3. SHABBAT READINGS & COMMENTARY

Friday, January 06, 2006 | 
Vayigash: Genesis 44,18 – 47,27; Ezekiel 35,15 – 28

Commentary:

In our Parasha (weekly portion), we come to the last part of the story of Joseph and his brothers. Twenty-two years passed since the last time they had seen Joseph. Joseph recognizes his brothers, but the brothers did not recognize the Second Pharaoh of Egypt – Joseph.

Joseph had become Egyptian. Even his name was changed to Zaphenath Paneah (Bread of Life in one translation). This brings us back to the parallels of Joseph as a prototype of the Messiah, the Messiah Ben-Josef. Messiah Ben-Josef symbolizes the first coming of the Messiah Jesus, who was rejected by his brothers (the Jews). And Messiah Ben-David symbolizes the second coming of the Messiah as a reigning King like David, from the tribe of Judah – the Return of the “King of Kings.”

The brothers, the Jewish nation, could not identify Joseph as an Egyptian. He was a stranger to them, the same as with Jesus. After 2000 years, Jesus is a stranger to the eyes of the Jews. Paul pointed this out in Romans 11:28.

Almost everything Jewish from the Jewish Jesus was filtered into the Christian Doctrines. But the Old Testament became the “Book of the Jews” and the New Testament became associated with Christians only and was stripped of Judaism due to several translations.

Yet before Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, he wanted to see all of his brothers and demanded they bring back the 11th brother, Benjamin (remember the dream that 11 brother would bow to him), sat at his table. That’s the same in our days: Time will not be fulfilled until the “last Jew” will return to Israel. Our portion from the prophets in Ezekiel 37 also speaks about the return of the Jewish people to their homeland.

Something else Joseph needed to know related to his brothers’ treatment of Jacob’s beloved son Benjamin. Did they really learn a lesson from their first sin in their treatment of Joseph? Was there real repentance? Yes, there was. Judah was ready to lay down his life for Benjamin. That shows true repentance. Judah was also the one who did not want to kill Joseph and rather have him sold. That’s why from the tribe of Judah the house of David and the Messiah was established.

Then Joseph could “Joseph could not control himself” and he revealed himself to his brothers, like the removing of the veil. When he was alone with his brothers, he wept and said: “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you” (Genesis 45:1-5).

We learn that everything has its own time in God’s salvation plan, first to the gentiles then to the Jews! When we look back we see that everything has a purpose, even the rejection from the Jews to save the Gentiles (Romans 11). It’s comforting to know that salvation will also come to the Jewish people today. For this moment we wait!

- Michael Schneider –

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