachel drew near and prostrated themselves before Esau. Joseph knew his mother was beautiful, so to prevent Esau from seeing her and desiring her, he moved in front of her in advance in order to hide her from Esau's sight.

8 Esau then asked Jacob, "What did you intend by sending that whole entourage that I encountered bearing gifts for me? And what did you intend by sending that whole second entourage of men that I encountered, who attacked me?"29

Jacob only replied to the question about the gifts: "I had hoped, by sending them, to thereby gain favor in my master's eyes."

9 Esau said, "I have plenty of wealth, much more than I need.30 My brother, let that which is yours remain yours. In fact, let the birthright, which is yours because I sold it to you, also remain yours, because you deserve it."

10 Concerning his conciliatory gift, Jacob replied, "No, please! If I have now found favor in your eyes, then please be good enough to accept this gift from me. I feel I owe you this gift because I have beheld your face, which is so dear to me that it is like seeing the face of an angel of God, such as those that have accompanied me and protected me over the years, some of whom you yourself saw in the form of the messengers I sent you and the escort accompanying my gift." By mentioning the fact that he was accustomed to seeing angels, Jacob hoped to dissuade Esau from any plans to attack him: after all, if he had been able to survive encounters with angels, he would surely be able to survive an encounter with any human being. Jacob continued, "I also owe you a tribute because you have been gracious enough to forgive my offense and allowed yourself to have been appeased by me.

11 Please accept my welcoming gift, which has been brought to you at my own expense. I have already taken the trouble to prepare it and present it to you. Do not worry about how much it cost me, for God has been kind to me, and I have all I need." (In contrast to Esau, who boasted of possessing more than he needed,31 Jacob humbly referred to God's beneficence as being all he needed.) After Jacob thus encouraged him to accept the gift, Esau finally accepted it.

12 Esau then said, "Travel on and let us go, and let me proceed at a slower pace than I normally would, so I can walk alongside you to escort you."

13 Despite Esau's avowals of fraternal love, Jacob sensed that his brother's change of heart was not entirely sincere, or at least not permanently so,32 so he understood that it would not be advisable to prolong their meeting.33 He therefore answered him, "I would rather not inconvenience you by slowing you down. On the other hand, if I speed up my own pace, my master knows that, in addition to the fact that the children are frail, I also am responsible for the nursing lambs, goats, and cattle. If they are driven hard for even one day, all the flocks will die.

14 Therefore, let my master please go on at his usual pace, ahead of his servant, while I move on at my own slow pace, at the pace of the herds that are ahead of me, and at the pace of the children—until I reach my master at Seir, whenever that might be." Jacob prophetically knew that Esau (and his descendants) would not be totally weaned of their hatred of him (and his descendants) until the messianic era, so he postponed their meeting until that time.34 Thus, he had no intention of personally following Esau to Mount Seir; he intended his statement to apply to his descendant, the Messiah, who in the future will meet up with Esau's descendants and sit in judgment over them.35

15 Esau then made another offer. He said, "Let me leave some of the people who are with me with you."

Wishing to excuse himself from accepting this second offer, as well, Jacob replied, "Why should you do this? I do not need an entourage to escort me. I would rather you not repay me for the gift I have given you so I can remain favorable in my master's eyes."

16 So, on that day, Esau returned on his way to Seir (See Figure 37). As he traveled on, Esau's longstanding hatred of Jacob gradually resurfaced, and he began to plot how to attack him. But the four hundred men who accompanied him recalled quite vividly how they were assaulted by Jacob's angels when they were on their way to meet him, and therefore realized that such a plan was futile—even though they shared Esau's hatred of Jacob and would have also liked to attack him. Still, they were afraid that if they either tried to dissuade Esau from attacking Jacob or attempted to abandon him en masse, he would turn on them, so instead they deserted him stealthily, one by one. Thus, by the time Esau had finished formulating his plans, he no longer had an army with which to undertake an attack.

Even though these four hundred men abandoned Esau solely out of selfish concern for their own best interests, God nevertheless rewarded them for not having harmed Jacob by sparing four hundred of Esau's descendants, the Amalekites, when they were attacked by King David.36

The Rape of Dinah

17 Jacob moved on and arrived at the place that he would later name Sukot ("shelters"), where he tarried for a year and a half (2205-2206). Having arrived in the summer, he built temporary shelters for his family and his livestock. When winter came, he built himself sturdier houses37 for his family to move in to, and when the following summer arrived, he again made shelters for his family and his livestock. He therefore named the place Sukot.

18 Jacob arrived safely in the city of Shechem, which is located in Canaan, having set out from Padan Aram (see Figure 38). The ruler of Shechem was Chamor the Hivite; his son's name was the same as that of his city: Shechem.

God had indeed fulfilled His promise38 to save Jacob from the clutches of Laban and Esau. In addition, Jacob had by this time fully recovered from the limp he had suffered as a result of wrestling with Esau's angel; his prolific flocks and herds, which had been slightly39 depleted by his gift to Esau, had replenished themselves; and, while working for Laban, he had not forgotten any of the Torah that he learned in Ever's academy.40 He was therefore now prepared to return to Bethel and fulfill his part of the pact that he made with God there on his way to Charan.41 Instead, however, he tarried, remaining in Shechem. He encamped in view of the city.

Once Jacob arrived in the Land of Israel, he realized that the wealth he had acquired outside the land did not possess the holiness that wealth acquired within the land would. He therefore no longer wanted the herds and flocks he had acquired while working for Laban. So he sold them all and offered the proceeds to Esau in exchange for Esau's inheritance in the Machpelah Cave. Esau accepted.42

19 Even though Jacob had no intention of remaining in Shechem permanently, he purchased the small parcel of land upon which he had pitched his tent in order to demonstrate his love for the land promised him by God. He bought this land from the sons of Chamor, Shechem's father. The price of this small plot of land was five shekels (80 grams or 2.8 oz. of silver). He could easily have paid with five large shekel coins, but he instead chose to pay with 100 smaller but more ornate coins, kesitahs, which are also used as jewelry—again, in order to demonstrate his fondness for the Promised Land.43

20 He erected an altar there, and in gratitude over having been delivered by God from the clutches of Laban and Esau, he named the altar "God is the God of Israel." In recognition of Jacob's heightened, profound awareness of God's providence in his life, God augmented His earlier promise that Jacob's influence would extend to the four corners of the earth,44 now granting him the same dominion over the entire world that He had originally granted Adam.45 In this sense, the God of Israel appointed Jacob the representative of God in the world.

Fifth Reading 34:1 Dinah was the daughter of Leah, whom Leah had borne to Jacob.46 Dinah was Leah's daughter not only in the biological sense but also in the moral sense: she inherited her mother's willingness to venture out of the safety of her tent47 for holy and righteous purposes. Confident in her ability to positively influence others—even though she was no more than a girl of ten at the time—she went out to observe the girls of that region in order to convince them to adopt the righteous ways of her family.48

2 But Shechem, son of Chamor the Hivite, who was the chief of the region, saw her, took her, raped her, and abused her carnally in other ways, as well.

3 Despite himself, he was strongly drawn to Jacob's daughter Dinah; he loved the girl, and spoke to the girl in a way he hoped would win over her heart, saying, "Look how many ornate coins your father expended just to purchase a small parcel of land.49 If you marry me, the whole city and its environs will effortlessly and automatically belong to you."

4 Shechem spoke to his father, Chamor, as follows: "Get me this young girl as a wife."

5 Now Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter Dinah. His sons were in the field with his livestock, so Jacob held his peace until they came.

6 Meanwhile, Shechem's father, Chamor, went out to Jacob to speak with him.

7 Jacob's sons returned from the field when they heard what Shechem had done to Dinah. The men, her brothers, became aggrieved and were deeply incensed, for Shechem had committed an outrage to their father Israel by raping their sister, Jacob's daughter. Such a thing was considered socially and legally taboo ever since humanity had collectively foresworn illicit carnal relations in the wake of the Flood50 and made such acts a capital offense. Thus, Shechem's act made him liable to the death penalty. The other residents of the city were implicated in his offense as well, for not having voiced their protest.51

8 Chamor spoke with them, saying, "My son Shechem deeply desires your daughter. I implore you, give her to him in marriage

9 and intermarry with us: give us your daughters, and take our daughters for yourselves. These marriages between our two peoples shall take place at your sole discretion: you may decide to which of our men you will give your daughters, as well as which of our daughters you will take for your men.

10 You shall live among us, and the land will be open before you; you may settle it, trade in it, and acquire holdings in it."

11 Then Shechem said to her father and brothers, "Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you tell me to give as a dowry, I will give.

12 Go ahead, demand of me an exceedingly high figure for the dowry you will stipulate in the bridal contract, and for gifts, and I will give as much as you tell me; just give me this girl as a wife!"

13 When Jacob's sons replied to Shechem and his father, Chamor, they spoke cunningly, for he had defiled their sister Dinah.

14 They told them, "We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to an uncircumcised man, for that would be considered a disgrace to us. In fact, when one of our people wishes to insult someone, he calls him 'uncircumcised' or 'the son of an uncircumcised father.'

15 Therefore, will we give our assent only on this condition: that you be like us in that every male among you be circumcised.

16 We will then intermarry with you as you have proposed, i.e., at our sole discretion: We will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live together with you and become a single nation.

17 But if you do not heed us and circumcise yourselves, we will take our daughter and depart."

18 Their terms were acceptable to Chamor and to Shechem, Chamor's son.

19 The young man did not delay in carrying out this thing, since he desired Jacob's daughter, and he was the most respected person in his father's household.

20 Chamor then came with his son Shechem to the gate of their city, and they spoke to the men of their city as follows:

21 "These men are fully at peace with us. Let them live in the land and trade in it, for the land has ample room for them. Supply in our land exceeds demand, so letting them live here and trade in the land will not adversely affect our economy." When Chamor and Shechem had proposed intermarriage between the two peoples to Jacob and his sons, they phrased their proposal to Jacob's family's advantage, allowing them to select Hivite men for their daughters and take whatever Hivite girls they wished for wives. In contrast, when they now set the proposal of intermarriage before their compatriots, they altered the wording to their compatriot's advantage in order to induce them to consent to be circumcised: "We will take their daughters as wives, and we will give our daughters to them, both at our discretion.

22 But only on this condition will these men consent to live with us and become one nation: that every male among us be circumcised, just as they are circumcised.

23 After all, when they will dwell among us, their livestock, their possessions, and all their animals will become ours. Let us just agree to their condition and they will live among us."

24 All the people who came out to the gate of Chamor's city heeded Chamor and his son Shechem, and all the males who passed through the gate of his city had themselves circumcised.

25 On the third day after their circumcision, when the Hivites were in pain, two of Jacob's sons, Simeon and Levi, each took up his sword. They acted as Dinah's loyal brothers, risking their lives for her sake, but without first consulting their father. They fell upon the city, confident in their ability to overcome the men—firstly, because of the Hivites' weakness and pain due to the circumcision, and secondly, in the merit of their father Jacob—and killed every male.

26 They also killed Chamor and his son Shechem by the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem's house and left. When they went to rescue Dinah, they found her agonizing in embarrassment over what had been done to her and afraid that, consequentially, no one would want to marry her; Simeon therefore promised that he would marry her, and it was only on this condition that she consented to be rescued.52

When the two brothers attacked the city of Shechem, Jacob took up his sword and bow and stood at the entrance to the city in readiness to protect his sons if any of its allies would come to side with its inhabitants.53

27 Jacob's sons came to strip the slain of their possessions, and they plundered the city that had defiled their sister.

28 They took the Hivites' flocks, cattle, donkeys, and whatever else was in the city and the field.

29 They seized all their money and captured all their children and womenfolk, and plundered everything in the houses.

30 Despite the victory, Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, "You have taken away my peace of mind by making me odious among the local inhabitants, i.e., the Canaanites and the Perizites.54 Until now, they55 did not perceive us as a threat, for although they knew of God's promise to give us this land, they assumed that we would not attempt to drive them out until we have sufficiently multiplied and grown into a nation, since that is how God phrased His blessing.56 But now that they have seen that the two of you undertook to execute judgment against the whole city on your own instead of leaving the matter to the regional legal authorities,57 I fear they will attack us, and I have only a few people on my side; if they now band together against me to attack me, I and my family will be wiped out."

31 To this, Simeon and Levi replied, "What choice did we have? Should anyone be allowed to treat our sister as if she were a prostitute, who shows no discrimination in her carnal relations?"

Jacob Returns to Bethel

35:1 God said to Jacob, "Your daughter Dinah was abducted and raped as punishment for your having hidden her from Esau58 and for having tarried in fulfilling your promise to offer up sacrifices to Me when you returned to Canaan.59 Therefore, arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing your brother Esau."

2 Jacob said to the members of his household and to all those who were with him, "Remove the idols you took as spoil from the non-Jews in Shechem and that are now in your possession; ritually purify yourselves from having come into contact with these idols by immersing yourselves; and, if you are wearing any clothing taken from Shechem, be sure to change your clothes if they bear any idolatrous images or decorations.

3 Then we will arise and go up to Bethel, and there I will make an altar to God, who has always answered me in time of my distress, and who has always accompanied me and protected me on the journey that I took."

4 They handed over all the idols in their possession to Jacob, as well as the earrings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the terebinth that is next to Shechem.

5 They set out. Jacob's fears proved unfounded, for instead of attacking them in consequence of the incident in Shechem, the dread of God fell upon the inhabitants of the surrounding cities, and they did not pursue Jacob and his sons.

6 Thus Jacob came to Luz, which is Bethel, in Canaan—he and all the people who were with him.

7 He built an altar there, and he named the place on which the altar stood El-Bethel ["God is revealed in Bethel"], since it was there that God revealed Himself to him when he was fleeing his brother Esau.

8 Rebecca's wet-nurse, Deborah, whom she had sent to fetch Jacob from Laban's house eight years prior to this and who was now accompanying his household on their return journey, died,60 and she was buried below Bethel—which was located on a hilltop—on a plateau near the bottom of the slope of the hill. As Jacob was burying Deborah, a messenger arrived to inform him that his mother Rebecca had also just died. Jacob therefore named this plain Alon-Bachut ["Plain of Weeping"], for he mourned his mother there. Because Rebecca was also the mother of the wicked Esau, the Torah does not explicitly mention her death, so that no one would be reminded of her name and thus be inclined to curse her for having brought him into the world.

9 Just as He had done when Jacob was on his way to Padan Aram,61 God again appeared to Jacob at Bethel on his way from Padan Aram, and blessed him, this time in order to console him in his mourning over his mother.

10 God then gave Jacob the alternative name Israel, just as Esau's guardian angel informed him that He would.62 He said to him, "Your name is Jacob. You will no longer be called solely by the name Jacob, but rather Israel shall also be your name," and He named him Israel.

11 God then said to him, "I swear to you by My own eternal self, as God Almighty, that your progeny shall be fruitful and increase, eventually forming a great nation that will survive eternally and inherit the Land of Israel.63

In addition, I am going bless you personally in this regard now. Since I am God Almighty, who has the power to confer blessings, I bless you as follows: Be fruitful through your twelfth son, whom your wife Rachel will soon bear you, and increase your numbers through his older brother, Joseph.64 This will happen as follows: A nation—that is, a tribe65—will issue from this twelfth son, and a community of nations—that is, two tribes—will come forth from you via Joseph.66 Moreover, kings will be born from you via the son about to be born.67

Sixth Reading 12 "Furthermore, I swear that68 I will give you the land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac, and I will give the land to your descendants after you as well."

13 God ascended from above him, at the place where He had spoken with him.

14 In addition to the altar he had built the first time he was in Bethel, Jacob now erected a monument at the place where God spoke with him, a monument of stone. He poured a wine-libation upon it, and also poured oil upon it.

15 Jacob again69 named the place where God had spoken with him Bethel ["the House of God"].

The Birth of Benjamin and the Death of Rachel

16 They journeyed onward from Bethel toward Hebron, and there was still some distance to Efrat when Rachel went into labor and had difficulty giving birth.

17 When her labor became severe, the midwife said to her, "Do not be afraid, for besides Joseph, this one, too, is a son for you." In addition to a son, Rachel gave birth to two daughters at this birth.70

18 As she breathed her last, for she was dying, she named her newborn son Ben-Oni ["son of my sorrow"], but Jacob, his father, called him Benjamin [Binyamin, "son of the south"], since he was the only one of his sons to have been born in Canaan, south of Padan Aram.

19 Rachel died, and she was buried on the road leading to Efrat. Efrat is also known as Bethlehem. As they were not far from Hebron, Jacob could have taken her there in order to bury her in the family plot in the Machpelah Cave. But God instructed him to bury her where she had died, instead. He showed Jacob prophetically that the Jewish people would be led into captivity along this very route after the destruction of the first Temple. When Rachel's soul will witness her descendants being driven into exile, it will return to her grave, from which she will then emerge, beseeching Him to have mercy on His people. God will then promise her that, in her merit, He will indeed return them to their homeland.71

20 Jacob erected a tombstone on her grave; this is the tombstone that has remained on Rachel's grave to this very day.

21 Israel traveled on, but he once again tarried and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder instead of proceeding on to his father's home in Hebron.

22 As before,72 Jacob was punished for having delayed his return to his father's home. After Rachel died, Jacob moved his bed from her tent to that of Bilhah, her half-sister and handmaid. Reuben, Leah's eldest son, considered this an affront to his mother's honor: Although she could be expected to tolerate being subordinate73 to her sister—for it was well-known that Jacob considered Rachel his primary wife—she certainly should not be expected to tolerate being subordinate to her sister's handmaid. So, while Israel inexcusably continued to reside in that region, Reuben went and moved his father's bed from Bilhah's tent to Leah's. Although Reuben's intentions were honorable, it was a severe breach of filial respect to have meddled in his father's private affairs, as unconscionable as if he had had relations with Bilhah, his father's concubine. When Israel heard about it, he chastised his son. Reuben immediately repented. Therefore, although he did not confess his misdeed publicly until later,74 this incident did not delegitimize him in any way,75 as indicated by his full status in the following enumeration of Jacob's sons.

Now that Benjamin had been born, the sons of Jacob were twelve in number. Jacob's family was now complete, posed to become the progenitors of the Jewish people.

23 The sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob's firstborn; Simeon; Levi; Judah; Issachar; and Zebulun.

24 The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin.

25 The sons of Rachel's handmaid Bilhah were Dan and Naphtali.

26 The sons of Leah's handmaid Zilpah were Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Padan Aram.

Jacob's sons—except for Judah and Joseph—married their half-sisters.76 Simeon, besides marrying a half-sister, also married his full sister, Dinah. Four of Jacob's sons each married two of their half-sisters.77

Jacob Returns to Isaac

After recounting how Jacob's family came into being and how it grew to its full complement of twelve sons, the Torah now briefly digresses in order to complete its chronicle of Isaac's life and to synopsize the history of Isaac's other son, Esau. The Torah will then resume its narrative of Jacob's family, relating how God forged this family into the nation to whom He would give the Torah and whom He would subsequently settle in the Land of Israel.

By concluding these chapters in the history of Isaac's family now—even though both Isaac and Esau lived well into the time period encompassed by the continuation of the chronicle of Jacob and his children—the Torah indicates that their role in the development of the chosen people has now come to an end, and that our attention will from that point on focus exclusively on the history of the line of Jacob.78

27 In the year 2208, Jacob came to his father Isaac in Mamre, the plain of Kiryat Arba; this place is also known as Hebron,79 where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.

28 Isaac lived to be 180 years old. Although he had taken care to set his affairs in order when was five years younger than his mother had been when she had died,80 he actually lived five years longer than did his father, who died at the age of 175.

29 In the year 2228, he breathed his last, passed away, and was gathered unto his people, being old and with his days fulfilled; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him in the Machpelah cave in Hebron.81

The Line of Esau

36:1 The following are the descendants of Esau, who was nicknamed Edom82

2 Esau took wives from among the daughters of Canaan:83 Adah (whom people had nicknamed Basmat), daughter of Elon the Hittite; Oholivamah (whom Esau nicknamed Judith), daughter of Anah (whom Esau nicknamed Be'eri). Oholivamah was not Anah's biological daughter; she was the illegitimate daughter of Anah's wife by Anah's father, Tzivon the Hivite;84

3 and Basmat (who was nicknamed Machalat), daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nevayot.85 Although Esau married Oholivamah before he married Adah, Adah is listed here first because she was the first of the two to have children. On the other hand, Adah is listed before Basmat (even though Basmat had children before Adah did) because Esau married her during the same year in which he married Oholivamah, whereas he married Basmat twenty-three years later.86

4 Adah bore to Esau Eliphaz; Basmat bore him Reuel;

5 and Oholivamah bore him Yeush and Yalam, and she bore Korach to his son Eliphaz.87 Korach was thus both Esau's wife's son (by her adulterous union) and grandson. These are Esau's sons who were born to him in Canaan.

6 After Jacob returned to Hebron, Esau left, moving permanently to Mount Seir.88 On the journey, Esau took his wives first, followed by his sons and daughters and all the members of his household, as well as his cattle, his animals, and all his possessions that he had acquired in Canaan. It was neither out of concern for proper etiquette nor out of concern for educating his children to honor their mothers that he placed his wives first, but rather in order to keep them close by to satisfy his salaciousness.89 He moved to another region, in order to be away from his brother Jacob,

7 for their property was too abundant to enable them to live together, and the land around Hebron where they lived could not support them both because its pasturage was not sufficient for their livestock. Since Esau had already been living there, he could have claimed that Jacob was the one who should leave. But since Jacob had much more livestock than Esau, benevolence would have dictated that Esau be the one to leave. Esau, of course, would not have yielded to Jacob for reasons of benevolence alone, but he knew that whoever would inherit the Promised Land would first have to suffer exile, so he decided to forego the privilege of inheriting the land in order to avoid the price he would have to pay for it. (While Jacob had been away in Charan, the issue of which of the two brothers would inherit the land had not been pressing; as soon as Jacob returned, the matter had to be resolved.) True, yielding to Jacob was a blow to Esau's pride, but in any case Esau felt ashamed over having sold his birthright to Jacob—not so much that this alone would have motivated him to yield the land to Jacob, but enough to neutralize whatever embarrassment he might have felt from doing so.90

8 So Esau settled permanently91 on Mount Seir, driving out the Horites from the region.92 Esau is the progenitor of the people who became known after his nickname, Edom.

9 These, then, are the descendants of Esau, the progenitor of the Edomites, who were born on Mount Seir:

10 These are the names of Esau's sons: Eliphaz, son of Esau's wife Adah; Reuel, son of Esau's wife Basmat.

11 The sons of Eliphaz were Teiman, Omar, Tzefo, Gatam, and Kenaz.

12 Timna, Eliphaz's daughter whom he had fathered illegitimately by the wife of Seir the Horite,93 very much wanted to marry into Abraham's extended family by becoming one of her father Eliphaz's wives, but she knew that he would never agree to marry her because she was illegitimate. Yet her desire to become part of Abraham's family was so strong that she offered to become a concubine of her father, Esau's son Eliphaz, and thus she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.94 All these are the descendants of Esau's wife Adah.

13 These are the sons of Reuel: Nachat, Zerach, Shamah, and Mizah; these were the sons of Esau's wife Basmat.

14 These are the sons of Esau's wife Oholivamah, who was the illegitimate daughter of Anah's wife and daughter of Tzivon:95 She bore to Esau Yeush, Yalam, and Korach, the latter by Esau's son Eliphaz.96

15 These are the tribal chiefs among the children of Esau: The sons of Esau's firstborn, Eliphaz, were Chief Teiman, Chief Omar, Chief Tzefo, Chief Kenaz,

16 Chief Korach, Chief Gatam, and Chief Amalek. These are the tribal chiefs of Eliphaz in Edom; these are the descendants of Esau's wife Adah.

17 And these are the sons of Esau's son Reuel: Chief Nachat, Chief Zerach, Chief Shamah, and Chief Mizah. These are the tribal chiefs of Reuel in Edom; these are the descendants of Esau's wife Basmat.

18 And these are the sons of Esau's wife Oholivamah: Chief Yeush, Chief Yalam, Chief Korach. (Korach is thus listed twice: above97 as Adah's grandson, and again here as Oholivamah's son, since he was both.) These are the tribal chiefs who were born from Esau's wife Oholivamah, daughter of Anah.

19 All these are the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these are their tribal chiefs.

The Horites

Seventh Reading 20 These are the sons of Seir the Horite—the original inhabitants of the land of Seir, who had occupied it before they were driven out by Esau and his family—Lotan, Shoval, Tzivon, Anah,

21 Dishon, Eitzer, and Dishan. These were the tribal chiefs of the Horites among the sons of Seir in Edom.

22 The sons of Lotan were Chori and Heimam. Lotan's half-sister was Timna, the illegitimate daughter of Esau's son Eliphaz by Seir's wife.98

23 These are the sons of Shoval: Alvan, Manachat, Eival, Shefo, and Onam.

24 These are the sons of Tzivon: Ayah, by his wife, and Anah, by his own mother. After fathering Anah by his own mother, Tzivon fathered Oholivamah years later by Anah's wife, i.e. his daughter-in-law.99 It was Anah who discovered how to breed mules in the desert, when he was tending the donkeys for his father Tzivon, by crossing-breeding horses with donkeys. Since he himself was the product of an illicit union, he had no qualms about producing a similar product in the animal world.

25 These are the children of Anah: his son Dishon and his stepdaughter Oholivamah, the daughter of Anah's wife by his father Tzivon.

26 These are the sons of Dishon:100 Chemdan, Eshban, Yitran, and Keran.

27 These are the sons of Eitzer: Bilhan, Za'avan, and Akan.

28 These are the sons of Dishan: Utz and Aran.

29 These are the tribal chiefs of the Horites: Chief Lotan, Chief Shoval, Chief Tzivon, Chief Anah,

30 Chief Dishon, Chief Eitzer, Chief Dishan. These are the tribal chiefs of the Horites, enumerated chief by chief, in the land of Seir.

The Kings of Edom

31 As recounted above, Isaac blessed Jacob (and his descendants) to be "a master over your brothers"—meaning over Esau (and his descendants)101—and told Esau that he (and his descendants) would serve Jacob (and his descendants).102 The Torah now describes how this blessing was in effect even when it appeared that Esau's descendants were an independent, self-governing nation.

These are the eight kings who reigned over Esau's descendants. This kingdom was never a true Edomite monarchy, for the Edomites did not succeed in banding together under one of their own; they had to invite foreigners to serve as kings. These kings reigned only in Edom, never conquering other countries and never ruling over Jacob's descendants. Even this pseudo-kingdom existed only before any king reigned over the descendants of Israel. The Torah prophetically alludes to the fact that as soon as the Israelites would establish their own kingdom, there would be no more Edomite kings. In fact, the first Israelite king, Saul, conquered this pseudo-kingdom of Edom, and the Jews eventually appointed a governor to rule it on their behalf. This vassalage continued during the reign of eight consecutive Israelite kings, thereby cancelling any claim to monarchy the Edomites could make by virtue of their having had eight kings of their own. Thus, even when the Edomites later did win their independence and appoint kings over themselves, these kings were not true kings.103

32 Bela son of Beor became king of Edom, and the name of his city, i.e., where he came from, was Dinhavah.

33 Bela died, and he was succeeded as king by Yovav son of Zerach, who was from Botzrah, a Moabite city.104 This Zerach was not the same Zerach as Esau's grandson, who was mentioned above.105

34 Yovav died, and he was succeeded as king by Chusham, who was from the land of the Teimanites.

35 Chusham died, and he was succeeded as king by Chadad son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the field of Moab when Midian and Moab went to war against each other. Edom, under Chadad, came to the aid of Moab. The name of his city, i.e., where he was from, was Avit.

36 Chadad died, and he was succeeded as king by Samlah, who was from Masreikah.

37 Samlah died, and he was succeeded as king by Saul, who was from Rechovot-on-the-River.

38 Saul died, and he was succeeded as king by Ba'al-Chanan son of Achbor.

39 Ba'al-Chanan son of Achbor died, and he was succeeded as king by Hadar, and the name of his city, where he came from, was Pau. His wife's name was Meheitavel, daughter of Matreid. Because Matreid was so rich that he considered even gold to be practically worthless, Meheitavel was also known as the daughter of Mei-Zahav ["What (value) is gold?"].

Edom after the Era of the Kings

40 None of the aforementioned kings succeeded in establishing a hereditary monarchy. After Hadar died, the Edomites abandoned their attempt to organize themselves under a strong, centralized monarchy, and separated into eleven tribal groups. The following are the names of the tribal chiefs of Esau who ruled over Esau's descendants after the death of the last king, Hadar, according to the names of their families and regions. The chief of the tribe of Timna, the chief of the tribe of Alvah, the chief of the tribe of Yeteit,

41 the chief of the tribe of Oholivamah, the chief of the tribe of Eilah, the chief of the tribe of Pinon,

42 the chief of the tribe of Kenaz, the chief of the tribe of Teiman, the chief of the tribe of Mivtzar,

43 the chief of the tribe of Magdiel (i.e., Rome), and the chief of the tribe of Iram. These are the tribal chiefs of Edom—that is, of Esau, the progenitor of the Edomites—according to their settlements in the lands that they possessed.