Commentary - Year 1 Sabbath 44x

Genesis 49:1 - 50:26   -   Isaiah 43:2   -   Psalm 40   -   John 19:39-20:9, 21:12-19


Shevat 13, 5762 / Jan 26, 2002  (5765 / 2005 & 5768 / 2008)

These readings and commentary are divided for two weeks for 2011 & 2014

Shevat 15, 5777 / Feb 11, 2017

Shevat 13, 5780 / Feb 8, 2020

Shevat 13, 5783 / Feb 4, 2023


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 called together all his sons and said, "Gather around me, and I will tell you what is going to happen to you in the days to come. 2 "Come and listen, O sons of Jacob; listen to Israel, your father. 3 "REUBEN, you are my oldest son, the child of my vigorous youth. You are first on the list in rank and honor. 4 But you are as unruly as the waves of the sea, and you will be first no longer. For you slept with one of my wives; you dishonored me in my own bed. 5 "SIMEON and LEVI are two of a kind-- men of violence. 6 O my soul, stay away from them. May I never be a party to their wicked plans. For in their anger they murdered men, and they crippled oxen just for sport. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; cursed be their wrath, for it is cruel. Therefore, I will scatter their descendants throughout the nation of Israel.

Reader 2*  Amen. 8 "JUDAH, your brothers will praise you. You will defeat your enemies. All your relatives will bow before you. 9 Judah is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness-- who will dare to rouse him? 10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will obey. 11 He ties his foal to a grapevine, the colt of his donkey to a choice vine. He washes his clothes in wine because his harvest is so plentiful. 12 His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk. 13 "ZEBULUN will settle on the shores of the sea and will be a harbor for ships; his borders will extend to Sidon. 14 "ISSACHAR is a strong beast of burden, resting among the sheepfolds. 15 When he sees how good the countryside is, how pleasant the land, he will bend his shoulder to the task and submit to forced labor. 16 "DAN will govern his people like any other tribe in Israel. 17 He will be a snake beside the road, a poisonous viper along the path, that bites the horse's heels so the rider is thrown off. 18 I trust in you for salvation, O Yahweh!

Reader 3*  Amen. 19 "GAD will be plundered by marauding bands, but he will turn and plunder them. 20 "ASHER will produce rich foods, food fit for kings. 21 "NAPHTALI is a deer let loose, producing magnificent fawns. 22 "A fruitful bough is JOSEPH, a fruitful bough beside a fountain. His branches reach over the wall. 23 He has been attacked by archers, who shot at him and harassed him. 24 But his bow remained strong, and his arms were strengthened by the Mighty One of Jacob, the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel. 25 May the God of your ancestors help you; may the Almighty bless you with the blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the earth beneath, and blessings of the breasts and womb. 26 May the blessings of your ancestors be greater than the blessings of the eternal mountains, reaching to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills. These blessings will fall on the head of Joseph, who is a prince among his brothers. 27 "BENJAMIN is a wolf that prowls. He devours his enemies in the morning, and in the evening he divides the plunder."

Reader 4*  Amen. 28 These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and these are the blessings with which Jacob blessed his twelve sons. Each received a blessing that was appropriate to him. 29 Then Jacob told them, "Soon I will die. Bury me with my father and grandfather in the cave in Ephron's field. 30 This is the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a permanent burial place. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried. There Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, are buried. And there I buried Leah. 32 It is the cave that my grandfather Abraham bought from the Hittites." 33 Then when Jacob had finished this charge to his sons, he lay back in the bed, breathed his last, and died.

Reader 5*  Amen. 50:1 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. 2 Then Joseph told his morticians to embalm the body. 3 The embalming process took forty days, and there was a period of national mourning for seventy days. 4 When the period of mourning was over, Joseph approached Pharaoh's advisers and asked them to speak to Pharaoh on his behalf. 5 He told them, "Tell Pharaoh that my father made me swear an oath. He said to me, 'I am about to die; take my body back to the land of Canaan, and bury me in our family's burial cave.' Now I need to go and bury my father. After his burial is complete, I will return without delay." 6 Pharaoh agreed to Joseph's request. "Go and bury your father, as you promised," he said. 7 So Joseph went, with a great number of Pharaoh's counselors and advisers-- all the senior officers of Egypt. 8 Joseph also took his brothers and the entire household of Jacob. But they left their little children and flocks and herds in the land of Goshen.

Reader 6*  Amen. 9 So a great number of chariots, cavalry, and people accompanied Joseph. 10 When they arrived at the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan River, they held a very great and solemn funeral, with a seven-day period of mourning for Joseph's father. 11 The local residents, the Canaanites, renamed the place Abel-mizraim, for they said, "This is a place of very deep mourning for these Egyptians." 12 So Jacob's sons did as he had commanded them. 13 They carried his body to the land of Canaan and buried it there in the cave of Machpelah. This is the cave that Abraham had bought for a permanent burial place in the field of Ephron the Hittite, near Mamre. 14 Then Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to his father's funeral. 15 But now that their father was dead, Joseph's brothers became afraid. "Now Joseph will pay us back for all the evil we did to him," they said. 16 So they sent this message to Joseph: "Before your father died, he instructed us 17 to say to you: 'Forgive your brothers for the great evil they did to you.' So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive us." When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept.

Reader 7*  Amen. 18 Then his brothers came and bowed low before him. "We are your slaves," they said. 19 But Joseph told them, "Don't be afraid of me. Am I God, to judge and punish you? 20 As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. He brought me to the high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people. 21 No, don't be afraid. Indeed, I myself will take care of you and your families." And he spoke very kindly to them, reassuring them. 22 So Joseph and his brothers and their families continued to live in Egypt. Joseph was 110 years old when he died. 23 He lived to see three generations of descendants of his son Ephraim and the children of Manasseh's son Makir, who were treated as if they were his own. 24 "Soon I will die," Joseph told his brothers, "but God will surely come for you, to lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he vowed to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath, and he said, "When God comes to lead us back to Canaan, you must take my body back with you." 26 So Joseph died at the age of 110. They embalmed him, and his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt.


"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 19:39 – 20:9

Reader 10*  Amen. 39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40 So they took the body of Yeshua and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Yeshua loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." 3 So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4 The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. 6 And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.


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)