Thursday, December 31, 2009

Torah Portion Vayechi


Parasha Vayechi
·        Genesis 47:28-50:26
·        1 Kings 2:1-12
·        1 Peter 1:1-9


The Torah Portion at a Glance

Ya’acov lives the final 17 years of his life in Egypt. Before his passing, he asks Joseph to take an oath that he will bury him in the Holy Land. He blesses Joseph's two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, elevating them to the status of his own sons as progenitors of tribes within the nation of Israel.

The patriarch desires to reveal the end of days to his children. Jacob blesses his sons, assigning to each his role as a tribe: Judah will produce leaders, legislators and kings; priests will come from Lewi, scholars from Issachar, seafarers from Zevulun, schoolteachers from Simeon, soldiers from Gad, judges from Dan, olive growers from Asher, and so on. Reuven is rebuked for "confusing his father's marriage"; Shimon and Levi for the massacre of Shechem and the plot against Joseph. Napthali is granted the swiftness of a deer, Benyamin the ferociousness of a wolf, and Joseph is blessed with beauty and fertility.

A large funeral procession consisting of Jacob's descendants, Pharaoh's ministers, the leading citizens of Egypt and the Egyptian cavalry accompanies Jacob on his final journey to the Holy Land, where he is buried in the Machpeilah Cave in Hebron.

Yosef, too, dies in Egypt, at the age of 110. He, too, instructs that his bones be taken out of Egypt and buried in the Holy Land, but this would come to pass only with the Israelites' Exodus from Egypt many years later. Before his passing, Joseph conveys to the Children of Israel the testament from which they will draw their hope and faith in the difficult years to come: "YHWH will surely remember you, and bring you up out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Ya’acov."
(adapted from chabad.org)




The Messiah in the Torah Portion


The actual name of our Messiah is found hidden behind the translator’s words in this week’s Torah portion. Genesis 49:18 is just one example of how we miss so many faces of Scripture that can only be discovered in the Hebrew texts and not in English Bibles. In this verse, the translation disguises the Messiah’s name and prevents the casual reader from accepting the Savior’s presence throughout the Old Testament.

This verse in English reads, “I have waited for Your salvation, O YAHWEH.” IN Hebrew the verse is “Le Y’shua tehka keyoo eet’ee YHWH.” Here, the exact word for “salvation” is the exact name of the Messiah as given to him by the heavenly messengers in Matthew 1:21. This verse could also be translated "To thy Y'SHUA I am looking, O YHWH." In this passage, Jacob is actually calling out the name of Y’shua and professing faith in the Moshiach before his incarnation. This isn’t the only time the Savior’s name is made known in the Tanakh. In Psalm 9:14, King David of Israel said "I will rejoice in thy salvation/Y’shua.” The Prophet Isaiah agreed in 12:2&3 "Behold, Elohim is my Y'SHUA/salvation; I will trust, and be not afraid: for YHWH is my strength and my song; he also is become my Y’shua/salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of Y'shua/salvation." Later in Isaiah 62:11 we read, "Behold, YHWH hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation/Y’shua cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him." And in Habakkuk 3:13 we find a startling verse that actually call’s Y’shua the anointed Messiah! "Thou wentest forth for the salvation/Y’shua of thy people, even for salvation/Y’shua with thine anointed/messiah..."

Y’shua is found throughout the pages of the Torah, Prophets, and Writings if we will just look. May YHWH open our eyes that we could behold wonderful things from His Torah for Y’shua is the Torah made flesh.



Applying the Portion to Life Today


The Jewish people have kept the Torah for thousands of years. They have an understanding of what it means to obey the majority of the commandments. The Rabbis and Sages of Judaism have studied, discussed, fussed, and made decisions on the various mitzvah or commands. A single action of obeying a Torah command has overtime developed into a tradition through repetition. The action also has progressed into the culture as an accepted practice, thus becoming part of the Jewish identity. To put it plainly, the Jews have the Torah and so to learn how to obey the Torah you can learn how the Jews do it. The Jewish people’s Torah keeping is a witness to the world on how a Bible believer should act. “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of Yahweh,” Romans 3:1.

Take for example the commandment in the Torah found in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:5-9. It says to “Love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. And these words (the Torah) which you are being ordered this day are to be on your heart…write them on the door frames of your house and on your gates…” You could ignore this verse as being in the “Old Testament” or in the “Jewish Law.” But if you really want to follow the whole of scripture you would try to obey it. But how exactly do you do so?

To literally obey this command to write the words of the Bible on your doorframes and gates is pretty strange. You could come up with your own interpretation and try to do it. Your imagination might lead you to write Bible verses with a magic marker all over the frames of your house. Or you could accept the traditional Jewish observance of this mitzvah. You could follow an age-old tradition by affixing a mezuzah to your doorpost. A mezuzah is a small encasing that holds a Torah scroll inside. The custom of the mezuzah helps fulfill the commandment in a special way. Yes, using the mezuzah is not the only way to obey this verse and yes it is the Jewish way to do it, but what is wrong with following their example here?

The Hebrew word for tradition is “masoret.” The Encyclopedia Judaica says, “Masoret is the general name for tradition. It is found in Ezekiel 20:37 and means originally "bond" or "fetter." Tradition is the discipline which establishes the correct practice and interpretation of the Torah and was therefore regarded as a hedge or fetter about the Law (Avot 3:14). Since this knowledge was handed down by successive generations, it was also associated with the Hebrew word masor, denoting "to give over." In the talmudic literature, the term masoret is used to include all forms of tradition, both those which relate to the Bible and those which concern custom, law, historical events, folkways, and other subjects.” Masoret remain virtually unchanged over long periods of time to provide examples, uniformity, and help with belief.

Jewish obedience to the Torah is not just mindless or faithless work. No, their practice of Torah has over time developed into a culture of events that express a lifestyle. It is not just about a religion. “Tradition has given Judaism a continuity with its past and preserved its character as a unique faith with a distinct way of life,” says one source.

Ok, so what does all this talk about masoret and customs have to do with the torah reading called “Vayechi?” Well, this parasha is full of traditions. Just skim over the reading to learn about life then and life now. Some of the traditional actions within these few chapters are of benefit while others are questionable. Here are just a few examples of the masoret found in this parsha:

1. Blessing or “B’racha” in Genesis 48:1-49:33
2. Embalming the dead in Genesis 50:1-3
3. Laying on of hands in Genesis 48:12-20
4. Burial with other Hebrew people in Genesis 49:7-50:13
5. Mourning the dead in Genesis 50:1-13


Other traditions are found in this parsha, like saying important dying words to those near you. These life events define who you are and attest to your identity and culture. Your traditions show to those around what you believe and whom you worship.

Friend, obedience to the Torah requires a different lifestyle than that of the world. Believers in the Bible must make a decision about the Torah. Either we will dismiss the Torah or we will accept the Torah. Either we will follow the Messiah’s example and keep the commands of Moshe or we will follow the preachers’ example and pig out on pork. Either we will agree to the traditional way of obeying a command or we will make it up as we go. You can dismiss the Torah as being “too Jewish” or you can accept the Torah and strive to obey it, the choice is yours. Yet when you choose to obey the Torah you will soon be confronted with another big problem. This is the problem of “how.”

To find the answer on “how” just look to the Jewish people and the first followers of the Messiah. The Jewish people’s faithful obedience to the Torah over the years serves as an example on how to fulfill the commandments. Sadly, most “New Testament Christians” have both testaments yet know very little about how to practically apply the mitzvah to everyday life. Yet, as a follower of the Bible, how do you know which rituals from Judaism to keep? As a person who wants to keep the Torah, how do you know which customs of the Jews to stay away from? If it is wrong to practice the routines of the pagans, what makes everything Jewish so special? When it comes to the Torah the Jews have already set the “halakhah” or the way to do it.

Yes, the Jewish people have kept the Torah for thousands of years. They have hashed out the difficult verses and set standards on the way to live. The majority of Jewish observances concerning the Torah are of benefit. By following the traditional adherence to the Torah your actions can model that of the first believers in Messiah. The early Believers were “just like the Torah keeping Jews” and their accepted practices differed in no way, teaches the church historian Eusebius.

Halakhah is the Hebrew word for the “way to walk” or the way “to go” in obeying the commands. It is found throughout the scriptures and is based on a verse from Shemot/Exodus. “And thou shalt show them the way wherein they are to go and the work that they must do," Shemot (Exodus) 18:20. When a teacher/Rabbi sets halakhah that teacher is saying, “we’re going to obey this command in this manner.” Or as one rabbi has put it, “Torah is the doctrine while halakhah is the way to walk out that doctrine.” There is much freedom when it comes to determining halakhah.

Decisions of halakhah are interpretations by a group of teachers or a teacher on how to best fulfill the Torah. Some groups have strict halakhah will others have very liberal teachings.

Throughout the world, Rabbi’s halakhah differ on how to do certain things, say Hebrew words, and obey the various commands. Haven’t you ever struggled with the “correct” way to keep a command? Halakhah conquers that struggle with a scriptural answer. Sometimes halakhah includes several different scriptural answers. This is why two groups can perform a mitzvah differently, yet both are in their own eyes “right.”

Much halakhah is based on scriptural traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. There is nothing wrong with a Biblical tradition that offers, “You can keep the commandment this way.” What is wrong is traditionalism, which says, “YOU HAVE to keep the commandment our way.”

Traditions of the Bible are ok. Traditionalism of man is not ok. Traditions produce heritage, unity, and love. Traditionalism produces legalism, bondage, and rejection. Traditions are a means to an end. Traditionalism is the end in and of itself.

When Y’shua spoke about masoret he was rebuking a group of Torah teachers who were exalting their traditionalism over the Torah. “You have let go of the commands of Elohim and are holding on to the traditions of men. You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of Elohim in order to set up your own traditions!” said Y’shua in Mark 7:8-93. Notice that he did not tell them to get rid of their traditions. What the Messiah did do though is rebuke the teachers who valued, upheld, and created traditions that replaced obedience to the Torah. If any tradition takes the place of Torah, negates Torah, or hinders your walk of Torah then this is a tradition that needs to be dropped and replaced.

For example many people did not and even do not use the sacred name of Yahweh because the Torah says to “not take the name of Yahweh in vain.” Traditionalism says “to keep you from taking His name in vain just never use his name. If you never use his name then you can never misuse it.” Sorry folks, but this is just not what the scriptures mean. Tradition will support the Biblical mandate to use his name as found throughout scripture, yet it might teach you to use his name with a “w” sound or a “v” sound.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life,” says Mishlei (Proverbs) 4:23. Traditions can be used to aide and assist your spiritual walk. But they can also become idolized and control your heart.

Good or “tov” traditions will lead you towards intimacy with Yahweh. But with so many customs, web sites, articles, books, teachers, and ways to do things how do you know what to do? What should you do about how to exactly obey the various mitzvah? In looking to Judaism for information on Torah, what should you accept and what should you reject?

Finally here’s some help! Here’s a short “Truth Test” to use when deciding what traditions to use and what traditions to stay away from. When your family or ministry is making a decision on how to keep the commandments use this litmus test to assess the situation. The truth will set you free while pagan rituals, false worship days, and legalistic religious actions will bind you up. You have a rich culture and heritage of Biblical customs and traditions awaiting you.



Truth Test

Use this short test to examine your actions and as a tool to help you decide which traditions you should receive with open arms and which customs you should shy away from.


1. Is it Biblical? Does this custom or action go against certain verses or principles found in the Scriptures?

2. Is it pagan? Does this custom or action have pagan roots, pagan affiliation, or have pagan connotations to it?

3. Does it grieve the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit)? Do you have peace with doing this? Does it promote unity, love, and shalom? Do you feel the Spirit’s tug when you do or don’t do it this way?






Portion Points to Ponder
1.      The Hebrew name for this portion is “Vetch.”  What does this mean?
2.      Read 1 Kings 2:1-12.  How does this relate to the story of Genesis this week?
3.      Consider the words found in 1 Peter 1:1-9.  What did you learn from studying this passage?
4.      How does this Torah portion speak of the Messiah Y’shua?
5.      Describe two ways that you can apply this week’s Torah portion to your life.
6.      Why is it important that Jacob is buried in the Holy Land?
Where exactly is Ya’acov buried?

7.      Give two reasons why Ya’acov didn’t want to be buried in Egypt.
8.      How old was Ya’acov when he died?
9.      Describe the blessings to Ephraim and Manasseh.  What do these mean?
10. Explain how Genesis 48:20 is fulfilled by the Jewish people today.  Why would the generations of Jewish men desired to be blessed like Ephraim and Manasseh?
11. Who are Ephraim and Manasseh today?
12. Did Ephraim and Manasseh replace Simeon and Reuven?  Was Ephraim treated as the first born?
13. Why did Ya’acov bow before his grandsons?
14. Ya’acov placed his hands on his grandchildren in the opposite order of their birth.  Why?
15. Ya’acov blessed them to be like fish in the midst of the earth.  Explain how “fish” are
16. often symbolic in the Scriptures for “people” and how “waters” are often metaphorical for the “nations.”  Does the words of Y’shua in Matthew 4:19 have anything to do with this?
17. Why was Ephraim blessed as the first born?
18. “His seed shall be the fullness of the gentile nations,” Genesis 48:19 is an important verse in relation to the nation of Israel.  How does this verse correspond to Romans 11:12 and 11:25?  When will this promise occur?  Who are the fullness of the gentiles?  Are you ready to share this answer with your friends and family?
19. Ya’acov called his sons together to hear a message about the end of days.  How is this a prophetic reunion of Israel during the last days?  Does this mean we are living in the last days?
20. Romans 8:15 is similar to the words in Genesis 48:5.  Explain.
21. Does Ya’acov reveal the end of days to his sons or does he instead speak blessings over his sons? 
22. Explain the message of YHWH’s appearance at Luz to Ya’acov.
23. Reuven was blessed with might and strength.  However, sin stopped him from being all that he could have been for YHWH.  How does sin prevent a person from accomplishing the will of YHWH?
24. Simeon and Lewi did what to be called “instruments of cruelty?”
25. Ya’avoc cursed the anger of Simeon and Lewi.  Is it wrong to be angry?  Can you be angry and sin not?
26. How were Simeon and Lewi divided and scattered within Israel and Jacob?
27. Judah was promised to be a Lion that would receive the praise of his brothers.  Explain how this verse compares to Zechariah 8:23.
28. When would the scepter depart from Judah?  Has this happened? 
29. Who is Shiloh?
30. Why was Zevulon blessed to be near the sea?
31. Isachar is a donkey?  What does this mean?
32. The tribe of Dan is called to judge the people.  What is the name of a judge from Israel that would come from this tribe?
33. Ya’acov made a stunning confession in Genesis 48:19 while he was blessing his children.  He stated “I have waited for your salvation oh YHWH.”  In Hebrew he said “I have waited for your Y’shua oh YHWH.”  How was Ya’acov professing faith in Messiah?
34. How is Yosef double blessed? 
35. Yosef is prophesied to be fruitful and then hated by archers.  How does the adversary shoot fiery darts as the sons of Yosef today?  Is Israel hated in the nations?
36. Which tribe is prophesied as a wolf?
37. Who is the Shepherd and Stone of Israel?
38. Which blessing by Ya’acov was the shortest?  Which blessing was the longest?
39. Where does the custom of embalmment originate?
40. Should Israelites desire to be embalmed today?
41. How long did the Egyptians mourn for Ya’acov?  How does this verse foreshadow Romans 12:15?
42. Who went to bury Ya’acov in Israel?
43. Should Yosef had returned to Egypt or should he have stayed in the land of Israel?
44. Torah repeats many themes throughout its pages.  When Jacob died, Yosef’s brothers were afraid that Yosef might exact revenge.  Explain how this is similar to what happened between Esav and Jacob when Isaac passed away.
45. Did Yosef’s brother lie about Jacob’s message from beyond the grave?
46. The actions of Yosef’s brothers reveal to us about how it is sometimes hard to accept forgiveness.  Did his brothers expect revenge or love from Yosef?  How do you relate?
47. Yosef exclaimed that the evil that was mean t to be against him was made into goodness.  Where else in the Bible has this occurred?  When in your life has a supposed bad thing turned out to be beneficial?
48. Yosef told his brothers to “fear not.”  How many times in the Bible does this phrase appear?  What does this number mean?
49. Yosef’s last words that he absolutely would be carried out of Egypt echoed hope through the ages.  When would this phrase be important the Hebrew people?  Were his bones ever removed from Egypt and taken to the Promised Land?
50. Study and discuss the blessings found for each of the tribes in Deuteronomy 33 and Genesis 49.  How are the words of Moses and Jacob similar?  How are they different?
51. The last verse of Gen 50 has a translated word, ‘coffin’, which is used only once from the Hebrew word, ‘aron’. The word Aron was translated 199 times as something else that has life. Do you know what this word could be and what does it mean to you?
52. What did you learn from this week’s “Open Bible” teaching? 



The Open Bible is a teaching series written by Daniel Rendelman of Emet Ministries.  Daniel Rendelman is the found and leader of Emet Ministries and the author of the book “Finding the Truth.”  He, his wife, and five children live in Newberry, South Carolina.  He can be reached at emetministries@gmail.com.  Find more teachings, audio messages, videos, and music at www.emetministries.com.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Torah Portion Miketz


Parasha Miketz
·         Genesis 41:1-44:17
·         1 Kings 3:15-4:1
·         Matthew 27:15-46


The Torah Portion at a Glance
Joseph's imprisonment finally ends when Pharaoh dreams of seven fat cows that are swallowed up by seven lean cows, and of seven fat ears of grain swallowed by seven lean ears. Joseph interprets the dreams to mean that seven years of plenty will be followed by seven years of hunger, and advises Pharaoh to store grain during the plentiful years. Pharaoh appoints Joseph governor of Egypt. Joseph marries Asenat, daughter of Potiphar, and they have two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.


Famine spreads throughout the region, and food can be obtained only in Egypt. Ten of Joseph's brothers come to Egypt to purchase grain; the youngest, Benjamin, stays home, for Jacob fears for his safety.  Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him; he accuses them of being spies, insists that they bring Benjamin to prove that they are who they say they are, and imprisons Simeon as a hostage.  Later, they discover that the money they paid for their provisions has been mysteriously returned to them.


Jacob agrees to send Benjamin only after Judah assumes personal and eternal responsibility for him.  This time Joseph receives them kindly, releases Shimon, and invites them to an eventful dinner at his home.  But then he plants his silver goblet, purportedly imbued with magic powers, in Benjamin's sack.  When the brothers set out for home the next morning they are pursued, searched, and arrested when the goblet is discovered.  Joseph offers to set them free and retain only Benjamin as his slave.
(adapted from chabad.org)




The Messiah in the Torah Portion
Once again the Messiah is clearly foretold in the pages of Torah.  Our reading focuses on the life of Yosef and how he is taken from the pit, to the prison, and then to the palace.  This is an exact representation of Y’shua HaMoshiach.  As Yosef was lifted above his brothers, so too Y’shua rules and reigns.  And as Yosef’s brothers came to him and did not recognize him, the Jewish people today do not quickly recognize Y’shua.  The Torah says that Yosef was clean shaven like an Egyptian.  He didn’t look like a Hebrew.  Yosef also spoke through an interpreter.  He didn’t sound like a Hebrew.  Today, mainstream Christianity portrays a Gentile Jesus with blue eyes and blond hair.  It is very hard for Jewish people and other unbelievers to recognize their Messiah because of how he is portrayed by the interpreter of Christianity.  Thus, our mission becomes clear.  We must present to the world the true representation of Y’shua.  And we must show others unconditional forgiveness.  In next week’s portion we will read of Yosef granting forgiveness to his brothers AND THEN the 12 sons of Jacob are reunited.  It is only through our efforts to worship and witness of the Hebrew Messiah that the lost sheep of the house of Israel will come together.  Pray today that YHWH will use you to witness about Y’shua to someone searching for the truth.

Below is another chart that describes the many parallels between Y’shua and Yosef.  (Source unknown)


Parallel
Yosef
Y’shua
Most favored of their fathers
Brothers hated them because of their special status
Matt 21:33-41
(Y’shua is the "son" of the parable)

Given vision into the future
Hated for their teachings
Brothers plotted to kill them
Put into the ground
Raised three times
Raised up out of the pit(Genesis 37:28)

Raised up to be ruler of Egypt (Genesis 41:41)

Raised up ("made alive" again) when Jacob was told he was still alive(Genesis 45:26-28)
Raised up on the cross(John 19:17-18)
Raised up from the grave (Matt 18:5-6)
Raised up to heaven(Acts 1:9)
Given over to gentiles
Sold for the price of a slave
Taken into Egypt to avoid being killed
Dead to his father
Resisted temptation
Gained the confidence of others quickly
Became a servant
Falsely accused
Genesis 39:14
(Potiphar's wife)

Mark 14:56 (chief priests)
Silent before their accusers
Condemned between two prisoners
- one was saved the other was not

Held for two, and freed on the third
Taught by YHWH
The Spirit of YHWH was in them
Arose into a new life
Began ministry at 30 years of age
Saved people from certain death
Everyone (both Jew and Gentile) came to him for their provision
Gave bread to hungry people
Not recognized by their own brothers
Tested people to reveal their true nature
Brothers bowed down before them
Humble and unspoiled by wealth
Became lord/Lord
Loved people freely
Returned to their father/Father
Seeing them was a "prerequisite" before the death of a person
Returned good for evil


Applying the Portion to Life Today
What happened to Joseph and what happens in your life occurs to expose the light of YHWH.  One author has written that “humans were created with two distinct aspects to their nature – darkness and light.  The darkness is in the human ego – as in Everybody’s Got One.  This is also where the light hides. Light is in the human soul, which is obscured by the ego.  The purpose of your existence is to allow the full intensity of light to shine in your life and in this world.  You have two ways to conduct your life:
1)     Through your ego, doubting or oblivious to the truth of the Light, considering only yourself.

2)     Through the humility of your soul, constantly finding the Light and considering the needs of others

Your career, your family, and your friends are here for one purpose – to provide the opportunity for you to carry out your personal transformation, they give you the chance to let go of your ego, selfishness, and envy, and in turn, find the Light.” These two aspects of the human nature are the flesh and the spirit, the yetzer hara and the yetzer tov.  Believers in Messiah are not to live in darkness but walk in the Light.  “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness,” 1 Thessalonians 5:5.

The events of your life shape your character and personality into what it is today.  "In every sorrow there is profit," says Mishlei (Proverbs) 14:23.  

This week’s parasha is called “miketz” which literally means “at the end.”  This portion begins with the verse that says, “at the end of two years.”  It had been two years since Yosef had correctly interpreted a pair of dreams from the chief cupbearer and the baker.  These were two full years of imprisonment, darkness, and loneliness.  During this time Yosef learns to control his selfish, sinful nature and release the Light of YHWH.  Yosef discovers that it’s the events of your life that make you who you are.  Yosef now understands that it is not anything in him that can interpret the dreams; rather it is the Almighty’s power working through him.

When Yosef is brought out of the pit of prison and before Pharaoh it is like déjà vu all over again.

Pharaoh reveals his two nightmares and then says the same exact words the cupbearer and baker used.  Pharaoh said, “no one can interpret” his dreams in Beresheet 41:15.  What is amazing about this event is that though the situation is the same Yosef responds differently.  He does not respond as he did in the past.  No, Yosef has changed.  Yosef has learned to release the Light.  He does not say “relate it to me” like he done so in the past to the cupbearer and the baker.  This time Yosef tells Pharaoh “Elohim will answer.” Instead of hiding the Light with ego and selfish ambition Yosef points Pharaoh to the Light.

In the Scriptures, Light is the Hebrew word “ore.”  According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Dictionary “ore” literally means “to be luminous literally and metaphorically: break of day, glorious, kindle, set on fire, shine.”  The word “ore” appears 5 times on the first day of creation, representing the 5 books of the Torah that bring Light to the world.  Light is also used as a synonym or Hebrew idiom for the Torah.  So when the scriptures speak of Light they are in fact many times speaking of the Word of YHWH, the Torah.  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light (Torah) unto my path,” says Tehillim (Psalm) 119.

Light is also symbolic of the Messiah Y’shua.  “When Y’shua spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” Yochannan 8:12.  So, light symbolizes Torah and light symbolizes Y’shua.  This makes since because Y’shua is the living Torah!

In the Sermon on the Mount Y’shua told his followers to let their light shine.  He was saying to let their Torah observance shine as a witness to everyone that the Messiah has come.  Y’shua was reminding them of the principle that inside man is the darkness of the flesh yet inside man was ability to choose Light.  “Let your light (Torah) so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” Mattitiyahu 5:16

When Light/Torah/Y’shua penetrates through the darkness, lives are changed, hurts are healed, and people understand their purpose in life.  Yosef went through many trials, which in turn brought forth much Light.  The trials you are going through now are happening for the same reason.  What happens in your life occurs to bring forth Light.  This doesn’t mean YHWH has caused the events that are occurring but He has allowed it.  It occurs to provide you an opportunity to grow.  Hardships and suffering fan the flame of Light in the darkness of your world. 

Light and darkness cannot coexist at the same time.  Remember that in the beginning the Father said “let their be Light” and from the darkness came Light.  Well, by simply understanding how Light shines you will discover your destiny as a person and find fulfillment in your life.  How does the Light of Messiah shine? 

First of all, don’t immediately ask YHWH to remove a sickness, hardship, trial, problem, or area of conflict when they occur.  When you have a bad day, don’t go into super rebuking mode and cast out everything including the demon of wrinkled clothes.  Before you pray to the Father to release you from a sickness, hardship, or circumstance, first ask Him what you are supposed to learn from it.  Maybe you are going through something just to learn a specific lesson in the process.  “Trials and difficulties mark the beginnings of darkness, but there is always the Light of salvation to look forward to even as the sons of Israel were brought out of Egypt at night in Devarim 16:1,” wrote Avi Ben Mordechai.  Remember that Y’shua knew about the trials of Kefa (Peter).  Y’shua knew in advance that Kefa would be tempted to deny the Messiah but Y’shua did not pray that the trials would be removed.  Instead Y’shua prayed that Kefa’s “faith would remain.” Kefa needed the trials to prove his faith!

Light also comes forth when a person goes through either a spiritual transformation or suffering.  Light is blocked when a person walks in the flesh and fulfills the lusts of the soul.  

One Rabbi teaches that, “when we suffer we experience pain, when we undergo grief and heartache, the hurting actually purges ego and self-interest from our nature.  The soul- our true self – shines brighter at that moment.  This is why we suddenly feel a sense of love and unity with others when planes crash into buildings and those buildings collapse on national television.  This is why we feel a shift in our priorities when the rubble of human remains litters the landscape as a result of war, terror, or tragic accidents.  Our egos diminish from the emotional pain and our souls suddenly blossom.”  Suffering brings people to the revelation and understanding that life is not all about satisfying selfish desires and ambition.  The Almighty uses suffering to call people back to Himself, to humble people to the realization that life is not all about self.

Pain brings revelation of human nature but the pain lessons over time. The pain is forgotten and forsaken for selfishness, sinful actions and thought.  Don’t you know that churches are full of people when there is a national tragedy?  Many spend time at the altar confessing a “spiritual” renewal but a few weeks later those same people are nowhere to be found when the church bell rings.  Nothing lasting has taken place because the truth of the Light, the Torah is not taught.   The light of suffering will soon diminish and people will return to their old ways.

Suffering is temporary and so the light of suffering is temporary.  A person stays humble for only so long.  Darkness soon overtakes the light as the pain of tragedy is forgotten and there is a return to walking in the flesh and looking out for self. 

To turn the Light switch on indefinitely you must experience a spiritual transformation akin to the caterpillar transforming into the butterfly. “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light (Torah/Y’shua).  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Rather, clothe yourselves with Adon Moshiach Y’shua, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature,” Romans 12:12-13.  Your life must change from going with the flow of the flesh to submitting to the Torah if you want the Light of Messiah to shine for good.

To keep the power of the light shinning you should be like Yosef – you should learn from your pain and experience the life-changing presence of the Almighty.

You must deny yourself and follow the Messiah; follow the Torah; follow the Light.  “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: YHWH is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Y’shua, his Son, purifies us from all sin,” 1 Yochannan 1:5-7.


Pain is evitable.  The experiences of life cannot be stopped. What happens to you happens for a reason – so your life can show forth the Light and glory of YHWH.  If you don’t believe this, just ask Yoseph.  Or ask the Messiah.  “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through YHWH,” Yochannan 3:19-21.



Portion Points to Ponder


  1. The Hebrew name for this portion is “Vayeshev.”  What does this mean?
  2. Read Amos 2:6-3:8.  How does this relate to the story of Genesis this week?
  3. Consider the words found in Matthew 1:1-6 and verse 16-25.  What did you learn from studying this passage?
  4. How is Messiah Y’shua pictured in this Torah portion?
  5. Explain how you can apply this week’s study to your life?
  6. How does this Torah portion speak of the Messiah Y’shua?
  7. The portion begins with a specific reference to "two years" having passed. The Jewish sages comment that these were two years that YHWH added to Joseph's prison term for not trusting Him fully and instead appealing to the chief of cup bearers (imprisoned along with him at the time) to "put in a good word for him to Pharaoh."  Do you agree?  Why or why not?
  8. What was the meaning of Pharaoh’s dreams of the corn and cows?
  9. Did Pharaoh sin by going to the magicians?
  10. The chief butler confessed his faults, proclaimed his sin, and held true to his word to remember Joseph.  How were his actions an acceptable pattern of true Biblical teshuvah / repentance?
  11. Before Yosef could appear before Pharaoh he had to be smoothly shaven.  How is the bald shaved look of the Egyptians different than the bearded Hebrew custom?
  12. When given the opportunity to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, Yosef said "it is of YHWH."  How was this statement of faith different than when Yosef interpreted previous dreams?
  13. An east wind devoured the corn in Pharaoh’s dream.  What is significant about a wind from the east?
  14. Yosef said that "Elohim has showed Pharaoh what he about to do."  In your opinion, does YHWH speak to pagan unbelievers?  Can unbelievers easily understand YHWH's revelations?
  15. Pharaoh dreamed two dreams on the same subject and Yosef interpreted the dream.  How did these actions line up with the Torah provision that everything must be established by two or three witnesses?
  16. In what manner are Pharaoh's dreams similar to Yosef's dreams (at the beginning of Parasha Va'yeshev)? [Note primarily their 'double' nature.] Does this help explain how Yosef is able to solve Pharaoh's dream
  17. Pharaoh acknowledged that the Ruach / Holy Spirit was upon Yosef?  How did he sense this? 
  18. Yosef was made "ruler over all the land of Egypt."  Explain how Yosef went from the pit to the prison and then to the palace.
  19. Yosef's name was changed by Pharaoh.  How did taking an Egyptian name help Yosef assimilate into the pagan culture?  How is this similar today?
  20. Did the exile of the Hebrew people start with Yosef or later?
  21. How old was Yosef when he stood before Pharaoh?  Why is this number significant?
  22. Yosef took the daughter of Potipher as a wife.  Was she a Hebrew?
  23. Who were Joseph's sons?  What is the meaning of their names as given in the Torah?
  24. Who are Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, today?
  25. Since Yosef's wife was not Hebrew, are her children full-blooded Israelites?  Does the Biblical bloodline run from the mother or the father?
  26. How did Pharaoh use the famine to grow the power of Egypt?
  27. Who was kept in Egypt as a hostage?
  28. Joseph made known to his brothers a way of deliverance through substitution. Who in the last two thousand years have been making known to the world the way of deliverance through the substitutionary work of Messiah Y’shua the Son of Joseph?
  29. Jacob sent 10 sons to Egypt but held back Benyamin.  How is this similar to Jacob splitting his family into two camps as he approached Esav?
  30. Jacob sent 10 sons to Egypt but held back Benyamin.  How is this similar to the splitting of the two houses of Israel into Ephraim and Judah?
  31. Why did Joseph speak roughly to his brothers and then accuse them of being spies?  How did this behavior help?
  32. Yosef put his brothers in prison for three days.  Who was left behind?  How is this like how his brothers treated Joseph when they through him in prison?
  33. What language did the 10 sons of Joseph speak?
  34. Who offered to be surety for Benyamin?
  35. Why was it an abomination for Hebrews and Egyptians to eat together?
  36. Was Joseph being deceptive by hiding his cup in the bags of his brothers?
  37. Judah laid down his life for his brother.  Why?  What is this prophetic of?
  38. Prophetically, would YHVH accept children of mixed marriages to be grafted in to the olive tree of Israel to become full citizens with equal standing and rights as full-blooded Israelites? (Read Romans 11:13–24.)
  39. Who does Paul say these Gentiles are? (See Rom 9:25–26 and then read the Hosea passage Paul is quoting from Hosea 2:23. Also read Eph 2:11–19; Rom 4:16; 9:8, 11; and Gal 3:7, 9, 14, 28, 29.)
  40. This Torah portion reading occurs every year at the time of Chanukah.  Why?  What does this story have in common with the account of the Festival of Lights?



The Open Bible is a teaching series written by Daniel Rendelman of Emet Ministries.  Daniel Rendelman is the found and leader of Emet Ministries and the author of the book “Finding the Truth.”  He, his wife, and five children live in Newberry, South Carolina.  He can be reached at emetministries@gmail.com.  Find more teachings, audio messages, videos, and music at www.emetministries.com.


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