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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

Vayetseh 7-7

And (he) left

Genesis 31:43 – 32:2(3 heb.)

So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac. 

Gen. 31:53b ESV

Why did Yaakov swear by the Fear of his father Yitzchak?

The oath between Lavan and Yaakov was meant to create a halt of violence in case anyone of them would have the intention of making war against the other. As a sign of that covenant, they gathered a heap of stones.

The Torah mentions that Yaakov swore by the Fear of his father Yitzchak. Why is this mentioned in relation to this covenant?

The awareness of the Eternal watching us all the time and searching the motivation of our hearts, and the awareness of the consequences of all our actions, produces fear of the Eternal in our lives. Yitzchak lived in that revelation and he transmitted it to his son Yaakov. That’s why Yaakov used this truth when making a covenant with Lavan. He promised not to hurt Lavan and his daughters and the Eternal was the witness. This was enough because Yaakov had learned to fear the Eternal from his father.

The Hebrew word translated as “fear” is pachad, פחד. It is not the same as the word that is used in Genesis 20:11 – yirah, יראה, that has to do with respect and reverence – as we commented before. The word pachad פחד  is related with being frightened suddenly, by an alarm, for example. Therefore, the translation could be that: “Yaakov swore by the fright of Yitzchak”, but it doesn’t sound that well in English. Anyway, this can give us an idea of the meaning of the term used in this text.  

Yaakov knew that the Fear that his father had toward the Eternal was going to keep him from harming his wives or Lavan.

Learn to fear and appreciate the fear of Heaven. This way, you will avoid many sins.

Shabbat shalom,


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