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Let’s follow the age of Joseph since Scripture reveals many timing markers.

17 years old – Genesis 37:2

30 years old – Genesis 41:46

+7 years – (Feast) Genesis 41:47

+2 years – (Famine) Genesis 45:6

Here we can add together the timing markers and discover that Joseph is 56 years old. We also learn that Jacob is 130 years old  – Genesis 47:9 – (Therefore Jacob was about 74 when Joseph was born.)

Add 17 years – Genesis 47:28

Joseph is 73 years old and Jacob is 147 years old. At this age Jacob passes away and Joseph lives 37 more years until he is 110.

My intention is not to extrapolate a hidden truth or deep insight from the ages of Joseph and Jacob. I just wanted to record the ages we are given and fill in the rest. The revelation of many character-specific timing markers is infrequent so the ages of Jacob and Joseph must be of great importance. Is there anything in these timing markers that you found intriguing? The only thing that stood out to me is that Joseph, who we understand to be a messianic figure, becomes viceroy over all of Egypt at age 30, which is the same age Yeshua began his ministry. (Lk. 3:23)

In my opinion, the most perplexing passage thus far in the Torah has been the record of Jacob’s blessings and how they relate to the “days to come.” (Gn. 49:1) It is clear that the blessings are poetic and prophetic; however, they are complex.  Benjamin’s blessing, for example, appears unfitting. Joseph treats him better than all of his other brothers and yet he receives a blessing about being a ravenous wolf. (This could be why Joseph gave him 5 times as much food at the banquet but most scholars disagree with this speculation.) It would seem that Benjamin’s blessing is meant for the future and is not a current description.

The blessing for Dan has a unique verse at the end:

“I wait for your salvation, O L-rd.” Genesis 49:18

This verse sounds similar to:

 “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the G-d of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Psalms 25:5

“But as for me, I will look to the L-rd; I will wait for the G-d of my salvation; my G-d will hear me.” Micah 7:7

The placement of the verse is fascinating because it is in the midst of the blessings but it does not seem to be part of the blessing. Also, it is strategically placed in the seventh blessing. We should all know that the number seven is significant. (Think about Shabbat! G-d literally rested on the seventh day!) In this placement we see the verse is between the blessing for Dan and Gad. Where else do we read about the positioning of the tribes? Numbers chapter 2 records the positions of the tribal encampment. In Numbers we see that Dan is encamped to the North and Gad is encamped to the South. The tribe of Judah is encamped to the East, between Dan and Gad! Issachar and Zebulun are also encamped with Judah and of course the encampments to the west would be between North and South but I thought this was interesting nonetheless.

The sages say that when Rachael forfeited a night with Jacob for mandrakes she lost the right to be buried with him. Regardless of the reason, it amazing that Jacob ends up being buried with Leah! For it was through Leah that Messiah, the Lion of Judah, was born! This means that everyone in the cave at Machpelah is an ancestor of Messiah.

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the L-RD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

In conclusion, ponder this amazing demonstration of G-d’s faithfulness, grace, and love:

“And Israel said to Joseph, ‘I never expected to see your face; and behold, G-d has let me see your offspring also.’” Genesis 48:11

We may be angry, frustrated, or discontent with our current situation. We may even question His promises, but the verse above is proof that what seems impossible to us is possible for Him. What we feel like we deserve may be significantly less then what G-d wants to give. If you obey, He will bless. That is His promise. (Deut. 30:16) G-d blessed Israel with more than he could have thought or asked (Eph. 3:20) and the same is possible for us if we walk in obedience and faith. (Deut. 11:13-15)

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Even as early as the book of Genesis we see the concept of a remnant. There are at least 3 different words in the Tanach for “remnant” but most of them are derived from the same root word which is שְׁאָר. In this week’s parasha we are going to explore the word for remnant used in Genesis 45:7. The word is  שְׁאֵרִית:

“And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant (שְׁאֵרִית) on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.” Genesis 45:7

It is easy to see that the word for remnant in Genesis 45:7 contains the root word. When words in Hebrew share a common root, they share a common idea. The whole Tanach is intricately woven together through the Hebrew language. Let’s continue to explore. Another use of the word שְׁאֵרִית is found in Jeremiah:

“Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.” Jeremiah 23:3

Now let’s look at the Apostolic Scriptures for the same root.

“And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant (ὑπόλειμμα hypoleimma) of them will be saved,’” Romans 9:27

The Greek word ὑπόλειμμα hypoleimma is only used once in all of Scripture. Here, is Paul is quoting from Isaiah 10:22:

“For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant (שְׁאָר)of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness.”

All of these verses are knit together by the root word for remnant. Genesis 45:7 not only describes the miraculous salvation of the tribes through Joseph but also foreshadows a future deliverance. Unfortunately, the truth is not and will not be popular. More people will have the fear of men and not the fear of G-d. In the end, only a remnant will be saved. Just as Joseph delivered the remnant of his family from the crippling famine so too will Yeshua deliver the remnant of His flock from destruction.

“He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again.” 2 Corinthians 1:10

Throughout these last few portions Benjamin has played a significant role. This week’s portion is no exception. In chapter 46 verse there a list of each tribe and their sons with a head count totaling seventy.  Benjamin, the youngest, had ten sons, which was the most out of all of his brothers. It is also a minion, or an assembly of ten men! If he pleased, Benjamin could have established his own community with just his family. They would not have had to deal with all those cousins and they would have been able to travel faster having fewer people. Despite the benefits, Benjamin stays with his family, travels with them, and settles with them in the land of Goshen. Without remaining joined to what would later be the nation of Israel Benjamin and his family would have perished due to the famine. Once again we see salvation is inextricably linked to Israel. Even though we have little communities and families we must remain united with Israel as a whole both in the physical sense and the spiritual sense.

“I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” Romans 11:17-18

Due, in part, to Benjamin’s faithfulness the total number of Jacob’s household that went to Egypt was seventy. In Exodus we learn of the seventy elders of Israel and also in Numbers it says:

“Then the L-RD said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you.” Numbers 11:16

It was no accident that the exact number of Jacob’s family that came into Egypt was also the same number designated for the amount of elders to lead Israel. Jacob’s family was the representative of Israel. Though they lived in Egypt they dwelled together and remained chaste to G-d’s instructions. The same was true for the elders. They were faithful, they dwelled together, and they represented the nation. One little discrepancy I have not been able to explain is this verse in Acts:

“And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all.” Acts 7:14

From where did the number seventy-five come? Was this a misquote or a deliberate clue? I would enjoy hearing your thoughts in the comment section.

Lesson One: Dreams can be very significant.

Lesson Two: G-d can use whomever He pleases to reveal His plan. (ex. Balam, Pharaoh)

Lesson Three: We should always present ourselves modestly and with decency to our superiors. The Torah seemingly goes out of its way to mention that Joseph “shaved and changed his clothes” before going before Pharaoh. If Joseph prepared himself to stand in front of a pagan ruler, then how much more should we present ourselves well in the presence of a righteous authority? In short, G-d cares about our appearance.

The portion closes with a significant insight. If we acknowledge the similarities between Joseph and Messiah then something interesting emerges in verse 17 of Chapter 44:

“But he said, ‘Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.’”

This verse comes after the offer for all of the brothers to become Joseph’s slaves. Joseph’s answer is both prophetic and Messianic. He righteously and adamantly rejects the idea of all of the brothers becoming servants as it is written,

“You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.” Leviticus 25:46

Only the brother with whom the cup was found will be his servant. By specifically placing the cup in Benjamin’s sack Joseph chose him to be his servant. Is this not the biblical means by which we receive salvation? Messiah chooses us and bestows the precious gift of salvation. Similarly Benjamin did not ask for the cup nor was he pleased upon his discovery of it because it meant the beginning of laborious service. Isn’t that our attitude sometimes toward our position as His servants? We allow the intimidation of obedience to quell the praise that should be on our lips. I pray this portion serves as a vivid reminder to die to our flesh and praise the Might One of Israel for His wondrous gift of salvation. Though our walk may be difficult at times His salvation comes with a promise. Just as Benjamin, whom Joseph had called, previously underwent a name change so too do we receive a new identity in Him.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“to put off your old self,which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of G-d in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

Shabbat Shalom

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