Beresheet (Genesis) 44:18-47:27
Our weekly reading opens with Judah acknowledging something very important about Joseph’s position. If we recall from last week’s blog, Parashat Mikeitz (From the End), I wrote that, “Egypt was considered the greatest kingdom of those ancient times; Pharaoh was the supreme king, and was considered by many to be a god. Joseph was appointed as Pharaoh’s right hand person, so that all authority was given to him; only Pharaoh was greater than he! What an amazing picture that reflects the reality of our Messiah, who after His suffering and rejection, ascended to the right hand of the Father…all authority is now in His hands, and only the Father is greater than He.”
Judah refers to Joseph’s authority when he says to him, “Oh my lord, may your servant please speak a word in my lord’s ears, and do not be angry with your servant; for you are like Pharaoh.” Genesis 44:18
Why is this significant? It is yet another parallel between Joseph and Messiah Yeshua. While Pharaoh’s position was still above Joseph’s, the people saw them as the same – they represented the same power and authority. Likewise, Messiah Yeshua sits at the right hand of the Father, meaning He has the authority and represents the same power as the Father.
The spiritual authority and deity of the Messiah can be an especially difficult thing for some people to accept. But, when we consider that our prophet Isaiah foretold that Messiah would be born of flesh (i.e., a child will be born and a son will be given…) and be called Mighty God, we can understand that it is a foundational Hebraic concept of what Messiah would be: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (5 in the Hebrew Bible) When one considers prophecies such as this, one really can’t ignore the deity of Yeshua!
Just like it was with Joseph, so it is with Yeshua to this day. Joseph’s brothers met him; Judah specifically approached him, saw him face to face, and still did not recognize him until he revealed himself to them.
“Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. and he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.” Genesis 45:3-4
What an amazing moment it was when Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers! I can only imagine the emotions they felt…the shock, the fear, and the guilt. As I reflect upon that, I think about another day that our Prophets wrote about – the day that our Messiah will reveal Himself to His brothers, the sons of Israel! And just as in the days of Joseph, it will be during a great time of distress:
“And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.” Zechariah 12:10
There is another important comparison between Joseph’s brothers and the Jewish people today. Sadly, the Jewish people are still unnecessarily blamed for rejecting and killing Yeshua. This is wrong for so many reasons, but mainly because it ignores the fact that God had a specific plan! Likewise, Joseph understood that God had a plan the whole time that he suffered unjustly:
“And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:5-7) Joseph knew that everything had happened to him for a divine purpose; God had predestined him to preserve both life and a remnant on the earth.
God also preserved a remnant through the partial hardening of the Jewish people to Messiah. The Almighty knew that the Jewish nation, as a whole, would reject Yeshua’s first coming and that was part of His plan (Acts 2:23, Romans 11:25). Yeshua knew this, and grieved for Israel because of the judgment that would ensue (Matthew 23:7), but He still submitted to the Father’s will (Matt 26:39).
Let us never forget the fact that salvation was offered the Gentiles, partly in order to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy, as part of God’s plan for the salvation of the world! (Romans 11:11)
The last point in our study this week has to do with the moment when Jacob heard that his son Joseph was alive: “When they told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.” Genesis 45:27
The word says that Jacob’s (Israel’s) spirit was revived, or to be more precise, “became alive.” This reminds me of the words that Rav Sha’ul (Paul) wrote in the book of Romans about the day that Israel will acknowledge Yeshua as their Savior, Messiah, and King: “For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” Romans 11:15
Until that day!