VAYECHI | WEEK 12
By David Harwood
Gen 47:28 – 50:26
Genesis is the introduction to Israel’s history. Those familiar with the Torah know what’s next: Israel’s enslavement and the Exodus. From creation, to the division of the nations, to the development of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel’s family into a clan, God’s purposes for His people and all nations are anticipated (3:15; 12:2-3).
The end of Jacob’s life is the culmination of Genesis and the prelude to Exodus. Some dramatic human interactions and well-known principles are found here. Although important, from my perspective, they are not the theme of this passage. Let’s look at this week’s Torah portion (Genesis 47:28-50:26) and then focus upon a few points.
Jacob summoned Joseph and gave him a double portion when he blessed and adopted Ephraim and Manasseh. Then, the patriarch called the rest of his sons together and decreed varied blessings, or judgments, over each one. (When Moses blessed the tribes, some blessings were amplified; and some judgments were modified and redeemed.)
Immediately afterwards, Jacob made his sons swear to bury him in the family burial plot in Hebron. After he received their commitment, Jacob died and the clan made pilgrimage to Canaan to bury him.
A short summation is found in Hebrews 11:21-22.
By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.
Here are seven gems found in this portion:
- Israel identified the Angel who redeemed him as the God of his fathers who was his Shepherd (48:15-16).
- Ironically, sometimes we might think God is blessing the wrong thing in our lives. Jacob’s emphasis upon Ephraim upset Joseph (48:17-18). Israel did not make a mistake. Neither does God.
- Throughout, we find a demonstration of faithfulness to what God had already revealed. What God said to Isaac and Abraham about the land was reinforced to Jacob (28:13-15; 35:12). It was a covenant oath Israel treasured and conveyed to his children. The previous generations’ revelation was the foundation of Jacob’s prophetic insights.
- When Israel blessed Judah, he prophesied the coming Davidic Kingdom and the Messiah (49:9-12).
- In 49:28 is an important principle of blessing. Israel blessed each son with the blessing appropriate to him. Blessing is activated on that which is congruent to a person’s life.
- Perhaps this is the most famous passage in this portion: Joseph said, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good (50:20a).” What an amazing outlook. It has helped multitudes forgive others as they honored the God who works all things out for the good (Romans 8:28).
- Extra-biblically, Joseph and his brothers’ reconciliation is widely recognized as an allegory of the foretold time Israel corporately recognizes Yeshua.
Transformation Before Destiny
This portion of the Torah is the climax of the narrative concerning the family God chose to inherit His land. Father wanted to localize and display His goodness and draw all nations to Himself (Psalm 67).
Genesis ends with the foundation laid for the national development of the people of Israel. Their unity is stressed. The brothers shared a reverence for their patriarchs. There were no outstanding grudges between them. They saw themselves as divinely destined to possess the land God promised.
Jacob was renamed Israel and became the definitive, transformed man. In this section, we meet Israel at the completion of this sanctification process. At the end of his life, he not only received revelation from YHVH, but he also released revelation. He did not desperately try to grasp blessings; Jacob released blessings (48-49).
Israel’s favorite son, Joseph, was transformed. When he had the authority, he rejected the opportunity to have his father bow to him as his dream portended. Instead, Joseph bowed to Jacob (48:12). The paradigmatic servant leader, Joseph didn’t lord it over his brothers. He embraced a greater destiny than enthused him when he was an adolescent.
Israel’s other sons were transformed.
As an archetype of metamorphosis, look at Judah. Judah, hating and willing to sell Joseph, endured devastating humiliation (38:26). Years later, foreshadowing Yeshua, he offered his life in the place of his brother, Benjamin (43:8-9).
Joseph’s brethren were transformed. Circumstances forced them to confess their murderous envy, greed, and deception to their father. Joseph’s brothers ended up living in humility, receiving their provision and protection from the sibling they once loathed and betrayed.
Jacob and his sons were a transformed family. The transformation of this clan prepared them for the next stage of realizing God’s purposes for them as a nation.
This portion begins with an oath to bury Jacob in the land (47:31). Joseph reported this oath to Pharaoh who then honored Joseph’s promise (40:5-6). At the end of Joseph’s life, he reminded his brothers that God gave an oath to their patriarchs to give them the land (50:24). Genesis ends as Joseph had the sons of Israel swear to bring his bones with them when their Exodus from Egypt was completed (50:25).
Here is the major theme:
Israel’s people are connected to, and destined for, the land. The only people who can rightly appreciate this are those who discern how valuable God esteems the material realm. For those who think that only “spiritual things” matter (pun intended) this way of viewing Biblical reality is sophomoric. Yet, what did Paul say concerning the oath God made to the Patriarchs’ descendants?
… to whom belongs … the covenants… and the promises (Romans 9:4)
These covenants and promises endure to this day. This includes that which pertained to the land. Certainly, Jacob and Joseph took the covenanted land seriously.
Let’s trace God’s oath. Look at Abraham’s account:
“The LORD, the God of heaven … swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give this land’ (Genesis 24:7a)
Two chapters later we read that, when Isaac encountered the LORD, God reminded him of the oath He swore.
I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham… and will give your descendants all these lands… (Genesis 26:3b-4a)
When Israel was dying, he made all his sons swear to bury him in the land God swore to give his grandfather, father, himself, and his children (49:29-32; 50:5). Later, like Jacob, Joseph reminded his brothers of this covenant. He made his family swear to bring his bones out of Egypt and entomb him in the promised land.
“…God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob … and you shall carry my bones up from here.” (Genesis 50:24b,25b)
The Book of Beginnings ends with Israel’s children sojourning in Egypt cherishing the expectation that they would be brought into the land God promised. This demonstrated faith in, and faithfulness to, God’s purposes. We would do well to emulate it.
What has God promised you?
Do you find yourself in exile, divorced from the fulfillment of promise? Do not give up your anticipation.
If necessary, some of us may have to die in faith, awaiting our promise’s fulfillment. Perhaps God has something better for you than what you believe He promised to you.
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39-40)
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About the Author
David and his wife, Elaine, have led Restoration Fellowship (Glen Cove, NY) since the mid ‘70’s. They are parents of three wonderful grown children: Shira, Jonathan (married to Gina), and Benjamin.
A Jewish believer, David was ordained through The Lamb’s Chapel (Moravian Falls, NC) and received a Masters of Professional Studies from the Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, NY.
David is a prophetic teacher, worship leader, and author of the books, For the Sake of the Fathers and God’s True Love. In addition to Restoration Fellowship, David leads the Love of God Project which seeks to serve the believing community through instruction and releasing impartation concerning God’s love. He releases a weekly podcast, “Love and War with David Harwood.”
Since 2006, the Love of God Seminar has been given one-on-one, and to churches, Messianic synagogues, leadership teams, ministry networks, and ministry training schools.
The Love of God Project is based in Restoration Fellowship and is also affiliated with Tikkun, a Messianic Jewish apostolic network.
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