Vayigash / And He Drew Near
HafTorah Portion Ezekiel 37:15-28
Brit Chadasha Luke 6:9-16
As we study Genesis 37 to 50 we see a continuous theme - Joseph. The story begins and ends with him. We read about him as the favorite child, spoiled, arrogant towards his brothers; as a slave and prisoner in Egypt; then as the second most powerful man in the greatest empire of the ancient world. At every stage, the story revolves around him and his impact on others. He is the major character in the last Torah portions of Beresheet/Genesis, becoming the one man in control of not only food, human lives, but his brothers as well. We witness Joseph rising from a spoiled, favorite, tattle-telling child to the second to none under Pharaoh. Is it that he is destined for greatness?
If one looks closely, there is another brother who also seems to dominate these Torah portions. It is Judah, and in the fullness of time, he leaves his mark and name sake on the Jewish people. Judah who became the ancestor of Israel’s greatest king, David, Judah from whom the Messiah would be born.
Two brothers, two destinies, two nations to become one and two parts to play in the Kingdom of Elohim, and we see the beginning of this in Vayigash, as the two brothers confront one another where Judah pleads for Benjamin’s release. It is at this point that we realize the change that took place in Judah’s character, as did the change that took place in Joseph.
In Genesis 37:26-27 it is Judah who proposed selling Joseph into slavery: Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover his blood? Let’s sell him to the Arabs and not harm him with our own hands. After all – he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” What callousness. There is no thought about the evil of murder, only a thought about what would happen to them: (“What will we gain” he begins the sentence with). To sell “our own flesh and blood” as a slave rather than murder – for our own benefit.
However, Judah like Joseph evolves. We see a reversal of character. Callousness has been replaced with concern and compassion. Indifference to his brother’s fate has been transformed into courage on his behalf. He is willing to suffer what he once inflicted on Joseph so that the same fate should not come upon Benjamin. We see this in Genesis 44:33-34 ‘Now, my lord, let me remain in place of the boy as your lordship’s slave, and let him go with his brothers. How can I return to my father without the boy? I could not bear to see the misery which my father would suffer.” At this point Joseph reveals his identity. We know why. Judah has passed the test that Joseph has carefully constructed for him. Joseph wants to know if Judah has changed. Prior, he was prepared to see his brother sold into slavery. Now he is prepared to suffer that fate himself rather than see Benjamin held as a slave, having compassion on his father.
Like Joseph, the change for Judah, the teshuva, began years before. It began with Tamar back in Genesis 38:26. It is after his encounter with Tamar that he admits he was wrong. ‘So Judah acknowledged them and said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son.” And he never knew her again.' He recognizes his own guilt, beginning the process of change as he returns to The Father. This leads to the famous meeting of the two brothers in Vayigash.
Genesis 44:18 is the beginning of when Judah begins the plea for Benjamin. However, different from the words we read in the Torah, the Scroll Of Yashur, shows that the meeting between Joseph and Judah was quite confrontational. The two brothers spar and threaten each other with blood and life. Judah threatens the death of all Egypt, Joseph and Pharaoh. At the end of this confrontation, Joseph requests that in exchange for Benjamin, Judah brings him the ‘lost’ brother. The anger of Judah was kindled again, and it is at this point that Joseph reveals himself to his brothers.
Joseph and Judah. Yoseph and Yehuda. Two tribes, two Hebrew tribes, two totally different tribes under the Torah of Elohim, from one Abba, Jacob. To quote Batya Wooten, “The Father divided Israel into two houses, Ephraim (Joseph) Israel and Judah. As His two witnesses, He sent them in two different directions to serve two principal purposes: to establish His two immutable truths of His Eternal Laws and Salvation by Grace.” Who Is Israel? Redeemed Israel – A Primer
Joseph; cunning and somewhat methodical, apt to be concerned with himself. Judah; extremely powerful and strong, willing to battle for Elohim at any cost.
We see those character traits today in the descendants of Joseph and Judah. The House of Israel and the House of Judah.
Judah, defending Israel and Torah at any cost. Fighting for his country, calling on the truth and Torah of Elohim. Strong, relentless and often unable to see the brother that is hidden in Egyptian garments.
Joseph, hidden in costume, and pagan attire. Hiding under grace, ignoring the call of the Father, concerned with himself. Unwilling to remove the costly garments of Egypt, preferring to dally in man-made religions, yet extremely smart and willing to help others.
These two must come together as one stick in The Father’s Hand, having one King, and not defiled any longer, Ezekiel 37:15-28.
In Zechariah 9:13, 10:10 and Hosea 1:11, Scriptures speak of Judah the bow (strength) and Ephraim the arrow (the weapon). This is when it speaks of Elohim appearing over them and blowing the trumpet and He will strengthen the House of Judah and save the House of Joseph.
Are we from the house of Ephraim/Joseph – comfortable in our Egyptian garments? Or are we from the house of Judah, ready to battle without really seeing the truth of the brother?
May we all be still in Elohim and we seek Him and our brothers.
HafTorah Ezekiel 37:15-28
Brit Chadasha Ephesians 2:1-10
In this parsha, there is a very important part that leads us to the restoration of the whole house of Israel.
Genesis 45:3-8 ‘Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. 4 And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.’
Prior to this reunion of the brothers, Joseph has concealed himself in Egyptian garments. They had no idea that this ruler was indeed their brother, whom they had sold. But Joseph knew exactly who they were and his first question? “Does my father still live?” What a profound statement.
The first mention of the name Israel is in Genesis 35:10-12. Jacob’s name is now changed to Israel, which means; to prevail, to rule with El, to strive with El, to persist, to preserve.
Jacob had twelve sons, the twelve tribes of Israel through Leah, Rachel and their handmaidens. The firstborn was Rueben and according to the right of the firstborn, this title belonged to him. Yet, in 1 Chronicles 5:2 it states that the “birthright belonged to Joseph.”
In Genesis 48 Jacob blesses the children of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh. The act of Jacob blessing Ephraim with his right hand was deliberate, putting Ephraim before Manasseh, Genesis 48:14. “Ephraim shall be mine as Rueben,” Genesis 48:5. Meaning, that Ephraim is now the first-born.
In Ezekiel 37:19, it is confirmed that Ephraim is the heir, the first born. ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”
As the twelve tribes became scattered they divided into two kingdoms, Ephraim and Judah. The northern kingdom of Ephraim was primarily called Israel and the southern kingdom was called Judah. The northern kingdom consisted of ten tribes (1 Kings 1:35) however, they joined into pagan customs, assimilating into the nations. When Ephraim was taken captive they were as a separate kingdom from Judah having their own king, (2 Kings 17:1-3). They were absorbed becoming as the nations. They assimilated and were the Gentiles, the goyim. They became unrecognizable.
In Genesis 49 Jacob blesses his twelve sons. To Joseph he gave the double portion and to Judah he gave supremacy and distinction. This began a strife that started in the desert and continues to this day, each ‘brother’ refusing to recognize the other as equal heirs to the promise.
Are we hidden because of our pagan practices? Do our brothers not recognize us and do we despise our brothers? In Jeremiah the prophet speaks of Ephraim;
“I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself:
‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained bull;
Restore me, and I will return,
For You are the Lord my God.
19 Surely, after my turning, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh;
I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated,
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
20 Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a pleasant child?
For though I spoke against him,
I earnestly remember him still;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord.’
The two will be reunited as one with in The Everlasting Covenant;
“In those days and in that time,” says the Lord,
“The children of Israel shall come,
They and the children of Judah together;
With continual weeping they shall come,
And seek the Lord their God.
5 They shall ask the way to Zion,
With their faces toward it, saying,
‘Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord
In a perpetual covenant
That will not be forgotten.’
6 “My people have been lost sheep.
Their shepherds have led them astray…’
The mystery unfolds in Matthew 15:21-25;
‘ Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”