This morning I was reading the Times of Israel website and found an article about this week’s reading from the Torah, being read in Jewish congregations today. The writer’s favorite verse has a hidden meaning that does not come through in most English translations. It is in the story of Jacob and Esau, ending with Jacob wrestling with the angel of God (or even God Himself). The particular verse reveals Jacob’s plan to smooth his precarious reunion with Esau after many years and much antipathy. Jacob sends presents on ahead to indicated his positive intentions toward Esau. Here it is in New King James English.
For he said, “I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” Genesis 32:20b
What intrigues me is the fact that in the Hebrew text the word “face” is used four times. The author of the article describes it as alliteration. So, the use of the word “face” is the key.
Here is an English translation (YLT – Youngs Literal Translation) that comes close, using “face” three times. (I have used bold emphasis for the fourth.)
`I pacify his face with the present which is going before me, and afterwards I see his face; it may be he lifteth up my face;’ Genesis 32:20 YLT
Now here is what I am getting out of all this (if you are still with me). Jacob’s desire to be reconciled with Esau is understandable. He is seeking a sort of relational intimacy that was lost, which was not to be. Instead, Yehovah met Jacob that night and changed his name to Israel. The intimacy Jacob sought from Esau was instead provided by God Himself. Jacob’s name meant “supplanter”, one who took another’s place. But God gave him a new name, Israel, that means “prince with God”.
The key revelation is in verse 30. We need intimacy with God first and foremost. A human will never fulfill that deep inner need for fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Even politically, Israel is still trying to give “gifts” to placate “Esau” when what they really need is to walk with God.
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. Genesis 32:30
Peniel means “facing God”. Jacob named the spot Peniel because he had seen God “face to face”.
Each one of us is changed forever by the same experience. When we embrace Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah, the Saviour and the Promised One of Israel, we are saved. But more than being saved from Hell (fire insurance) we enter into that glorious intimacy of knowing God “face to face”. Jesus’ reason for coming was that we could know the Father. We are now part of God’s “forever family”. We are part of Israel by faith. Thank you Jesus for showing us your Father.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” John 14:6-7
Les Lawrence, Voice of Christian Zionists (READ MORE)