By Joseph Shulam.
The last Torah portions of the year are bringing us closer to one of the most fascinating and important short novels in the Holy Bible. The story of Joseph has all the nine elements of a perfect novel even by modern western standards.
The readings are:
The Torah Portion Miketz: Genesis 41:1 – 44:17.
From the Prophets: 1 Kings 3:15-4:1,
From the New Testament: Luke 24:13-29.
Each of these texts is fascinating and ought to raise in us many questions. The Torah portion Miketz is a school for success in this world, but with the addition of what I would call THE GOD VITAMIN! Let me take you to the list of the elements that make good ancient and modern novels.
1. From Poverty to Riches
2. From Riches to Poverty
3. Scandal in the family
4. From hate to love
5. From love to hate
6. Conflict and tension (could be in the family or at work)
7. Moral decadence and depravity
8. Jealousy and Satisfaction
9. Dedication and Self-Sacrifice
In the story of Joseph and his family all these elements are present, and each plays a major role in a different part of the story.
The Torah portion starts with the following word in Hebrew: “Miketz.” This Hebrew word appears 24 times in the Hebrew Bible.
The first time that this word appears in the Bible is in Genesis 4:3 “And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD.”
See also Genesis 41:1 “Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh had a dream; and behold, he stood by the river.”
These are two examples from the 24 times that this word appears in the Hebrew Bible. From the translations it is obvious that the Hebrew Word, “Miketz” has a complex function of time, a prophetic time, a time that points out to the past and announces the future. Literal translation of the Hebrew word “Miketz” would be “From the End!” This is a word that already knows the end and takes the reader from the present situation and hints already to the end of the story.
Here are two more examples from the book of Kings.
1Kings 2:39 “Now it happened at the end of three years, that two slaves of Shimei ran away to Achish the son of Maachah, king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, “Look, your slaves are in Gath!”
1Kings 17:7 “And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.”
IN these examples and in all the places that this word appears in the Hebrew bible there is a TIME tension. Look at the last example from 1 Kings 17:7, You have the past tense “And it happened!” But it didn’t happen yet, it will happen after a while!
Why is it important for us to understand this grammatical Hebrew use of this word Miketz? There are the following elements that have importance for us today, thousands of years after these texts were written.
1) The writer or the source of the writer, i.e. The Holy Spirit knows the end before the beginning is born into time.
2) The past for us humans who live in this four dimensional world time is not one of these four dimensions.
Simply stated this one Hebrew word in the Holy Bible tells us that what to us seems like a total chaos, bedlam, confusion, unknown, mixed up… Is already sealed, signed, and delivered, in the heavenly spheres. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not teaching or believing in the pagan teaching of “pre-destination!” I am a firm believer in the freedom of choice and the elected consequences. We choose freely how to live and what to do and where to put our trust and our allegiance in our fellow man or in the Creator of all, The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
When you read the story of Joseph from the beginning in Genesis 34, from Joseph’s birth to Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob to the end of the book of Genesis Joseph’s path follows almost all the elements of a perfect novel. We see love and hate between the brothers. We see from riches to rags, from freedom to slavery, from being a slave to becoming the man next to Pharaoh himself. Joseph was the beloved son of Jacob and Rachel, and this love caused his own brothers to hate him and even want to kill him. The love became hate. From a dedicated brother even to the brothers who hate him, he has his life threatened by his own brothers. From wearing the exclusive coat of many colors, he wears an Egyptian prisoner’s Jellabiya. From a prisoner’s Jellabiya, Joseph changes his clothing to the Royal uniform of the Prime-Minister of Egypt. We must realize that in this time in History of Egypt – Egypt was one of the greatest empires in the Middle East ruling from the Nile river in Egypt to the Euphrates in Babylon. Joseph is rejected by his brothers and persecuted and despised by his own flesh and blood brothers, but not by God.
The whole story of Yeshua our Messiah reflects the story of Joseph. Every element in the story of Joseph is repeated in the story of Yeshua our Messiah. Joseph becomes the savior of his family and even of the brothers that hated him and wanted to kill him. Joseph is hidden from his brothers for a significant period, and he recognizes his brothers and keeps it a secret to test them and see if they have changed! There is an additional element that is often ignored in the story of Joseph and the same element is also almost ignored by the majority of Christians: Joseph and Yeshua both don’t return evil for the evil that they have experienced by their brothers. Both Joseph and Yeshua help and serve and give of themselves even to Pagans and fellow prisoners. Joseph does everything with a pure heart and clean motivation, both in the search for his brothers in Shechem (Nablus in Samaria is the name today) in Jail and continues to do everything conscientiously even as second to Pharaoh himself. Yeshua does the same – whatever Yeshua did, if it is feeding the large crowds that followed him around the Sea of Galilee or the blind man in Jerusalem’s pool of Siloam, it is always done with humility and kindness, but with deep commitment like in the clearing of the tables of the money changers that turned the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to a den of criminals.
In the end of the story of Joseph – you have the one that is rejected, despised, and persecuted, becoming the savior of the very ones who rejected him and despised him. The text of Isaiah chapter 53 fits both Joseph the son of Jacob and Rachel and at the same time it fits Yeshua the Son of David, the Messiah. Here are some of the verses of Isaiah 53 that fit both Joseph and Yeshua.
3 “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely, He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows, Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed…
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people, He was stricken.” (Isaiah 53:3-5, 8 NKJV)
We live in the 21st Century – we have smart phones and smart photo-cameras, and fast cars, and fly around the world with jet planes. But, dear brothers and sisters, we are still the same old clump of clay in whom God breathed the breath of life and made us in His and the Messiah’s likeness, giving each one of us a part of himself that is called in English “Soul.” In each one of us there is the potential of being like Joseph or like Haman the Evil Amalekite who wanted to delete the very existence of God’s chosen nation, the nation of Israel. We can hate or we can love or sometimes we can do both, we can love some to extremity and we can at the same time hate others to extremity. But in the story of Joseph and in the story of Yeshua our Messiah we see individuals who understood what we all must understand: We must understand that time for God is relative and for us time is given on loan. Our time is a mortgage on this Earth, and whatever seed we sow on our timeline is the only seed that we grow on our tomb stones. What people will say about us after we are gone and what they might write about us fully depends on us, because for God time is relative and He knows what the end is before the birth of the beginning. Everything in this world is for us and for God! Miketz! We might not know it and we might not want to know it, but for God there is no secrets. God knows end from the beginning!
I will end with the words of Maimonides, the great Rabbi and Philosopher and medical doctor of the Caliph’s in Spain in the 12 Century C.E.
“Free will is granted to all men. If one desires to turn himself to the path of good and be righteous, the choice is his. Should he desire to turn to the path of evil and be wicked, the choice is his. This is [the intent of] the Torah’s statement (Genesis 3:22 : “Behold, man has become unique as ourselves, knowing good and evil,” i.e., the human species became singular in the world with no other species resembling it in the following quality: that man can, on his own initiative, with his knowledge and thought, know good and evil, and do what he desires. There is no one who can prevent him from doing good or bad. Accordingly, [there was a need to drive him from the Garden of Eden,] “lest he stretch out his hand [and take from the tree of life].” (Mishneh Torah, Repentance 5)
Our dear brother Elhanan Ben -Avraham wrote a booklet on the life of Joseph son of Jacob and the life of Yeshua the Messiah and their relationship and parallels. You can order this book from the www.Netivyah.org website and enjoy a full narrative and comparison between the story of Joseph and the life and teaching of Yeshua the Messiah.
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