Parashah Vayegash 2021 (And he approached) Genesis 44:18 – 47:27

We last left Benjamin framed by Joseph as being a thief, and Joseph told the other brothers to return to Canaan, but Benjamin will be Joseph’s slave, forever.

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Now Joseph receives the answer to the question of whether or not his brothers had changed, for which he has been testing them from their first visit.

Judah, who you recall had guaranteed the safety of Benjamin, approaches Joseph and begs him to allow Judah to remain as his slave, in lieu of Benjamin, because if Benjamin doesn’t return to Jacob, Jacob will be so saddened, having already lost Joseph, the only other son of his beloved Rachel, that he will die.

Joseph is so moved by this act of self-sacrifice, realizing that his brothers have changed, that he dismisses all his house servants so he can finally reveal his true identity to his brothers.

Of course, they are shocked and can’t believe it at first, but upon closer examination, they realize this ruler over all of Egypt is, indeed, their brother, Joseph.

Joseph is quick to tell them they are not to be afraid of retribution because it was God who was behind sending Joseph to Egypt, in order to save many lives. He tells them to return to Cannan and bring his father, and their entire household, down to Egypt and he will attend to their every need from now on.

Pharaoh hears that Joseph’s brothers are there and orders Joseph to have the entire household move to Egypt, and they shall live in the best part of the land, Goshen. When the brothers return to Jacob they relate the story of how Joseph is not just still alive, but ruler over Egypt. After the initial shock of hearing this wonderful news, Jacob is quick to say “Let’s go!” The entire family, as well as their servants, move to Goshen, a total of about 70 people.

Before leaving, God speaks to Jacob in a dream and tells him that he should go down to Egypt because that is where God will make him into a mighty nation. I believe that God gave approval to Jacob because if you recall, God told Isaac, during a previous famine, not to go to Egypt (Genesis 26) and so maybe Jacob was a little leery about going. But, when God said to go and that he would be with Jacob while in Egypt, that sealed the deal.

After the family had made the trip, Joseph presented 5 of his brothers to Pharaoh, instructing them what to say so that Pharaoh would place them in Goshen. He also presented Jacob, who apparently impressed Pharaoh.

The rest of the parashah tells how after a few years, the people of Egypt had no money left to buy food, so Joseph had them trade their cattle for food, retaining the cattle in their possession to tend it for Pharaoh. Later, when the cattle all belonged to Pharaoh and the people had no more cattle to trade, Joseph had them trade their land, which they still worked, and eventually themselves as indentured servants. They would keep 4/5 of their harvest and give the other 5th to Pharaoh in return for his allowing them to farm the land. In this way, Joseph made Pharaoh not just ruler over all of Egypt, but the owner of the land and the cattle and the people, as well.

This is where the parashah ends.

Have you ever asked yourself, if God promised Abraham that his descendants would live in Canaan, why did God now send the descendants into Egypt? Why couldn’t God have grown them into a mighty nation while they were still in Canaan?

Well, first off, God could have grown them into a mighty nation any old place he wanted to; I mean, after all…he IS God, right?

I believe that God wanted them in the land of Egypt, specifically in Goshen because this would isolate them from the many bad influences that would have surrounded them on all sides if they remained in Canaan.

Even though God can protect us, he also lets us live as we choose. At that time there was no Torah for Jacob and his sons to follow, so by bringing them into a land that was (somewhat) isolated from the rest of the pagan world, God made it easier for the Israelites to multiply and remain true to God.

God knew that staying in Canaan had the potential of causing the worship and relationship with God that Jacob and his sons had to be polluted by outside influences. As the Israelites grew in numbers and power, the cultural standard of forming political alliances through intermarriage would probably have happened at some point, and that could have severely interfered with God’s plan for his chosen people.

We can see this happening later, with Solomon. Even though Solomon was the wisest of all the kings of Israel, a God-fearing man who had the example of his father David’s relationship with God to guide him, it wasn’t until after he formed political alliances through intermarriage that his worship became polluted and he committed terrible sins against Adonai.

This most likely would have happened to the Israelites as they grew in numbers, had they remained in Canaan. Relocating the entire clan to Goshen was a way to stop the problem before it started.

Unfortunately, there was still some level of pollution, which we can see when, after 400 years of being exposed to the Egyptian religious practices while slaves, the Israelites adopted some of them, which was evident at the sin of the Golden Calf.

This is one of the greatest challenges we, as God-fearing Believers who accept Yeshua as our Messiah, have to deal with during our lifetime: being surrounded by the world but not influenced by it.

It is as difficult as walking blindfolded through a field full of sheep and getting to the other side with clean shoes.

But do it, we must! We must obey the laws and we must not return hatred for hatred to those who disagree, argue, and even berate and persecute us for our beliefs.

To avoid the traps of other religions and practices, we must know what God wants from us, which is in the Torah. We must also know the entire Bible because when we read the other books of the Tanakh, we learn how God has both punished and saved his people throughout the past 6,000 or so years, which serves as a constant reminder of what happens when we reject God. It also serves as a comfort to know that over the millennia, despite how sinful we had been, when we repented and asked forgiveness, God was not just willing to forgive us, but he desired to do so.

We will all backslide occasionally, some more than others (that’s the group I am in), and much of it is because of the influences of the flesh-loving world that we cannot avoid. If we go into hermit mode, we can avoid the worldly influences but then we would not be doing what we are supposed to do, which is to be a light in the darkness (Ephesians 5:8). After all, how can we be a light in the darkness if we never enter the darkness, right?

It’s a tough battle, which is why I constantly try to remind everyone that although salvation is a free gift that can never be earned, it is also a very hard gift to keep because although no one can take it away, we can throw it away.

So hold tight to your salvation by faithfully obeying God’s commandments and celebrating his Holy Days, because the world wants you to throw it all away and join their party.

But one day, and it looks to be very soon, their party will be raided and if you are there with them, you end up in spiritual jail, forever.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages, subscribe to my website, YouTube channel, and join my Facebook discussion group called Just God’s Word (if you want to join our group, please make sure you read and agree to the rules.)

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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

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