Commentary - Year 1 Sabbath 44a

Genesis 49:1-27   -   Isaiah 43:2   -   Psalm 40   -   John 21:12-19


Shevat 13, 5762 / Jan 26, 2002   See Y1-44x

Shevat 12, 5765 / Jan 22, 2005  

Shevat 12, 5768 / Jan 19, 2008  

Shevat 12, 5771 / Jan 15, 2011  

Shevat 10, 5774 / Jan 11, 2014   Divided for two weeks for leap year

                     See Y1-44x


Vayiqra Yaacov / Then Jacob Summoned   SCRIPTURES should be read first


As we come to the end of the Book of Genesis, where we have followed the Messianic line from Adam, we have prophecies of the future Messianic Age.


The twelve sons of Jacob – the twelve tribes of Israel – were chosen by God to be His messengers to the whole world – the “Light of the World.” They would be given the Torah at Mt. Sinai, and be the progenitors of Messiah. None of this was because of any inherent righteousness or ability or greatness of theirs: it was so that God could show His righteousness and strength through their weaknesses.


(V.1) JACOB (the name representing him as natural father) called for his twelve sons and said, “assemble yourselves, and I will tell you what will (yiqra) call to you in the end of days” (literal translation). The immediate generation was to be told what their calling would be for the Messianic Age (Last Days).

(V.2) ISRAEL (the name representing him as spiritual father) said, “gather yourselves and listen”. All spiritual descendents should gather to learn of these words to obey them.


REUBEN was the firstborn: with him Jacob’s primary purpose in life should have been carried on. He inherited the natural right to the “lifting of hands” of priesthood, and the authority of kingship. But he was “impetuous like water”, making rash decisions, like in the incident of Bilhah. So he lost his birthright to Joseph, he lost his kingship to Judah, and he lost his priesthood to Levi.


We should carefully consider the end of our actions, and our purpose before God; we should avoid making quick, emotional decisions.


Messiah would come through Joseph and Judah-David, not Reuben. Messiah’s priesthood, however, is not through Levi, but goes back to that of the firstborn (Malchi-Tzedek), though not through Reuben. This is why we read in Hebrews 6:20 that Yeshua is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.


SIMEON and LEVI were comrades in deed. They conspired against Shechem (v.34:25) and against Joseph (v.37:19). Their kinship was based on violence (Rashbam). Jacob previously denied knowledge of their plotting (v.34:13), and now, for his descendents, desired no part in their conspiratorial ways. This may be applied to such matters as the spies who slandered Israel (Num 13:4), and the uprising led by Levi’s descendent Korach against Moses and Aaron (Num 16:1). (V.6) “At their whim they maimed an ox” may refer to their attempt to unseat Joseph, who is likened to an ox (Deut 33:17). (V.5) “Their weaponry is a stolen craft” – from Esau.


Jacob desired the annihilation of their fierce rage and harsh wrath (this curse on their rage is actually a blessing to the brothers). So he prophesied of their separation and dispersion within Israel (v.7). Simeon’s cities were scattered throughout the south of Judah’s territory (Joshua 19:1). Levi was not numbered among the tribes (Num 26:62), though he held the position of priest, and received no territory, but forty-eight cities dispersed among the tribes.


Our anger and wrath does not fulfill the purposes of God. We need to overcome such ways for our own good.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). However, this in no way detracts from the righteousness of God’s wrath: we cannot put God under our laws!


JUDAH is a lion cub – who will mature into the lion king. In Messianic prophecy, his brothers will ascribe majesty to him; they will prostrate themselves before him (v.8). “His hand will be at his enemies’ nape” was fulfilled in David (2 Samuel 22:41) – “You have given me the nape of my enemies”, and will see greater fulfillment in the future when all of Yeshua’s enemies are put under his feet.


(V.10) “The scepter shall not depart from Judah . . .” means that Judah will be the tribe providing Israel’s sovereign ruler, from David all the way to Messiah Yeshua; it does not mean that there would always be a Judean king. Judah has had preeminence in leading Israel even in exile and other times when they had no king: Judah led the Sanhedrin even under Roman domination.


The ancient sages, and even most rabbis in modern rabbinic Judaism, see this as referring to the coming King Messiah ben David. Modern rabbinic Judaism has rejected the already-come suffering-servant Messiah ben Joseph. “To him will be the assemblage of the nations” (see Isaiah 18:7 and Psalm 76:12), ultimately fulfilling Jacob’s  preface – “gather yourselves and listen” (v.2).


He will tie his donkey to the vine” indicates the future abundance of the land, where the vines would be strong enough to restrain one’s animals. So Yeshua’s coming on a donkey represented his proper place of kingship in a prosperous land.


He will wash his garments in wine” is seen by ancients as a Messianic prophecy concerning the blood of His enemies: (Isaiah 63:1-6) Who is this who comes from Edom, with garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, this One who is majestic in His apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength? "It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save." Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press? "I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger, and trampled them in My wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, and I stained all My raiment. "For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come. "And I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; so My own arm brought salvation to Me; and My wrath upheld Me. "And I trod down the peoples in My anger, and made them drunk in My wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth."


(V.10) “Nor a scholar . . . until Shiloh arrives”: Judahites (Jews) are the ones responsible for preserving God’s instruction that we have today. And our only “rabbi” (Matthew 23:8) – Yeshua our ultimate teacher, is a Judahite. Shiloh means a gift to him, which the Midrash explains is a reference to King Messiah, to whom all nations will bring gifts.


ZEBULUN and ISSACHAR, the next to be blessed, are not the next of Jacob’s sons in age, but complete the list of sons by Leah. The remaining sons are blessed in birth order.


“DAN will be a serpent on the highway (v.17).” Dan represents the Messianic judge: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). We, in this life, are to judge righteously: the quotations that we commonly hear against “judging” are really against “condemning” others (there being several Biblical words that are commonly translated “judge” in various versions).


GAD and ASHER are the two sons by Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid.


Dan (mentioned previously) and NAPHTALI are the two sons by Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid.


JOSEPH is the only son not mentioned first by name, but as “a charming son” (v.22), which is repeated. He is treated as the firstborn insofar as he was given a double portion of inheritance – through Ephraim and Manassah. (He was the firstborn of Jacobs intended only wife Rachel.) He displayed an upright walk, even in great tribulation; and through him would come the suffering Messiah, to bring righteousness to Israel.

["A fruitful bough"- NASB / "A charming son is Joseph, a charming son to the eye; each of the girls climbed heights to gaze" - The Chumash - The Stone Edition.]


BENJAMIN is the second son of the beloved Rachel, who died giving birth to him.


Year    by Leah   -   Zilpah   ;   Rachel  -  Bilhah

 1          Reuven

 2          Shimon

 3          Levi

 4          Yehudah*                                       Dan

 5                                Gad                            Naphtali

 6          Issachar       Asher

 7          Zevulun                        Yoseph*

 (later)                                        Binyamin


(V.28) Israel “blessed each according to his appropriate blessing.” They were blessed according to their respective spiritual attainment, their ancestors fulfilled their prophesied futures, and their Messianic positions are for us to see.


In the Haftarah, we see an allusion to these blessings: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you” – Isaiah 43:2.


In Psalm 40, Joseph’s life is pictured; ultimately, it is Yeshua’s life that is pictured. “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction” (v.2). “I have not hidden Thy righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation” (v.10).


In today’s portion, we see the burials of both Jacob and Joseph. In the Apostolic portion, we see the burial of Yeshua. Then, as Jacob said, “Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob; and listen to Israel your father”, so after Yeshua was raised, he said to Peter, “Follow Me!


Our congregation is named “Followers of the Messiah”, and we are to gather to learn Torah, and we are to follow Yeshua.



"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who chose us from among all peoples by giving us Your Torah.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."


Reader 1*  Amen. 1 Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, "Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come. 2 "Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob; and listen to Israel your father. 3 "REUBEN, you are my firstborn; my might and the beginning of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. 4 "Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father's bed; then you defiled it-- he went up to my couch.

Reader 2*  Amen. 5 "SIMEON and LEVI are brothers; their swords are implements of violence. 6 "Let my soul not enter into their council; let not my glory be united with their assembly; because in their anger they slew men, and in their self-will they lamed oxen. 7 "Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

Reader 3*  Amen. 8 "Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down to you. 9 "JUDAH is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? 10 "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. 11 "He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey's colt to the choice vine; he washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes. 12 "His eyes are dull from wine, and his teeth white from milk.

Reader 4*  Amen. 13 "ZEBULUN will dwell at the seashore; and he shall be a haven for ships, and his flank shall be toward Sidon. 14 "ISSACHAR is a strong donkey, lying down between the sheepfolds. 15 "When he saw that a resting place was good and that the land was pleasant, he bowed his shoulder to bear burdens, and became a slave at forced labor.

Reader 5*  Amen. 16 "DAN shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. 17 "Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path, that bites the horse's heels, so that his rider falls backward. 18 "For Your salvation I wait, O Yahweh. 19 "As for GAD, raiders shall raid him, but he will raid at their heels.

Reader 6*  Amen. 20 "As for ASHER, his food shall be rich, and he will yield royal dainties. 21 "NAPHTALI is a doe let loose, he gives beautiful words. 22 "JOSEPH is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; its branches run over a wall. 23 "The archers bitterly attacked him, and shot at him and harassed him; 24 but his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile, from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), 25 from the God of your father who helps you, and by the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb.

Reader 7*  Amen. 26 "The blessings of your father have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; may they be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers. 27 "BENJAMIN is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, and in the evening he divides the spoil."


"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who in giving us Yeshua, the Living Torah, has planted everlasting life in our midst.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."



"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who selected good prophets, delighting in their words which were spoken truthfully.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, Who chose the Torah, Your servant Moses, Your people Israel,

and the prophets of truth and righteousness."


Isaiah 43:1-21

Reader 8*  Amen. 1 But now, thus says Yahweh, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! 2 "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. 3 "For I am Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. 4 "Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life. 5 "Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. 6 "I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth, 7 Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made." 8 Bring out the people who are blind, even though they have eyes, and the deaf, even though they have ears. 9 All the nations have gathered together so that the peoples may be assembled. Who among them can declare this and proclaim to us the former things? Let them present their witnesses that they may be justified, or let them hear and say, "It is true."

Reader 9*  Amen. 10 "You are My witnesses," declares Yahweh, "and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. 11 "I, even I, am Yahweh, and there is no savior besides Me. 12 "It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, and there was no strange god among you; so you are My witnesses," declares Yahweh, "and I am God. 13 "Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?" 14 Thus says Yahweh your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, "For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and will bring them all down as fugitives, even the Chaldeans, into the ships in which they rejoice. 15 "I am Yahweh, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King." 16 Thus says Yahweh, Who makes a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters, 17 Who brings forth the chariot and the horse, the army and the mighty man (They will lie down together and not rise again; they have been quenched and extinguished like a wick): 18 "Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. 19 "Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. 20 "The beasts of the field will glorify Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people. 21 "The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise.


Psalm 40    (To be sung.)    For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

1 I waited patiently for Yahweh; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear And will trust in Yahweh. 4 How blessed is the man who has made Yahweh his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. 5 Many, O Yahweh my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count. 6 Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; my ears You have opened; burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. 7 Then I said, "Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8 I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart." 9 I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation; behold, I will not restrain my lips, O Yahweh, You know. 10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation. 11 You, O Yahweh, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me. 12 For evils beyond number have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see; they are more numerous than the hairs of my head, And my heart has failed me. 13 Be pleased, O Yahweh, to deliver me; make haste, O Yahweh, to help me. 14 Let those be ashamed and humiliated together who seek my life to destroy it; let those be turned back and dishonored who delight in my hurt. 15 Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, "Aha, aha!" 16 Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let those who love Your salvation say continually, "Yahweh be magnified!" 17 Since I am afflicted and needy, let the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.


John 21:12-19

Reader 11*  Amen. 12 Yeshua said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples ventured to question Him, "Who are You?" knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Yeshua came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Yeshua was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead. 15 So when they had finished breakfast, Yeshua said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My lambs." 16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Yeshua said to him, "Tend My sheep. 18 "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." 19 Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me!"


"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Rock of Ages, righteous throughout all generations.

You are the faithful God, promising and then performing, speaking and then fulfilling,

for all Your words are true and righteous.

Faithful are You, Yahweh our God, and faithful are Your words,

for no word of Yours shall remain unfulfilled;

You are a faithful and merciful God and King.

Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, Who are faithful in fulfilling all Your words."

© 2004  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)