Friday, December 8, 2017

The Dreamer | Parashat Vayeshev | By His EVERY Word

Vayeshev וַיֵּשֶׁב  
“And he dwelt”
“Now Jacob lived in the land
 where his father had sojourned, 
in the land of Canaan.” 
(Genesis 37:1)

Torah Portion: Genesis 37:1-40:23
Haftarah: Amos 2:6-3:8
B’rit Chadash/New Covenant: Matthew 1:1-6, 16-25

Shabbat | 9 December 2017 | 21 Kislev 5778

חֲנֻכָּה Chanukah
The Feast of Dedication
The Festival of Light
25 Kislev 5778 (for 8 Days)
1st Candle Sunset 12 December 2017
8th Candle Sunset 20 December 2017

Chanukah may not be a biblically-commanded holiday, but its message is essential and timeless.   
Chanukah is the Hebrew word for dedication. 
The theme of Chanukah is dedication, faithfulness, 
and refusal to compromise God’s 
unchanging standards in an ever-changing world. 
Jerusalem had been conquered and 
the Holy Temple defiled by a pagan ruler. 
Why is this relevant to Christians? 
The Temple in Jerusalem had to be restored 
before Yeshua could come... 
Read more at the end of Parashat!

The Story of Joseph
  • Cloaked with Favor
  • Betrayed
  • Exalted
  • Clothed in Righteousness
  • Humbled
  • Prevails
The familial stories of the Patriarchs reveal some of the most profound and sublime aspects of the human soul's condition. Our predecessors of faith lead us to spiritual heights of Divine clarity and presence, and at once are found (not unlike us) groping in darkness, seemingly unaware of the transcendent wisdom, power, and magnificence just at their fingertips. 

They are humankind, and this is the precious beauty of His-Story—it is our story as well. For all who have passed before have stepped in, or stepped over, or survived the frailties of life. Therefore we are not alone passing through this world, fraught with traps and trials and snares unseen. 

Nor are we without the grace of a loving God beckoning us from the clay, ever onward, unfolding His glorious redemption, generation to generation through those like Joseph, whose hearts’ desire is to honor their King and their God at any cost.
Join us now at the Father’s table as we keep the rhythm of Israel for more than two millennia, anticipating fresh manna from our God and King. As followers of Messiah we have added a corresponding New Covenant portion reflecting the fulfillment and crown of the Torah.
Genesis 37  Sibling Rivalry

The Bad Report; Sowing Seeds of Bitterness

“Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan. These are the records of the generations of Jacob. Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father. Genesis 37:1-2

bad report דִּבָּה dib·bä'
Joseph, who was favored by his father, Israel (Jacob), fanned the flame of jealous hatred among his brothers by defaming them to their father. Bad report in Hebrew is dibbah rah, also called hotzaat shem rah, “spreading a bad name.” It refers to slander and defamation. In Jewish halakhah (the righteous way of walking or living), this is strictly forbidden, for a “good name” or reputation is to be treasured. Therefore, to tarnish another’s name is far worse than theft, as it cannot be repaired.
The ethics of Judaism place great emphasis on the power of speech (and thus the harm that can be done through it), noting that the universe itself was created through speech. The Talmud calls the tongue an instrument so dangerous that it must be kept hidden from view, behind two protective walls (the mouth and teeth) to prevent its misuse.
James, the brother of Yeshua, no doubt speaking from this Hebraic worldview, characterized the tongue as a fire that can set an entire forest aflame, and the very world of iniquity, defiling the entire body. He spoke boldly of the vast creatures of sea and earth, all able to be tamed, yet “no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God...” James 3:5-9

We often think of Joseph in news bytes: 
  • Joseph resisted Potiphar’s wife
  • Joseph was betrayed
  • Joseph saved his family from famine, etc. 
Here we see the three-dimensional Joseph in his humanity. He is a teenager, and is exhibiting the characteristics of what we would term a “spoiled brat.” 

As the favored son, it was certainly unnecessary to disparage his brothers in their father’s eyes. Yet this is quite typical of a favored child and the ensuing family dynamics that often go along with it. We don’t know Joseph’s motive, but we do know his bad report added fuel to the fire of resentment already seething against him, stirring a dangerous monster to life....

“Who is the man who desires life And loves length of days that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.”
Psalm 34:12-14

Favoritism, Dreams of Grandeur, and Sibling Rivalry
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic. His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.” Genesis 37:3-4

In favoring Joseph, Jacob has targeted him for difficulty. Jewish ethics to this day warn that favoring one child over another will have dire consequences, citing the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers. This sober warning, referencing the story of Joseph and his brothers is recorded in the Babylonian Talmud dating from 200 AD.

Human nature is such that we often do what is unwise anyway, bringing a world of trouble on ourselves and others. Favoritism is more common than not, causing untold grief, manifested in multitudinous ways, visiting one generation after another.

כְּתֹנֶת פַּם ketonet pas
“A varicolored tunic” or more commonly called “a coat of many colors” This translation is from the Septuagint. A literal translation from the Hebrew, ketonet pas כְּתֹנֶת פַּם, is rather a tunic with long sleeves. However, it must have been uniquely embellished to have inspired Joseph’s brothers to hate him for it.
Chief Rabbi Hertz, (Pentateuch and Haftarahs, 1938): “We now know from the painted Tombs of the Bene Hassein in Egypt that in the Patriarchal age, Semitic chiefs wore coats of many colours as insignia of rulership.” Jacob, had likely marked Joseph as chieftain over his brothers with this tunic. The tunic therefore, stood as a daily visual offense flaunting his advantage and special status, enraging his brothers by increasing doses day by day.”
Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, ‘Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.’ Then his brothers said to him, ‘Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, ‘Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.’ He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?’ And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter [in mind]. Genesis 37:5-11

As if his father’s favoritism, the special tunic, and his talebearing were not enough, Joseph now shares his dreams with his brothers with naive enthusiasm—dreams that clearly place his brothers in subjection to him. Incredulous and angry, his brothers scoffed at his first dream, while the intensity of their hatred grew.

kept the saying shä·mar' dä·vär' שָׁמַר דָּבָר = “take heed” Joseph took his second dream, confirming the validity of the first, to his father as well. Jacob’s initial reaction was to reprove Joseph. Perhaps he was initially shocked, and then he perceived the folly of Joseph’s proclamation to his brothers. The text says, “but his father kept the matter [in mind]” ... in Hebrew, the phrase shamar et ha-davar  שָׁמַר אֶת־הַדָּבָֽר more closely means “he [Jacob] gave heed to the word.”

Joseph’s Journey Begins with Betrayal
“...the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:20

“Then his brothers went to pasture their father's flock in Shechem. Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.’ And he said to him, ‘I will go.’ Then he said to him, ‘Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me.’ So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. ...So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan. When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer! Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’ Then let us see what will become of his dreams!’ But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, ‘Let us not take his life.’” Genesis 37:12-21
Unaware of the malevolence roiling beneath the surface of his sons hearts, Israel sends his beloved Joseph to check on their welfare as they pasture the flock. Joseph is a lamb among wolves. Upon sight of Joseph, the long-held jealousy and enmity blazes among the brothers. The same grievous sin that crouched at Cain’s door is released as they surrender to the murderous hatred in their hearts. (cf. Genesis 4:7)
Being the firstborn, Reuben would have had the greatest reason to resent Joseph, but he had already disqualified himself as leader among his brothers when he went in and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine. (cf. Genesis 35:22) He steps in and prevents Joseph’s murder, convincing his brothers to throw Joseph into a pit, planning to rescue him at a later time. v. 22

Who Sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites?

“So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic ... and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.  Then they sat down to eat a meal. As they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels ... on their way to bring them down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers listened to him. Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt. Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his garments.” vv. 23-29 NASB
The Hebrew reveals that Joseph’s brothers attacked him, hostilely throwing him into the pit to die. They then sat down callously to eat while Joseph undoubtedly cried to them from his would-be grave...
Reuben had a plan. He would rescue him before he perished, so his conscience had already been soothed. Judah, however, is apparently struggling with his conscience when a caravan of Ishmaelites traveling along this ancient trade route sparks a solution: sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites rather than have his blood on their hands—after all, he is their brother

שָׁמַע shä·mah' = “to hear, listen to, obey”
v.27 The text says Judah's brothers listened to him, which is the Hebrew word shama שמע, meaning hear, understand, listen, obey, regard, give attention to or consider.

v.28 This is where the text becomes mysterious. The popular viewpoint has been that the brothers went and pulled Joseph from the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites. This is based on the English rendering of the text:

“Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites...” 

However, the word, “so” is not in the original Hebrew text.

Based on the literal Hebrew rendering, you will find Hebrew commentaries with the following interpretation:
1. The brothers sat down to eat after brutally stripping Joseph and throwing him in the pit, intending him to die there. (With the exception of Reuben.)
2. Judah’s conscience was preying on him, the passing Ishmaelite caravan provided a solution.
3. The brothers agreed to sell Joseph (greed was likely the motive rather than a sudden moral conviction).
4. As they were eating and discussing, Midianite merchants passed by, and likely heard Joseph crying out for help. They drew him from the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites.
5. When the brothers got to the pit to carry out their plan, Reuben found he was gone and was devastated, rending his clothes in his grief.

In Genesis 40:15, Joseph tells Pharaoh’s cupbearer in prison that he was kidnapped from his homeland. When Joseph reveals himself to his brothers in Genesis 45:4, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt,” we see that he doesn’t know that their original plan was to murder him. If it wasn’t his brothers that drew him from the pit and sold him outright to the Midianites, who then sold him to the Ishmaelites, then Joseph would still think it was his brothers who sold him while he was in the pit.

It’s a very interesting mystery left by what is not concisely stated in the original language, and possibly a challenge to our traditional interpretation.

Jacob’s Betrayal Once Again Comes Back to Haunt Him
"So they took Joseph's tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood; and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, ‘We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son's tunic or not.’ Then he examined it and said, ‘It is my son's tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!’ So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days.” vv. 31-34

v.32 This scene is powerfully poignant, painfully disturbing, and fiercely brilliant. These scheming sons bring anguish to their father, presenting him the blood-soaked garment he had made for his favored son. They cagily ask him to examine it to see “whether it is your son’s tunic or not.”  He sees the blood and assumes Joseph has been torn to pieces and devoured by a wild beast.

v.35 Jacob is inconsolable! He cries out, “Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.”  On top of losing his favorite son, it is his fault—he sent young Joseph out alone to check on the well-being of his brothers, only to meet this unthinkable fate.
While terrifically heartbreaking one must marvel at the harmony of justice weaving itself through time and space. This tunic, itself likely fashioned of the skin of a goat, now dipped in goat’s blood, is used to deceive Jacob by his sons ... Jacob, who deceived his own father Isaac by the device of goat skins. Genesis 27:1-29
The Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh's officer, the captain of the bodyguard. v. 36

Genesis 38  Judah and Tamar ~ Mayhem to Messiah

In this chapter we have a break in our story about Joseph. Here Adonai must take care of some details concerning lineage. This is vitally important because it links Yeshua of Nazareth to King David, upon whose throne the Messiah will someday sit. So, how does all this work?

vv.1-7 The story is pretty straightforward. Judah, through whom the line of Messiah is to be traced back to Abraham, marries, and he and his wife have three sons. The first son, Er, marries a woman named Tamar. However, before they can have any children God kills Er because of his wickedness. (Did you know that you and I, although we are believers, can be that sinful as well—so sinful in fact, that God may just take our life early?  (1 John 5:16)

vv 8-10 As was the cultural mandate of the time and later to become part of Jewish law, Judah then marries his second son to Tamar to raise children in his older brothers’ name. This was so that property and inheritance rights could be passed on through the now deceased Er. This second son, Onan, had other ideas though. If he fathered a child by Tamar, he knew that child would claim the place of first born and get Dad’s inheritance, the one to be passed on by Judah. Because Onan wanted the inheritance for himself he did not complete his duty, and was subsequently killed by God for his sin.

vv.11-30 Having seen two of his three sons killed, Judah was not so quick to give his third son to Tamar. He told her his third son, Shelah, would some day be given to her to raise up an heir through his first and now deceased son, Er. Tamar eventually became aware that this was not ever going to take place.

So Tamar takes advantage of circumstances and sets a trap for her father-in law.  Unbeknownst to Judah he is tricked into "going in" to his daughter-in-law, thinking she is a harlot, and two sons are conceived. The rest of the story is most interesting with Judah ultimately admitting his sin in not giving his third son to Tamar and undoubtedly recognizing his sexual sin outside of marriage. Interestingly enough Scripture does not speak negatively of Tamar for her method in securing the rightful heirship through her first husband, Er. Now there is something that could be batted around for a while. But why is this story so important?
As was said earlier, lineage is vitally important in God’s plan to authenticate Jesus of Nazareth’s right to the throne of David, One who was to come on the scene long after the above story took place. And in this story the two boys born to Tamar play a part in establishing this most important lineage.

v.29 Two different lineages of our Messiah are found in the New Testament. One is in Luke 3. In verses 33 and 34 Perez is in the lineage, a line through Mary that traces itself through King David and all the way back to Adam. Perez was one of those two sons born of Judah with Tamar.
v.30 The second son and twin of Perez is Zerah. He is mentioned in the lineage found in Matthew 1 and is found in verse 3. This lineage is the one establishing Yeshua’s right to the throne of David through Joseph.

There are no mistakes in God’s plan. He uses imperfect vessels to effect His perfect plan; His power perfected in our weakness. (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9) His will be done, amen. Praise Adonai for His greatness!
Genesis 39  Joseph in Egypt

“Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.” vv. 1-4

officer sä·rēs' סָרִיס = "official, eunuch"v.6 “An Egyptian officer,” in Hebrew, sariys סריס, is a term which is often translated “eunuch.” If this were the case, it may lend insight to the dangerous attention Potiphar’s wife plagued Joseph with, although the text also notes that he was “handsome in form and appearance.”

If Joseph’s brothers thought hard labor as an Egyptian slave would guarantee an early and obscure death for Joseph, they would be proven very wrong. The LORD was with Joseph, and he prospered, becoming overseer in an Egyptian officer’s home. The same youthful enthusiasm that impelled Joseph to blurt out his dreams to his brothers, also carried Joseph above his circumstances. He was steadfastly aware of the LORD’s favor that rested on him, not becoming embittered by the appalling actions of his brothers. 
So evident was the Spirit of the LORD on this young man, that Potiphar, an Egyptian idolator recognized it and trusted him—a foreigner—over all he owned. And true to Adonai’s promise to Abraham, this Gentile was blessed through his promised “seed.”
Flee Temptation!
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” Proverbs 1:10
“ the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil...” Proverbs 16:6
“It came about after these events that his master's wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, ‘Lie with me.’ But he refused and said to his master's wife, ‘Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?’” vv. 7-9
Charles Finney often said that every sin consists as an act of will, preferring the gratification of self to the glory of God and the good of creation. He said Scripture is clear that by ultimate intention man chooses his preference, sin or holiness, God or evil.
Temptation to sin is a constant in life—originating from our fallen world, the enemy of our soul actively at work against us, and from the battles within our own flesh. Testing often comes just when things seem to be going well. This is why Adonai warned Israel not to forget Him when they came into the Promised Land and prospered. Deuteronomy 8:11-20

Up from the pit of despair, Joseph has risen quickly to a place of esteem and power in Potiphar’s house. From the precocious young man that provoked his brothers’ wrath, Joseph has come to a sober dependence on Adonai, understanding the favor and success he has experienced comes from Him alone.

v.9 Even if Joseph could hide his sin from Potiphar, he could not hide it from God. Sinning against Potiphar, violating his God-given trust, was sinning against Adonai. What a powerful sentiment he expresses to this heathen wife, who has no understanding or appreciation for His God! If we could but summon such indignation against sin at each temptation ... “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” 

v.10 “As she spoke to Joseph day after dayhe did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her. 

In what is commonly called, “The Lord’s Prayer,” we pray: “...and lead us not into temptation...” (Matthew 6:13) and then we often go and put ourselves right into the place of temptation! Joseph, a man of perhaps only eighteen, alone with this temptation, needed to utilize every strategy at hand to overcome. As this was his place of employment, he had to be in the same proximity with this relentless woman. He was not free and independent to go find another job, which would have been preferable in the circumstances.

What would you do? According to online surveys, the most common responses to “a modern day Potiphar’s wife” situation: 1. Be friendly and try to keep it light, don’t hurt her feelings 2. Enjoy the flattery and enter into a “harmless” flirtatious relationship 3. Break off the relationship over time if she doesn’t get the message. (Source Unknown)
Unfortunately sin is ruthless; its thirst cannot be satisfied. One cannot “be friendly, flirt, or slowly break away from sin to spare its feelings. One must flee its steely, blood-thirsty grip without looking back. Sin seeks nothing but death and destruction; to mock the reflection of Almighty God on this earth.
v.10 Joseph was not even polite to his boss’ wife. He did not listen to her as she spoke to him day after day, which means he did not look at her, speak to her, or give her the time of day. She bid him to lie with her, or just be with her. Perhaps she feigned loneliness and played on his sympathy. Joseph made no exception. She had already revealed her hand. He would not even “be with her.” v. 10
This could have been interpreted as rudeness and gotten him fired, but Joseph trusted God over pleasing man. It’s a hard lesson that many believers never learn. 
Our lives are sometimes the only epistle another may “read,” and it speaks a more clarion message than our words. In Joseph’s silence and isolation, he proclaimed his reverence and fidelity for the one true God of the universe, Adonai.
vv.11-12 “Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. She caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me!" And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside.”

With all of Joseph’s precautions, Potiphar’s wife, still managed to trap him alone in the house one day. She actually had him by the garment. This was the ultimate test. Although he was overseer, Joseph was still a servant; subservient to her.

Sexual Sin and Idolatry 

Did he politely reason with her and try to extricate himself diplomatically from the situation? No, he fled for his life, leaving his garment behind!

v.12 This was no leisurely sprint. The Hebrew word translated as fled is noos נוס, which means: to take flight, to fly (to the attack) on horseback, to drive hastily, to cause to disappear. This was a desperate flight with all Joseph’s might.
As all these events and details are recorded for our examples and admonition (I Corinthians 10:11), let us gain something from this and not be so quick to pass it by. Consider, why do so many men of God fall? How many will say it was the last thing they ever thought possible of themselves?
Many thought they were strong enough to continually place themselves in vulnerable situations, whether to be polite, to please people, to hide their weakness, to be liked or even to play a game of what they thought was “harmless” flirtation. There is no such thing according to the Word of God. By circumventing the way of righteousness and not trusting solely in the LORD, they stepped right into the fowler’s snare.
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:13-15
It’s interesting that Adonai equates sexual sin with idolatry. “Therefore
consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” Colossians 3:5

“For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.” 1 Peter 4:3

It is understandable, as idolatry is worship of another god, or a god formed in our image. The way of the unbeliever (or the believer who is carnal and unyielded to God) is worship of the earthly, sensual, sinful desires. 
Fallen man creates his own gods, which (perhaps unintentionally) glorifies satan. Man is therefore an idolator. If we proclaim Yeshua as our Messiah and Lord, yet have not yielded the throne of our life, but rather allow our sensual and sinful desires and passions to continue to reign, we are guilty of idolatry. This should not be.
Another Garment Brings Betrayal to Joseph
Although Joseph boldly stood (or fled!) for righteousness, it seemed things did not go well for him—Potiphar's wife brings harm to Joseph's reputation and destroys the trust he had earned from her husband. In his shoes, we may have been tempted to feel God abandoned us, that He was no longer with us, and become bitter. Yet God is faithful and just, and His timing is perfect. We often have to wait for it to unfold. Considering God's justice, one may ponder if Potiphar's wife's bad report may have anything to do with Joseph's bad report to his father against his brothers earlier on...

vv.13-14 When Potiphar’s wife realizes she has something valuable to use against Joseph, she begins yelling. Not only does she lie, claiming that Joseph attacked her, using his garment as proof, she also cunningly aroused jealousy and anti-Semitism against him.

“...she called to the men of her household and said to them, ‘See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. When he heard that I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled and went outside.’ So she  left his garment beside her until his master came home. Then she spoke to him with these words, ‘The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; and as I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled outside.’ Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, ‘This is what your slave did to me,’ his anger burned.” vv.14-19

Back in the Pit

“So Joseph's master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king's prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail.” v. 20

We may wonder, "Did Joseph finally become bitter and resentful after being so faithful?" Being falsely accused is not easy to take. Who among us can really derive much encouragement from 1 Peter 4:12-13 when in the pit of despair?

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”

Apparently Joseph’s deep, abiding trust in Adonai once again gave him grace, for he gained the favor and trust of his jailer.
Prisons in the ancient world were places of unparalleled suffering. If one survived an extended prison term, disfigurement of some sort was common. To be a jailer was nearly as miserable a fate as to be imprisoned, so the humor of the jailers were not noted in positive terminology.
But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph's charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph's charge because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made to prosper.” vv. 21-23

Genesis 40  Joseph, Interpreter of Dreams

“Then it came about after these things, the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was furious with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. So he put them in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, in the jail, the same place where Joseph was imprisoned. When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected. He asked Pharaoh's officials who were with him in confinement in his master's house, ‘Why are your faces so sad today?’ Then they said to him, ‘We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.’ Then Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.’” vv. 1-8

Joseph has such assurance in his intimacy with Adonai, that he can confidently offer to minister to these two prisoners in their distress in such a supernatural way. He is speaking to people who do not know the God of his fathers—they likely worship a pantheon of gods. He is careful to attribute this gift to Adonai, not himself.

The chief cupbearer tells Joseph that he dreamed of a vine with three branches which budded, blossomed and produced cluster of ripe grapes. He squeezed the grapes into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup into his hand.

vv.9-13 Joseph gave him the interpretation: in three days he will be restored to his former office as cupbearer to Pharaoh.

vv.14-15 “Joseph then asked him, ‘Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. "For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.’”

The chief baker then tells Joseph his dream of three baskets of white bread on his head; the top basket containing baked goods for Pharaoh and the birds were eating from it.

vv.16-19 Joseph interpreted the dream to mean that in three days’ time he would be hung on a tree, and the birds will eat his flesh. 

Adonai had given Joseph the accurate interpretations of each of the men’s dreams, for they came to pass exactly as he said.

v. 23 “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” 

Poor faithful Joseph, betrayed again ... yet the LORD is with him.

To be continued...

Haftarah Vayeshev
Amos 2:6-3:8
Seen in both the Haftarah (Amos 2:6-3:8) and the B’rit Chadashah (Matt. 1:1-6 &;16-25) are the heart of man and the blessings of God.

Our Torah portion (Gen. 37:1-40:23) told us among other things, the story of Joseph and how he was sold into slavery. For twenty pieces of silver Joseph’s brothers traded him off to a passing caravan. This was money they certainly didn’t need given the wealth of their family, but then greed spawned of  jealously has no limits.

The reason for the Amos passage being selected as the Haftarah portion is most likely found in verse 2:6. There Amos says, “Thus says the Lord, ‘For three transgressions of Israel and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they sell the righteous for money and the needy for a pair of sandals.’” But more about this in a moment.

Amos lived in the Southern kingdom of Judah, in a village named Tekoa, located about ten miles south of Jerusalem. He raised sheep and in light of his writing—the book of Amos—he was a man of education. Noteworthy here is that he was not a prophet by trade, but was selected by God to speak for Him. (cf. 7:14-15) And what was that message he was to give?

Amos was told to leave his home in the Southern kingdom of Judah and go to Bethel, located in the Northern kingdom of Israel. There, sometime around 786-746BC, he preached against the sins of Northern kingdom. Reigned over by Jeroboam ll the kingdom had become very prosperous, yet had two very distinct classes of people. Not uncommon to us even today, it had its rich and its poor.
Amos lays out seven sins born of the wicked heart of man. Check them out in 2:6-8. The one linking our Genesis passage in the Torah reading is in 2:6. There, two of the seven sins are given, “...because they sell the righteous for money and the needy for a pair of sandals.” The link with the Genesis passage is thought to be in the sandals. Based on ancient Jewish tradition (extra Biblical, I know) the righteous one is identified as Joseph and the brothers go on to use their sinful profits to buy shoes. This tradition became firmly cemented after several pre-apostolic sources supported this view. Suggested then is that the Amos portion of Scripture had been the Haftarah selection for quite some time prior to the birth of our Savior.
Well, whether accurate or not in its linkage with the Joseph story in Genesis, it’s not hard to get God’s point in the Amos portion. The wealthy, rather than helping the poor, used them to further expand their own wealth. Violating seven distinct directives they, (1) sell the righteous for silver, Exodus 21:16 (2) sell the needy for a pair of sandals, Leviticus 25:25-37 (3) trample on the heads of the poor, Deuteronomy 15:7-8 (4) deny justice to the oppressed, Deuteronomy 24:17 and 27:19 (5) have sex with the same girl, done by a father and his son, Leviticus 18:8,15 and Deuteronomy 22:23ff (6) lie down on garments taken in pledge, Exodus 22:26-27; Deuteronomy 24:12-13,17, and (7) drink wine taken as fines while in the house of God. Leviticus 10:9

Now one thing the Bible never pushes is class warfare. But it does point out that there are the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Being rich is not sin and not even a bad thing. Solomon was promised riches and wealth by God. ll Chronicles 1:12 That’s some affirmation of principle. But we also have the poor with us, and we always will. Mark 14:7. The trick here is that the “haves” help the “have-nots” as best they can.

As you contemplate the Amos passage and what God’s ultimate judgment was upon these folks look at Matthew 26:31-46. There we have the rich, or able, and the poor, and other types of needy people as well. You might ask yourself, “Where do I fit in the scheme of helping others?” The answer obviously has eternal consequences and will tell you where your heart really is today.

And, oh, by the way, you too don’t have to be a prophet to get out the message.

I think it’s Galatians 6:10 that says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
Let’s preach it.
Let’s live it.
Why not make it our life’s testimony? 

B’rit Chadashah Vayeshev
Matthew 1:1-6, 16-25

From Genesis and the story of the sale of Joseph, to Amos and Adonai’s indictment of the Northern tribes for their wicked treatment of the poor of their land, we turn to the birth of our Savior, Yeshua, the giver of eternal life. In our Genesis portion we read of the greed and jealousy of Joseph’s brothers taking from the weaker to both soothe emotions and enlarge their money pouches. 

And in Amos our attention is turned to the selfish actions of the affluent as they satisfy their fleshly appetite and enhance their wealth at the expense of the poor. In both stories, these are actions which brought judgement upon the perpetrators.

Our Genesis and Amos portions are sad pictures of the nature of man. They are all  born in sin (Romans 5:12). And all, Jew and Gentile alike, would live their lives in sin, and die in sin were it not for the intervention of our gracious Creator (John 8:24), who in stark contrast, gave instead of took.

The chosen verses in the B’rit Chadashah give us God’s plan for the delivery of that which He would give. Jesus was to come with lineage that established His right to the throne of David, the gift of a final King for Israel. And He was to come as a gift to all mankind, salvation from the consequences of birth in sin and, among other things, the selfish emotions and greed it produces.
Amazing and how uncommon is God’s love for mankind that He would give (John 3:16) while sinful man seeks to take.

We are now but days away from that one day chosen by man to celebrate the coming of God’s gift. It is traditionally a day we are socially accustomed to give. And that’s good, but what about the other 364 days of the year. Paul says in Acts 20:34 that by working he ministered to men who were with him. In other words he gave. In the next verse, vs.35, he says, “ must help the weak...”

So, are you sharing with others the fruits of your work, or taking from them? Are you actively seeking to help the weak, or are you taking advantage of God’s blessings while doing nothing for others who are in need?

Words that are recorded no where else in our Bibles are here (Acts 20:34,35) shared with you by Paul. He says to you, “...remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He himself said, ’It is more blessed to give than receive.’” How many days out of that remaining 364 are you not a taker from, the weak, the needy, the poor? May God help us all to be more and more like our Maker, and truly be givers.  

Wishing you 
manifold blessings 
as you celebrate the Light of the World!
In Messiah's Love,
His EVERY Word Ministries
חֲנֻכָּה Chanukah
The Feast of Dedication
The Festival of Light
25 Kislev 5778 (for 8 Days)
Light the 1st Candle Sunset 12 December 2017
Light the 8th Candle Sunset 20 December 2017

Yeshua (Jesus) Celebrated Chanukah

Chanukah may not be a biblically-commanded holiday, but its message is essential and timeless. 
Chanukah is the Hebrew word for dedication. The theme of Chanukah is dedication, faithfulness, and refusal to compromise God’s unchanging standards in an ever-changing world. The Temple in Jerusalem had been taken over and defiled by a pagan ruler. Why is this relevant to Christians? The Temple in Jerusalem had to be restored before Yeshua could come. He acknowledged this holiday as we read in the apostolic scriptures, whereas he bitterly rebuked the leading Jewish authorities for non-biblical aberrations. 
“Then came Hanukkah; it was winter in Jerusalem. Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon’s Colonnade. Then the Judean leaders surrounded Him, saying, ‘How long will you hold us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us outright!’” John 10:22-24 TLB*

This was the opening description of a discourse by Jesus the Messiah, just before He was to reveal that it is His works that bear witness of who He really is.
Few realize that this took place during the Chanukah celebration in Jerusalem. It was here in the Temple, more than 150 years earlier, that an event had taken place that was essential for Jesus to come, for it restored the Temple and Jerusalem as well to Israel. Therefore, it is easy to understand why Jesus would share in the celebration even though it is not one of the commanded biblically appointed times of the LORD from Leviticus 23.
The event that precipitated the Chanukah commemoration occurred around 168 B.C. Jerusalem had been conquered and the Holy Temple had been defiled by Antiochus Epiphanes IV and his Syrian army. Thousands of Jews had been slaughtered and Antiochus had set up an idol in the Temple, declaring himself to be god. His coup de grâce was sacrificing a pig on the altar. 

Antiochus then outlawed the reading and study of Torah, God’s sacred Word, under penalty of death. Observance of the biblical commandments: keeping the Sabbath and holy days, and only eating food God calls "clean," were also forbidden. These prohibitions have been characteristic of God’s enemies throughout history. (For the Jewish People this has been a stumbling block of monumental proportions when it comes to Yeshua. Christians have presented Jesus and these prohibitions as one and the same, and that is a grievous error.)
To survive the tyranny of Antiochus, some Jews surrendered to his pagan religion, but a small family, led by Judah Maccabee (which means “hammer”) refused to bow their knee to a pagan god, and fled to the mountains. This tiny group of Maccabees eventually routed the Syrians and reclaimed Jerusalem and the Temple.
Restoring the Eternal Light
“...command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. ...It shall be a statute forever to their generations...” Exodus 27:20-21
Their first order of business was to cleanse the Temple. Traditional Jewish history records the story of how only enough sanctified oil was found to keep the Temple Menorah burning for one day. It would take eight more days to prepare the necessary amount of sanctified oil to keep the Temple Menorah burning continuously. But a miracle occurred and the menorah burned for the full eight days at which time the additional supply of oil was ready. 

This is why Chanukah is an eight day holiday. And why a special nine-branched menorah is also used, called a chanukiah. It has eight candles—one for each night, and a ninth candle, the shamash, which means servant, is used to light the rest. 
The shamash reminds us that we are servants of the LORD Most High. We are privileged to carry His Name, His Light before men, bringing that light into a dark and wicked world.  

The story of Chanukah is also told through traditional foods, which are fried in oil: potato pancakes (called latkes), and in Israel, jelly doughnuts (called sufganiyot). The oil used in the  traditional chanukiah and to fry the traditional foods help to tell the story to the next generation. Oil was a precious commodity in the ancient world, and was often scarce in poorer areas of the world in times past. However, on Chanukah, we use it extravagantly to demonstrate our trust in God to supply the oil today just as He did so long ago, as well tell the story of His faithfulness to every generation. 

The Chanukah celebration was taking place as Jesus spoke and proclaimed that it was His works that really told who He was. In John 10:25 Jesus said, “...the works that I do in  my Father’s name, these bear witness of me.” 

How fascinating to consider that it was works (dedication/faithfulness) that defeated the Syrians, and that it was works that restored the Temple, and re-instituted the sacrifices. We see that God rewarded faithful men with His own miraculous work—victory over a vastly superior army, and possibly the sign of His Light in the Menorah that burned for eight days. How fitting that James says it is works that identify each of us as being a part of God’s family. (cf. James 2)

Works do tell who we are, don’t they? Each year around the world for eight days, the candles of the Chanukiah are lit in commemoration and celebration of what true dedication is. This was illustrated by a few men who stood for God against an evil generationSee what they accomplished--and how God honored their faithfulness with the miracle of His light! 

As we reflect on that story why don’t we take stock of our own Temples ... “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16

Do we not face similar forces in our time … forces that compel us to compromise rather than stand for God’s holiness? 

Do we not defile our temples daily rather than standing boldly for righteousness and the sanctity of His Name? Is the call of Joshua not still ringing out, urging us to be bold, and be strong in God’s Spirit?
“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:5
May the LORD God of Israel bless you with the strength and grace of Judah Maccabee and his brothers to walk as lights in your generation. May you contend earnestly for the testimony of Adonai and be zealous for His TempleHe dwells today in vessels of claythe followers of Messiah! May your temple be cleansed and undefiled that your lamp will burn brightly with His Presence, piercing the darkness of this age, amen!

Be strong in the Lord, and courageous, God is with you! 

Deut. 31:6, Josh. 1:9, Eph. 6:10 
    Richest blessings to you and yours as you celebrate the Light of the World!
We Bless the LORD as We Light the Candles

ברוך אתה  אֲדֹנָי אלוהינו, מלך העולם 
Ba-rookh atah Adonai, El-o-hei-noo, meh-lekh hah-o-lahm
Blessed are you, LORD, our God, King of the Universe,

אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו 
ah-sher kid-shah-noo b'mitz-vo-tahv vitz-ee-vah-noo
Who has sanctified us with His commandments and blessed us

להדליק נר של חנוכה
l'hahd-leek ner shel Chah-noo-kah. (Amein)
to light the lights of Chanukah. (Amen)

Our Favorite Chanukah Song: CHANUKAH by MARTY GOETZ!

Please Visit Marty Goetz’s website to PURCHASE:

Quick Facts of Chanukah 

NAME: Hanukkah, which means 'Dedication', 'Establishing', or 'Consecration' in Hebrew.
HEBREW NAME: חֲנֻכָּה or חנוכה
TITLE: Festival of Lights, Festival of Dedication
THEME: Be strong in the Lord, and courageous, God is with you! Deut. 31:6, Josh. 1:9, Eph. 6:10
DEFINITION: An eight-day Jewish Holiday celebrated every year during the winter.
RELIGION: Ancient Holiday of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism.
HOLIDAY: A joyous, family-centered Jewish religious festival pre-dating Christianity by nearly 200 years.
FOUNDER: Judas Maccabaeus and his fellow Maccabee brothers.
RECOGNITION: A perpetual, yearly celebration marking the retaking, purification, and rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem by the rebel Jewish forces of the Maccabees who defeated the Pagan Greeks. 
BEGINNING: First established and celebrated in Jerusalem on the 25th of Kislev, 165 BC.
DATES: Always begins on the 25th of Kislev and ends on the 2nd or 3rd of Tevet (Hebrew Calendar).
DURATION: Lasts for eight days with an additional candle being lit after sunset for each passing day.
LONGEVITY: Annually observed by Jews from around the world for the past 2,175 years. 
TRADITIONS: Ritual candle lighting, religious singing, specific prayers, gifts of money and games.
RECITALS: Hallel, Al-ha-Nissim, Hanukkah addition (Prayers), Brachot (Blessing), Ma'oz Tzur, Hanerot Halalu (Hymns), and Psalms 30, 67, 91, Numbers 6:22 through 8:4, Zechariah 2:14-4:7, I Kings 7:40-50 (Readings).
SIGNIFICANCE: Represents one of the most miraculous, statistically impossible, and highly implausible series of military victories in the history of the world.
REFERENCE: First Book ot the Maccabees 4:36-59, Second Book of the Maccabees 10:1-8, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XII, Ch. 5-11, by Flavius Josephus, 
Scroll of Antiochus, (Megillat Antiochus), The Gospel of John, mentioned in John 10:22 
*Tree of Life Bible