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)
Excerpts from the Zohar Vol. II
This week the story of Joseph and his brothers and the striking similarities to Yahshua and His life continue. But I want to look more closely at Chapter 46 for other similarities related to how we must surrender ourselves to serving G-d alone. There is a significant turning point in Jacob’s life through this narrative, compared to the others that speak of his life. Just as his sons had come to the place where they acknowledged their sins and repented before their brother, so Jacob seems to do. Perhaps he saw his sorrow as the result of his sins, but now he was beginning to see G-d in a different light. The things that he tried to withhold and protect (Rachel, Joseph, Benjamin), were the very people that were taken from him. Only by surrendering Benjamin, that he gained him. In giving up Benjamin, he preserved the life of Benjamin, and the nation. In giving up control, he gained much more in a context that far surpassed his personal gain of getting his son back.
All the people belonging to Jacob not including Jacob’s sons’ wives, or Jacob himself, numbered 70. But in Acts 7:14 the scripture states “Yosef then sent for his father Ya’akov and all his relatives, seventy-five people.” How do we account for this disparity? It is in the way the people were counted. In Genesis 46 :26-27, the scripture states “All the people belonging to Ya’akov coming into Egypt, his direct descendants (not counting Ya’akov’s sons’ wives), totaled sixty-six. The sons of Yosef, born to him in Egypt, were two in number. Thus, all the people in Ya’akov’s family who entered Egypt numbered seventy.”
According to Barnes Notes on the Bible, it is evident that Stephen has followed the account which is given by the Septuagint. In Genesis 46:27, that version reads, “But the sons of Joseph who were with him in Egypt were nine souls; all the souls of the house of Jacob which came with Jacob into Egypt were seventy-five souls.” This number is made out by adding these nine souls to the 66 mentioned in Genesis 46:26. The difference between the Septuagint and Moses is, that the former mentions five descendants of Joseph who are not recorded by the latter. The “names” of the sons of Ephraim and Manasseh are recorded in 1 Chronicles 7:14-21. Their names were Ashriel, Machir, Zelophehad, Peresh, sons of Manasseh; and Shuthelah, son of Ephraim. Why the Septuagint inserted these, it may not be easy to see. But such was evidently the fact; and the fact accords accurately with the historic record, though Moses did not insert their names. The solution of difficulties in regard to chronology is always difficult; and what might be entirely apparent to a Jew in the time of Stephen, requires closer examination by those who lived in different generations beyond this time, including those living in current times.
So, Jacob had to surrender the people he loved the most to G-d through their deaths or capture as he developed an understanding that G-d is first, above all others. We see a similar concept in Chapter 47 with the people living in Egypt and Canaan. Recall that the Israelites were safely tucked in Goshen in the north of Egypt where there was plenty of farming land and pastured for their flocks. The sequence goes like this: first the people bought grain. When the money was gone, livestock was surrendered for grain/food. After the livestock was no longer available, they people had to surrender their land and themselves as slaves who worked managing the land that Pharaoh now owned. Once they surrendered everything they had, Yosef provided seed for them to grow crops with the condition that they give 20 percent to Pharaoh and keep 80 percent for themselves to buy food, seeds, and all they needed to support their families. It is only when they surrendered all, that they were blessed with the resources from G-d though Yosef with a new system of priorities. Through tithing and management by one of G-d’s people, the Egyptians and Canaanites became independent and survived the famine.
Parallels between Yosef and Yahshua are revealed in this parashah. The first in Chapter 45 is Joseph revealing his identity the second time he meets with his brothers. They had no idea who he was although they looked at him face to face. Note the emphasis on Judah. Similarly, Jews from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (Judah collectively) and the Levites did not recognize Yahshua as the coming Messiah ben David as He walked among them. Joseph could no longer hold his feelings in front of his attendants (grace), but he exhibited pure justice at their first meeting to teach them a much needed lesson. Interestingly and in contrast, G-d’s laws were given first. Then G-d, through grace and love, sent Yahshua in the role of a willing Servant of His Father to walk among men to clarify and validate His Torah versus the Oral Torah often considered by traditional Jews equal to and even of more import at the expense of negating or overriding G-d’s Torah. This is the Torah Yahshua and Sha’ul warned against in that the Oral law was expanded upon and interpreted according to the traditions of men with legalistic observance. 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 the nations and to the other 10 tribes.
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.” This is illustrated through the Israelites being sent to Goshen which was the best land in Egypt and the previously described narrative concerning the Egyptians and Canaanites. Another parallel concerns the role of Yahshua in His earthly ministry and His role in the heavens. On the earthly plane, Yahshua came ahead of His Father and the Ruach to teach us how to emulate Him and learn how He wants us to relate to Him and to fellow humans. This is what is meant in 2Cor. 16. G-d provided us His Torah in writing and in the flesh that we might prepare for the drought that is about to strike whereby the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) will no longer be present on earth. YHVH/Yahshua provided the provision (Sukkah) for the 7 year Tribulation likened unto the famine both physically through shelter and food, and spiritually through Yahshua’s presence. On the heavenly plane, the Book of Revelation assures us that 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 everything the believer will require during the spiritual famine of 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 as he lived 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 either before or during the Tribulation; some will be sealed to serve G-d through the Tribulation; and those of Judah who accept Yahshua will be martyred for their belief and trust in Yahshua realized during the Tribulation. No matter how or when those who were called and chose to respond are saved according to 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’t 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 states “… 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.” To know G-d is to know Yahshua.
Genesis 45:8-12 reveals more similarities between Joseph’s life and purpose and 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. After the death of Joseph and those of that generation, the Egyptians and a new Pharaoh that knew not Joseph feared the success and numbers of the Israelites. The Egyptians enslaved the Israelites taking away their privileges, similar to what happened during the Nazi regime during WW II. 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.
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15-28
This passage describes 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 Levi] 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 be no more when Yahshua gathers in 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…Ezek. 37:21-22. This is the hope that we have in YHVH/Yahshua that we will reside with Him forever; that He will be our G-d and we will be His people. Finally 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. 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 John Chapter 14 and 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 parashah; two weeks ago in specific detail. Therefore 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.”
These commentaries are written for your consideration and continued exploration into the Torah. Although some traditional expositions and explanations may be unverifiable by Torah, others have application at a deeper level that some may not yet understand but deserve consideration. We must remember to compare everything we read to the Torah for reliability and validity. Anything less is man’s wishful thinking, imagination, or ego.
Rabbi Tamah Davis