Parashat Vayechi (And he lived) Genesis 47:28-50:26
Haftarah: I Kings 2:1-12
In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob prophesies concerning his twelve sons (i.e., the twelve tribes of Israel) and what will happen to them in the last days. This section of Scripture is most problematic for those who say that Israel as a people has no more relevance today. Jacob’s words, although not always complementary concerning the tribes, nevertheless affirm that Israel will exist as a people until the very end of this age. Jacob’s words to Judah are usually only partially dealt with. All agree that the foremost implication of this prophecy is that the Messiah will emerge from the tribe of Judah. For many within Christianity, this is as far as they want to take this prophecy. However the message to Judah ends with the words,
“…and to Him will the peoples assemble.” Genesis 49:10
In one sense, this sentence simply reveals that the nations will gather around Messiah Yeshua in the Kingdom. While this true, one must remember that the previous sentence states,
“…for Shiloh will come.” Genesis 49:10
The term “Shiloh” has two major interpretations. First the term שי (shai) can mean a “gift”. The second part of the word לו (lo) can be understood as “His”. Hence, the first meaning of the term “Shiloh” is His (HaShem’s) gift, which is of course a reference to the Messiah. The second interpretation is the plain meaning of the word, Shiloh, the home of the Tabernacle for 369 years. At Shiloh, the tribes of Israel worshipped HaShem together. Therefore, under the leadership of Messiah Yeshua, once again will the tribes of Israel worship G-d. However, the tribes of Israel will not do so alone, but with the nations. The good news of this prophecy is that in the Messianic age Israel will finally fulfill her calling and lead the nations to worship the G-d of Israel.
The second part of this prophecy depicts Judah becoming exceedingly fruitful in the last days.
“Tie to the vine her donkey and to her choice vine his donkey’s foal; wash in wine his garment, and in blood of grapes his robe.” Genesis 49:11
The allotment of land to Judah was not known as a place for vineyards, but in the Kingdom, there will be many changes and Judah will be known for its vineyards. A donkey is mentioned, rather than a horse, as this time will be a period of peace. Garments are symbolically related to deeds and prophetically wine is connected to joy and worship. Therefore, in the Kingdom the deeds of G-d’s people will be praiseworthy. Finally blood is mentioned. Blood is the basis for redemption and therefore the foundation of the Kingdom will be the redemption that Messiah Yeshua purchased with His very blood.
These two verses (Genesis 49:10-11) affirm the Biblical truth that the Kingdom will not be established before the salvation of Yeshua redeems the people of Israel.
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Thank you, this explanation of the Scriptures is so much appreciated. Bless you.
Interesting that you wrote: “For many within Christianity, this is as far as they want to take this prophecy.”
The resistance in the western culture to Hebrew instruction is rooted in what I refer to as the “Parenthetical Church”. The “Parenthetical Church” is governed in the west by a dispensational viewpoint.
Attached is my commentary regarding the “Parenthetical Church”.
Parenthetical church age
Dallas Theological Seminary espouses dispensational viewpoint. The dispensational viewpoint is seen in the Scofield Study Bible, the Ryrie Study Bible, and the Dake Annotated Reference Bible.
What is the dispensational view?
Dispensational view follows these lines.
When Jesus came He offered the Kingdom to Israel. But Israel rejected the Kingdom. Therefore the, the kingdom was postponed, and God inserted a “Parenthetical Church Age” that was not foreseen by the prophets. This church age will end when the Rapture takes place. At that time the Kingdom of God will be preached again. The gospel that was preached by Jesus and His disciples, known as “the Gospel of the Kingdom,” is not the same gospel that believers preach today. We are not to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. We preach “the Gospel of the grace of God.” The two are different. When the Church is taken away in the Rapture, the remnant of 144,000 Jews, mentioned in Revelation 7, will again preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. This good news is that the earthly Kingdom of God is about to dawn. Messiah will reign for a thousand years. This understanding of the Kingdom relegates almost everything to the future.
In dispensationalist circles, one never preaches “the Kingdom of God,” but “the Gospel of God’s grace.” One does not talk about extending the Kingdom of God. The phrase “the Kingdom of God” refers to a future age of peace. Our own view lies in great contrast to this.
The “Parenthetical Church Age” fosters an environment of ethnicity and culture.
The idol of ethnicity. There are many believers who have allowed their ethnicity and culture to trump the word of God. Jesus said culture is even stronger than the word of God in some people’s lives (Mark 7:7-8). Consequently, people read the Scriptures through their Caucasian-Western, Afrocentric lens, Hispanic or Asian lenses.
One of the most important things to do in regards to receiving the Word of God for personal transformation is to attempt to take ourselves out of our own cultural context and read the Bible through the eyes of the author’s original intent, which is something only the Holy Spirit can accomplish. There is no such thing as a Western European Caucasian Bible or an Afrocentric Bible, etc.
We need to stop reading the Scriptures merely through our ethnic lenses because, in actuality, the Bible was written with a Hebraic mindset, and it is foolish to think we can fully understand it with our contemporary ethnic mindsets. Consequently, believers often act and react no different from non-believers in regards to things that happen in contemporary society. For example: White, black and brown believers have generally reacted far different from one another when it comes to interpreting immigration reform and the tragedies of the recent Michael Brown and Eric Garner deaths.
Truly, I believe that the gospel is so powerful that it is possible for diverse Christians to come together with one voice and prophetically interpret, speak, and bring solutions to these painful and controversial issues.
God is not colorblind since He made humans black, brown, yellow, red and white in his own image. Hence, he designed us to have distinctions in culture regarding food, dress, language and other things based upon ethnic nuances. However, these distinctions are not where believers should derive their primary identity or anchor their biblical ethics. For in Christ there is neither male nor female, black, white or brown, for we are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:28).
When our ethnic thinking trumps our biblical thinking, we are guilty either of ignorance or ethnic idolatry. Unless or until the body of Christ gets over its idolatry according to ethnicity, we will never become the generation that can disciple the nations (which refers to ethnic people groups as shown in Matthew 28:19).
Since there is no neutrality, either the church will disciple the nations or the nations will disciple the church.