Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #9: Vayeshev ( He continued living) B’resheit (Genesis) 37:1-40:23
Haftarah: ’Amos 2:6-3:8
B’rit Chadashah: Acts: 7:9-10
There are so many songs and stories about Yosef’s coat of many colors, yet the subject is seldom explored in depth. Why was this coat so unusual and so important? Why did his father make it for Yosef and why did it make his brothers so angry? Today we are going to explore this coat and apply the concept behind the narrative in our parashah to the present.
First, we read that “Isra’el loved Yosef most of all his children because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a long- sleeved robe”(Gen. 37:3). Nothing is said about the robe having many colors. The idea of may colors comes from the King James Version. In the Hebrew-English version of the Old Testament, “of many colors” is translated as “many pieces.” According to the Jewish Study Bible, the meaning in Hebrew is uncertain. The Chumash translates this phrase as “ a fine woolen tunic.” Finally, according to the Interlinear Hebrew, Greek and English Bible, the phrase is translated as “ and he[Ya’akov] made him a robe reaching to his feet.”
A question for many may be why is so much time spent on clarifying this phrase? What difference does it make? I submit that clarifying scripture as closely as possible to the original Hebrew Bible is critical to our understanding of what G-d wants us to know if we want to establish a saving relationship with Him. Satan’s agenda is focused on distortion, misinterpretation, mistranslation, and manipulation of G-d’s Word that will lead the majority of the world’s population to eternal spiritual destruction. Therefore, it is worth any amount of time it takes to learn the intent of G-d’s Word as closely as possible and integrate it into our lives . The disposition of our souls depends on it!
Based on the above information, a logical deduction may be made that the robe was long and of many pieces sewn together, perhaps made of wool. The fact that it was a long robe holds significance of its own. In Joseph’s day, everyone had a cloak that was multifunctional. It was used for warmth, to wrap things in a bundle for a trip, to wrap babies, to sit on, and even to use as security for a loan. But most of these robes were knee length with short sleeves and plain. In contrast, Yosef’s was a long robe with long sleeves made of many pieces. The idea of the robe being multicolored is assumed based on scriptures that describe robes of royalty with many colors ( Judges 5:30; 2 Sam. 13;18; and Ezek. 16:16). The point here is that robes that were long with long sleeves were typically worn by royalty.
The uniqueness of Joseph’s robe only added to the strained relationship between him and his brothers. Although G-d’s hand was on Joseph and he was given divine wisdom, protection, and blessings, whether he shared his dreams with his brothers with an arrogant attitude or by simple matter-of-fact explanation, his brothers were jealous to the point of wanting to kill him with the exception of Re’uven. If we look at this family dynamic in today’s family relationships, nothing has changed. No sibling wants a parent to favor another so blatantly. It is very important for parents to at least demonstrate equal love for their children, even if one is favored. In Joseph’s case, he was favored by Ya’akov who is called “Is’rael” in Genesis 37:3. Yet in other places in the same narrative, the name “Ya’akov is used (Gen. 37;1,2; 34). What is different about verse 3 “ Now Isra’el loved Yosef most of all his children, because he was a son of his old age; and he made him a long-sleeved robe.” Isra’el translates as “ G-d Contended; Wrestles with G-d; Triumphant with G-d.” Why did Ya’akov love Yosef more than the others? Yosef was Rachel’s first son. Although Ya’akov loved Rachel more than Leah, there is more to this love for Yosef than that of being the first son with Rachel. The name “Yosef” means “may he add.” Yosef’s life provides an explanation of how Israel came to Egypt, setting the stage for future deliverance and redemption from Egypt which represents the secular lifestyle at the Hand of G-d, and the future deliverance from evil and imputed sin through Yahshua’s crucifixion. The final deliverance and salvation for those who follow G-d’s instructions out of love when Yahshua returns completed the saga of mankind. Furthermore, Yosef’s life parallels that of Yahshua in that he was hated by his “brethren,” sold for silver, convicted of wrongdoing although innocent in every way, placed the welfare of others above his own even when in prison, yet resisted temptation from Potiphar’s wife and all temptation that is known to man; continued to love his brothers who did not recognize him at first, and continued to submit to G-d in all things. Although Yahshua is G-d, He submitted to the role of Father which is even more profound, since he could have refused the bitter cup of physical death (Mark 14:36). We do not know how much insight into Yosef’s future Ya’akov had but we do know that he had significant prophetic insight into the future of his sons as he blessed them (Gen. 49).
We can learn much by reading the narrative concerning Yosef’s life. Life’s circumstances and events cannot always be controlled, but we can control how we respond. We can overcome any temptation or other “test” with G-d’s help. G-d can use any situation for good, even when others intend it for evil. Like Yosef, we must stay “tuned into” G-d’s Word and seek His guidance in everything we do. With the prolific inundation of the media in our world today, it is not difficult to see how easily fear, panic, and anger is kindled without justification or credible information. Complicating this issue are people who choose to simply sit and read, listen to, or watch information without checking for its credibility. This also applies to those who attend religious services and never ask questions of pastors, rabbis, or other teachers, but simply sit and listen to a message and carry on with their lives after the service with no sense of learning something new or conviction about a current behavior that needs modification. Yosef suffered from misinformation in the same way with Potifar who believed his wife concerning an attempt she had made to seduce Yosef and what actually happened. Potifar believed his wife without giving Yosef, who was a trusted manager of his house, a chance to explain the situation.
Just as Yosef was given insight into the coming famine in Egypt, true believers in YHVH/Yahshua have been given His Torah to warn us of the impending spiritual famine that is occurring as we speak, and the way to prepare if we haven’t started. Just as the famine in Egypt occurred as in Yosef’s dream, the spiritual famine in our country and world will get much worse as we progress through these end times. Plagues, famines, and pestilence will come to pass just as did the famine in Yosef’s time and the plagues and judgements because of Pharaoh’s heard heartedness before the Exodus. May we not ignore the Ruach HaKodesh’s call to repentance and reconciliation to G-d through Yahshua but prepare for what is to come and trust (worship, follow, emulate) the G-d of Avraham, Yitz’chak, and Ya’akov that He will never leave nor forsake us. This is a promise from the One who is Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11).
Haftarah: Amos 2:6-3:8
This week’s haftarah reflects back on our parashah to the sale of Joseph by his brothers. Amos opens with the bad news first; G-d had been patient with them notwithstanding their transgression of the three cardinal sins- sexual impropriety, idolatry, and murder. Their fourth sin was the last straw; the mistreatment of the innocent, widows, orphans, and the poor.
G-d reminds the Jewish people how He lovingly took them out of Egypt and led them through the desert for forty years to the Holy Land. Yet the people did not respond appropriately. They gave wine to those who took the Nazarite vow, and told the prophets not to prophecy. Amos then describes G-d’s punishment: “And the stouthearted among the mighty shall flee naked on that day, says the L-rd.”
This passage ends with an admonition from G-d, one that recalls His eternal love for His people: “hearken to this word which the L-rd spoke about you, O children of Israel, concerning the entire nation that I brought up from the land of Egypt. Only you did I love above all the families of the earth; therefore, I will visit upon you all your iniquities…” As opposed to other nations to whom G-d does not pay close attention, G-d’s love for His nation causes Him to punish us for our misdeeds, to cleanse us and prod us with His rod of justice and staff of grace and love back onto the path of the just. Remember, He chastises those He loves (Heb. 12:6) and His will is perfect (Psalm 18:30). Let us internalize and act upon this truth even when the tempest roars and we cannot physically see the Son. Do not fear or doubt; He is behind and above the clouds of our storms!
B’rit Chadashah: Acts 7:9-16
“Now the Patriarchs grew jealous of Yosef and sold him into slavery in Egypt. But Adonai was with him; he rescued him from all his troubles and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him administrator over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine that caused much suffering throughout Egypt and Kena’an. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. The second time, Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. Joseph then sent for his father Jacob and all his relatives, 75 people. And Jacob went down to Egypt; there he died, as did our other ancestors. Their bodies were removed to Sh’khem and buried in the tomb Avraham had bought from the family of Hamor in Sh’khem for a certain sum of money.”
Joseph’s life reveals a parallel to Yahshua’s, for Joseph was a type of Yahshua to his people. G-d gave Joseph favor and wisdom for his appointed mission in life. G-d provided Yahshua all he needed for his earthly ministry. Joseph was appointed the chief administrator over Egypt. Yahshua was appointed King of Israel and L-rd of all the universe. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery and taken to Egypt that characterized the epitome of all that represented sin. Yahshua was a righteous man sold into the hands of the unrighteous for silver. Joseph had to live in the world of sinful Egypt, but he kept himself separated even in prison. He remained close to G-d and exemplified his faith through his behavior. Similarly, Yahshua came to a sinful world to show us how to live G-d’s Torah not only by His teachings, but by example. Joseph prepared Egypt for the food famine that was about to strike the land. Yahshua shows us how to prepare for the famine to come when the world will no longer have the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) present. As previously mentioned, we are seeing the prelude to this terrible time today with the replacement of general education and biblical values with Secular Humanism.
Joseph withheld his identity from his brothers until the second time they went to him and confessed what they had done to him, not knowing they were speaking to him. Similarly, the majority of Jews did not recognize Yahshua for who He is the first time He came to earth. He will identify himself to them when He returns the second time, and they say “Baruch haba b’Shem Adonai.” Unfortunately, these will be martyred for their faith during the Tribulation. The time is coming soon. Take heed to G-d’s written and Living Torah and prepare your hearts and minds for the “famine” ahead.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart