Parashat Vayeshev

And he dwelt — וישב


Genesis 37:1 - 40:23


Amos 2:6 - 3:8

Brit Chadashah

Acts 7:9-16

Torah Portion Outline

Haftarah Portion Outline

  • Amo 2:6 | Judgment on Israel

  • Amo 3:1 | Israel's Guilt and Punishment

Portion Summary

The ninth reading from the book of Genesis is named Vayeshev (וישב), which means "and he dwelt." The title comes from the first verse of the reading, which says, "Now Jacob [dwelt] in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan" (Genesis 37:1). This portion tells the story of Joseph and how his brothers sold him as a slave, where he ended up in prison falsely accused. We also see how Tamar deceives Judah who did not keep his word to her.

Portion Commentary


This is a very interesting story. Judah marries a heathen and produces 3 sons. The first one does what is wrong and YHWH kills him. The second must raise children to his brother at Tamar and drop his seed on the ground and YHWH kills him too. Ever thought God could come at that point to kill someone? How it worked was that the oldest son got a double legacy. He also took the name of the family forward. But if the oldest was married, had no children and died, his brother next to him had to take his wife and raise a child with her. The boy then received the double inheritance and the name of the oldest brother who died. Thus, God has planned for legions to be justified in the right family, and the widow also benefits.


Well, two dead and Judah told Tamar to stay with her father, because his real reason was that he was afraid the youngest dies too. I mean, put yourself in his shoes. Everyone who was married to Tamar dies! But Judah did not keep his word to give the youngest to Tamar, which means date palm. Tamar hears of Judah who goes to Timna with his friend. It is thought that there was a Canaanite festival going on. Tamar dressed like a whore. The word whore has the letters k-d-s which is the same word for kadosh holy. So, Tamar has dressed like a temple whore. So, Judah went into a temple whore and was well aware of it. What does it tell us?


The Torah (Pentateuch / first 5 books of the Bible) does not describe the heroes (in our eyes) as heroes. Their weaknesses are not at all disguised. There is no intention that we should praise these people, but God YHWH should only see as well. He alone is without blame or mistake. He alone is the one to be exalted. It is an outstanding fact of the Bible that people have mistakes and shortcomings but our God is without any of it. Jesus Christ is from the tribe of Judah and Tamar is mentioned in the register because the registry really wants our attention to this incident. She is portrayed as a woman of integrity and she is honoured to have her name in the registry. The fact of the matter is people fail, but God is faithful and will always be. Only His righteousness through Jesus Christ can make us acceptable to Him. Jesus Christ's blood paid the price. We were bought with a man's blood and can be happy today because our Saviour lives and His righteousness has become our righteousness. We cannot be saved by deeds, but through His blood, God's plan of salvation.

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Joseph & his brothers

21 December 2019

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created by Melissa Holtzhausen