Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #9: Vayeshev (He continued living) B’resheit (Genesis) 37:1-40:23
Haftarah: ‘Amos (Amos) 2:6-3:8
B’rit Chadashah: Acts 7:9-16
This week we examine how even G-d’s people often allow the evil inclination to dominate their thoughts and actions. We also learn a valuable lesson as did Joseph. That is, when G-d provides us blessings and knowledge, we shouldn’t go around bragging about it. Rather, we need to acknowledge these gifts and use them for G-d’s glory. We know Joseph learned his lesson when he thanked G-d later in the story.
There is also a lesson for parents in the story of Joseph’s life, especially in the case where his father makes him a “special” coat. The other sons were demonstrably jealous and with what would seem to be a righteous cause. I submit to you that parents always have a favorite child for whatever reason. But parents should treat their children as impartially as possible. Praise the behaviors, skills, or talents of each and foster their development rather than overtly showing favoritism.
Sibling jealousy to the degree described in Joseph’s brothers is obviously against the commands of G-d of which they were aware. Not to covet another’s’ possessions, not to murder, and the command to honor parents were all violated and erroneously justified using Joseph’s arrogance as an acceptable explanation for the brothers’ behavior. This is the problem with sin. We always try to minimize, justify, and rationalize sinful thoughts, speech, or actions. The truth is that if we find ourselves attempting to apply human justification to our thoughts, speech, or actions, we can know without a doubt that we are about to sin and we need to avoid the sin before we commit it.
We learn more about deep-seeded narcissistic attitudes when we read of Re’uven’s response when he returned to the cistern to find Joseph gone. Rather than wondering about Joseph’s disposition and welfare, Re’uven was concerned about his own welfare (Gen. 37:29).
In Chapter 39 we learn that although Joseph was sold to the Yishmal’elim which was and is the enemy of G-d’s people later turned over to Potipher who was one of Pharaoh’s officers and captain of the guard, G-d was with him and prospered him in everything he did. Joseph pleased his captor as he served him but never relinquished his faith in G-d and never assimilated into Egyptian life. Even when Potipher’s wife attempted to seduce him, Joseph resisted saying “…how could I do such a wicked thing and sin against G-d?” (Gen. 39:9). Another lesson for us is that even when we follow G-d’s Torah to the best of our ability, we can surely expect tests and obstacles allowed and sometimes created by G-d for our spiritual growth. This is what happened to Joseph. Although he resisted temptation many times and even removed himself from the source of opportunity, G-d allowed Joseph to be sent to prison. In Chapter 39:21 we read “But Adonai was with Yosef, showing him grace and giving him favor in the sight of the prison warden. The prison warden made Joseph supervisor of all the prisoners in the prison; so that whatever they did there, he was in charge of it. The prison warden paid no attention to anything Joseph did, because Adonai was with him; and whatever he did, Adonai prospered.”
Joseph continued to serve G-d even though he remained captive because G-d was with him and there was more to do in the prison environment. We do not read of any complaints Joseph may have had if any, and we read of an encounter where Joseph is so sensitive to those around him that he noticed a sad countenance on the faces of the baker and cupbearer, both who were more recently put in prison. If we think about this scenario for a moment, just imagine what you may have felt like if you were in such a dreary and depressing environment when you knew you were innocent. Yet, Joseph noticed the despair in others.
Finally after G-d blessed Joseph with an interpretation of dreams the cupbearer and baker shared, the interpretations came to pass. When the two men were restored to the king, three days later at the king’s birthday party, the king hanged the chief baker but restored the cupbearer to his position. Joseph had asked the cupbearer to remember him to Pharaoh once he was restored. The cup bearer forgot him, and Joseph was in prison for another two years (Gen. 40:20-23; 41:1).
Again we may ask how or why would G-d allow this prolonged suffering of a man who grew to love Him and give him all glory as he matured spiritually and physically? The answer can be found by using the method of study called hermeneutics in which scripture is used to explain other scripture. G-d says in Isaiah 46:10 “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” Sha’ul makes the observation through his experience that “But he said to me ,’ My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” We read ni 1 Cor. 10:13 that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind . And G-d is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. “Furthermore, the story of Joseph’s life parallels that of Yahshua. Comparing a few of the similarities between Joseph and Yahshua we discover the following:
1. Joseph was a shepherd (Gen. 37:2). One of Yahshua’s names is “the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11).
2. Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt (Gen. 37:26-8). Yahshua was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, which is the price of a slave (Mat. 26:15).
3. Joseph was the beloved of his father. Yahshua is the beloved of the Father (Mat. 3:17)
4. Joseph lived with his father in honor before going down to Egypt (Gen. 37:2-4). Yahshua lived with G-d as G-d before coming to earth (Gen. 1:1 in the Hebrew) John 1:2)
5. Joseph was hated by his brothers (Gen. 37;4,5,8). Yahshua was hated by his brothers (John 15:25; Luke 19:14).
6. Joseph foretold his future (Gen 37:7-12). Yahshua foretold his future (Mat. 26:64; John 18:37).
7. Joseph’s brothers plotted against him (Gen. 37:18-20). Some of the Sadducees and Pharisees plotted to kill Yahshua (Mat. 12:24; 26:4).
8. Re’uven had a plan to save Joseph (Gen. 37:22). Pilate had a plan to offer Barabbas (Mat. 27:17)
9. Joseph was stripped of his coat (Gen. 37:23). Yahshua was stripped of his coat and was covered with a scarlet robe (Mat. 27:28).
10. Joseph was taken out of the pt, alive in his body (Gen. 37:28). Yahshua was resurrected from the tomb (1 Cor. 15:4).
11. Joseph’s blood sprinkled coat was presented to his father (Gen. 37:1). 22:27; Yahshua was our scapegoat and the Olah offering. His blood was presented to the Father as the only perfect sacrifice for sin (Heb. 13:12; Lev. 16:8-10).
12. Joseph became a servant (Gen. 39:1). Yahshua became a servant (Phil. 2:6,7; Luke 22:17; John 13;1-17).
13. Joseph’s master was well pleased with him (Gen. 39:4) G-d was well pleased with Yahshua (John 8:29).
14. Joseph was sorely tempted by Potiphar’s wife but did not sin (39:7-12) Yahshua was tempted but did not sin (Mat.4:1-11; Heb. 2;18; 4:15).
15. Joseph was falsely accused (Gen. 39:19). Yahshua was falsely accused (Mat. 26:59-61).
16. Joseph was cast into prison although innocent (Gen. 39:20). Yahshua was sentenced to death though Pilate found no fault in Him (John 19:4,6).
17. Joseph won the respect of the chief jailer (Gen. 39:21). Yahshua won the respect of a Roman centurion standing at the execution stake (Luke 23:47).
There are at least 20 additional similarities between Joseph and Yahshua, the remainder found in Genesis Chapter 40-50. Many of these will be written in the next parashah. The point is that Joseph’s life story provides numerous valuable applications and lessons for living in the world today. There is profound prophetic significance to the narrative of Joseph’s life that foreshadows Yahshua’s life and His return as our Messiah. This parashah is a powerful witness to Yahshua in the Old Testament. It is amazing that our Messiah’s forthcoming as Savior and Redeemer, ordained that the story of Redemption be told through Joseph’s life in the first book of His Torah. Indeed He knows and shares the end from the beginning!
Haftarah: Amos 2:6-3:8
This week’s haftarah reflects on our parashah to the sale of Joseph by his brothers. Amos opens with the bad news first; G-d had been patient with them notwithstanding their transgression of the three cardinal sins- sexual impropriety, idolatry, and murder. Their fourth sin was the last straw; the mistreatment of the innocent, widows, orphans, and the poor.
G-d reminds the Jewish people how He lovingly took them out of Egypt and led them through the desert for forty years to the Holy Land. Yet the people did not respond appropriately. They gave wine to those who took the Nazarite vow and told the prophets not to prophecy. Amos then describes G-d’s punishment: “And the stouthearted among the mighty shall flee naked on that day, says the L-rd.”
This passage ends with an admonition from G-d, one that recalls His eternal love for His people: “hearken to this word which the L-rd spoke about you, O children of Israel, concerning the entire nation that I brought up from the land of Egypt. Only you did I love above all the families of the earth; therefore, I will visit upon you all your iniquities…” As opposed to other nations to whom G-d does not pay close attention, G-d’s love for His nation causes Him to punish us for our misdeeds, to cleanse us and prod us with His rod of justice and staff of grace and love back onto the path of the just. Remember, He chastises those He loves (Heb. 12:6) and His will is perfect (Psalm 18:30). Let us internalize and act upon this truth even when the tempest roars and we cannot physically see the Son. Do not fear or doubt; He is behind and above the clouds of our storms!
B’rit Chadashah: Acts 7:9-16
“Now the Patriarchs grew jealous of Yosef and sold him into slavery in Egypt. But Adonai was with him; he rescued him from all his troubles and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him administrator over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine that caused much suffering throughout Egypt and Kena’an. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. The second time, Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. Joseph then sent for his father Jacob and all his relatives, 75 people. And Jacob went down to Egypt; there he died, as did our other ancestors. Their bodies were removed to Sh’khem and buried in the tomb Avraham had bought from the family of Hamor in Sh’khem for a certain sum of money.”
As previously enumerated in this lesson Joseph’s life reveals many parallels to Yahshua’s, for Joseph was a type of Yahshua to his people. In addition to the itemized list in the previous paragraphs, G-d gave Joseph favor and wisdom for his appointed mission in life. G-d provided Yahshua all he needed for his earthly ministry. Joseph was appointed the chief administrator over Egypt. Yahshua was appointed King of Israel and L-rd of all the universe. Joseph had to live in the world of sinful Egypt, but he kept himself separated even in prison. He remained close to G-d and exemplified his faith through his behavior. Similarly, Yahshua came to a sinful world to show us how to live G-d’s Torah not only by His teachings, but by example. Joseph prepared Egypt for the food famine that was about to strike the land. Yahshua shows us how to prepare for the famine to come when the world will no longer have the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) present. Joseph withheld his identity from his brothers until the second time they went to him and confessed what they had done to him, not knowing they were speaking to him. Similarly, most Jews did not recognize Yahshua for who He is the first time He came to earth. He will identify himself to them when He returns the second time, and they say “Baruch haba b’Shem Adonai.” Unfortunately, these will be martyred for their faith during the Tribulation. The time is coming soon. Take heed to G-d’s written and Living Torah and prepare yourselves.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart