Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah#11: Vayigash (He approached) Genesis 44:18-47-27
Haftarah: Yechezk’el (Ezekiel) 37:15-28
B’rit Chadashah: Acts: 7:9-16 (specifically vv.13-15)
This week’s parashah contains other similarities between the life of Yosef and Yahshua, especially the timing Yosef uses to reveal himself to his brothers. He waited until the second meeting at which time his brothers did not recognize him although they saw him previously. This is extraordinary in light of the fact that the Jews will not recognize Yahshua until His second appearance. Then it will be a type of “V-8” moment, I surmise. Also, note the emphasis on Judah. Similarly, Jews from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (Judah collectively) did not recognize Yahshua as the coming Messiah ben David as He walked among them. As Joseph could no longer hold his feelings in front of his attendants (grace), he exhibited pure justice at their first meeting. Interestingly, G-d’s laws were given first, then G-d, through grace and love, sent Yahshua as a willing servant of His Father to walk among men to clarify His Torah versus the rabbinical Torah so prominent and revered at the expense of negating or overriding G-d’s Torah. When Yahshua returns however, justice will be the order of the day as written in the book of Revelation. Yahshua will reveal Himself to Judah once more in the presence of Judah’s brother and the world.
Joseph reveals to his brothers that he is indeed the brother they sold into bondage for silver. Likewise, Judah will be reminded that Yahshua was sold into the hands of Pilate for silver. Joseph reveals to his brothers that although the famine will last for seven years, he made provisions for them stating in Gen. 45:7; “G-d sent me ahead of you to ensure that you will have descendants on earth and to save your lives in a great deliverance.” How stunning, awesome, and humbling this comment is when we consider the parallel to Yahshua once again. We can examine this on the earthly and heavenly planes. On the earthly plane, Yahshua came ahead of His Father and the Ruach to provide a living example of how we are to act towards G-d, humans, and the environment by following G-d’s ways. He provided us instructions (His Torah) as a way to prepare for the upcoming famine when the Ruach (Holy Spirit) is no longer available on earth as we discussed last week. YHVH/Yahshua provided the (Sukkah) for the 7 year Tribulation likened unto the famine physically through shelter and food, and spiritually through Yahshua’s presence. On the heavenly plane G-d will seal 144,000 from the 10 tribes to witness to Judah during the famine (Tribulation). Therefore, the abundance of G-d’s Torah and the message of the coming Kingdom will provide during the spiritual famine during that time. G-d will also provide for those sealed to serve Him at that time both spiritually and physically. The great deliverance Joseph spoke of then has no greater relevance than that of the coming deliverance of true believers (defined by Yahshua in the seven-fold witness in Revelation). Some will be raptured and taken before the Tribulation; some will be sealed to serve G-d through the Tribulation; and some from Judah will be saved although at this time they will be martyred for their later belief in Yahshua realized during the Tribulation. No matter how or when individuals are saved by G-d’s standards, deliverance is at hand with Yahshua having already prepared the way.
Let us examine a “New Testament” scripture that validates this concept. In John 14: 1-7 we read “Don’ let yourselves be disturbed. Trust in G-d and trust in me.” Here is another reference to the seven-fold witness in Revelation. We must both guard (obey) the commands of HaShem, AND carry the testimony of Yahshua. In my Father’s house are many places to live. If there weren’t, I would have told you. Since I am going and preparing a place for you, I will return to take you with me; so that where I am, you may be also. Furthermore, you know where I am going, and you know the way there.’ “Thomas said to him, ‘L-rd, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ “Yahshua said” ‘I AM the WAY- the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.’” For those who insist a person cannot be saved unless Yahshua is formally introduced by a missionary or anyone else, and that everyone must dress according to a particular denominational dress-code and the like, Romans 1:18-19 clearly state “what is known about G-d is plain to them, since G-d has made it plain to them. For ever since the creation of the universe his invisible qualities- both his eternal power and his divine nature- have been clearly seen, because they can be understood from what he has made. Therefore, they have no excuse.”
Genesis 45:8-12 reveals more similarities to Yahshua’s life. “So it was not you who sent me here, but G-d [G-d also sent Yahshua through the virgin birth of a spiritual-human kind; rather than through a human sexual union.]; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household and ruler over the whole land of Egypt. G-d made Yahshua ruler over all the universe. Hurry, go up to my father, and tell him, ‘Here is what your son Yosef says’: “G-d has made me lord of all Egypt! Come down to me, don’t delay! You will live in the land of Goshen and be near me- you, your children, your grandchildren, flocks, herds, everything you own. I will provide for you there, so that you won’t become poverty stricken.”
In the second year of the famine, the Vizier of Egypt, Joseph, invited the sons of Israel to live in Egyptian territory. We may compare this to living in the world but not of the world. They settled in the land of Ramses in the country of Goshen. This area was the best in Egypt because both crops and livestock could thrive there. G-d provided for them in the midst of a pagan world. I need to draw an important parallel here related to our current world situation. Let me remind you with the highest degree of love for you that G-d’s Torah does not mention even once starting a revolution, establishing a militia, buying an ark or moving to an abandoned missile silo and hoarding months or even years of supplies. His directions and guidance are simple and true just as it was to Joseph and all other true believers in Deut. 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5 “Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.” And “keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” There are plenty of other scriptures that war us against hoarding that you may research on your own such as Matthew 6:19-20, but I think you get the point.
G-d forewarns us where it counts. His Torah is full of warnings about the sins of the past generations and His punishments that followed, along with the punishments that await those who arrogantly believe the Bible is outdated or mistaken when Yahshua warns us that we will be held accountable for what do and say. He never taught a kingdom of grace as purported by so many Christians. What did he say about the next abomination of desolation? Matthew 25:15-20: 15 reads; “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again. 22If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. 25See, I have told you ahead of time. 26“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.” We need to internalize these truths in our hearts and minds. There are so many who profess to be true believers chasing after the actions of men based on fear and perceived wisdom. However, once again Yahshua tells us that man’s wisdom leads unto death. Be careful! Let’s continue the story in the parashah as a preview of “coming attractions.”
After the death of Joseph and those of that generation, because the Israelites had become quite populace in number, the Egyptians feared potential integration and takeover as has happened in Germany. The Egyptians enslaved the Israelites taking away their privileges, as did the Germans. The Egyptians forced them to build stone cities at Pithom, Ramses, and Heliopolis. Centuries later, Moshe was commissioned to take the Israelites out of Egypt, from the land of Goshen to Sukkoth (G-d’s provision yet again). This was the first of 41 stopping places during the Exodus. If we live long enough, we will see such persecution again. It is foretold throughout G-d’s Torah. We must be spiritually prepared to trust and follow Yahshua’s lead all the way home. If we stray off the King’s highway following after the wisdom of men and false prophets and teachers, we will be lost.
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15-28
This passage described the joining of Ephraim and Judah, two sticks into a single stick during the Messianic era. This concept is reflected in the beginning statement in our parashah: “And Judah approached him [Joseph].”
Ezekiel shares the prophecy given by G-d wherein he takes two sticks and writes on the first “For Judah [which includes Benyamin] and for the children of Israel his companions” ‘and on the second’ “For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.” As Ezekiel puts the sticks close together, G-d is the One who grafts them together, NOT man. G-d explains to Ezekiel that these two sticks represent the House of Israel that was once divided into the Northern Kingdom of the 10 tribes who became not a people and was ruled by Jeroboam, a member of the tribe Ephraim, and the Southern Kingdom that remained under Davidic (Judean) Dynasty. These two sticks will become one under the covering of Yahshua HaMashiach in the not-too-distant future, whereby He will reign over this unified people. This is nothing short of miraculous based on historical evidence of the differences between the peoples of these two kingdoms. Constant bickering over calendars, which group is more righteous, which has the greater calling, and perhaps even who makes the best latkes! This will cease when Yahshua gathers the nations as He mentions in Isaiah 66:19-24; “So says the L-rd G-d”: ‘Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side, and I will bring them to their land. And I will make them into one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be to them all as a king. They will no longer be two nations, and they will never again be divided into two kingdoms.” His purpose will be manifest as described in Ezek. 37:28; “The nations will know that I am Adonai, who sets apart Israel as holy, when my sanctuary is with them forever.” There is no mention of the “Church” as a “new Israel” as taught in replacement theological doctrine, or as a sect of true believers. However, teaching on this subject is for another lesson. The point is that if we want to be grafted in to this single stick of true believers, we need to understand how a true believer is defined and act like one! (See the seven-fold witness in Revelation).
B’rit Chadashah: Acts 7:9-16 (specifically vv.13-15)
We covered this passage in the last two parashot. Today I will address one of the commentaries on the parashah from the Zohar.
Gen. 44:18 reads “Then Y’hudah approached Yosef and said” The Zohar maintains that this was an approach of one world to another so as to join together. Judah and Joseph were leaders and they came nearer and nearer until they united. It is interesting that Judah was willing to stand surety for Benyamin, who is the other tribe connected with Judah and the Southern Kingdom who remained under the Davidic dynasty. Also of interest is the description of v. 18 alluding to a combining of two worlds, the upper and lower. For Jewish tradition teaches that G-d created the lower world as a counterpart to the upper world so that His glory is both on high and below. We can only speculate about the significance of Judah approaching Joseph in that order. Could it be that the “wife” of G-d was approaching the future “bride” of Yahshua as a mother to a daughter? Could it signify a “greater” submitting to a “lesser” in humble subjugation? Judah was certainly older than Joseph. We can say with a great degree of certainty that this union represents the joining of two sticks mentioned in the haftarah. Judah Israel and Ephraim Israel coming together as one family whereas they were once separated and antagonistic toward each other. Let’s look at one other commentary.
In Gen. 45:1 where we are told Joseph sends everyone from before him away except his brothers as he reveals himself. According to the Zohar, “And no man stood with him” is a description of the time when the Holy One [Yahshua as we now know] will take the Community of Israel as His bride. The statement “While Joseph made himself known to his brethren” alludes to the time when the Holy One [Yahshua] will join Himself to Israel, to the exclusion of the idolatrous nations. R. Jesse in the Zohar comments that the aforementioned comment alludes to the time when the Holy one [Yahshua] will raise up the Community of Israel from the dust and will take vengeance on the idolatrous nations. Of that occasion it is thus written: “And of the peoples there was no man with me.” (Is. 63:3) which is analogous in phrasing to the passage “and there stood no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brethren.”
Interestingly however, we are known as “Jews” coming from Yehudim. For it was the tribe of Judah who dominated the Southern Kingdom and were exiled to Babylon. So in reality, it was Judah and not Joseph who conferred his identity upon the people, Judah who became the ancestor of Israel’s greatest king, David, Judah from whom the Messiah was born. Why Judah and not Joseph? The answer lies in the beginning of the parashah as the two brothers confront one another, and Judah pleads for Benyamin’s release. The clue is found at the beginning of Joseph’s story where we read that it was Judah who proposed selling Joseph into slavery: Judah said to his brothers, ‘What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover his blood? Let’s sell him to the Arabs and not harm him with our own hands. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.’ “His brothers agreed. (37:26-7). This is an extremely callous position and statement. As Judah is calling Joseph a brother, he proposes selling him in the same breath. Judah has none of the tragic nobility of Reuben who, alone of the brothers, sees that what they are doing is wrong, and makes an attempt to save him although unsuccessful. At this point, Judah is the last person from whom we expect great things. However, Judah, more than anyone else in the Torah, changes. The man we read of all these years later is not what he was then. Then he was prepared to see his brother sold into slavery. Now he is prepared to suffer that fate himself rather than see Benjamin held as a slave. AS he says to Joseph: Now my lord, let me remain in place of the boy as your lordship’s slave, and let him go with his brothers. How can I return to my father without the boy? I could not bear to see the misery which my father would suffer” (44:33-34). It is a precise reversal of character. Callousness replaced with concern. Indifference to his brother’s fate has been transformed into courage on his behalf. He is willing to suffer what he once inflicted on Joseph so that the same fate should not befall Benyamin. At this point Joseph reveals his identity. We know why. Judah has passed the test that Joseph has carefully constructed for him. Joseph wants to know if Judah has changed; he has.
This is an extremely significant lesson for us all. Judah is the first penitent- the first ‘baal teshuvah’- in G-d’s Torah. And where did this attitude originate? Remember the story of Tamar? Through Tamar’s willingness to be sacrificed at the stake rather than embarrass Judah, Judah realized she demonstrated extraordinary discretion and bravery. Judah admitted he was wrong and Tamar was spared as G-d honoured her faith. This was the first time in the Torah someone acknowledged his own guilt. It is also the turning point in Judah’s life. Here is born that ability to recognize one’s own wrongdoing, to feel remorse, and to change- the complex phenomenon known as teshuvah- that later leads to the scenario in this week’s parashah, where Judah is capable of turning his earlier behaviour completely around and head in the direction of ascending to a higher plain in his relationship to G-d. In the context of the essence of the name Judah, we can now understand its significance. The verb lehodot means two things. It means “to thank” which is what Leach had in mind when she gives Judah as her fourth son his name “this time I will thank the L-rd.” However, it also means “to admit; to acknowledge.” The biblical term vidui, “confession.”- then and now part of the process of teshuvah, and according to Maimonides its key element- comes from the same root. Therefore, Judah may also be translated as “he who acknowledges his sin.” The story of Judah and his profound change of heart helps us to understand the true meaning of teshuvah. It is not just an “I’m sorry.” It is “real change”; an internal, spiritual change affecting the soul and our relationship with YHVH/Yahshua.
Rabbi Tamah Davis