Saturday 11th December 2021 7th Tevet 5782
PARASHAT VAYIGUSH Herschel
Genesis 44:18-47:27; Ezekiel 37:15-28; Luke 24:30-48
Our parasha this Shabbat is called ‘Vayigash’ - and Judah approached (וַיִּגַּ֨שׁ) Joseph’. The Hebrew word for ‘approach’ or ‘came near’ is from the root ‘nagash’. This is the same word found in Jeremiah 30:21:
Their Prince will be one of their own, and their ruler will arise from their midst. And I will bring him near, and he will approach Me, for who would dare on his own to approach Me? declares the LORD.
In chapter 45, it was Joseph’s chance to beckon his brothers to ‘come near’ and at this stage, he revealed his true identity to them. You can only draw near to a prince after he beckons you to do so.
The entire drama of Joseph unfairly enslaved in Egypt was always within the purposes of God so that the prophecy of Hosea 11:1 would be fulfilled “out of Egypt I have called forth my sons”. Multiple fulfillments of this one single prophecy. Abraham and Isaac were both called out of Egypt. Now, it was Jacob/Israel’s turn. Later, the Jewish people in great numbers were redeemed from the Egyptian oppression. And centuries later, Yeshua Himself was called out of Egypt!
We too, are called to be separate from Egypt which is a symbol of the value of this world.
When Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt seeking grain because of the famine, they obviously did not recognize him, because Joseph appeared to them like an Egyptian. He wore Egyptian clothing. He had no beard. He wore the hair and cosmetics of Egyptian royalty. He spoke the Egyptian language and communicated with the brothers through an interpreter. And, he had an Egyptian name!
To the ten brothers, Joseph appeared to be a Egyptian prince, in charge of the store houses of Egypt. Until he revealed his true identity as their brother, they had no inkling of who he was. The brothers’ failure to recognize Joseph caps off the Torah’s motif of concealed identity that commenced when Jacob disguised himself as Esau to deceive his father, Isaac. This event set in motion the stories of Leah, Tamar and the mysterious angel that wrestled with Jacob prior to his crossing over the Brook of Jabbok. All these incidents allude to the concealment of Messiah from His brothers after the flesh, the Jewish people.
The question that begs asking is this: why did Joseph not reveal his identity to them immediately? Why the subterfuge of hiding the money in their grain sacks? Why hide the goblet in Benjamin’s sack?
The answer is straightforward. He sustained the ruse in order to test their hearts for repentance. Matthew 3:8 – “Produce fruit, then, in keeping with repentance.” When Joseph’s cup was discovered in Benjamin’s sack of grain, the brothers were forced to return to Egypt and appear before Joseph who maintained the illusion that he was an Egyptian.
When Judah and his brothers entered Joseph's house, he was still there. They fell to the ground before him. "What's this deed you've done?" Joseph said to them, "Didn't you know that a man like me can discern by divination?"
Joseph was testing the brothers to see if there was any remorse because of what they did to him and to their father, who grieved and mourned all the years that he believed Joseph to be dead. But, when Judah offered himself in the place of Benjamin, Joseph understood that the brothers had changed.
According to Rashi, the thought in Judah’s mind went as follows:
“We know we committed no wrong in this matter (of Joseph’s goblet). Rather the matter emanates from God, Who caused all of this to befall us because He wishes to punish us for an earlier sin. It is as if the previous misdeed had lain in abeyance, but now it is uncovered -- found, as it were -- to be dealt with. 'The Creditor has found an opportunity to collect His debt' " (Rashi from Midrash).
So now, please let your servant remain as my lord's slave in the boy's place, and let the boy go up with his brothers. For how can I go up to my father and the boy is not with me? Else I must see the evil that would come upon my father!"
Judah offered himself as a slave -- not realizing that he was speaking to the very person whom he had once sold into slavery. The Midrash teaches that the brothers shrank away as Joseph and Judah confronted one another. They sensed that this was a confrontation not merely between two strong men, but between two opposing philosophies. Ultimately, both antagonists triumphed, for Joseph and Judah, and the ideas they represented, remained integral parts of the Jewish people to this day.
This encounter sets the prophetic scenario for the future reconciliation between Yeshua and the Jewish people. For centuries, the Jewish people did not recognize Yeshua as a Jewish rabbi because he wore the garments of a foreign culture. He also had an alien name, not Yeshua ben Yosef, Jesus, the son of Joseph. But even as Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, so too, at the appointed time, will Yeshua reveal Himself to His Jewish brethren.
“Then I will pour out on the house of David and on the people of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and prayer, and they will look on Me, the One they have pierced. They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son”.
May this occur speedily, even in our day, we ask and pray beshem Yeshua!