Have you ever noticed how many two’s there are associated with the life and person of Jacob (Heb. Ya’acov)? They seem to be everywhere in his life. I counted a total of THIRTY (2 x 15) times the concept of the number two shows up, either as the number TWO or as the word SECOND! And since there is no such thing as a coincidence in the Bible, then I believe that God is hinting at something deeper and critically important for us to know in His use of this number as it relates with Jacob.
Jacob is the SECOND generation of the promised seed (Genesis 25:19-26), and he is the SECOND son of Isaac (Genesis 25:23-26).
ESAU SELLS HIS BIRTHRIGHT TO JACOB
Jacob gave Esau TWO foods to eat: bread and pottage of lentils (Genesis 34), and his mother, Rebekah, instructs him to get TWO good kids of the goats that she may use them to prepare Isaac’s favorite meal, and then Jacob is to take it to him, so that he may do TWO things: “eat it” and “he may bless you before his death” (Genesis 27:9-10)
JACOB DECEIVES ISAAC TO GET THE BLESSING
Jacob gave his father TWO foods to eat: a venison dish and bread (Genesis 27:17), and he took TWO things from Esau, his brother: his birthright and his blessing (Genesis 27:33-36).
JACOB’S VISION OF A LADDER
Jacob has a vision of a ladder that reached TWO locations: heaven and earth (Genesis 28:12), and on this ladder, the angels of God were traveling in TWO directions: ascending and descending on the ladder (Genesis 28:12).
JACOB, HIS MARRIAGES & FAMILY
Jacob falls in love with Rachel, Laban’s SECOND daughter (Genesis 29:16-20), and he describes TWO things about Rachel that makes her beautiful in Jacob’s sight: her form and her face. (Genesis 29:17, NASB, TLV)
After being deceived by Laban by him giving Jacob Leah instead, Jacob agrees to Laban’s TWO conditions in order to get Rachel as his wife: (1) He must first complete the seven-day wedding feast for Leah; and (2) He agrees to indenture himself to Laban for another seven years (Genesis 29:27-30)
Jacob also ends up with TWO maid servants: Bilhah and Zilpah (Genesis 29:24, 29), and Jacob gets TWO sons from Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin (Genesis 30:22-24; 35:18). Jacob gets TWO sons from Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali (Genesis 30:5-8), and Jacob gets TWO sons from Zilpah: Gad and Asher (Genesis 30:9-13).
JACOB RENEGOTIATES FOR HIS WAGES
When it comes time to leave, Jacob describes his homeland to Laban in TWO ways: “my own place” and “my own country” (Genesis 30:25). Rachel and Leah later tell Jacob TWO ways that proved their father viewed them as no more than strangers, since “He has sold us” and “He has consumed our purchase price” (Genesis 31:15).
JACOB’S COVENANT WITH LABAN
God spoke to Laban and warned him in a dream “not to speak to Jacob” in TWO ways: “either good or bad” (Genesis 31:24). After Laban searches Jacob’s camp for his gods but cannot find them, Jacob angrily asks Laban TWO questions: “What is my trespass?” and “What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued after me?” (Genesis 31:36). Jacob also names TWO groups who would judge between the TWO of them: my brethren and your brethren (Genesis 31:37).
Jacob describes the God of his father by TWO different names: “the God of Abraham” and “the fear of Isaac” (Genesis 31:42). God had noticed TWO things about Jacob while he was there with Laban: “his affliction” and “the labor of my hands” (Genesis 31:42).
JACOB’S MEETING WITH ESAU
When he heard that Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men, Jacob divided all that he owned into TWO groups/bands/ or companies (Genesis 32:7).
Rachel died after giving birth to her SECOND son, Benjamin (Genesis 35:16-20)..
JACOB IN EGYPT WITH JOSEPH
After Jacob is again re-united with Joseph, in their SECOND recorded meeting, Jacob makes Joseph promise TWO things: to take him back to Canaan and bury him there (Genesis 47:29-31).
Jacob adopts Joseph’s TWO sons as his own: Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:1). In blessing Joseph’s TWO sons, he gives the greater blessing to the SECOND son (Genesis 48:17-18). When Joseph objects to the greater blessing going to the SECOND son, Jacob explains, “I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19).
In this prophecy, the phrase melo’ hagoyim (trans. “shall become a multitude of nations”) means more than what is translated into the English. The Hebrew word melo’ refers to a process, “the filling up until the eventual fullness” and hagoyim literally means “the nations” or “the Gentiles.” And if you remember Paul’s argument in the book of Romans, this should sound quite familiar:
For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel until THE FULNESS OF THE GENTILES be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved;…. (Romans 11:25-26a)
Who is it that Israel prophesied would become “the fulness of the Gentiles”? Ephraim, Joseph’s SECOND son.
SO WHY THE NUMBER 2?
Obviously, there are more two’s associated with Jacob than we would normally expect through coincidence. So we need to ask, “What is significant with the number 2 in the life of Jacob?”
In Hebrew, the number 2 is the letter beyt, which means “house.” So although God was laying down the foundation with Abraham and Isaac, He actually begins to build beyt Israel (“the House of Israel”) with Jacob. In fact, in the book of Isaiah, it is this new entity which God both created and formed (Isaiah 43:1), which becomes God’s Bride.
It is in the SECOND account that Jacob is renamed Israel that we discover that this is not just a renaming, but it is also a creation account. In this account,
God names him “Israel”: “And God said to him, Your name is Jacob: your name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be your name: and He called his name Israel. (Genesis 35:10)
God reintroduces Himself to Israel, signifying He will have a new relationship with him: “I am God Almighty (Heb. El Shaddai).” (Genesis 35:11)
Be fruitful and mutiply;…. These are the words that God said in the original creation (Genesis 1: 22, 28) and then again after the flood (Genesis 8:17; 9:1, 7). Therefore, they indicate that this is, in fact, a creation account, not just a renaming.
God defines His new creation as consisting of TWO parts: “a nation and a company/multitude of nations shall be of you…” (Genesis 35:11).
THERE ARE TWO PARTS TO ISRAEL?
In God’s definition of Israel, He defines it as consisting of two parts. The first part is “a nation” (Heb. goy), and the second part is “a company/ multitude of nations” (Heb. q’hal goyim). The Hebrew word qahal can also be translated as “assembly” or “congregation,” and its Greek equivalent is ekklesia, or what we translate as “church.” And the Hebrew word goyim is the plural form of goy, meaning “nations” or “Gentiles.”
Now in the Tanakh, the first part of this definition is focused on – Israel becoming a nation, and ultimately a kingdom, under Saul, David, and Solomon. But then under Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, the kingdom divides into two parts: the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Ultimately, the Northern Kingdom is invaded and taken away into captivity, becoming what is commonly called “the Lost Ten Tribes.” The Southern Kingdom is later invaded and taken into Babylon. And then under Haggai and Zechariah, there was the first return of those from Babylon to the land. And then under Ezra, the second return, and then under Nehemiah, the third return.
However, also in the Tanakh, there were also Gentiles (non-Jews) who were also involved, such as the Gentiles that were part of Abraham’s camp, the Gentiles who came out with the Israelites in the Exodus (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4), as well as those Gentiles who decided to join themselves to Israel, like Rahab and her family, Ruth, Doeg, etc. Therefore, in the Tanakh, we can see both the native Israelites and Gentiles making up Israel, that is, until the Babylonian captivity. It was during this time when things began to change.
Now when we come to the B’rit Chadasha (“New Covenant”), the SECOND part of our Bible, although the first part of the definition – Israel as a nation – is there as well, there is also a noticeable shift that happens so that God begins to work on the second part of Israel’s definition: Israel – “an Assembly/Church of nations.” Here we see much more of a focus on the qahal/Ekklesia than before as the good news of the Kingdom is taken outside of the land of Israel to other countries.
Consequently, then, Israel is much more complex than what people call “Israel” today. According to God’s own definition, Israel is comprised of a twelve-tribe nation AND an Assembly/Church of Nations (or Gentiles). This combination of Jew and non-Jew is what God defined as “Israel” and, therefore, since is how God Himself defined his Bride to be, then this is how God’s Bride should be defined and presented.
I find it interesting that the first part of the definition corresponds to the first part of the Bible, and the second part of the definition corresponds to the second part of our Bible. Therefore, what we see developed in the Bible is the Kingdom of Israel, or what Paul calls “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).
ISRAEL – IT IS NOT OURS TO DEFINE
Those people who make up God’s Bride, Israel, is for God to decide upon since it is His Bride. “Who or what is Israel?” is still an ongoing debate in the Jewish community. God did not give us the legal right to redefine what He has already defined. The problem is not that Israel is not defined, but that we continue to ignore God’s definition in preference to our own.
We do the same thing with His laws. There is no where in the Bible where God gives us the right to overturn and change what is or what is not a law in God’s Kingdom. Only the King can make that decision – not people, religious leaders, or religious institutions. In fact, we are expressly forbidden from adding to His laws or in deleting anything from them (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32).
When will we begin treating God with the honor and respect as King He deserves? He has the right to define His Bride, the House of Israel, and He has the right to define His own laws. We do not have that right, and to go around acting like we do have the right, we only end up deceiving ourselves and others.