Parashah 12: Vayechi (He lived)

Parashah 12: Genesis 47:28-50:26

“Ya’akov lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; thus Ya’akov lived to be 147 years old” (Genesis 47:28).

Jacob lived in the land 17 years and was 147 when he calls for Joseph.  He will soon “sleep with his fathers” and wants his son to swear an oath.

“If you truly love me, please put your hand under my thigh and pledge that, out of consideration for me, you will not bury me in Egypt.  Rather, when I sleep with my fathers, you are to carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried” (Genesis 47:29-30).

The ‘hand under the thigh’ oath was used when Abraham sent Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac.  Joseph putting his hand under his father’s the thigh symbolized the promise of  descendants for Jacob.  He wants Joseph to swear an oath that his bones would be taken back to his father’s land, the land of promise given to Abraham, and buried in the cave with his ancestors.  The presence of Elohim is invoked because Jacob honors the One who gave his family the covenant promises and who would carry out its provisions.  Joseph willingly submits to his father’s request.

The Blessing of Isra’el

“By faith, Ya’akov, when he was dying, blessed each of Yosef’s sons, leaning on his walking stick as he bowed in prayer” (Hebrews 11:21).

Sometime after the oath with his father, Joseph learns that Jacob is dying.  It is Isra’el, not Jacob, who meets with Joseph.  He gathers his strength to sit up in the bed. He recounts how El Shaddai appeared to him at Luz and blessed him.

I will make you fruitful and numerous. I will make of you a group of peoples; and I will give this land to your descendants to possess forever” (Genesis 48:4).

Josephs has his sons with him and it seems from Jacob’s reaction to the young men that he either has not met Joseph’s sons or he does not remember who they are.  They are  probably in their twenties and were just young boys seventeen year earlier when Jacob arrived in Egypt.  Joseph explains the two boys are his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and his father adopts them as his own sons.

“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. The children born to you after them will be yours, but for purposes of inheritance they are to be counted with their older brothers” (Genesis 48:4-6). 

Isra’el Blesses Joseph.

“The God in whose presence my fathers Avraham and Yitz’ak lived, the God who has been my own shepherd all my life long to this day, 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’ak, who they were and what they stood for. And may they grow into teeming multitudes on the earth” (Genesis 48:15-16).

Isra’el asks Joseph to bring his sons  close to him so he can bless them as his “eyes are dim.”  When he blesses Ephraim and Manasseh, he intentionally crosses his arms and places his right hand on the head of Ephraim.   Joseph tries to correct him so that his right hand is on the head of his oldest son, but Jacob responds, “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” (Genesis 48:19).  By blessings Joseph’s sons, Isra’el gives Joseph a double portion of blessing or shechem and his inheritance is greater than his brothers. 

The blessing Jacob pronounced on Joseph’s sons is still used today when blessing sons at the Sabbath meal, “May Elohim make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.” 

Jacob’s Blessings on His Sons

Jacob, not Isra’el blesses his other sons.  On each of them Jacob prophesies what will happen to their tribes in the acharit-hayimim or the last days.

Reuben (Re’uven) –“Re’uven, you are my firstborn, my strength, the firstfruits of my manhood.  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!” (Genesis 49:3-4)

Reuben is Jacob’s firstborn and made him a man. Yet, he is unstable as water.  In Hebrew, mayim means ‘water’ and the word picture symbolizes chaos, thus Jacob prophesies chaos in his son’s life.  Reuben’s position of favor will end because he slept with one of his father’s concubines.  Reuben’s land inheritance is on the eastern side of the Jordan River where modern-day Jordan is located.

Simeon (Shim’on) and Levi (Levi)  – “Shim’on and Levi are brothers, related by weapons of violence.  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.  Cursed be their anger, for it has been fierce; their fury, for it has been cruel.  I will divide them in Ya’akov and scatter them in Isra’el (Genesis 49:5-7).

These two sons men given a blessing together because they acted violently in Shechem together. Jacob curses their anger and their cruelty against men (and even cattle) and calls them “weapons of violence.” The Hebrew letter zayin is the seventh letter of the alef-bet and means ‘weapon.” It represents the seventh commandment, “You shall not murder.  Because of their murderous nature, the descendants of Simeon and Levi would be scattered throughout the land of Isra’el. Levi, the tribe of the priesthood, was given only  cities in the land inheritances of his brothers, living on the tithes and offerings of his kinsmen.  Simeon’s land inheritance was surrounded by Judah’ land inheritance.

Judah (Y’hudah)The prophetic vision given to Judah is powerful and alludes to  Messiah Yeshua. 

“Y’hudah, your brothers will acknowledge you, your hand will be on the neck of your enemies, your father’s sons will bow down before you” (Genesis 49:8).

Judah will have enemies (and has throughout the ages).  His brothers will bow down to him like they did to Joseph.  His brothers will also praise his name.  Judah means ‘praise’ and he will receive from the other tribes that for which he was named.  Through Judah will come their spiritual deliverance from sin as well as their national redemption.

“Judah 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?” (Genesis 49:9)

Jacob mentions two animals in his prophecy over Judah.  First, he mentions a lion’s cub. Judah is a lion’s cub, the shoot of the coming King.  Yeshua is known as the lion from the Tribe of Judah who when provoked will destroy Isra’el’s enemies like a lioness protecting her cubs (Revelation 5:5). 

“The scepter will not pass from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his legs, until he [Shiloh] comes to whom [obedience] belongs, and it is he whom the nations will obey” (Genesis 49:10).

Jacob also prophesies that the scepter will not pass from Judah until King Messiah comes and the nations obey his voice. There are anti-semitic doctrines that say Judah and his descendants, the Jews, are lost for all eternity.  They have suffered at the hands of Christians over the centuries because supposedly ‘they’ rejected and killed ‘the Christ.’  Judah and his descendants will continue to hold the scepter until Shiloh comes.  In Aramaic this is written, “Until Shiloh comes to whom the kingdom belongs.”  

Shiloh is a combination of two Hebrew words, shi and lo meaning ‘a gift to him.’ After his birth, foreign kings brings gifts to Yeshua.  In the Messianic kingdom,  the nations that come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles will bring gifts for the King of Kings (Zechariah 14:16-19).

Hebrew Word Pictures

Shiloh שילו – shin, yod, lamed, vav

the consuming finished work of the binding of the shepherd

“Tying his donkey to the vine, his donkey’s colt to the choice grapevine…” (Genesis 49:11).

The second animal Jacob mentions is the donkey, a beast of burden that represents shalom, well-being, and abundance when referring to a  king.  The donkey is tied to a vine symbolizing the Messianic age when Yeshua will reign in Isra’el and there will be shalom in the Land.   The donkey will no longer be obstinate, but stand peacefully under the vine getting its nourishment from the ‘fruit of the vine.’ 

“Rejoice with all your heart, daughter of Tziyon! Shout out loud, daughter of Yerushalayim! Look! Your king is coming to you. He is righteous, and he is victorious. Yet he is humble — he’s riding on a donkey, yes, on a lowly donkey’s colt” (Zechariah 9:9).

When Yeshua rode the donkey into Jerusalem, the people celebrated as if he was their King by laying down their coats, spreading palm branches and crying out Hoshana or ‘save us.’   Waving palm branches is one of the commands for Feast of Tabernacles, the prophetic vision of the coming Kingdom of Messiah.  The Jews even welcomed him with the words Baruch haba b’shem Adonai” (Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD).  These are the same words Yeshua says they must cry out again before they see him in Jerusalem (Matthew 23:38-39).

Selah

Ishmael was called a ‘donkey of a man’ and would always be at odds with his brothers.  This donkey could be prophetic that during the Messianic era there will finally be shalom between Ishmael and Isaac.

 

Some interpret the ‘vine’ to represent the righteous and the ‘vine branch’ as those who obey the instructions of ElohimYeshua compares himself to the righteous vine, his followers the branches and his Father as the gardener (John 15:1-5).   Those branches on the vine who don’t bear fruit for the Kingdom will be cut off, and those who do, will be pruned in order to bear more fruit.  To be ‘saved’ more than clinging to the vine of Messiah.  We have to bear fruit for the Kingdom or be prepared to be cut off and thrown into the fire.

One of the verses our family recites at our Sabbath dinner as a blessing over the wine comes from John 15.   As Yeshua is the vine and we are the branches, we must remain in him to bear fruit.  It is only when we bear fruit for the Kingdom that we will experience true joy in this life.

“He washes his clothes in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes” (Genesis 49:12).

Most Christian commentaries say this verse refers to the blood of Messiah that took away the sin of the world.  However,  there is only one verse in Scripture that suggests ‘wine’ has anything to do with the shedding of Yeshua’s blood.  It is found in at Yeshua’s last Pesach seder: “Also he took a cup of wine, made the blessing, and gave it to them, saying, “All of you, drink from it! For this is my blood, which ratifies the new covenant, my blood shed on behalf of many, so that they may have their sins forgiven” (Matthew 26:27-28).

Yeshua says something else about that cup of wine. He tells his disciples, “I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29).   This is a clear reference to the Messianic era.  By only focusing on Yeshua’s blood, the prophetic word about the coming Kingdom is overlooked.

The word for ‘robes’ in Hebrew is lebush and is a euphemism for ‘wife.’  Yeshua washes his Bride in overflowing wine, her robes in the “blood of grapes.”  This is not about ‘saving’  his Bride, but cleansing her with wine.  The word ‘washes’ is the Hebrew word kabas and is used for stomping grapes. Yeshua is going to cleanse and refine his Bride as one stomps  on grapes, pressing her into his image.

The prophets Joel and Amos speak of new wine dripping and the hills flowing with milk ‘in that day, ‘ the day of Messiah. The harvest of crops will never stop as the reaper will pass the plower (Joel 3:18, Amos 9:13-14).   Another interpretation that points directly to the Millennial kingdom:

“The days will come in which vineyards shall grow, having each ten thousand vines, and in each vine ten thousand branches, and in each branch ten thousand shoots, and in every one of the shoots ten thousand clusters, and on every one of the clusters ten thousand grapes, and every grape when pressed will give five-and-twenty measures of wine. And when any one of the holy ones shall lay hold of a cluster, another shall cry out, ‘I am a better cluster, take me,’ bless Yahweh through me.”

“His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk” (Genesis 49:12).

This is a further inference to the abundance of agricultural produce for Judah during the Millennial era. The Land will be so fertile that crops and livestock will be immeasurable. Having teeth whiter than milk is an allusion to the abundance of milk consumed in the Land flowing with milk and honey (Leviticus 20:24, Deuteronomy 6:3).

According to a little story in the Talmud, if a person stood next to the synagogue door and poured a glass of milk for each person who passed by, everyone would declare him to be a righteous person who does great acts of kindness.  The commentary continues with an even greater act of kindness than giving a person a cup of milk – it is showing another person the white of one’s teeth in a warm smile. From this story it could be suggested that Yeshua’s acts of kindness during the Messianic era will drip from his brilliant smile.  He will no longer be seen a man of sorrows, but a man who brings eternal joy.

Stomping grapes will give his eyes an appearance of being “darker than wine.”  The Hebrew phrase actually uses the word ‘red’ or chakliyl which can mean ‘dark, flashing and brilliant.’  Yeshua’s eyes will be dark, brilliant, and flash like flames of fire (Revelation 15).  If one needs physical attributes to recognize the Yeshua, it seems his eyes will be dark red, flashing and brilliant and his smile oozing joy.

The land inheritance given to Judah follows the border of the Mediterranean sea, goes south to the Egyptian border and west along the Dead Sea.  Like an island in the middle of Judahs’ inheritance is Simeon’s.

Zebulun (Z’vulun)  – “Zebulun will live at the seashore, and he shall be a haven for ships, and his border at Sidon” (Genesis 49:13).

The land of inheritance given to Zebulun was not on the coast of the Mediterranean or the Sea of Galilee, but in between.  The phrase “shall be a haven for ships” can mean looking towards the sea.   Scrunched between both bodies of water, Zebulun is able to look towards both bodies of water, but is landlocked and no ships will anchor there.  Remember, Jacob’s blessings are prophetic and the final land inheritance has not yet come to pass so Zebulun’s inheritance may one day include a shoreline where ships anchor.

“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by way of the sea, along the Jordan – The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).

Yeshua grew up in Nazareth which is located in the inheritance of Zebulun also known as the Galilee of the gentiles (nations) (Isaiah 9:1).  Zebulun allowed Canaanites to live among them in their land intermarrying and following pagan gods that corrupted the worship of Elohim.  The words “by way of the sea, along the Jordan” may suggest that Zebulun was a place of rest or refuge for those traveling or trading with other countries via the sea.  Finally,  Isaiah speaks of a great light dawning on those in the land of darkness (Isaiah 9:2).  This light in Zebulun can only be the Messiah who would redeem not only the nation of Isra’el from their idolatries, but also the nations as promised to Abraham.

Issachar (Yissakhar)  – “Yissakhar is a strong donkey lying down in the sheep sheds [between two saddlebags].  On seeing how good is settled life and how pleasant the country, he will bend his back to the burden, and submit to forced labor” (Genesis 29:14-15).

Issachar is strong like a donkey with Manasseh’s inheritance situated on his eastern and western borders. He sees the goodness of being settled and chooses to submit himself to laboring on the land.   Issachar means ‘reward’ and Leah believed Issachar was her reward for allowing her servant girl to sleep with Jacob, however this reward came  with a price.  She had ‘hired’  Jacob to sleep with her maidservant by selling mandrakes to Rachel.  From his birth Issachar was a ‘man for hire,’ but not necessarily a slave.  Though ‘forced labor’ may infer slavery, there are no historical indications that Issachar ever became enslaved. “He bent his back to the burden’ is also a euphemism for being faithful in taking on the yoke of Torah.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Yoke or ol – עולayin, vav, lamed

to understand the binding to the leader

Issachar is attributed to understanding ‘the times’ which suggests that the Issachar’s descendants will either be judicious in politics and war or wise in Torah (1 Chronicles 12:32). All of the brothers were under Issachar’s command suggesting they looked to him for leadership.  If the tribe of Issachar labored in the land as farmers, they were probably studying the stars and following the seasons for seedtime and harvest. They would have understood the mo’edim, the ‘appointed times’ of Elohim.

“Through them [Torah] your servant is warned; in obeying them there is great reward [Issachar]” (Psalm 19:11).

Dan (Deen)  – “Dan will judge his people as one of the tribes of Isra’el.  Dan will be a viper on the road, a horned snake in the path that bites the horse’s heels so its rider falls off backward.  I wait for your deliverance, Adonai” (Genesis 49:16-18).

Bilhah, Rachel’s maidservant named her son Dan meaning ‘judge’ because Elohim had judged her, heard her voice and gave her a son.  Samson, one of the greatest judges of Isra’el, came from the tribe of Dan.  Dan’s land inheritance was at the far north of the land near the modern-day border with Syria. 

In this prophetic blessing there is a viper, a horned snake and horse’s heels.  Snakes and vipers are venomous killers.  They attack unsuspecting people by hiding in tall grasses.  Their attacks are generally defensive rather than offensive, but deadly nonetheless.  Dan is not listed among the 144,000 men of the tribes of Isra’el in Revelation  7.  This could be because Elohim judges Dan for attacking the unsuspecting people of Laish and bringing idolatry into Isra’el (Judges 18:19-20).

In Genesis 3, the serpent is told that it will only strike at the heel of the ‘seed of the woman.’  Jacob prophesies that Dan will bite the horse’s heel.  In Revelation 19, Yeshua, the seed of the woman, returns to Jerusalem on a white horse along with his armies.  The rider of the horse ‘judges’ with justice and makes war against the serpent.  The descendants of Dan will strike at the heels of the horse whose rider is called Faithful and True.  Though the rider doesn’t fall off backwards, it may still allude to another reason Dan is not mentioned as part of the redeemed Israelites – he embraces the lies of the serpent and helps to create the idolatrous worship of the anti-messiah in the Temple. 

“I have waited for your salvation, Adonai” (Genesis 49:18).

This is the first time in Genesis the word ‘salvation’ or  yeshua is actually used.  Jacob’s prophecy over Dan speaks the name of Yeshua who would deliver Isra’el from the idolatry and witchcraft the tribe of Dan had introduced. Perhaps Dan realizes his error, but there is nothing he can do about it except wait for salvation. This may also be the first prayer for salvation recorded in Scripture.

Selah

Ephraim is not in the list of tribes in Revelation 7.  Psalm 78 and Hosea 5 speak of Ephraim and how he did not keep the covenant nor live by Elohim’s Torah.  He chose idolatry over worship of Elohim. The priest who had the idols and ephod was from Ephraim.  

 

Gad (Gad)  – “Gad [troop] – a troop will troop on him, but he will troop on their heel” (Genesis 49:19).

Gad’s land inheritance was on the eastern bank of the Jordan River which is today a part of Syria and Jordan.  Gad always had to be ready to defend his land and today only possesses a sliver of his land inheritance. According to the prophecy given by Jacob, Gad will eventually be victorious and possess his complete inheritance.

Gad is known for his great fighting strategies and along with Reuben and half of Manasseh crossed over the Jordan River to fight in front of Isra’el.  After 14 years of battle, Gad had lost none of his fighting men (1 Chronicles 12:14).

Asher (Asher) –“Asher’s food is rich – he will provide food fit for a king” (Genesis 49:20).

Jacob blesses Asher with prosperity and abundance.  His land inheritance was along the Mediterranean coast just north of Haifa.  Asher’s tribe grew by nearly 12,000 in the wilderness and the most blessed of his children seemed to be daughters.  Serach was his daughter, who through her gift of music, helped Jacob accept Joseph was alive bringing back on him the ‘spirit of prophesy.’

Naphtali (Naftali)  – “Naftali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns” (Genesis 49:21).

“Beautiful fawns” can mean ‘beautiful words’ or ‘goodly speech.’  The land inheritance for Naphtali is around the western part of the Sea of Galilee and north.  Capernaum and the Mount of the Beatitudes are located in this area along with the fishing coastlands of the Sea of Galilee.  This is the region where Yeshua lived, taught and went to synagogue.  Perhaps this is what Jacob alludes to when he prophesies beautiful words coming from Naphtali.

“A doe set free” brings a vision of something dancing and leaping for joy.  Because I love to dance, I envision ‘beautiful fawns’ symbolizing Naphtali as a tribe of dancers. 

Joseph (Yosef) – “Yosef is a fruitful plant, a fruitful plant by a spring, with branches climbing over the wall.  The archers attacked him fiercely, shooting at him and pressing him hard; 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, by the God of your 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.  The blessings of your father are more powerful than the blessings of my parents, extending to the farthest of the everlasting hills; they will be on the head of Yosef, on the brow of the prince among his brothers” (Genesis 49:22-26).

Joseph has had a very personal relationship with Elohim. He is not just the Elohim of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, but the El Gibbor (Mighty God) and El Shaddai, the Elohim close to his heart.

Jacob’s prophetic blessing over Joseph is nearly as long as his blessing over Judah and sounds more like a recounting of his life.  El Shaddai has made Joseph fruitful; his two sons are like branches of a vine running over a wall.  As Jacob adopted them into his family as his own sons; they are grafted into Isra’el.

Joseph’s brothers, along with Potiphar’s wife, are like archers.  Their jealousy caused them to attack Joseph with false accusations.  Like a steady bow, Joseph remained strong as his faith in El Shaddai grew.  He walked through each trial and temptation with integrity.  He emerged as an ‘overcomer’ just as his father, Isra’el.

Jacob continues the prophecy for Joseph with blessings of the heavens above, the deep below, and the breast and womb.  These blessings refer to the temporary blessings of fruitfulness.  Joseph’s tribal land inheritance through Ephraim and Manasseh became the most valuable parts of the Promised Land both on the eastern and western sides of the Jordan River. The House of Joseph became the most dominant tribes in Isra’el.

Benjamin (Benyamin) – Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey, in the evening still dividing the spoil (Genesis 49:27).

Benjamin’s land inheritance was tiny, but within its borders were the cities of Bethel, Jericho, Ramah, Gibeon, Mizpah and Jerusalem.  Benjamin, Jacob’s beloved son, was blessed as a ‘ravenous wolf.’  Benjamin had a warlike nature that came out not only in defense of his country,  but also against the depravity within his country (Judges 19-21).   In a prophetic sense, Benjamin’s ravenous wolf, warlike nature was going to  be needed protect and defend the city of Jerusalem, the place where Elohim, put His name, a city which today is still a disputed city.

Four powerful people came from the tribe of Benjamin even though it was the smallest of the twelve tribes (1 Samuel 9:21).  Ehud, a great warrior delivered Isra’el from Moab (Judges 3:12-30).  Saul, became the first king of Isra’el (1 Samuel 9:15-27).  Mordecai and Esther were both from the tribe of Benjamin and were used to deliver the Jews from extinction in Persia (Esther 2:5-7).   Sha’ul, in the new testament also descended from Benjamin (Romans 11:1).

Jacob’s Final Words

“I am to be gathered to my people.  Bury me with my ancestors in the cave that is in the field of ‘Efron the Hitite, the cave in the field of Makhpelah, by Mamre, in the land of Ken’an, which Avraham bought together with the field from ‘Efron the Hitite as a burial place belonging to him–there they buried Avraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Yitz’ak and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah–the field and the cave in it, which was purchased from the sons of Het”

(Genesis 49:29-32).

Jacob requests that he be buried with his ancestors in the cave that was bought by Abraham.  Twice he refers to the land as being purchased so there would never be any question as to who owned the land.   After Jacob utters these words, he breathed his last and was gathered to his ancestors. Only Joseph falls on his father weeping and kissing him. According to Egyptian custom, Jacob was embalmed. 

Selah

The embalming procedure involved washing the body in wine and water from the Nile.  All vital organs and brain, except the heart, were then removed from the body.  This was done because these organs are the first to decompose.  The body was then washed in natron, a mineral salt found in dried lake beds, covered and filled with natron to help it dry out.

After 40 days,  the dehydrated organs were put in jars made of clay.  Different gods’ heads topped the jars as they were protectors of the organs: Imsety (human head) looked after the liver; Hapy (baboon head) looked after the lungs; Duamutef (jackel head) looked after the stomach; Qebehsenef (falcon head) looked after the intestines.

The body was washed again with water from the Nile and rubbed with oils to keep the skin elastic.  The oiled body was stuffed to make it look lifelike and covered again with good smelling oils.  Finally, it was wrapped in linen beginning with the head followed by the neck, toes and fingers.  Arms and legs were wrapped separately and between the layers amulets of the goddess Isis were laid.

While the body was being wrapped, a priest read spells to ward off evil spirits helping the deceased enter the afterlife.  Once the body was completely wrapped,  the arms and legs were tied together with the Book of the Dead placed between the hands. The body was covered with more linen strips and resin to glue the layers together.  A final cloth was wrapped around the body and a picture of the god Osiris was painted on the surface.  To complete the process, a large cloth was wrapped around the entire body, now a mummy.  It was  attached with strips of linen that ran from the top to the bottom and around the middle.  A board of painted wood was placed on top of the mummy before it was lowered into its coffin.  The first coffin was put inside a second coffin.

Once this process was complete, a funeral was held and the family would mourn for 70 days.  After a ritual called the ‘Opening of the Mouth’ was performed,  allowing the deceased to eat and drink, the body in its coffin was placed inside a large stone sarcophagus in the tomb.  Furniture, clothing, valuable objects, food and drink were arranged in the tomb for the deceased.  The body was ready for its journey through the underworld where its heart would be judged by its good deeds on earth.  If it was found to be pure, it would be sent to live for all eternity in the beautiful ‘Field of Reeds.’

 

The process of embalming described above seems identical to the process that occurred for the patriarch, Jacob.  Scripture says the process took 40 days and also records Jacob was mourned for 70 days (Genesis 50:3).  It is after the 70 days that his body was buried. At this time, Joseph requested permission from Pharaoh to take his father’s body back to the burial place of Abraham as he requested before he died.

The family mourned again for seven days in Canaan and the inhabitants of Atad heard the mourning cries. They thought they were Egyptians!  This place beyond the Jordan River was given the name Avel-Mitzrayim meaning ‘mourning of Egypt.’  Jacob was buried in the cave in the field of Makhpelah by Mamre, the burial cave Abraham had bought from Efron the Hittite.

Even after 17 years in Egypt in the best land of Goshen, Joseph’s brothers still do not completely trust Joseph’s righteousness and forgiveness.  They believe he only forgave them to be reunited with his father.  They send him a message as if it’s from their father asking forgiveness for the crimes they committed against him.

“But Yosef said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid!  Am I in the place of God?  You meant to do me harm, but God meant it for good – so that it would come about as it is today, with many people’s lives being saved” (Genesis 50:19).

Before Joseph dies at 110 years of age, after seeing his great-grandchildren from Ephraim and Manasseh, he makes his brothers promise to take his bones to the Promised Land when Elohim takes them out of Egypt.  He, too, is embalmed, but buried in an Egyptian tomb.

“By faith, Josef, near the end of his life, remembered about the Exodus of the people of Isra’el and gave instructions about what to do with his bones” (Hebrews 11:22).

Joseph understood the prophetic value of his life’s struggles and rise to power.  It was to save a nation in order that even more people’s lives would be saved.  He also had been given prophetic understanding about Isra’el leaving the Promised Land as he “remembered about the Exodus of the people of Isra’el.”  

Yeshua’s Burial

“After this, Yosef of Ramatayim [Aramathea], who was a talmid [disciple] of Yeshua, but a secret one out of fear of the Judeans, asked Pilate if he could have Yeshua’s body. Pilate gave his consent, so Yosef came and took the body away.  Also Nakdimon [Nicodemus], who at first had gone to see Yeshua by night, came with some seventy pounds of spices — a mixture of myrrh and aloes.  They took Yeshua’s body and wrapped it up in linen sheets with the spices, in keeping with Judean burial practice.  In the vicinity of where he had been executed was a garden, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been buried” (John 19:48-31).

Haftarah (Readings from the Prophets)

1 Kings 2:1-12

Micah 4:3-5

B’rit Chadashah (New Testament Readings)

Acts 7:9-16

Hebrews 11:21-22

1 Peter 1:3-9  

1 Peter 2:11-17

Matthew 5:21-22

Ephesians 4:26-27

1 Thessalonians 2:13-14

Midrash Vayehi: The Embalming of Isra’el

Jacob was embalmed according to Egyptian custom.  Discuss that process and Jacob’s embalming.  Did Joseph have his father’s organs put in jars with the heads of the Egyptian gods?  Was he wrapped with the Book of the Dead between his hands?  Was there a picture of the god Osiris painted on his linens?  What was so significant about the Egyptian custom that there seemed to be no Hebrew presence when they took the body back to Canaan and those nearby think an Egyptian had died?  Now, discuss the embalming of Isra’el.

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