Parashah 11: Vayigash (He approached)
Genesis 44:18 through 47:27
Parashah 11: Vayigash (He approached) - Genesis 44:18 through 47:27
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): Ezekiel 37:15-28.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Acts 7:9-16
Tanach Scriptures are from Stern's Complete Jewish Bible; B'rit Chadash Scriptures from the AENT.
Welcome "newbies" and "oldies!" As you all know, Torah was written by Moshe (Moses) and consists of the first five Books of the Bible which contain God's original Divine Instructions in Righteousness. Since this is a Netzarim (Nazarene/Messianic) website, we refer to God by His proper Name: Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, transliterated into English as YHWH, and most likely pronounced "Yah-way" (see Exodus 3:13-15). His Son's Name is Y'shua (most likely pronounced "Ye-shoo-ah"). Enjoy this week's Torah portion!
Last week we discussed how Yosef (Israel/Ya'akov's son) ended up being a very powerful man under Pharoah in Egypt. When his brothers came for assistance during the seven year food crisis that overtaken the land, they didn't recognize Yosef as the brother they had years before thrown into a cistern to die.
Pretending he did not know them, Yosef "toyed" with them for awhile before ultimately admitting who he was and demanding they fetch their father to come and live in Egypt where they would all be safe from the ravages of the famine. It was almost a reverse of the "prodigal son" story in Luke 15:11-32. This time, instead of the wayward son coming home to be accepted into the arms of a loving and understanding father, it was the son forgiving his brothers and then welcoming them and their (his) father into his world.
Genesis 45: 1 At last Yosef could no longer control his feelings in front of his attendants and cried, "Get everybody away from me!" So no one else was with him when Yosef revealed to his brothers who he was. 2 He wept aloud, and the Egyptians heard, and Pharaoh's household heard. 3 Yosef said to his brothers, "I am Yosef! Is it true that my father is still alive?" His brothers couldn't answer him, they were so dumbfounded at seeing him. 4 Yosef said to his brothers, "Please! Come closer." And they came closer. He said, "I am Yosef, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 But don't be sad that you sold me into slavery here or angry at yourselves, because it was God who sent me ahead of you to preserve life.
6 The famine has been over the land for the last two years, and for yet another five years there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 God sent me ahead of you to ensure that you will have descendants on earth and to save your lives in a great deliverance. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household and ruler over the whole land of Egypt. 9 Hurry, go up to my father, and tell him, 'Here is what your son Yosef says: "God has made me lord of all Egypt! Come down to me, don't delay!
Notice that although Yosef could have said something like, "Look what I've accomplished and what I'm doing to for you," or "Didn't I TELL y'all you would someday serve me?" he gave all the credit where it belonged: To YHWH!
Genesis 45: 4 Yosef said to his brothers, "Please! Come closer." And they came closer. He said, "I am Yosef, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 But don't be sad that you sold me into slavery here or angry at yourselves, because it was God who sent me ahead of you to preserve life."
Genesis 45:8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household and ruler over the whole land of Egypt. 9 Hurry, go up to my father, and tell him, 'Here is what your son Yosef says: "God has made me lord of all Egypt! Come down to me, don't delay!
Genesis 45: 10 You will live in the land of Goshen and be near me - you, your children, your grandchildren, flocks, herds, everything you own. 11 I will provide for you there, so that you won't become poverty-stricken, you, your household and all that you have; because five years of famine are yet to come."' 12 Here! Your own eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Binyamin, that it is my own mouth speaking to you. 13 Tell my father how honored I am in Egypt and everything you have seen, and quickly bring my father down here!" 14 Then he embraced his brother Binyamin and wept, and Binyamin wept on his neck, 15 and he kissed all his brothers and wept on them. After that, his brothers talked with him.
The story goes on to tell us that Israel and his sons immediately took Yosef up on his offer and moved his family totaling 70 people to Egypt. Although the transition time between the last part of chapter 45 and the end of 46 seem to make it appear that hardly any time passed before the move to Egypt was completed, it must have taken at least several months, since in those days travel was done by horse/camel/bull and wagon!
Please note that YHWH made a covenant with Israel/Ya'akov, just as He had done with his father Isaac (Genesis 21:18) and grandfather Abraham (Genesis 12:2 and 18:16-19):
Genesis 46: 2 In a vision at night God called to Isra'el, "Ya'akov! Ya'akov!" He answered, "Here I am." 3 He said, "I am God, the God of your father. Don't be afraid to go down to Egypt. It is there that I will make you into a great nation. 4 Not only will I go down with you to Egypt; but I will also bring you back here again, after Yosef has closed your eyes."
Isn't it rather odd that YHWH decided to make Israel a "great nation" while they were all down in Egypt? It was not just "the Jews" whom He made into a great nation, because the rest of Genesis 46 shows the names of all who went down to Egypt..."All" includes anyone who was born into and/or had joined, by marriage or otherwise, one of the 12 tribes! Halleluyah - proof that YHWH accepts ALL who wish to worship and obey Him!
Genesis 46: 28 Ya'akov sent Y'hudah ahead of him to Yosef, so that the latter might guide him on the road to Goshen; thus they arrived in the land of Goshen. 29 Yosef prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet Isra'el his father. He presented himself to him, embraced him and wept on his neck for a long time. 30 Then Isra'el said to Yosef, "Now I can die, because I have seen your face and seen that you are still alive."
Note that Yosef never told his father that hatred is what brought him (Yosef) to Egypt, in the first place. Most people would have immediately "spilled the beans" and blamed the brothers for having sold them into slavery in hopes of turning their father against them....
Also interesting to note is the following statement made by Yosef:
Genesis 46: 31 Yosef said to his brothers and his father's family, "I'm going up to tell Pharaoh. I'll say to him, 'My brothers and my father's family, who were in the land of Kena'an, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds and keepers of livestock; they have brought their flocks, their herds and all their possessions.' 33 Now when Pharaoh summons you and asks, 'What is your occupation?' 34 tell him, 'Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth until now, both we and our ancestors.'This will ensure that you will live in the land of Goshen - for any shepherd is abhorrent to the Egyptians."
What did that odd statement mean? Was the "Land of Goshen" part of Egypt? Let's check it out:
Understanding Genesis 46:34
Genesis 46: 34 "tell him, 'Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth until now, both we and our ancestors.'This will ensure that you will live in the land of Goshen - for any shepherd is abhorrent to the Egyptians."
How can living in the land of Goshen ensure the Iraelites will live, if being a shepherd is abhorrent to the Egyptians? It appears to be prophetic:
Genesis 45: 9 "Hurry, go up to my father, and tell him, 'Here is what your son Yosef says: "God has made me lord of all Egypt! Come down to me, don't delay! 10 You will live in the land of Goshen and be near me - you, your children, your grandchildren, flocks, herds, everything you own."
Since Yoseph had favor with Pharaoh, Pharaoh was "predisposed" to the idea of letting Yoseph's family have favor in the best land available, even though, as shepherds, they were the lowest class.
Genesis 47: 5 Pharaoh said to Yosef, "Your father and brothers have come to you, 6 and the land of Egypt lies before you. Have your father and brothers live on the best property in the country - let them live in the land of Goshen. Moreover, if you know that some of them are particularly competent, put them in charge of my livestock."
So here, we see Pharoah himself, even wanting the family of Yoseph to care for Pharoah's flocks. Pharoah's flocks would be tended to only in the best land. So here in verse 47:6 we find Pharaoh offering "the best property in the country" to Yoseph's family.
So the Prophecy?
Centuries later, we have YHWH telling Moshe, that he (Moshe) and the people would dwell in a "set apart" land - Goshen:
Exodus 8: 22 But I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people live -no swarms of insects will be there - so that you can realize that I am ADONAI, right here in the land.
Indeed, the people were protected in the land of Goshen:
Exodus 9: 26 But in the land of Goshen, where the people of Isra'el were, there was no hail.
Later, after reaching the Promised Land, Yohoshua, the leader of Israel after Moshe, captured Goshen:
Joshua 11: 15 Moshe had given orders to Y'hoshua, just as ADONAI had given orders to Moshe his servant, and Y'hoshua acted accordingly-he did everything ADONAI had ordered Moshe. 16 So Y'hoshua captured all that land, the hills, the Negev, all the land of Goshen, the Sh'felah, the 'Aravah and the Isra'el hills and Sh'felah, 17 from the bare mountain that goes up to Se'ir to Ba'al-Gad in the L'vanon Valley under Mount Hermon; and he took all their kings, struck them and put them to death.
18 Y'hoshua made war with all those kings for a long time. 19 Not one city made peace with the people of Isra'el, except for the Hivi living in Giv'on; they took everything in battle. 20 For it was ADONAI who caused them to harden their hearts and come against Isra'el in battle, so that they would be utterly destroyed, so that they would not find favor but be destroyed, in keeping with the orders ADONAI had given Moshe.
In Genesis 47 we see another parallel with Yeshua: Yosef totally forgave his brothers for what they had done, and invited them to come and reside in Egypt with him:
Genesis 47: 1 Then Yosef went in and told Pharaoh, "My father and brothers have come from the land of Kena'an with their flocks, livestock and all their possessions; right now they are in the land of Goshen." 2 He took five of his brothers and presented them to Pharaoh. 3 Pharaoh said to his brothers, "What is your occupation?" They answered Pharaoh, "Your servants are shepherds, both we and our ancestors," 4 and added, "We have come to live in the land, because in the land of Kena'an there is no place to pasture your servant's flocks, the famine is so severe there. Therefore, please, let your servants live in the land of Goshen."
5 Pharaoh said to Yosef, "Your father and brothers have come to you, 6 and the land of Egypt lies before you. Have your father and brothers live on the best property in the country - let them live in the land of Goshen. Moreover, if you know that some of them are particularly competent, put them in charge of my livestock." 7 Yosef then brought in Ya'akov his father and presented him to Pharaoh, and Ya'akov blessed Pharaoh. 8 Pharaoh asked Ya'akov,"How old are you?"
Food for thought: Ever wonder why Yosef didn't just reveal himself as Yosef to his brothers, and instead revealed himself as "Yosef the one whom you sold into slavery?" It seems, he was rubbing their faces in their sin!
Following is an interesting commentary from Rabbi Naftali Reich:
"The brothers certainly knew that they had sold him to Egypt. Why did he have to remind them of their treachery when he was about to try to reconcile with them? The famous commentator, the Sfas Emes, offers the following insight. As Yosef revealed his true identity, the brothers were undoubtedly stricken with grief. The first stab of guilt was over having torn Yosef away from their father's lap at a tender age. Although Yosef had obviously survived despite his immersion in Egyptian society, who knows how much spiritual poison it had infected him with? Had he remained under his father's tutelage, who could tell what heights he might have reached!
"Yosef reassured them on this score. I am Yosef, the person I was intended to become, he told them. Had I not been forced through the ordeal of being sold as a slave and having to rise above the decadence of Egyptian society I would not be Yosef. I could never have accomplished what I needed to accomplish; I would never have risen to the spiritual heights that I have attained. I only fulfilled my life mission by enduring the difficult trials to which I was subjected. Only because my faith was tested did my true mettle emerge. I am Yosef precisely because you sold me to Egypt!"
What awesome insights into the workings of God! He knows what we are made of and sometimes He just needs to show us! That is why we can truly have faith to know that all things work for good to them that love Him and are called according to his purposes!
Moving on, it is also interesting to note Genesis 47:8 that Pharoah inquired as to Ya'akov's age:
Genesis 47: 9 and Ya'akov replied, "The time of my stay on earth has been 130 years; they have been few and difficult, fewer than the years my ancestors lived." 10 Then Ya'akov blessed Pharaoh and left his presence.
The above reveals that, in those days people actually talked to each other and passed down family history and stories from generation to generation - or else, how would Ya'akov have known that his ancestors lived a lot longer than he did? How many people today know anything at all about their grandparents or great-grandparents, let alone the rest of their ancestors? I don't know a thing about either side of my family past my grandparents!
Continuing with the story:
Genesis 47: 11 Yosef found a place for his father and brothers and gave them property in the land of Egypt, in the best region of the country, in the land of Ra'amses, as Pharaoh had ordered. 12 Yosef provided food for his father, his brothers and all his father's household, taking full care of even the youngest. 13 There was no food anywhere, for the famine was very severe, so that both Egypt and Kena'an grew weak from hunger. 14 Yosef collected all the money there was in Egypt and Kena'an in exchange for the grain they bought, and put the money in Pharaoh's treasury. 15 When all the money in Egypt had been spent, and likewise in Kena'an, all the Egyptians approached Yosef and said, "Give us something to eat, even though we have no money; why should we die before your eyes?" 16 Yosef replied, "Give me your livestock. If you don't have money, I will give you food in exchange for your livestock."
17 So they brought Yosef their livestock; and Yosef gave them food in exchange for the horses, flocks, cattle and donkeys -all that year he provided them with food in exchange for all their livestock. 18 When that year was over, they approached Yosef again and said to him, "We won't hide from my lord that all our money is spent, and the herds of livestock belong to my lord. We have nothing left, as my lord can see, but our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be enslaved to Pharaoh. But also give us seed to plant, so that we can stay alive and not die, and so that the land won't become barren."
20 So Yosef acquired all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh, as one by one the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine weighed on them so severely. Thus the land became the property of Pharaoh. 21 As for the people, he reduced them to serfdom city by city, from one end of Egypt's territory to the other. 22 Only the priests' land did he not acquire, because the priests were entitled to provisions from Pharaoh, and they ate from what Pharaoh provided them; therefore they did not sell their land. 23 Then Yosef said to the people, "As of today I have acquired you and your land for Pharaoh. Here is seed for you to sow the land. 24 When harvest time comes, you are to give twenty percent to Pharaoh; eighty percent will be yours to keep for seed to plant in the fields, as well as for your food and for that of your households and your little ones." 25 They replied, "You have saved our lives! So if it pleases my lord, we will be Pharaoh's slaves."
26 Yosef made it a law for the country of Egypt, valid to this day, that Pharaoh should have twenty percent. Only the property belonging to the priests did not become Pharaoh's. 27 Isra'el lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. They acquired possessions in it and were productive, and their numbers multiplied greatly.
The story continues in next week's parashah!
Today's Haftarah portion happens to be the one passage that has led to the division of the Messianic faith: The erroneous "two-house" belief (started approximately 50 years ago) that all Christians who become Torah observant believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob automatically belong to the Tribe of Ephraim...and they have built an entire religion around this train of thought and some have even gone so far as to place more emphasis on their supposed "tribe membership" than on the fact that through Y'shua we are all ONE in Messiah!
Many, if not most, proponents of this movement contend that members of the "born-again" segment of the Christian church are, in fact, actual blood descendants of the ancient Israelites who were exiled in the Assyrian invasion of Israel in 722 B.C.E. Their agenda is to "prove" that Christians are the northern tribes - which actually detracts from our Savior, Yeshua.
Originally, the Messianic Jewish "movement" was all about bringing Jews to faith in Messiah, nothing more. It was NOT about separating Jews from Gentiles in some sort of a hierarchy of faith....
Below is the scripture that started it all. After reading this section, you are free to make up your own mind about whether or not "two house" means all Christians automatically somehow belong to the Tribe of Ephraim:
Ezekiel 37: 15 The word of ADONAI came to me: 16 "You, human being, take one stick and write on it, 'For Y'hudah and those joined with him [among] the people of Isra'el.' Next, take another stick and write on it, 'For Yosef, the stick of Efrayim, and all the house of Isra'el who are joined with him.' 17 Finally, bring them together into a single stick, so that they become one in your hand. 18 When your people ask you what all this means, 19 tell them that Adonai ELOHIM says this: 'I will take the stick of Yosef, which is in the hand of Efrayim, together with the tribes of Isra'el who are joined with him, and put them together with the stick of Y'hudah and make them a single stick, so that they become one in my hand.' 20 The sticks on which you write are to be in your hand as they watch.
21 Then say to them that Adonai ELOHIM says: 'I will take the people of Isra'el from among the nations where they have gone and gather them from every side and bring them back to their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Isra'el; and one king will be king for all of them. They will no longer be two nations, and they will never again be divided into two kingdoms. 23 "'They will never again defile themselves with their idols, their detestable things, or any of their transgressions; but I will save them from all the places where they have been living and sinning; and I will cleanse them, so that they will be my people, and I will be their God.
24 My servant David will be king over them, and all of them will have one shepherd; they will live by my rulings and keep and observe my regulations. 25 They will live in the land I gave to Ya'akov my servant, where your ancestors lived; they will live there - they, their children, and their grandchildren, forever; and David my servant will be their leader forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant. I will give to them, increase their numbers, and set my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My home will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 The nations will know that I am ADONAI, who sets Isra'el apart as holy, when my sanctuary is with them forever.'"
B'rit Chadasha readings:
Acts 7: 9. And our fathers were jealous of Yosip and sold him in Misrayin. But Elohim was with him, 10. and He delivered him from all his oppression. And He gave grace and wisdom to him before Pharaoh king of Misrayin, and appointed him ruler over all Misrayin and his house. 11. And there was a famine and great affliction in all Misrayin and in the land of Canaan, and our fathers had nothing to sustain (them). 12. And after Ya'akov heard that there was sustenance in Misrayin, he sent our fathers first, 13. and when they went the second time, Yosip made himself known to his brothers and the nationality of Yosip was made known to Pharaoh. 14. And Yosip sent for his father and brought Ya'akov and all his family. And they were seventy and five souls in number. 15. And Ya'akov went down to Misrayin and died there, he and our fathers. 16. And he was moved to Shechem and was placed in the tomb that Awraham had purchased with money from the sons of Khamor.
There is so much more that could be said about today's study, and we wholeheartedly urge you to read the cited scriptures through, if you haven't already done so. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to write! Thank you for reading our Torah study notes for this week, and we pray for you a blessed week ahead, that may you ever grow in your knowledge of YHWH. And, as always, please let us know if you ever see anything in our studies that sounds "off the mark"! Nobody has the market cornered on absolute Truth; we are all learning and obeying to the best of our abilities....
The next Parashah reading will be:
Parashah 12: Vayechi (He lived) - Genesis 47:28 through 50:26.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): 1 Kings 2:1-12.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Acts 7:9-16; Hebrews 11:21-22.