Parashah Studies


Parashah 11: Vayigash “he approached”

B'reisheet “in the beginning” (Genesis) 44:18-47:27 Psalm 48 Yechezk'el (Ezekiel) 37:15-28 Acts 7:9-16

by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley

Genesis 44 18 Then Y'hudah approached Yosef and said, “Please, my lord! Let your servant say something to you privately; and don't be angry with your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, 'Do you have a father? Or a brother?' 20 We answered my lord, 'We have a father who is an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one whose brother is dead; so that of his mother's children he alone is left; and his father loves him.' 21 But you said to your servants, 'Bring him down to me, so that I can see him.' 22 We answered my lord, 'The boy can't leave his father; if he were to leave his father, his father would die.' 23 You said to your servants, 'You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.' 24 We went up to your servant my father and told him what my lord had said; 25 but when our father said, 'Go again, and buy us some food,' 26 we answered, 'We can't go down. Only if your youngest brother is with us will we go down, because we can't see the man's face unless our youngest brother is with us.' 27 Then your servant my father said to us, 'You know that my wife bore me two sons: 28 the one went out from me, and I said, “Surely he have been torn to pieces,” and I haven't seen him since. 29 Now if you take this one away from me too, and something happens to him, you will bring my gray hair down to Sh'ol with grief.” 30 So now if I go to your servant my father, and the boy isn't with us – seeing how his heart is bound up with the boy's heart – 31 when he sees that the boy isn't with us, he will die; and your servants will bring the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sh'ol with grief. 32 For your servant himself guaranteed his safety; I said, 'If I fail to bring him to you, then I will bear the blame before my father forever.' 33 Therefore, I beg you, let your servant stay as a slave to my lord instead of the boy, and let the boy go up with his brothers. 34 For how can I go up to my father if the boy isn't with me? I couldn't bear to see my father so overwhelmed by anguish.”  Judah  takes the leadership role  steps forward to talk to the lord  intercedes for his brother  “… don't be angry with your servant ...”  Some suggest that this indicates that Judah addressed Joseph in harsh terms, or may carry the meaning, don't be angry when I tell you that you are the cause of all this trouble. (See The Soncino Chumash, p. 277.)  This idea begs the question, if so, why does Judah immediately follow this statement with “for you are like Pharaoh himself”?  “The Midrash interprets: You will be smitten with leprosy on Benjamin's account, as Pharaoh was smitten for detaining my ancestress, Sarah, for only one night. Another interpretation: As Pharaoh promises and does not keep his word, you are like him in that respect; do you call this 'setting your eyes upon him' (verse 21)? Another interpretation: If you provoke me, I will slay you together with Pharaoh.” (The Soncino Chumash, p. 277.)  I believe Judah is placing himself in a subservient position, bowing (at least verbally) before a man of power and position, taking on the part of advocate, intercessor, and substitute, and in so doing gives us a picture of Messiah. My reasoning:  We know from the greater context of the Joseph story that this fulfills the prophetic dreams Joseph had (cf. Genesis 37:5-11).  In this one passage the word “servant,” in one form or another, is used 12 times. The Hebrew word is עֶבֶד [eh-vehd] meaning:  a slave, a servant, a man-servant  subjects  servants, worshipers (of God)  servant (in special sense as prophets, Levites etc)  servant (of Israel)  servant (as form of address between equals)  “Coincidentally” עֶבֶד is used 12 times here; once for each tribe subject to the rule of Adonai and His Messiah.  In this same passage the word “lord” is used 5 times by Judah when addressing Joseph, (7 times in the Hebrew: “coincidentally” the biblical number for completeness). The word אָדוֹן [adon] means:  Strong's: from a root meaning to rule; sovereign, i.e. controller (human or divine); lord, master, owner  BDB:  lord, master  referring to men: a superintendant of a household, a superintendant of affairs; a master; a king  referring to God: the Lord God; the Lord of the whole earth  lords, kings  referring to men: a proprietor of a hill of Samaria; a master; a husband; a prophet; a governor; a prince; a king  referring to God: the Lord of lords (probably = “your husband, Yahweh”)  my lord, my master  referring to men: a master; a husband; a prophet; a prince; a king; a father; Moses; a priest; a theophanic angel; a captain; a general recognition of superiority  referring to God: my Lord, my Lord and my God; Adonai (parallel with Yahweh)  Joseph's reaction: if Judah had adopted a brash, confrontational attitude, or was a prefigurement of Moses in his dealings with Pharaoh, Joseph would have reacted in kind, rather than what we see in Genesis 45. 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.  Rashi: He could not bear that the by-standers should hear his brothers put to shame when he made himself known to them. (The Soncino Chumash, p. 279.)  Nachmanides suggests, also, that “it might have been dangerous to let the Egyptians know all that had transpired. Firstly, because they might have refused permission to the brothers to settle in the country, on the ground that if they had treated their own brother in this manner, how would they act toward the Egyptians! Moreover, they might lose faith also in Joseph.” (The Soncino Chumash, p. 279.) 3 Yosef said to his brother, “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.  Who but Joseph would identify himself in this way? Certainly not someone so exalted as the Prime Minister of the greatest empire on the earth; unless it were true! 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.  You had one thing in mind; God had another. You planned to rid yourselves of what you saw as a problem; God used it to bring about His purposes.  This incident shines the light on an age-old quandary about the sovereignty of God.  Is God really sovereign? Is He really in control? Is He really all-knowing? … If so, what about sin, sickness, death, etc.? Does that mean God is responsible for these things? Though numerous books throughout the centuries have been written on just this subject, let me try to succinctly summarize what I believe is a biblical position: We know from Scripture and experience, that the LORD is good, kind, loving, and merciful. We also know Him to be Sovereign, Omnipotent (All-Powerful), Omniscience (All-Knowing), and Eternal. We must keep in mind that an All-Powerful being, such as the LORD, can make creatures (e.g. humans) do anything, with a single exception: love them. God's desires for us include that we should know and love Him, which is an act of volition: an act of the will; free choice. The unfortunate side of choice is the ability to choose to do wrong: to rebel; to sin. Choice, or free will, is a double-edged sword. It was this choice that allowed man to sin against God's instructions which opened the door to further sin and all its ramifications. Since the Fall every person with a human father has born sinful. It is as if a hacker got into the primary system and reprogrammed our hard-drives with what is now a “natural” propensity toward sin. The ramifications of the Fall were universal in that the entire universe was affected. Since that time death, destruction, decay, and rot have been a part of life. We live in a fallen world and so we experience these things. Some to a greater degree than others, but all of us are affected. Such is the negative side of free will. Being All-Knowing, however, the LORD was not taken by surprise by any of this and already had a plan: a rescue mission we call redemption. God gradually revealed His plan through His Word until the time was just right and the Messiah came. In Yeshua / Jesus, God Himself took on flesh and blood to live a perfect life and give Himself as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our wrongdoing. By accepting that that was for me, and believing the eyewitness testimony of Scripture, I can enter a life altering, life-giving relationship with Him. His Holy Spirit can clean my hard-drive, so to speak, and reinstall the original software that is like the Programmer Himself: good, kind, loving, etc. The choice is mine. The same choice is yours. Do bad things still happen? Yes. Do I still get sick? Sometimes. Am I still susceptible to injury? Are certain parts of my body still wearing out? It sure feels that way. We live in a fallen world where “stuff happens.” But when Yeshua returns He will set everything right and these issues will no longer be a problem.  God … has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household and ruler over the whole land of Egypt  A loving father, lord, or ruler takes care of the needs of those in their care.  Joseph acknowledges that God has put him in this position for Pharaoh, all his household, and the whole land of Egypt.  Yosef is a picture of the Messiah e.g.: Joseph Parallels* Jesus 37:3 Their fathers loved them dearly Matt 3:17 37:2 Shepherds of their fathers' sheep John 10:11, 27 37:13-14 Sent by father to brothers Heb 2:11 37:4 Hated by brothers John 7:5 37:20 Others plotted to harm them John 11:53 39:7 Tempted Matt 4:1 37:25 Taken to Egypt Matt 2:14-15 37:23 Robes taken from them John 19:23 37:28 Sold for the price of a slave Matt 26:15 39:20 Bound in chains Matt 27:2 39:16-18 Falsely accused Matt 26:59-60 40:2-3 Placed with two other prisoners, one who was saved and the other lost Luke 23:32 41:46 Both 30 years old at the beginning of public recognition Luke 3:23 41:41 Exalted after suffering Phil 2:9-11 45:1-15 Forgave those who wronged them Luke 23:34 45:7 Saved their nation Matt 1:21 50:20 What people did to hurt them God turned to good 1 Cor 2:7-8 * From Life Application Study Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, p 87.  A few others, with example verses:  rejected by his brothers (Gen 37:19; Mark 9:12)  sold for silver (Gen 37:28; Matt 26:15)  wrongfully arrested / imprisoned (Gen 39:19-20; Matt 26:48; 27:2)  exalted to the right hand of majesty (Gen 41:40; Acts 5:31)  ruling with the authority of the highest king (Gen 41:42-43; Phil 2:9-11) 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. 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 year of famine are yet to come.”'  “Go up to my father” and “Come down to me” are not references to north and south, but to elevation.  Goshen was in the rich pasture lands of the Nile delta in lower (northern) Egypt, between the cities of On and Ra'amses.  This would be “near” Joseph and yet separate enough from the Egyptians for them to bring all their flocks and herds “for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians” (Gen 46:34).  “I will provide for you”  As our parents age it is normal for roles to change. Taking care of them as we can is one way to honor them as we honor God.  If being the “son of his old age” (Gen 37:3) meant that Yosef had been the designated caregiver for his aging father, he may have been seizing this opportunity to fulfill that work. 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.  Your own eyes see ….  Rashi suggests that at one point in this encounter Joseph had even shown them that he was circumcised like they were. (The Soncino Chumash, p. 280)  It is also possible there was some other distinguishing mark, such as a scar or birthmark, that would help prove the point that he was in fact Joseph.  The Hebrew word used here for “see” comes from רָאָה [rah-ah] meaning (literally or figuratively) to see, to look at, to inspect, to perceive, to consider.  After that, his brothers talked with him.  Verse 3 says they were dumbfounded. It's safe to say they were in shock!  Now, in light of that had happened, after all that had taken place, now that they were throughly convinced, “his brothers talked with him.” 16 The report of this reached Pharaoh's house: “Yosef's brothers have come”; and Pharaoh and his servants were pleased. 17 Pharaoh said to Yosef, “Tell your brothers, 'Here is what you are to do. Load up your animals, go to the land of Kena'an, 18 take your father and your families, and come back to me. I will give you good property in Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land. 19 Moreover – and this is an order – do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt to carry your little ones and your wives, and bring your father, and come. 20 Don't worry about your stuff, because everything good in the land of Egypt is yours.'”  Part of the effect of this word would be to confirm all that Joseph had told his brothers and what they had seen, that Joseph was Prime Minister of the empire with Pharaoh's full backing.  Now they had an order, command, charge from Pharaoh himself:  take wagons from the land of Egypt  Rashbam: No wagons could be taken out of the country without Pharaoh's order. (The Soncino Chumash, p. 282)  Sforno: Thus Jacob would have no excuse for refusing to come. (Ibid.)  bring your father  don't worry about your stuff, because everything good in the land of Egypt is yours. 21 The sons of Isra'el acted accordingly; and Yosef gave them wagons, as Pharaoh had ordered, and gave them provisions for their journey. 22 To each of them he gave a set of new clothes; but to Binyamin he gave seven-and-a-half pounds of silver and five sets of new clothes. 23 Likewise, to his father he sent ten donkeys loaded with the finest goods Egypt produced, as well as ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread and food for his father to eat on the return journey.  Some commands from the king are for our good; some for the good of others.  Obedience to godly orders brings blessings.  The extra gifts for Binyamin would not only be a natural expression of affection for his brother, but also could be seen as a type of recompense for being deprived of his only full brother for so many years. 24 Thus he sent his brothers on their way, and they left; he said to them, “Don't quarrel among yourselves while you're traveling!”  Even in the midst of great blessing we must guard against being used by the enemy to sow discord.  Do not quarrel over who was responsible for my sale (Rashi, Abraham Ibn Ezra, The Soncino Chumash, p. 283).  “Don't quarrel among yourselves while you're traveling!” is the CJB rendering of a three word phrase in Hebrew: אַל־ תִּרְגְּזוּ בַּדָּרֶךְ  אַל־ is a simple negation; “do not”  בַּדָּרֶךְ is the “inseparable preposition” בַּ, meaning in or on the, attached to דֶּרֶךְ which is road, way, path, or journey  תִּרְגְּזוּ is the Qal imperfect second person masculine of רָדַז [rah-gahz] meaning  Strong's: to quiver (with any violent emotion, especially anger or fear)  BDB: (Qal) to quake, to be disquieted, to be excited, to be perturbed  'Do not fear on the road' that you may be attacked by robbers, as you are so heavily laden, and particularly on your return, when you will have all your possessions with you, because my name will be a sufficient protection (Rashbam, Nachmanides, The Soncino Chumash, p. 283). 25 So they went up out of Egypt, entered the land of Kena'an and came to Ya'akov their father. 26 They told him, “Yosef is still alive! He is ruler over the whole land of Egypt!” He was stunned at the news; he couldn't believe them.  Is it a sign of the fallen nature that we believe negative reports so much easier than the positive? Or that with no news, we tend to fear the worst has happened?  We must constantly guard against this and trust in the Sovereign LORD, encouraging ourselves in Him (cf. 1 Sam. 30:6). 27 So they reported to him everything Yosef had said to them; but it was only when he saw the wagons which Yosef had sent to carry him that the spirit of Ya'akov their father began to revive. 28 Isra'el said, “Enough! My son Yosef is still alive! I must go and see him before I die.”  Rashbam takes this to mean that the brother related “all the other events which had transpired,” but Nachmanides notes that scripturally “Jacob never learned that the brothers had sold Joseph, but was allowed to believe that he had been kidnapped by strangers and sold.” (The Soncino Chumash, p. 283) Genesis 46 1 Isra'el took everything he owned with him on his journey. He arrived at Be'er-Sheva and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Yitz'chak.  Isra'el moved wholeheartedly into what the LORD had for him, not leaving anything behind – no “contingency plans.”  He took time to offer sacrifices to the LORD.  We need to take time to pray, to praise the LORD, and worship Him. FAR DIFFERENCE I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day: I had so much to accomplish, that I didn't take time to pray. Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task; "Why doesn't God help me," I wondered. He answered, "You didn't ask." I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day just toiled on gray and bleak; I wondered why God didn't show me. He said, "But you didn't seek." I tried to come into God's presence. I used all the keys at the lock. God gently chided, "My child, you didn't knock." I woke up this morning, and paused before entering the day. I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray. 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.”  As the LORD sent Jacob out with a reminder of His covenant, care, provision, protection, and promises (Gen 28:13-15), here He reminds Jacob again before sending out to Egypt.  If we, in relationship with Jesus, go out at the LORD's command, we also go out with His care, provision, protection, and promises.  “I am God, the God of … your father. Don't be afraid ….”  This is just what the LORD had said to Yitz'chak at Be'er-Sheva (Gen 26:24).  This is what the LORD would say to us as we seek Him in covenantal relationship through Yeshua.  … If you belong to the Messiah, you are seed of Avraham and heir according to the promise. (Gal 3:29)  It was in Jacob's place of worship that he found comfort and direction from the God of his father.  One generation had successfully passed to the next a faith based on fact and relationship.  Faith in the God of the Bible is a reasoned faith based on fact and relationship.  Don't be afraid to go down to Egypt.  Jacob knew the prophecy the LORD had given has grandfather Abraham: Adonai said to Avram, “Know this for certain: your descendants will be foreigners in a land that is not theirs. They will be slaves and held in oppression there four hundred years. But I will also judge that nation, the one that makes them slaves. Afterwards, they will leave with many possessions.” (Gen. 15:13-14)  He needed this reassurance from the LORD: and he got it.  It is there that I will make you into a great nation.  This reaffirms one aspect of the covenantal promise found in Gen 12:2.  It's all part of My plan … Egypt was a furnace God used to forge a people (Deut. 4:20)  The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests hearts (Pro. 17:3).  Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction (Isa. 48:10).  Yeshua's earthly walk was characterized by affliction, on our behalf. When He returns in glory and we see Him as He really is, His feet will be “like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of many waters” (Rev. 1:15).  I go down with you to Egypt  The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps. 27:1)  Not only will I go down with you to Egypt; but I will also bring you back here again  Going and coming back, I will be with you.  after Yosef has closed your eyes  You will see your “long lost son” before you die  Your heart will be comforted, your mind put at ease, because of the great things the LORD is doing  Locked in both “time” and “space” as we currently are, our perspective is extremely limited, but God's plans for us in Yeshua transcend both! 5 So Ya'akov left Be'er-Sheva; the sons of Isra'el brought Ya'akov their father, their little ones and their wives in the wagons Pharaoh had sent to carry them.  “So Ya'akov left Be'er-Sheva” might be more literally rendered, “And rose up Ya'akov from Be'er-Sheva” (וַיָּקָם יָעֲקֹו מֹבְּאֵר שָׁבַע).  וַיָּקָם [vah-yah-kahm]  וַ [vah] is the conjunction “and”  יָּקָם [yah-kahm] is the Qal imperfect, third person, masculine, singular of קוּם [kūm] (a “hollow verb” - in many forms the middle root letter “drops out” - here becoming קָם [kahm]) meaning:  Strong's: to rise (in various applications, literal, figurative, intensive and causative)  BDB: (Qal) to arise; to arise (hostile sense); to become powerful; to come on the scene; to stand (to maintain oneself; to be established, to be confirmed; to stand, to endure; to be fixed; to be valid; to be proven; to be fulfilled; to persist; to be set, to be fixed)  After Jacob met with the LORD at the “Well of Oath” (Be'er-Sheva) he left, yes, but more than that he “arose” or “rose up” which means  he was sitting, kneeling, laying, etc. Jacob had gone there to meet with God and was waiting on Him; and because of that  when Isra'el left Be'er-Sheva he had become powerful, established, confirmed, fixed, validated, proven, fulfilled.  When we set ourselves to meet with the LORD at our “Well of Oath” in an attitude of subservience, waiting on Him until He gives us a word, we “קָם [kahm] away” powerful, established, confirmed, fixed, validated, proven, fulfilled! 26 All the people belonging to Ya'akov coming into Egypt, his direct descendants (not counting Ya'akov's sons' wives), totaled sixty-six. 27 The sons of Yosef, born to him in Egypt, were two in number. Thus all the people in Ya'akov's family who entered Egypt numbered seventy.  Based on the number of Noah's descendants listed in Genesis 10, the number seventy has come to represent all the nations and people of the world. These were the people “saved” from the flood through Noah and his sons, and their obedience to the LORD.  Israel, a direct descendant of Noah, and Israel's direct descendants, 70 listed, were “saved” from famine and extinction through assimilation through Israel and his sons, and their obedience to the LORD.  Yeshua, the Savior of the world, is a direct descendant of Isra'el (see Matt 1) and Noah (see Luke 3), so in another sense, through Israel, all the world may be saved. Through Yeshua's obedience to the LORD's will, He purchased salvation for the world.  You people don't know what you are worshipping; we worship what we do know, because salvation comes from the Jews. (John 4:22)  This Yeshua is the stone rejected by you builders which has become the cornerstone. 12 There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by Whom we must be saved! (Acts 4:11-12)

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What's a Parashah?

Parashah is a Hebrew word that means portion. 

Synagogues around the world read the same parashah each Shabbat. The Torah is divided into 54 weekly portions so that the whole Torah is read annually. Selections from the Haftarah (Prophets) are also read each week, and in Messianic congregations, selections from the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) are included. Holiday selections are also listed for the Feast Days.

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