This week’s Portion, VaYechai, is the final Portion in the Book of Genesis. Jacob is carrying out his final duties before he dies. He assigned the Blessing of the Double Portion upon Joseph, his favorite, by adopting his two sons: Manasseh and Ephraim. They became equal heirs with the other eleven sons. In blessing them, Jacob crossed his hands and gave Ephraim (the younger) the Blessing of the Firstborn; years earlier he deceived his father Isaac to get the Firstborn Blessing, but now he deliberately blessed the younger of Joseph’s sons.
Jacob completed his duties as patriarch by pronouncing a prophetic blessing over each of the twelve sons. Because Reuben (the actual first born) and Simeon (next in line) forfeited their claims to the Rights of the Firstborn, Jacob gave the Priesthood of the Family to Levi and the Kingship of the Family to Judah. All the sons received a prophetic statement which can be compared to Moses’ prophecies for them in Deuteronomy 33.
The book concludes with the death of Jacob in Egypt; Pharaoh allows Joseph to take Jacob’s bones back to Canaan for a proper burial. And finally, the death of Joseph: he is embalmed and put in a coffin in Egypt.
We conclude this final Portion of Genesis by saying, “Chazak, chazak, v’nit chazek!” “Be Strong, Be Strong and be Strengthened!”