WORD STUDY: BREAD TO EAT
Genesis 28:20-21: “And Jacob vowed a vowed and saying, If God will be with me and will keep in this way that I go and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, so then I come to my father’s house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God.”
Bread – Hebrew: Lechem – Bread, food, meat, to eat, to consume Eat – Le’ekol – Food, to eat, to consume.
Here is something a little strange. Both words, Lechem (Bread) and Le’ekol (eat) mean the same thing, food or eat. The preposition before Le’ekol tells us it is to be used as a verb “eat” or “consum” rather than a noun “food.” Yet, why does Jacob say: “Bread to eat,” I mean what else would you do with bread? This sounds a little redundant. The Sages teach that this redundancy in words is suggesting that Jacob was not only presenting to God his physical needs, but his spiritual needs as well.
Lechem le’ekol is translated “Bread to eat.” That is the most obvious translation and makes the most sense. However, here are two different words meaning pretty much the same thing. The Sages saw a spiritual value in the word le’ekol (eat) which pictures a heart being consumed by God.
Beged lelebosh (raiment to put on) is the same thing, and also redundant as both words mean garments or coverings. Again the preposition before lelebosh (put on, covering) suggest it is a verb. The sages teach that Lelebosh also has a spiritual value meaning a covering for evil or treachery.
This is a very typical play on words that we do not always see in our English translations. Jacob was asking God to supply his physical need for food but at the same time to supply his spiritual need for God’s presence and consuming love. At the same time he asked for clothes he was asking that God cover the evil in his heart or possibly the evil intent that others may have toward him.
What God is telling us in this play on words is that when we pray for our physical needs and well being, we must never lose sight of our spiritual needs as well. How many times we pray “Oh Lord, I need a job, I need to pay this bill, etc.” If we view this play on words in Genesis 28:20-21 as a remez as to how we should pray, then we would be praying: “Lord I need a job that will give me greater opportunity to grow in you.” Millions of people find jobs without seeking God’s help, does seeking God’s help give us an advantage? People find food to eat without seeking Gods help; does seeking Gods help give us an advantage? Perhaps, but more important is that every time we pray for our daily bread, we are also asking to know and experience God’s consuming passion or presence. Every time we dress, we are asking God to cover the evils in our heart or the evil intent others have against us.