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Parasha 9: Vayeshev (He Continued Living) B’resheet/Genesis 37:1 – 40:23
*All Scripture References from The Orthodox Jewish Bible- Referred To As OJB- unless otherwise noted
Joe Snipes (Torah Teacher) Gates To Zion Ministries
Now we have the saga of YHWH’s eternal purposes beginning to move within a corporate framework. Ya’akob/Jacob their father has been blessed to bring forth his twelve sons. However, as we will see, the old adage is true: YHWH doesn’t have grandsons only sons. What is meant by that is the fact that regardless of what our relationship is with YHWH as parents; our children must have their own relationship. These twelve sons all have their own characteristics with both good and bad dimensions. No matter what our lineage, we must all have our own personal history which evolves and revolves around our blessed Abba YHWH.
We can also see even within the opening verses of our parasha that there is already a continuation of the dysfunctional family dynamics that have been present in the other patriarchs and their families. If you remember, Abraham had a certain penchant for not exactly telling the whole truth. This came into play on at least two occasions concerning Sarah. Abraham lied in both instances in order, in his assessment, to save his own neck. Later when Yitz’chak/Isaac, Abraham’s son, was faced with similar circumstances, he did the same. There are other areas that we could highlight, but the one that comes to play here within our parasha is that of playing family favorites.
As you will remember, both Yitz’chak/Isaac and Rivkah/Rebecca had their favorite sons. For Yitz’chak/Isaac it was Esav/Esau, and for Rivkah/Rebecca it was Ya’akob/Jacob. This type of family dynamic never bodes well. The atmosphere of such unwise choices set the stage for anger, jealousy, hatred and bitterness. This becomes wholly evident as the relationship between Esav/Esau and Ya’akob/Jacob plays itself out. Now we are brought to Ya’akob/Jacob and his family. Out of all of his sons we are told, that Yosef/Joseph is clearly his favorite. We are told that this is because Yosef/Joseph is the son of his old age. (37:3) It was also because Raqu’el/Rachel, Yosef’s/Joseph’s mother, was the wife he loved the most. It is clear that as such, regardless of the position of his other sons within the family hierarchy, Yosef/Joseph at the tender of age of seventeen, has clearly been marked out by Ya’akob/Jacob to become the bachor/firstborn son. This is the one who is to receive the family inheritance and assume the role as leader over the family when once his father passes from the scene. If it wasn’t enough that just in the day to day situations Yosef’s/Joseph’s other brothers could see their father’s doting over him, Ya’akob/Jacob makes it abundantly clear by giving Yosef/Joseph the multi-colored tunic. In the societies of the time, such a tunic represented one who had become a priest. In this case, Ya’akob/Jacob was sending a very clear message to all of the family, that his choice for family priest and inheritor of familial authority was Yosef/Joseph. As we read the opening chapter of our parasha, we see the seething resentment this overt special treatment afforded Yosef/Joseph by his father caused among his siblings. It is against this backdrop that our parasha opens.