Here I Am: Jacob

Here I Am: Jacob

Here I Am: Jacob.

“So Israel (Jacob) set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, ‘Here I am.”  (Genesis 46:1-2).

Hineni (Hebrew word, literal meaning “Behold, I am!” but is generally translated in Bible as “Here I am.”) In Scripture it is a response of someone to someone else asking for attention. It could be a response to God, to an angel, a response of a child to a parent, or a servant to a master. Sometimes it is even a loving response of a parent to a child. The Biblical Here I am means you have my full attention; I am at your service; I am completely available to you; whatever you want, I am all in; I am in total readiness to hear and obey you; I have no hesitation in responding to you. Most of the time in Scripture the person saying Here I am doesn’t yet know what the caller wants from him. So hineni can essentially be a statement of faith. When someone in authority initiates Here I am, such as God, it is a declaration of presence and readiness to speak or act. Generally, hineni is often stated in a pivotal moment of that person’s life. Here I am can just be a casual response to a caller, but it often is an important moment in the life of the person responding.

Jacob is one of the more complicated persons in Scripture, yet time and again he proved himself to be a man of faith. True, he tended to think he could live by his wits, and he was actually a pretty successful con man in his day. Jacob tricked his brother Esau out of father Isaac’s blessing and birthright, which caused him to run for his life and hide at Uncle Laban’s. But Laban was just as effective a con man as Jacob. So Jacob found himself ten years later married to Laban’s two daughters, Leah and Rachel, and managing Laban’s huge herd of livestock. Finally, after Laban had changed his wages ten different times, Jacob had had enough. An angel of God spoke to Jacob in a dream, saying, “Jacob.” Jacob’s immediate response to the angel was, “Here I am.” (Gen. 31:11). Jacob was ready for his heavenly marching orders, and he was given the okay by the angel to take his family, and his massive collection of livestock, such as goats, camels and donkeys, to the land of his father Isaac in Canaan. Jacob’s readiness to obey the angel’s word was rewarded with freedom from Labron’s tricks and a new start in the land of his fathers.

That wasn’t the last time Jacob said “Hineni.” When he was 130 years old, Jacob had a huge extended family of around 70 people. Because of the famine in the land of Canaan, they needed to find a place where the family could find food and sustenance. And coming to the rescue was his long-lost son Joseph, who had risen to prominence in Egypt since the sons of Jacob sold him into slavery.  Joseph provided a large parcel of land, Goshen, the most fertile land in Egypt, for Jacob and his huge brood and his livestock. So Jacob resettled his family in Egypt, thanks to Joseph, and the family line was saved and restored. None of this would have happened if Jacob hadn’t heard a word from the Lord in another of his night visions. God spoke and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” And Jacob replied, “Here I am.” It is at this time that God told Jacob it was okay to move to Egypt. “I am God, the God of your fathers; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.” (Gen. 46: 2-3). And the family of Israel (Jacob) came to settle in Egypt for 400 years. Jacob was faithful to the Lord to the very end of his life. It turned out that both of his “Here I am” moments were pivotal in his life, first in establishing his independence from Laban, and secondly to help his family survive and flourish.