וישׁב - "And He Lived"
Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan.
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The Hebrew Word
וישׁב (vayeshev) is a Hebrew word that literally means "He continued living". It is a third-person conjugation of the Hebrew verb yashav (Strong's #3427) which is a root word that literally means "to sit down" but implies "to live" or "to settle". The word is used 1113 times in 973 verses in the Tanakh.
First use in Scripture
The first time yashav is found in Scripture is in Genesis 4:16.
Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
Last use in Scripture
The last time yashav is used in Scripture is in Malachi 3:3.
"He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.
- Yosef's dreams - Genesis 37:1
- Brothers' plot against Yosef - Genesis 37:18
- Yehudah's adultery with Tamar - Genesis 38:1
- Yosef's success in Egypt - Genesis 39:1
- Yosef is imprisoned - Genesis 39:19
- Yosef interprets a dream - Genesis 40:1
Portraits of Messiah
Verse by Verse Notes
Yehudah and Tamar
The story of Yehudah and Tamar sticks out like sore thumb in the midst of the narrative of Yosef. There are several interesting points in the story:
Yehudah had departed from his family (Genesis 3:1)
He had left his family and apparently the faith of his fathers because he married a Canaanite woman (Shua in Genesis 38:2) and was later willing to have relations with someone whom he considered to be a temple prostitute (Genesis 38:21).
Levirate marriage was already present
Although the Torah had not been given yet with the commandment regarding Levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) it was clearly already recognized as a familial responsibility.
It was Yehudah's responsibility as the patriarch of his family to ensure that the Levirate duties of his family were met. He gave his second son, Onan to Tamar (Genesis 38:8), and, after Onan died, he took responsibility to tell Tamar to wait until his third son, Shelah [pronounced sheh LAH], had grown up (Genesis 38:11).
Not a matter of adultery
Yehudah's wife had died by the time he had relations with Tamar (Genesis 38:12). Adultery (bringing another person into the midst of the marriage) was not an issue in this situation.
Tamar more righteous
Even though Tamar deceived Yehudah in order to become pregnant with the child that was her due, Yehudah says that she was more righteous than he was (Genesis 38:26).
Yehudah's pledge to Tamar provides an interesting insight to the state of Messianic believers today.
Consider that Yehudah is the quintessential Jew. In fact, it is from his name, Yehudah, that we get the name "Jew". Tamar was likely a Gentile since she is not named among the children of Israel. Tamar receives three items from Yehudah:
- Yehudah's seal
- Yehudah's cord
- Yehudah's staff
If we consider Yehudah as symbolic of the Jewish people then these three items can be seen as symbolic as theirs:
- The seal- symbolic of the sign of the covenant with G-d: the Sabbath.
- The cord- symbolic of the moedim with their circular, recurring pattern.
- The staff- symbolic of the Torah: a symbol of authority and power.
Gentile believers in Messiah Yeshua have been given these three items as their own as fellow heirs with Messiah (Romans 8:16-17). It is with these three things that Jews take greatest issue in Messianic believers. Just as Yehudah considered Tamar to be a temple prostitute because she was veiled, so, too, the Jews consider Messianic believers prostitutes to a foreign G-d because Messiah is veiled (2 Corinthians 4:3). Just as Yehudah called for Tamar to be cut off from life, so, too, do the Jews call for believers in Messiah to be karat [cut off] from the people of G-d.
Paul spoke about this in Romans chapter 11:
Romans 11:11 (KJV)
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke them [the Jews] to jealousy.