Waiting for Salvation

Maimonides says that a person who does not believe in Messiah and await His coming denies the Torah.

Man passively waiting for the bus to arrive. (Image: © Bigstock)


Regular Shabbat Readings

Read / Listen to these Portions

  • Vayechi (ויחי | He lived)
  • Torah: Genesis 47:28-50:26
  • Haftarah: 1 Kings 2:1-12
  • Gospel: John 13:1-19

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Genesis 47:27 | The Last Days of Jacob
    • Genesis 48:1 | Jacob Blesses Joseph's Sons
    • Genesis 49:1 | Jacob's Last Words to His Sons
    • Genesis 49:29 | Jacob's Death and Burial
    • Genesis 50:15 | Joseph Forgives His Brothers
    • Genesis 50:22 | Joseph's Last Days and Death
  • Prophets
    • 1Ki 2:1 | David's Instruction to Solomon
    • 1Ki 2:10 | Death of David

Portion Summary

The last reading from the book of Genesis is named Vayechi (ויחי), which means "and he lived." The title comes from the first verse of the reading, which says, "Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years" (Genesis 47:28). In this Torah portion, Jacob prepares for his death by securing a double portion of inheritance for Joseph and then blessing each of his sons with prophetic blessings. The book of Genesis ends with the death of Jacob, followed shortly by the death of Joseph and a promise of redemption from Egypt.

Jacob gave each blessing prophetically through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The blessings granted him glimpses into the prophetic future of each tribe. He searched those prophetic insights for hints about the Messiah. As he turned to bless his son Dan, he foresaw Samson, Dan’s most famous descendant. He supposed that Samson, the strongest man in the world, must be King Messiah.

Jacob uttered the words, “Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.” Then Jacob foresaw the waywardness of Samson, his failure, and his demise. He declared, “Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider falls backward” (Genesis 49:17). After the utterance over Dan, the patriarch interrupted himself. His prophetic song stopped, and he exclaimed, “For Your salvation I wait, O LORD.” (Genesis 49:18).

Jacob exclaimed, “For your salvation (yeshu’ah, ישועה) I wait, O LORD” (Genesis 49:18). Yeshua’s name means “salvation.” The sages understood Jacob’s exclamation to reflect his longing for Messiah, the true judge of Israel and ultimate salvation. The daily prayer for the coming of Messiah borrows language from Jacob’s expression. Observant Jews pray the blessing three times a day. Notice how the name of Messiah finds its way into the blessing:

Cause the branch of your servant David to blossom forth speedily, and lift up his horn through your salvation (yeshu’ah, ישועה), for we await your salvation (yeshu’ah) every day. Blessed are you LORD, who causes the horn of salvation (yeshu’ah) to blossom forth. (Shemoneh Esrei 15)

The Hebrew word translated as “wait (kavah, קוה) can also means “hope.” In that sense, Jacob says, “I hope for your Yeshu’ah.” Messiah is the “hope of Israel.” We wait for Yeshua, and hope in Yeshua. He is our hope of salvation.

We should not consider our wait for Messiah as a passive waiting, as if we were simply passing time at the bus stop while waiting for the bus to arrive. We ache for His coming and His appearing. Our hearts break with the anticipation. We pine away for Him like a romantic young girl longs for the return of her fiancé from a foreign land, continually scanning the horizon for some sign of his appearing, starting at the sound of every footfall, sighing by day, and shedding tears by night. Hope of being united with Him infuses each passing day. Maimonides says that a person who does not believe in Messiah and await His coming denies the Torah.

Rabbi Yitzchak said, “Everything is bound up with waiting. Suffering is bound up with waiting, martyrdom with waiting, the merit of the fathers with waiting, and the desire of the World to Come with waiting. Thus it is written [in Isaiah 26:8], “Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O LORD, we have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls.” (Genesis Rabbah 98:14)

Believers wait and hope for the one called Salvation. In Him we place our hope in suffering, in persecution, in the covenants of the forefathers, and in the World to Come. We hope in Him for grace and forgiveness. We agree with our forefather Jacob, and we say with him, “For Your salvation I wait, O LORD.” May the hope of Israel come speedily, soon, and in our lifetimes.

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