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Parashat Vayechi

Updated on December 30, 2017

Bereishit (Genesis) 47:28-50:26

Ya’akov finishes his years on this earth in the land of Goshen, of Mitzrayim; but, before he passes into eternity, he has Yosef promise that he will be carried back to his own land, and the land of his fathers, for burial. Yosef swears such. Ya’akov further blesses Yosef’s two sons, Mannesheh and Ephraim, and, as such, elevates both sons to the status of Tribes of Yisra’EL.

Ya’akov then blesses each of his sons, some also receiving rebuke; Reuven because he defiled his father’s marriage bed, and Levi and Simeon because of their plot against Yosef and for their massacre of the males of Shechem.

Ya’akov, at 147 years old (Bereishit 47:28), dies, at which time Yosef did abide by the promise that he had given to his father and carried his father’s body to Chevron (Hebron) where he was buried in a cave in the field of Machpelah.

When Yosef, at 110 years old, lay on his own deathbed, he instructed that his bones also be removed from Mitzrayim when “Elohim will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” (Bereishit 50:25).

What does this mean for Believers today?

Let me start with a story of my own. Most of you know that my father was in the United States Army. I never really considered it something bad that we moved every two to three years. I was blessed to live in the places that the Army shipped my dad to. I am so lucky to have seen some of the things I’ve seen. I wish I had time to tell you all of all my memories. I think one of the grandest memories I have is that I was at the Berlin Wall before the Wall came down in 1989. I was there, I think, in 1983 (?maybe?). I was 12 years old and I went with my Girl Scout Troop. The Wall was one of our tour stops. It was kind of creepy. On the west side, you could touch the Wall, add graffiti to the Wall (I did not), or whatever, and no one bothered you, no one even took notice of you being by the wall. Then, if you went up onto one of the checkpoint towers, you could see out over into the east, and their side of the Wall was as pure white as the newly fallen snow, along with the miles of barbed wire all over the place.

Now, this isn’t what I wanted to tell you about; what I wanted to tell you about was, that because we moved every two or three years, I had to leave friends as soon as I made friends and then I had to figure out how to make new friends.

There was a time when I was in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades that we lived in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Our family lived off base but in government quarters, and our duplex was on Epps Street. My school was at the top of our street. It was not a long walk to school; for those of you that live in Sallisaw, it would be like walking from the Dollar Tree (across from the Walmart) over to Mazzio’s Pizza- if that far even. I liked the school. I did not like my 3rd-grade teacher, and there was a girl named Karina Donn who was a horrible girl.

Karina was downright mean. I wonder now if she was so mean because she was so different. She was one of those girls who developed very early, long before any of the other girls did. I don’t know; you know what they say about hindsight being 20/20. Nevertheless, Karina was mean! She was a bully! She loved to hit the boys and push the girls off the monkey bars. And, when we played King of the Mountain on the slide, chances were that she would win. She always won! How could any of us, who was a foot shorter than her, weighed less than her, and were less aggressive than her (and this includes the boys, too) ever beat her at King of the Mountain!? There were a few girls who were her favorite to-pick-on-girls, I was one of them.

When I was in elementary school, I had to wear dresses to school on Music class days, every other day. My mom always thought that little girls should dress like little girls. It wasn’t too bad, most of the time; but, what my mom never knew was that if I wore a dress, Karina would pull it up- it was a good thing that my mom had me wear tights with my dresses. The one time I threatened to tell a teacher, Karina pushed me so hard that I bumped my head and bit my tongue; so, I never told. I should have told, because until my family moved just before sometime in the Spring of my fifth-grade year, Karina picked on me more and more and more. It got so bad, I hated to have to go to recess or be in Gym class with Karina, and I prayed fervently that I would never be picked to be on the same team as her for anything- sports-wise or academic-wise.

Today, I wonder what would have happened, what might have changed if I had stood up for myself instead of always trying to be nice? I have always hated confrontation, have always hated making the waves bigger than what they were. What would have happened if Karina had been nice(r)?

But, what if the bullying that Karina perpetrated, the nasty shoves and hits and taunts that she meant for bad against me, really was YeHoVaH being good? What if what someone meant as bad for me was YeHoVaH preparing me for good?

I’ve been a People Pleaser all my life; this stems from what I have learned to be abandonment issues from when I was adopted. Although I have to say, I never really felt abandoned when I was growing up. I didn’t feel abandoned until the Spring of 2012, when, after 20+ years of knowing my birth mother, she told me she had given me up once and had promised to never know anything about me and she needed to go back to that state of thinking. In 2012, this abandonment was horrific; in 1974, not so much. At any rate, I was always a People Pleaser, not to be liked; but, to be able to reject myself before someone else had a chance to reject me. With Karina Donn, it got easier and easier to draw within myself at school because then the bullying wouldn’t seem as much. What happened, and what carried with me into Junior High School and High School was a sensitivity to people who were “different”. Those people who were labeled with a lower, or the lowest, socioeconomic class. Those people that weren’t as “pretty” or as “handsome” as mainstream kids. Those people who rode the city bus like I did instead driving cars that their daddies and mommies bought for them. Those people who were not Jocks or Preps or Yuppies, rather they were Nerds, Geeks, Dweebs, Greasers. I identified with the forgotten, the loners, the lonely people, the wallflowers, the ones who didn’t or couldn’t make friends. I knew their pain because I knew their pain.

Yosef’s brothers wanted to kill him. They threw him into a pit. They sold him to a band of traveling human traffickers. Yosef was sold into slavery in the land of Mitzrayim. Even when he advanced in Potiphar’s house, he was still a slave and accusations against him were accusations against him with he not having a defense. After more years in prison, he was elevated above everyone else in Mitzrayim, above who Pharaoh ruled, only having to bow to Pharoah. The death, and then the life of slavery, the bad that Yosef’s brothers wanted for him was really YeHoVah preparing Yosef for greatness. Only in Yosef’s greatness, there was not more hatred, there was the saving of an entire family, which became a nation of millions upon millions.

Supporting Scripture

1 Corinthians 9:18-23

”What then is my reward? That, when I proclaim the Good News, I may present the Good News of ha-Meshiach without charge, so as not to abuse my authority in the Good News.

For though I was free from all, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more.

To the Yehudim (Jews), I became as a Yehudim, that I might gain Yehudim; to those who are under the Torah, as under the Torah, that I might gain those who are under the Torah;

to those who are without the Torah, as without the Torah (not being the Torah toward YeHoVaH, but under the Torah toward ha-Meshiach), that I might win those who are without the Torah.

To the weak, I became as weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.

Now I do this for the sake of the Good News, that I may be a joint partaker of it.”

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