Parashah 12: Vayechi “he lived”
B'reisheet “in the beginning” (Genesis) 47:28-50:26 Psalm 48
M'lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 2:1-12 1 Kefa (1 Peter) 1:1-9
by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley
28 Ya'akov lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; thus Ya'akov lived to be 147 years old.
Ya'akov moved to Egypt when he was 130 years old (Gen. 47:9), two years into the seven year famine (Gen. 45:6).
Ya'akov lived in Egypt for twelve years after the famine.
5 Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Efrayim and M'nasheh will be as much mine as Re'uven and Shim'on are. 6 The children born to you after them will be yours, but for purposes of inheritance they are to be counted with their older brothers.
Normally spoken, the firstborn received a double portion of the inheritance (and took care of the widowed mom, household, etc.). Since Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah and she gave birth to Jacob's firstborn, Reuben, that inheritance would be expected to go to him.
Joseph was the firstborn son of Jacob's chosen wife Rachel. In formally adopting Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob is able to pass on a double portion inheritance to Joseph through them. (Cf. verse 22.)
11 Isra'el said to Yosef, “I never expected to see even you again, but God has allowed me to see your children too!”
Such is the grace, mercy, and blessing of the LORD, that He does exceedingly, abundantly, beyond what we ask or think (Eph. 3:20).
15 Then he blessed Yosef: “The God in whose presence my fathers Avraham and Yitz'chak lived, the God who has been my own shepherd all my life long to this day, 16 the angel who has rescued me from all harm, bless these boys. May they remember who I am and what I stand for, and likewise my fathers Avraham and Yitz'chak, who they were and what they stood for. And may they grow into teeming multitudes on the earth. “
My fathers Avraham and Yitz'chak lived in the presence of God. This same God has been my own shepherd too.
No matter how good a relationship my fathers may have had with the LORD, I need to have my own personal, vital, on-going relationship with Him.
… the God who has been my own shepherd all my life long …
מֵ => prefix = from
י. => personal suffix
= me, my, mine
עוֹד = still, yet, more …
from my still, yet:
my whole life
and still אֹתִי
from רָעָה [ra-ah] =
Strong's: to tend a flock; i.e. to pasture it; to graze; to rule; by extension, to associate with (as a friend)
BDB: 1) to tend, to pasture: to shepherd; used of a ruler, teacher; used of people as a flock; shepherd, herdsman. 2) to feed, to graze הָאֱלֹהִים …
הָ = the
אֱלֹהִים = gods,
plural of אֶל = god.
Used of the gods of the nations; always with plural helping words. Used of the God of Israel only with singular helping words, indicating a plurality within the Godhead which biblically is only and always limited to 3: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
… my whole life God has been, and still is, my Shepherd, ruler, teacher, pastor, provider …
The LORD is the true Good Shepherd (cf. Ps. 23, Jn. 10:11, 14)
All leaders, whether pastors, rabbis, Bible teachers, even political leaders at various levels are “under-shepherds” that will one day give an account for how we have led, fed, tended, and cared for the flock(s) He has put into our care (e.g. cf. Ezek. 34:1-10, Jn. 21:15-17, Jm. 3:1) – PRAY!!!!!
16a the angel who has rescued me from all harm, bless these boys.
“the angel,” here is הַמַּלְאָךְ [ha-mal-akh] in the Hebrew, meaning: a messenger, a representative; a messenger, an angel, the theophanic angel
Gen. 16:7f And the angel of the LORD found her [Hagar] by a fountain of water ….
Gen. 19:1 And there came two angels to Sodom at evening ….
Gen. 32:3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother ….
Num. 20:14 And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom ….
Holman Bible Dictionary: … God reveals Himself and acts on behalf of His people. Sometimes He does this directly, sometimes in the person of an angel. Often the distinction between God's action and the angel's is blurred to the point that they seem synonymous ….
Gen. 22:15f And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD ….
Ex. 3:2f And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him [Moses] in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush …. 4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush …
It is probably in this later sense, where the lines of distinction between the LORD and His angel are blurred, that Ya'akov calls on Him to bless his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh.
16b May them remember who I am and what I stand for, and likewise my fathers Avraham and Yitz'chak, who they were and what they stood for. And may they grow into teeming multitudes on the earth.
Although a more literal translation might be, “let be named on them by name and the name of my fathers Avraham and Yitz'chak ...” the meaning behind it seems to be what the Complete Jewish Bible is after.
Nachmanides: that [they] should endure and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob be recalled in them for ever. (The Soncino Chumash, p. 300.)
Sforno: But not Terah and Nahor, because righteous men are not called by their fathers' names when these are wicked, nor vice versa. Hence his blessing was a prayer that they might be righteous and worthy to be called after Abraham and Isaac. (The Soncino Chumash, p. 300.)
17 When Yosef saw that his father was laying his right hand on Efrayim's head, it displeased him, and he lifted up his father's hand to remove it from Efrayim's head and place it instead on M'nasheh's head. 18 Yosef said to his father, “Don't do it that way, my father; for this one is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.” 19 But his father refused and said, “I know that, my son, I know it. He too will become a people, and he too will be great; nevertheless his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will grow into many nations.”
God's choices do not always line up with human expectations. E.g. it is not always the firstborn that is “greater,” “bigger,” “larger,” more important, more … whatever. It is the Sovereign, All-Knowing LORD Who makes those determinations based on His foreknowledge and the responses of our will to His.
20 Then he added this blessing on them that day: “Isra'el will speak of you in their own blessings by saying, 'May God make you like Efrayim and M'nasheh.'” Thus he put Efrayim ahead of M'nasheh.
Common prayers and blessings pronounced over children to this day include the words
For the boys: May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.
For the girls: May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.
21 Isra'el then said to Yosef, “You see that I am dying, but God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your ancestors. 22 Moreover, I am giving to you a sh'khem [shoulder, ridge, share, city of Sh'khem] more than to your brothers; I captured it from the Emori with my sword and bow.”
God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your ancestors
This time in Egypt was part of the LORD's plan, and He would bring them back.
I am giving you … more than to your brothers.
As with adopting Efrayim and M'nasheh, Isra'el is giving the firstborn of his intended wife an extra portion.
I am giving to you a sh'khem [or “I am giving you Sh'khem”] more than to your brothers; I captured it from the Emori with my sword and bow.
Sh'khem is the city destroyed by Shim'on and Levi after the ruler's son Sh'khem had raped their sister Dinah (Genesis 34)
If this city is what is being referred to here by Isra'el,
he may have been accepting a parental responsibility for the actions of his sons, or
he may have been speaking prophetically in that the later nation of Isra'el, under the command of Joshua conquered the area with sword and bow
the Emori, or Amorites
The strongest of several groups of peoples living in the greater area later taken over by the Israelites on both sides of the Jordan – sometimes specific groups are mentioned (e.g. Ex. 23:23), sometimes just the predominate group (e.g. Num. 21:31), and sometimes they are simply called by the name of the land they occupied (e.g. Gen. 12:6). So some of the terms, such as “Amorites” and “Amalekites” are used synonymously for the “Canaanites.” In the same way, the “Hivites” of Genesis 34:2 are the “Amorties” of 48:22.
Easton's Bible Dictionary: The Amorites were warlike mountaineers. They are represented on the Egyptian monuments with fair skins, light hair, blue eyes, aquiline noses, and pointed beards.
3 Re'uven, you are my firstborn, my strength, the first-fruits of my manhood. 4 Though superior in vigor and power you are unstable as water, so your superiority will end, because you climbed into your father's bed and defiled it – he climbed onto my concubine's couch!
Physical strength alone is unstable; it needs to be balanced with spiritual and emotional strength, as man is a tri-part being [as is our Creator].
1 Thess. 5:23 May the God of shalom make you completely holy – may your entire spirit, soul and body be kept blameless for the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
James 1:5-8 Now if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all generously and without reproach; and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in trust, doubting nothing; for the doubter is like a wave in the sea being tossed and driven by the wind. 7 Indeed that person should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 because he is double-minded, unstable in all his ways.
Of all the sins, sexual sin is probably the most personal and the most haunting. Praise God there is healing and cleansing in Yeshua.
6 Let me not enter their council, let my honor not be connected with their people; for in their anger they killed men, and at their whim they maimed cattle. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it has been fierce; their fury, for it has been cruel.
Ps 4:5 You can be angry, but do not sin! Think about this as you lie in bed, and calm down.
Eph. 4:26 Be angry, but don't sin – don't let the sun go down before you have dealt with the cause of your anger; 27 otherwise you leave room for the Adversary.
“adversary” in Hebrew is שָׂתָן = satan.
8 Y'hudah, your brothers will acknowledge you, your hand will be on the neck of your enemies, you father's sons will bow down before you.
as Judah is presented as a Messianic type in how he stood before the kingly figure of Joseph to advocate, intercede, and offer himself up for Benjamin (Gen. 44:18ff), so here the type continues to picture Yeshua:
His brothers will finally acknowledge Him, (the second time they meet,) cf e.g.:
Ps. 22:16 … they have pierced my hands and my feet …
Zech. 12:10 and I will pour out on the house of David and on those living in Yerushalayim a spirit of grace and prayer; and they will look to me, whom they pierced.
Rev. 1:7 Look! He is coming with the clouds! Every eve will see him, including those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the Land will mourn him.
He defeated His enemies; satan, sin, hell, and death, cf e.g.:
Rev. 1:17b Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last 18 the Living One. I was dead, but look! – I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to Death and Sh'ol [hell].
Col. 2:15 Stripping the rulers and authorities of their power, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by means of the stake.
Eph. 1:22 Also, he has put all things under his feet and made him head over everything for the Messianic Community, 23 which is his body, the full expression of him who fills all creation.
Those who are truly the Father's bow down before Him, i.e. submit to His authority, cf e.g.:
Mt. 2:11 Upon entering the house, they saw the child with him mother Miryam; and they prostrated themselves and worshipped him. Then they opened their bags and presented him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Mark 4:41 But they were terrified and asked each other, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the waves obey him?”
Phil. 2:9 Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; 10 that in honor of the name give Yeshua, every knee will bow – in heaven, on earth and under the earth – 11 and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is Adonai – to the glory of God the Father.
Col. 1:18 Also he is head of the Body, the Messianic Community – he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might hold first place in everything. 19 For it pleased God to have his full being live in his Son 20 and through his Son to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace through him, through having his Son shed his blood by being executed on a stake.
9 Y'hudah is a lion's cub; my son, you stand over the prey. He crouches down and stretches like a lion; like a lioness, who dares to provoke him?
Yeshua is the “Lion of Judah”
One of the elders said to me, “Don't cry. Look, the Lion of the tribe of Y'hudah, the Root of David, has won the right to open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 Then I saw standing there with the throne and the four living beings, in the circle of the elders, a Lamb that appeared to have been slaughtered. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the sevenfold Spirit of God sent out into all the earth. (Rev 5:5-6)
10 The scepter will not pass from Y'hudah, nor the ruler's staff from between his legs, until he comes to whom [obedience] belongs; and it is he whom the peoples will obey.
John 1:49 Natan'el said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Isra'el!” 50 Yeshua answered him, “you believe all this just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than that!”
John 12:13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Deliver us!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai, the King of Isra'el!” 14 After finding a donkey colt, Yeshua mounted it just as the Tanakh says – 15 “Daughter of Tziyon, don't be afraid! Look! Your King is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt.”
Rev. 17:14 They will go to war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will defeat them, because he is Lord of lords and Kings of kings, and those who are called, chosen and faithful will overcome along with him.
23 The archers attacked him fiercely, shooting at him and pressing him hard; 24 but his bow remained taut; and his arms were made nimble by the hands of the Mighty One of Ya'akov, from there, from the Shepherd, the Stone of Isra'el, 25 by the God of you father, who will help you, by El Shaddai, who will bless you with blessings from heaven above, blessings from the deep, lying below, blessings from the breasts and the womb.
Our real enemy(s) are not flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12)
The enemy of souls may attack us from any number of directions, but regardless of the tools he may use, his goal is the same: to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10)
Eph. 6: 10ff Finally, grow powerful in union with the Lord, in union with his mighty strength! 11 Use all the armor and weaponry that God provides, so that you will be able to stand against the deceptive tactics of the Adversary [Hebrew: ha-satan]. 12 For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. 13 So take up every piece of war equipment God provides; so that when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist; and when the battle is won, you will still be standing. 14 Therefore, stand! Have the belt of truth buckled around your waist, put on righteousness for a breastplate, 15 and wear on your feet the readiness that comes from the Good News of shalom. 16 Always carry the shield of trust, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. 17 And take the helmet of deliverance; along with the sword given by the Spirit, that is, the Word of God; 18 as you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently, for all God's people.
24 Yosef said to his brothers, “I am dying. But God will surely remember you and bring you up out of this land to the land which he swore to Avraham, Yitz'chak and Ya'akov.” 25 Then Yosef took an oath from the sons of Isra'el: “God will surely remember you, and you are to carry my bones up from here.”
“… God will surely remember you …” in the Hebrew is פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד אֶלֹהִים אֶתְכֶם [pah-kōd yiph-kōd veh-eh-lō-him eht-khehm]
וֵאלֹהִים = God(s)
פָּקֹד (here in the Qal verb form) = pay attention to, to observe; to attend to; to seek, to look about for; to seek in vain, to need, to miss, to lack; to visit; to visit upon, to punish; to pass in review, to muster, to number; to appoint, to assign, to lay upon as a charge, to deposit
יִפְקֹד = He will visit
אֶתְכֶם = “you” (masculine, plural)
Normally spoken, when a word is repeated (even in a different form,) (such as פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד is here,) it makes it emphatic, and so the translation “will surely ...”.
Some, however, see in this “... visit, He will visit …” referring to the two earthly visits of Messiah – once when He came as the suffering servant and again, when He returns as conquering King.
This whole idea being made emphatic by being repeated in verse 25.
“and you are to carry my bones up from here.”
“from here” is the Hebrew word מִזֶּה [mi-zeh]:
מִ = a prefix meaning “from”
זֶּה = Strong's: the masculine demonstrative pronoun, this or that
BDB: (when used with prefixes)
in this (place) here, then
on these conditions, herewith, thus provided, by, through this, for this cause, in this matter
thus and thus
as follows, things such as these, accordingly, to that effect, in life manner, thus and thus
from here, hence, on one side … on the other side
on this account
in spite of this, which, whence, how
so while this phrase could be translated, “carry my bones up from here,” referring to the land of Egypt, it could also be translated, “from this” referring to the position, power, and prestige of being the Prime Minister of the greatest empire in the world at that time
regardless of what the LORD allows us to achieve and accomplish, or how greatly He uses us, there is, deep within, a yearning for His Promised Land that keeps us from being totally satisfied with anything less than His Presence and Promise.
At the conclusion of reading of each book of Torah many will say “Chazak, chazak v’nitchazek!” Some publications, such as the Complete Jewish Bible, actually print it, while the Soncino Chumash has “chazak” in un-pointed Hebrew (חזק).
Why We Do What We Do #3: Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek
Chazak, chazak v’nitchazek! Be strong, be strong and may we be strengthened! We traditionally ready these words as we finish each book of the Torah. In fact, if one looks at the phrase in Hebrew, one notices we are pretty much saying the same word three times in repetition with some added in words on the last time. So why do we proclaim these words at the end of each of the five books of the Torah? Why do we do what we do?
The first and simplest explanation is: it is tradition! To be exact, Ashkenazi tradition. The Sephardic custom is to say “chazak u’barukh” at the end of every single individual Torah reading, which means “strength and blessing.”
The rabbis teach that no word, not even one single letter in the Torah is not without meaning. They even say that the white spaces between the letters are filled with meaning. We even have a saying that one can find Messiah in every word of the Torah. We may be stretching it a bit with that one, but it's not far off from the truth. Look at this phrase:
חֲזַק חֲזַק וְנִתְחַזֵק
Chazak, chazak v’nitchazek
If we are pretty much just saying the same word three times, we might want to know more about this word. “Chazak” as with most Hebrew words has multiple meanings. What does this word mean if we crack it open? The word carries the meaning of the following in it:
to be bound to
to be attached to
strong / strengthen
to conquer / to hold fast
to retain / to keep
to prove helpful
This should speak volumes to us about this phrase. Each time we speak it we are stating that we will be bound to what we read in the Scriptures, that we will retain and keep the words we heard. We are stating that we will let the Holy Words strengthen us and preserve us and be helpful to us in our lives. Because of the words of the Torah, we will be courageous and be bound to them; they are a part of us.
This ritual reminds us that Torah is the bedrock of life. Every time we learn from the Scriptures, every time we read from the Bible we have the opportunity, the possibility of experiencing revelation from on High and His wisdom for our lives. We are stating that we are studying Scripture with purpose. To read the Bible without purpose is like getting into a boat that will just drift on the ocean. You don’t have any direction and you never know when or where you will end up.
However, there is still a deeper meaning. The phrase is based on Proverbs 3:18 in part:
“It is a tree of life to those who take hold of it, and those who support it are praiseworthy.”
It is also based on Joshua 1:6-9 (hence the three repetitions):
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the Law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
If taking hold of Scripture and supporting it are so great, why do we need the strength? Why did HaShem say to Joshua three times in a row to be strong and courageous? Think about it. To take up HaShem’s way of living life is not easy. It is downright hard! It is full of blessing and great and wonderful things, however, on the other hand, it is hard, lonely and puts us at odds with the world and the people around us. It makes hard demands on us. It is completely and totally opposite to how the world around us lives and wants us to live. Everything around is is saying go left, but the Torah says to go right. This shows the wisdom of Yeshua in saying:
...“Whoever wants to be my disciples must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” – Luke 9:23-25
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:12-14
The Talmud tells us that a life of obeying the Most High “weakens the strength of a person” (Sanhedrin 26b). So, in following Yeshua, being His disciples, obeying His Word…we need strengthening. We need courage. We need support. We need to attach ourselves to the Word.
Pirke Avot (The Ethics of the Fathers) teaches that at the end of our lives each of us will be required to give an accounting of our lives to HaShem (Avot 3:1). Even Yeshua teaches the same thing (Matthew 12:36). Chazak, chazak v’nitchazek! (from https://doyouknowyeshua.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/why-we-do-what-we-do-chazak-chazak-v’nitchazek/, accessed 26Dec15)