Parashat Vayeishev (And He Dwelt)
Beresheet (Genesis) 37:1–40:23
Haftarah: Amos 2:6–3:8
One of the things I most love about the Word of God is its consistency. Its message is true and unchanging, and it gives me great assurance that my faith is not in vain.
In this week’s Parasha, we read of the beginning of Joseph’s life. In the story, we learn of the brothers’ plot to get rid of Joseph and kill him. However, while the brothers had one plan, we find God’s grace over Joseph and that instead of killing Joseph, the brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites:
Then they sat down to eat a meal. But as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying labdanum resin, balsam, and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to Egypt.And Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, and let’s 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 out and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. So they brought Joseph into Egypt.
The Scriptures tell us that Joseph was a righteous man who had a great amount of reverence for his God. Joseph’s only fault was that he told his brothers and his father about his dreams. While some may argue that Joseph's attitude got him into trouble, one thing for sure is that his actions by no means warranted what his brothers did.
In the Haftarah portion, we find an interesting verse that, in my opinion, has a direct connection to Joseph’s story:
This is what the LORD says: “For three offenses 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.
While the portion from Amos speaks about Israel in general, and the judgment that will result from mistreating others, this specific verse from Amos connects to the story of Joseph. But not only the story of Joseph; it also has some amazing parallels to the story of our Messiah. Just like Joseph, Yeshua was also betrayed for money by one of his brethren, Judah (Judas in English).
Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they set out for him thirty pieces of silver. And from then on he looked for a good opportunity to betray Yeshua.
Later, we see that the words of Amos we indeed fulfilled when judgment came upon Judah in the form of deep, sorrowful conviction, which lead to his death:
Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is thatto us? You shall see to it yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and left; and he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them in the temple treasury, since it is money paid for blood.” And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the One whose price had been set by the sons of Israel; and they gave them for the Potter’s Field, just as the Lord directed me.”
When one puts all of the stories and words of the Bible together, one will find a very consistent thread of truth from beginning to end. The way Joseph’s story points to that of our Messiah is just one amazing example.
In closing, my dear brothers and sisters, I would like to encourage you to be a student of God’s Word. Yeshua gave us the mandate to make disciples and an essential part of doing so is learning and teaching God’s Word, as well as applying it to our lives. When we do so, and when we find the many treasures that are found within it, it will give us a greater assurance of our faith, not just based on feeling, but on the truth.
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