Parashah 11: Vayigash (He approached)

Parashah 11: Genesis 44:18-47:27

“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” (Genesis 44:18).

Judah pleads for Benjamin’s life and the life of his father who will die if Benjamin is not returned.   Judah intercedes as the ‘redeemer’ for Benjamin as well as for all the brothers, Isra’el.   Judah is the tribal lineage of Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, who came not only to intercede for Isra’el, but also the nations.  Located in the tribal inheritance of Benjamin is the city of Elohim, Jerusalem, the place where His name dwells and the high priest ministers to him.

 “But because he [Yeshua] lives forever, his position as cohen does not pass on to someone else; and consequently, he is totally able to deliver those who approach God through him; since he is alive forever and thus forever able to intercede on their behalf. This is the kind of cohen gadol [high priest] that meets our need — holy, without evil, without stain, set apart from sinners and raised higher than the heavens…” (Hebrews 7:24-26).

Joseph has tested his brothers numerous times to find out if they had repented of their sin against him and to know what was in their hearts. He has come to believe they deeply love their father and know that if he loses his youngest son, it will kill him.  They want to protect their youngest brother as well as their “gray haired” father (Proverbs 20:29).  As they have walked their spiritual journey to and from Egypt numerous times, they have been convicted, challenged and unified as brothers.

“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.  He wept aloud, and the Egyptians heard, and Pharaoh’s household heard.  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.  Yosef said to his brothers, “Please! Come closer.” And they came closer. He said, “I am Yosef, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 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. 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. God sent me ahead of you to ensure that you will have descendants on earth and to save your lives in a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:1-7).

Joseph could not contain himself any longer.  His grief from years of feeling lost in a foreign culture was finally released. His heartache from being separated from those he loved was finally over.  He wept.  He wept so loud the Egyptians heard him along with everyone in Pharaoh’s house. 

The Hebrew words for ‘he wept loudly’ are vyiten et qolow.  Within that phrase is the little word et, את , the alef and the tav that represents Yeshua.  In the midst of Jacob’s weeping loudly was Yeshua.  Salvation had come to Joseph, the reality of Yeshua restoring the brothers, the nation of Isra’el.

Joseph’s brothers are dumbfounded.  The phrase is “they were troubled at his presence.” The Hebrew word ‘troubled’ comes from bahal and means ‘dismayed.’ “When Rabbi El’azar would read this verse, he would weep: “If the rebuke of flesh and blood is thus, how much more so the rebuke of the Holy One, blessed be He!”

Joseph tells everyone except his brothers to leave.  He asks them to “Come close.”  A few verses later he tells them “Here! Your own eyes see and the eyes of your brother Benjaimin that it is my own mouth speaking to you” (Genesis 45:12).  Rashi suggests the brothers needed further proof that Joseph was truly their brother so he draws them closer to reveal his heritage. “Your own eyes see [my glory] and  that I am your brother for I am circumcised as you are and, furthermore, “That my mouth speaks to you” in the Holy Language [Hebrew].”

Joseph embraces Benjamin and weeps.  He weeps on his other brothers and they talk with one another.  Joseph tells his brothers to return home.  They are to bring their father, their wives and their children to live in the land of Egypt.  Their spiritual journey continues as they obey a brother they “did not recognize.”  They are delivered from their sin through the forgiveness of Joseph.  As they obey his instructions, they set in motion a great family reunion.

It would be a monumental project moving a nation of people from one place to another, especially for an old man like Jacob.   Elohim’s treasured possession would need special attention.  Joseph understood this and sent wagons to escort his father’s family to their new homeland.

The wagons and the animals pulling them would be proof that Joseph was alive and waiting for his father in a distant land.  The Torah gives an instruction for an atonement when someone is found murdered in a field and no murderer is found.  A heifer is to be taken to a vadi where its neck is broken.  All the leaders nearest to where the victim was found were to wash their hands as a statement that the blood was not shed by their hands nor did they know who shed the blood (Deuteronomy 1:1-9).  With the living animals pulling the wagons, Rashi suggests that Jacob knew his son had not been murdered because the animals were alive.  He also suggests the wagon was a sign to  Jacob as this was the instruction Joseph was learning when he left home to find his brothers.

Joseph makes sure his brothers have enough provision for their journey and each brother is given a new set of clothes.  Not only had they been forgiven of their sin, they have been purified.  They also received a new status; they became the brothers of the second man in authority over all Egypt. 

Benjamin received 7 ½ pounds of silver and 5 sets of new clothes.  Benjamin had not taken part in the brothers’ sin nor did he need to be purified.  Five is the number of grace or favor.  Joseph is showing Benjamin special favor, his younger brother from his mother Rachel.  Seven has the spiritual significance of completion while eight is the number of new beginnings.  Seven and half pounds of silver suggests these brothers are halfway between the completion of the last 23 years of struggle and a new beginning.  They still have a journey to complete – telling their father everything that has happened to them in Egypt.

Joseph sends ten donkeys loaded with Egypt’s finest produce as well as ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread and food for the return journey.  The number 10 speaks of divine perfection as well as power and protection.  By sending 10 male and 10 female donkeys, Joseph is reminding his brothers, and eventually showing his father, that what happened in the past had divine purpose and holds prophetic vision for Isra’el.

Still aware of their sibling rivalry, Joseph doesn’t completely trust them and warns them,

“Don’t quarrel among yourselves while you’re traveling” (Genesis 45:24).

El Shaddai knew that Jacob would hesitate to move his family to a pagan land even if his son was alive.  He may doubt that Joseph was the same young man who disappeared 23 years earlier, the young man with whom he had a deep spiritual connection.   For over two decades, Joseph had lived in the Egyptian court and had become the second highest ranking official in Egypt.   He may not have only taken on an Egyptian lifestyle, but perhaps he chose to serve their gods forgetting his Hebrew roots.   The wagon sent a second message:

Do not fear, father. I am still your son, Yosef. I have withstood the influence of Egypt. I rule the people in their culture, but it does not rule me.  The world I once knew, that world of Avraham, Yitz’ak and you, my father,  is still alive and exists within my household. I have confronted the problems and challenges of Egypt, yet I was able to assimilate my world, the world of my youth, into Egypt. This land which is opposed to all that I was taught in my youth, all the morals, beliefs and ideals that you instilled in me, has not affected me.  Father, do not fear! I am still Yosef your son.”

The Foreign Jesus

The Greek Jesus

Because Joseph is dressed like an Egyptian, talks like an Egyptian and lives like an Egyptian in an Egyptian palace,  his brothers do not recognize him.  Though it was important for him to have an Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife to assimilate into the culture that kept him alive, it was not who he really was.  He was still a Hebrew, a son of Jacob who maintained his faith in the El Shaddai of his father.  He named his children, Manasseh and Ephraim with his former life still held in his heart.   He did not at any time embrace the gods of Egypt even with a wife whose father was a high priest for the sun god Ra.

Pharaoh had seen the power of El Shaddai living in Joseph and the wisdom that allowed his country to be protected from the torment of the famine.  Joseph is sometimes called ‘Joseph the Righteous’ because of his great faith in El Shaddai and his ability to live as a Hebrew among the Egyptians without compromising his walk of faith in the Elohim of Isra’el.  

Today, many Jewish people do not recognize their own Jewish Messiah because he has been clothed in the garments of other gods and goddesses.  False religious  traditions from Egypt, Greece and Rome have assimilated not only culturally into Christianity,  but also spiritually with a pagan worship system of idolatry.   These traditions embrace false gods and goddesses like Ishtar (Easter), Saturn (Christmas) and Ra (the day of Sun) who cannot deliver from sin and guilt nor have the power to bring forth repentance, forgiveness and purification from sin.    

Jewish people who see the Greek Jesus have no desire for him.  They know that many of the commands given to them by HaShem were for all time, throughout their generations.  When they see the Sabbath has been forsaken for Sunday or those who claim to love Elohim eat all manner of unclean foods, they shy away from learning about their own salvation.  The Shema or the foundation of all Jewish prayer and faith speaks about Elohim being echad or ‘one.’ When they hear of the trinity dividing HaShem into three separate parts and worshipped individually, they turn away.  They are waiting for their Messiah, but because of anti-semitic doctrines that have removed every Biblically Jewish tradition from the faith, they cannot see him.  They cannot see the Elohim of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Sha’ul says their minds are veiled because they don’t know Messiah Yeshua, but they can’t know him through the people, language and the culture in which he is now presented (2 Corinthians 3:14-15).  The prophet Jeremiah promised a new covenant for the House of Judah and the House of Isra’el, but its provisions have been hijacked by non-Jews and transformed into a religion that is foreign and not palatable for the brothers and sisters of Yeshua. Even using the terms Jesus Christ make them believe that the leader of the Christian faith has a first and last name, a name that has nothing to do with them. 

The Jewish Messiah

Jewish Yeshua

The Jewish Messiah taught the Torah and that nothing in it would end until there was a new heaven and earth (Matthew 5:17-18).  He is the prophetic vision of the Feasts of Elohim found in Leviticus 23.  He instituted the new covenant promised by Jeremiah to Isra’el at Pesach (Passover), was buried on Matzah (Feast of Unleavened Bread), rose from the dead on HaBikkurim (Feast of Firstfruits).   His Father poured out His Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh on the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot ten days after Yeshua ascended into the heavens.  Yeshua will return as King of kings on Yom Teruah, judge the nation of Isra’el on Yom Kippur and set up his Millennial Kingdom and rule from Jerusalem beginning on Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).  He never changed the Sabbath, but taught he is Lord of the Sabbath.  He never ate unclean foods nor taught that his Father’s dietary laws had changed.  He told the Jewish people at Hanukkah (Feast of Dedication) that he and his Father are echad. His name was known before the foundations of the world and was given to Joseph before he married Miryam.  That name is Yeshua which means ‘salvation.’  As the son of man, he is Yeshua ben Yosef; as the Son of God, he is Yeshua ben Elohim.

He is Alive!

“Yosef is still alive!  He is ruler over the whole land of Egypt!’  He [Ya’akov] was stunned at the news; he couldn’t believe them…. It was only when he saw the wagons which Yosef had sent to carry him that the spirit of Ya’akov their father revived”  (Genesis 45:26-27). 

When first hearing the news that Joseph was alive and was a great ruler over Egypt, Jacob’s heart is filled with disbelief and shock.  He has been a doubter, especially when it came to his sons’ integrity, “he couldn’t believe them.”  It was only after seeing the wagons “his spirit revived.” The Hebrew word for ‘spirit’ in this verse is ruach, the same word used for the Spirit of Elohim.  In order for a spirit to revive, it must have been dead. When Jacob was shown the bloodied coat many years earlier, he immediately believed his beloved son to be dead.  Hearing the news that his son was actually alive, jolted his spiritual heart and it began beating again, pumping spiritual life through his body.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Revive or chayah – חיה – chet, yod, hey

inner room (heart) finished work revealed

The history of Jacob began with “when Yosef was seventeen,” but there is no mention of him again until there is a famine and he hears there is grain in Egypt. As Jacob, he sends the sons of Isra’el  down to Egypt for food.  When the men return to their father, he is still referred to as Jacob.  When Benjamin is taken to Egypt, Jacob’s spirit further succumbs believing evil will happen to his youngest son.  Now, his spirit has been revived.

In the Targum Onkelos, the word ‘prophecy’ is added to the phrase “the spirit [of prophecy] of Jacob their father revived” giving an interesting allusion to the passage.  Because Jacob had been in deep mourning for 22 years, he had no joy and lacked the ‘spirit of prophecy.’ When his spirit revived, the Divine Presence of El Shaddai returned. He was filled with joy and the ‘spirit of prophecy’ returned to Isra’el. 

Joy and prophecy are connected several times in Scripture (1 Samuel 10:5-6, 16:15-23, 2 Kings 3:14-18).  It is believed that a prophetic message can only be received when there is joy, and nothing awakens and feeds the human soul more than the joy intrinsic to music. According to rabbinical literature,  it was the gentle music of Serach, Jacob’s granddaughter, that enabled Jacob to receive the incredible news that Joseph was still alive.  As this daughter of Asher played the lyre and sang, the music opened Jacob’s grieving heart allowing it to feel joy again, thus reviving his spirit. To be a woman mentioned in a genealogy means that Serach’s life held great importance and this may be the reason (Genesis 46:17).

Hebrew Word Pictures

Serah or Serach – שרח – shin, resh, chet

the glory of the head inner room (heart)

Jacob has a prophetic vision at Be’er Sheva and El Shaddai tells him not to be afraid to go to Egypt.  It is in Egypt that Elohim will make him into a great nation.   With the anticipation of reuniting with Joseph and the continuing promises of El Shaddai, he loads the wagons and travels to Egypt with his sons, grandsons, daughters, granddaughters and all his descendants.

Isra’el Enters Egypt

A small nation of seventy people enters Egypt though the book of Acts records 75.  There are two views as to why there is this discrepancy.   The first is that Hebrew letters are used as numerals and could be interpreted several different ways.    The second thought is that the sons of Manasseh and Ephraim, who Jacob accepted as his own sons,  were counted as part of the nation of Isra’el along with Joseph and his wife (1 Chronicles 7:14-21).

Because Reuben and Simeon lost their leadership roles in the family due to sinful behavior,  Judah is sent ahead of the caravan to guide the group into the land of Goshen.   Judah, the brother who wanted to sell Joseph into slavery,  now guides the nation of Isra’el leading them from famine into a fruitful land. He has been given the scepter and draws the family closer towards the Promised Land.

“He presented himself to him, fell on him and wept on his neck for a long time” (Genesis 46:29).

Joseph prepares his chariots and heads to Goshen to see his father.  The Hebrew word for ‘presented’ is vayera and actually means ‘appeared.’  This word is generally used for the sudden appearance of angels or Elohim.  To Jacob, his son ‘appeared’ to him as the glory of El Shaddai.  Maimonides believed that a son in this culture would never fall on his elderly father out of respect and postulated that Jacob was the subject of the verb ‘to fall’ and thus it was Jacob who fell on Joseph, the one who appeared to him as the glory of El Shaddai.

Now Isra’el says to Joseph, “Now I can die, because I have seen your face and seen that you are still alive” (Genesis 46:30).  These words are similar to what the prophet Simeon said when he saw Yeshua in the Temple on the day of his redemption, “Now, Adonai, according to your word, your servant is at peace as you let him go; for I have seen with my own eyes your yeshuah [salvation]” (Luke 2:29-30).

Isra’el, like his grandfather Abraham, had the hope of the ‘resurrection of the dead.’  Just as Abraham symbolically received Isaac ‘back from the dead;’ Jacob receives his beloved Joseph ‘back from the dead’ (Hebrews 11:17-19).

Joseph presents five of his brothers to Pharaoh who asks their profession.  They respond they are shepherds which is an abhorrent occupation to Egyptians.  All of Joseph’s brothers were shepherds and probably excellent at animal husbandry like their father so Pharaoh allows Joseph’s family to live in Goshen.  Pharaoh has such high respect for Joseph that he even shows favor to his brothers by putting them in charge of his own livestock.

Joseph also presents his father to Pharaoh. Jacob blesses Pharaoh as he enters the king’s presence and Pharaoh is humbled by this man.   He asks him his age and Jacob replies that his pilgrimage on the earth has been 130 years, less than his father and grandfather, and very difficult (Genesis 47:10). Perhaps having known Joseph and seen his great wisdom and faithfulness to Elohim,  Pharaoh now understands that it came from the greatest patriarch alive at this time.  Before Jacob leaves Pharaoh’s presence, he blesses the greatest, most powerful king of the world a second time (Hebrews 7:7).

The content of Jacob’s blessing is not written, but perhaps it was a blessing for taking care of his son and now, his family.  Isaiah 19:23-25 says that in the day of Elohim, along with Isra’el and Assyria, Egypt will be blessed by El Shaddai and called His people.  Perhaps, with his spirit of prophecy, Isra’el speaks this prophetic word over Pharaoh and Egypt.  By blessing the king twice, the blessing was established by El Shaddai.

Though Isra’el had been brought out of Canaan and the family reunited, the famine continued.  It became so severe that money was collected for grain until there was no money; livestock was traded until there was no more livestock; land was relinquished until all of Egypt was owned by Pharaoh.  The people were reduced to servitude, city by city.   They were given seed to plant and from the crops twenty percent was returned to Pharaoh.  This is how Egypt survived the famine and was able to grow into a great nation in the centuries following the famine.   Isra’el lived in Egypt 17 years.  His sons acquired possessions, were productive and their numbers multiplied greatly.

Yeshua, His Hebrew Name

“Here is how the birth of Yeshua the Messiah took place. When his mother Miryam was engaged to Yosef, before they were married, she was found to be pregnant from the Ruach HaKodesh.  Her husband-to-be, Yosef, was a man who did what was right; so he made plans to break the engagement quietly, rather than put her to public shame.  But while he was thinking about this, an angel of Adonai appeared to him in a dream and said, “Yosef, son of David, do not be afraid to take Miryam home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Ruach HaKodesh. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘Adonai saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins”(Matthew 1:18-24).

“Seeing Yeshua from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him and screamed at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Yeshua, Son of God Ha‘Elyon? I implore you in God’s name! Don’t torture me!” For Yeshua had already begun saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of this man!” (Mark 5:6-8).

“On the eighth day, when it was time for his b’rit-milah [circumcision], he was given the name Yeshua, which is what the angel had called him before his conception” (Luke 2:21).

“Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; that in honor of the name given Yeshua,  every knee will bow — in heaven, on earth and under the earth — and every tongue will acknowledge  that Yeshua the Messiah is Adonai — to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

“Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has cupped the wind in the palms of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!” (Proverbs 30:4)

Hebrew Word Pictures

Yeshua (Salvation) – ישוע – yod, shin, vav, ayin

the finished work, the glory of the binding, understand

-the finished work consumed by the nails, see

Haftarah (Readings from the Prophets)

Ezekiel 37:15-28

B’rit Chadashah (New Testament Readings)

Acts 7:9-16

Midrash Vayigash: Messiah ben Joseph and the Suffering Servant

Discuss the similarities between the ‘suffering servants,’ Joseph and Yeshua.  The  life of Joseph gives witness to Yeshua as Messiah ben Yosef (see Study Helps for a list.)

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