We come to the end of this book, the first book of the Torah. Here we read of Jacob blessing his children, adopting Joseph’s two sons as his own, and making Joseph swear to have him buried with his fathers, in Canaan.
If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.
When Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons, he gave the better blessing to the second-born, Ephraim, thereby putting Ephraim over Manasseh. Joseph tried to correct his father, assuming that due to his poor eyesight Jacob did that accidentally, but Jacob knew what he was doing.
The blessing over his 12 sons was, if you ask me, somewhat cruel in that he was not at all nice to Reuben, reminding him of the sin of sleeping with his father’s concubine, thereby losing the rights of the firstborn. Levi and Simeon were treated to a scathing blessing, as well, due to the violent and underhanded way they killed the men of Shechem (Genesis 34).
Judah is made ruler of the clan, replacing “unstable as water” Reuben, and Joseph was given the double-portion that would have been given to the firstborn.
After Jacob dies, he is embalmed and there is a large caravan that carries him back to Canaan to be buried after a week of mourning.
The brothers fear that Joseph will now, with his father dead, take vengeance on them and so they lie to him, saying that Jacob told the brothers to ask Joseph to forgive them, but Joseph states that even though they meant him harm, God was really behind the entire episode in order to send Joseph to Egypt so that he could save many lives. Joseph, instead of taking vengeance, promises to care for his brothers and their children as long as they live.
Joseph dies and is embalmed, but not until after he charges his people to remember that God will one day bring them back to the land he promised them, and when that day comes they must take his body with them, and bury him in Canaan.
Every time we come to the end of one of the books of the Torah, we say this:
חזק, חזק, וניט חזק!!
(Chazak, chazak, v’nit chazek!!)
Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened!!
I want to talk about how the term “Until Shiloh come” (from Jacob’s blessing of Judah) has been treated to teach Jews to reject this as a messianic prophecy. I have often, and mostly, talked about the traditional ways that Christianity has caused Jews to reject Jesus, but now I want to point out how within Judaism, we have also done this to ourselves.
There are many reasons why Jews have rejected Jesus as their Messiah, but I don’t want to go into that now. What I want to do is show how Jewish scholars, such as the commentator of this Chumash, Rabbi J. H. Hertz, C.H., who was the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire (this Chumash is the second edition from 1965) treated certain messianic passages that occur in the Book of Genesis.
At the end of each Torah book, the Chumash has a section that is titled “Additional Notes”, which is a detailed explanation of many of the aspects and events in the book that aren’t covered in the footnotes. The end of the additional notes for Genesis has a paragraph entitled, “Alleged Christological References in Scripture.”
Already you can get a “feel” for what he is going to say.
He deals with the term “Until Shiloh come” (Gen. 49:10), saying that the ancient translations ignore or reject the letter Yod in the word Shiloh (שילא) and instead interpret it as (שלא), which means “his” or could be a poetic form of the word “peace”, rendering the meaning to be “until he comes to whom the kingdom belongs”, or simply “until peace comes.” But he concludes that most believe it to mean the actual place, Shiloh, where the sanctuary was located during the times of the Judges.
This is an obvious means to an end, which is to refute the Christian understanding of this as meaning a name for the Messiah. By interpreting this passage as meaning “until the people come to Shiloh” and explaining that the tribe of Judah’s superiority (in accordance with Jacob’s blessing) didn’t occur until after the temple was built in Jerusalem, it is easy to conclude that the messianic interpretation cannot be justified.
I don’t agree with that for one obvious reason: the temple was built during Solomon’s time, but Judah’s ruling status began when David became king. If we accept the messianic interpretation, which is that Judah will rule until the Messiah comes, then things make sense since Messiah didn’t come until after the ruling tribe, Judah, lost its rulership when Rome appointed Herod as king and took away the authority of the Jewish courts to make life and death decisions.
One last thing to note, which is so biased it may upset some, but in this discussion about Shiloh, this pious and scholarly Rabbi says:
“Despite the fact that nowhere in Scripture is that term applied to the Messiah, Christian theologians assume that Shiloh is a name of the Founder of Christianity. In this sense, ‘Till Shiloh come’ is a favorite text of Christian missionaries in attempting to convert illiterate Jews or those ignorant of Scripture.”
Well, that certainly doesn’t sound very bigoted, does it?
And as scholarly as R. Hertz was, he apparently didn’t know that the Christian faith that existed then, as it does now, was mainly created by Constantine and has very little, if anything, to do with what Yeshua taught.
He then gives an example of how even some Christian theologians reject the messianic meaning and adds to his diatribe the argument over the word “virgin” in Isaiah 14 as meaning nothing more than a young woman of marriageable age, and not necessarily “virgin.”
The final attack to a messianic passage is his reference to Isaiah 53 (which, by the way, since the early 1900s is never read in a synagogue), saying this about it:
“For eighteen hundred years Christian theologians have passionately maintained that it is a Prophetic anticipation of the life of the Founder of their Faith.”
He goes on to state that an “impartial examination” of the chapter reveals that it is talking about a past historical event. However, there is no reference to what that event was. His concluding thought is that modern scholarship has shattered these arguments which Christian missionaries use against ignorant Jews.
This is the sort of treatment of Christianity that I was taught while I was growing up and attending Hebrew and religious classes at my Reform temple on Long Island. So, for those who are Gentile and raised in any of the Christian religions, maybe now you can imagine how difficult it is for a Jewish person to even think about accepting Jesus as their true Messiah. Besides the hatred of Jesus in our upbringing, rejecting him is compounded exponentially by the knowledge of the historic persecution of Jews, all in the name of Jesus!
This hatred is so great, that this Rabbi, a godly man, can’t even bring himself to write the name “Jesus”, but instead refers to him as the “Founder of their Faith”.
I am talking about this because it is so important to understand the innate hatred Jews have been taught for anything Christian, and that when trying to talk to a Jewish person about Jesus, you will never get anywhere using the name “Jesus” or quoting from the New Covenant. If you can’t relate to a Jewish person using the Old Covenant and the true and proper name for our Messiah, which is Yeshua, then you are not only wasting your time and theirs but even worse- you are adding to the existing desire to reject anything Christian, especially Jesus!
It took me some 40+ years before I accepted Yeshua as my Messiah, and that was only because I was led to a Messianic synagogue with a Jewish Rabbi who I could relate to as a Jew.
The animosity between Judaism and Christianity is real- many of you may argue against this, but if you haven’t been exposed to it from either side, you should count yourself as blessed, but naive. Without accepting that Jews are taught to reject anything Christian because Jesus was a traitor to Judaism and his followers want nothing more than to either convert Jews or kill them, then you will never be successful in helping Jewish people accept their Messiah, Yeshua.
On the Christian side of this, they have traditionally been taught to reject the Torah, and the worst thing I can think of in Christianity is the ideology called Replacement Theology. This states that because the Jewish people have rejected Jesus, they are now rejected by God as his chosen people and are doomed to damnation, claiming that the only “real” chosen people now are Born Again Christians.
Hatred and bigoted attitudes have grown over the millennia from the misinterpretations from man-made religions which have turned Jews and Christians against each other, even though both worship the same God who created them.
What people need to do, first and foremost, is read the Bible themselves. They need to study the passages, study the history, learn the cultural meaning of words and phrases used at that time and verify what they are told hermeneutically. That means when they see something in the New Covenant that has been interpreted as rejecting the Torah, if they can’t find it anywhere in the Old Covenant they will know that something isn’t right.
Rabbi Hertz said that biblical passages were being used by missionaries against ignorant people, and he was right. This happens in both Judaism and Christianity, so it is up to us, those who know the truth about the Jewish Messiah, what he taught, how he lived, and who is the real founder of this modern Christian faith, to disseminate the truth through a patient and compassionate understanding of what people have had shoved down their throats their entire lifetime.
The only way to overcome bigotry, which is founded in ignorance, is to remove the ignorance.
Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know to help this ministry grow. I welcome your comments and please make sure to subscribe to my website, to my youtube channel, buy my books and share them with others, and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word.”
That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!