Vayechi

Genesis 47:28 – 50:26; Haftarah: I Kings 2:1 – 2:12

Synopsis –

In this last parasha of Genesis we study the death of Joseph and see how this was foretold from the beginning of his story in chapter 37. We focus our study on the various teachings found in Genesis regarding life – and more specifically, eternal life – from Sarah through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We then study Jacob’s prophecies in chapter 49 which speak very directly of the mystery of Christmas and of the babe born to whom shall be the gathering of nations.  Finally we return to Joseph’s death and his coffin which will be key to understanding the mystery of the tabernacle, of the Temple and eventually of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Scripture references from the episode

A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Mt 2:18 / Jer 31:15)

External Sources

Joseph & Aseneth

http://markgoodacre.org/aseneth/translat.htm

St. John of Damascus. On the Orthodox Faith.

The tree of life which was planted by God in Paradise pre-figured this precious Cross. For since death was by a tree, it was fitting that life and resurrection should be bestowed by a tree. Jacob, when he worshipped the top of Joseph’s staff, was the first to image the Cross, and when he blessed his sons with crossed hands he made most clearly the sign of the cross.

Ambrose – The Patriarchs 4.18–19

“A lion’s whelp is Judah.” Isn’t it clear that he represented the Father and manifested the Son? Is there any clearer way to teach that God the Son is of one nature with the Father? The one is the lion, the other the lion’s whelp. By this paltry comparison, their unity in the same nature and power is perceived. King proceeds from king, a strong one from one who is strong. Because Jacob foresaw that there would be those to claim that the Son was younger in age, he replied to them by adding, “From my seed you have come up to me. Resting you have slept like a lion and like a whelp.” And in a different passage you find that the whelp is himself “the lion of the tribe of Judah.”31 … But the Son is not being named in such a way as to be separated from the Father. Jacob, who confesses the Son, also esteems him equal.

Moreover, he represented the Son’s incarnation in a wonderful fashion when he said, “From my seed you have come up to me.” For Christ sprouted in the womb of the Virgin like a shrub upon the earth; like a flower of pleasing fragrance, he was sent forth in the splendor of new light and came up from his mother’s vitals for the redemption of the entire world. Just so, Isaiah says, “There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall come up out of the root.”32 The root is the household of the Jews, the rod is Mary, the flower of Mary is Christ. She is rightly called a rod, for she is of royal lineage, of the house and family of David.33 Her flower is Christ, who destroyed the stench of worldly pollution and poured out the fragrance of eternal life.

Ambrose – The Patriarchs 4.21–22 

“And he is the expectation of the nations.” Jacob spoke more meaningfully than if he had said, “The nations are expecting him,” for in Christ lies the entire hope of the church. Therefore it is said to Moses, “Remove the sandals from your feet.” Otherwise Moses, who was chosen as leader of the people, might be thought to be the bridegroom of the church. It was for that reason that Joshua, son of Nun, removed his sandals, in order that he also could preserve the gift of so great a function for him who was to come. It is for that reason that John says, “A man is coming after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” He also says, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices with joy.” This means he alone is the husband of the church, he is the expectation of the nations, and the prophets removed their sandals while offering to him a union of nuptial grace.

Ambrose – The Patriarchs 4.23

Let us be bound with bonds of a faith that is like a fruitful branch and cannot be undone, as it were, to that everlasting vine, that is, to the Lord Jesus, who says, “I am the vine; my Father is the gardener.” This explains the mystery that the Lord Jesus in the Gospel ordered an ass’s colt to be loosed and himself sat upon it; thus, like one that was bound to a vine, he could find rest in the everlasting goodness of the saints.

St. Jerome: Commentary on Isaiah 15.11

And wisdom has mixed this wine in its own mixing bowl [cf. Prov 9:2], summoning all the foolish of the age and those who do not have the wisdom of the world to drink [cf. Prov 9:4], and that we should buy not only wine but also milk, which signifies the innocence of little children. This custom and type is preserved even today in the churches of the West, of giving wine and milk to those reborn in Christ.22 And Paul was speaking about this milk, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food” [1 Cor 3:2], as well as Peter: “As newborn infants, desire rational milk” [1 Pet 2:2]. And this is why Moses understands the wine and milk in reference to the passion of Christ, and attests in mystical language, “His eyes shall be more cheering than wine and his teeth whiter than milk” [Gen 49:12].

Ambrose – The Patriarchs 11.51

And therefore, in that contemptible body, so to speak, “You prevailed by reason of the blessing of breasts and womb, the blessings of your father and mother.” Jacob spoke of the breasts, or the two Testaments, in one of which Christ was foretold and in the other revealed. And he did well to say “breasts,” because the Son nurtured us and offered us to the Father as people nourished on a kind of spiritual milk. Or else he is speaking of Mary’s breasts, which were truly blessed, for with them the holy Virgin gave milk to drink to the people of the Lord. This is the reason the woman in the Gospel says, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you.”

Testament of Joseph 20.3

Take Asenath, your mother, and bury her by the hippodrome, near Rachel, your grandmother.

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