Parashat Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)
Genesis 44 (continued)
44:33 Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.
Comment: Previously Judah proposed selling Joseph due to jealousy. How come the jealousy is now overcome, so that Judah is willing to be a slave instead of Benjamin, whom he has many reasons to be jealous of?
His love of his dad is now greater than his jealousy of his brother. He also now knows how bad his dad would feel about losing a second child, since he himself lost two sons in Chapter 38, which had prepared his heart for his current repentance. In this sense, Chapter 38 about Judah’s sufferings is an integral part of Joseph’s story, since Judah’s convincing repentance now will immediately lead to Joseph’s reconciliation with his brothers (in the next chapter 45). (So this provides a second answer to the question that I posed in my comments on v.38:1.)
45:3 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.
Comment: What sound did the brothers actually hear, when Joseph spoke to them about his true identity?
The brothers heard the Prime Minister of Egypt speaking to them in their own Hebrew tongue: “ani yosef” (I am Joseph)! In the next verse (v.45:4), after 22 years of separation, Joseph will tell his brothers: “Come near to me, I pray you.” “I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.” Jews haven’t recognized Jesus as their Messiah for almost 2000 years already. They think of him as the idol of a foreign religion. However, one day, when Jesus comes again, he might tell his Jewish brothers in their own language: I am your brother and your Messiah, whom you rejected as a foreign idol! Come near me and follow me, please!
46:4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.
Comment: “I will also surely bring thee up again”: Gd promised to bring Jacob back to the promised land; But how is this possible, since Jacob would die in Egypt, before being buried in the promised land?
Gd never lies. It may be that Jacob’s death is regarded as a sleep, and that he would be transported back to the promised land in a state of sleep, and wake up in the future, at the time of resurrection from death.
46:26 All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six;
Comment: “All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives”: Why were the “souls” of the wives not counted here?
The souls (or lives) of sons, daughters and grandchildren, etc, “came out of” a person and could continue this person’s mission in this world even after his own departure. A wife’s soul (or life), on the other hand, did not come “out of” her husband, but instead, was merged later to his husband’s soul (or life), in their joint endeavors during their marriage, and is continued later in some sense in their joint children’s souls (or lives). The word soul here in Hebrew is nefesh, which means life for a living thing.
46:27 And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.
Comment: “All the souls”: These are the souls of “threescore and ten” (70) people, but why in Hebrew was it put in the singular form (nefesh instead of nefashot)?
The lives of all the descendants of Jacob will carry out his unfinished mission, UNITEDLY. (A related reference: Rashi’s comment on v. 46:26.)
47:7 And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
Comment: Did you notice here how Jacob changed from his younger years?
Jacob in his younger years tried hard to receive blessings (from his dad, in Ch 27). Now he likes to bless other people. This time he blesses Pharaoh. He will also bless his children and grandchildren in the later chapters.