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VaY’chi וַיְחִי

“And He Lived”

Torah: Genesis 47:28–50:26
PROPHETS: 1 Kings 2:1–12
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Matthew 28:16–20

These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.


Torah 1 and 2

Torah 1: 
Living in the Land of Promise
Genesis 47:28–48:9

After Jacob’s family is finally reunited in Egypt, Jacob lives 17 more years and dies at 147 years of age (47:28). Because Jacob remains focused on God’s promises for a heritage in the Land, he makes Joseph promise to bring his body back there (vv. 29–31). Based on God’s word to him in 46:4, where do you think Jacob expects to actually die?

When Joseph returns to Jacob bringing his two sons (48:1–2), Jacob tells them about God’s promises to him at Bethel (vv. 3–4; cf. 28:13–16; 35:11–12) and then reveals his intention to elevate Joseph’s two sons as full heirs of those promises (vv. 5–6). After telling them about the fate of Rachel, their mother/grandmother (v. 7), Jacob prepares to formally bless the kids (vv. 8–9).

Torah 2:
Adoption Makes You an Heir

Genesis 48:10–16

Jacob’s eyes are failing due to age (v. 10; cf. 27:1ff) but his heart is full because he is beholding his beloved grandsons (v. 11; cf. Prov.17:6a). We are given a slow-motion detailed picture of Joseph facing his father and preparing for his first-born son to receive the birthright blessing of preeminence (vv. 12–13; Manasseh, the first-born is on Jacob’s right). But Jacob crosses his hands and continues the pattern of elevating the younger over the older (v. 14; cf. Jacob over Esau, 25:23; Perez over Zerah, 38:27–30).

When Jacob blesses Ephraim and Manasseh, he is really blessing his beloved son, Joseph.


Despite even our best efforts to direct the flow of blessing and direct the course of history, God’s sovereignty is absolute and his mercy is not lacking (cf. Romans 9:16 and the surrounding context). Does this comfort you or discourage you? In what ways does God’s sovereignty leave you totally awed? In what ways does it leave you totally confused!?


Torah 3 and 4

Torah 3: 
Blessing “Switch-a-roo” 

Genesis 48:17–22

Why is Joseph displeased at the sight of his younger son being preeminently blessed and elevated to Jacob’s “right hand” (vv. 17–18; cf. Psalm 110:1 & Hebrews 1:3)?

What is Jacob’s explanation (v. 19; cf. his mother’s understanding, 25:23; and God’s word to him at Bethel, 35:11)?

Jacob’s blessing over the two boys elevates Ephraim and effectually gives Joseph a double portion inheritance (v. 20). Jacob also comforts his soon to be fatherless son with the promises of God’s Presence and his sure return to the Land (vv. 21–22).

Torah 4:
Judah’s Preeminence

Genesis 49:1–18

Jacob’s final blessing over all his sons is also a prophetic utterance.

Leah’s sons
are blessed first (cf. 35:23). Why are Reuben (vv. 3–4; cf. 35:22), Simeon and Levi (vv. 5–7; cf. 34:25–29) disqualified for the preeminent blessing?

Judah, being next in line, is promised what preeminent leadership role in redemptive history (cf. Micah 5:2; 1 Samuel 17:12; Matthew 2:6)?

Zebulun (v. 13) and Issachar (vv. 14–15) are also each given their appropriate blessings.

After Leah had given birth to four of her six sons, Rachel’s concubine had the next child with Bilhah’s first-born, Dan, next in Jacob’s line (cf. 29:31–30:6).

Genealogies, as well as accompanying narrative, can be confusing and cumbersome, but they often contain potent theological truths—so hang in there! Rashi (acronym for one of the most influential Jewish commentators named Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki who lived from 1040-1105 C.E.) translated the end of 49:10, "until the Messiah (to Whom the Kingdom belongs)" which equates the meaning of the Hebrew word Shiloh with the Messiah. Jewish sources explain that the Hebrew word Shiloh is a composite of two words that mean "a gift" (shi) and "to him" (lo) and is thus a direct reference to King Messiah, to Whom all nations will bring gifts. This verse became a primary Rabbinic Torah source text for the belief that the Messiah will come.


Judah's preeminence indeed flourishes in the reality of his seed, King Yeshua, coming and drawing the hearts of all who are hungry for God. Turn to Him now and let your appetite grow as you bring Him your gifts of praise, thanksgiving, and a surrendered and freely-willing heart to obey and follow His lead.


torah 5 and 6

Torah 5: 
Establishing the Sons 

Genesis 49:19–26

This section begins with Jacob’s blessing over Zilpah’s firstborn, Gad, whose birth resumed Leah’s progeny through her maidservant (cf. 30:9–11).

The blessings for Asher (v. 20) and Naphtali (v. 21) conclude the blessings for the sons born to Jacob through his wives’ maidservants (cf. 35:25–26).

Rachel’s sons
are blessed last (cf. 35:24). While the ruler would come through Judah, the birthright was given to Joseph (vv. 22–26; cf. 1 Chronicles 5:1–2; his “double portion” through Ephraim & Manasseh each receiving a full portion). 

Torah 6: 
Leading the Reconciliation

Genesis 49:27–50:20

While Judah and Joseph receive the longest blessings, the final blessing is reserved for Benjamin (v. 27). Consider that Israel’s 1st king, Saul, was from Benjamin (cf. 1 Samuel 9:1–2). How is Judah’s promised role of leadership fulfilled through king David taking the throne (cf. 2 Sam.7:8–16)? Consider also that Israel’s 1st missionary to the Gentiles was another Saul from Benjamin (cf. Philippians 3:5) and was sent to bring those from the nations into relationship with the God of Israel. How might Judah’s promised role of leadership be also fulfilled through all Israel, as a primarily Jewish nation, being saved (cf. Romans 11:25–27; Deuteronomy 26:18–19; 28:1, 13)?

Blessings concluded (v. 28), Jacob gives instructions regarding his burial (vv. 29–32) and then dies (v. 33).

After mourning Jacob’s death and with Pharaoh’s permission, Joseph, along with many Egyptians, go to bury him in the Land with his relatives (50:1–14).

Fearing revenge on them for past abuses now that their father is dead, Joseph’s brothers seek his favor (vv. 15–18).

How is Joseph able to forgive them (vv. 19–20; cf. Proverbs 3:5)?


Meditate on v. 20. To whom may God be calling you to sincerely say this same thing? Are you willing to lean on Him instead of your own understanding and forgive even the harshest of abuses?


torah 7 and

torah 7:
God’s Comfort in Exile 

Genesis 50:21–22

Joseph cares for his family in Egypt (v. 21). Read and consider God's standard in Romans 12:14-21. In what ways did Joseph's life shine because of his adherence to this standard?

While dying as the youngest of all the patriarchs, Joseph still lived a long and rich life (v. 22). Read Proverbs 25:21–22. What about Joseph's example illustrates this proverbial truth? Ask the Father to show you one specific relationship where He wants you to shine in a similar way to Joseph and illustrate God's immense and transforming provision and love.

Joseph’s Hope of Aliyah

Genesis 50:23–26

Joesph knew the joy of being a great-grandfather (cf. Numbers 26:28–37).

Like his father Jacob/Israel, Joseph makes relatives promise to bury him in the Promised Land (cf. 47:29–31). This returning to the promised homeland is known as making aliyah [literally: going up, and typically refers to either going up on a synagogue pulpit to read from the Torah or Jewish people moving to Israel]. What kind of effect do you think his dying father’s words from 48:21 had on his own departing thoughts? What kind of impact do you think God’s message to Abraham in 15:13–15 had on Joseph as it was passed on from father to son (i.e. hope, peace, fear, confusion, etc.)? Why is Joseph praised as a hero of faith in Hebrews 11:22? For all the great things Joseph could have been remembered for, why is this the only thing singled out by the writer of Hebrews as worthy of remembering? For all the things you are striving for in your life, for what will you be remembered?

Joseph dies at 110 years of age and is embalmed. The stage is set for the book of Exodus, which in Hebrew is called Sh’mot (“Names”).

Now that we are finished walking through the beginnings of God's rest on the Earth, next week we will begin walking through the story of God's naming a nation to reach the nations of the Earth.



Extending David’s Reign 

1 Kings 2:1–12

Just as father Jacob establishes his sons with blessings for this nation-in-embryo in our Torah portion, King David establishes his son Solomon as the rightful king over the nation in our Haftarah (“completion”) portion. Departing words are usually noteworthy as they reflect the most important concluding thoughts.

David’s final words to Solomon call him to faithful obedience to God (vv. 1–4).

David also gives his son instructions for dealing justly with Joab (vv. 5–6; cf. 2 Samuel 3:27), kindly with Barzillai (v. 7; cf. 2 Samuel 19:31–39) and harshly with Shimei (vv. 8–9; cf. 2 Samuel 16:5–13; 19:16–23). Following these instructions will help Solomon establish his rule when his father is gone by dealing with those who are his enemies and opposed to his leadership.

After 40 years of leading Israel, David dies (vv. 10–11) and his appointed son is firmly established as the ruler (v. 12).


In Acts 20:17-38, read Paul’s final words to the leaders of the faith community of Ephesus. What is most important to Paul to pass on? Whose rule and reign is he laboring to establish? Consider how David, Solomon, Paul, the elders of Ephesus, and you extend God's rule on the Earth by establishing the reign of righteousness.


Apostolic Writings

Apostolic Writings:
Extending MEssiah’s Reign

Matthew 28:16–20

In Matthew 26:32, just before He willingly suffered for our salvation, the rightful heir to the throne of David prophetically called His followers to meet him in Galilee. The eleven heed their Master's call (Matthew 28:16) and meet Him at the designated mountain. According to v. 17, how did they respond when they saw Him? In what way does the text speak to their behavioral response? In what way does it describe their heart orientation? Compare the future leaders God is raising up through Moses in Exodus 4:31 and consider the relationship between faith/belief/trust as an internal reality invisible to others and worship as something others can more easily recognize. Yeshua's claim of all authority in v. 18 is as sweeping in scope as it is securing in hope. Is this worship on a mountain in Galilee the beginnings of fulfilling Daniel 7:14 on Earth? Furthermore, could these eleven, and you, be part of the oes Daniel heard about a few verses later in Daniel 7:18? God is huge, His Son is the Heir, and He both authorizes and instructs His followers in Matthew 28:19–20 to extend His reign by reproducing themselves in others. Consider the three specific ways this is done: immersing, teaching, and remembering. In what ways are you doing each of these as a central focus of your following Yeshua as King? How can you extend God's reign on Earth, as it already is in Heaven right now, through each of these three key aspects of being a disciple maker?


Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.