Miketz / At the End
HafTorah 1 Kings 3:15-4:1
Brit Chadasha 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Allowing God to Lead…
The ending of the prior Torah portion, VaYeshev, we learn that: “The chief steward did not remember Joseph. He forgot about him.” Genesis 40:23. The double negative; ‘did not remember’ and ‘forgot’ is powerful. He did not remember. He forgot. The one time Joseph tries to be the author of his own story, he fails.
Having told the chief steward that in three days he would be pardoned by Pharaoh and restored to his former position, Joseph asks him to plead for him with Pharaoh to get his freedom. “When things go well for you, just remember that I was with you. Do me a favor and say something about me to Pharaoh. Perhaps you will be able to get me out of this place.” Genesis 40:14.
With the exception of Joseph asking the steward to ‘remember him’, almost everything that happens in Joseph’s life falls into two categories. The first are the things done to him: his father loves him more than his other sons, he gives him a richly embroidered cloak which causes envy and jealousy from his brothers and they begin to hate him. Jacob sends Joseph to see how the brothers are doing, they plot to kill him, throw him into a pit and sell him as a slave. He is bought by Potiphar, his wife attempts to seduce him, falsely accuses him, at which point he is imprisoned.
The second category is attributed to God, as Joseph does things: he runs Potiphar’s household. He organizes a prison. He interprets dreams. In all these things, the Torah is clear that his actions are directly attributed to God.
Genesis 39:2-3 ‘God was with Joseph, and He made him very successful. Soon he was working in his master’s own house. His master realized that God was with Joseph, and that God granted success to everything he did.’
Genesis 39:5 ‘As soon as his master had placed him in charge of his household and possessions, God blessed the Egyptian because of Joseph. God’s blessing was in all the Egyptian had, both in the house and the field.’
Genesis 39:21-23 ‘God was with Joseph, and He showed him kindness, making him find favor with the warden of the dungeon. Soon, the warden had placed all the prisoners in the dungeon under Joseph’s charge. He took care of everything that had to be done. The warden did not have to look after anything that was under Joseph’s care. God was with Joseph, and God granted him success in everything he did.’
Miketz continues with dreams and the interpretations of Joseph. The butler ‘remembers’ Joseph and he is brought before Pharaoh to interpret the dreams, where in Genesis 41:16 he gives credit to God; ‘So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Pharaoh agrees and he too gives credit to the God of the Hebrews ‘Genesis 41:39 “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”
This all leads to the rest of Miketz, where the brothers turn to Egypt for grain. The brothers are put through a remarkable plot by Joseph, who is ‘hidden’ in Egyptian garment and speech.
During one of their first conversations, Joseph gives insight to his character; ‘Then Joseph said to them the third day, “Do this and live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined to your prison house; but you, go and carry grain for the famine of your houses…’ Genesis 42:18-19. ‘For he said “I fear God”…and…”if you are honest men…” what a clue that was yet his brothers still could ‘not see’. In Genesis 42:21 the brothers seem to understand their guilt, ‘They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.” Then in Genesis 42:28, they seem to attribute their woes on God; ‘“What is this that God has done to us?” Even though they are aware of their actions, they seem to attribute their consequences to God, rather than they have ‘done it to themselves’.
Do try to write our own script and then when we suffer consequences of our secret sins, do we blame God?
Proverbs 19:3 ‘The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord.’
Romans 9:20 ‘But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”
Proverbs 11:3 ‘The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.’
James 1:13-15 ‘ Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.’
Do we trust in God, truly allowing Him to be the author in our lives?
Job 6:24 ‘Teach me, and I will be silent; And show me how I have erred.’
Psalm 5:8 ‘O Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes; make Your way straight before me.’
Psalm 27:11 ‘Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a level path because of my foes.’
Psalm 31:3 ‘For You are my rock and my fortress; for Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.
Psalm 16:7-8 ‘I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.’
Miketz / At The End
Who Controls Your Life…
Miketz opens with Pharaoh’s dreams, one with seven fat cows consumed by seven lean cows followed by: ‘He slept and dreamed a second time; and suddenly seven heads of grain came up on one stalk, plump and good. 6 Then behold, seven thin heads, blighted by the east wind, sprang up after them. 7 And the seven thin heads devoured the seven plump and full heads.’ Genesis 41:5-7.
These dreams led Pharaoh to ask for an interpretation. When Joseph correctly interprets the dreams and credits God, Pharaoh makes Joseph ruler second to him. ‘Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 41:39-41.
Joseph now is in a position of authority over Egypt. When the famine hits and his brothers travel to Egypt, they encounter Joseph not knowing who he is. But there is a moment when the brothers realize their consequences after Joseph request that they leave one brother in Genesis 42:18-21. ‘Then Joseph said to them the third day, “Do this and live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined to your prison house; but you, go and carry grain for the famine of your houses. 20 And bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they did so. 21 Then they said to one another, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.”
In verse 21, some translations use the word ‘indeed’ instead of truly. The Hebrew word is ‘aval’ which can be translated as either ‘but’ or ‘indeed/truly’. If the brothers would have used the word ‘but’ they would have then placed the iniquity on mitigating circumstances; ‘Yes we sold our brother, but…’ By using the word indeed/truly, they accept the truth about their actions.
Last week I taught that Joseph could not control his destiny but he could control how he moved/acted/responded to his destiny. He knew that he was not in control of his life, but rather he let God control his life. The brothers seem to realize this as they are faced with the consequences of their deception. They utter the word ‘indeed’ realizing the outcome that they thought they were about to face.
Ask yourself, ‘who controls your life?’ Every day we make decisions. Some without thought, ‘stop at the red light’ and some with great and deep thought. These are the moments in life that give way to our future. Do we try to control our life – or do we allow God to control our life.
If we partake in anything that is not of God or His Word, then we control our life. It is ‘indeed’ as simple as that. If we declare and vow to God for Him to control our life, we utter words of submission, yet we still need to ‘submit’ to Him. This includes most definitely His Walk. God is not a Master of Control but rather a Master of Choice, allowing us to freely submit to Him or submit to our own desires. This is where our seasons can ascend or descend. And even with descents, as with Joseph, if we let God control our life, we will have remarkable ascents.
Baruch HaShem ~ Rabbi Jay