VAYECHI (and he lived)

Genesis 47:28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt 17 years: so the number of Jacob’s years was 147 years.

Question: Why did Jacob continue to live in Egypt? Although Jacob’s original intention had been to live in Egypt only until the end of the famine, יהוה commanded him to remain here for the rest of his life. (Chumash)

Question: Were these years in Egypt good for Jacob? These seventeen years were the best years of his life — years of prosperity, goodness and peace; his other 130 years were filled with toil and pain. (Chumash)

Question: How can it be that our father Jacob, the greatest of the Patriarchs, lived the best years of his life in pagan Egypt? Jacob “sent Judah ahead of him… to show the way to Goshen” (Genesis 46:28). This was to establish a house of learning, where the sons of Jacob would study Torah. When one studies Torah, one is brought close to יהוה, so that even in Egypt one can live a true “life”. Nevertheless, in the very next verses we read how Jacob entreats Joseph: “Carry me out of Egypt!” So great is his urgency that he is not content with an agreement or promise on Joseph’s part, but insists that his son take a solemn oath to fulfill his request. We might find ourselves living a most ideal life in exile-a life of material comfort and spiritual fulfillment, a life of Torah, and charitable works. Nevertheless, exile is not our home, so we constantly plead to יהוה to “carry us out of Egypt”. (Chumash)

29 And the time drew near that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph and said to him, If now מָצָאתי I found grace in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and deal kindly וֶאמֶת and truly with me; do not bury me in Egypt: 30 But I want to lie with my fathers and you will carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place. And Joseph said, I will do as you have said. 31 And Israel said, Swear to me. And he swore to him. And Israel bowed down at the head of the bed.

Question: Why did Jacob make Joseph swear to him to bury him in Hebron? Didn’t he trust Joseph? Pharaoh would take it as an insult to bury Jacob in another land after Egypt had been so good to Joseph’s family. Only if Joseph were to take a solemn oath would Pharaoh deem it improper to stand in the way of him being buried in Hebron. (Chumash)

#12 VAYECHI