The Weekly D'rash and the Scriptures that we will be reading this Shabbat for Vayigash from Rabbi Howard Silverman:
TORAH ~ Genesis 44:18-47:27
HAFTARAH ~ Ezekiel 37:15-28 BRIT CHADASHA ~ Matthew 2:1-15
This week many people are celebrating Christmas remembering the birth of the Messiah. When you read about the birth and early life of Yeshua, it is interesting that His parents took Him to Egypt to spare His life from Herod. "Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him'" (Matt 2:13). Egypt has played a strategic role in the history of Israel. In this text about Yeshua, Egypt is a place of refuge. Abraham sought refuge from famine in Egypt. When Nebuchadnezzar brought the Jewish people into captivity in Babylon, there were those who escaped Jerusalem and went to Egypt. In fact, it is possible that the prophet Jeremiah was taken to Egypt. The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Tanakh) was written in Egypt. In fact, there was a large Jewish community in Alexandria, Egypt during the Second Temple period that included the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo Judaeus. The great Jewish scholar Maimonides also lived in Egypt. In our Torah portion for this week, Jacob and his whole family go to Egypt to find refuge from famine. When we read the text carefully, we see what a great position Jacob and his family find themselves in when they come to the land of Goshen inside Egypt. Goshen is called the "best of the land" (Gen 47:6, 11). This is where they settle and become a great nation of people. God had told Jacob to go to Egypt where they would become a great nation (Gen 46:3). In fact, Israel fares better than the rest of the Egyptians! We read that the Egyptians had to sell their land and themselves to Pharaoh and then they would receive an allotment of seed and food. When crops would grow, each Egyptian would then have to give Pharaoh a fifth of what was produced (Gen 47:13–26). Joseph's family was exempt from this. This was an incredibly good situation for Jacob and his family. If I were one of these people, I might think that we could live in Goshen forever! This period in Jewish history—from the time that Joseph brought his family to Egypt, to the enslavement—is a picture of the diaspora of Israel that exists today. It is a picture of the diaspora that has existed for thousands of years. The diaspora refers to the 'dispersion' of the Jewish people living outside of the land of Israel. During certain periods of history, Jewish people have lived quite securely in other lands. Unfortunately, this led to assimilation (the loss of Jewish identity). Today, Jewish people are quite comfortable in many countries around the world, especially in the United States. It should come as no surprise that assimilation is a great threat to Jewish survival. However, we know from the Scriptures that there will be a day when the Jewish people will return to Israel from around the world. What will cause such a return? Perhaps it will be a rise in anti-Jewish attitudes and behaviors that we see these days in different places in the world. Sometimes, God must remove our comforts to get us to move! In the Bible, we know that our ancestors in Egypt eventually became slaves, and this led to their deliverance and a return to Canaan. This is a good lesson for all of us who are Messiah Followers. We may find ourselves in a wonderful place of comfort. But sometimes, God must remove the comfort to get us to move forward in the right direction to fulfill his calling in our lives. Today we are living in such a time. Comforts that we have always taken for granted have been removed. May we realize that God uses moments like this to deepen our walk with Him, and to move us perhaps not geographically but spiritually to a better place of life and service in the Lord. Our ancestors had to go to Egypt and live in comfort in order to grow into a nation. But this was not their destiny. Yeshua went to Egypt, but His destiny was in the land of Israel. May we realize that God is at work to bring us to the place of our destiny and calling! Sometimes it can be uncomfortable, but may we embrace the words of Paul in Phil 4:11–13, "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be sufficient (content) in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me". Shabbat Shalom! TORAH READING: GENESIS 44:18 – 47:27 44:18 Then Judah approached him, and said, "Oh my L-rd, may your servant please speak a word in my L-rd's ears, and do not be angry with your servant; for you are equal to Pharaoh. 19 "My L-rd asked his servants, saying, 'Have you a father or a brother?' 20 "We said to my L-rd, 'We have an old father and a little child of his old age. Now his brother is dead, so he alone is left of his mother, and his father loves him.' 21 "Then you said to your servants, 'Bring him down to me that I may set my eyes on him.' 22 "But we said to my L-rd, 'The lad cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.' 23 "You said to your servants, however, 'Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.' 24 "Thus it came about when we went up to your servant my father, we told him the words of my L-rd. 25 "Our father said, 'Go back, buy us a little food.' 26 "But we said, 'We cannot go down. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down; for we cannot see the man's face unless our youngest brother is with us.' 27 "Your servant my father said to us, 'You know that my wife bore me two sons; 28 and the one went out from me, and I said, "Surely he is torn in pieces," and I have not seen him since. 29 'If you take this one also from me, and harm befalls him, you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.' 30 "Now, therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since his life is bound up in the lad's life, 31 when he sees that the lad is not with us, he will die. Thus your servants will bring the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow. 32 "For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, 'If I do not bring him back to you, then let me bear the blame before my father forever.' 33 "Now, therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad a slave to my L-rd, and let the lad go up with his brothers. 34 "For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me-- for fear that I see the evil that would overtake my father?" 45:1 Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, "Have everyone go out from me." So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Please come closer to me." And they came closer. And he said, "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 "Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for G-d sent me before you to preserve life. 6 "For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 "G-d sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8 "Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but G-d; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and L-rd of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 "Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, 'Thus says your son Joseph, "G-d has made me L-rd of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 10 "You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children's children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have. 11 "There I will also provide for you, for there are still five years of famine to come, and you and your household and all that you have would be impoverished."' 12 "Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth which is speaking to you. 13 "Now you must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen; and you must hurry and bring my father down here." 14 Then he fell on his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him. 16 Now when the news was heard in Pharaoh's house that Joseph's brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. 17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Say to your brothers, 'Do this: load your beasts and go to the land of Canaan, 18 and take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land.' 19 "Now you are ordered, 'Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father and come. 20 'Do not concern yourselves with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.'" 21 Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey. 22 To each of them he gave changes of garments, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments. 23 To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and sustenance for his father on the journey. 24 So he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, "Do not quarrel on the journey." 25 Then they went up from Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. 26 They told him, saying, "Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt." But he was stunned, for he did not believe them. 27 When they told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 Then Israel said, "It is enough; my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die." 46:1 So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the G-d of his father Isaac. 2 G-d spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, "Jacob, Jacob." And he said, "Here I am." 3 He said, "I am G-d, the G-d of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. 4 "I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes." 5 Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob and their little ones and their wives in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. 6 They took their livestock and their property, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and came to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him: 7 his sons and his grandsons with him, his daughters and his granddaughters, and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt. 8 Now these are the names of the sons of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who went to Egypt: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn. 9 The sons of Reuben: Hanoch and Pallu and Hezron and Carmi. 10 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel and Jamin and Ohad and Jachin and Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. 11 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 12 The sons of Judah: Er and Onan and Shelah and Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan). And the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. 13 The sons of Issachar: Tola and Puvvah and Iob and Shimron. 14 The sons of Zebulun: Sered and Elon and Jahleel. 15 These are the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, with his daughter Dinah; all his sons and his daughters numbered thirty-three. 16 The sons of Gad: Ziphion and Haggi, Shuni and Ezbon, Eri and Arodi and Areli. 17 The sons of Asher: Imnah and Ishvah and Ishvi and Beriah and their sister Serah. And the sons of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel. 18 These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Leah; and she bore to Jacob these sixteen persons. 19 The sons of Jacob's wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 20 Now to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him. 21 The sons of Benjamin: Bela and Becher and Ashbel, Gera and Naaman, Ehi and Rosh, Muppim and Huppim and Ard. 22 These are the sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob; there were fourteen persons in all. 23 The sons of Dan: Hushim. 24 The sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel and Guni and Jezer and Shillem. 25 These are the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Rachel, and she bore these to Jacob; there were seven persons in all. 26 All the persons belonging to Jacob, who came to Egypt, his direct descendants, not including the wives of Jacob's sons, were sixty-six persons in all, 27 and the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt were two; all the persons of the house of Jacob, who came to Egypt, were seventy. 28 Now he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out the way before him to Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. 29 Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; as soon as he appeared before him, he fell on his neck and wept on his neck a long time. 30 Then Israel said to Joseph, "Now let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive." 31 Joseph said to his brothers and to his father's household, "I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and will say to him, 'My brothers and my father's household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me; 32 and the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock; and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.' 33 "When Pharaoh calls you and says, 'What is your occupation?' 34 you shall say, 'Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,' that you may live in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians." 47:1 Then Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, and said, "My father and my brothers and their flocks and their herds and all that they have, have come out of the land of Canaan; and behold, they are in the land of Goshen." 2 He took five men from among his brothers and presented them to Pharaoh. 3 Then Pharaoh said to his brothers, "What is your occupation?" So they said to Pharaoh, "Your servants are shepherds, both we and our fathers." 4 They said to Pharaoh, "We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants' flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, therefore, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen." 5 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 "The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know any capable men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock." 7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 Pharaoh said to Jacob, "How many years have you lived?" 9 So Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning." 10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from his presence. 11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had ordered. 12 Joseph provided his father and his brothers and all his father's household with food, according to their little ones. 13 Now there was no food in all the land, because the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. 14 Joseph gathered all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan for the grain which they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house. 15 When the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, "Give us food, for why should we die in your presence? For our money is gone. 16 Then Joseph said, "Give up your livestock, and I will give you food for your livestock, since your money is gone." 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses and the flocks and the herds and the donkeys; and he fed them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. 18 When that year was ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, "We will not hide from my L-rd that our money is all spent, and the cattle are my L-rd's. There is nothing left for my L-rd except our bodies and our lands. 19 "Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be slaves to Pharaoh. So give us seed, that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate." 20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for every Egyptian sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. Thus the land became Pharaoh's. 21 As for the people, he removed them to the cities from one end of Egypt's border to the other. 22 Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh, and they lived off the allotment which Pharaoh gave them. Therefore, they did not sell their land. 23 Then Joseph said to the people, "Behold, I have today bought you and your land for Pharaoh; now, here is seed for you, and you may sow the land. 24 "At the harvest you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four-fifths shall be your own for seed of the field and for your food and for those of your households and as food for your little ones." 25 So they said, "You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my L-rd, and we will be Pharaoh's slaves." 26 Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt valid to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh's. 27 Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous. HAFTARAH READING: EZEKIEL 37:15-28 37:15 The word of the L-RD came again to me saying, 16 "And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, 'For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions'; then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.' 17 "Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. 18 "When the sons of your people speak to you saying, 'Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?' 19 say to them, 'Thus says the L-rd G-D, "Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand."' 20 "The sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. 21 "Say to them, 'Thus says the L-rd G-D, "Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms. 23 "They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their G-d. 24 "My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. 25 "They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons' sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. 26 "I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. 27 "My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their G-d, and they will be My people. 28 "And the nations will know that I am the L-RD who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever."'" B’RIT CHADASHAH READING: MATTHEW 2:1-15 2:1 Now after Yeshua was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 'AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'" 7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him." 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned by G-d in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way. 13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the L-rd appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him." 14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the L-rd through the prophet: "OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.