Aesop’s ancient saying “familiarity breeds contempt” could easily sum up how Yosef’s brothers treated him in his early years and how many leaders of Yisra’el treated Yeshua. The prophetic parallels between Yosef and Yeshua the Mashiakh sharpen further in the Torah section ויגש Vayigash (“he approached”).
Yitzkhak was a messianic figure, showing us that Mashiakh was supposed to die and that Mashiakh’s death will bring freedom. Yosef is the new Messianic figure who shows us that Mashiakh will rule and reign after He dies and is released from death.
“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.
When we examine ourselves and purge evil from our hearts, it costs us something. But we receive the forever blessing as a result.
There are two hidden stories we will discover in the Torah section וישלח Vayishlach (“and he sent,” Genesis 32:4–36:43). The accounts of Ya’akov‘s wrestling the Heavenly visitor then facing Eysau fit with the judgment on the rapist in Shechem to teach how God’s Mashiakh purges our pasts, so we can overcome.
“Then Ya’akov departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place.” (Genesis 28:10–11 NASB)
The rock Ya’akov put under his head at the beginning of the Torah section וַיֵּצֵא Vayetze (“he went out,” Genesis 28:10–32:2) reminds me of the rock Aharon and Khur provided for Moshe to sit on while Yehoshua was leading Yisrael in the battle against Amalek (Exodus 17:12).
“Now these are the records of the generations of Yitzkhak, Abraham’s son: Abraham became the father of Yitzkhak.” (Genesis 25:19 NASB)
The struggles of Yitzkhak and Yishma’el explored in Torah section Toldot or Toledot (“generations” or “accounts”) were very similar to the later struggles of Ya’akov and Eysau. We see why in Romans 9:6-24. We have two sets of men: Yitzkhak and Ya’akov vs. Yishma’el and Eysau.
When we are pushed to our limits, God promises us that the ways of the Kingdom of God are far more profitable in the long term than trying to avoid pain. That’s what Abraham and Sarah learned over many years of their lives. It’s all the more relevant today for increasing social and physical pressure put on believers in the Holy One of Israel and the Anointed One of God. This lesson of faith is the backdrop of the Torah portion (parashah) חיי שרה Chayei Sarah (“life of Sarah,” Gen. 23:1–25:18).