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The Disguised Egyptian

Updated: Dec 22, 2022


Torah Portion: Parashat Miketz (“at the end of”)

Shabbat: Dec. 24, 2022 / Kislev 30, 5783

Torah: Gen. 41:1-44:17

Prophets: Zech 3:1-4:7

New Covenant: Rom. 10:1-13


Jesus’ Prayer For All Believers

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me”. John 17:20-23


Our Torah reading this week includes Judah's sincere expression of teshuvah (repentance) on behalf of his brothers for the betrayal of Joseph, an act that finally convinced the (disguised) brother to reveal his true identity: אֲנִי יוֹסֵף הַעוֹד אָבִי חָי / ani Yosef, ha'od avi chai / "I am Joseph; is my father alive?"

Before this dramatic disclosure took place, however, Joseph (thought to be an unknown Egyptian satrap) ensnared his brothers by hiding a silver divination goblet in Benjamin's sack and then sending his steward (his son Manesseh) to arrest Benjamin for stealing the goblet. All this was designed by Joseph to test his brothers. Would they abandon Benjamin, just as they had abandoned him to die in an empty well years earlier? After the arrest, the brothers returned to face the charges, and Judah nobly stepped forward and begged to take Benjamin's place for the "crime." When Joseph understood that Judah was willing to sacrifice his own life for his brother -- and when he saw the anxious looks of his other brothers -- he realized that they had learned their lesson.

Joseph then sent all the Egyptians out of the room, to spare his brothers embarrassment. According to Midrash, he then turned to his brothers and said, "You told me that your brother Joseph died. Are you sure?" "Yes, we are; he's dead," the brothers assured him. Joseph then became angry and said, "How can you lie? You sold him as a slave. I bought him and can call him right now." Joseph then called out, "Joseph, son of Jacob, come here right now to speak to your brothers." Terrified, the brothers turned to see if Joseph was coming. When Joseph saw that his brothers were prepared to meet their brother and ask for his forgiveness, he then spoke to them in Hebrew, "Who are you looking for? I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?" (Notice that Joseph revealed himself to his brothers using Hebrew speech as the token of his identity.) When Joseph saw his brothers draw back in fear at his shocking disclosure, he reassured them by saying, g'shu na elai - "Please come near to me; come and see..." When Joseph's father Jacob later learned that his long-lost son was indeed alive, vatechi ruach ya'akov avihem - "the spirit of their father Jacob was revived." Though for over 22 years Jacob was bereaved, all along his beloved son was only a few days journey away from him. According to Jewish tradition, Joseph never told Jacob about his betrayal by his brothers, not even when Jacob was on his deathbed. His love forbade him to engage in lashon hara (evil speech) or to bring further pain to his father. The revelation of Joseph and his reconciliation with his brothers is a prophetic picture of acharit ha-yamim (the "End of Days") when the Jewish people, in Great Tribulation, will come to Yeshua as Israel's deliverer. Presently, the veil is still over the eyes of the Jewish people and they collectively regard Yeshua as an "Egyptian" of sorts.

On a pshat level (i.e., literal sense), when Joseph revealed his identity: ani Yosef ha'od avi chai ("I am Joseph; is my father alive?"), he was asking his brothers if his father Jacob was still physically alive. This is puzzling, since in earlier encounters the brothers attested that Jacob was very much alive... On a sod level (i.e., in a mysterious sense), since Joseph is a picture of Yeshua (Mashiach ben Yosef), the question can be phrased, "I am Yeshua - is My father alive?," that is, do you now understand the righteousness of God the Father in raising me from the dead and promoting me to His right hand? Yeshua therefore evokes the confession of faith from the beloved Jewish people: "I am your brother Yeshua: do you now understand that My Father is alive?" Time is short, chaverim... We are approaching the End of Days and time of "Great Tribulation." In a soon-coming hour Yeshua will speak comforting words to His long-lost brothers (in Hebrew, to be sure!) and restore their place of blessing upon the earth. May He come speedily, and in our days. Maran ata, Yeshua!


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