Genesis 47:28–50:26

What is a parasha?

In this week’s Parashsa reading we cover the final messages from Jacob and King David before their deaths. The instructions and prophecies they give to their sons continue to shape Jewish life in 2017 and will continue to do so in the future. Both men knew it would be their final chance to speak in depth with their sons, adding to the significance of the events.

Jacob uses his final message to prophecy individually over his 12 sons citing traits in each of their characters and past actions when prophesying over them. Jacob starts with the eldest son Ruben, instructing him that he will no longer excel because of the sins he committed against Jacob: referencing when he slept with Bilhah (Gen 35:22). Throughout the Bible we can see that sin does have lasting consequences. For Ruben this meant the failure of his lineage to flourish.

This theme continues as Jacob curses Simeon and Levi’s anger. This was due to the brothers’ previous actions done in anger. Jacob proclaims that their tribes will both be scattered and dispersed throughout Israel forever. This was to be true for both of these tribes. However, when the Levites showed great faithfulness to God by following Moses’ command (Exodus 32:28) their dispersion became a great blessing: the Levites were the only tribe to be given no land because they were given the Lord as their inheritance. This shows how merciful the Lord is in his ways. Despite past sins, when we remain faithful to God he can take what was meant as a curse and use it as a blessing. Despite both Simeon and Levi committing the same sins and receiving the same curse from Jacob there is a clear contrast in the future directions of the two tribes. The Levites went on to become the tribe that were to oversee the worship for the entire nation of Israel where as the tribe of Simeon became one of the weakest of the 12 numerically.

It is important to remember that past generations do shape the world that we live in today and that today’s sins do have consequences that last beyond tomorrow. However, it is equally as important to recognize that God is a fair God and when we are faithful in obeying God in our lives he blesses us accordingly. The reading from 1 Kings verse 2 follows King David giving his final message to Solomon. David tells him,

“Keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do.”

David goes on to explain the promise that if his sons follow this command someone from his lineage will always be on the throne of Israel. Like Torah reading, this focuses on passing the baton from one generation to the next.

It is now 69 years since the Jewish people returned to Israel and most of the significant figures in reestablishing the state of Israel have passed away. Therefore let us pray that God raises up new Godly influential figures throughout Israel that desire to faithfully serve God so that the emerging generations will see God in a more real way than those before them.

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Cover photo: World Map – Abstract Acrylic by Nicolas Raymond