“And He Drew Near”
Torah: GEnesis 44:18–47:27
PROPHETS: Ezekiel 37:15–28
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Luke 6:12–26
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 and 2
Judah Offers Himself
This portion begins at the climactic moment when Judah draws near to Joseph during the brothers’ 4th encounter. Can you remember the previous encounters? (1st during trip to Egypt trying to buy grain; 2nd after being released from prison for being accused of spying; 3rd during second trip to Egypt feasting with Joseph; 4th—brought back after Joseph’s “trap”).
While Judah begins his speech back in v. 16 (for what is he confessing “guilt”?), only now does he step up to offer himself in place of his brother. He begins what is the longest speech in the book of Genesis by summarizing recent events (vv. 18–29). These events bring into focus the fact that Jacob’s life is bound up with his beloved son, Benjamin (v. 30)…
Joseph Reveals Himself
…and the adverse effects of returning home without him (v. 31). Judah then offers himself in place of his brother (vv. 32–34). Consider Judah’s role in losing one of Rachel’s children (cf. 37:26–27; 43:8–9) and now saving the other one. Consider also the irony of how the one responsible for selling Joseph into slavery now unknowingly offers himself as a slave to his victim turned viceroy!
As Judah’s speech brings the emotional tension to a breaking point, Joseph, unable to contain himself any longer, reveals himself to his brothers (45:1–3). He then tries to help them overcome their fear, guilt and confusion and gain God’s perspective on things (vv. 4–7).
What are some similarities between Judah and Jesus as ones who offer themselves up to save their brothers? How can you apply John 15:13 in following their examples?
Torah 3 and 4
Joseph Leads Reconciling with Brothers
Joseph continues sharing with his brothers and makes an incredible statement of God’s sovereignty even amidst severe trials. How is Joseph affirming what Paul teaches in Romans 8:28? What “trials” are you going through in your life? How can you apply Paul’s teaching to your circumstances and be encouraged by Joseph’s example of persevering faith?
Joseph instructs his brothers regarding what to say to their father so that the family will migrate to Egypt and survive the famine (vv. 9–13). Joseph continues his emotional reunion with his brothers (vv. 14–15) and receives overwhelming support from Pharaoh himself (vv. 16–18).
Pharaoh Endorses BLessing the Israelites
Pharaoh gives specific instructions, and thus royal authorization, for Joseph’s generosity toward his family (vv. 19–24). The brothers return to Canaan and tell Jacob the incredible news (vv. 25–26)!
What finally convinces Jacob that what his sons tell him is indeed true (v. 27)? Can you imagine the shock and exasperating joy at such news?
torah 5 and 6
Jacob’s Family Migrates to Egypt
Jacob’s main concern is to see his long lost son (45:28). He thus eagerly sets out with all his family and heads for Egypt. On the way, he makes a very significant “Beersheba pit stop” where God speaks to him (46:1–4). Jacob began his original journey away from home by leaving Beersheba (cf. 28:10) and now he returns there on his final journey out of town. Also, his father, Isaac, had encountered God here in Beersheba and probably built the altar upon which Jacob is now worshiping (cf. 26:23–25). Remember that Jacob’s previous “boomerang” journey to Haran began and ended by God appearing to him at Bethel (cf. 28:10–22 and 35:1–15). Now, God appears to Jacob in Beersheba as he begins his migration down to Egypt. Consider that God had foretold such a migration to Abraham years earlier (cf. 15:13–14). He had also specifically told Isaac not to go that way down to Egypt (cf. 26:1–6). Now God comforts and reassures Jacob as he follows in his grandfather’s footsteps to Egypt to escape the ravages of famine (cf. 12:10).
Jacob’s migration to Egypt (vv. 5–7) is accompanied by a household census. Jacob’s migrating household includes 33 through Leah (vv. 8–15) and 16 though her maidservant Zilpah (vv. 16–18). It also includes 14 through beloved wife Rachel (vv. 19–22) and 7 through her maidservant Bilhah (vv. 23–25). While there are difficulties involved in identifying the exact 70 referred to here (vv. 26–27; cf. Exodus 1:5 and Deuteronomy 10:22), the 75 identified by Stephen in his speech before the Sanhedrin (cf. Acts 7:14) came from the Greek translation of Genesis 46:27 and Exodus 1:5 in the Septuagint (LXX) and was probably an accurate number derived from a slightly different calculation (see David Stern’s Jewish New Testament Commentary, p.244 and Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pp. 378–379).
Jacob’s Family Meets Pharaoh
At last, father and son reunite in Goshen (vv. 28–30) and Joseph prepares his family to go before Pharaoh (vv. 31–34).
When the brothers address Pharaoh about settling in Goshen (47:1–4) Pharaoh instructs Joseph to grant the request (vv. 5–6). Joseph brings his father before Pharaoh and incredibly, Jacob, the sojourner, blessed supreme ruler of the land (vv. 7–10).
torah 7 and
Egypt is Saved Under the Wise Leadership of Joseph
Joseph provides for his family (vv. 11-12) even as the famine scours the land (v. 13).
After the people use up all their money to buy the surplus grain Joseph had been storing up during the 7 years of plenty (v. 14), they then use their animals to buy grain (vv. 15–17). When their animals are gone, they then sell themselves and their land (vv. 18–24; except for the priests) and thus Joseph successfullys secures the people’s loyalty as well as a 20% tax for Pharaoh (vv. 25–26). Accordingly, while Egypt becomes increasingly dependent upon Pharaoh, Israel becomes increasingly prosperous (v. 27). Consider God’s purposes for raising up Joseph. What did he accomplish for Israel? What did he accomplish for Egypt?
The “Nation-in-Embryo” Takes Root in Egypt
God raises up individuals and spends years preparing them for their “moment.” Joseph’s interaction with Pharaoh and then later with his brothers were his “moments.” Esther was challenged to step out in faith for her “moment” that God used to save the Jewish people (Est.4:14). What “moments” have you had in your life where you were challenged to take a step of faith to fulfill God’s purposes? Whether or not you can think of any such “moments” in the past, you can be certain that God is preparing you for such steps of faith in the future. What is He teaching you now to make you a more useful servant in building His Kingdom?
The Nation Will Be REunited Under MEssiah
Jacob’s sons were reunited when Judah drew near to Joseph and righted his wrong from years before. Now, in our haftarah portion, the “nation-in-embryo” has grown up. Israel has been enslaved and freed from Egypt (Exodus 1–18), committed within a covenant relationship with God at Sinai (Exodus 19–Deuteronomy), and brought into the Promised Land (Joshua–Judges). Furthermore, Israel has grown into a twelve-tribe nation that had divided into two separate kingdoms: Judah in the south and Israel in the north (Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles). Northern Israel is swept away by Assyria and almost a hundred and fifty years later, southern Judah is swept away by Babylon. The prophet Ezekiel preached to Judah during the final years in the land and for many years in Babylon. Ezekiel foretells a time when this divided nation will again be reunited into one kingdom with one king.
The chapter begins with national regeneration (37:1–14) and then speaks of national reunification (vv. 15–28). God foretells a time when these two kingdoms will be drawn back together (vv. 15–17, 19, 21–22), purified (v. 23), and united under King Messiah (vv. 24–25). Just as God used the two leading sons of Jacob to bring the family back together (Judah and Joseph), so God promised to use the two leading tribes from Jacob to bring the nation back together (Judah led the southern kingdom and the tribe from Joseph, Ephraim, led the northern kingdom). God promises to renew His covenant relationship with His chosen nation (vv. 26-27; cf. 36:22–28; Jeremiah 31:31; 32:37–42) for the sake of redeeming His chosen from all nations (v. 28; cf. Ezekiel 20:39–44; 28:25–26; 39:7, 25–29).
Whether you are Jewish, and thus part of the faithful remnant from this chosen nation, or whether you are Gentile, and thus part of the faithful remnant from one of the other nations of the world, let’s unite in our prayers for Israel’s security and salvation (Isaiah 62:7). Furthermore, let’s also pray for those from the rest of the nations to submit to God’s plan for Israel as His chosen means of displaying and spreading His glory throughout the whole earth (cf. Psalm 72:19; Habakkuk 2:14)!
The Nation Will Be Restored By Messiah
After a long night of spending time in prayer speaking with his Father, Yeshua chose twelve Jews to lead the nation back into covenant faithfulness. Read Acts 1:6–7. What did these men expect to happen? Were they looking to Yeshua to lead a spiritual revolution or merely a military uprising? Did they see Yeshua as the one spoken of by Ezekiel who would reunite and restore Israel as a nation and a kingdom? While the apostles had their eyes on the nation, Yeshua has his eyes on the Father and His plan to bring all nations back to Himself. He wants to use you to reach some of His chosen ones today! Pray about this. Speak to your heavenly Father about what He wants you to do and with whom He wants you to cultivate redemptive relationships for the sake of spreading the glory of God.
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.