Why You Should Bless Your Children

We have arrived to the last Torah portion of the book of Genesis. The name of the portion is Vayechi (“he lives”), from Genesis 47:28-50:26. It is interesting that the portion of the Torah that announces the death of Sarah, the wife of Abraham, is called “The Life of Sarah”, and now the Torah portion that announces the death of Jacob is called “Jacob lives”.

The portion of the prophets is from 1 Kings 2:1-12. And from the New Testament we will be reading from Hebrews 11:12-22.

Jacob dies at the ripe old age of 147 years. Jacob lived in Egypt after he reunited with Joseph, his son, for 17 years. That’s exactly the same number of years that Joseph lived in his father’s house before he was sold as a slave in Egypt.

Genesis 37:2 tells us that Joseph was 17 years old when Jacob sent him to look for his brothers in Shechem, and they wanted to kill him and put Joseph their brother in the well. From there he was taken to Egypt and sold as a slave.

I find this very interesting, because it is a kind of divine retribution from the Almighty, repaying Jacob the same amount of years as he took care of Joseph at home. And Jacob loved Joseph especially and more than his brothers. Now, God returns these 17 years to Jacob under the care of Joseph in the best part of Egypt, in the Egyptian Delta of the Nile River.

The story of Joseph has all the elements of a good novel: love and hate, problems in the family, betrayal, suffering and success, being innocently abused by brothers and family, and by a lecherous woman (the wife of his boss), being falsely accused, and restoration from the lowest place the Egyptian jail to become the person right next to Pharaoh himself. From being a hated brother and being in the dungeon of the Egyptian jail, he becomes the most important man in Egypt.

What can we learn from Joseph’s story?

  1. Always have confidence in yourself and in your relationship with the Almighty God.
  2. Always do your best and make yourself useful and trustworthy, even if you are a slave.
  3. Always do your best work and be trustworthy, even if you are falsely accused and in jail for a crime that you didn’t commit.
  4. You do your best and trust in the justice of God to pay you back for the suffering for righteousness’ sake.
  5. God is always faithful to pay the righteous and innocent in this world, and in eternity.
  6. Doing good and being honest always pays off, and God rewards you even in the face of your enemies.
  7. Don’t repay evil for evil, but use every opportunity to bless those who abused you and hated you. Although this seems contrary to human nature, it really works. And the story of Jacob is one of the best examples of the importance of this rule.

One of the very interesting things in this Torah portion are the prophetic blessings that Jacob gives his sons from his deathbed. Each of the blessings was fulfilled.

This shows how important is the blessing of your family, and especially the blessings of a father to his children. As a father, you need to find every opportunity to bless your children and wish them verbally success and prosperity.

The blessing of a father is much more than the physical “things” that you give your children. This is especially true: it’s never too late to bless your children.

Giving your children physical things, gifts and toys, nice clothing and beautiful things, are all nice. But things are going to be lost, broken, and forgotten.

But your putting your hands on the heads of your children and speaking blessing on them and their lives is so much more important and powerful than buying your children “things”. As a father and a mother, you should look for every opportunity to verbally bless your children.

Each such blessing of a father for his children is monumental, even in the lives of the children, but also for the father. It is so important not only to discipline your children, but also to bless them and recognize not only their mistakes but also their achievements. Even when your children fail and make mistakes it is important to bless and encourage them.

Jacob’s recognition of his father and grandfather is very important for our understanding of Yeshua’s statement to His disciples, “I will make you fishers of men!” Let us delve into this statement of Yeshua and see where Yeshua gets this idea, and what is the real meaning of this proclamation of Yeshua to His disciples:

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’” — Mark 1:17 [NKJV]

Here is the source of Yeshua’s promise and proclamation to His disciples: Jacob is on his deathbed, and he is blessing his children and the children of Joseph.

Here is the text that is pertinent for our understanding of the words of Yeshua to His disciples:

“And he blessed Joseph, and said: ‘God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day, The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; Let my name be named upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’” — Genesis 48:15,16 [NKJV]

There are several things about this text that are intriguing, and need to be understood in greater depth. The only way to understand them is to dig deeper into this text and find out the sources of Jacob’s proclamation.

The first thing that I would like to unpack is Jacob’s use of the phrase: “The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil.” The context of this phrase is from verse 15-16, talking about before whom Abraham and Isaac walked, meaning that this Angel is God.

The second thing about this Angel mentioned is that he is a redeemer who redeemed Jacob from all evil. The third thing is that Jacob wants his name to be associated with Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. The fourth thing that Jacob blesses the children of Joseph is in the name of Abraham and Isaac: to grow into multitude in the midst of the Earth!

What is Jacob talking about Abraham and Isaac, when did Abraham and Isaac grow into a multitude? When in the narratives of Genesis or anywhere else did Jacob mention an angel that followed him and redeemed him?

Normally Jacob prayed and talked to God Himself, and God Himself talked to Jacob in that dream in Beth-El, when he used a rock for his pillow. Also in Genesis 32:9-12, we read:

“And Jacob said, ‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, “Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,” I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. But you said, “I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.”’” — Genesis 32:9-12

As you can see, Jacob is talking to the angel in the crossing of the Jabbok River, just before he crosses the River Jordan, and he is about to have the encounter with his brother Esau. But Jacob is addressing God of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac. This is the angel that Jacob also calls “my redeemer”!

We see the same in Genesis 28:15,20, and also in Genesis 31:3, and 35:3. The communication of Jacob is with God, but he calls the one whom he addressed God an Angel, a Messenger, sent and representing God directly.

Who could that angel, the redeeming Messenger of God, be? The difference between God and His divine Messenger/Angel is blurred in Genesis 31:3,11,13, and also in the encounter of Moses and the burning bush on Mount Sinai (Exodus 3:2-4).

This same pattern goes all the way to the prophet Hosea 12:3-6:

“In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his manhood he strove with God. He strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor. He met God at Bethel, and there God spoke with us— the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord is his memorial name: ‘So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.’” — Hosea 12:3-6

The other great revelation in this Torah portion is the phrase “teeming multitudes” that Jacob uses in relation to Abraham and Isaac. The phrase is translated in the Hebrew as “ve-yidgu”, a verb that is used only one time in the the Bible, and the root of this verb is DAG, “fish”.

“Fish” is a symbol of proliferation and multiplicity (see Numbers 11:22). The question is, what is the connection of Abraham with fishing for men?

Here is the source of this statement that Jacob makes in his blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh. When Abraham left Haran, when God sent Abraham to leave his home country and his family and go to the place that God will show him, this is the verse that Jacob is referring to concerning Abraham:

“So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the souls that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan…” — Genesis 12:4,5

Evangelism. And to evangelize in Hebrew, even in modern Hebrew, is called “to acquire souls!”

In Genesis 14 we learn that Abraham had 318 men between the ages of 20-50 in his camp. These are the men that chased the kings from the North, who captured Lot and his family and took them on the way to Damascus.

If Abraham had 318 men of that age, I would presume that most of them were married, and had at least one child. These were men that “Abraham “acquired”.

They were made in Haran. In other words, Abraham converted them from idolatry to faith in the One God who commanded him to leave Haran and go to the land that He will show him…

So, from Jacob’s deathbed we learn that Abraham and Isaac were fishing for men, evangelizing the pagans in Haran to believe and follow the God who is one, and the God who chose Abraham and His seed to bless all the nations of the world, and all humans.

The seed of Abraham in the singular, according to Paul in Galatians, is the Messiah Yeshua who sent us to teach the pagans that there is one God who loves the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son, Yeshua, to save the whole world! Yes, this is the source of what Yeshua said to His apostles to go and fish for men, i.e. to be like Abraham and Isaac!

Jacob dies and is mummified like an Egyptian, and when the children of Israel leave Egypt, with Moses and Aaron leading them, and God at the head of their camp by day as a cloud and by night a pillar of fire, there is a commission given to the seed of Abraham to be a holy priesthood for the world.

We must not forget that we are commanded to acquire, save, and bring the pagans to the Lord and place Israel as the priests to usher the nations to the Kingdom of God. Out of the darkness of idolatry and into the light of God’s presence, being fishers of men like our forefathers, Abraham and Isaac!

This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.