VaYishlach - ”and he sent”

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4. And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother to the land of Seir, the country of Edom:
5. And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall you speak to my lord Esau; Your servant Jacob said thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:
6. And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and women servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight:
7. And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to your brother Esau, and also he comes to meet you, and four hundred men with him:
8. Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, in two bands:

Ya’acov is returning home.  He has been away for twenty years.  He is concerned over how he will be received by his brother.  Remember, the last he had heard, Esau was planning on killing him as soon as Avraham died and his mourning period ended.  Esau was still living in the land of Yisrael and Ya’acov had run off to another land. 


Was Ya’acov still keeping Torah?  Was he still worshipping Elohim?  Had he begun worshipping the idols of the land he was sojourning in?  Was he coming to wage a war against his brother and establish the birthright and blessing that was now his?  Esau did not know.


Ya’acov did not know how he would be received and interpreted Esau’s activities as if they were hostile towards him.  Esau was a mighty hunter.  According to the book of Sefer HaYashar ( Book of Jasher) he killed Nimrod.  The killing of men, even mighty or important men, was not beyond him.  Certainly, from Ya’acov’s perspective, after all that had happened, Esau was coming to kill him…. After all he had a small army of four-hundred men with him.


Ya’acov had changed during his trip.   He was no longer the young upstart, the supplanter that he was when he left.  He was spiritually mature, serving Elohim with al his heart soul and mind at this point.


When one of our brothers goes out away from us, is he become more Torah observant?  Less?  What are we to do upon that persons return?  What if it were us?  Would we still be received by our brethren having gone away for a long period of time?  Would we present ourselves in a righteous fashion?


After all he owned had crossed over the Jordan into Kenaan, he wrestled with a “Man”.  This man turns out to be Elohim.  Ya’acov knew he was wrestling someone special, because he would not let Him go until after He blessed Him.  Ya’acov did receive a blessing from Him and his name was changed to Yisrael.  Ysrael also wanted to know the name of the One who blessed him.  Although not stated, it is implied that he was told. 


Because of the damage to the hip, as it is stated:


GEN 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 Ya’acov's thigh in the sinew that shrank.


It is the practice among the Jewish people, even to this day, to not eat of the meat of the thigh of an animal unless the sciatic nerve is first removed.  This is because of this statement in Torah.  It is part of the koshering process when an animal is slaughtered.  It is interpreted that the sinew that is being spoken of is that nerve.


Later as he approached Esau, notice how he placed his women and children.  The maidservants and their children went first, then Leah and her’s then Riv’kah.  Still placing Riv’kah’s safety above that of all the others.  Perhaps this is why Riv’kah was taken first, when Bin’Yamin was born.  This coupled with the fact that Lavan’s idols never were recovered from her.


To Ya’acov’s surprise, Esau is not upset but is overjoyed at his brother’s return.   Esau returns to his home, and Ya’acov continues on to stay in the land.  Esau, after this, moves on to the land to become known as the land of Edom.