Torah Portion: Vayechi (And he lived)
Torah Reading: Genesis 47:28-50:26
Prophetic Reading: 1 Kings 2:1-12
“Israel Will Lead the Nations to Worship the G-d of Israel”
In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob prophesies concerning his twelve sons (i.e., the twelve tribes of Israel) and what will happen to them in the last days. This section of Scripture is most problematic for those who say that Israel as a people has no more relevance today. Jacob’s words, although not always complementary concerning the tribes, nevertheless affirm that Israel will exist as a people until the very end of this age. Jacob’s words to Judah are usually only partially dealt with. All agree that the foremost implication of this prophecy is that the Messiah will emerge from the tribe of Judah. For many within Christianity, this is as far as they want to take this prophecy. However the message to Judah ends with the words,
“…and to Him will the peoples assemble.” Genesis 49:10
In one sense, this sentence simply reveals that the nations will gather around Messiah Yeshua in the Kingdom. While this is true, one must remember that the previous sentence states,
“…for Shiloh will come.” Genesis 49:10
The term “Shiloh” has two major interpretations. First the term שי (shai) can mean a “gift”. The second part of the word לו (lo) can be understood as “His”. Hence, the first meaning of the term “Shiloh” is His (HaShem’s) gift, which is of course a reference to the Messiah. The second interpretation is the plain meaning of the word, Shiloh, the home of the Tabernacle for 369 years. At Shiloh, the tribes of Israel worshipped HaShem together. Therefore, under the leadership of Messiah Yeshua, once again will the tribes of Israel worship G-d. However, the tribes of Israel will not do so alone, but with the nations. The good news of this prophecy is that in the Messianic age Israel will finally fulfill her calling and lead the nations to worship the G-d of Israel.
The second part of this prophecy depicts Judah becoming exceedingly fruitful in the last days.
“Tie to the vine her donkey and to her choice vine his donkey’s foal; wash in wine his garment, and in blood of grapes his robe.” Genesis 49:11
The allotment of land to Judah was not known as a place for vineyards, but in the Kingdom, there will be many changes and Judah will be known for its vineyards. A donkey is mentioned, rather than a horse, as this time will be a period of peace. Garments are symbolically related to deeds and prophetically wine is connected to joy and worship. Therefore, in the Kingdom the deeds of G-d’s people will be praiseworthy. Finally blood is mentioned. Blood is the basis for redemption and therefore the foundation of the Kingdom will be the redemption that Messiah Yeshua purchased with His very blood.
These two verses (Genesis 49:10-11) affirm the Biblical truth that the Kingdom will not be established before the salvation of Yeshua redeems the people of Israel.