In our desire to provide you with the teaching of Messiah Yeshua in a Jewish context, we provide in-depth teachings of the weekly Torah portions throughout the year. Below are various perspectives from various teachers and staff members from Netivyah Bible Instruction ministry.

Joseph Shulam: Son of Joseph, Son of David [2022]

This Shabbat our readings is from Genesis 44:18-47:27, and from the prophets (the Haftarah) we will be reading from Ezekiel 37:15-28. From the New Testament the reading will be from Acts 7:6-15.

The Torah reading is the heart of the story of Joseph in Egypt. It is the great reconciliation between Joseph, the second-in-command over all of Egypt, just under the Pharaoh himself, and his 11 raggedy brothers who came to get food from Egypt.

Just a note on the geographic and strategic location of Egypt in the Middle East then and now: where there is a dry year, in the Middle East Egypt becomes the source of food and supplies the lands around with food and sustenance.

We see this in the days of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. When there is drought in the Middle East, especially in the land of Canaan and on the east side of the Jordan River, the place to go for food is Egypt.

Why? The reason is the Nile River. The Nile River is one of the longest rivers in the world, and it flows from the South to the North.

It is the only sizable river that crosses the Equator from south to north. The Nile brings the rainwater from the southern hemisphere north. In the northern hemisphere it is summer, and in the southern hemisphere it is winter, the rainy season.

It is rare for Egypt to have hunger, because the Nile brings the water north and ends on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Even if is totally dry and desert in Egypt, along the center the Nile runs and floods just exactly when there is a hot summer. This is the reason why our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the sons of Jacob go down to bring food from Egypt to the land of Canaan.

Our Torah Portion starts with the Hebrew word “vayigash” (“came near to him” or “approached him”). Judah feels remorse and knows how much Jacob his father loves Benjamin who, according to his knowledge, is only son of Rachel that is alive. Joseph had a strategic plan to keep Benjamin his brother in Egypt, by placing the silver goblet in Benjamin’s sack of grain, and accusing Benjamin of stealing.

Judah is now showing signs of repentance and regret, and is willing to sacrifice his own freedom in order to have Benjamin free to return to Jacob his father. Judah is doing this to save Benjamin, and also to save his father from grieving for Benjamin and suffering the loss of Rachel’s second son.

This action of Judah, which is out of Judah’s normal character, is shaking Joseph’s soul, and now he can’t play that game with his brothers. Joseph is moved to the depth of his soul by Judah’s action and willingness to suffer in order to save the suffering of Benjamin and also the grief of his father Jacob.

Judah is willing to go to jail in place of his brother Benjamin. These words of Judah to Joseph just melt Joseph’s heart:

“Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?” — Genesis 44:33,34 [NKJV]

Here is the most dramatic moment in the whole five books of Moses! It could be that these are the most prophetic words in the Bible too, and the most important paradigm of how I picture Yeshua is going to act after landing with a band of angels on top of the Mount of Olives.

Here is what Joseph does after hearing Judah, his older brother, willing to sacrifice his own freedom in order to save Benjamin and the grief of their father Jacob:

“Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, ‘Make everyone go out from me!’ So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph; does my father still live?’ But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.” — Genesis 45:1-3 [NKJV]

When I read this text in the Torah, I can’t help to close my eyes and imagine Yeshua landing on the Mount of Olives with the thousands of angels surrounding and singing Hallelujah to the Lamb. The Supreme Court of Israel will come to bless and greet the Messiah. The Orthodox rabbis will come trembling and white-faced from fear, to welcome the Messiah Yeshua.

The Messiah will ask to kick all the foreign missionaries out of the Knesset, and after they are all out, like the Egyptian servants and guards of Joseph went out, Yeshua the Messiah will say to the Israeli rabbis and judges and Knesset (parliament) members, “I am Yeshua your brother! I am the One against whom you screamed ‘crucify Him, crucify Him….’, I forgive you because you didn’t know what you are doing!”

The most important text in this Torah portion, connected with Joseph and his brothers, is the following:

“Even though you planned evil against me, God planned good to come out of it. This was to keep many people alive, as he is doing now.” — Genesis 50:20 [GWORD]

It is no secret that rabbinical Judaism has developed a concept of two messiahs. The Messiah-son-of-Joseph and the Messiah-son-of-David.

The Messiah-son-of-Joseph is the Messiah of Isaiah 53, and the Messiah-son-of-David is from Isaiah 63. A reigning and kingly Messiah, riding with His sword in His hand to bring judgment on all flesh and rule the world in righteousness.

We have reprinted a small book that was written by our dear brother Elhanan ben Avraham. The book is about the relationship of the story of Joseph, son of Jacob, who serves as a model of the Messiah and is called in Judaism “Messiah Son of Joseph.”

There are many points that are common between Joseph’s Messiah with the Messiah Yeshua. Get this book here.

Yehuda Bachana: Joseph’s Big Reveal [2022]

Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.

Dear friends, today we are going to read the Torah Portion called Vayigash. Our reading begins with the dramatic development of the story. Joseph, unrecognized by his brothers, sets them up, and the silver goblet, that was reported stolen, is found in Benjamin’s belongings. It seems like his fate is sealed: to be sold as a slave in Egypt, in the same way it happened to his brother Joseph.

But what we do not understand from reading the story beforehand, is why Joseph did not take any steps in order to find and reconnect with his family in Canaan. More so, fate literally brought his brothers to his doorstep. Why didn’t he try to check, what do they think of him now, after all these years?

We know that 22 years had passed, and we know that Joseph was only 17 years old when he was sold to Egypt, it means that back then, his older brothers were in their 20s and 30s, and now they are around 40 or 50. Everyone grew up, became more mature and wiser, and Joseph’s brothers are no longer the hothead jealous youngsters.

So why didn’t Joseph reveal himself to his brothers? Why didn’t he get in touch with his family, when his life turned around, when he achieved his high position, when he got to the top of the Egyptian leadership?

I don’t have an answer to why he did not reveal himself to his brothers at the very beginning. My assumption would be, that seeing his brothers so close was for Joseph a combination of shock and a post-traumatic experience. All his bad and scary memories overwhelmed him, he felt again the same fear that he felt in the dry pit of the Dothan Valley.

He remembered how his brothers casually discussed his fate over lunch, trying to decide the best way of killing him. Maybe he remembered the horrors of that trip to Egypt, as a slave in a caravan of merchants. All those feeling and memories caught him unprepared and he didn’t know how to control them.

It can all be explained by his surprise and the pressure of a moment. He doesn’t know what to do when the pain and memories are so overwhelming.

I can understand this moment, when he finally sees his brothers face to face. But what about all the previous years, why didn’t he get in touch with his family?

When Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, he was promoted and became the second-most important person in Egypt after Pharaoh. In one moment, he was a Hebrew slave in prison, miserable and despised by all, and in the next moment, he is above all, above the counselors, above the wizards, above the ministers and all the officials of Egypt.

How did the people in the king’s palace receive the newcomer, when he became only second to the king? When he became their boss? When a moment ago, he was nothing: a Hebrew prisoner, accused of attempted rape by another Egyptian official.

The Egyptian attitude towards Hebrews is clearly seen in a text from the last week’s reading. When the brothers arrived to Egypt the second time, Joseph invited them to share his meal, and they were sitting at separate tables:

“…because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians.” — Genesis 43:32

If the joining of a Hebrew to a meal was considered detestable, we can only imagine the feelings of the different ministers and officials in the palace about Joseph’s sudden promotion, when this detestable Hebrew dude became their boss. We can assume that they envied and probably even hated Joseph.

And Joseph? Oh, he learned to recognize this feeling of envy and hatred, and he tried to get as far from it as possible. He knew that any wrong step would be interpreted in the worst possible way, and that for any mistake he would pay dearly.

That’s why Joseph had to show absolute loyalty to Pharaoh and to the Egyptian people. He was observed by a thousand eyes, and his every move was examined through a magnifying glass. He had to forget his past and his heritage and be completely dedicated to Egypt.

Even after Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, he did not make any personal decisions without asking Pharaoh first:

“Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Tell your brothers, “Do this… and bring your father and your families back to me.”’” — Genesis 45:17,18

And the carriages that brought Jacob to Egypt did not belong to Joseph, but to Pharaoh:

“…and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him.” — Genesis 46:5

This way no one would criticize Joseph, because it was Pharaoh’s decision. So, it is not surprising, that after some time, when the new Pharaoh, who did not know Joseph, came to power, he made the children of Israel into slaves.

Now, with better understanding of the situation, I would like to go back to the beginning of our Torah portion and examine Judah’s speech.

We all have sensitive spots in our relationships with our family members, with our parents, siblings, spouses and children. Joseph is no different, and in a little while we will learn that he misses his family very much. He misses his father, he is tired of being alone, tired of being cautious of his every step in the palace.

And Judah? Jewish history followed in his steps, we are all called by his name, Jews — meaning “coming from Judah”. God has chosen Judah and established the house of David through him.

Yeshua the Messiah comes from the seed of Judah and from the house of David. In the New Testament Yeshua is called a Jew, He was crucified as a King of Jews, and others, like the Samaritans, knew that He is a Jew. In John chapter 4, we witness a meeting between Yeshua and a Samaritan woman, who is telling Him “You are a Jew…” (John 4:9).

In our Torah portion, the brothers, headed by Judah, are making their last attempt to save Benjamin, and it involves a personal scarifies. Judah is willing to take Benjamin’s punishment upon himself and to become a slave instead of Benjamin.

And here again, his leadership qualities are impressive. This sacrifice reminds us of Messiah, who will come from the seed of Judah, and will offer us all the eternal sacrifice. He will offer to give Himself for us, so that we can be free. This is Yeshua the Messiah.

As I said before, we all have soft spots, and Judah noticed a soft spot in Joseph. When I read the book of Genesis, I am impressed with Judah’s wisdom, he knows how to go with your line of thought, and then turn it to a different direction.

In my opinion, it is a positive quality, it is wisdom, and this is how Judah managed to convince his brothers in the Dothan Valley not to kill Joseph. Two of the brothers wanted to save Joseph: Judah and Reuben. It appears that Judah was in line with most of the brothers, that is, to kill Joseph, and then, in the last moment he convinced them not to kill Joseph, but to get rid of him in a different way.

The same two brothers, Judah and Reuben, later tried to convince Jacob to let them take Benjamin to Egypt, so they can buy more food. Jacob refuses Reuben, but hears out Judah, because Judah has this ability to influence people around him.

In our Torah portion Judah recognized a soft spot in Joseph, he saw that Joseph was touched when they spoke about their father and younger brother. Judah noticed that Joseph is acting differently in Benjamin’s presence, when he blessed Benjamin, and gave him the largest portion during the meal.

Generally speaking, Joseph is acting in a strange way, and it is described in the following verse:

“The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment.” — Genesis 43:33

This verse says that the brothers found the situation strange.

The care for Benjamin, the younger brother, and the unusual, beyond normal, interest in their father. I am sure that Judah had noticed all of it.

Judah saw this soft spot and aimed right to it. In his speech, Judah used the word father, in every possible way, 14 times! He mentioned the image of a younger brother or a youth 12 times!

The main purpose of his speech was to make it clear to Joseph that they did not want to hurt their younger brother and their father. Judah is squeezing Joseph’s soft spot until Joseph could not take it any longer and burst into tears.

The first question that he asked was,

“Is my father still alive?” — Genesis 45:3

Joseph is tired to be alone, he misses home, he misses his father’s love. As Messianic believers, as Jews who believe in Yeshua the Messiah and the New Testament, we see many similarities between Joseph and Yeshua. Same as Joseph, Yeshua wants to get back home, to His brothers, to His family, to His people.

And when the nation of Israel will be ready, Yeshua will confess and tell us: “I am Yeshua, your brother, come to me and I will give you the bread of life.”

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come close to me.’” Joseph explained to his brothers that everything that happened till this moment was part of God’s plan.

“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” — Genesis 45:5

Yeshua is calling us to Him:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” — Matthew 11:28

Yeshua will comfort us and tell us not to worry that we sold Him to foreign nations, because all of it is actually a part of the divine plan of the salvation of the world. He will say it in the same way, as Joseph: “…because it was to save lives that God send me ahead of you”.

God has sent Yeshua the Messiah ahead of us. To save many, so we can have an eternal life in Him.

The accusation that we, the Jews, have killed God, is a ridiculous one. First of all, how can a human kill God?

Second: “to save lives God send me ahead of you”. Yeshua came to save the world, to give to the world the bread of life, all of it, as part of the divine plan.

And contrary to the life of Joseph, who was forcibly sold into Egyptian slavery and the situation was imposed on him, in Yeshua’s case, He did it by His own free will. He came here to take upon Himself our sins, and to give us life.

Following Joseph’s words, his brothers are returning home to Jacob:

“They told him, ‘Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.’ Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them.” — Genesis 45:26

Although Joseph’s brothers saw with their own eyes that he is alive and is ruling the Egyptian Empire, they still didn’t believe him at first. Joseph had to convince them that it is really him.

And now they are coming back to Jacob, their carts are filled with the best Egypt has to offer: food, clothing, money. But Jacob does not believe them. He sees the goods but does not believe.

Our situation today is quite similar. Yeshua is alive, but He looks like an Egyptian, He is dressed like an Egyptian. They paint Him blond with blue eyes, He looks European, a foreigner, a stranger to His own culture.

And what about us? The sons of Jacob, the children of Israel. We are suffering form hunger, a spiritual hunger.

When the time will be right, and we as Messianic Jews pray that it will happen soon, Yeshua will reveal Himself and will say: “I am Yeshua, your brother, your own flesh and blood”.

It is a very exciting Torah portion, it speaks about reconciliation, and relationships healing in the family. And at the end of his life Jacob finally receives peace and comfort.

When Jacob is brought before Pharaoh and is asked about his age, he answered:

“And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.’” — Genesis 47:9

Till now Jacob said that his years have being few and difficult, but now he gets to rest in the arms of his family. He receives land in the region of Goshen and there he enjoys calm and prosperity.

This portion starts with Joseph’s dramatic revelation and ends in a good and encouraging way:

“Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.” — Genesis 47:27

Jacob lived in Egypt with his family for 17 years.

Shabbat Shalom.

Joseph Shulam: The Most Dramatic Text in the Bible [2021]

This Shabbat’s reading is one of my favorite Torah Portions. The reading is from the Torah portion that is named in Hebrew Vayigash “and he approached.” The reading on Shabbat is from Genesis 44:18 – 47:27, from the prophets (Haftarah) Ezekiel 37:15 – 37:28. From the New Testament we read Luke 6:9-16.

This Torah portion is probably one of the most dramatic and interesting Torah portions in relationship to the book of Genesis. Yes, the first Torah portion, Bereshit (Genesis), is the most important text in the whole Bible, but this one, Vayigash is the most dramatic. Right from the opening statement of the text (Genesis 44:18). Judah, yes the same Judah who suggested that the brothers don’t kill Joseph in the Valley of Dothan, but sell him to the Ishmaelite’s is now approaching Joseph.

It is on Judah’s initiative and he volunteers information and he is willing to incarcerate himself in Egypt in order to free Benjamin and send him home back to Canaan and to Jacob his father. You could say that Judah repents and is willing to take Benjamin’s place in the Egyptian jail in order to save Jacob from deep grief and to insure Benjamin’s wellbeing. This is the verse that starts the drama of this week’s portion:

“Then Judah came near to him and said: ‘O my Lord, please let your servant speak a word in my Lord’s hearing, and do not let your anger burn against your servant; for you are even like Pharaoh.’” – Genesis 44:18 [NKJV]

I would have loved to be there with Joseph and to see Joseph’s face after hearing Judah’s words. You see the important part of this encounter between Joseph and Judah teaches me that people can change.

It teaches me that just because a person made some big mistakes it does not mean that he doesn’t have a conscience. It teaches me that in every one who walks on two legs, and can talk and think and imagine, there is the bad inclination and also there is a good inclination.

The challenge that we all have is the same challenge that Judah had It is the challenge to own up to our mistakes and evil deeds and reverse the evil by doing good, owning up to our mistakes and evil inclinations and doing good.

Yes, Judah does it, and he now volunteers information about Jacob, his father, and Joseph’s father. This information will melt Joseph’s heart and force him to repent too and confess what he has been hiding from his eleven brothers. Judah states in front of Joseph:

“For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father forever.’ Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my Lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?” – Genesis 44:32-34 [NKJV]

These words of Judah to Joseph are an indication of the following developments that have taken place in Judah’s heart after the incident of Joseph disappearing from the well:

  1. Judah understood the seriousness of that vain hate that he and the other brothers had against their younger brother Joseph. He understood that it was wrong.
  2. Judah knows how important Joseph and Benjamin are to Jacob who loved these two children from Rachel more than the other children, because Jacob loved Rachel more and because Rachel’s two boys came after a miraculous response from God to Rachel’s prayers for sons.
  3. Judah loved Jacob his father very deeply and didn’t want to cause Jacob more grief, like he and his brothers did after Joseph disappeared.
  4. Judah now was willing to be responsible and a grantor for his brother Benjamin and take his place in the Egyptian prison. Judah was willing to sacrifice his own freedom and guarantee Benjamin’s safe return home to Jacob’s house. Judah now understands what it means to be a true brother!

This show of a kind of repentance on Judah’s part and the show of the deep concern and love that Judah has for his father Jacob, and for Benjamin his younger brother, melted Joseph’s heart and helped him confess and say: “I am Joseph your brother!”

I have seen movies of the story of Joseph and plays and musicals, but I have not seen a stage even of the best actors that has or could capture that moment where Joseph asks all the Egyptians to leave the room and says to his brothers: Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still well?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dumfounded were they, on account of him.

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph; does my father still live?’ But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come near to me.’ So they came near. Then he said: ‘I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.’” – Genesis 45: 3-5 [NKJV]

Joseph knows that the natural reaction of the brothers would be great fear, fear of retribution for the evil that they did to Joseph their brother. So, Joseph immediately makes it clear to his brothers that he has no intention to pay them back for the evil that they had done to him.

In fact, Joseph does not know that they didn’t actually succeed to sell him, but that the Midianites plucked him out of the well and took him and sold him as a slave in Egypt. Joseph is still under the impression that it was the brothers who made all this plan and they sold him to slavery in Egypt.

“So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and Lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” – Genesis 45:8 [NKJV]

What a wonderful way for Joseph to interpret his years of prison and years of being a slave in the house of Potiphar in Egypt. My name is Joseph and I am named after my grandfather whose name was Joseph, and my great grandfather’s name was Joseph. But, I can confess that I didn’t inherit that grand trait and character of Joseph the son of Jacob to see in all my trials and tribulations the hand of God to turn suffering and bitterness to joy and privilege for the sake of Israel and the Kingdom of God.

If early in my walk with the Lord, I had had the understanding of what the words of the Holy Spirit through Paul’s pen really mean, I believe that I could have done more and been happier with all the health difficulties in my family and with all the challenges of the calling to be a teacher of Yeshua in this land of Israel and in the city of Jerusalem.

Here are the words of the apostle Paul, words that the story of Joseph in Egypt demonstrated better than any other story in the Bible:

“Now He who searches the hearts [The Messiah Himself] knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” – Romans 8:27-30 [NKJV]

The connection of the words of Paul and the story of Joseph in my mind is very strong. You see we learn from the story of Joseph that the path of some people’s life is predetermined, not for salvation but for their part in history. We see this in the life of Moses, and Jeremiah the prophet, and King David, and Yeshua himself, and Joseph the son of Rachel and Jacob. There are people who are created and chosen for a day in history, for a moment that changes destiny, not only for themselves (and not always for their own ease and good life), but for the history of mankind.

This is true for so many different characters in biblical history but also in secular history (if there really is such a thing as a secular history). People like Theodor Herzel, and David Ben-Gurion, and General McArthur in World War II. One can add so many men and women that changed human history by one small step and sent mankind on a very long journey.

What was common in all these characters that God has chosen to do a job, to take a challenge and catapult their nations and human history to a totally different plane? Yes, Joseph understood this was his role and he didn’t look back with regret for all the trouble and the years in the Egyptian jail, and the hate that he experienced.

I knew people like Joseph son of Jacob, in my own days here as a disciple of Yeshua. I knew Jewish disciples of Yeshua who suffered persecution, depravation, even hunger and illness, but that put their calling above their own comforts and pleasures for the sake of the King and His Kingdom.

These are people who were not sad when they suffered abuse by their fellow Jews, but like Yeshua said: They rejoiced for the privilege of taking a little of the cross in their own lives.

This comes from the faith that is deeper than the ocean,

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

I never envied those who are wealthy with the wealth of this world. I never envied those who like the wealthy man in the story of the rich man and Lazarus had all that they wished to have.

I have envied poor Lazarus because although dependent on the rich man’s charity to give him the crumbs off his table, Lazarus inherited eternal life in the bosom of Abraham. Joseph the brother that was hated by his own brothers, rejected and despised, like Yeshua himself, ends by being their savior and redeemer.

The day will come here in Jerusalem that Yeshua will stand in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, and lift up His hands and lift His shirt out of his pants (to show his wounds) and say, “I am Yeshua your brother!”

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” – Genesis 50:20 [NKJV]

May I and you live long enough to see Yeshua’s return to Jerusalem and stand and speak in the Israeli Knesset, our parliament, and reveal Himself to the people of Israel and to the world as a true Jew, son of Abraham son of David!

At that moment all of Israel, all the rabbis and all the secular Jews and ultra-Orthodox Jews will fall down and worship the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! The presence of the Lord will fill the Knesset and the eternal light will shine form Jerusalem to the ends of the Earth.

Isaiah chapter 2 and chapter 66 will be fulfilled and the heavenly Jerusalem will descend from heaven and just swallow up this Jerusalem and all will be renewed and remodeled in an instance to accommodate the millions who will come to prostrate themselves at the feet of that Jew, born in Bethlehem, who died and was resurrected in Jerusalem, and is seated at the right hand of God, waiting for more than 2000 years for the marching order of the Father, “Now Son, this is Your day, the day that You too My son can rejoice and be glad in it with all of Israel and Your disciples around the world!”

Yes, just as Joseph didn’t know the day that he would reveal himself to his brothers, Yeshua also doesn’t know, but we are waiting and He is waiting, be sure my brothers, that moment is coming!

Joseph Shulam: Brad TV Video Teaching – Vayigash [2021]

Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam.

Shalom. My name is Joseph Shulam. I’m continuing the program of broadcasting on Brad TV, the Torah portions that are being read in every synagogue in the world. We have entered actually two weeks ago into the story, I would say even saga, even novel, of Joseph, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham.

Joseph Sold to Potiphar

This Joseph that had revelations from God, became hated by his brothers. They wanted to kill him. They didn’t kill him. They wanted to sell him. They didn’t sell him. Somebody else came, found him in the well, probably screaming out of the well, took him, sold him as a slave to the Egyptian official called Potiphar, Egyptian priest. And from there, he ended up in jail. He was in jail for several years. In the jail, Joseph became a kind of a foreman, kind of a leader, kind of a somebody responsible, close to the jailer.

And from the jail, as one who knows how to interpret dreams, he is taken to Pharaoh and Pharaoh appoints him as essentially the prime minister of Egypt, the top administrator in Egypt that saves Egypt from the drought, seven years’ drought, and seven years’ good. First of all, not drought, fertility and prosperity, and then seven years’ drought. Joseph saves Egypt from there. And during that period of drought, and when we say Egypt is in drought, it’s a very, very important thing to understand the geography.

Egypt is a country that was almost never in drought. Even if it doesn’t rain, it’s not in drought, because if it rains in Ethiopia, in Tanzania, in Uganda, in Zimbabwe, the water of the Nile River, with all of its tributaries, arrives in Egypt, crosses all the length of Egypt. From the southern border of Egypt, at that time, the southern border of Egypt was Lake Victoria, to the Mediterranean Sea. So they have water, especially when it’s hot here, when it’s summer here in the northern hemisphere, especially in the Middle East, then Egypt has lots of water. We read that very clearly in the book of Deuteronomy in chapter seven, and chapter 11.

So Egypt is easy with water, but during those seven years, the bad years of drought, it apparently didn’t rain very much in Africa. So the water didn’t get to Egypt. But Joseph manages to save Egypt from starvation, by cultivating during the good years and saving for the bad years. And he is now a top official in Egypt in charge of all the distribution of the grain. And of course, because Egypt is a land of plenty because of the Nile River, the people from the land of Canaan are hungry. And so they go down to Egypt to fetch food. Abraham did it, already Joseph’s great-grandfather did it, went down to Egypt to get food because there was a drought in the land of Canaan. But the brothers are sent by Jacob to Egypt to get food. Joseph recognizes them that they’re his brothers, the ones that hated him, the ones that persecuted him, and he is testing them in different ways.

Joseph Tricks His Brothers

And the last way he is testing them, which were from the last week’s portion is, is that he gives them the grain to take home after he asks them about the condition of their father and their younger brother, and he tricks them. He puts a silver goblet in the sack of one of the youngest boys, Benjamin his brother, his full brother, brother by mother and brother by father. And he accuses the brothers of stealing or breaking their trust. And he wants to keep Benjamin in Egypt and send the brothers with the food to Jacob, their father, and the idea is that they will bring Jacob to Egypt.

But the brother Judah, the one who suggested to the brothers in the valley of Dothan in the north of… northern Sumeria on the edge with the Jezreel Valley. Joseph wants to keep their brother in Egypt and to send them back. And Judah, the guy that suggested to sell Joseph as a slave, his conscience is bothering him. And that’s where our portion, the portion of Vayigash, Vayigash is translated, “and he came near.” He approached Joseph, Judah approaches Joseph in chapter 44, verse 18. That’s where our portion of the week starts. It’s called Vayigash, and he approached, and it starts in verse 18 of chapter 44. It ends in chapter 47, verse 27.

And the prophet portion, the Haftarah, the reading from the prophets is the reading of the chapter of the Dry Bones, from Ezekiel 37 verse 15 to 28. And in Luke, we read from Luke chapter six verses nine to 19. So, it’s all connected. So Judah comes to Joseph and says, “Oh my lord, please let your servant’s word in my lord’s hearing.” In other words, listen to me. “And do not let your anger burn against your servant for you are even like Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ We said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age who is young. His brother is dead.’ Talking about Joseph himself. ‘His brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children. His father loves him.’ Then you said to your servant, ‘Bring him down to me that I may set eyes on him.’ In other words, you want that young child, the only child of his mother, that his brother… father loves him so much. You want us to bring that child to you? To Egypt? “The lad cannot leave his father.”

In other words, Benjamin cannot leave his father. “For if he should leave his father, his father would surely die.” In other words you’ll kill Jacob if you bring Benjamin over here and put him in jail and accuse him. “But you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.’ So it was, when we went up to your servant my father that we told him the words of my lord, and the father says, ‘Go back and buy us a little food.’ And we said, ‘We cannot do go down, for our younger brother is with us then we will go down.’ Now only when Benjamin… we can take Benjamin to Egypt with us, only then we can go down. For we may not see the man’s face unless our younger brother is with us.

Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore two sons. The one went out from me and I said, surely he is torn to pieces and I have not seen him since.’” Now Jacob’s words reflect the story that Judah and his brothers told him when Jacob disappeared from the well, and they didn’t know what happened to him. So they invented the story that a wild animal devoured Joseph, killed Joseph. And they brought him the clothes of Joseph stained in blood as a proof that Joseph died. So now Judah is repeating that story to Joseph, but he doesn’t know it’s Joseph. “Yeah, but if you take this one, in other words Benjamin, from me, calamity will fall him, just like Joseph. And you shall bring down my old age, my gray hair, in sorrow to the grave.” You know, I’ll die. Verse 30 of chapter 44. Judah is still speaking. It’s Judah speaking still.

Joseph has said nothing. “Now, therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since his life is bound in his lad’s life, you know, Jacob’s life is bound in the life of Benjamin. He’s the only son that Rachel gave before she died, beside Joseph himself. And if I come back, if we, our brothers come back to the land of Canaan without Benjamin, father will die. So your servants will bring down our father to the grave in sorrow, sad.” Imagine this. Joseph is playing the role. They don’t know that the Egyptian leader that is standing in front of them is Joseph, their brother, that they hated, that they wanted to kill, that they wanted to sell to slavery.

Judah Pleads With Joseph

They don’t know that. Joseph knows who they are. They don’t know who Joseph is. This is a very dramatic moment. This is a moment for the stage. This is a moment for grand theater. Joseph is there, and he’s listening to his brother, Judah, the guy who hated him, the guy who wanted to sell him, the guy who engineered Joseph’s lives by wanting to sell him. But on the other hand, saved him by wanting not to kill him. So if you don’t… if we bring our younger brother here and you want to keep him and we can’t take him back to his father, you’re killing your father.

That’s what Judah says. “Because I became the insurance of my younger brother, Judah says. I ensure that my younger brother, if we bring him, he will die.” So, to make the long story short, because of time, Judah is offering himself to stay in Egypt rather than to bring his younger brother. Verse 34. “How should I go back to my father when my brother is not with me? I see the evil that will come upon my father. My father will die. He loves Benjamin so much.”

Now we enter in one of the most dramatic pictures, most dramatic stories in the whole Bible. And this story has to do with Yeshua. The whole story of Joseph, as I said earlier, is kind of a paradigm of the Yeshua story, the Mashiach story. His brothers hate him. He flourishes among the Gentiles, and from flourishing among the Gentiles, Joseph saves his brothers and his father. And now in chapter 45 of Genesis verse one, here is the crux of the whole story. And Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood with him. He can’t keep his tears in his eyes. He can’t contain himself anymore. That strong man, Joseph, the chief second person in Egypt after Pharaoh. And Joseph says, “Let all the Egyptians… all the Gentiles go away from me, everyone go out from me. All my servants, my secretaries, my administrators, go out.”

Joseph Reveals Himself to His Brothers

So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he started to cry aloud and the Egyptians of the house of Pharaohs heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers couldn’t answer him. They were so in shock from seeing that the man that has been dealing with them till now is Joseph their brother, Joseph whom they hated, Joseph whom they sell. Then Joseph says to his brothers, “Please come near me.” So they came near him and he said, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now you do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For those years of famine that has come on the land of Egypt, and there is still five years to go before the plows and the harvest comes. So God sent me before you to preserve posterity for you in the earth, to save your lives by the great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God, and he has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord over Pharaoh’s house and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”

Joseph Represents Yeshua

What you thought for bad God used for good, for your good, for the good of Egypt, for the good of the Israelites and the good of the Gentiles and the good of the world. That’s what Joseph says here. It’s a fantastic portion to read, folks. But let me move from here to Yeshua, because the story of Joseph is a paradigm of the story of Yeshua. He is born an Israelite, is an Israelite from the tribe of Judah. He is hated by many people in his generation. Only a handful of people, his disciples, really accepted him for who he really is and for what he really does. And so he’s hated.

Until this very day, the majority of the Jewish people hate him. Until this very day, he is considered Messiah, Lord, Savior, and God among the Gentiles. But the day is going to come when Yeshua descends in the clouds on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, excuse me, and comes led on a parade to Mount Zion. And he will say to them, “I am Yeshua your brother, whom you rejected, whom you hated, whom you persecuted, persecuted my disciples.” But don’t be worried, whatever you thought for bad, God is turned for good. And now my Jewish brothers, it’s time for you to celebrate, it’s time for you to realize, it’s time for you to understand that in your hate, in your persecution, unbeknownst to you, without you knowing it or realizing it, you are actually doing the will of God.

And the day will come when the Gentiles that persecuted you will repent, just like you are repenting right now, and will beg for your forgiveness, for the persecution during the Byzantine Era, and the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition, and the Holocaust, and the pogroms in Ukraine and in Russia by Khmelnystsky and his men, by the Cossacks. You will repent. You will cry with tears, as the brothers of Joseph, they were filled with fear.

Yeshua Is Coming Back to Jerusalem

They cried from fear that Joseph now will take vengeance on them. But Joseph says, no, whatever you thought was for bad, God turns for good because God is in control. And I’m telling you, my dear brothers and sisters in Korea and around the world, it’s going to happen. Yeshua will return, and there will be a resurrection, and there will be a judgment day. And in that judgment day, those who don’t repent and those who have hated Jews, and have hated one another, and have hated their fellow men, are going to have to repent and grovel at the foot of that crucified Jew called Yeshua. Yes, it’s going to happen. Just like the brothers would never have believed it if somebody had said Joseph is alive and he’s the chief of Egypt, he’s second in command after Pharaoh.

Yeshua Is a Brother to the Jews

Who would have believed that? That little rascal, Joe, thought that we are going to bow down to him, that thought his father and mother are going to bow to him? No sir, wouldn’t believe. But reality is gonna slap the world and slap Israel right in the face. And Yeshua is gonna say, like Joseph said to his brother, “I am Yeshua, your brother, not your enemy.” May God bless us all to see that day happen, soon in our own time. Amen.

Joseph Shulam: Joseph Never Forgot Where He Came From [2020]

This Shabbat comes the climax of the story of Joseph son of Jacob. From the Torah: Genesis 44:18-47:27, Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15-28, Gospels: Luke 24:30-48. All the readings this next Shabbat are of great importance. These readings are what I would call “programmatic.” Programmatic means that they set in motion a program, a divine plan, a system that will influence the rest of history.

The tone is set in these readings and we today thousands of years on this side of history are still being strongly influenced and harvesting the fields that were seeded by our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – Israel. In the beginning of chapter 45 of Genesis we have one of the most dramatic scenes in the whole Bible. The only other event that is more dramatic in the whole Bible is the crucifixion of Yeshua.

Now our Torah reading of Joseph’s test for his brothers and the revelation to his brothers, “I am Joseph your brother.” So, Joseph had a silver cup hidden in the sack of wheat of Benjamin. Benjamin was accused of stealing the cup. Joseph wanted to keep Benjamin in Egypt next to himself. You see Benjamin is the only one of the 12 sons of Jacob that was Joseph’s full brother. Both Joseph and Benjamin are the sons of Rachel, the two only children. Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. Joseph’s strategy was to test the brothers and see if they had a change of attitude toward their younger brother who was also the son of Rachel.

After Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, they were afraid that Joseph was going to take vengeance on them for what they had done to him many years earlier. Joseph, on the other hand, wanted to test them to see if they had changed and learned from their deeds.

Our reading starting in Genesis 44:18 is the aftermath of these events. Judah comes to Joseph and essentially begs Joseph to be put in Jail in Egypt in place of Benjamin his younger brother. In Judah’s arguments there are several points that demonstrate that Judah has understood the severity of the brothers’ deeds against Joseph. Judah knows that it was wrong to keep quiet and go along with the evil scheme that the brothers had to first kill Joseph. Judah was the one that suggested that instead of killing Joseph they should sell him and get some gain.

Christians traditionally accuse Judah of being greedy and money hungry. It is more correct to view Judah as having been in fact, the brother who was more concerned for his brother Joseph and for the reaction of Jacob his father if Joseph would have been killed. Now we see Judah’s real character.

He is willing to take the place of Benjamin. He is asking Joseph to release Benjamin and keep him instead of Benjamin in Egypt as collateral that the brothers will return with their father to Egypt. In chapter 44:30-31, we find one of the most emotional texts in Genesis:

“…since his life is bound up in the lad’s life, it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die.” – Genesis 44:30,31 [NKJV]

Now we understand that Jacob’s love for Joseph and Benjamin is connected to Jacob’s love for Rachel that was greater than his love for Leah. Now we understand how much Jacob grieved for Joseph and how worried Jacob was for Benjamin’s fate. Judah did a great job showing his deep care for his father Jacob, and for his younger brother Benjamin.

Judah melted Joseph’s heart with the deep devotion and care that Judah had for his father and brother. This deed of Judah proves that Judah’s advice to his brothers not to kill Joseph was not a matter of greed but a matter of an internal sense of Justice. Judah’s advice to sell Joseph was the only way that Judah could save Joseph’s life, realizing that Joseph would have had a chance to have a life, even if he was sold to the Ishmaelites.

We must always look at the positive side of things and to not think the worst of people before we have fully examined the facts. The Torah commands the judges:

“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, then both men in the controversy shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so, you shall put away the evil from among you.” – Deuteronomy 19:15-19 [NKJV]

This accusation against Judah in Christian history is not coming from facts, but it is coming from a deep hate inherited against the Jews and the Jewish nation from the pits of hell. If the facts were checked on the accusations against the Jews and their wealth – just a few of them are wealthy, the wealthiest people in the world are not Jews – but, if there would be a check, an objective check of the facts would reveal that a few Jews became wealthy by hard work, wise thinking, and a good business sense. There are very few Jews in the jails of the world for fraud or other criminal acts.

Judah in front of Joseph is showing his true character. The character of a son who loves his father very much. He is a person who is concerned about doing what is right. He is an emotional character and a person of strong passion that can sin, and confess his sins, putting himself at the mercy of the law. Joseph melts after hearing the words of Judah.

The big lesson that Joseph teaches his brothers is so important to me personally. The lesson is summarized in verse 5 of chapter 45:

“But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” – Genesis 45:5 [NKJV]

Joseph has the ability to look at his life, at his sufferings as a slave and as a prisoner that was not guilty of any crime, as the work of God and as his preparation for becoming the savior of his brothers and Israel and by the way, also the savior of Egypt.

What a major drama is being played out in the story of Joseph from the very beginning in Genesis chapter 37, and now 9 chapters later. A saga full of drama, of hate, deception, intrigue, and behind all of these events Joseph understands that it was all a part of God’s theater of the absurd.

The only one who really knew what was happening was none other than the Creator of the Universe, God Himself, who was the producer, the director, and the main character in this drama.

This is how God works in order to save His people. He works in history and through history and uses history and all that surrounds history to plan and execute His eternal plan, the plan to save humanity. To first and foremost, save humanity from itself, and secondly to save humanity from the powers of deception and the principalities of this world that are attempting to overthrow the Creator and to take control of, and to enslave, His people.

Joseph is a savior figure, he represents a kind of pattern for what a savior figure should be in this world of God! Moses is also a savior figure. He had to spend 40 years serving a pagan priest – Jethro, a priest of Midian. He didn’t get much honor for being the prince of Egypt.

He suffered among the gentiles for the second 40 years of his life. He suffered the third 40 years, leading the children of Israel in the wilderness, and bringing them to the entrance to the land of Canaan.

The ultimate example of this same pattern that is still influencing the whole world, is of course Yeshua of Nazareth. The pattern started with Joseph, continued with Moses, and was ultimately fulfilled and played out in the manifestation of Yeshua.

On a smaller scale every man of God had to more or less fulfill the same pattern. The prophets of the Lord didn’t have a plush life of comfort and riches because they spoke the word of the Lord in the city squares and from the walls of the cities of Israel. They too suffered and paid dearly for their calling, to speak the word of God to people who didn’t really want to hear it.

The conclusion of the story of Joseph is this:

“And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” – Genesis 45:7,8 [NKJV]

I don’t know when Joseph reached this conclusion that all that had happened to him in his life, the good, the bad, and the ultimate success, was a part of God’s grand scheme to save Israel and that everything bad that happened to him was to save the lives of his family! How much I wish that I would have come to the same conclusion as Joseph did, earlier in my life.

Now I am so happy to know that the Lord was faithful to make all things for my personal good and for the good of the people of God and for the kingdom of the Lord. I can confess that even when I was 16 years old, and away from family, home, and childhood friends, I never felt bitter for the hardships that I had to go through.

I can also confess that I didn’t really understand why those things were happening to me, but I always thanked the Lord for everything. There were many people, strangers, teachers, farmers, preachers, and teachers, who were used by the Lord in my life, proving to me that He is still alive and still the same Lord and savior as He was for Joseph and for David, and for those who are willing to put their lives in the hands of the “man from Galilee.”

In the end of it all, every hardship and suffering brings us closer to the calling and purpose for which we are called by the Lord!

The last point is that Joseph, in spite of all his greatness in Egypt, never forgot who he was and where he came from. All the wealth of Egypt didn’t blind his eyes from the true mission that he received from God.

I bless each and every one who reads this and pray that they will have the strength to be willing to suffer for the Lord if and when necessary, and to flourish and grow in stature and greatness like Joseph and to always know who you are and where you belong!

Joseph Shulam: Yeshua Reveals Himself to His Brothers [2020]

The Torah reading this next Shabbat is from Genesis 44:18 – 47:27, from the prophets the reading is from Ezekiel 39:15-28, and from the New Testament our reading is from Ephesians 2:1-10. The name of the Genesis 44 parasha (portion) is Vayigash, “he approached”.

I like and appreciate this verse from Genesis 44:18. The verse is speaking of Judah. This is the same Judah from Genesis 37:26, who said to his brothers who were encamped in the valley of Dothan tending their sheep,

“So Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood?’” – Genesis 37:26 [NKJV]

He is the Judah that engineered the sale of Joseph to Egypt. Rabbinical Jewish commentaries take a dual approach to this story. Some say that Judah had a good heart and wanted to save his brother Joseph from sure death, and that is why he suggested to sell him to Egypt.

Other Rabbis say that Judah was greedy, and that his real intent was to make profit from his brother Joseph, rather than to waste this opportunity to earn some money from the sale of his brother to slavery. It is my opinion that both things could be right at the same time.

Now, this same Judah, about 20 years older than the occasion in the valley of Dothan, sees the danger of leaving his brother Benjamin in Egypt, and the grief that his father Jacob would experience. And he, Judah, approaches Joseph and volunteers himself, saying:

“Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my Lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?” – Genesis 44:33,34 [NKJV]

What we see here is true repentance. Now this same Judah is willing to remain as a slave in Egypt to save his younger brother Benjamin and to save his old father Jacob from more grief. Judah, who suggested to sell Joseph into slavery, is now suggesting himself to be a slave in Egypt in place of leaving his younger brother Benjamin in Egypt.

Netivyah | Parashat Vayigash | Joseph and his Brothers, Abraham Bloemaert (1564-1651)
Joseph and his Brothers, Abraham Bloemaert (1564-1651)

Another question is raised in this case. Why did Joseph entrap Benjamin and put the “stolen goods” in the sack of his younger brother Benjamin?

The answer to this has also more than one possibility. It could be to test the brothers and see if they are still the same brothers who hated him and were willing to kill him, and in the end do commerce and sell him to slavery. It could also be that he wanted to save his younger brother Benjamin, fearing that his brothers would do the same to Rachel’s last son, his younger brother.

Either way, Judah retells the story of Joseph and the relationship with his brothers, and the grief of his father Jacob, and now is volunteering to sacrifice himself for his younger brother Benjamin, and to save Jacob from further grief.

This noble act actually brings Joseph to confess to his brothers, “I am Joseph your brother.” As the saying goes in Arabic, “the mountain came to Muhammad”. Joseph broke and his façade melted in front of his brothers.

Here is the ruler of all of Egypt, you could say, the Prime Minister of Egypt. The person was second-in-command after Pharaoh over the whole land of Egypt, the minister of finance and supplies of the whole empire of Egypt. Here he is “falling apart” in front of his Hebrew brothers, and with tears confesses, “I am Joseph your brother.”

In my opinion, there is here in this story all the elements of true confession and true repentance of all the characters involved: Judah repents and is willing to pay the price. Joseph also confesses and repents and is paying the price of his plot against his brothers.

Some would say that for Joseph the whole episode was just to test the brothers, to see if they have changed. Have they remained the same old hateful bunch of Hebrew shepherds who hated him?

There is no bigger drama in biblical history, and I believe that we are going to see a similar and much greater drama when Yeshua tells Israel, “I am Yeshua your brother!” Yeshua has to confess face-to-face to the nation of Israel, “I am Yeshua your brother!”

Yeshua has to repent of what His so-called disciples have done to his brothers and sisters, the Jewish nation, in His name. I believe that it is going to happen, and I pray that it will happen soon.

I want to see it happen and I want to see the procession of the Jewish national leaders (both spiritual leaders and political leaders) bringing Yeshua to Jerusalem and enthrone Him on David’s throne as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Divine Messiah of Israel and Lord of the whole earth.

The section of reading from the prophets is equally impressive, and has to do with the restoration of Israel back to God and back to the land. The interesting thing about this text from Ezekiel is that God is the main operator in our history.

He is the one who cast us out of the land of Israel into the diaspora (exile). He is the one who hid His face from us. He is the one that in the right time will reveal His face to us and restore us back to Himself and back to the land of Israel.

Like Judah, who confessed what he and his brothers did to their brother Joseph and repented of it, so will Yeshua, upon His return to establish the new Jerusalem, do the same.

The sins of Israel in the Old Testament produced the exile to Babylon for 70 years. The sins of Israel in the Second Temple period, after the return from the Babylonian Exile, were so much greater, that it has taken near 2000 years to see the beginning of the restoration of Israel, physically first, and then spiritually.

You and us, the Jewish and the non-Jewish disciples of Yeshua in the world, are already beginning to witness the process gelling and becoming more visible. The Jewish people, the descendants of Judah, slowly but surely, are beginning to realize who this Yeshua really is, and beginning, like the Judah in Genesis, to understand that, it is we, the Jewish nation, who sold Yeshua to slavery to the Gentiles.

Yes, we the Jewish nation, rejected our brother Yeshua the Messiah and King of the Jews, and sold Him to be a slave of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, and all their Protestant daughters. What is Yeshua for the majority Christians? He is their servant, still hanging on the Roman cross, still there to clean their sins after them, still the helpless Jew who was betrayed by his brothers like Joseph was.

Yeshua is still the MO of all those who hate Jews in the world. He is the excuse why it is OK to hate Jews, and kill Jews in their synagogues, and enter with a knife to the house of the rabbi in a small town in New York on the evening of Hanukkah and stab Jews.

The majority of the church leaders even today don’t take a clear standing on the side of the Jewish community and don’t actively condemn the hate crimes against Jews in their own countries and communities.

I have personally experienced both great love and support of Christians for Israel and for the Jewish people, and especially for me personally. Also, I personally experienced the hate and Antisemitism of those who called themselves leaders of the Christian communities.

Yes, the day is coming when repentance for hating Jews and blacks and other races is going to be too late. After that day, which might be for some today, the gates of repentance will be closed and the Judge will enter the courtroom and hit the table with his big wooden gavel and say, “Order in the courtroom! The case against those who call themselves Christians, My disciples, and hate My own Jewish brothers, killed them, burned them, and shamed them by discrimination is brought to the court.”

Yes, now is the time for Christians who really believe the word of God, and really love God and Yeshua and the nation and people of Israel, and especially love and stand with those few Jewish disciples of Yeshua that are called the household of faith, to stand with us and help us by prayer and financial support to be a lighthouse for those who seek and stand with the Lord and with His people.

Joseph Shulam: People Need to be Awakened to Change [2018]

This Sabbath’s reading of the Torah and the prophets is Vayigash: Genesis 44:18 – 47:27, Ezekiel 37:15-28 and from the New Testament the reading is Luke 24:30-48. We are still in the story of Joseph and his brothers, and still in Egypt before the exodus.

It is a common myth that people don’t change their character. This Torah reading starts with one of the great stories of character change.

Judah, Joseph’s brother, was one of those who suggested to his brothers to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:26). It was Judah who later on had the selfish attitude that refused to give his young son to perform a levirate marriage for his brother’s wife Tamar. It was then Judah who fell into Tamar’s entrapment and tried to lie about it.

Now, in this week’s parasha, Judah comes forward. And it is clear that he had changed his character and learned some important principles of what it means to be a brother.

Now, Judah is willing to sacrifice his own freedom and take the place of Benjamin his younger brother and stay in Egypt until the brothers return with their father and with Benjamin. This is a very dramatic change in Judah’s nature. A change that indicates repentance and concern for his father and for Benjamin.

Here is what Judah said to Joseph, before he knew who this Egyptian administrator of all of Egypt really was:

“Then Judah came near to him and said: ‘O my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s hearing, and do not let your anger burn against your servant; for you are even like Pharaoh. My lord asked his servants, saying, “Have you a father or a brother?” And we said to my lord, “We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, who is young; his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.” Then you said to your servants, “Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.” And we said to my lord, “The lad cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.” But you said to your servants, “Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.”’”

“‘So it was, when we went up to your servant my father, that we told him the words of my lord. And our father said, “Go back and buy us a little food.” But we said, “We cannot go down; if our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down; for we may not see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.” Then your servant my father said to us, “You know that my wife bore me two sons; and the one went out from me, and I said, ‘Surely he is torn to pieces’; and I have not seen him since. But if you take this one also from me, and calamity befalls him, you shall bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.”’”

“‘Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since his life is bound up in the lad’s life, it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave. For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, “If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father forever.” Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?’” – Genesis 44:18-34 [NKJV]

As you can see in this text, Judah is offering himself in place of his younger brother Benjamin. Judah’s concern for his father Jacob’s wellbeing and for his younger brother’s stay in Egypt has motivated him to overcome his selfishness, and the twist of his character that made him suggest selling his brother Joseph in order to make some monetary profit. Judah has some remorse for his past action, and now Judah is willing to sacrifice himself for his father’s wellbeing and his brother Benjamin.

People do change if there are the following ingredients in their character, and I believe that most people have the following ingredients in their personality. They just need to be awakened and activated.

The first ingredient that is necessary for such a change is love. You have to love someone that is more important to you than yourself.

If you love someone, you also need that someone. You normally love someone if you need that someone.

Needing someone does not always mean that you need them for gain or personal satisfaction. Most of the time people need someone because they are interested in helping or caring, or out of sense of deep obligation or attachment. Like Barbara Streisand’s song says, “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”

There are few people that do good and are willing to sacrifice out of pure altruism. Most of us do good because we need to do good. Judah changed, and I believe that because he had changed that Jacob blessed him with one of the best blessings that he gave to any of his other sons.

“Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding his donkey to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, And his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, And his teeth whiter than milk.” – Genesis 49:8-12 [NKJV]

Jacob’s blessing of Judah is clearly a messianic prophecy for the fact that the Messiah will come from the tribe of Judah, just as Yeshua is from the tribe of Judah.

Joseph Shulam: Joseph Kept Things in the Family [2017]

This week the reading of the Torah is Vayigash: Genesis 44:18 – 47:27, and the reading from the prophets is from Ezekiel 37:15-28. From the New Testament we read Matthew 18:1-19:30.

In Genesis it is the end of the story of Joseph. The reading opens with one of the most dramatic scenes in the whole Bible. Next to the scene of the crucifixion of Yeshua on a barren hill in Jerusalem, there is this scene that takes place in a palatial home of Joseph, the second most important person in Egypt.

Joseph was rich and powerful. He had Egyptian servants, and Pharaoh’s elite guard was guarding him and his home.

Judah comes to Joseph to beg that Joseph does not keep Benjamin in prison. Judah is willing to take his brother’s place and stay in prison in Egypt. Judah is willing to sacrifice himself for his younger brother with several concerns.

The greatest concern of Judah is his father Jacob. Judah says:

“And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age. His brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’ Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’ We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ Then you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall not see my face again.’” – Genesis 44:20–23 [ESV]

It is not clear why Joseph had instructed his servants to hide in Benjamin’s sack the silver chalice. Was it because he wanted to keep Benjamin with him in Egypt? Was it because he wanted to test the brother’s attitude toward their younger brother Benjamin?

It is not clear, but no doubt it was a very stressful situation for all the brothers. Judah stands up to the task and is volunteering to take Benjamin’s place vicariously.

This is the same Judah who proposed to the brothers in the valley of Dothan to sell Joseph to the Midianites. The Jewish tradition interprets this act of Judah as an act of repentance. An act that shows that he has changed his attitude.

Judah was not the firstborn of Jacob. You would think that Reuben, who was Jacob’s firstborn, would take the initiative and offer himself in place of his youngest brother, but no, it is Judah who is up to the task.

After hearing from Judah about his father Jacob, and how his father has never stopped to grieve about the loss of his beloved son Joseph, the text says:

“Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried [to his servants], ‘Make everyone go out from me.’ So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So, Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come near to me, please.’ And they came near. And he said, ‘I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, “Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry.”’” – Genesis 45:1–9 [ESV]

The interesting thing for me is that Joseph asked all his Egyptian servants and guards to leave the room. He wanted to be alone with his brothers.

Joseph was crying. He didn’t want his servants to see him cry, but probably more than that he wanted that moment of revelation when he identifies himself to his brother to be, as we say, “in the family.” Joseph did not want to share that dramatic moment with the Egyptians. I have learned from this dramatic scene something about Yeshua and His revelation to His Jewish brothers and sisters.

Some might not like it, but I believe that the best thing that can happen to Israel, and the quickest way for the Jewish nation to believe, is to make Yeshua and the New Testament a Jewish problem, not a Jewish Christian problem.

Both historically and biblically, Yeshua the Messiah is a Jewish issue. From every page of the New Testament it is so clear that the issue is not with Rome or Constantinople. The problem is a Jewish problem, and it will be resolved inside the nation of Israel.

This might offend some people, but I am convinced that this scene between Joseph and his brothers is a pattern. Joseph for a long time has been a prototype of the Messiah. In Judaism there are two Messiahs – one is the son of David, and the other is considered to be the son of Joseph. The Messiah son of Joseph is the Messiah that dies in order to deliver humans from their evil inclination and forgive sins.

All this is an interesting take on the model of Joseph as a prototype of the Messiah Yeshua. He was rejected by his own brothers and became their savior. Joseph was sold out by his brothers who wanted to kill him, but others did their dirty work.

Joseph was made great among the gentiles in Egypt and from there, from among the gentiles where his greatness was recognized and appreciated, he becomes the savior of his brothers and the whole family of Jacob his father. The Egyptians had one role, and it was to accept Joseph’s family and take care of them.

Let us learn from Joseph and wait for Yeshua to reveal His identity to the Jewish people inside the family. There is no command or example in the New Testament for gentiles to evangelise Jews in the land of Israel.

This is not a doctrine of mine, but it is an understanding taken from the example of Joseph’s way to reveal himself to his brothers. I know that the reaction to this idea is going to be like the reaction of Joseph’s brothers to Joseph’s revelation. They were filled with fear, and Joseph calmed them by saying to them that what they were thinking for evil the Lord turned it all for their good.

This is going to be what will happen with the nation of Israel. Now many Jewish people think that Yeshua is the cause of all of our problems, but on that day, all of Israel will know and understand that Yeshua is our savior and the savior of the whole world. As the Apostle Paul said it:

“I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!” – Romans 11:11,12 [NKJV]

Yehuda Bachana: That We May Live and Not Die [2017]

Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.

This week’s Torah portion is “Vayigash” (he approached). Our parasha unfolds after Joseph suspected Benjamin of stealing the cup of the viceroy. The situation looked bad for Joseph’s brothers.

The previous time that they went down to Egypt, they were accused of being spies. One of the brothers, Simon, was even taken prisoner right before their eyes and remained in the Egyptian prison up until now.

At this moment, they’ve been incriminated as being thieves – there seems to be no good outcome to this saga. Judah, the leader and most prominent among the brothers, approached Joseph and spoke to his heart. Immediately afterwards, Joseph confessed to his brothers, saying “I am Joseph.”

Like Joseph, Yeshua Reveals Himself to His Brothers

It was the wisdom of Judah that ultimately led Joseph to reveal himself to his brothers.

Similar to Joseph, Yeshua truly longs to be amongst his brothers. As soon as the people of Israel are ready, Yeshua will likewise immediately confess to us and say, “I am Yeshua your brother, come to me and I will give you the bread of life.”

Like the reunion of Joseph with his brothers, this encounter between the people of Israel and Yeshua the Messiah will be exhilarating.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come close to me.’ – Genesis 45:4a [NIV]

Joseph called his brothers to him and explained to them that this was actually the plan of God:

And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. – Genesis 45:5 [NIV]

So Yeshua invites us all unto Him:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28 [NIV]

Yeshua will comfort us so that we will no longer worry, because it was God’s plan to save Israel, as well as the entire world. Just as Joseph said, “It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you,” God also sent Yeshua the Messiah to deliver us, so that we may have eternal life in Him.

In Genesis 45:9, Joseph asked his brothers to inform their father that he is alive and living in Egypt like a king. Joseph asks his brothers to bring their father and all that they have to Egypt, so that they may have food and life, because there was a great famine in the world during this time.

In comparison, Yeshua sent us and his disciples to proclaim the good news: that Yeshua lives as king seated on the throne, and that He has the power to feed us with the bread of life.

In Genesis 45:25 The brothers returned to their father’s house according to the command of Joseph:

They told him, ‘Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.’ Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. – Genesis 45:26 [NIV]

Indeed, with their own eyes the brothers saw that Joseph was alive and well, leading a prosperous life in the Egyptian empire. At first they couldn’t believe it, Joseph had to convince them of his true identity.

Afterwards, the brothers returned to Jacob, with wagon loads full of various gifts which including food, clothing, and money. Even after Jacob saw the wagons containing the numerous presents, he was still unable to comprehend it.

The situation is similar for us today. It took us some time to realize that Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel, who is alive and well, sitting at the right hand of God. Likewise, when we return to our family’s home, to our brothers, they do not believe us.

We have to work hard and prove that Joseph is really Joseph, and that he is alive and well. That is, that Yeshua is really our brother, and that He is truly the Messiah of the world. The day shall come when we all shall say: “Yeshua, the King of Israel, is alive and well!”

God promises us a happy ending even though at first it seemed as if everything was lost. The situation today is bad, most of the time there is no hope. The condition of the world is decaying and the political outlook is grim. On the face of things, it seems like Yeshua is far from Israel. However, there is still hope and the story doesn’t end here.

Judah, the Natural Leader

The patriarchs of Israel were in Egypt, Simon was in prison, the rest of the brothers were suspected of being spies as well as thieves, and it looked like there was no way out of this mess. In the middle of it all, Judah, the leader amongst the brothers, approached Joseph despite their gruesome situation.

Judah proved multiple times that he was a natural leader. Those who examine the scriptures see that Judah strived to make wise decisions and that he possessed the skill of being able to read people.

If we go back a little, the Bible tells us that the brothers aimed to kill Joseph. When he arrived at Dothan, we see that Reuben and Judah were the two brothers who were interested in sparing his life. Reuben’s plan was to rescue Joseph later on from the pit.

However, Judah waited for the other brothers to eat, rest, and lose some of their anger before he offered to sell Joseph into slavery instead of killing him. He did so because Joseph was nevertheless their brother and the flesh of their flesh. The main point was Judah’s timing, and the fact that he succeeded in persuading the other brothers away from their original, murderous plan (Genesis 37:26).

This was the case once again when the brothers tried to persuade Jacob to let them take Benjamin down to Egypt with them, in order so that they could bring more food as well as release Simon from the Egyptian prison. Reuben tried to persuade his father but it proved to be unsuccessful. Despite this, Judah was able to persuade him.

In fact, he actually used the same reasoning that Jacob used to send them off to Egypt the first time:

…So that we may live and not die. – Genesis 42:2b [NIV]

Judah used the exact same words:

…So that we and you and our children may live and not die. – Genesis 43:8b [NIV]

Again, we see that Judah’s words touched Jacob and succeeded in convincing him to let them have charge over Benjamin, which was against his will.

Now, in this week’s Torah portion, Judah approached Joseph, as was mentioned previously. Judah used his wisdom, identifying and raising a sensitive point for Joseph, which was a father figure.

The main goal of this speech was to clarify to Joseph that they do not want to hurt their father. Judah’s speech hit spot-on and Joseph couldn’t control himself. He broke down crying, and the first question he asked was,

Is my father still living? – Genesis 45:3b [NIV]

A Life of Eternal Significance

Today’s world makes us think of how small we are, that everything is passing, temporary, negligible, and unimportant. When we think of the heroes from our weekly Torah portions, perhaps we wonder about what was going on in their heads.

Could they have imagined that their lives and deeds were of eternal significance, and that in thousands of years people would read, study, and tell about their actions? I think that they probably had no idea the magnitude of their words and accomplishments.

Yes, God promised them that a great people was going to be born from them, they were aware of this fact. However, they did not see how it was executed through their daily actions.

In fact, only from a great distance, of many years, can we look and examine the pages of history and appreciate the greatness of those people and the historical processes that God set in motion through them. We can see that history is written word by word, person by person, action by action, until the world suddenly finds itself elsewhere.

To a certain extent, the Bible is not yet finished. Today we live the prophecies predicted many years ago. We are still humanity created by God, and He, of course, has not abandoned us.

Even if we do not feel it daily, our lives have meaning and we carry responsibilities. The day will come out of our complicated lives, when another chapter will be written in the pages of history. People will learn about what we have done, how we have lived, and about God who led us and who continues to lead those who follow Him to a better future.

Invest in the Next Generation

One of our most important goals, as a movement and as a community, must be the education of the younger generation, because they are the continuation and the future of the Messianic movement. Upon them will the generations be built, thus signifying their profoundness.

We must strive to be a positive influence on the next generation and bring them into a more biblical lifestyle. The future, both that of the Body of Messiah and that of the relationship between Israel and Yeshua, is based on our actions and on the actions of our children.

People like Judah, Reuben, Jacob, and even Joseph, never dreamt or thought that after so many years, people would talk about what they did – and about what God did through them. Even if they intended for this or not, whether they sought after good or evil, God used these people and created the history that we are living in today.

We too, are part of this history, and God uses us and will use our children in the future. We must prepare the ground as best we can for the Kingdom of Heaven, it is in our hands here and now.

Judging from what I’ve read in the Bible, Judah was a wise man, and he knew how to deliver the right words at the right time.

We must learn to follow suit in this way. This is especially true when we speak with our spouses, our children, and also when we talk about the words of the Bible. Let us bear this all in mind as we continue to make history and do God’s will.

Shabbat Shalom.

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