Messianic Education Trust
(Gen 44:18 - 47:27)

B'resheet/Genesis 45:19   And you, you are commanded, "Do this: take for yourselves ..."

Who Is ...

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 CE), French rabbi who wrote commentaries on the Torah, the Prophets and the Talmud, lived in Troyes where he founded a yeshiva in 1067; focuses on the plain meaning (p'shat) of the text, although sometimes quite cryptic in his brevity
Rashi jumps straight in with: "and you are commanded by my mouth - to say to them - 'Do this.' Thus you shall say them, that it is with my permission." Pharaoh is speaking and is making sure that Yosef knows that Pharaoh is not just giving his permission to fetch his family from Canaan, but is positively telling him to do it. Moreover, since the verbs in the command are in the plural, we can also deduce that Pharaoh is also telling Yosef to pass the command on to his brothers and ultimately to Ya'akov, so that he too may obey Pharaoh and come down to Egypt.

Who Is ...

Hirsch: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888 CE), German rabbi, author and educator; staunch opponent of the Reform movement in Germany and one of the fathers of Orthodox Judaism
Hirsch comments that this is a "very fine touch by the Egyptian ruler", for although Yosef really had the power and authority to do this for himself, Pharaoh steps in to make sure that Yosef overcomes his scruples at not wanting to abuse his position. It is as if Pharaoh is saying, "I know that you could do this yourself, but you are hesitating because you don't want to be seen to be taking advantage of your position, so I will give you my authority and approval to go ahead and do it; then no-one will question your motives or integrity."

Who Is ...

Sforno: Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno (1470-1550 CE), Italian rabbi, philosopher and physician; born in Cesena, he went to Rome to study medicine; left in 1525 and after some years of travel, settled in Bologna where he founded a yeshiva which he conducted until his death
Sforno adds that Pharaoh is making sure that Yosef passes his command to his brothers and father "so that you realise this objective, and your father not refuse to come." Commenting to verse 16, Sforno has already adduced that Pharaoh thinks that it will be good for Egypt that Yosef's family should all be there so that Yosef should be settled and secure, not worrying about his father and wanting to go to Canaan to see him, but able to concentrate fully on the affairs of state that Pharaoh has entrusted to him. Pharaoh wants Ya'akov and all his sons to come and settle in Egypt; he doesn't want Yosef to get distracted, to settle for just sending food and supplies to Canaan - the command ensures that Yosef will stay focused and not lose sight of Pharaoh's (and G-d's) purpose: getting Ya'akov and his whole family down to Egypt.

So it is with us: G-d has plans and purposes that we need to work out in our lives, affecting not only ourselves but those that we are responsible for - parents, spouse, children - and those around us - work colleagues, friends, neighbours and acquaintances - and He doesn't want us to get distracted by other issues and concerns, but to stay focused on accomplishing what we need to do. Rav Sha'ul wrote to Timothy: "Don't let anyone look down on you ... pay attention to the public reading of the Scriptures. Do not neglect your gift ... be diligent about this work, throw yourself into it ... Pay attention to yourself and the teaching" (1 Timothy 4:12-16, CJB). Surely, all these things would have been exactly what Timothy wanted to do, the way he would have been conducting his ministry? Yes, but Rav Sha'ul wants to encourage him so that Timothy doesn't get distracted from any of the key parts of his faith and work, that he doesn't lose sight of where he going or the purpose of what he is doing. Rav Sha'ul finishes, "continue in it, for by so doing you will deliver both yourself and those who hear you" (1 Timothy 4:16b, CJB); the success of Timothy's impact on both himself and others depends on his determination to follow through on his instructions, calling and vision. Each of us, then, is also called and chosen - "for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14) - and we have to stay "on target" if we are to hit our mark.

Further Study: Isaiah 49:1-3; 1 John 3:23-24

Application: Is there something in your life that you know G-d has told you to do and - over time - you have lost sight of the objective or come to think that it can't be done - at least by you - or perhaps you wonder if you misheard in the first place? If so, then now is the time to refocus and recalibrate! Ask G-d to re-confirm what He said, to give you a fresh vision of where you are and where you need to be, and then make a firm commitment before G-d to get there. Why not share that with someone close to you as a means of both accountability and encouragement.

© Jonathan Allen, 2006

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