Vayigash – “And He Drew Near”

Last parasha we left things on a cliffhanger, with an unknown Joseph telling his brothers he would be keeping Benjamin in Egypt. This week we will read the conclusion of Joseph’s testing of his brothers. Our parasha this week is called Vayigash which translates to “And He Drew Near” and covers Genesis 44:18-47:27. This parasha shows us how love covers a multitude of sins and the necessity to forgive and reconcile when possible.

We continue from last week with Judah begging to take Benjamin’s punishment for his alleged stealing of Joseph’s cup. Judah tells the still unknown Joseph that losing Benjamin would kill their father. Through this act of sacrifice Judah has shown he is a changed man, willing to take the punishment for Jacob’s other favorite son.

With this display of selflessness Joseph can no longer maintain his deception. After clearing the room Joseph wept loudly and said “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” His brothers were speechless, they could not believe their brother was alive and so powerful.

Joseph then promises to take care of them all, and that they should bring everyone, including their father, to Egypt. Joseph and Benjamin begin crying together. But the other brothers are not recorded as weeping they just talk to Joseph, still holding themselves back. The brothers were probably scared that Joseph was going to go after them for revenge.

Joseph though did not desire revenge. He had made his peace with their sin and understood his life from a perspective greater than his own. So Joseph tells his brothers that they should not be scared. They had sinned by selling him into slavery, but the Lord used it to save many lives during this famine. He had also sent Joseph to Egypt to save their family as well.

In this situation we see a family torn apart by jealousy and betrayal restored. Even the story reflects this fact, the brothers of Joseph are called once again his brothers, no longer “the men” that we saw in Genesis 43. While his brothers were still stuck in the past, worried that Joseph was going to exact his revenge, Joseph was focused on the present and the future, reflected in his immediate concern for his father, and for their surviving the famine.

After leaving Egypt with many provisions the brothers eventually reach Jacob. Their father cannot believe that Joseph is alive after mourning his death for so long. Jacob agrees to go to Egypt, so he can see Joseph one last time before he dies.

After arriving in Egypt Joseph meets his family and falls crying on Jacob. The parasha ends with Jacob and his family being given good land for shepherds and Joseph gaining great wealth for Pharaoh through the famine.

Vayigash is a fitting name for a parasha focused on coming together. The Lord also desires for each of us to draw near to Him through Messiah Yeshua. Through the Son of God there is healing like Joseph experienced and the ability to really reconcile and forgive.

Our parasha teaches us that Joseph and his brothers had grown from the people they were years ago. They had changed, but still were not perfect. If we are in Messiah, we have the promise of future perfection, but right now in this life we are not sinless. Our transformation by the Holy Spirit is a life-long process. Our struggle with sin is also life-long.

Because we are fallen human beings, we will hurt others and be hurt as well. While we might not sell our siblings into slavery, many of us have been hurt our family members and others. If we are honest with ourselves, we can also remember times when we have hurt others as well. But the Lord desires all of us to forgive one another and reconcile when possible, just like Joseph did with his brothers.

When I read this parasha I am reminded of 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” We see love cover our sins through Messiah’s sacrifice, but there is also a practical application in this verse. We as Believers show the love of God when we forgive others and try to reconcile.

I should note that it is not always possible or safe to reconcile. We need to have discernment when doing so and not put ourselves into dangerous situations with dangerous people. But we can let go of pain and hurt, finding forgiveness towards others, through Adonai without having to put ourselves into bad situations.

God’s Word is clear that having compassion for our brothers and sisters in the Lord is not optional. Messiah Yeshua taught to forgive our family, our enemies, and one another. Therefore, we need to reconcile wherever possible. We should also remember in His prayer, we are taught that if the Lord is gracious enough to forgive us our sins and transgressions, we need to do the same to others. For some of us this may seem impossible, but with the Lord all things are possible. With the power of the Holy Spirit we do not have to be the same person today we were yesterday.

This is a very personal issue for many of us, myself included. But the Lord really can heal us, to give us a heart that is willing to forgive and to build bridges. Especially when we see people as more than their mistakes towards us. I’ve seen it in my own life, and He is there for healing in your life as well, in His time, if you let Him work within you.

May the Lord, the healer of the broken, give us true Shalom, true peace and wholeness that comes only from Him. May we all experience His love in our lives and be made tender by it. May He give us the strength to forgive and bring us together wherever possible and the wisdom to know how to safely do so.