Torah Portion: Genesis 41:1-44:17
Haftarah: Zech. 2:14-4:7 special reading for Sabbath during Hanukah
New Testament: Mat. 12:39, 17:22-23, Mat. 20: 18-19, Luke 10:2, 11:30, 13:32,
We ended abruptly last week with Joseph in prison, the cupbearer having forgotten all about him, and the sages commenting that God added two more years to his time in jail because he looked to the cupbearer for help instead of continuing to trust in God. But, perhaps, instead, circumstances were not yet ripe for Joseph’s reappearance. In this week’s lesson everything will suddenly and completely change. By the mighty hand of El Shaddai, thirty-year-old Joseph will ascend to the throne of the world’s most powerful kingdom. This foreshadows Messiah coming to the throne at the advent of His one thousand year reign while Satan is bound on earth. The word miketz means “at the end;” therefore we will be very alert for hints and pictures of Yeshua’s soon return, on the “third day.” One of the most important aspects of Joseph’s life was to paint these pictures and they are not lost on the sages of Israel, who used the examples of both Joseph and David to measure those whom they suspected might be Israel’s Messiah. Today’s lesson will demonstrate clearly why they have, for the most part, rejected Yeshua of Nazareth.
According to the Stone Chumash, Jacob is by this time 120 years old and Isaac, if still alive, is 180. They believe that Isaac died just before Joseph’s whereabouts were made known to his brothers. No doubt, he, like Jacob, grieved deeply over the loss of Joseph. Meanwhile, imagine Joseph’s brothers, in light of the ever present grief of their father and grandfather, trying to live a normal life with the GREAT LIE ever before them. A great showdown is rapidly approaching. God wants to set them free of the great weight of their sin! A string of events is about to unfold that will result in Jacob’s family moving suddenly to Egypt, the brothers being reunited, the family given the best land that Egypt has to offer, and ultimately being enslaved. The prophecy of Abraham’s descendants being in bondage for four hundred years will be fulfilled. Our story begins with Pharaoh being troubled by dreams.
Two years after Pharaoh “lifted up the head” of the cupbearer and restored him to his position, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke. And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. And behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump, full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. (41:1-7).
So alarmed was Pharaoh over these dreams that early the next day he sent for his wise men and magicians. But, they were all at a loss to interpret them. This, however, provided the motivation for the cupbearer to “remember” Joseph. He said to Pharaoh, “When Pharaoh was angry with his servants and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, we dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own interpretation. A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream. And as he interpreted to us, so it came about. I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged” (41:8-13). Had the cupbearer truly forgotten the Hebrew slave or is it more likely that he did not want to be associated with the despised race? Most certainly it was self-interest that made him both “forget” Joseph and “remember” him today as well.
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh (41:14). The Stone Chumash reports that because of this verse, the sages deduce that Messiah will also come “quickly.” Our dear brother Paul thought likewise and said it will happen “in the twinkling of an eye.” (1 Cor. 15:52). More than likely, whoever came for Joseph instructed him to shave, bathe, and change his clothes in preparation to meet Pharaoh. So it was that Joseph’s Hebrew appearance was suppressed by his Egyptian handlers and he emerged from prison looking like an Egyptian. We can relate this to our modern dilemma that Yeshua’s “Jewishness” has also been suppressed by his followers who have stripped him of His Hebrew identity. Through ignorance, we fail to see Yeshua’s Torah observance and we have “clothed” him as a gentile who is pleased to be worshiped as the pagans honor their deities, although the Torah and prophets clearly tells us that this is an abomination to Yahweh (Deut. 7:25, 13:14, 18:9, Jer. 10:2).
When Joseph learned the reason for his being summoned, he answered, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (41:15-16) Even though he stands before the regent of Egypt, Joseph, determines that God will be His help and the recipient of the glory. Yeshua, likewise, made it very clear throughout His ministry that He came to only speak the words of His Father and do the work of He who sent Him. (John 5:23, 8:28, 12:50, 14:10)
But for the Nile River, Egypt would be nothing but desert. Even today, each year, the Nile overflows its banks and deposits rich silt into Egypt. Due to a complex system of canals in Joseph’s day, the Nile succored a wide swath of Egypt. Thus the Nile became to the Egyptians the father of the Egyptian gods. Named Hapi, this god of the Nile is pictured in archeological finds as an old man with a large belly and pendulous breasts, indicating the Egyptians credited him as their provider. Hapi was revered as a caring father who maintained the earth’s systems for the sake of the Egyptians. Therefore, it is likely that when Joseph said, “God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer,” Pharaoh assumed that Joseph referred to Hapi. It was not necessary for Joseph to convinced Pharaoh of Yahweh’s identity; Yahweh Himself would do that in His own timing. Joseph’s job was to be an instrument in Yahweh’s hands. He answered Pharaoh: “God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will consume the land, and the plenty will be unknown in the land by reason of the famine that will follow, for it will be very severe. And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about” (41:28-32).
The impact of these dreams shook Joseph so deeply that he continued boldly to offer advice to the world’s most powerful man. Fearless, because of his persecution and long imprisonment, Joseph recognized that, like himself, Pharaoh was merely God’s agent. They would both be instruments in the hands of the Almighty. (Yeshua likewise, unafraid, often spoke his mind to the religious leaders and government officials.) Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.” (41:33:36) Joseph discerned a vast harvest was approaching. He discerned the need for someone to be put in charge of gathering and storing food.
Apparently, Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph’s answer that he called an emergency meeting of his cabinet to discuss Joseph’s suggestion, which resulted in miraculous and unanimous approval for Joseph to be declared the man of the hour. This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” (41:37-38)
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” Note the strong allusion to Yeshua, who is second only to the Father, and who spoke the words of His Father’s Torah from Mount Sinai so that God’s people could “order themselves” accordingly. This event pictures Yeshua’s coronation when the whole earth will be informed that He is the Son of God. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Yeshua is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Further, this will bring about the millennial reign during which Yeshua will rule with a “rod of iron” (Ps. 2:9, Rev. 2:27,12:5, 19:15). And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” (41:39-44)
And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah. And he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On ( 41:45). Joseph’s new name means “revealer of secrets” according to the sages. Interestingly, Brown, Driver, Briggs Lexicon defines it as “treasury of the glorious rest.” The city of “On” is another name for Heliopolis [literally “city of the sun”]. The first translation of the Bible, the [Greek] Septuagint, according to Jewish Encyclopedia online, treats Potiphar and Potiphera as the very same person. It is very significant that Joseph was given a gentile bride who had grown up with traditions of devotion to the sun god, Ra. The name Potiphar means “He whom Ra gave.” Therefore, we should not be surprised that Yeshua’s bride was duped into celebrating the birth of their Savior on the very day that sun god worshippers claim as its birth date.
So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt. Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt.( 41:45-46) Yeshua was likewise 30 years old when he began his ministry, having gone out of His Father’s house in Heaven.
During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it. And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured (41:47-49). The phrase “sand of the sea” brings to mind God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as the “stars of the sky and the sand of the sea.” Therefore, the Torah relates Joseph’s grain to Abraham’s descendants. Yeshua also anticipated a fantastic harvest when He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). We should remember that the fall feasts are all related to the ultimate harvest when the angels will re-gather God’s called and chosen from the ends of the earth and the tares will be removed and burned. A multitude that “no man can number” (Rev. 7:9) will attend the feast of Tabernacles following Yeshua’s return, therefore fulfilling this prophecy of “the sand of the sea” (see Zech. 14:16).
Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction” (41:50-22). The Torah re-emphasizes that Joseph’s children are the offspring of the priest of the sun god. Therefore, we should not wonder that the tribe of Ephraim would be the one who would lead the Ten Tribes into the idolatry that continues to invade Christian worship practices today. The boys Hebrew names, however, as opposed to Egyptian, indicate that they were taught the ways of the Hebrews and, hints to me that, eventually, they will return to their roots.
Manasseh means “causing to forget.” We immediately see two fulfillments. First, Joseph gave glory to God for blessing him so abundantly that he could forget his years of pain and suffering and come to the conclusion that God meant it all for good. Second, these boys will forget the covenant with Abraham and their rich heritage. Ephraim means “double fruitfulness.” Joseph will not only reign over Egypt in a time of double fruitfulness, he is doubly blessed with the birth of two sons, who were likely twins, and they will be doubly blessed wherever they will sojourn in the earth. The full extent of that blessing will be discussed in an upcoming chapter in which Jacob will adopt these boys and speak blessing over them as if he were their father. Though they will be carried away by the king of Assyria, scattered over the whole earth, and “lost” so far as their identity is concerned, as descendants of Jacob they are precious seed in the eyes of our Father in Heaven, who, at just the right time, will pour out living water upon them and raise them up in the days of Yeshua and the disciples, a harvest of first fruits for the kingdom of God, to be sent out into all the earth to make disciples.
This is the sad history of the House of Israel; but, God meant it all for good! And we, dear children, the object of the “good,” are truly the most blessed people who have ever lived on the planet, for He has opened our eyes and ears so that we might prepare for the harvest that Yeshua anticipates. Therefore, beloved, turn off your televisions and get rid of every distraction. Recognize busyness and every controversy as a ploy of the enemy to keep you from your mission. Do as Yeshua did; remove yourself from such things. Set your face toward Jerusalem with the single-mindedness of the apostles. Paul disappeared into the desert of Arabia for three years (Gal. 1:17) after the scales fell from his eyes on the Damascus Road. He had to “search the Scriptures” to unlearn what did not align with the Word of God. Go, likewise, and learn the ways of the kingdom so that you will be prepared, ready to arise during the future famine to hand out the bread of life and bring in the harvest! The story of the Samaritan women at the well is an excellent example of this harvest, Gospel of John, chapter four. The Samaritans were a mixed multitude thanks to the Assyrians intermarriage with the children of Israel (2 Kings 17:22-34). But, Yeshua would have this mixed multitude grafted in to the root and stock of Israel just He did the mixed multitude that left the children of Israel in the Exodus. The woman at the well left her water pot [her busyness] and went and told the whole village what Yeshua said. As a result, “many believed.” May it be also with us!
The seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. There was famine in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do.” (41:53-55) Notice that when the people came to the end of their resources and their ideas, they were ready to listen. My dear children, this is the reason you have come into the kingdom! For such a time as this you have been called and chosen and your eyes and ears have been opened! Another worldwide catastrophe will occur; and when it does, people will run to and fro frantically looking for answers. And in that day, the offspring of Joseph, in the body of Ephraim, the redeemed House of Israel, will have the bread of life!
So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth. When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” (41:56-42:2) Note that famine affects both the righteous and unrighteous. In spite of their faith, famine came to Abraham and Sarah, famine came to Isaac and Rebekah, and now it has come to Jacob and his offspring. Beloved, it will most certainly come to us, their descendants, in one form or another. Notice, my dear children, that the righteous are not raptured out of the famine, nor do the righteous receive manna from Heaven in the midst of it. God has in every case made provision for His people, but provision for daily bread is only the beginning of what God wants to bring out of life’s catastrophes. To eat of the fullness of what God has for them, the righteous must mix their faith with action. They must be as “little children” ready to hear instruction and obey. Famine will be the agent of the humbling of those who will not/cannot do it themselves.
It was necessary for Abraham to go to Egypt, so that Sarah would be abducted, so that they would be delivered, so that they would come out with great wealth, so that they would foreshadow the children of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt. Isaac, however, was told NOT to go to Egypt during the famine of his day. He was instructed, instead, to dwell in the Promised Land, specifically in the region occupied by the Philistines near modern Gaza. There he would contend with Abimelech, who not only tried to steal Rebekah, but whose servants stopped up all of the wells that Abraham had dug, thereby attempting to remove every shred of evidence that Abraham had ever dwelled there. This, of course, foreshadows the modern Philistinean, oops! sorry, I mean Palestinian, agenda today to steal Jerusalem and destroy every bit of archeological proof that Israel has continually occupied the Promised Land for nearly four thousand years. The result of Isaac’s obedience to establish a residence in the occupied territory is that Isaac “sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants” (Gen. 26:12-14). This foreshadows the harvest that is coming and that is even now occurring in the Arab nations where it is reported weekly that Yeshua is appearing in dreams and visions to the famine-humbled offspring of Ishmael and Esau.
So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. (42:3-5) Note that it was “ten” brothers who went to Egypt. Egypt pictures the world. To get to Egypt from Canaan, one must literally go down or travel southward from the Promised Land. Such descent pictures the spiritual tumble that the Ten Tribes will take later as they are led by Jeroboam into idolatry.
Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. (42:6-9) Joseph remembered that in his dreams all of his brothers would bow down to him. Now, ten were bowing and one was missing. They did not recognize their “Egyptian” brother.
And he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.” They said to him, “No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.” He said to them, “No, it is the nakedness of the land that you have come to see.” And they said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more.” But Joseph said to them, “It is as I said to you. You are spies. (41:10-14) The sages teach that the ten brothers entered Egypt separately by ten separate gates because, in addition to coming to buy food, they wanted to see if, by chance, they could find any trace of Joseph. By accusing them of being spies, Joseph intimidated them into abandoning any further efforts to learn the whereabouts of their lost brother, lest they inquire about him and learn of the Hebrew slave that now sat on the throne.
By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. Or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies.” And he put them all together in custody for three days. On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined where you are in custody, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households, and bring your youngest brother to me. So your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they did so” (Gen 42:15-21). This last phrase, “and they did so” begs investigation. According to Brown, Driver, Briggs Lexicon, the word translated here as “so” means, in addition, to be right, to be honest, and to do what is right, correct, and true. Thus the Torah is preparing us for the confession of the brothers! Note also, this confession came after being imprisoned for three days. The “third day” is quickly approaching since Messiah Yeshua was raised from the dead and ascended to Heaven. “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:1-2).It is significant that the numbers of people who are confessing their sin of abandoning the Torah are increasing as the third day approaches and are now trying to understand what they (we) must do to be honest, right, correct, and true.
Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood” (42:21-22). The firstborn’s confession was not lost on Joseph, who perfectly understood their Hebrew conversation and by this time could barely contain his emotions. We who have confessed our sin of the failure to keep covenant with God are the firstborn of our generation and the recognition thereof should move us to push ourselves to study, to meditate upon, and to absorb His word like never before. Do you find your soul distressed because you have no job? Do you find yourself distressed with health problems? Do you find yourself confined with a loved one? Have you been forced into retirement and are wondering what to do with yourself? Are you, like Joseph, languishing in prison? My dear children, recognize that you have been given a magnificent gift of “imprisonment” during which you have TIME to read, TIME to study, TIME to pray, TIME to meditate on the kingdom of God. I have been afflicted, at one time or another, with all of these things. Let me re-state that. I have been gifted with all of these things at one time or another since 1995; but, at every turn, God showed me not to worry, not to focus on the loss, the pain, and the suffering, not to focus on the lack of income; but, instead to trust Him as healer, provider, protector, and shield, and to SEE and SEIZE the opportunity to read, read, read His word. Now, the fruit is coming forth in abundance.
They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. Then he turned away from them and wept. And he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes (41:23-24). This must have been exceedingly frightening to the brothers. The sages postulate that Simeon is the one who threw Joseph into the pit. But, perhaps, there is something deeper. Simeon’s name in Hebrew is Shimon, which, on the surface, means hearing or heard. Simon was so named because Leah said, “the LORD has heard…” But, the root of his name is sh’ma, which, in the imperative means to hear and to respond with obedience. It is to listen with the objective of absolute obedience. As one teacher put it some years ago, it pictures the marathon runner at the start of an Olympic game, with mind, body, and soul listening intently for the sound of the gunshot, poised to obey all that he has been taught during his years of training. In binding Simeon, Joseph is giving us a startling picture of the captivity of Jacob’s offspring throughout their generations because they would not sh’ma, hear AND obey. Joseph’s tears foreshadow Yahweh’s pain when, forced by their rebellion, He “turned away from” the House of Israel and they became “not a people” (Deut. 32:21, Isa. 7:8, 1 Peter 2:10). But, the good news is that this verse also foreshadows His second appearance, “he returned to them and spoke to them.”
Interestingly, the Sh’ma, the watchword of the Jewish people, is quoted several times a day by the faithful, followed by the V’ahavta. These words, beloved, are the essence of the Torah: “Shema Israel, the LORD our God is One God. Blessed be His glorious Sovereignty forever. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:4-9). He who hath ears, let him sh’ma!
And Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, and to replace every man’s money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. This was done for them. Then they loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed. And as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place, he saw his money in the mouth of his sack. He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in the mouth of my sack!” At this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?” (42:25-28). Certain that this could not have been an oversight, the brothers were terrorized by their guilty hearts. Joseph instigated a plan that would either bring them to the end of themselves and repent or cause them to abandon Simeon (hearing) altogether and run elsewhere to find food.
When the brothers arrived back in Canaan, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack. And when they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were afraid. And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” (42:35-36) Reuben offered to go back but Jacob refused, unable to bear the thought of another son being lost. Jacob, at the time of blessing his sons prior to his death, will say that Reuben is “as unstable as water” (49:4). My dear children, the same can be said of some in our day, who are “carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14), “tossed to and fro” by those who, though unwittingly perhaps, align themselves with the enemy. The only thing that will cause us to be “stable” is to be as the Bereans of Paul’s day. “The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble [or “more excellent” in some versions] than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (Acts 17:10-11). The only way we can recognize the truth of doctrine, is to examine it DAILY in light of the Torah and the prophets. These were the only SCRIPTURES to which these people had access. These were the SCRIPTURES that Yeshua and the apostles, including Paul, taught. If what we practice or believe is not in the Tanach [commonly called the Old Testament], it is not TRUE, and we should simply let it go!
Jacob’s renewed grief due to Simeon’s absence was as oppressive as the famine; but, Joseph had tied the brothers’ hands. They could not return without Benjamin. Though they tarried, the famine would force their return. Now the famine was severe in the land. And when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.” But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.‘ If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. But if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you’“ (43:1-5). This phrase, repeated, is most certainly prophetic. Messiah will not return until Judah and Ephraim are reunited. At that time they will together battle the enemies of Israel as the prophets declare. “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head” (Hosea 1:11a). The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau, for the LORD has spoken” (Obad. 1:18).“For behold, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve, but no pebble shall fall to the earth. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.’ In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the LORD who does this” (Amos 9:9-12).
And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice” (43:8-10). This is the first time we hear from Judah since his departure from the family to Timnah, where, as we studied last week, he married and fathered three sons, two of whom were so evil that the LORD killed them. Subsequently, Judah encountered Tamar, whom he assumed was a prostitute, and he fathered two more sons. Now, 22 years after he suggested that Joseph be sold into slavery, having buried two sons of his own, as well as his wife, Judah is most assuredly “acquainted with grief,” which is how Isaiah describes Messiah (53:3). The Torah is silent as to what had occurred between father and son when Judah returned from Timnah; but there is no doubt that Judah returned a humbled man and that his relationship with his father was completely restored. We see this week that the father listens to Judah. The sojourn at Timnah [meaning “a portion, weighed out”] prepared Judah to be the agent who would accompany Benjamin to meet Joseph. This is prophetic that in the last days, the last born sons of Jacob and their companions [modern believers in Messiah], resurrected from the Ten Tribes who were scattered, will be taking hold of the tzittzits of Judah, according to Zechariah. “Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'” (Zech. 8:22-23).
Judah’s encounter with Tamar in last week’s lesson portrayed Yeshua as the brother who fulfilled the law of the levirate marriage by interaction with someone dressed as a harlot. Tamar, however, took off the garments of the harlot and put on her garments of widowhood, thus picturing the House of Israel, whose Husband died for her on the cross at Calvary. This week Judah pictures the son who promises the Father to go after the lost brother and to never leave or forsake the brother he must accompany to Egypt [a picture of the world]. Yeshua is the one who has never left us or forsaken us and He is the One whom the Father sent to go after “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Hebrews 13:5, Mat. 10:6, 15:4).
Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry a present down to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks. Perhaps it was an oversight. Take also your brother, and arise, go again to the man. May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” (43:11-14) Jacob’s grave words immediately remind us of Esther’s, “If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16). As when he wrestled with the angel at Jabbok, Jacob has once again come to the end of his strength and he surrendered himself and his children into God’s hands. And, just as he did by preparing a practical for Esau, Jacob instructs Judah to take the best that Eretz Israel had to offer to present to Joseph, along with twice the amount needed to repay the money they had found in their sacks.
So the men took this present, and they took double the money with them, and Benjamin. They arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph. When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Bring the men into the house, and slaughter an animal and make ready, for the men are to dine with me at noon.” The man did as Joseph told him and brought the men to Joseph’s house. And the men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph’s house, and they said, “It is because of the money, which was replaced in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may assault us and fall upon us to make us servants and seize our donkeys.” So they went up to the steward of Joseph’s house and spoke with him at the door of the house, and said, “Oh, my lord, we came down the first time to buy food. And when we came to the lodging place we opened our sacks, and there was each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight. So we have brought it again with us, and we have brought other money down with us to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks” (43:15-22). Fearing they were about to be charged with thievery, the brothers quickly offered explanation to the steward. But, Joseph, recalling the dream of eleven brothers bowing before him, had to engineer a plan that would place all of them in the same room. He would eat with them at noon. Picturing the Holy Spirit, the servant comforted them and assured them the price for their grain had been paid, and that he had, in addition, given them “treasure” in their sacks. The word translated as “treasure” carries the connotation of “secret,” as well. My children, we are the recipients of things that have been hidden for thousands of years, that even the prophets “longed to see” (Mat. 13:17). The “servant” brought Simeon [hearing] to them! It is the Ruach HaKodesh who has quickened our ears that we might hear and receive “treasure”! He replied, “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money” (43:23).
To those who would argue that grace began with the first advent of Yeshua, please tell me what you call this? On both trips the family was given all the grain they could carry and in both cases of their money was returned to them. “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1). But, what if the family had taken back the grain and not ground it into bread? Grace is the receipt of the Word of God; but, it is our responsibility to break it down, chew it, meditate on it, and absorb it until it becomes part of us.
And when the man had brought the men into Joseph’s house and given them water, and they had washed their feet, and when he had given their donkeys fodder, they prepared the present for Joseph’s coming at noon, for they heard that they should eat bread there (43:24). Again the servant pictures the Holy Spirit, this time bringing the brothers into the House of Joseph, representing the House of God, or Kingdom of God. The brothers washed their feet, meaning that they saw their “walk” was in need of being cleansed. Yeshua would teach His disciples likewise. Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” (John 13:3-8).
When Joseph arrived, they brought into the house to him the present that they had with them and bowed down to him. And he inquired about their welfare and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive? They said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves. And he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!” Then Joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there. Then he washed his face and came out. And controlling himself he said, “Serve the food” (43:26-28).
They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth. And the men looked at one another in amazement. Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank and were merry with him. (43:32-34) Joseph had to test his brothers’ hearts toward Benjamin. Did the jealousy they felt toward Rachel’s favored son extend to Benjamin?
Then he commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him (44:1-2). Concerning this cup or goblet, the sages teach that it was part of the ruse. When the brothers were being seated, the sages say that Joseph peered into the cup, pretending to divine the seating order. This was designed to make the brothers fear Joseph all the more. They would think: if he could set us in order by birth, what else might he be able to divine with such magic?
As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. They had gone only a short distance from the city. Now Joseph said to his steward, “Up, follow after the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? Is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? You have done evil in doing this.'” When he overtook them, he spoke to them these words. They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! Behold, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord’s servants” (44:3-9). Jacob had spoken these almost identical words when Laban accused him of stealing his idols; and, Rachel, who was the culprit (31:19), indeed died early. Here, Joseph moves to counteract the curse the brothers unwittingly enact by saying that the one with whom the cup was found should “not die” but be his servant. This reminds us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not [die] but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), and therefore, too, be His servant forever. Joseph answered, “Let it be as you say: he who is found with it shall be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent.” (44:10).
Then each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. And he searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city. When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there. They fell before him to the ground. Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?” And Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.” But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.” (44:11-17)
And, so, we are left with yet another cliff-hanger this week of Hanukah. If you have not heard Marty Goetz’s Hanukah song, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiZkfQN7ps0 and below are the very moving lyrics. Chag sameach [happy festival] and shalom!
Make my life Your temple, Lord at this season start, To pull down every idol I have raised up in my heart
[chorus] On this Chanukah, On this Feast of Dedication, I dedicate myself to You
Take my defiled altar, come and cleanse and come repair
So every time I falter I can run to meet you there [chorus]
Bridge: And with every candle on the menorah
That illuminates the night, Comes a prayer You’d kindle, In me Y’shua, A desire for Your fire, for Your light!
Make of my mortal body, A house worthy of Your name, Rid me of what’s ungodly and every hidden thing of shame [chorus]
Take my supply of oil, not enough to burn long I fear
But, oh how I pray I may one day say “A great miracle happened here!”