Parashat Vayishlah

Jacob and family return to Canaan to face Esau, after which Dinah is raped and two of Jacob's sons exact revenge.

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After Jacob’s families introduced themselves with bows, Esau turned to Jacob. “I received your gifts, but I have plenty. Keep them.”

“But they were a tribute to you from my hand. I have looked up to your face as judge, and you have accepted me with kindness. Please take my blessing, which was brought to you because God has favored me with it and then, I have everything.”

Esau took it, then offered to escort Jacob to his city where he lived.

Jacob chose instead to follow the natural pace of his travel. Jacob next journeyed to Sukkoth and built booths for his property. He then went to a nearby city and bought some land from the sons of Hamor so he could build an altar. Upon the memorial, Jacob proclaimed, “God is the God of Israel.”

The Rape of Dinah

Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob, went to explore the area.

Shekhem, the son of Hamor the Hivvite, the prince in the land, saw Dinah, took her and raped her. But his soul clung to Dinah and he loved the girl and he asked his father to get her for him as a wife. Jacob and all the men heard that Dinah had been defiled and their hearts were filled with sorrow and anger.

Soon, the father of Shekhem approached Jacob and asked for permission for Dinah to marry his son. He offered a large dowry.

Shimon and Levi Lead a Massacre

The sons of Jacob spoke for their father, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to a man who has foreskin, for that is a disgrace to us. However, if you want to circumcise your men, then we will become one people. But if you choose not to circumcise, we will take Dinah and go.”

Now, the son and the father and the rest of the men became circumcised. On the third day when the males were in pain, the two brothers of Dinah, Shimon and Levi, came and killed all the males of that city, including the man who raped their sister. Then they took the property of the people and took all the women and children captive.

But Jacob said to Shimon and Levi, “You have brought me trouble. You discredit me among the people who live in Canaan. They will gather together and strike against us.”

Later, God said to Jacob, “Go to Beth-el and live there and make an altar to God.”

Therein, Jacob had all the captives purify themselves, change their clothes and bring him their foreign gods. Jacob buried these gods under the oak tree in the city of the rape.

Rachel Dies During Childbirth

Jacob’s people then went to Beth-el, where he wrestled that night. God appeared to Jacob and God blessed him. “Your name shall no more be Jacob, but Israel. I am God, the All-sufficing. Be fruitful and multiply, and kings shall come from your loins. And the land I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give to you.” Jacob then erected a memorial there.

Now Rachel was pregnant. On their journey, she had difficulty giving birth. The midwife said to her, “Do not be afraid, for this one, too, is a son for you.” When her soul departed in death, she named him Ben-oni, but Jacob named him Benjamin. They buried Rachel with a tombstone.

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.