Parashat Vayeishev (and he dwelt) Genesis 37:1-40:23 ; Haftarah Zechariah 2:14-4:7

בס”ד

Parashat Vayeishev (and he dwelt) Genesis 37:1-40:23

Haftarah Zechariah 2:14-4:7

This week, because of the Festival of Chanukah, the normal reading from the prophets is replaced with a special text that the sages say is related to the festival.  Chanukah is first and foremost a festival of victory. In one sense the festival points backwards to the victory of Israel, led by the Maccabeans over the Greek Empire. But in this week’s Haftarah, one is called to look forward to a future victory that revolves around the Kingdom of G-d being realized. The section that this article will focus upon is Zechariah 2:14-17.

Shout and be glad Daughter of Zion, for behold I come and I will dwell in your midst, says HaShem. Many Gentiles will be joined to HaShem on that day and they shall be for Me for a people and I will dwell in your midst and you shall know that the L-rd of Hosts sent Me unto you. HaShem will inherit Judah His portion upon the Holy Land and He will choose Jerusalem again. Be silent all flesh before HaShem for He is aroused from His Holy dwelling place.”

This section opens with two commands to express one’s emotions because HaShem will once again dwell with His people. This passage is related to the last days because it is said that there will also be many gentiles who will respond to this event. This is similar to what Isaiah says,

And many people will come and say, ‘Come let us go up to the mountain of the L-rd- to the house of the G-d of Jacob…” Isa. 2:3

Isaiah expressly says that this will occur in the last days (see Isa. 2:2). The most interesting aspect of this passage is that when all these things are taking place, Zechariah says that then “you shall know that the L-rd of Hosts sent Me unto you” (verse 15). Who is The One that HaShem has sent? The answer is Messiah! From the perspective of the Rabbis, Chanukah is one of the times where there is a high expectation that Messiah will be revealed. Perhaps this is why one reads in the Gospel of John,

At that same time they were celebrating the Festival of Dedication (Chanukah) in Jerusalem for it was winter. While Yeshua was walking in the hall of Solomon at the Temple, the Pharisees surrounded Him and said,’ How long do You keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah tell us plainly.” John 10:22-24

The Pharisees naturally knew the tradition that Chanukah was a fitting time for Messiah to reveal Himself to the world so they beseeched Yeshua to end the speculation and give a clear sign that He was indeed the Messiah. It is important to note that they were requesting not just any sign, but one in particular. This sign was to enter into the Holy of Holies and take His throne, the mercy seat which is the top portion of the Ark of the Covenant.  This is between the two cherubim. Why this sign?

The tradition is derived from the Torah readings during the eight days of the festival. These readings are from Numbers chapter 7 and deal with Moses dedicating the Tabernacle. On the final day He enters the Holy of Holies to anoint the vessels including the Ark. While there, he hears the voice of HaShem speaking to him from the mercy seat (Numbers 7:89). This is the location where G-d dwelt and will be the place where Messiah will rule over His Kingdom. This tradition is supported by 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 which speaks of the Antichrist and he trying to imitate this tradition (see 2 Thess. 2:3-4). The point is that, while the Antichrist gives a counterfeit showing, the Messiah will one day enter the Holy of Holies and take His seat upon the Throne of G-d (mercy seat) and rule over His Kingdom.

In the same way Chanukah speaks of how the Temple was dedicated after the sacrilege of a wicked Greek ruler- Antiochus, there is a future victory over the Antichrist which Messiah will defeat and then He will dedicate His Kingdom.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah

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