In this week’s Torah portion the story continues. Joseph falsely accused Benjamin of stealing his silver cup. Judah pleaded with Joseph and offered to take his place. Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers. He sent his brothers back to Canaan to bring his father Jacob and all the family to Egypt, so they would survive the famine. The family settled in Goshen, because they were shepherds. Jacob visited Pharaoh and blessed him. Our portion ends with the story of how Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for the Pharaoh and installed a 20% tax.
The haftara portion for this week is a very interesting one. We read from the book of Ezekiel, a prophet in the time of the Babylonian exile. The beginning chapters of the book speak of the judgement that the Lord will bring on Judah & Jerusalem and on the foreign nations. But somewhere past the middle of the book, the message changes to one of hope & salvation. The part we read from this week is from the later part.
I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. Ezekiel 37: 21+22
Wow, a lot of the stories in the bible are ancient history but here we read verses that are recent history! Some of us were alive when this happened! The Lord gathered the Jewish people to their ancient homeland, Israel and he continues to do so.
My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever. Ezekiel 37:24-28
As we continue reading we get to a part that isn’t history yet, we are still waiting to see these days. The days where all of Israel will follow the Lord. The days where there will be peace. The days where once again God will dwell among us, this time forever and ever.