Parasha #12

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 Parashah #12: Vayechi (He lived)

(Genesis 47:28 – 50:26)

Additional Readings:
1 Kin. 2:1-12; Act. 7:9-16; Heb. 11:21-22; 1 Pet. 1:3-9; 2:11-17

Previous parashah recap – Israel came to Egypt to live, prosper and multiply there. This was after Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers and went unto looking after his people as a whole, to protect them from the famine.

  • Jacob, knowing that his remaining time as a living being was short, called upon Joseph to have him swear that he would bury Jacob in the cave where his forefathers were buried. Once again we see the swearing was on the sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham (on the circumcision).

  • Gen. 50:2-4 – First we learn that Joseph embalmed Jacob and kept his body on presentation for mourning, all this took 110 days, and only then Joseph asked the favour to be allowed to go bury his father. This would have added quite a bit of time seeing how many people went with him (and they would have had to prepare all that was necessary for them to be fed…). So that’s a lot more than the 7 days we are instructed by God to observe for mourning the dead).

  • This is not to say that Joseph had foregone the ways of God for Jacob was mourned the proper amount of time when arriving at the cave.

  • During the 70 days what they did was similar to what we still do today, they had a ‘viewing’ of the dead body. As a note, we know that when there is a viewing, more often than not, if someone touches the body or has some kind of link with it the spirit/s can enter the person in contact.

  • Gen. 50:10-11 – 7 days of proper mourning is mentioned. Joseph being a Hebrew, knew the rules and how it should go. The mourning was so loud that it disrupted all the people surrounding. Back then the Egyptians had ‘professional wailers’ who followed a burial and made a lot of noise wailing and mourning for the dead. This could have been what happened in this scripture scriptures.

  • There is an instruction of God telling the people not to be like the gentiles who tear their hair out whilst in mourning. When we put all the following elements together we can see the danger the Hebrews were in, because they were to stay around a couple of centuries in Egypt. If they had been treated well, and all stayed the way it was with Joseph, it wouldn’t have been too long before they amalgamated with the Egyptians. But since that didn’t happen, the Hebrews didn’t lose their identity.

  • Gen. 50:15-18 – When Jacob was dead, all the brothers went into fear thinking that Joseph would exert vengeance upon them for what they did to him, and this caused them to lie in order to save themselves. Right from the time of Abraham there was a clear key element of fear. We see it working generation after generation; all the lies they told were generated because of their fear. Just as is mentioned in Deu. 5:9 we can see that there is a curse upon these generations which continued down the line for quite some time. If we look at the time of David it was still happening, and also in the time of Saul etc…all throughout the judges it was still happening, and this went on for quite some time with no one trying to break the pattern.

  • Gen. 50:19-29 – Joseph showed the true character that Christians ought to have also. Joseph knew his place, being humble before God and man, no matter how much power he yielded, he knew God was in charge for he had learnt to master and control that power and himself. There should be an assurance that God has everything in His hands and can turn all intended evil around for our betterment, salvation and deliverance; this is our source of joy, and not fear. He offered the brothers peace, and not a worldly peace of not being at war, but rather a godly peace where enemies become friends. He showed them that he was a faithful servant of the Lord and that they could rely on him to help them and their descendants. All of this was done out of the goodness of his heart which demonstrated itself through actions and not words; by doing things beyond anyone’s expectations. Through his ordeals, Joseph had learnt patience and was now reflecting it in his way of dealing with others, taking the time to explain things. He was doing so kindly, to comfort them, because he had forgiven them and was moved with compassion by God’s love. All of this shows us that Joseph had changed and clearly put his old nature to death along with its passions and desires.

  • Gal. 5:22-24 – Many people say it is impossible to completely put our old nature to death, but we can see that Joseph was able to do it. His example shows us that not only it is possible, but it should be easier for us who have Christ in us, giving us even more strength to do so (this said more is required of us now). We are to put to death our old nature, our mindset, our bad habits and actions etc. Yeshua was the perfect example and we should learn to understand His way of thinking and acting so that we can do the same

  • In the fruit of the Spirit, joy is not the same as happiness; neither is happiness part of the fruit of the Spirit. Joy is knowing that whatever is happening in our life, either good or bad, it comes from God and is there to better us. We can know that God will turn it around for our advantage and that is our source of joy; knowing that at the end we will be Christ-like and He will finish the work He has started in us (Php. 1:6). So unlike happiness, joy doesn’t come from a feeling caused by a good situation, but rather out of a knowing that all situations in our life are in the hands of God and will work to bring salvation and make us Christ-like.

  • In the fruit of the Spirit, goodness is not a matter of words but of deeds. And not only acting out of goodness but also going beyond what is expected or asked of us. For example, if your boss gives you a task to do, exercising the goodness would be to not only complete the given task, but to go that extra mile and exceed what was expected and/or required of you.

  • When Jacob became ill, Joseph presented his 2 sons for a blessing. When Jacob saw Joseph’s sons, he thought only of the goodness of God, which met and also far exceeded his expectations. The reason Jacob only thought of the goodness of God was because he thought he would never see Joseph again, let alone his grandsons, and that was more than he could have ever hoped for or expected. And that is who God is: Yahweh Jireh – God who provides, even beyond expectations.

  • Here we see at work what the apostle Paul spoke about concerning God (Eph. 3:20). The Lord has His Spirit working in us and that enables Him to do anything beyond what we could ask or imagine He would do.

  • Eph. 3:14-21 – As a side note everyone needs to understand this reality spoken by Paul, when we talk about Christ in us. When we say Christ in us, it is through the Spirit as we follow Yeshua’s commandments… V.16 is clear that it is when empowered by God’s Spirit in our inner man that the Messiah lives in us, and as this happens we get rooted and founded in love. Also according to Yeshua Himself, the Holy Spirit is sent to bring to remembrance all what Yeshua said (Joh. 14:26). To be able to do that means that the Word needs first to be in us! So we have Yeshua indwelling us through His Spirit as we take in the Word, and the proof of this being the moving in power. These are the first personal steps for a believer, for those who want to call themselves Christians. It’s not coming from a teacher but it has to come from us, this is what building our relationship with God is about: taking in the Word. If we don’t understand anything of what we’ve read or can’t remember it, that means that we have closed ourselves from Yeshua, and therefore we probably have to work on forgiveness and repentance, as they are the 2 major obstacles to draw close to Yeshua (but we have seen that grief can do that too, in fact anything that keeps us from being able to focus on Him). And remember that being filled by God’s Spirit happens when we are ready to do the works, are obedient and go ask Yeshua to baptize us, for He only baptizes in His Spirit (Joh. 7:37-39). Then the Holy Spirit empowers us with gifts. If any of us have had any gifts before coming to Jesus, before learning Who He is and His ways then what we have is from the enemy. It’s a false teaching to say that because we are believers we share in gifts. Those are for disciples, the ones ready to do the work and if we are or were unwilling, afraid or simply not ready to do them then we wouldn’t have been empowered, or at least not by God’s Spirit.

    When many people get to that point and a congregation grows strong in God’s power, with abounding love then we face what Paul was facing with the congregation in Ephesus. They had all established the Godhead in themselves being a temple for Him, so he showed that congregation the next step: the same but to be applied externally as if each of them was just a brick to build Yeshua’s church. And this is what this prayer is about, it’s not for the individual but for the congregation as a whole: here, Paul, having considered the Messianic Congregation at Ephesus completely formed, as to every external things, prays that God may come down and dwell in it (in accordance with Solomon dedication of the Temple in 2 Chr. 6:1).

  • Now going back to our story we see Jacob switching the blessings for Manasseh and Ephraim. This seems to be continuing the pattern that Jacob already established. Either through the inspiration of God or something else, Jacob perpetuated the same pattern with Joseph’s sons as he did with his own sons, because Reuben lost his birth right too. So in one hit Jacob took out what was meant to be the normal succession line, and put it out of whack not only for his sons but also for his grandsons.

  • Gen. 48:20 – Jacob added a blessing to the sons of Joseph. Today many Jewish fathers will bless their sons on the Friday evening with this same blessing. What was so special about Ephraim and Manasseh? Although they were born in the pagan, idolatrous culture of Egypt, they remained faithful to the worship of the one true God of Israel. Speaking this blessing should be our desire for our children, that despite being surrounded by a sea of questionable ethics and morals, they will grow up to be of good character, holding onto faith in the one true God and worshipping Him in spirit and in truth; keeping the Torah that has been written on the hearts of those who follow Yeshua. When we bless our children to be like Ephraim and Manasseh, we are exalting them to resist the negative peer pressure and immorality of the society in which they live, and instead hold true to the values we have taught them from God’s word (Rom. 12:2).

  • Gen. 48:5-6 – Through this blessing Jacob elevated his 2 grandsons to be on an equal level with his own sons; he took them out of being the sons of Joseph, and called them his own sons; so really there are 14 tribes of Israel if we include Ephraim and Manasseh. They got their own portion of land and were also waving their own flags; they were tribes in their own rights.

  • Gen. 49:1 – So as we go into the chapter 49 we see the blessings for the 12 tribes of Israel, but in fact since Manasseh and Ephraim have been added, that makes 14 tribes of Israel:

    1. Re’uven (Reuben)

    2. Shim’on (Simeon)

    3. Levi

    4. Y’hudah (Judah)

    5. Z’vulun (Zebulun)

    6. Yissakhar (Issachar)

    7. Dan

    8. Gad

    9. Asher

    10. Naftali (Naphtali)

    11. Yosef (Joseph) à In Gen. 48:6 Isra’el tells Yosef that only his other sons, if he gets any, will get the blessing he’ll give them.

    12. Efrayim (Ephraim) à In Gen. 48:5 Isra’el adopts Ephraim as one of his own sons.

    13. M’nasheh (Manasseh) à In Gen. 48:5 Isra’el adopts Manasseh as one of his own sons.

    14. Binyamin (Benjamin)

  • As we see there were 14 tribes with 14 blessings, but Isra’el ends up saying that all these are the 12 tribes of Isra’el with no mention of M’nasheh or Efrayim. So we can deduce from there that Yosef was not to have anymore sons and therefore his 2 sons came under his tribal name. This would also agree with the repartition of the tribes around the tabernacle in Num. 2 where the name of Yosef is not mentioned at all, and the tribe of Levi having no inheritance is named but spread into the other tribes.

    So when the 12 tribes are referred to, M’nasheh and Efrayim can be considered as being Yosef’s, or if we are talking about inheritance, Yosef and Levi are removed.

    This said there is more into this that meets the eyes: the blessings to M’nasheh and Efrayim are of less long term bearing than those for the other tribes which are specifically for the “last days” …which we are in now; so this is important for us even today, and since those blessings are for the last days we have to follow the link here given from the first book of the bible to the last one.

  • Rev. 7:5-8 – Out of the 14 tribes, 2 tribes have disappeared – Dan and Ephraim. From this scripture in revelation we see Joseph’s name is there which means his inheritance/blessing is not completely lost after all. Why? Because the name of Ephraim has been removed and therefore the people of Ephraim have been added back to Joseph, but lost their identity as a tribe.

  • For those who say we don’t have to follow instructions or laws from the bible, this is proof that there are do’s and don’ts from God that are to be followed, and are laws that should still stand today. It was said in the law given to Moses, that whoever was to turn to other gods and serve them would have their names blotted out (Deu. 29:17-20).

  • A careful study of the book of Judges will prove that as a whole, the tribe of Dan fell into idolatry and all of that was stemming from the tribe of Ephraim through a man named Micah. That tribe of Ephraim was forever to be associated with idolatry (Hos. 4:17) – for those wanting to do the study, read the whole book of Judges and then the following specific scriptures concerning the fall of Ephraim – Jdg. 17:1-13; 2:10-11; 18:30; 1:34; 18:12; 13:25; 20:28; 5:8.

  • Read the above scriptures in that order, because from Judges chapter 17 onward is a statement of the historical facts of Israel which have happened before chapter 2 of Judges.

  • For the tribe of Dan, you will need to read Judges 18.

  • Hos. 4:17 – the name of the tribe represents the state of the fallen 10 tribes of the kingdom of Israel, with the Lord commanding them to be left alone to their own lusts, with a seared conscience that is closed to the Lord lest they should be saved (Mat. 13:15; Rev. 22:11). The Lord was basically saying that they should not be saved, but instead go into their own destruction. That specific scripture pertains to the fallen ones within the 10 tribes; there was a remnant from those 10 tribes that had gone into the kingdom of Judah (2 Chr. 11:14, 16; 15:9; 30:1-27; 34:9; 35:17-18; 1 Chr. 9:2-3; Ezr. 6:17; Luk. 2:36; Act. 26:7; Jam. 1:1); so it was not a full destruction of those 10 tribes, but just the wicked ones within.

  • About the blessings given from a father to his children – there are many examples through the bible. One aspect of these blessings is that they seem to be inspired by God himself. Another aspect is that they seem to reflect the character of the persons they are addressed to. In the blessing, the father incorporates the character of the person and what has happened in the history of their life. Finally, at times they seem to convey the will or testament of the father concerning his personal affairs, like the example in 1 Kin. 2:1-12.
    So when done right the blessings are a spiritual matter, and as such are based either or both on prophetical inspiration and/or moral standing, not on worldly, fleshy or carnal components for God is no respecter of persons and doesn’t show partiality (Act. 10:34; Rom. 2:11). In this light we could say that the blessing given to Ephraim and Manasseh emphasises that inheritance is not a matter of station, for the first will be last and the last will be first in the Kingdom of Heaven (Mat. 20:1, 16)

  • Concerning the blessings for the 14 tribes:

    1. Ruben (meaning: behold a son) – In this blessing we can see that Reuben lost his birthright, which could have been due to different reasons, one possible one being to try to supplant his dad. Reuben slept with his father’s concubines. In 2 Sam. 16:21-22, Absalom was advised to take all the concubines of David in front of Israel and sleep with them to show Israel he had taken over. In those times when a man was to take another person’s concubines or wives, it put him in a position of authority/power, and this is how we come to the conclusion that Reuben lost his inheritance due to his thirst for power. According to God’s instructions, the first born male is meant to have a double portion compared to the other males born after (Deu. 21:17). The inheritance of wealth, prosperity and fertility was the birthright which was meant to be part of Reuben’s portion, along with a portion of leadership/kingdom, and an added portion of priesthood. But instead we see that Reuben lost all of that. The birthright of wealth/prosperity/fertility went to Joseph and he got a double portion because it hit his 2 sons as well. The kingdom went to Judah, and the priesthood went to Levi. From the moment Reuben was born, right up to the book of Revelation, you will not find any person of influence coming out of the tribe of Reuben. This said, he still inherited a small blessing of strength, but always as a strong helper and nothing more

    2. Simeon (meaning: to hear; to perceive; wise sayings; understanding; to proclaim) – It’s the same blessing as the tribe of Levi. Levi lost all inheritance, and when you look later on, Simeon had a pitiful inheritance/portion of land in Judea, given to them by the tribe of Judah. They were judged by Jacob for being cruel, ferocious and wicked. Gen. 49:5 in the Septuagint says “Simeon and Levi brethren, accomplished the injustice of their cutting off”. Jacob was basically saying that both of them, through their wickedness, had caused themselves to be cut off from the rest of the tribes. Gen. 49:6 talks about the maiming of cattle, however, in the story of their murders, there was no account of them doing such a thing. Looking at the Hebrew word we find a list of words spelt the same, or very similar meaning a traveller, merchant, or a spy or observer (as bystander), or a foe (an enemy), or a wall and the least likely being the bull. It makes more sense to use the word ‘H7789 Shur’ as an observer when we know they killed the father of the man who raped Dinah, and he was an innocent man who tried to make things right, just a bystander, but they killed him anyway, and all the other males too. The word ‘maim’ means obliterated, which is what they did.

    3. Levi (meaning: attached; properly to twine; unite; remain; abide with) – We see that the Levites were scattered and attached to all the other tribes.

    4. Judah (meaning: praised; to praise; celebrated/celebration; revere/worship with extended hands) – Judah was to lead all the other tribes. Victory was on his side and rulership would stay in his hands until the coming of the Messiah (Shiloh or Siloam as pronounced in Isaiah, means until the coming of the apostle/the sent one/ the messiah). He will wash his robes in the blood of his enemies (like Jesus will do). Gen. 49:12 concerns his doctrines, as in Isa. 55:1, which also links to what Jesus said in Joh. 7:37-39. The blessing of Judah completely pertains to the coming of the Messiah.

    5. Zebulun (meaning: habitation; exalted; to dwell exaltedly; exalted dwelling) – He shall rule over the havens/safe places across the shorelines and he would subdue all the provinces thereof.

    6. Issachar (meaning: he will bring a reward/wage/price; there is a recompense/reward) – This tribe got a blessing of endurance, hardiness, patience in labour and mighty in inland wars; And mighty not because of the greatness of their warriors, but just because they are relentless. They are also mentioned in Jdg. 5:15; 1 Chro. 7:1-5.

    7. Dan (meaning: to judge or be a judge; to set a straight course; plead the cause; to execute judgement and vindicate) – the blessing for that tribe was to be a war-like tribe, not blessed with valour but cunning/scheming. Samson came from that tribe and you can see all his acts came from cunning/scheming. The tribe of Dan has been blotted out.

    8. Gad (has 2 meanings: the first is the correct meaning, but the blessing incorporated the second meaning; 1. Good fortune; fortunate; god of fortune. 2. To crowd upon; attack; invade; overcome; gash; assemble themselves by troops and cut themselves) – The blessing was of military might, valour in battle; they might lose battles but will win the war; in the end they will overcome.

    9. Asher (meaning: happy; to be straight; to be level; to be right – Figuratively it also means: to go forward; to be honest and proper – The last meaning is set right; to go; guide; lead; relieve) – The blessing is abundance, self-sufficiency.

    10. Naphtali (meaning: my wrestling; twisting myself; struggle) – the blessing was to have the swiftness of a deer. Fast in war-like abilities but also in loving kindness, and swift to do the will of the Father, speaking kind words. When we look at the tribe of Naphtali, the first thing we see is that when there was a call for war in order to take the land, they ran the other way, but later on in Judges, in the story of Deborah, she incorporated Naphtali in her song because they came and fought violently; but they had very gentle and kind hearts, with strong words of encouragement.

    11. Joseph (meaning: let him add; Yahweh has added/increased) – The blessing goes with the name; fertility, prosperity, wealth, and a high mental resistance. The more this tribe is oppressed, the brighter it will shine.

    12. Ephraim (meaning: double fruit; fruitfulness; to bear fruit; grow/increase) – This tribe has been blotted out, but the blessing for them was to partake in Joseph’s blessing to become a mighty, numerous people, more than Manasseh.

    13. Manasseh (meaning: cause to forget; forgetting; neglect; remit; remove) – The blessing was also to partake in the blessing of Joseph and become a strong and numerous people. According to the book of Revelation, the tribe of Manasseh is still in place.

    14. Benjamin (meaning: the son of the right hand; right side) – The blessing is war-like; as to be ferocious like a wolf with fortitude, valour and courage.

  • From what we can see of Jacob and Joseph in this portion of Torah, these are the characteristics of the Hebrew people as a whole – Gen. 47:29-30; 50:25 – regardless of the state of their affairs, the Hebrews always keep the promise land in their hearts. Although Jacob had lived the past 17yrs of his life in Egypt, and Joseph nearly all of his life, they never forgot the land God had promised Jacob and his descendants by divine covenant. Ever since God called Abraham out of ‘Ur’, the Jewish people have not lost sight of the promise land give to them through Isaac and Jacob; even when Nebuchadnezzar took the people of Israel captive; they sat by the rivers of Babylon weeping and remembering Zion, vowing to never forget her (Psa. 137:5-6). It is ingrained into the soul of Israel to remember that they have a promise land that is theirs, and they will get it in full. We must understand this eternal longing planted in the Jewish soul; to comprehend the fierce determination of the people of Israel to remain in the land that God promised us, as we have been grafted in through our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Many maintained strong ties to the land of Israel even while living in exile among the nations of the world. It should be the same for us who are now grafted in the commonwealth of the tribe of Israel. We should have that longing to see the lord coming, to be installed in the place which is meant to be ours (Tit. 2:12-15).

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