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B'resheet/Genesis 29:1 And Ya'akov lifted his feet and went to the land of the sons of the East
So Ya'akov, our intrepid hero, actually goes down from the Land to visit his family in Haran. He has had his dream, struck his bargain and anointed a stone with oil; there is nothing left to do but walk: hundred of miles! Our text tells us two interesting things about the way that Ya'akov looked at this next stage of his journey. There are many places in the Tanakh where the Scriptures tell us that somebody went somewhere, or walked in a particular direction, and they nearly all use the verb , to walk or go, and this is no exception. It is the preceding clause that is different: Ya'akov lifted his feet.
The first thing we learn is that Ya'akov realised that he had to do the walking. He wasn't able to hitch a lift in a passing lorry, he couldn't catch a train; neither could he fly - there were no scheduled flights between Bethel and Haran in those days. If he was going to get there, then he had no option but to get on with it and walk. He had to put one foot in front of the other and keep on doing that for days until he got there - it was the only way to do it. Secondly, the verse shows something of his attitude: Ya'akov didn't trudge along or drag his feet, he lifted his feet and walked. The verb means to lift, raise or support; in its Pi'el voice it is often translated 'strengthen' or 'establish'. Ya'akov had a journey to make and he set off with enthusiasm and determination.
In that well-known passage from the book of Isaiah: "And your ears will hear a word behind you, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right or the left" (Isaiah 30:21, NASB), the same dynamic is at work. One cannot be turning to the right or the left unless engaged in motion, and the voice of the Ruach HaKodesh will encourage us to walk in the footsteps of our Teacher. Rav Sha'ul uses the image of the games: "Don't you know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one wins the prize? So, then, run to win!" (1 Cor 9:24, CJB). Just as Ya'akov lifted his feet, so we are to exert ourselves as we journey through life.
Yeshua spoke to His disciples in the same way: "Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim" (Matthew 28:19, CJB). Many commentators have written about whether this passage is calling everyone to go to a mission field overseas, or simply to be aware of the call to share the gospel with those around us. In Hebrew, Yeshua would have used the same verb , to walk or go, showing that this is a matter of lifestyle rather than location. What matters is to be on the journey and lifting our feet as we go.
Further Study: Isaiah 40:28-31; 1 Corinthians 9:25-27
Application: Has your walk slowed down and your feet started to drag recently? Do you feel discouraged or forsaken? Why not ask G-d for a fresh renewing of vision and try lifting your feet as you go.
© Jonathan Allen, 2004
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