Repentance: A sign of greatness
Vayigash (And He Approached) B’resheet/Genesis 44:18-47:27
I want us to look at two dominate personalities in this Torah portion. I sent you a question earlier concerning these two men and I hope you have had the opportunity to consider my question?
As we have read over the last few weeks, in Genesis 37-50, we see a narrative of the life of Joseph from his childhood all the way through seeing him as the second most powerful man in Egypt. These chapters have been filled with his ever changing path along the way to his rise to power. I believe we would all see him as the hero of these chapters.
Yet, as we go further in the scriptures we see another brother, Judah, who leaves his mark on the people of G-d and gives each of us a clear message on how to live our lives in the spirit. Think of it, the Jewish people carry his name as Jews, Hebrews, wanderers. Even the country of Israel takes its name from Judah. The tribe of Judah survived the Babylonian exile. From Judah came the kings of Israel such as King David. Also, most importantly the Messiah came through the tribe of Judah.
We might ask how could this be? As we have read in the Torah up until now, Judah was the one who suggested selling Joseph into slavery instead of killing him. It was Judah who, even though he was not aware of who Tamar was at the time, had sex with his daughter-in-law. Up until this point he would not have been our picture of a great, G-dly man.
However, we also see him change more than anyone else in Torah. In this portion we see a man who has changed. In Genesis 44:33-34 when Joseph threatened to enslave Benjamin we see Judah offered to take his place. Judah was willing to suffer the same fate as he had once inflicted upon Joseph. If Joseph was wanting to see if Judah had changed he had his answer. Yes he had changed.
Judah is the first person in Torah to repent for their actions. This was set in motion by his actions with Tamar. When confronted with his sin we see in Genesis 38:26 he admitted to his guilt and said Tamar was more righteous than he. This was the first time, recorded in scripture, where we read of a person recognizing their guilt and repenting. In this Torah portion we can see the effect of that change of heart.
This is such an important lesson for us. We see in the Messianic scripture in verses such as, Matthew 4:17 and Luke 24:46-48 that repentance is an integral part of our faith and should be something we consider daily in our walk with the Father. Judah was our first example of repentance. Bless each of you today.