Commentary on Parashat Vayeishev (And he dwelt)

Beresheet (Genesis) 37:1–40:23

The more I study and read from the first book of God’s Word, the book of Beresheet (Genesis), the more I marvel at how truly amazing it is. This book lays the foundation for every part of our faith, and gives us a glimpse into God’s prophetic story of redemption. In fact, we miss so much when we don’t study God’s Word from its first book! I will even go so far as to say that one can never truly understand “The New Covenant (Testament)” until s/he learns the rest of Scripture, beginning with the first book of the Bible.

As I have been doing in this series of blogs on the “mystery” that Rav Shaul referred to in his writings, I will continue to look at where Yeshua is found in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). This week’s reading brings us to some very rich and important passages; we learn of Joseph, whom we will concentrate on in the next few weeks as we explore the deep connection between Joseph’s story and Messiah Yeshua’s story. We also learn of the roots of the terms “Messiah Son of Joseph” and “Messiah Son of David” which are key concepts to understanding the two eras of Messiah in Jewish thought (Messiah the suffering servant, and Messiah the King).

I’d like to compare a few key elements that Joseph and Messiah Yeshua share in common:

The Father’s love

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a woolen coat. (Genesis 37:3)

We see here the deep love between Israel (Jacob) as the father and Joseph his son. Israel loved his son, Joseph, more than all of his other sons, which reminds us of our Heavenly Father’s love for His Son:

…and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

The jealousy of the brothers

And his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms. (Genesis 37:4)

Joseph’s brothers were jealous of the father’s love for him, and as a result they hated him. The root of this hatred was their pride & jealousy. What an amazing connection we see to Yeshua when we learn how Israel’s religious leaders hated Yeshua, especially when they could see the Father’s love for His son.

The Prophetic Truth

Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. And he said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.” Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, “Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” And he related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind. (Genesis 37:5–11)

Those dreams foretold what would happen in the future, when Joseph would indeed rule over his brothers by way of ruling Egypt (under Pharaoh). In a very similar way, Yeshua’s brothers (the people of Israel) rejected His appointment as the Messiah, as the One to whom we will all eventually bow down.

…that at the name of Yeshua EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Messiah Yeshua is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10–11)

The plot to kill Joseph

When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. And they said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer! Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’ Then let us see what will become of his dreams!” (Genesis 37:18–20)

Jacob’s brothers plotted to kill him due to their jealousy of him, and most likely the fear that what he said may come to pass; they even went so far as to desire him dead!  The Jewish leaders of Yeshua’s time plotted to do the same thing…

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Yeshua by stealth, and kill Him. (Matthew 26:3)

However, in spite of Joseph’s brothers’ plot, they could not kill him, simply because God had a plan for Joseph, and nothing happens unless God allows it to happen. We see this in the person of Reuben, who came to Joseph’s rescue (well, partial rescue):

But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, “Let us not take his life.” (Genesis 37:21)

In the same way, so it was when Yeshua was on earth; many times they plotted to kill him, but unsuccessfully because it simply was not His time yet.

The woolen coat

So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the woolen coat that was on him. (Genesis 37:23)

The brothers’ action closely mirrors what the Roman soldiers did with Yeshua’s garment:

The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Yeshua, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. They said therefore to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “THEY DIVIDED MY OUTER GARMENTS AMONG THEM, AND FOR MY CLOTHING THEY CAST LOTS.” (John 19:23–24)

Judah and the money

And Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? “Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. (Genesis 37:26-27)

What an amazing connection we find here! Judah suggested to the brothers to sell Joseph; Judas (which is “Judah” in Hebrew) also “sold” Yeshua for money:

Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, and said, “What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?” And they weighed out to him thirty pieces of silver. And from then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Him. (Matthew 26:14–15)

The empty pit
I am amazed at the fact that even small details such as the fact that the pit was empty points to our Messiah!

Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his garments. (Genesis 37:29)

This reminds me of the account from Matthew 28, when the two Mary’s came to the empty tomb where Yeshua had been laid. Of course, the big difference here is that Yeshua was resurrected, but the comparison is still valid.

False report

So they took Joseph’s coat, and slaughtered a male goat, and dipped the tunic in the blood; and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, “We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son’s tunic or not.” Then he examined it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!” So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, “Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.” So his father wept for him. (Genesis 37:31–35)

The brothers were too afraid to share the truth with their father, and therefore, upon their return they gave him a false report of what really happened; this reminds us of the false report that the Jewish leaders gave the Roman soldiers regarding to the empty tomb.

Now while they were on their way, behold, some of the guards came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and counseled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ “And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day. (Matthew 28:11-14)

There is so much more that I can write about the amazing connection between Joseph’s experience and that of Yeshua! It is a very rich subject, full of so many parallels. In next week’s blog, I will connect this week’s reading to next week’s reading when I look at the similarities between Joseph’s suffering and the Jewish concept of “Moshi’ach Ben Yosef” (Messiah Son of Joseph), which Yeshua fulfilled in His first coming.

In the meantime, I want to encourage you to take the time and read this amazing account again; there is so much we can glean from Joseph’s incredible life, the choice he always made to honor God first, and how God used him to save many people.

This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel, December 6, 2017, and reposted with permission.

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Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.