1.The name of our Torah section is Vayechi or And he lived, yet it mainly covers the death of Jacob. There is another Torah section that follows the same pattern. Chayei Sarah or Life of Sarah, Genesis 23 also mainly talks of her death and burial. So what is the Torah trying to tell us here and with Sarah?
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. Even in the beginning we read in Genesis 3:19-20 G-d relating to Adam about his own death. Then in the next verse we see Adam named his wife Hava(Eve) for she was to be the mother of all life.
By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
What is striking with her name is that literally it means one who narrates or tells a story.
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. Our lives, as with Jacob, 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.
What do we want to leave as our last will and testament? What do we want people to remember us by? I pray that each of us spends each day building a legacy that says, “I am a child of G-d who lived my life doing His will in this world no matter what the pressures of society brought to bear.”
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 every day. It will affect how you spend your days.
2.In Genesis 49 Jacob called his sons to tell them of the “last days,” If these blessings are statements of the times to come is there anything said to Judah that would point to the Messiah who came from his tribe? Are there verses in the Messianic scripture that back up any of the promises to Judah relating to the Messiah?
In Genesis 49:8 Jacob tells Judah that his brothers will praise him. This word can also be read as confess. “Judah, your brothers shall confess you.” This was fulfilled in King David but ultimately in Yeshua.
Paul wrote in Philippians 2:11 that, “In that day, every tongue will confess Yeshua is L-rd.” However in our day more and more Jews are making that confession. Paul in Romans 11:26 makes the point exactly when he says, “All Israel will be saved” -or confess you.
Jacob goes on to compare Judah to a lion in Genesis 49:9. Revelations 5:5 speaks of Messiah Yeshua as the Lion of Judah. Lastly, in Genesis 49:10 Jacob tells Judah that the scepter will not depart from Judah. The Hebrew word for scepter is shevet. It can also mean rod or staff. Revelations 12:5 uses this same word in identifying Yeshua with an iron rod. Also in Revelations 19:15.
All of these connections with Yeshua as a descendant of Judah give us a good picture of the connection between Yeshua and these words of Jacob thousands of years earlier. May G-d give us the wisdom to see clearly the faithfulness of G-d here and in our lives.
3. In Genesis 47:27 it says, Israel dwelt in Egypt, then in Genesis 47:28 it says, “Jacob lived.” Why the difference and what can we learn from this difference?
Remember in Genesis 37:35 Jacob had said he would go down to Sheol mourning for his son. Then in Genesis 45:27 when he finds out Joseph was alive it said, “The spirit of Jacob revived.”
So Jacob had 17 years of living, living in Egypt. Now in Gen. 47:27 it says Israel dwelt in Egypt. Maybe he physically lived in Egypt but spiritually he was a resident of Canaan, the land of his fathers. Jacob’s spirit still lived in Israel.
Egypt is a symbol of the material world we all live in here in this world. Our challenge is to not let it become our home spiritually. Israel lost this battle between spirit and flesh to some extent in that they chose to stay in Egypt. Remember the famine had been going on for 2 years when Jacob arrived. It was over in another five years. So the last 12 years he stayed was not because he had to but because he chose to.
Our fight is to never lose sight of what is real. This world and all it offers is temporary. Jacob knew this and at the end made Joseph promise not to bury him in Egypt but to take him home to Israel. Hebrews 11:8-10 offers us insight into why he did this. We as G-d’s children must never lose sight of where our home really is. It is to be doing the will of the Father, not to become wrapped up in the temporary.
My prayer for each of us is that we not forget who we are and Who we walk with each day. Faith is what moves us from morning to night each day. Egypt is not our home.
4.In this Torah portion we see Jacob blessing the two sons of Joseph. Israel seems to make a mistake when he puts his right hand on the head of Ephraim, and his left on Manasseh’s head. Joseph seeks to correct the error but Jacob tells him he has it right. Why do you think Jacob chose this order? It might help us if we look at the names of the boys. Names mean something.
Look at Genesis 41. In verse 51 he named his first son, Manasseh which means “it is because G-d has made me forget all my troubles and all my father’s household.” In verse 52 we read the name of the second son was Ephraim, or “G-d has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Do you see any change in Joseph or reason why Jacob chose the order that he did?
Where was Joseph when he named his firstborn? He was glad to be rid of his painful past and to settle into his new role in life. After all he was the second in command in Egypt, a definite step up from prisoner or slave.
Yet, when we see the second son come along, verse 52, we sense a change in Joseph. He is no longer comfortable where he is. He remembers who he really is and where he belongs. G-d has given him children but he is not where he should be. Now he sees Egypt as the land of his affliction.
This is quite a turn-around from the time when he named his first son. This should speak volumes to us. We must never become comfortable in the land of our affliction. G-d has a call for each of us in our lives and it is not to become satisfied living in the world. We are all meant for more than that. Our goal should be to fulfill our spiritual role in life.
When Jacob blesses his grandsons and tells the people how to bless their sons and grandsons in the future, he, through the leading of G-d, puts Ephraim before Manasseh. We may live in exile physically but it should never become our home. We have more than that to live for. We have the leading and calling of G-d to realize that life is more than being satisfied with forgetting our Father but we should seek to be spiritually fruitful in the land of our affliction. So Jacob put that spiritual principle before the people for all generations to come.
This also may explain the placing of the hands. In this time and culture they saw the right hand as the symbol of strength, therefore when blessing someone the right hand and its symbolism of strength was used to give extra meaning to the blessing.
We might say the same idea runs throughout this Torah portion. We are to live life, and life is so much more than things, or jobs. Life, real life, is found in following the leading of G-d and never getting stuck in the land of our affliction.
In conclusion: When Joseph was dying in Genesis 50:24 he said, “I am about to die, but G-d will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” The word visit in Hebrew is pakad. It appears in many other places in scripture
In Jeremiah 29:10 For thus saith the L-rd, That after aseventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to creturn to this place.
In Exodus 3:16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, The L-rd G-d of your fathers, the G-d of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob appeared to me saying I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt.
In each of these cases the visit of G-d was an exile-ending intrusion. This word, pakad, was a ray of light for Joseph’s descendants through the dark centuries that lay ahead. Years later when Moses used the same word in Exodus 4:29-31 they believed and worshipped G-d. In each case the children of Israel went through dark times. It was a process before G-d intervened. Today Israel is going through a dark time, a process. But I truly believe G-d will visit them.
In II Thessalonians 2 Paul tells the believers there will be a process before the Messiah will come again. “Concerning the coming of our L-rd Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the L-rd has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called G-d or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in G-d’s temple, proclaiming himself to be G-d.”
As I have already said the believers in Israel are in a process – even the entire country. Nothing can hurry up or delay G-d’s plan. There are no short cuts out of the painful process. But the believers must not be shaken by what they hear, see and experience. Some may fall away because of the pain.
What is happening there is a picture of what will come to us and the rest of the world as well. Paul warns us of that. We are very comfortable right now. What is going on in Israel is not really changing anything here – yet. Believers here need to be awakened to the battle that is to come. The time of the Gentiles is ending. But no matter what takes place G-d is still on His throne. Messiah Yeshua alone, anchored and grounded in the word of G-d and interpreted by the Spirit, is the rock of our hope, the fortress for our salvation and the promised deliverer of our souls. We can be strong in His strength.
Hazak, Hazak, v’nit’chazek!
Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened!