Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #10: Mikketz (At the end) Genesis 41:1-44:17
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 3:15-4:1
B’rit Chadashah: Acts 7:9-16
During most years, this parashah coincides with Chanukkah, which is no coincidence. The deeper connection between the two is not difficult for the Messianic Jew who understands that Yahshua is G-d and Yosef embodied many of Yahshua’s attributes. This includes humility, compassion, and justice described in the events in this parashah.
Joseph was called to interpret Pharaoh’s dream when the cup bearer is suddenly reminded that Joseph correctly interpreted his and the baker’s dream. Pharaoh said to Joseph; “I dreamt a dream, but there is no one who can interpret it. Now I heard it said of you that you hear a dream to interpret it.’ “Joseph answered Pharaoh saying, ‘That is beyond me! G-d will respond to Pharaoh’s welfare.” (Genesis 41:15-16).
Joseph has a choice to make at this point. He can take credit for the G-d given revelation that occurred when he interpreted the ministers’ dreams and deceive Pharaoh into thinking Joseph has a talent of his own (yetzer hara), or he can glorify his G-d and express a confidence that G-d will act in Pharaoh’s best interest (yetzer tov). What a temptation this opportunity to grab the glory could present to those who are not G-d-centered! Joseph would be able to request virtually anything. Yet, he immediately responds that G-d is behind his ability to interpret the dreams. Joseph’s obedience to and love for G-d is so ingrained in his heart and mind that he did not have to weigh his possible responses before making the right choice. Pharaoh could have subsequently sent Joseph back to jail, but he didn’t. However, Joseph was unaware of how Pharaoh would respond. Nevertheless, Joseph stood on his faith and left his fate to G-d no matter the consequences. Yahshua knew His fate, but still chose to drink the bitter cup and submit His will to the Father aspect of G-d himself` (Matt. 26:39-40)
This attitude of humility and courage was the attitude of Mattisyahu and the Chashmonaim, otherwise known as the Maccabees, during the time of the Chanukkah victory. They could have told everyone including themselves that their unlikely military victory over the Greeks as a reflection of their brilliant strategy. But like Joseph, the Maccabees understood the true source of their strength and military success. They didn’t establish annual commemorative parades in which they would display their latest technology in weapons. Rather, they lit the Menorah which publicized G-d’s control over the world; the Shamash candle in the center from which all other candles receive their light, and rededicated the Temple. They knew only G-d could have allowed them to defeat the Greeks in battle. G-d blessed them by performing the miracle of giving a small force victory although they were greatly outnumbered and armed. This is Chanukkah (dedication) in which the Temple was re-consecrated to G-d. Traditional Judaism maintains that the miracle was that one container of oil lasted eight days, but that is not validated in Biblical literature. More likely, the eight-day length was celebrated for other reasons. The number 8 in Hebrew is related to the word for fat which conveys the concept of having more than enough. This relates to the tradition that there was only one container of oil that lasted for eight days as it took eight days to prepare enough sanctified oil for the menorah. But 8 is also the number of transcendence. It symbolizes rising above the physical limitations of this world. The eighth -day covenant of circumcision binds the believer to G-d. It is mandated for biological Jews. The number 8 is also closely connected with the Mishkan and the Holy of Holies. In Leviticus 9:1-11:47 which is the Torah parashah Shemini (Eighth), we learn that one year following the Exodus from Egypt, the consecration or inauguration of the Tabernacle took place on the eighth day, following seven days of preparation. On the eighth day the L-rd’s glory came down and rested on the Mishkan.
Messianic Jews enjoy the knowledge that the Light of the world, Yahshua, was conceived during this time as a more stunning act of G-d’s kindness and blessings on mankind. The Shamash candle was lit as Yahshua’s human role began in Mary’s womb.
The Greeks were defeated physically and spiritually during this battle for the Temple. Greek philosophy which is very similar to the Hellenistic based philosophy of the United States today was to stress the power and wisdom of man. The Greeks worshipped many gods just as our society encourages each individual to identify G-d in his or her own way, even if he or she considers him or herself a god! The Greeks believed that the human form was perfect. They believed in a man-centered universe in which the purpose of the gods was to serve the desires of man. They emphasized the beauty of the human body and the domination of human reason over any other form of wisdom. This helps us understand why they forbade the Jewish people from observing circumcision and learning Torah. Circumcision is a reflection of the belief that man must submit to G-d and remove part of his anatomy as part of one of the requirements of participating in one of the covenants of G-d as established with Avraham. The Greeks believed that cutting away part of the body was destructive. Conversely, learning Torah involves man trying to train his mind to understand how G-d looks at the world and to learn to look at it in the same way. The Greeks in contrast believed that man’s reason alone was the ultimate source of wisdom and that he should not subjugate it to anything else. It is an “all about me” society where what is perceived as fun takes priority over the true joy of learning and practicing G-d’s Torah. As I watch what people stand in line for, sometimes for hours, it is never to get into a religious service of any kind. Money is spent on all sorts of aesthetic procedures, recreational drugs, and the latest technological gadgets, but how much is given to honorable charitable organizations or as a tithe? Our society is in the process of enacting laws that prevent the placement of anything that relates to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in public places, openly supporting antinomianism and others’ rights to worship other gods. However, Judaism stands bravely and defiantly in the way. This is why the Greeks and anti-Semites today want to defeat and eradicate Judaism, including Messianic Judaism. Everywhere else, when the Greek invaded physically or philosophically, he was known as kind to his new citizens. Consider WWII and the love for Americans who rescued those areas ravished by Hitler or the Japanese. The victorious Greeks in the past and Americans in more current history wanted to show new advances, and preach the benefits of democracy, science, sports, and idolatrous obsession with capitalism as the American dream and a perfect epitome of life for everyone. Yet for the Jew or anyone who follows the written and living Torah of YHVH, Greeks and all antinomians saw and still see a people who were and are not interested in attributing their success to themselves or worshiping the latest and greatest toys, celebrating pagan holidays, desecrating Shabbat, eating forbidden foods, or worshiping any man. G-d is the center of the observant Jew’s life. All glory and honor, praise, supplications, and worship are given to G-d. G-d is the One Who supplies every need including grace, strength, peace to endure every trial, and the Messiah Yahshua. The Greeks could not tolerate this approach to life and neither can antinomians today. It threatens the entire modern philosophy of self-centered, self-sufficient existence. So, like the Greeks back then, antinomians today are determined to wipe out Jews and invalidate G-d’s laws, statutes, mandates, and regulations. If you need just one example, take a little time to study Christian doctrine. A little time is all you’ll need to identify the anti-Semitic agenda in the mistranslation of G-d’s Torah and the misunderstanding of Paul’s explanation of the differences in rabbinic law and the continued validity and reliability of G-d’s Torah (2 Pet. 3:16). The battle of Chanukah, like the meeting between Pharaoh and Joseph, was a clash between two ideologies- one with G-d in the center and the other with man at the center. The humility of Joseph and the Maccabees should teach us that no matter the time on earth’s historical timeline, G-d is in control. All we need to do is internalize G-d’s Torah to the point where we are not afraid to humbly submit ourselves to G-d’s control; even in the most difficult of circumstances. He will provide for His people and he promises to neither leave nor forsake us (Deut. 31:6; Hebrews 13:5).
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 3:15-4:1
This week’s haftarah echoes our parashah with the opening words: “And Solomon awoke, and behold it had been a dream.” Pharaoh also experienced dreams. Although not included in this haftarah, it was during one of Solomon’s dreams that YHVH granted Solomon his wisdom greater than that of any other human at the time. The haftarah relates a famous episode in which Solomon’s G-d-given wisdom was demonstrated before all of Israel. Keeping with our purpose in life, G-d was glorified through this demonstration of impartial wisdom.
Two prostitutes approach King Solomon to settle their argument. They lived together in the same house, and each had given birth to an infant three days apart. One night, one of the infants was accidentally crushed to death by his mother, and one woman accused the other of switching infants in order to have a live baby. Each claimed the living child was hers. King Solomon asks that a sword be brought and orders that the child be cut in half with each woman receiving half. At this point, the real mother of the living child intercedes and exhorts the king to give the child to the other woman so that he would live, while the other woman said “It will be neither yours nor mine. Divide it up!” We read in 1 Kings 3:27; “Then the king answered, ‘Give the living child to the first woman, don’t kill it, because she is its mother.’ “All Israel heard of the decision the king had made and held the king in awe, for they saw that G-d’s wisdom was in him, enabling him to render justice properly.” Is it not interesting that the people realized G-d’s justice was right and true then, yet forgot it so quickly they chose not to apply it as many choose not to do today to His statutes, commands, mandates, and laws! How convenient!
B’rit Chadashah: Acts 7:9-16
This is the same passage covered in last week’s parashah and explained in great detail in our lesson. Please read it once again and compare it to last week’s and this week’s parashah in relation to the comparison between Joseph and Yahshua. Once again we can easily discover the consistency of G-d’s Torah and the impossibility that man could have written the Bible without the authority, wisdom, and Hand of G-d. Once again we get a hint of Yahshua’s character and His life through the description of Joseph’s life to which we as humans can more easily relate and better understand the teachings of Yahshua and the coming Kingdom of G-d. Consider that the Lamb (Yahshua) will be the Temple in the New Jerusalem! There will be no need of a physical structure, and there will be no need for the sun or moon to light it. G-d’s Sh’khinah will give it light and its lamp is the Lamb (Rev. 21:22-23). May we consider these things as we continue to celebrate the miracle of conception of the Light of the world through a human being, and the miracle of victory over evil against all human odds. The oil used to light the menorah then and now s the reassurance that YHVH. Yahshua is in control and that with Him, nothing is impossible. (Matt. 19:26).
Shabbat Shalom v’chag sameach,
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart