Thursday, January 1, 2015

Parashat Vayechi ("and he lived") Genesis 47:28-50:26 by Jon Eaton

Parashat Vayechi ("and he lived")    Genesis 47:28-50:26  by Jon Eaton
In this parashah, we find the blessings bestowed upon the Sons of Jacob and a prophetic uttering concerning the coming Messiah.

Jacob foretold that from the tribe of Judah (יְהוּדָה) would come the Messiah: "The scepter (שֵׁבֶט) will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh (שִׁילוֹ) comes, and to him shall be the obedience (יקְהָה) of the people" (Gen. 49:10).  Rashi suggested that Jacob wanted to explain the ‘End of Day’ in more detail but was prevented by God because He does not want anyone to know the "day or the hour" when the great King of Israel would appear. 

“Rabbi Yochanan taught that all the world was created for the Messiah. What is His name? The School of Sheeloh taught: His name is Shiloh as it is written, 'Until Shiloh come and unto Him shall the gathering of the peoples be'" (Sanhedrin 98b).  

But the name ‘Shiloh’ person has been hotly debated for millennia.  It has been suggest in the   Targum Yerusahlmi that the word "Shiloh" means "that is his” -  kingly authority.  Ultimately, most scholars would agree that it means peace – both in state and person.

It is probably worth questioning the idea that the first part of the Judah prophecy includes all the letters of the alph-bet except Zayin – a picture of a weapon (mattock).   The messiah would come in the power of the spirit rather than by war.   The second part of the Judah prophecy which says "and to him shall be the obedience of the people," is yet to be fulfilled but will occur during the millennial reign of Yeshua. 

The blessings occurs as such:
Reuben - despite being the firstborn, he will not be leader of Israel.
Simeon - Simeon will be scattered in Israel (the tribe ended up absorbed in Judah); he also will not be leader of Israel.
Levi - will be scattered in Israel (shevet Levi ended up in the Cities of Refuge); he also will not be leader of Israel.
Judah - Judah the Mashiach (Shiloh) would eventually come.
Dan  - will produce great judges and promote justice in Israel.
Naphtali - will produce beauty and praises in Israel.
Gad - Shall produce victorious warriors of Israel.
Asher -  will be prosperous and full of olive oil.
Issachar -willl persevere like a beast of burden.
Zebulon – will  be prosperous seafaring merchants.
Joseph -  blessed with fertility and prosperity.
Benjamin - will produce victorious warriors of Israel.

At the end of the parashah, Joseph makes the most amazing statement that personifies forgiveness and an understanding of the ways of God.  “Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?  But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

So many times we question God about his methods.  Why does he allow children to suffer?  Why does he allow hurt and violence in the world?     I remember reading that Charles Darwin began to develop the idea of evolution after watching his 10 year old daughter die slowly and painfully – i.e there is no God who would allow this.  But those who keep their trust in Him will see the wonderful result and understand.  Yeshua stated, “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”.

We can trust in His ways.  Shalom and peace.

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