Friday, December 23, 2011

Mikeitz - B’reisheet (Genesis 41:1 - 44:17)

Dreams.  Does it make a difference who has a dream from God and how it will be received?  Yosef had two dreams with obvious meanings and he was scoffed at by his whole family for them.  Pharaoh has two dreams, and the palace is in an uproar for no one can interpret them!  Perhaps the Dreamer can interpret the dreams of Pharaoh.

The Dreamer did interpret the dreams, actually the meanings were revealed to the Dreamer by his God.  This is actually the fourth time he has given credit to the Lord - once for each of his dreams and once for the two dreams of the cupbearer and baker.  He states in Gen. 41:32 the reason the dream was doubled for Pharaoh - it was imminent.  Did he yet think that the fruition of his “doubled dreams” was imminent?  That was still nine years in the future.

As part of the interpretation for Pharaoh came advice regarding how to deal with the next 14 years.  It seems apparent that this advice is coming from God also - Yosef, I believe has learned his lesson of self-promotion.  Not like his attempt to pull strings as he had two years previously.  No self-promotion!  That makes promotion from the leader all the sweeter.  Which leader - Pharaoh or HaShem?

He is to be second in command throughout the kingdom.  He receives the signet ring (he is no longer considered a slave), is clothed in fine linen (I would presume it was colorful) and a gold chain, and has the royal chariot at his disposal (somewhat more prestigious than walking or traveling as a slave to be sold with an Ishmaelite/Midianite caravan.  The people of Egypt bow down to him, and he is given a wife as well.  Is not all good?  Have the dreams he received come to pass?  No.

With wisdom and understanding did he rule.  The abundance was stored up - there was so much bounty it was beyond measure.  Personal abundance presented itself as well.  From his marriage came to sons named Manasseh (“God has caused me to forget all my hardship and all my father’s household” Gen. 41:51) and Ephraim (“God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” Gen. 41:52).  Had he forgotten all his hardship?  Is he truly fruitful in the land of his suffering?  I wonder how Ephraim’s name was perceived by Pharaoh and his court?

Yosef gets to the age of 37; the second part of the dreams is to engage.  Famine is over all the earth, but there is food in Egypt, and they had enough to sell to the other countries!  Ten brothers from Canaan came to buy.  They were brought directly to Zaphenath-paneah (“Revealer of the Hidden”), Yosef, and they prostrated themselves before him.  Compare this with the dream (Gen. 37:7).  Was he standing?  Were the ten bowing down?  Was this regarding grain?  Continuing onward, Yosef accused his brothers of being spies.  Was that not what his brothers had perceived him to be - a tattletale?

Upon accusing them all of being spies he had them thrown in prison, perhaps the same one in which he had been placed.  In attempting to ascertain whether Benjamin was still alive, Yosef determined to keep one of the brothers in prison while the others returned home to return with Benjamin.  Which brother did he choose to imprison but Simeon.  This is the same Simeon who allowed his anger to rule him in dealing with the Shechemites and also the one of whom it is said had suggested that Yosef be thrown into the pit.  As for the others, on the third day in prison he released them to return for the youngest.  Coming out of the prison was an example of life coming from death.  We can certainly compare that to Yosef’s term in prison, Yonah in the great fish, and, of course, Moshiach in the tomb.

Yosef, 20 years earlier had been thrown in a pit while most of his brothers sat down to eat (37:24-25).  Now, Simeon is in prison, and to a certain extent so is the rest of his family.  The pit Yosef had been in was “empty; without any water in it” (Gen.37:24).  Thus it was in Canaan.  They are at the point of having to return for more supplies while their unrecognized brother was in Egypt with plenty to eat.  Reluctantly, Isra’el gives in and sends his remaining 10 sons to Mitzra’im for the needed supplies.

Upon their arrival Yosef continues to feign ignorance of who his brothers are.  There seems to be a different attitude in the men, though, from what he had experienced in his youth.  He had noticed this somewhat in the previous visit, but the testing of their heart(s) must be thorough.  Unbeknownst to the brothers, Yosef had already ordered a meal to be prepared.

Yosef had much compassion for his brother, Benjamin, so much so that he had to excuse himself in order to become more composed.  Yosef ate by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians that had been included in the meal ate by themselves.  This indicates to me that though Yosef was second in command, the Egyptians still did not eat with Hebrews, including him.  But the seating at the table was in birth order!  Coincidence; the brothers did not seem to think it was.  What about Benjamin’s portion - 5 times as large as any of theirs.  They must have been feeling better, for we are told “they drank and were merry with him” (Gen. 43:34b).

Nevertheless, Yosef still did not reveal himself.  As he had on the first trip, he ordered that the men’s money be placed in their packs.  However, Benjamin was being set up as a thief.  Why?  He, Yosef, would readily be able to determine the hearts of the ten by their reaction to  Benjamin’s arrest.

Though we are in the middle of the story of Yisra’el’s going to Egypt for 210 years, I believe there is a cogent point that can be brought up at this point of the story.  Yes, we know the end of the story, and with the benefit of hindsight we can see that as Yosef needed to go to Egypt to fulfill the destiny that HaShem had prepared for him, so too, his father and brothers were required to finish out the remainder of the 400 years (see Gen. 15:12-16) that had been revealed to Avraham.  None of them, Yosef,     Yisra’el, nor any of the rest of the family went there by choice.  Nevertheless, this is what was required for them to “work out their salvation”, and they most certainly did have “fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).  We do need to recognize what is said in the next four verses of Philippians as well, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.  Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.”  At this point I need to ask myself regarding my walk, do I murmur and dispute like the ten, or am I blameless as Yosef is?

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