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VaYeshev וַיֵּשֶׁב

“And He Settled”

Torah: Genesis 37:1–40:23
PROPHETS: Amos 2:6–3:8

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


Torah 1 and 2

Torah 1: 
Jacob Settles
Genesis 37:1–11

Jacob was the son of Isaac who received God’s promises, then left town in fear of his brother’s wrath, returned with children and wealth, and sometime after a family reunion, buried his father.

Jacob settles in the land and now his tol’dot (“generation” or “account of”) begins.

Just as Isaac’s tol’dot involved the faith-walk of his sons, Jacob & Esau (25:19–36:43), so too does Jacob’s tol’dot involve the faith walk of his sons, especially the beloved son, Joseph, through the beloved wife, Rachel (vv. 2b–3). Dysfunctional families are not a new phenomenon. Sibling rivalry existed between Cain and Abel (cf. 4:3–5, 8) and continues through Joseph and his brothers (v. 4, cf. v. 11). Can you see God’s hand behind the scenes using our fallen ways to further His redeeming plan? God’s methods have not changed. In what way can this encourage you?

Joseph is already on the outs with his brothers for telling on them, presumably for their unfaithfulness (v. 2b), and also their father’s preferential affections (v. 4). So when he shares with them his first dream that presumes Joseph’s preeminence, it only makes matters worse (vv. 5–8).

The second dream evokes a similar response from the brothers and a mixed reaction from father Jacob. 

Torah 2:
Joseph Un-Settles

GEnesis 37:12–22

Some time later, Jacob sends his beloved son to check on the other boys.

Seeds of jealousy can grow and bear the fruit of murder - Joseph’s brothers conspire to kill him!

Reuben, however, tries to save him, possibly to restore his relationship with his father that he had blown earlier (cf. 35:22). 


Torah 3 and 4

Torah 3: 
Judah’s Failins, Act i (Selling Joseph into Slavery) 

Genesis 37:23–36

When Joseph met up with his brothers they tore off his robe and threw him in a pit (vv. 23–24). Motivated more by greed than mercy, Judah saves his half-brother from death by selling him into slavery (vv. 25–28). Unaware of what his brothers had done, Reuben panics (vv. 29–30) and all the brothers conspire to deceive their father (vv. 31–32).

Jacob is deceived by his son’s bloody garment just as he deceived his own father Isaac with a hairy garment (cf.27:15-16). Considering the responsibility his mother Rebekah took in 27:13, do you think Jacob deserved this deception as divine payback?

While the father mourned (vv. 34–35) the son was subjected to slavery at the hands of men (v. 36). Imagine how you would have felt about God if you were Jacob and lost your son. Imagine how you would have felt about God if you were Joseph and lost your freedom. 

Torah 4:
Judah’s Failings, Act II (Failing to Preserve the Family LIne)

Genesis 38:1–30

Judah’s story is inserted here for at least two reasons: 1) he is another son of Jacob whose tol’dot we are now reading, and 2) his is the promised line whose progeny must be accounted for (cf. 49:8–12; Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1–6; Revelation 5:5).

Judah assimilates by marrying an unnamed Gentile woman, daughter of Shua, and has three kids with her.

Due to the sins of the men in this Jewish family, Tamar remains barren (cf. Deuteronomy 25:5–6 and Matthew 22:24).

After Judah’s wife dies (v. 12) Tamar takes drastic measures to faithfully carry on the family name (vv. 13–19) while Judah continues to stumble along blindly (vv. 20–24).

When Tamar brings the truth to light (v. 25) Judah is undone. He recognizes his sin and Tamar’s faithfulness (v. 26). Just as Jacob deceived his own father for his blessing, Jacob was himself deceived by Judah about the fate of his other son, Joseph. Similarly, Judah’s deception returns upon him when his daughter-in-law, Tamar, deceives him. Notice how each of these three deceptions involve a goat and a garment (1—Esau’s clothes and hairy skins; 2—a blood soaked robe; 3— a seal and cord [akin to the army’s “dog tag” identity marker] and staff).

When Tamar goes into labor, what pattern of sibling rivalry is described between older and younger siblings over the preeminent ”rights” of the firstborn (vv. 27–30)? Can you see this struggle going on between Israel as God’s firstborn among the nations of the world (cf. Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 21:17; Jeremiah 31:35–37; Zechariah12:1–9)? How can you be an instrument of redemption amidst the growing tension between Israel and the nations over “rights”?

Finally, despite Judah’s failings in both of these sections, consider how God used both acts of his deception to further His plan of redeeming the world (cf. Romans 8:28). Despite his turning his back on his brother, God works it all together for good by preserving life (Genesis 45:5–8, 50:20). Then later in life, despite the fact that he neglected to preserve God’s line of promise, God works all things together for good by preserving the promised path to Messiah (Genesis 49:10; Micah 5:2; Matthew 1:3a, 2:4–6).


In what ways does observing God’s strong arm to “work ALL THINGS together for good” (Romans 8:28) encourage you today?


torah 5 and 6

Torah 5: 
Joseph ENslaved But Shining, Act I
(In Potiphar’s House) 

Genesis 39:1–6

Picking back up where chapter 37 ended, “golden Joseph” causes Potiphar to thrive (cf. “golden Jacob” causing Laban to thrive).

A brief note about Joseph’s appearance sets up the next scene that God will use to make the necessary preparations for Israel’s extended exile from the land that He had foretold to father-to-be Abraham in Genesis 15:13.  

Torah 6: 
Joseph Enslaved But Shining, Act II
(Potiphar’s House to the Jailhouse)
Genesis 39:7–23

Joseph responds to Potiphar’s wife’s advances (v. 7) in faith-based obedience that does not just cry foul on the basis of a moral infraction but a relational offense (vv. 8–9)! Following Joseph’s example here, do you see your own temptations to sin as a direct offense against God? (Compare King David’s example in Psalm 51:4 after he had given in to his own temptation.)

Potiphar’s wife’s sinful and selfish manipulations (vv. 10–18) eventually dupe even her husband who dumps Joseph in jail (vv. 19–20).

While in jail, “golden Joseph” causes the jailer to thrive as well (vv. 21–23).


What makes Joseph “golden” (cf. v. 2, 21, 23)? Are you “golden” in the same way? What can you do to “exercise” your faith so that others will see that golden light shine (Matthew 5:16)? Spend a moment now contemplating God’s Word of encouragement for “shining” even through hard times in Hebrews 12:3-11.


torah 7 and

torah 7:
Joseph Remembers GOd and Serves Others 

Genesis 40:1–23

The king’s “cup-boy” and “bread-man” land themselves in the same jail with Joseph (vv. 1–4). When these newcomers have some perplexing dreams, Joseph points them to God even as he offers the use of a spiritual gift of interpretation (vv. 5–8).

In response to the cupbearer’s dream (vv. 9–11), Joseph gives an encouraging interpretation (vv. 12–13). What is his post-interpretation plea according to vv. 14–15?

In response to the baker’s dream (vv. 16–17), Joseph gives a discouraging interpretation (vv. 18–19).

Is Joseph Forgotten?
Genesis 40:20–23

Joseph’s words come to pass when God fulfills both interpretations (vv. 20–22). In a further “trial” of injustice, however, the cupbearer forgets Joseph’s plea. If you were Joseph and you had offered the use of your gifts to serve others but God then left you hanging, what would your reaction be?


Do you feel like God is leaving you hanging in any area of your life? What do you think He is trying to teach you about Who He is and how to “walk with Him?”



God’s Forgotten PRophecy 

Amos 2:6–3:8

In this portion, Amos is preaching to the northern Kingdom of Israel and warning God’s people of the coming judgment for unrepentant sins. After preaching this same message against the surrounding nations of Aram (1:3–5), Philistia (1:6–8), Phoenicia (1:9–10), Edom (1:11–12), Ammon (1:13–15), Moab (2:1–3), and even southern Judah who IS in covenant relationship with God (2:4–5), Amos then turns his attention to northern Israel.

In this portion Amos gives a dramatic testimony of God’s faithfulness (2:10–11) and sovereignty (3:6b) as well as Israel’s responsibility and culpability for behavior contrary to their holy covenant relationship. Neglecting the poor is bad enough, but intentionally selling them for personal gain is unconscionable. God chastises Israel for selling a tsadik (righteous one) for silver (2:6b). Is that what Jacob’s sons did to Joseph? How did God use Jacob’s sons’ disobedience as a mechanism to pour out His mercy on them during times of famine? How did God use Israel’s disobedience 2000 years ago as a mechanism to pour out His mercy on the Nations of the world (cf. Romans 11:30)? How might God be using Israel’s disobedience today as a mechanism to pour out His mercy on the Jewish people today (Romans 11:31)?


What can you do to be an instrument of redemption today by becoming an agent of God’s mercy?


Apostolic Writings

Apostolic Writings:
God’s Instruments of Redemption

Acts 7:9–16

Just before being stoned to death, Stephen was preaching the gospel. He did not start out by telling the Sanhedrin that they were sinners who needed a Savior. Instead, he started by reviewing redemption history and helping them see that Jesus was the one God promised to be the instrument of national and international redemption! Like Joseph, Yeshua was hated, treated unjustly, offered up to the hands of men, and ultimately the one God used to bring redemption.


How can you follow your Redeemer today and be God’s instrument of redemption for His glory?


Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.