Torah Portion Miketz
Genesis 41:1 - 44:17
1 Kings 3:15 - 4:1
This year we will be going through the Torah portion cycle with a short teachings under 30 minutes each. Included in this post are the Haftarah portion and the Echoes Through Scriptures from previous years.
In Miketz, Joseph has suffered injustice over and over again in his life but now is vindicated and raised to second in command over all of Egypt. We will discuss how this role was associated with justice in ancient Egypt and the story is filled with allusions to justice.
Shalom! This is the tenth portion in the Haftarah cycle where we will be discussing the dream of Solomon receiving wisdom and his exemplary judgment between the two prostitutes who both claim the same baby as their son. This year we will be spending approximately one hour on each of the Haftarah portions and investigating them from their historical setting and their ancient Near Eastern context as well as making connections back to the Torah Portion. I pray that you will enjoy these teachings!
In Miketz, we will focus on the connection with Joseph being enthroned as second in charge over all of Egypt and how Yeshua is enthroned at the right hand of the God through his resurrection!
And Justice For All...
Genesis 41:1 - 44:17
The life of Joseph is widely recognized as a shadow picture of Messiah by both Christianity and Judaism. Yet often interpreters tend to take their theology of Yeshua developed from their studies of the Apostolic writings and apply them backwards on the stories in the Hebrew Bible. The problem is that in doing so, the original context is missed and we fail to gain insight into whom the Hebrew Bible prophesied the Messiah would be. Thus, it is important for us to establish Joseph in his cultural setting before attempting to make any connections between him and Yeshua.
We have already been introduced to Joseph in the previous Torah portion. Joseph was born the favored son of his father via Jacob's favorite wife, which lead to jealousy and hatred towards him by his brothers. Joseph is stripped of his special coat and thrown in a pit by his brothers in a great act of injustice towards him. Judah decides to make a profit off of this injustice by selling Joseph as a slave and so Joseph is transported to Egypt. God causes Joseph to rise above this injustice and become the overseer of his master's house, yet injustice strikes again where Joseph is falsely accused of attempting to seduce his master's wife. Potiphar apparently did not really believe his wife since he had Joseph thrown in jail, a punishment reserved for political prisoners, rather than having Joseph executed which was the normal punishment for such a crime. In jail, God again causes Joseph to rise above this predicament and he is placed in charge over all of the prisoners. There Joseph meets the king's cupbearer and baker, interprets their dreams, receives a promise of a good word being put in on his behalf, and again suffers from the injustice of having this promise forgotten for a couple years. Clearly the narrative up to this point has shown that Joseph has lived a life of humiliation and injustice and yet in each case, God caused his status to be elevated above this injustice.
This Torah portion details Joseph's final and complete rise to high status. Rather than simply having his parents and siblings bow down to him in submission as he had dreamed, Joseph now has the entire world bowing down to him as Pharaoh's second in command. This position that Joseph receives after interpreting Pharaoh's dream and giving sound advice is known as the vizier. Interestingly, not only does Pharaoh give Joseph his signet ring along with new clothing and a new name, but he also gives him a wife who is the daughter of the high priest of On. Why would Pharaoh give him a daughter of a priest as wife and why would the text preserve such a detail? Certainly it should be a source of shame that Joseph didn't marry a good Hebrew girl, right? The book of Genesis was written to the children of Israel coming out of Egypt and assumed that they understood Egyptian culture since they had lived their entire lives in Egypt. They would have been well aware of the fact that as the vizier of Egypt, Joseph was given the title of high priest of Ma'at since this had been the custom in Egypt since the fifth dynasty (2510-2370 BCE). Ma'at was the Egyptian word for 'justice' and is equivalent to the Hebrew tsadak. The Egyptians had deified the moral concept of justice as the goddess Ma'at and since the vizier's duty in the kingdom was to establish justice and order throughout the land on Pharaoh's behalf, he received the title of the Priest of Ma'at. The goddess Ma'at was the embodiment of divine order and this divine order was to extend to all customs and human behaviors, especially right/righteous behaviors. It also extended into the realm of the king, Pharaoh, as Egyptian iconography depicts Pharaoh's throne resting upon a pedestal of ma'at, much like how the Psalms speak of the foundations of YHWH's throne be justice and righteousness (Ps. 97:2). Of special interest in relationship to the Biblical concept of 'justice', ma'at was carried out by protecting the less fortunate from exploitation. This principle was inscribed on some Egyptian tombs which read, "I have given bread to the hungry and clothed the naked" and "I was a husband to the widow and father to the orphan." Compare that to Yeshua's words in Matthew 25:35 when he states that the sheep who will inherit his Father's kingdom are those who fed the hungry and clothed the naked! Since Joseph became the priest of Ma'at, it was proper for him to marry the daughter of another powerful priest, the priest of On.
In a shocking twist of events, Joseph, the man who had been treated unjustly his entire life, now becomes the one in charge of administering justice for the most powerful nation on earth! It is easy for us to get hung up on the fact that the Egyptians considered Ma'at to be a pagan goddess, but realize that this tidbit is the cultural message that is being sent. It isn't that pagans made up the concept of justice and the Bible is borrowing it from other cultures, YHWH created the world in justice and has created within mankind an innate understanding of justice. As Paul writes in Romans 1:20, "for since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Just because someone assigns a pagan deity to a particular attribute of YHWH does not mean that such attributes are now off limit for YHWH to use. No, instead YHWH involves Himself in human history and by His guiding hand, God's servant Joseph is placed as the priest of Ma'at/justice where he can reveal the true justice of the one true God of creation!
Yeshua too lived a life characterized by injustice done to him. As Isaiah prophesied of the suffering servant, Yeshua was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrow (Isa 53:3). Just as Joseph was thrown in a pit, enslaved, and thrown in prison by a perversion of justice, so too this suffering servant, Yeshua, would be taken away by a perversion of justice (Isa 53:8). Truly Yeshua suffered human injustice just like Joseph and just like Joseph, YHWH raised Yeshua up out of this injustice to give him a name above all names (Phil 2:9). Yeshua has become the embodiment of God's justice for all those who believe in him and we look to his life and his teachings now for our understanding of how to justly apply the laws of the Torah to our very lives. Interestingly, in Egyptian mythology, it was Ma'at who would judge the deeds of the dead. When a person died, their heart was placed on a scale and weighed against a feather (the symbol of Ma'at), and if their heart weighed more than the feather, they would not enter the afterlife. So too Yeshua has been given the responsibility to judge (Matt 25:31-46) the deeds of all mankind and will judge with justice.
 Messiah ben Yoseph (see: The Messiah Texts by Rafael Patai)
 New Testament
 Old Testament.
 Siegfried Morenz (1973). Egyptian Religion: Siegried Morenz. pp. 117–125.
 Stephen J. Bennett, “Wisdom Literature,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015).
 Marvin E. Tate, Psalms 51–100, vol. 20, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 422.
 James P. Allen (2000). Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. p. 116.
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