This week our Torah portion brings us to the end of Genesis. Something that struck me this year was the way Joseph and his brothers honored their father after he died. The text describes how his sons honored their father's wishes by their mourning rituals, burying him in the family plot at Hebron, and becoming reconciled with each other.
In Genesis, an emphasis is placed on looking back and honoring where we come from. We read about the "funerals" of Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We also read about other deaths and burials, but in these four cases, we read about how their loved ones came together at their passing. This is important because the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not get along very well with their siblings. However, when their fathers passed away, we specifically read that the sons came together to honor their fathers, which brought reconciliation to the sons and honor to their deceased parent (see, e.g., Gen 25:8–9; 35:28–29; & 50:1–8.
This is not a coincidence! These stories serve more than one purpose. In the big scheme of things, they teach us about the value of reconciliation. But, they also teach us the value of honoring our fathers. When the Torah is given at Sinai, we know that one of the Ten Commandments is to honor our father and mother. When we are children, we honor our fathers by obeying them. When we are adults, we honor them in a variety of ways such as visiting them and expressing love and appreciation in different ways. When they are old, we honor them by caring for them. And, when they are deceased, we honor them by remembering them.
However, many people did not grow up with loving fathers or with a father at all. How do you honor a father who is not worthy of honor? One way is to forgive them—even if they are deceased. This can be difficult, but, in Yeshua, forgiveness and healing are possible. Joseph was able to forgive his brothers, and the past was redeemed. May we be encouraged by the value of family that is demonstrated in the story of Jacob and his sons. May we be the agents of reconciliation, forgiveness, and honor. Israel had a future because God worked in the hearts of parents and children despite the familial difficulties. We all come from somewhere different. In Messiah Yeshua, we have a father who gives us an identity in Himself that brings healing, encouragement, and thankfulness. May we be able to honor our father and mother as we move forward in our life in Messiah.