Vayigash

Genesis 44:18 – 47:27; Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15 – 37:28

Synopsis –

In this penultimate parasha of Genesis we study Joseph’s dealings with his brothers and how throughout their common life the brothers hated him for no reason – a sentiment that will be with them to the final chapter of Genesis, and the final chapter of their lives. We study several examples in the text where Joseph – as the ruler of Egypt – shows them extreme goodness and benevolence which they are consistently unable to see because of their preconceptions and their fear. Ultimately, in the person of Judah becoming a “pledge” for his brother Benjamin (this word in Hebrew means “to be mixed-in with”) – we see the brothers finally finding peace in unity and in acceptance of the will of God.

 

Scripture references from the episode

“He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites xis not yet complete.” (Ge 15:9–16)

External Sources

Jubilees 43.11–15

And Judah said, “I pray O lord, let me, your servant, speak a word in my lord’s ear. His mother bore two brothers to our father, your servant. One went forth and was lost, and was not found. 12 And he alone was left from his mother, and your servant, our father, loves him. And his life is bound with the life of this (one). And it will come to pass that if we go to your servant, our father, and if the lad is not with us, he will die. And we will bring down our father to death with sorrow. 13 And let me, your servant, remain alone instead of the child as a servant to my lord, and let the lad go with his brothers because I was put as a pledge for him at the hand of your servant, our father. And if I should not return him your servant will always be guilty to our father.” 

Joseph reveals himself to his brothers

14* And Joseph saw that the heart of all of them was in accord one with another for good. And he was unable to control his emotion and he told them that he was Joseph. 15 And he conversed with them in the Hebrew language and embraced their necks and wept

(Gn 45:3) Ambrose – On Joseph 12.67 

And Joseph ordered all to withdraw so that he could be recognized by his brothers. For, even as Jesus said, he had not come except to the lost sheep that were the lost of the house of Israel. And lifting up his voice with weeping he said, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” This means, Jesus stretched out his hands to an unbelieving and contradicting people, for he did not seek an envoy or messenger but, as their very Lord, desired to save his own people. “I myself who spoke, I am here,” and “I was made manifest to those who sought me not; I appear to those who asked me not.” What else did he cry out at that time but “I am Jesus”?When the leaders of the Jews tempted him and asked, “Are you the Son of God?” he answered, “You say that I am,” and to Pilate he said, “You say that I am a king; in this I was born.” And when the chief priest said, “I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us whether you are Christ, the Son of God,” Jesus responded, “You have said it. Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of the power and coming upon the clouds of heaven.” This is what Joseph means when he says, “I am Joseph.” 

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