Parashat Mikeitz (From the end) Genesis 41:1-44:17
Maftir: Numbers 7:30-41
Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7
In this week’s Torah reading, the goblet that was placed in Benjamin’s sack was found. Joseph orchestrated this as a way of showing to his brothers their sinfulness. In other words, Joseph had the goblet placed in Benjamin’s sack so that the brothers would believe that all their “misfortune” was because of their sin against him. When the brothers were brought before Joseph and the “theft” was beyond explanation (since they did not steal it), they simply fell to the ground before Joseph. This was a fulfillment of one of the dreams that Joseph dreamed and had told his family. What I want to focus upon is Joseph’s words to his brothers. For Joseph said,
“…What is this deed which you have done; surely you knew that a man like me practices divination.” Genesis 44:15
Why would Joseph make such a statement? First of all, this statement is untrue. Joseph did not practice divination. Secondly, why would he give any credence to such a sinful practice? The answer is to see how the brothers would respond. The term which is normally translated as “divination” is נחש ינחש. For Hebrew readers, this phrase will be most informative. The Hebrew word which appears here is very interesting. It is the same Hebrew root from which the word “serpent” is derived (See Genesis 3:1). This word can also mean “to guess“. This is what divination usually is, a man making a wild guess on something. Alternatively, there are others that define “divination” as consulting with demons.
Joseph made this statement to discern the spiritual condition of his brothers. They should have responded to his statement that there was no such thing as divination. If they were of the second opinion; namely, that “divination” is consulting with demons, then they should have never fallen down before Joseph. Either way, the spiritual condition of the brothers was far from correct. In the end, Judah confesses the sin of his family. This is where spiritual change and growth begins, with acknowledging sin in one’s life.
Finally, one learns at the end of this week’s parashah the connection between sin and bondage, as the one in whose sack the goblet was found, had to become a slave. This passage is one of many examples of how one can find practical spiritual truth within the pages of the Torah.
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