Parashat Vayigash (And He Approached)
Beresheet (Genesis) 44:18–47:27
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15–28
I found great hope and comfort in this week’s portions from the Parasha and the Haftarah. It was a strong, timely reminder that God can make seemingly impossible situations possible, and that is the reason that I named this blog entry, “Our Great Hope”.
In Genesis 37:26–27 we read about Judah’s suggestion to sell Joseph, instead of killing him:
And Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, and let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him.”
From that moment, up until this week’s Parasha, we see a possible change of heart in Judah and his treatment of his brothers.
Our Parasha opens with the description of the way Judah came and stood in his promise to Jacob to protect Benjamin, their baby brother, from harm in Genesis 43:9 “I myself will take responsibility for him! You may demand him back from me. If I do not bring him back to you and present him to you, then you can let me take the blame forever.” As we learn from Genesis 44:1–17, Joseph deceived his brothers by instructing the overseer of his house to put the silver goblet in Benjamin's sack. As we continue to read, Joseph sends his overseer to catch the brothers and demand that the one who “stole” the silver goblet would become his slave.
This account is very important to understand as an introduction to Judah’s pleading with Joseph to take him as slave instead of Benjamin; this is the same Judah who encouraged his brothers to sell Joseph into slavery! Yet, here, Judah offers himself as a replacement for Benjamin, the youngest brother. Judah takes full responsibility for the promise he made to his father to protect Benjamin, and is willing to sacrifice himself in order to not cause any further agony to his father. Judah's actions move Joseph so deeply, which lead to the dramatic revealing of Joseph's true identity to his brothers. Just as a side note, I find it interesting that until that moment, the brothers did not suspect that he was Joseph, their long-lost brother, even though all of Egypt knew that Joseph was a Hebrew man.
In our Haftara portion, we read of yet another story of reconciliation between the sons of Judah and the sons of Joseph who were divided into the Northern and Southern kingdoms:
The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, “Now you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, ‘For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.’ Then put them together for yourself one to another into one stick, so that they may become one in your hand. And when the sons of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?’ say to them, ‘This is what the Lord GOD says: “Behold, I am going to take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”’ The sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. And say to them, ‘This is what the Lord GOD says: “Behold, I am going to take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations, and no longer be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their offenses; but I will rescue them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.”
I believe that the part of this prophecy with regard to the physical gathering of Israel to the Land is something that you and I are privileged to see and experience today, which is amazing in itself! However, Israel today is still divided and while we may not see the same division of old with regard to the two kingdoms, we can see a major division between the different people groups, which I personally believe will continue until we will see the spiritual fulfillment of the prophecy from Ezekiel 37:15–28.
That I believe will happen only when, just like Judah and the brothers with Joseph, so it will be when Judah and the brothers — i.e., all of Israel — will acknowledge their sins before the Father, and when the Son, Yeshua, will reveal His true identity to them. I am looking forward for this day to come! Let’s take the time to pray for the removal of the veil from the eyes of our brothers and sisters, and for the reconciliation to happen once again!
Did you know? — Lone Soldier
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