12/08/2006

The Second Revelation at Beit El

Jacob experienced 2 separate revelations at Beit El – the first on his way out of the Land of Canaan, and the second on his way back in. The first set the tone for his departure – God assured Jacob that He would protect him and return him safely to the land. The second (35:9-15) is far more crucial to the Patriarchal Covenant. The covenant centers around two central elements – eretz and zera – the land and children. It is only upon Jacobs return that he establishes beyond all doubt that he is the heir to the covenant. He receives the aboriginal bracha of piryah ve-rivyah and the promise of the land. The evidence is strengthened in that soon after this revelation, the Torah records the death of Yitzchak (again, not chronological; a simple calculation yields that Yitzchak didn’t die until 12 years after Joseph’s disappearance) and the progeny of Esav, before beginning the tale of ‘Toldot Yaakov’ at the beginning of Va-Yeshev.

What’s often overlooked is that the remainder of Jacob’s life is totally affected by his understanding of the bracha, at least as much as the first revelation set the tone for Jacob’s sojourn in Aram.

The bracha of peru u-revu means multiple children – always has, always will. After receiving this revelation, Jacob understands that he will have at least 2 more children. Also, each of his ancestors had a single wife through whom the covenant passed, even though they may have had multiple wives.

Immediately after the revelation (35:16-20), Rachel gives birth, but dies. It is more than clear that Jacob understood that the covenant would pass through Rachel, and that he expected another child from her. He renames the child born ‘Son of my right’. He was clearly expecting a son for the left as well. Don’t believe me? Read Bereishit 48:3-14. The entire story comes to a close there with Menashe becoming the long awaiting ‘Son of the left’. Notice that Jacob’s speech there begins with the second revelation that he received at Beit El.

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