Commentary - Year 1 Sabbath 40

Genesis 42:18 - 43:23   -   Isaiah 50:10 - 52:11   -   Psalm 36   -   Luke 1:68-79


Tevet 14, 5762 / Dec 29, 2001 

Tevet 13, 5765 / Dec 25, 2004

Tevet 13, 5768 / Dec 22, 2007

Tevet 13, 5771 / Dec 18, 2010

Tevet 11, 5774 / Dec 14, 2013

Tevet 16, 5777 / Jan  14, 2017

Tevet 14, 5780 / Jan  11, 2020

Tevet 14, 5783 / Jan    7, 2023


Vayomer Eleichem / He Said to Them   SCRIPTURES should be read first


(V.18) “Now Joseph said to them on the third day, "Do this and live, for I fear God (Elohim)”: “Elohim” is a name for God would not indicate his identity to his brothers.


The rich man's wealth is his fortress, the ruin of the poor is their poverty” –  Proverbs 10:15.

The poor man utters supplications, But the rich man answers roughly” – Proverbs 18:23. 

People who come out of poverty tend to trust their wealth and power, but Joseph feared God when he was in poverty and a slave (v.39:9), and also when wealthy and in a position of power.


(V.19) “Wheat” is referred to as (Hebrew) “shever”, a “break” from hunger.


(V.20) “You will not die” (they would not be under Joseph in Egypt) means that they would be granted the food for which they came.


(V.21-22) “Indeed we are guilty”: looking for the reason for their present distress, their contrition was limited, admitting collective guilt only for ignoring Joseph’s pleas. It is like saying, “We threw him into the pit, ignoring his pleas, now we are being thrown into prison, our pleas being ignored.” In saying they were guilty, they used the word “ashemim”, meaning sin through inadvertence: Reuben refuted them, saying that he had warned them, but they wouldn’t listen. Now, Benjamin, assuming that Joseph had not survived being made a slave, told his brothers that they were seeing Joseph’s blood “as well” being brought upon their heads – meaning God was bringing them to death for Joseph’s murder, as well as for bringing their father in suffering to the gates of death.


(V.23-25) Joseph had been using an interpreter for their Hebrew and his Egyptian. When the interpreter left, they did not know that Joseph understood their conversation in Hebrew. At the hearing of the details of the brother’s prior planning, and present contrition, he left to weep. He returned, taking Simeon to prison; it was Simeon who had said, “Look, that dreamer is coming” (v.37:19), and who had thrown him into the pit. Reuben, as eldest of the brothers, would usually be held responsible; but now it was learned that Reuben had tried to spare his life, and Simeon was second-eldest. Joseph sent the others home with grain, but secretly put their money in the top of their sack, so that when they found it, they would be worried about being arrested for thievery and sold as slaves!


When one of the brothers discovered his money in his bag, they trembled, and exclaimed, “What is this that Elohim (the God of Justice) has done to us?” Then, upon telling their father the story, and opening their bags, they found that they all had their money! Thus they were all terrified.


Jacob said that he would not allow Benjamin to go down to Egypt: for he had been bereaved of Joseph (the first son of his beloved Rachel), and if he were now to be bereaved of Benjamin (the only other son of Rachel), there would be no life left in him for further bereavement.


Prophetically, Jacob (Israel) said: “I have been bereaved (the first destruction by the Babylonians), I am bereaved (the second destruction by Edom/Rome – which is continuing to this day), but I will be bereaved no more (the Messianic era will follow).


(V.43:6) When being questioned by hostile rulers, we should not offer more information than required.


When their food ran out, Jacob relented and let Benjamin go, with Judah’s guarantee of safety (Judah had been bereaved of two children {v.38:7, 10}, and could understand). Jacob said, “May El Shaddai (God Almighty / the Creator-Judge who holds all power) grant you mercy”.


(V.11) As he had tried to appease Esau, Jacob would now try to appease the Viceroy of Egypt with gifts.


Prophetically, Judah would be responsible for the safekeeping of all the sons of Israel during the exile: Judah, along with Benjamin, and the Levites, kept the Word of God available for the world. It is through them that we have our Bible.


(V.18) Being very fearful, lest they were being brought to Joseph’s house to be dealt with harshly out of public view, they stopped Joseph’s steward at the door to the house, to proclaim their innocence.

(V.23) As to say, “You were not brought here to be charged with a crime, but to be dinner guests of my master. Have no fear, your money was recorded as received.”


The connections between the Torah and Haftarah portions seem obvious:


Isaiah 50:10Who is among you that fears Yahweh, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of Yahweh and rely on his God.” Do you live in awe of our great God, yet feel like you cannot see the way through your present situation in life? He knows your past, present, and future, and it is all in His hands: walk in His ways, and trust Him. Consider Joseph – what way out from slavery and imprisonment could he have seen? But he walked in God’s way, and everything worked for his good! And Yeshua trusted to a horrific death on a cross, then obtained the ultimate glorious end.


Psalm 36:6-9O Yahweh, You preserve man and beast. 7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. 8 They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. 9 For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.” By our natural senses we cannot see where we are going in life, but by the light of God’s Word we see the path and the destination. Only He preserves us throughout this life, and then graciously gives us an eternal glorious life. We can see this exemplified in both Joseph and Yeshua, and it is a guiding principle for us.


Luke 1:68-75 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant – 70 as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old – 71 Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, 74 to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” Yahweh has visited us through Yeshua. He has been faithful to His word through His prophets. He has provided for us salvation from sin. Now we are to serve Him in holiness and righteousness. While we as believers need not fear retribution for failures, we still need continual instruction in righteousness, daily repentance, and growth in faith until the end of this life.


Commentary on Psalm 36:


For the conductor. Every Festival and every offering was required to have the Temple Orchestra and Choir (Levites) sing Psalms. Thus David gave the Psalms to the conductor. [This is why we sing Psalms in the synagogue Sabbath and Festival services, which are patterned after the Temple Sabbath and Festival services.]


But this word (Heb.) “natzach” does not only mean musical conductor, but also “He who causes the victory”.


The literal villain of this Psalm may be Goliath, representing those who exult in their own strength, not fearing God. After David slew Goliath, the women of Israel sang of David’s conquests (1 Sam 18:7), but David, in titling this Psalm, attributed all victory to God.


When David saw the giant before him, with great weapons in hand, he knew that he could defeat him, because he saw that “there is no fear of God before his eyes” (v.1).


The Evil One says, “Do whatever you feel like doing; disregard any promised consequence that you can’t see.” This is the “broad path” (Matt. 7:13) the masses take today; there is no fear of God before their eyes.


A Psalm of David the servant of Yahweh. Everyone who, in the Torah, called himself “the servant of Yahweh” (including Abraham, Jacob, and Moses), was later so addressed by God! David did not write Psalms of his own accord, but every word represents the inspired thoughts of the God he served. So we are taught to “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with Psalms, and Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16), “Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs” being the titles of the five books that make up the 150 Psalms.



"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who chose us from among all peoples by giving us Your Torah.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."


Reader 1*  Amen. 1 (Vayomer aleichem Yoseph bayom hashlishi /

                                   And-he-said to-them Joseph-{did} on-the-day the-third)


18 Now Joseph said to them on the third day, "Do this and live, for I fear God: 19 if you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined in your prison; but as for the rest of you, go, carry grain for the famine of your households, 20 and bring your youngest brother to me, so your words may be verified, and you will not die." And they did so. 21 Then they said to one another, "Truly we are guilty concerning our brother, because we saw the distress of his soul when he pleaded with us, yet we would not listen; therefore this distress has come upon us." 22 Reuben answered them, saying, "Did I not tell you, 'Do not sin against the boy'; and you would not listen? Now comes the reckoning for his blood." 23 They did not know, however, that Joseph understood, for there was an interpreter between them.

Reader 2*  Amen. 24 He turned away from them and wept. But when he returned to them and spoke to them, he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. 25 Then Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain and to restore every man's money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. And thus it was done for them. 26 So they loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed from there. 27 As one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place, he saw his money; and behold, it was in the mouth of his sack. 28 Then he said to his brothers, "My money has been returned, and behold, it is even in my sack." And their hearts sank, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, "What is this that God has done to us?" 29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30 "The man, Lord of the land, spoke harshly with us, and took us for spies of the country. 31 "But we said to him, 'We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 'We are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no longer alive, and the youngest is with our father today in the land of Canaan.'

Reader 3*  Amen. 33 "The man, Lord of the land, said to us, 'By this I will know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me and take grain for the famine of your households, and go. 34 'But bring your youngest brother to me that I may know that you are not spies, but honest men. I will give your brother to you, and you may trade in the land.'" 35 Now it came about as they were emptying their sacks, that behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were dismayed. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, "You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin; all these things are against me." 37 Then Reuben spoke to his father, saying, "You may put my two sons to death if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my care, and I will return him to you." 38 But Jacob said, "My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should befall him on the journey you are taking, then you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow."

Reader 4*  Amen. 43:1 Now the famine was severe in the land. 2 So it came about when they had finished eating the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, "Go back, buy us a little food." 3 Judah spoke to him, however, saying, "The man solemnly warned us, 'You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.' 4 "If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. 5 "But if you do not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, 'You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.'" 6 Then Israel said, "Why did you treat me so badly by telling the man whether you still had another brother?" 7 But they said, "The man questioned particularly about us and our relatives, saying, 'Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?' So we answered his questions. Could we possibly know that he would say, 'Bring your brother down '?"

Reader 5*  Amen. 8 Judah said to his father Israel, "Send the lad with me and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones. 9 "I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever. 10 "For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice." 11 Then their father Israel said to them, "If it must be so, then do this: take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and carry down to the man as a present, a little balm and a little honey, aromatic gum and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 "Take double the money in your hand, and take back in your hand the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks; perhaps it was a mistake. 13 "Take your brother also, and arise, return to the man;

Reader 6*  Amen. 14 and may God Almighty grant you compassion in the sight of the man, so that he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved." 15 So the men took this present, and they took double the money in their hand, and Benjamin; then they arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his house steward, "Bring the men into the house, and slay an animal and make ready; for the men are to dine with me at noon." 17 So the man did as Joseph said, and brought the men to Joseph's house. 18 Now the men were afraid, because they were brought to Joseph's house; and they said, "It is because of the money that was returned in our sacks the first time that we are being brought in, that he may seek occasion against us and fall upon us, and take us for slaves with our donkeys."

Reader 7*  Amen. 19 So they came near to Joseph's house steward, and spoke to him at the entrance of the house, 20 and said, "Oh, my lord, we indeed came down the first time to buy food, 21 and it came about when we came to the lodging place, that we opened our sacks, and behold, each man's money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full. So we have brought it back in our hand. 22 "We have also brought down other money in our hand to buy food; we do not know who put our money in our sacks." 23 He said, "Be at ease, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money." Then he brought Simeon out to them.


"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who in giving us Yeshua, the Living Torah, has planted everlasting life in our midst.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."



"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who selected good prophets, delighting in their words which were spoken truthfully.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, Who chose the Torah, Your servant Moses, Your people Israel,

and the prophets of truth and righteousness."


Isaiah 50:10 – 52:11

Reader 8*  Amen. 10 Who is among you that fears Yahweh, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of Yahweh and rely on his God. 11 Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with firebrands, walk in the light of your fire and among the brands you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand: you will lie down in torment.

51:1 "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek Yahweh: look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. 2 "Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; when he was but one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him." 3 Indeed, Yahweh will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, and her desert like the garden of Yahweh; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and sound of a melody. 4 "Pay attention to Me, O My people, and give ear to Me, O My nation; for a law will go forth from Me, and I will set My justice for a light of the peoples. 5 "My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, and My arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands will wait for Me, and for My arm they will wait expectantly.

Reader 9*  Amen. 6 "Lift up your eyes to the sky, then look to the earth beneath; for the sky will vanish like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not wane. 7 "Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, a people in whose heart is My law; do not fear the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings. 8 "For the moth will eat them like a garment, and the grub will eat them like wool. But My righteousness will be forever, and My salvation to all generations." 9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of Yahweh; awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon? 10 Was it not You who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; who made the depths of the sea a pathway for the redeemed to cross over? 11 So the ransomed of Yahweh will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. 12 "I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies and of the son of man who is made like grass, 13 that you have forgotten Yahweh your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, as he makes ready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor? 14 "The exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon, nor will his bread be lacking. 15 "For I am Yahweh your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (Yahweh of hosts is His name). 16 "I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, 'You are My people.'" 17 Rouse yourself! Rouse yourself! Arise, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from Yahweh's hand the cup of His anger; The chalice of reeling you have drained to the dregs. 18 There is none to guide her among all the sons she has borne, nor is there one to take her by the hand among all the sons she has reared. 19 These two things have befallen you; who will mourn for you? The devastation and destruction, famine and sword; how shall I comfort you? 20 Your sons have fainted, they lie helpless at the head of every street, like an antelope in a net, full of the wrath of Yahweh, the rebuke of your God. 21 Therefore, please hear this, you afflicted, who are drunk, but not with wine: 22 Thus says your Lord, Yahweh, even your God who contends for His people, "Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling, the chalice of My anger; you will never drink it again. 23 "I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, who have said to you, 'Lie down that we may walk over you.' You have even made your back like the ground and like the street for those who walk over it."

Reader 10* Amen. 52:1 Awake, awake, clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for the uncircumcised and the unclean will no longer come into you. 2 Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; loose yourself from the chains around your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. 3 For thus says Yahweh, "You were sold for nothing and you will be redeemed without money." 4 For thus says Lord Yahweh, "My people went down at the first into Egypt to reside there; then the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. 5 "Now therefore, what do I have here," declares Yahweh, "seeing that My people have been taken away without cause?" Again Yahweh declares, "Those who rule over them howl, and My name is continually blasphemed all day long. 6 "Therefore My people shall know My name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, 'Here I am.'" 7 How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" 8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, they shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when Yahweh restores Zion. 9 Break forth, shout joyfully together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for Yahweh has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 Yahweh has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God. 11 Depart, depart, go out from there, touch nothing unclean; go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of Yahweh.


Psalm 36    (To be sung.)    For the conductor. A Psalm of David the servant of Yahweh.

Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. 2 For it flatters him in his own eyes concerning the discovery of his iniquity and the hatred of it. 3 The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit; he has ceased to be wise and to do good. 4 He plans wickedness upon his bed; he sets himself on a path that is not good; he does not despise evil. 5 Your lovingkindness, O Yahweh, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O Yahweh, You preserve man and beast. 7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. 8 They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. 9 For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light. 10 O continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart. 11 Let not the foot of pride come upon me, and let not the hand of the wicked drive me away. 12 There the doers of iniquity have fallen; they have been thrust down and cannot rise.


Luke 1:68-79

Reader 11* Amen. 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant – 70 as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old – 71 Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, 74 to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. 76 "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; 77 to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, 79 to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."


"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Rock of Ages, righteous throughout all generations.

You are the faithful God, promising and then performing, speaking and then fulfilling,

for all Your words are true and righteous.

Faithful are You, Yahweh our God, and faithful are Your words,

for no word of Yours shall remain unfulfilled;

You are a faithful and merciful God and King.

Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, Who are faithful in fulfilling all Your words."

© 2003  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)