Torah Portion: Vayechi Genesis 47:28-50:26
HafTorah: I Kings 2:1-12
I Peter 1:1-19
Tonight we read the Torah section entitled Vayechi or “And he lived.” The Torah goes on to tell us that Jacob lived 147 years. The remainder of this section basically covers his death.
In my questions for the week I asked you to look back at Genesis 47:7-11 where Pharaoh asked Jacob how old he was. In Hebrew it comes out more, “Wow, how old are you!” Jacob answers that he is 130 years old and his days have been few and evil. He had not lived as long as his father, Isaac or grandfather, Abraham. He died 33 years younger than Isaac and 28 years younger than Abraham. When you look at his life would you summarize his days as few and evil? G-d watched over him all the time he was with Laban. He left Israel with nothing but the clothes on his back and the staff in his hand. G-d promised to be with him and bring him back which he did. He brought him back with riches and a family. He prospered in Israel. G-d provided for him in Egypt. Again, it might be how you look at things. Rabbis see this as one of Jacob’s problems to the point his life possibly ended prematurely.
My point is how do we look at our life? Do we see G-d’s hand even in the hard times? No doubt Jacob had his share of difficulties but through it all G-d was with him. So, to say his days were few and evil was a pretty negative way to view his life. I would pray we can see G-d in every day we live and not look at our days as few and evil.
Next, I want us to look at Genesis 48:8-9 and see what Jacob means when he asked Joseph, “Whose kids are these?” Surely he knew who they were. He had been in Egypt 17 years and must have seen them numerous times. So what did he mean? I got some good answers back from some of you and they were pretty much on target. Jacob was really asking, “Are these G-d’s children or do they follow Egyptian gods?” Joseph answers him well, “They are my sons whom G-d gave me in Egypt.” In other words, not only biologically but spiritually they are mine and they follow the G-d of Israel. Children today are being pulled in every direction. Whose children will they be? G-d’s or the world’s? As parents, grandparents or friends it is imperative that we do all we can to see they know the truth and are G-d’s and not the world’s. It is up to each of us to be faithful to do all we can, pray, be involved, be good examples, show love and compassion to the children G-d puts in our path. So, like Joseph we can say these are the children G-d gave to me.
The rest of this section covers mainly Jacob blessing his children. All of these can be looked at prophetically because Jacob uses the Hebrew idiom, “days to come.” So Jacob’s words can be looked at as stretching all the way through Jewish history to the end of days. We cannot look at each son but I would like to spend a few minutes on Judah. The reason being, that it was from the tribe of Judah that Israel’s kings would come, from David up to the Messiah Yeshua. Matthew in the New Testament makes a point of this in the introduction of his gospel. He realized the importance of pointing this out to his Jewish audience.
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 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.