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, just as it does this year. I find it especially interesting that even though Chanukkah is early this year, this parashah is still within the Chanukkah season. I do not believe this is just a coincidence. I submit there is a deeper meaning that we will explore including Joseph’s attitude toward his success and Yahshua’s attitude during his earthly ministry.
Joseph was called to interpret Pharaoh’s dream when the cupbearer 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). There should be no doubt that G-d recalled Joseph to the cupbearer, but at least the cupbearer admits to Pharaoh that it was his fault that he did not remember Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams before this time. Again, I submit his forgetfulness and sudden recall was no coincidence. G-d recalled Joseph to the cupbearer at just the right time.
When Joseph is summoned by Pharaoh and before he knows how G-d will fulfill Pharaoh’s request for an accurate interpretation, Joseph does not hesitate to tell Pharaoh that “It isn’t in me. G-d will give Pharaoh an answer that will set his mind at peace.” (Gen. 41:16). At that split second, Joseph could have taken credit for himself in his ability to interpret dreams. He could have deceived Pharaoh into thinking he had a talent of his own (yetzer hara), or he could 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. 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.
This 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 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 Chanukkah in which one day’s oil lasted eight days. Of course, we as Messianic Jews also realize 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 Shamesh candle was lit as Yahshua’s human role began in Mary’s womb.
We not only defeated the Greeks in the physical battle of Chanukkah, but we defeated them spiritually also. The Greek philosophy like 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 himself or herself a god! The Greeks most emphasized the concept of the perfection of mankind- 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 covenant’s of G-d as established with Avraham. The Greeks believed that cutting away part of the body was destructive. 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. Similarly, today we pay money to have our breasts and faces lifted, our stomachs and thighs sucked and tucked, our wrinkles injected with Botox, and our make-up permanently applied. 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 in the way. This is why the Greeks and anti-Semites today want to defeat and eradicate Judaism, including Messianic Judaism today. Everywhere else, when the Greek invaded, whether as 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 the United States in more current history wanted to show his new advances, and preach the benefits of democracy, science, sports, and idolatrous obsession with capitalism as “The American Dream.” Yet in the Jew or anyone who follows the written and living Torah of YHVH, the Greek and all antinomians saw and still see a people who were and are not interested in attributing their success to themselves, worshipping the latest and greatest toys, celebrating pagan holidays, desecrating Shabbat, eating forbidden foods, nor worshipping 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, and peace to endure every trial. 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, the antinomians today are determined to wipe out Jews and anyone who follows the instructions of G-d, including His laws, mandates, and regulations. If you need just one example, take a little time to study the 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 Chanukkah like the meeting between Pharaoh and Joseph was the clash between two ideologies- one placed in G-d in the center and the other put man there. 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.
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 3:15-4:1
This week’s haftarah echoes the subject of our parashah with the opening words: “And Solomon awoke, and behold it had been a dream.” Pharaoh had also experienced dreams. Although it is 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 parashot in relation to the comparison between Joseph and Yahshua. Once again we can easily deduce 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 the oil provided to light the menorah as a sign of the Light to come.
Shabbat Shalom v’chag sameach,
Rabbi Tamah Davis