Torah Portion: VAYECHI Genesis 47:28-50:26
HafTorah: I Kings 2:1-12
Tonight the Torah section is named “And he lived”, yet it mainly covers the death of Jacob. There is another Torah section that follows the same pattern. What is it? Chayei Sarah, Genesis 23:1. Yet it also mainly talks of her death and burial. So what is the Torah trying to tell us here and with Sarah? Even in the beginning we read in Genesis 3:19 about G-d relating to Adam, Adam’s own death. But then in the next verse we see Adam named his wife Hava (Eve) for she was to be the mother of all life. What is striking with her name is that literally it means one who narrates or tells a story.
I think the point in each case is that the scripture is telling us that death is not the end of all. Our lives are rather measured by what we leave behind, our legacy, our children or others who have been moved or influenced by us. This is the important thing. Death is but a stop along the way. Here in this parasha we see Jacob coming to the end of his earthly life. What we read about is what remained, his children who would become the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel. He even tells them how that will play out over the years. But he lives even to impact our lives as the ancestor of the Messiah. So his and our lives should be measured not by what we accumulate, for scripture says we are all the same when we leave this life. No one carries anything with them. What remains is our impact on our children and the world. If we measured Yeshua’s life by worldly standards it would be pretty unimpressive but when we look at what lived after Him it is unsurpassed. So, here the Torah is making that point. I want to urge each of you to consider this everyday. It will affect how you spend your days.
I also want to take a few minutes and speak about Jacob’s words to his sons, especially Judah. First in Genesis 49:1 he gathers them around him and tells them what will befall then in the “days to come.” In Hebrew this would be more accurate to say, “last days” or until the Messianic age. So in Genesis 49:8-11 we read of his words over Judah. Think, as we look at this how this might tie into Messiah.
First, “your brothers shall praise you,” could also be read “brothers shall confess you.” Now later in King David’s reign this prophecy is first fulfilled. But that isn’t the end for the “last days” did not come then. Only in Messiah is this phrase ultimately fulfilled. Phil. 2:11 says clearly every tongue will confess that Yeshua the Messiah is L-rd. So only then do these words of Jacob find their final fulfillment. However, even today we see Paul’s words of Romans 10:9-10 giving an ongoing witness to these words of Jacob.
Also in Genesis 49:8 we read, “Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.” In Genesis 27:29 Isaac blesses Jacob by saying “your mother’s sons.” Why does Jacob change it here? To include all the sons he had to say father’s sons since they had four different mothers. No doubt this is Jacob looking forward to Paul’s words in Romans 11:26 that all Israel will be saved.
We as adopted sons and daughters are now counted in that multitude that are saved and bow down to Messiah as King.
I want to now skip over to Genesis 49:18 where we read, “For your salvation I wait O L-rd.” In this verse we see the word Yeshua and the sages have always taken this to mean that Jacob was looking forward to the coming of Messiah. In fact, in the daily prayers this verse forms the background for the prayer for the coming of Messiah. This waiting is not a passive wait but a deep heart felt longing. Thank G-d that we as grafted in ones have found this joy. Our prayer as was Paul’s is that “All Israel will be saved.” Amen