Hebrew Roots/Torah observance/Vayigash

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Parshat Vayigash Genesis 44-47:27; Ezekiel 37:15-28

The Self Sacrifice of Yehudah

Yehudah draws near to Yosef, (whom he does not yet recognize) and pleads the cause of his father's potential loss in Benyamin not returning with them (44:18-34). Yehudah offered to lay down his life as a ransom for his youngest brother (44:33) Yehudah had pledged his life to his father Israel for the life of his brother Benjamin. “And Yehudah said to his father Israel, "Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones. "I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever.” Genesis 43:8-9 The one who sold Yosef into slavery now faces the same fate himself of being a slave.

This points prophetically to Yeshua laying down His life for the brethren, Who also freely gave his life as a substitute for them. (Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:5; John 10:11,15,17-18; 1 John 3:16). Yehudah is an antitype (prophetic forerunner) of Yeshua the Messiah. (a) Both sought to please their fathers (b) Both acted out of unconditional love for their younger brother (c) Both stood to gain nothing personally, but rather stood to lose much, if their plan did not work (Yehudah, a prince in his own right, would become a slave in Egypt; Yeshua would become a slave to death and hell, if He had sinned)

Matthew Henry, draws a similar analogy between Yehudah’s actions here and Messiah Yeshua, as well (A Commentary On the Whole Bible, by Matthew Henry, Vol. 1 p. 243, World Bible Publishers, Iowa). Yehudah’s love for his father and Benjamin and his willingness to lay down his life as a ransom to become a slave in Egypt to Yosef is analogous to Messiah Yeshua’s love for the lost sheep of the House of Israel to whom he came to reach out and to ransom in order to bring them back into the fold of Israel (John 10:15-16; Matthew 10:6; 15:24).

Yosef was a type of the Messiah, as well as the father of the Ephraim and Manasseh, the dominate tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who went apostate and become the “lost sheep” among the nations of the world (Hosea 7:8; 8:8; Ezekiel 34:16 etc.). Therefore, Yosef prophetically represents here the “lost sheep of the House of Israel” and also the Messiah who would come a seek out those sheep. Yehudah represents the Lion of the Tribe of Yehudah, who would come as the Messiah to redeem his brother who would be lost in spiritual Egypt. There is also a prophetic picture here of the Southern Kingdom of the House of Yehudah who is “blind” to his Messiah.

In this scripture portion we are discovering that Yehudah is increasingly becoming a spokesman for the brethren and taking his role of headship in seeking sustenance from the grain rich Egyptians. Yehudah has had life experiences that have softened his heart.

Earlier we remember him urging his brothers to make a profit from the sale of Yosef rather than murdering him. We also know that he has endured the loss of a wife and two sons and knows the pain of those tragedies. Finally the humbling circumstances with Tamar have been used to bring him into recognition of his unrighteousness.

Through it all he has developed a sincere tenderness for his father’s feelings which is apparent as he eloquently described the pain of watching his father suffer the loss of his beloved son Yosef. Sir Walter Scott called Yehudah's speech " the most complete pattern of general natural eloquence extant in any language. When we read this generous speech, we forgive Yehudah all the past, and cannot refuse to say, 'You art he whom your brethren shall praise'"

It is Yehudah's humility of self-sacrificial service that elevates him to be able to hold the scepter of leadership (Genesis 49:8-10) over the nation. Yehudah and Yosef, have been predestined to take very different but prominent roles in their generation for the future of the nation of Israel. These distinctions are prophetic foreshadows of what the sons of Yehudah and the sons of Yosef/Ephraim will be doing in the fulfillment of prophecies that relate to them from the Book of Genesis and throughout the future prophetic utterances to fulfill the divine plan.

Now that he sees the transformation of Yehudah to a man of compassion, the emotional reality of what he witnessed was too difficult to contain. Here the brother, who actually recommended some twenty two years earlier that Yosef be sold to the Midianite/Ishmaelite traders (Genesis 37:26-27), was actually willing to give his life for his brother Benjamin, in order to avoid a repitition of further harm to his father Ya'acov (45:1-4). As a result of this act of selflessness, Yosef was convinced that his brothers were different people from the ones who had cast him into the pit.

Yosef asks them to come close to him (45:4). The Hebrew word "elai", means "all the way to me", which implies it was almost a matter of nearness until physical contact. Here Yosef is speaking Hebrew and identifying himself by his Hebrew name. His brothers couldn't answer him; for they were terrified at his presence. In the same way that it was Yehudah who caused Yosef to reveal himself, so it will be the Jews who in the end cause Yeshua to reveal himself in his glory, see Matthew 23:39; Acts 3:19-21.

The Mercy of Yosef

In chapter 45, we see the compassionate heart of Yosef's. Rather than carry out the charade and seeking further revenge on his brothers, Yosef broke down, cried and revealed to them who he truly was. He apparently held no animosity whatsoever for his brothers.

For more than two decades, Yosef’s brothers had lived in a state of anguish and remorse. They were responsible for their brother’s exile and their father’s suffering. Now everything seemed out of kilter. Somehow, the Egyptian viceroy’s cup had been found in their midst. They were about to lose Benjamin and break their father’s heart again. They were humiliated in the eyes of the Egyptians, accused of theft and spying, helpless under the irrational whims of a Gentile ruler. Meanwhile, their families were near to starvation. The whole world was coming apart around them. It must have seemed that Yahweh had utterly abandoned them.

But when the Egyptian ruler declared, “I am Yosef,” everything changed. The veil was lifted, and all the puzzle pieces came together. Everything became clear as God’s master plan fell into place before their eyes.

Yosef (Joseph) reveals his true identity and immediately plans for the future: "And Yosef said to his brothers, “Please approach me.” And they approached. And he said, “I am Yosef your brother whom you sold to Egypt. But now, do not be sad and let it not be disturbing in your eyes that you sold me here, because it was to preserve life that God sent me before you” (Bereishit 45:4-5).

Yosef here sets the foundation of their future relationship upon an honest approach to what had been done, bringing it into the open. He did not minimise what they had done, nor impose blame but stated the fact, "I am Yosef whom you sold into Egypt". Yosef gently and kindly reminds them what they did to him. If there was to be a genuinely revived relationship between the brothers, then it had to be established upon honesty with the things which had estranged them.

It was a rebuke in that Josef faced them with the facts of what had been done, but it was also an encouragement that he wanted to reconcile with them. He then encourages them and gives an expression of his acquittal of their wrong doing. Knowing that they were in a very vulnerable emotional state in their present situation, his reassurance was to give them comfort and afford them the basis for a reconciliation. Yosef then sought to relieve them of their sense of guilt in seeing that in spite of their wrong-doing, Yahweh had used it for His purposes and wrought deliverance for them all through it.

Yosef seeks to take them beyond their own self-consciousness and direct their focus to recognise as he had done that Yahweh was in control of their lives. We see into the beauty of Yosef's heart in his walk with Yahweh. Only one completely surrendered to God's purposes can rise above their own feelings and accept whatever may come as the hand of Yahweh working out His purposes in their lives. Yosef had worked with the Almighty, submitting to His sovereignty to use him to preserve a remnant for posterity. The word 'posterity' (45:7), actually means 'remnant'.

The Fulfillment of Prophecy

Yosef obtains Pharaoh’s permission to bring his family to Goshen, and Pharaoh orders Yosef to commission wagons to transport all the members of his family, their herds, and their furnishings to Egypt. Yosef uses all the authority at his disposal to provide for his family’s safe and smooth transition to their new residence.

However Ya'acov does not accept his direction from man, not even from his beloved son whom he wants to see, but turns to Yahweh for confirmation of the move. He would be well aware of the admonition given to his father to not go down to Egypt when he faced famine (26:2), and also considering the commission which he had of responsibility for the future of the nation, Ya'acov needed divine direction, to which Yahweh responded "Fear not" - "I will go down with you to Egypt and I will also surely bring you back up again" (46:1-4)

This is what Yahweh had spoken to Abraham in Genesis 15. When Yahweh said that He would go down with them and then bring them back again it refers back to the prophetic declaration made to Abraham which He was now declaring that He would fulfill. As part of this, there is the indication that He would mould them, strengthen them and bring them out with great demonstrations of power.

Ya'acov goes to Beer Sheva which is 25 miles from where he was living at Hebron. He goes to the established place of worship and receives the visions which give him the needed direction. Yahweh reveals to him that it will not be a short visit but one that will extend over a period of time for his descendants to become a great nation. His promise was to go down with them and to lead them back again which He did at the time of the Exodus. Yahweh's plan would be fulfilled in Egypt in the land of Goshen which would support a large number of people until the iniquity of the Amorites was full and His divine judgement would come upon them. (Genesis 15:16)

It would seem that nothing is lacking in the preparations for Ya'acov’s family’s resettlement. However, Ya'acov, had “sent Yehudah (Judah) ahead to Yosef, to direct before him in Goshen” (46:28). Yehudah, the natural leader among the brothers, who risked himself for the safety of Binyamin, is selected to go before them.

Re-unification in the Land

After the reunification of the divided family, the reconciled family moved to Goshen. (46:34)

Goshen was in the Nile River delta area and was and still is the prime farm land of Egypt. It was a veritable promised land compared to the arid regions of Canaan. The land in Goshen is one of the best in the world, agriculturally, maybe even the best land. There is never a lack of water there. There are no vermin. It is never cold. There are no strong winds. The land there is a plain and has moist soil. The ground has been enriched by floods from the river which have brought organic material and minerals. The ground has plenty of selenium, copper, and iron, which causes the placenta of animals and humans to always be fruitful. (agronomist Rodolfo Olivares from El Salvador)

This was why the midwives later could state that the Hebrew women had no difficulty bringing forth their children. Yahweh chose the best land to produce a nation of strong healthy people. This is a shadow of the Millennium when the earth will once again yield its strength to its inhabitants.

The Jewish rabbis and sages have a sense that history for the people of Israel is continually repeating itself, over and over again in cyclical patterns, as Yahweh works his purposes out among his people. This is but one more picture of the cyclical pattern of redemption that we see Yahweh working out in the pages of Scripture all pointing toward a final climax at the end of the age where all of the Children will worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) under the rulership of King Yeshua the Messiah Son of Yosef/David.

"And say to them, 'Thus says Yahweh God, "Behold, I will 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 they will no longer be divided into two kingdoms.” Ezekiel 37:21-22