Complete Jewish Bible
Parashah 12: Vayechi (He lived) 47:28–50:26
28 Ya‘akov lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; thus Ya‘akov lived to be 147 years old. 29 The time came when Isra’el was approaching death; so he called for his son Yosef and said to him, “If you truly love me, please put your hand under my thigh and pledge that, out of consideration for me, you will not bury me in Egypt. 30 Rather, when I sleep with my fathers, you are to carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.” He replied, “I will do as you have said.” 31 He said, “Swear it to me,” and he swore to him. Then Isra’el bowed down at the head of his bed.
48 Awhile later someone told Yosef that his father was ill. He took with him his two sons, M’nasheh and Efrayim. 2 Ya‘akov was told, “Here comes your son Yosef.” Isra’el gathered his strength and sat up in bed. 3 Ya‘akov said to Yosef, “El Shaddai appeared to me at Luz in the land of Kena‘an and blessed me, 4 saying to me, ‘I will make you fruitful and numerous. I will make of you a group of peoples; and I will give this land to your descendants to possess forever.’ 5 Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Efrayim and M’nasheh will be as much mine as Re’uven and Shim‘on are. 6 The children born to you after them will be yours, but for purposes of inheritance they are to be counted with their older brothers.
7 “Now as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died suddenly, as we were traveling through the land of Kena‘an, while we were still some distance from Efrat; so I buried her there on the way to Efrat (also known as Beit-Lechem).”
8 Then Isra’el noticed Yosef’s sons and asked, “Whose are these?” 9 Yosef answered his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” Ya‘akov replied, “I want you to bring them here to me, so that I can bless them.” (ii) 10 Now Isra’el’s eyes were dim with age, so that he could not see. Yosef brought his sons near to him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11 Isra’el said to Yosef, “I never expected to see even you again, but God has allowed me to see your children too!” 12 Yosef brought them out from between his legs and prostrated himself on the ground. 13 Then Yosef took them both, Efrayim in his right hand toward Isra’el’s left hand and M’nasheh in his left hand toward Isra’el’s right hand, and brought them near to him. 14 But Isra’el put out his right hand and laid it on the head of the younger one, Efrayim, and put his left hand on the head of M’nasheh — he intentionally crossed his hands, even though M’nasheh was the firstborn. 15 Then he blessed Yosef: “The God in whose presence my fathers Avraham and Yitz’chak lived, the God who has been my own shepherd all my life long to this day, 16 the angel who has rescued me from all harm, bless these boys. May they remember who I am and what I stand for, and likewise my fathers Avraham and Yitz’chak, who they were and what they stood for. And may they grow into teeming multitudes on the earth.”
(iii) 17 When Yosef saw that his father was laying his right hand on Efrayim’s head, it displeased him, and he lifted up his father’s hand to remove it from Efrayim’s head and place it instead on M’nasheh’s head. 18 Yosef said to his father, “Don’t do it that way, my father; for this one is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.” 19 But his father refused and said, “I know that, my son, I know it. He too will become a people, and he too will be great; nevertheless his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will grow into many nations.” 20 Then he added this blessing on them that day: “Isra’el will speak of you in their own blessings by saying, ‘May God make you like Efrayim and M’nasheh.’” Thus he put Efrayim ahead of M’nasheh.
21 Isra’el then said to Yosef, “You see that I am dying, but God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your ancestors. 22 Moreover, I am giving to you a sh’khem [shoulder, ridge, share, city of Sh’khem] more than to your brothers; I captured it from the Emori with my sword and bow.”
49 (iv) Then Ya‘akov called for his sons and said,
“Gather yourselves together, and I will tell you
what will happen to you in the acharit-hayamim.
2 Assemble yourselves and listen, sons of Ya‘akov;
pay attention to Isra’el your father.
3 “Re’uven, you are my firstborn,
my strength, the firstfruits of my manhood.
4 Though superior in vigor and power
you are unstable as water, so your superiority will end,
because you climbed into your father’s bed
and defiled it — he climbed onto my concubine’s couch!
5 “Shim‘on and Levi are brothers,
related by weapons of violence.
6 Let me not enter their council,
let my honor not be connected with their people;
for in their anger they killed men,
and at their whim they maimed cattle.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it has been fierce;
their fury, for it has been cruel.
I will divide them in Ya‘akov
and scatter them in Isra’el.
8 “Y’hudah, your brothers will acknowledge you,
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies,
your father’s sons will bow down before you.
9 Y’hudah is a lion’s cub;
my son, you stand over the prey.
He crouches down and stretches like a lion;
like a lioness, who dares to provoke him?
10 The scepter will not pass from Y’hudah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his legs,
until he comes to whom [obedience] belongs; [a]
and it is he whom the peoples will obey.
11 Tying his donkey to the vine,
his donkey’s colt to the choice grapevine,
he washes his clothes in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
his teeth whiter than milk.
13 “Z’vulun will live at the seashore,
with ships anchoring along his coast
and his border at Tzidon.
14 “Yissakhar is a strong donkey
lying down in the sheep sheds.
15 On seeing how good is settled life
and how pleasant the country,
he will bend his back to the burden,
and submit to forced labor.
16 “Dan will judge his people
as one of the tribes of Isra’el.
17 Dan will be a viper on the road,
a horned snake in the path
that bites the horse’s heels
so its rider falls off backward.
18 I wait for your deliverance, Adonai.
(v) 19 “Gad [troop]— a troop will troop on him,
but he will troop on their heel.
20 “Asher’s food is rich —
he will provide food fit for a king.
21 “Naftali is a doe set free
that bears beautiful fawns. [b]
22 “Yosef is a fruitful plant,
a fruitful plant by a spring,
with branches climbing over the wall.
23 The archers attacked him fiercely,
shooting at him and pressing him hard;
24 but his bow remained taut;
and his arms were made nimble
by the hands of the Mighty One of Ya‘akov,
from there, from the Shepherd, the Stone of Isra’el,
25 by the God of your father, who will help you,
by El Shaddai, who will bless you
with blessings from heaven above,
blessings from the deep, lying below,
blessings from the breasts and the womb.
26 The blessings of your father are more powerful
than the blessings of my parents,
extending to the farthest of the everlasting hills;
they will be on the head of Yosef,
on the brow of the prince among his brothers.
(vi) 27 “Binyamin is a ravenous wolf,
in the morning devouring the prey,
in the evening still dividing the spoil.”
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Isra’el, and this is how their father spoke to them and blessed them, giving each his own individual blessing.
29 Then he charged them as follows: “I am to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my ancestors in the cave that is in the field of ‘Efron the Hitti, 30 the cave in the field of Makhpelah, by Mamre, in the land of Kena‘an, which Avraham bought together with the field from ‘Efron the Hitti as a burial-place belonging to him — 31 there they buried Avraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Yitz’chak and his wife Rivkah, and there I buried Le’ah — 32 the field and the cave in it, which was purchased from the sons of Het.”
33 When Ya‘akov had finished charging his sons, he drew his legs up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
50 Yosef fell on his father’s face, wept over him and kissed him. 2 Then Yosef ordered the physicians in his service to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Isra’el. 3 Forty days were spent at this, the normal amount of time for embalming. Then the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.
4 When the period of mourning was over, Yosef addressed to the household of Pharaoh: “I would like to ask a favor. Tell Pharaoh, 5 ‘My father had me swear an oath. He said, “I am going to die. You are to bury me in my grave, which I dug for myself in the land of Kena‘an.” Therefore, I beg you, let me go up and bury my father; I will return.’” 6 Pharaoh responded, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear.”
7 So Yosef went up to bury his father. With him went all Pharaoh’s servants, the leaders of his household and the leaders of the land of Egypt, 8 along with the entire household of Yosef, his brothers and his father’s household; only their little ones, their flocks and their cattle did they leave in the land of Goshen. 9 Moreover, there went up with him both chariots and horsemen — it was a very large caravan.
10 When they arrived at the threshing-floor in Atad, beyond the Yarden, they raised a loud and bitter lamentation, mourning for his father seven days. 11 When the local inhabitants, the Kena‘ani, saw the mourning on the floor of Atad they said, “How bitterly the Egyptians are mourning!” This is why the place was given the name Avel-Mitzrayim [mourning of Egypt], there beyond the Yarden.
12 His sons did to him as he had ordered them to do — 13 they carried him into the land of Kena‘an and buried him in the cave in the field of Makhpelah, which Avraham had bought, along with the field, as a burial-place belonging to him, from ‘Efron the Hitti, by Mamre.
14 Then, after burying his father, Yosef returned to Egypt, he, his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.
15 Realizing that their father was dead, Yosef’s brothers said, “Yosef may hate us now and pay us back in full for all the suffering we caused him.” 16 So they sent a message to Yosef which said, “Your father gave this order before he died: 17 ‘Say to Yosef, “I beg you now, please forgive your brothers’ crime and wickedness in doing you harm.”’ So now, we beg of you, forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Yosef wept when they spoke to him; 18 and his brothers too came, prostrated themselves before him and said, “Here, we are your slaves.” 19 But Yosef said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20 You meant to do me harm, but God meant it for good — so that it would come about as it is today, with many people’s lives being saved. (vii) 21 So don’t be afraid — I will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he comforted them, speaking kindly to them.
22 Yosef continued living in Egypt, he and his father’s household. Yosef lived 110 years. (Maftir) 23 Yosef lived to see Efrayim’s great-grandchildren, and the children of M’nasheh’s son Makhir were born on Yosef’s knees.
24 Yosef said to his brothers, “I am dying. But God will surely remember you and bring you up out of this land to the land which he swore to Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov.” 25 Then Yosef took an oath from the sons of Isra’el: “God will surely remember you, and you are to carry my bones up from here.” 26 So Yosef died at the age of 110, and they embalmed him and put him in a coffin in Egypt.
Haftarah Vayechi: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 2:1–12
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Vayechi: Acts 7:9–16 (specifically vv. 15–16); Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 11:21–22; 1 Kefa (1 Peter) 1:3–9; 2:11–17
Hazak, hazak, v’nit’chazek!
Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened!