Parshas Vayeshev: The Significance Of 17

The descent into Egypt – Joseph was 17.

It’s Bible Study Coffee Time!

(Photo: …)

The Torah (Bible) portion is Vayeshev, Genesis 37:1 – 40:23.
Haftarah (supplemental reading): Amos 2:6 – 3:8 … 

“Joseph was 17…watching sheep with his brothers. In an evil manner, Joseph reported his brothers’ idle talk to his father. But Jacob loved Joseph more than all his other sons and made him an embroidered coat….the brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more…hated him.”

The basic action in this portion centers: Joseph’s special abilities (dream interpretation), sibling rivalry (Joseph was loved the most), vengeful behavior (the brothers sell him to Egypt), misplaced good deeds, lust and justice (Judah and daughter-in-law Tamar), and survival.

We talked a bit this week about the supernatural and the paranormal, and obviously dream interpretation as a form of divination is an example of this. What I want to do is find something interesting and deep to talk about, which won’t necessarily go on for 177 tweets.

How about the spiritual significance of the number 17?

17 in Hebrew Gematria spells “Tov” or “Good.”


17 in Hebrew Gematria also spells “YKVK” or God’s Holy Name.

It is never accidental when the Bible invokes a number, and so there is something meaningful about Joseph being 17 when he is sold into slavery.

Interestingly, when Joseph is thrown in jail and interprets the dream of his cellmate, the 2nd cellmate calls the interpetation “Tov” – or “good.” (Gen. 40:16)

What he means is “accurate.”

The bigger meaning is that troubles in life can turn out for the good.

17 also is the numerical value of “sacrifice” – זבח

So an altar is called a מזבּח

Joseph went down into Egypt as a sacrifice (Jacob lost him) to lay the foundation for the future of the Jews.

(@POTUS has sacrificed himself for us.)

“According to the Bible, number 17 is a symbol of victory and perfection. It refers to the spiritual perfection in the first place.” …

We’ll get back to that, but another interesting fact from this site: “Joseph was taken from his father Jacob, but they were reunited after 17 years.”

“God overcame the sins of rebellious humans when he began to flood the earth through rain on the 17th of the second Hebrew month.’


“Noah’s ark and its eight passengers rested on the mountains of Ararat on the 17th of the seventh month” …

“Daniel 7’s beasts have seven heads and ten horns, for a total number of 17.” – these are the worldly powers to be overcome before redemption.

“Psalm 83, verses 6 to 11, lists seventeen total enemies of Israel. Seven of these God destroyed in the past. The other ten foes will soon try to destroy the Israelites and ‘cut them off from being a nation.'” – they will be vanquished.

The Hebrew letter that sounds like “P” is the 17th letter. In Hebrew it is associated with prayer. Victory comes through prayer. …

There are so many Christian references to the significance of 17 as well. This is a poignant one, that 17 spells “dayag” or “fishermen” meaning “apostles.”

In a sense, Joseph is an apostle…the apostle is the epitome of servant leadership. 

Joseph, the 17 year old dream interpreter, has a gift of apprehension beyond the normal. He must take that gift and go to Egypt, where magick is prized. He must sacrifice (17) his own ego, his natural urges, in order to bring about good (17) for his family.

Short & sweet.

Here’s to God and His victory.

By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.