The Revealing of Joseph - Torah Portion Vayigash
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Genesis 44:18 – 47:27
Vayigash meaning “and he drew near”.
In these verses we find a beautiful description of Judah interceding on behalf of Benjamin before Joseph, Joseph revealing himself to his brothers, and Jacob's family ( 70 persons in all) journeying to Egypt.
Had Joseph forgotten who he was after all of his years in Egypt? Did Pharaoh know who Joseph was? In the prior portion, Chapter 41:12, we find that Joseph is referred to as a Hebrew man. So, Pharaoh knew that Joseph was a Hebrew and Joseph knew that he was a Hebrew.
As his brothers stood before him, he recognized them but they did not recognize him. Joseph looked the part of a native Egyptian. No one would have recognized him as anything other than an Egyptian. Joseph had arisen to the most powerful position in the land, second only to Pharaoh himself.
Scripture records in Genesis 41:51-52 that Joseph had two sons and he names them Manasseh and Ephraim. The names that were chosen for these two boys reveal something to us about Joseph. Manasseh, the first-born, means "causing to forget", "For God, said Joseph, has made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house." The second son was named Ephraim meaning, "doubly fruitful", for "God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction." From this we can see that Joseph had completely assimilated to his new culture and his whole new life. He had accepted the fact that his past was behind him and his future was bright and included Egypt.
This story of Joseph is surely a shadow of the Messiah and the future of the two kingdoms of Israel. Messiah Yeshua has been the suffering Son of Yosef. He has also been hidden in His identity to the majority of His people, Judah, throughout the centuries. Yeshua as worshiped by the majority of the world for almost two thousand years no where resembles a Jewish Messiah. No wonder it is hard for Jews to believe He is their Messiah. Likewise, the 10 tribes of the northern kingdom, called the House of Israel or Ephraim, remain scattered around the world totally unaware of their identity as descendants of Israel. They have "forgotten their father's house" completely and they have been very "fruitful" in their new lands and have assimilated. Just as Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, likewise Yeshua is going to return and reveal Himself to the House of Judah, and He is going to regather the remnant of Judah and the whole of the House of Ephraim. When He returns Ephraim and Judah will recognize Him as the Jewish Messiah of Israel.
How do you heal a family wound as deep as the one experienced by Joseph? Maybe Joseph never really intended to have this wound healed. Maybe he just wanted to create a little chaos in his brothers life's. I believe that Benjamin was what broke Joseph to reveal himself. I believe it was the words spoken by Judah in defense of Benjamin that caused Joseph's heart to grieve for his long lost family again.
The wording of this scenario has similarities with a story in Genesis. Just as in Genesis when Adam was alone and needed Eve (Genesis 2:18), likewise Judah attests to the "aloneness" of Benjamin:
His brother is dead, so he alone remains of his mother - Genesis 44:20
The same Hebrew word is used in both verses. Joseph and Benjamin were the only two sons of Rachel, the favorite wife of Jacob. Their bond was great indeed! They had need of each other and they had a great need by their father, Jacob, as well. The painful estrangement from the family hits Joseph. It was no doubt a great sense of loss that triggered his memory. At the thought of this "aloneness" experienced by his youngest brother, Joseph's heart melts and he is willing to seek a way to restore this broken family relationship.
The story of this family reconciliation ends with similar wording as it begins. The story comes full circle. In Genesis 37:4 we read:
And the brothers saw that it was he who their father loved from among all his brothers-and they hated him, and could not speak to him in peace.
This was recorded in the beginning of the story. Now for the reconciliation we read:
And afterwards, his brothers spoke with him - Genesis 45:15
What did they speak about? We don't know but the point is - they were speaking to each other. Family forgiveness and reconciliation was taking place. Joseph had returned to his family.