God prepared two self-centered “brats” — Yosef (Joseph) and Yehudah (Judah) — and their descendants to become the saviors of their families. Yosef was a tattle-tale and a bit of a braggart, but Yehudah was willing to throw weaker, younger people to the wolves, either figuratively or literally to obtain a higher status in his society. God really cares about how you treat other people, especially those who are weaker and less fortunate. In the Torah reading וישב Vayeshev (Genesis 37–40), we learn from Yosef and Yehudah their life lessons the hard way.
The accounts of Yosef‘s “coat of many colors” or “Technicolor Dreamcoat” and his standing strong amid adversity and oppression in Mitzraim are popular among children and adults. But a scandalous aside in this week’s Torah portion, וישב Vayeshev (“he settled,” Gen. 37:1–40:23), involving his brother Yehudah may not reach many children’s ears. Yet both Yosef and Yehudah provide important “calling cards” for Mashiakh Yeshua.
“Now Ya’akov lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan. These are the records of the generations of Ya’akov.” (Genesis 37:1–2 NASB)
The previous parashah, Vayishlach, ends with Esaw dwelling in Seir, which is in southwest Jordan today. This Torah section, וישב Vayeshev (“and he dwelled”), begins with Ya’akov living in Canaan.
This ties Ya’akov, rather than Eysau, to the legacy of Abraham and Yitzhak. Legacy is more than generating children. This is something special, unique that is passed down from one generation to another. In our age, we don’t seem to be interested in legacy, but we should be. We are quick to blame our parents for their mistakes but we aren’t as quick to thank them for the good they have taught us.
Yosef played the messianic role consistently through his life. God is the one in control of Yosef’s life, not Yehudah. Yeshua the Mashiakh wasn’t even born, yet we read all about Him in Yosef’s life. When Yeshua told the elders that all of the Scripture is a testimony of Him, this is just one of the stories Yeshua is referencing in his rebuke of the willfully unbelieving Pharisees.