Hebrew Roots/Torah observance/Vayeshev
Vayeshev Genesis 37-40:23; Amos 2:6- 3:8
The Firstborn Status "Now Israel loved Yosef 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
Joseph (Yosef) is loved by his father more than the other children. There is something of a kindred spirit between them and Jacob sees in this son the spiritual qualities of of his heart's desire. So Joseph is at it were his favourite son and earns the envy and hatred of his brothers. Even at seventeen, Jacob is trusting him as the overseer of the rest of the children, because of his righteousness and his capabilities. (37:3-8,11)
Joseph (Yosef) as the favourite son has a self-assurance in his 'chosenness' and even Jacob rebukes him for his brashness in the way he recounts his dreams of his rise to greatness. (37:10) It will take many years of breaking to remould the vessel and make it meet for the master's use.
Joseph's "coat of many colours" is according to the Hebrew text, a tunic that reaches to the palms and soles of the feet. The Septuagint and the Johnathan Targums both render this term " a coat of many colours". The other occasion this term is used in the scriptures is in 2 Samuel 13:18 relating to Tamar, King David's daughter, "Now she had on a robe of many colours, for the king's virgin daughters wore such apparel."
From this account and an archaeological discovery in the tombs of Ben Hassein of Egypt it is understood that "in the patriachal age, Semitic chiefs wore coats of many colours as insignia of rulership. Thus Jacob in giving Joseph this coat marked him out for chieftainship of the tribes and therefore to be his successor.
This is equivalent to the double portion blessing given to the first-born. Jacob was therefore demarking Joseph as the one chosen as the firstborn - from his beloved Rachel, in lieu of Reuben.
From the time-frame it would seem that Reuben and Simeon had already been disqualified from the role of headship as a result of their own actions (Ch34 & 49:3-4), and therefore their resentment toward Joseph was unjustified - as men of the flesh, it was a hatred born of envy at his righteousness which gained him favour where they failed to measure up to the standard.
In Joseph's time of absence as one supposedly dead, Judah had obviously been given the headship and became therefore the spokesman for his father when before Joseph in Egypt (43:3;44:18-23; 46:28), in default of Reuben and Simeon for their sins which disqualified them.
This was also according to God's plan for the birthright blessing of the double portion and the sceptre of dominion to be divided within the tribes so that eventually there would be two houses in Israel.
Created Conflict Yoseph now emerges as the main character in Parsha Vayeshev. We can clearly see Yahweh’s divine choosing of Yoseph as the brothers once again are set up to divide along the lines of the sons of Rachel and the sons of Leah arising from the conflict between their mothers involving strife, competition and jealousy. This is a preview of divisions to come; the Northern Kingdom from the Southern Kingdom and the Assyrian exile from the Babylonian exile.
From the beginning, God uses conflict and contrast to accomplish His will. Yahweh has a plan for His creation and human conflict is one of the primary motivations that fuel the activities of mankind. Struggles are necessary in this life in order for us to stay spiritually healthy. When there are no conflicts and everything is going well, it is easy to relax and fall asleep spiritually. Problems and battles keep us alert and force us to constantly seek Yahweh.
Yeshua learned obedience through suffering, "though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered." (Hebrews 5:8 HNV) Suffering and problems are the pathway to learn obedience which will result in us obtaining that spiritual quality of immortal glory - "For our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory."( 2 Corinthians 4:17 HNV)
In order to receive our inheritance in the coming age, one has to suffer with the Messiah. The more that we suffer now, the greater the glory we will have then, - "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Messiah; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us."(Romans 8:16-18 HNV revised)
"that the proof of your faith, which is more precious than gold that perishes even though it is tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah" (1 Peter 1:7 HNV) The end result will be worth the momentary discomfort - "because you are partakers of Messiah's sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also you may rejoice with exceeding joy." (1 Peter 4:13 HNV)
The Sovereign Hand of God The main scene opens with the brothers seeking to kill him when he comes to seek after their welfare. According to the Targum Johnathan, this was not long after Reuben had lost the birthright through defiling his father's bed. Through archeological discoveries that have been made in Egypt, we know that the Semitic chiefs had colorful garments as a sign of their leadership.[J. H. Hertz, "The Pentateuch and Haftorah", page 142.] In Egyptian figures of Hebraic leaders, they had various coloured stripes around the borders of their sleeves and the hems of their skirts. The Targums refer to it as a "figured robe". This long coat represented royalty and authority (37:23).
Leah's and the concubines' sons rejected their step brother Yosef, because his father had given him the birthright and sought to thwart his placement of leadership over them, just as did the Jewish leaders with Yeshua. This results in Josef being sold to the Arabian traders from Midian, who eventually consign the 'slave' into Potiphar's house in Egypt.
Even though Yosef's lack of maturity could be blamed for his attitude that might have precipitated and enhanced the rage to dispose of him, he was simply living according to the circumstances he inherited of Ya'acov's preferential treatment to him and the hand of God worked through the cruel actions of brothers and other men to accomplish His will to establish Yosef in a position to save the entire nation of Israel in years to come.
The Targum of Johnathan says " And they lifted up their eyes, and looked, and behold a band of Arabians [JERUSALEM. A band of Saracens] were coming from Gilead with their camels, carrying wax, resin, balsam and stacte, proceeding to go into Mizraim. .. .. .. .. And the Midianite men, masters of business, passed by; and they drew and brought up Yosef out of the pit, and sold Yosef to the Arabians for twenty mahin of silver; and they bought sandals of them. And they brought Yosef to Mizraim"
As far as his brothers were concerned this was now the end of Yosef, his dreams and his prideful presumptuousness, but not so with Yahweh, for this was the beginning of the fulfilment of Yosef’s destiny. Yosef was a vessel in the Master's hand being moulded into a strong leader. True greatness is born out of weakness, which is transformed by God. He uses the things that are weak and foolish, those that are base and despised, the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that only He will get the glory. (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
Yahweh knows the beginning from the end. As the Creator of time, He is not limited by anything to fulfill His purposes. His created order will respond perfectly according to all that He has set in motion.
The Hand of The Potter Despite all the adversity Yosef triumphs in faith and both Potiphar and the prison overseer visibly recognized the blessing of Yahweh upon their servant and prisoner. "Yahweh was with Yosef, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that Yahweh was with him and how Yahweh caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Yosef 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." Genesis 39:2-4
Despite his position and power, Yosef was still a slave living in an ungodly land. There were heathen influences all around him and there was no one he could turn to for help or support. Mitzrayim (Egypt) was the primary power of the world at that time; it was wealthy, opulent and decadent. Yosef had come a long way from living in a tent and tending sheep. Yosef was about to have the test of his life, a test that would involve the purity and sanctity of his body. When you feel things are going well, that is when the tests come.
Tests are from God but temptations are from the devil and when Satan temps you it is not just a one-time temptation. Potiphar's wife did not let up on Yosef and she spoke to Yosef day by day (39:7-10) trying to wear him down and Yahweh allowed it to test his character and to prove his faithfulness.
Yosef resisted the temptations because he lived in the presence of Yahweh. In the same way, the Messiah was tempted in everything, but without sin, as it is written in Hebrews 4:15: "For we don't have a high priest who can't be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin."(HNV revised) "I have set Yahweh always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved." (Psalm 16:8 HNV)
The apparent result of him exercising moral integrity was to lose all the prestige, success and power that he had gained and for everything seemingly to go against him. Yosef served God with a pure heart and was unmoved by adversity.
The Targums say that 'Yahweh the Word' was with Yosef and in the Psalms it says that "Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of Yahweh tested him" (Psalm 105:17-19) Yosef stood on the word he was given, despite the fact that it was as if his very soul was "laid in iron" of affliction. "But Yahweh was with Yosef and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Yosef'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 Yosef's charge because Yahweh was with him; and whatever he did, Yahweh made to prosper. Genesis 39:21-23
Through all of his trials, it appears that Yosef maintained a positive attitude about the life circumstances he was encountering. Yosef walked in intimate relationship with Yahweh and recognized the blessings of favor from his potential oppressors and submitted himself to live for Yahweh in it all.
Joseph as a Prophetic Type of Yeshua Joseph was a shepherd as was Yeshua the 'Good Shepherd' Read John 10:1-18. Joseph foretold of his future sovereignty. Yeshua also spoke of his future glory in his Father¹s kingdom? (Matthew 26:64) Joseph was envied by his brethren. So also was Yeshua. Read Mark 12:6-7; John 12:18-19; Matthew 27:17-18.
Joseph was sent forth by his father on a mission of love to ascertain the welfare of his brothers (37:14). Yeshua was sent by his Father to this earth for a similar mission as well (John 3:16-17; 1 John 4:10; Mt. 15:24) Joseph's brothers rejected him. Yeshua was rejected by his brethren (John 1:11; Isa. 53:3) Joseph was conspired against by his brothers and betrayed (37:18) as also Yeshua (John 13:2-11; 1:11) Joseph was received among the Gentiles. Yeshua also was received by the Gentile nations but forgotten by His own true brothers. Joseph arose to have dominion and rule in righteousness and provide for his people as did Yeshua. Acts 2:36; Philippians 2:7-11; John 6:48-51
Just as Joseph was ‘disguised’ and made unrecognizable by his Egyptian clothing and hairstyle), so too has the Messiah been made unrecognizable—‘disguised’ by Gentile culture. We have painted Him to look like one of us. We have made His mouth speak in Greek and in the language of every nation, but we have forgotten that He spoke Hebrew first. We have removed Him from His Hebraic and Torah context and made Him unrecognizable to His own brothers. Yet ultimately, the story of Joseph ends with a reconciliation between him and his brothers, one which results in the salvation of all the sons of Israel. As the Apostle Paul put it, “All Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).
The Holy Seed Judah had been chosen to become the forefather of the kings of Israel, including the Messiah. Therefore it was very important that his family line was pure and righteous. Judah went through a period of spiritual decline and marries a woman with a questionable background. Rashi quotes the Targum, which says that she was the daughter of a merchant, since the word "merchant" has the same root as "kana'anite". Rabbi Ibn Ezra, however, says that he married a Kana'anite woman. The Kana'anite people had been cursed by Noach, and therefore were not suitable to intermarry with.
None of the sons from this union were righteous and by their actions they disqualified themselves as forefathers of the Messiah. Judah loses two of his sons and is reluctant to give the last one to Tamar, the widow of his first son. Knowing prophetically that she will carry the messianic line, she takes matters into her own hands and arranges to become pregnant to Judah without him knowing her identity. She procures three items as security to identify man by whom she is pregnant - his signet, his mantel, and his staff. The signet speaks of personality. The mantel speaks of distinction and the staff speaks of position. Giving these three things over is very similar to what happens in a wedding, Midrash says that the signet ring prophesied of the kings that would come from this union. The mantel symbolizes the Sanhedrin, which always bore tallit and tefillin. The shepherd's staff symbolizes the Messiah who would be born of the tribe of Judah. The Torah later prophesies of a scepter in relation to Judah, see 49:10.
According to the book of Jasher, Tamar was the daughter of Elam, who was the son of Shem, Noach's son. Since Shem was a priest and bore the title Malki-Tzedek, the judgment for the fornication that Tamar had committed was in agreement with Israel's law, as it is written in Leviticus 21:9: "The daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the prostitute, she profanes her father: she shall be burned with fire." (HNV revised) Also Deuteronomy 25:5-6
Judah's decision was according to the standards that Yahweh gave his children. He passed a judgment as a judge in Israel. This is an example of a commandment being practiced before the Torah was formally given at Sinai.