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B'resheet/Genesis 47:28 Ya'akov lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years (Artscroll, Stone)
It is traditional within the hand-written Torah scrolls to leave a significant gap, sometimes even starting a new line, at the start of each parasha. This portion, by contrast, has a very small gap between it and the closing phrases of the previous parasha.Rashi and other commentators ask why this should be and suggest a number of possible solutions. If we examine the closing verse of the previous parasha, we can see a possible explanation: "Isra'el lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. They acquired possessions in it and were productive, and their numbers multiplied greatly" (B'resheet 47:27, CJB). As long as the father of the family, Ya'akov, lived the people prospered, but as soon as he died, although formal enslavement did not start until later, the atmosphere changed and the attitude of slavery began to build up (Rashi, Mizrachi).
What was it that enabled Job to endure the trials that the L-rd had allowed Satan to put him through? It was his faith in G-d. In the midst of being attacked by his so-called comforters, Job responds, "I know that my Redeemer lives, that in the end ... I will see G-d ... I will see Him for myself" (Job 19:25-27, CJB). Job knew that his hope was in G-d, and that G-d lives - as long as G-d lives (and He lives for ever) then Job had a hope that was greater than anything that this life could throw at him.
Rav Sha'ul addresses this issue head on when he writes to the congregation at Corinth, where he had heard that some were denying the resurrection of the dead. "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then the Messiah has not been raised ... and your trust is in vain ... if it is only for this life that we have put our faith in the Messiah, we are more pitiable than anyone" (1 Cor 15:13-14, 19, CJB). He then rushes on to assert the truth of the resurrection: "But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep" (1 Cor 15:20, NASB), because our faith is not in the work of a man who lived and died and is no more, our faith is in the One who lived and died and lives again, who demonstrated that death could not hold Him.
So let us live in the good of the resurrection, knowing that the head of our family, the family of believers, lives and will live for ever, and that we live in Him.
Further Study: Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:11-14
Application: It is easy to pick up an attitude of embattlement and live as if we are always helplessly waiting for the cavalry to come over the hill. Ask G-d to reveal the truth of resurrection life for you today.
© Jonathan Allen, 2004
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