If I Should Die Before I Wake,
I Will Dream
Vayeishev "And settled..."
Genesis 37:1-40-23
Photo by  Daiga Ellaby on  Unsplash

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

I don't think you ever grow too old for that prayer.  I don't know where it originated, but there is a surprising nugget of prophecy in it.

Ever wonder what happens when you die?  Scripture teaches that it is much like falling asleep.  Psalm 126, a Song of Ascents, is sung every Shabbat in the Blessing After Meals in Jewish tradition.  The Psalm assures Israel that when they return to the Land of Israel, "we will be like dreamers."  That begs the question, is it only to the physical Land of Israel that we return, or does Scripture use the dream to describe the Lower Garden and resurrection experience?  

In this week's Torah portion, Israel settles in the Promised Land.  It has now become the Land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob's sojourning.  Jacob has been re-named Israel.  The narrative takes a marked turn in this Torah portion. Now Joseph and Judah become prominent actors in the story of the patriarchs and "Jacob's Trouble."  After Jacob buries Rachel, he takes a back seat to his sons, just as Abraham began to fade after he buried Sarah.  From then on, Isaac and Rebekah are the primary story.

The stories of the patriarchs are at the forefront when they work as a team with the matriarchs.  They are one in covenant, and the loss of one's wife signals the rise of a son (or daughter-in-law) to carry the "baton" of covenant promises.

Vayeishev begins with a dreamer, Joseph.  Narrative aside, Joseph teaches two lessons about dreams.  First, don't get carried away with a lofty dream. Joseph focused on other sheaves bowing before his own.  He didn't quite get the "binding" part of the dream, and he was bound into captivity in Egypt. Joseph focused on his family in the heavens bowing down to him.  He didn't quite get that its greatest prophecy was outside the physical realm, for Jacob points out that the "moon" represents Joseph's mother, Rachel, who is dead. The sheaf dream, representing earthly mortality, required Joseph to be bound along with his brothers.  In order for that particular dream to be fulfilled, Joseph first entered the realm of the death.  

The dreams were one dream brought together at the end of days.  They had already been set in motion when Joseph dreamed.  This is the second truth of dreams.  When two or more dreams with the same "baton" are consecutive, they have already been set in motion.  It's coming, ready or not.

Joseph understands this in hindsight.  The dreams were the same dream, two kinds of "death" required, yet fundamentally opposite.  Earth and heaven. Still, there was a "baton" that tied the two dreams together: the resurrection of the dead from the earth, the event that makes "one" the mortal and the spiritual body.  

 The matriarchs are symbols of the Spirit working in the lives of the patriarchs.  Once that spirit is absent from their bodies, then the patriarchs' bodies may live on, but they begin to be written out while their descendants rise in importance.  The marriage was what strengthened the patriarchs, for "he who finds a wife finds a good thing, and finds favor from the LORD." (Pr 18:22)  Abraham says to Sarah:

 Please say that  you  are my sister so that it may go well with me 
because of you , and that  I may live on account of you ." (Ge 12:13)

In the dreams of the cupbearer and baker, Joseph sees again a paired dream. The baton that ties them together is three days, a sign of resurrection.  The cupbearer will ascend back to his FORMER place, but the baker will be hanged on a tree.  Symbolically, two visions of the same Messiah emerge. The "baker," or one who gives Living Bread, will be hanged on a tree, presumably under a wrongful death sentence for treason.  

The one who offers the first fruit of the grapes ascends back to the former glory of the royal throne with the Father.  Wine and grapes are a symbol of Sukkot, for this is when their first fruits and tithes are brought to Jerusalem.

Dream One:  From bound up to Heavenly glory.
Dream Two:  From dead bread to Sukkot of glory.

The baton that is passed from dream to dream is that of death and resurrection.

When Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dream, the same baton is passed, and Joseph expertly tells Pharaoh that the two dreams, though remarkably different, are the same dream.  The opposites, seven fat years and seven years of hunger hold the same baton: seven years.  Pharaoh will end up owning everything and everyone in Egypt except for property of those completely dedicated to lives of idolatry.  

Psalm 126 is a Song of Ascents, a prophecy of the resurrection and going up to Jerusalem the Holy City.  It holds all the elements of Joseph's dream life, including the tears of Passover and the joy of tithing and first fruits at Sukkot. By singing it every SEVENTH DAY, Israel hides the prophecy of the SEVENS in her heart, the joyful shouting of Sukkot, the SEVENTH feast when the captives will be returned as "sheaves."

Thanksgiving for Return from Captivity. A Song of Ascents

When the LORD brought back  the  captive ones of Zion w were like those who dream .   Then our mouth was filled with  laughter and  our tongue with joyful  shouting; then  they said among the nations , " The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for  us; we  are glad. Restore our captivity, O  LORD, as  the  streams  in the  South.  Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting .   He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of  seed, shall  indeed come again with a shout of joy,  bringing his sheaves  with him . (Ps 126)

A captive in Hebrew (shvut) is one who was formerly prosperous, such as Joseph, who had favor and a special garment, and then he became a captive.  

The clue that Joseph was about to descend from prosperity to captivity came early in the Torah portion:  

Then he [Jacob] said to him, "Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me."  So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to  Shechem . A man  found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field; and  the man  asked him,  "What  are you looking for ?" (Ge 37:14-15)

Hebron is the burial place of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah in their generations.  Traditionally, it is the burial place of Adam and Eve.  The Cave of Machpelah, or the Cave of the Doubles, is the traditional entrance back to the Lower Garden, a symbol of resurrection from the dead.  Joseph departs the "valley" of Hebron, an anomaly in the text because in Torah, Hebron is a place to which one ascends, not descends.  Joseph's dreams were signs that a plan was already in motion, one that involved a long descent from pit to pit of binding until he accomplished a glorious ascent and a restoration to his former position of prosperity.

For Adam and Eve, they symbolized humankind's former position of prosperity in the Lower Garden.  The patriarchs and matriarchs were buried in Machpelah as a step of faith in the restoration from captivity to death to the former prosperity of the Garden of Eden.  It would require a resurrection, and Joseph both dreams and interprets "double" dreams of resurrection: physical body and spiritual, heavenly body once again united by Messiah's resurrection at the season of our joy, Sukkot.

Who is "like one who dreams"?  A dreamer is one who dreams of resurrection, of the sounding of the Trumpets, the favorable judgment of Yom Kippur, and the restoration to former prosperity in the Garden with the King at Sukkot.  It has been a long, weeping descent to Egypt, but it is from there that Israel's children will ascend back to the Land of Israel, no longer sojourners, but permanent dwellers, va-yeishev, spirit, soul, and body united in the Father's favor.

We may "sleep" in Yeshua, but in Yeshua, it is only a temporary separation from the mortal body until the resurrection of His Body.  It is comparable to being in a dream, for the rabbis say that sleep is 1/60 of death.  

"The  fact that we awake from sleep is some evidence for the resurrection ."  - Gen.  Rabba 78 .

Sleep is a different level of consciousness.   Death is separation of consciousness from the body.   Similar, but not identical.  Sleepers  dream !  In a dream, we have a level of consciousness, yet the body cannot engage it much.  At most, there is some mumbling or talking, some thrashing around, or sweating when the monster under the bed chases you.  The mind may even form a dream that reflects actual physical pain.

Similarly, the soul remains conscious when it is "asleep" in death.  Like the rich man in Yeshua's parable, consciousness and a sense of pain continues even without a body in which to feel it.  It's like a dream.  For the righteous, they wear a temporary "robe" in the Garden while they await the resurrection.  For the wicked, well...

Many  of those who sleep  in the dust of the ground  will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.  (Da 12:2)

Those who sleep have not been sleeping as we experience it.  They are merely separated from the physical body.  The wicked await without a body or a robe until the second resurrection for judgment.  They will receive the body back temporarily for judgment, then die again.  For those who resurrect in the first resurrection with Messiah, the second death has no power, for:

You  have  ascended  on  high, You  have led captivity  captive ["captured captives"]; You  have received gifts among men , even  from the  rebellious, that  the LORD God might  dwell ( shakan there . (Ps 68:18)

Yeshua captured the souls of those who were captive to death.  He keeps them safe until the resurrection of their bodies.  When Adam and Even fell from the Garden, humankind fell from a place of former favor.  Yeshua has ascended in order to restore the dreamers to the Shekhinah, or Presence. When "They said to one another, 'Here comes this dreamer!', wow, what a compliment!  Joseph dreamed of their resurrection and they didn't know it!

Death says, "Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, 'A wild beast devoured him.' Then let us see what will become of his dreams!"  But Yeshua has ascended on high to restore the life of those who dream of resurrection like him.  In him.  Through him.

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take
Death is not what it seems
I'll rise to meet Him in my dreams

Shabbat Shalom, Dreamers!

Ready for Passover in Israel along with tons of Resurrection-in-Torah teaching?  Register by December 15!
Israel Passover Tour 2019
Passover at Tamar Park 2018

Tour Dates:   April 14 - 25 2019

Price:   $2,495 (airfare not included)

Tour Includes:
  • Hotels
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner (except April 24)
  • National Park Passes
  • Masada Lift
  • Galilee Boat
  • Bus transfer to and from Ben Gurion Airport
  • All tips (except housekeeping)
  • All meals at Biblical Tamar Park
Not Included:
  • Lunches
  • Flight/Trip insurance
  • Airline Ticket
T o read the itinerary and register, go to