Thought for the week

'PARSHA VAYEISHEV'

HOLD ONTO G-D

Genesis 39:21-23: “But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph's authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.”

The ‘parsha’ (‘Torah’ portion) this week is ‘Parsha Vayeishev’ (‘and he lived’ or ‘and he settled’), found in Genesis 37:1 – 40:23. It is the ninth weekly ‘Torah’ portion in the annual Jewish cycle of ‘Torah’ reading, and the ninth in the book of Genesis; the corresponding ‘haftorah’ (reading of the prophets) is found in Amos 2:6 – 3:8.

‘Parsha Vayeishev’ tells us that Jacob settled in the land of Canaan. His Haran years were behind him with Laban many miles away, and a truce of sorts had been made with Esau; Dinah had been rescued and avenged and his beloved Rachel had been buried and mourned.
The one hundred year old Patriarch now hoped that he had experienced enough hardship and heartbreak and looked forward to some tranquil years in “the land of his father's dwelling” as his sons shepherded his flocks in the hills and valleys of Canaan.
But this was not to be.

When Jacob’s son, Joseph, was seventeen, he fed the flocks with his brothers and he brought Jacob an evil report about his brothers.
Because Joseph was the son of Jacob’s old age, Jacob loved him more than his other children and made him a coat of many colours, which caused Joseph’s brothers to hate him.
Joseph made his brothers hate him more when he told them that he dreamed that they were binding sheaves in the field, and their sheaves bowed down to his sheaf. He then told his brothers another dream in which the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him.
When he told his father, he rebuked him asking whether he, Joseph’s mother and his brothers would bow down to Joseph. However, although Jacob rebuked Joseph, Genesis 37:11 tells us: “but his father kept the matter in mind.”

When the brothers went to feed the flock in Shechem, Jacob sent Joseph to see whether all was well with them and Joseph finally located them in Dothan.
When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they conspired to kill him, cast him into a pit and say that a beast had devoured him. They said that they would then see what would become of his dreams.
However Reuben, the eldest brother, persuaded them not to kill him but to cast him into a pit, hoping to restore him to Jacob later.
Joseph’s brothers then stripped him of his coat of many colors and cast him into an empty pit. While Reuben was away, the brothers sat down to eat and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites bringing spices and balm to Egypt. Judah persuaded the brothers to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites and they sold Joseph for twenty Shekels of silver.
When Reuben returned to the pit and Joseph was gone, he tore his clothes and rebuked his brothers. They then dipped Joseph's coat in the blood of a goat and brought it to Jacob saying that a beast had devoured Joseph. Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for Joseph many days.
All his sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted saying that he would go down to the grave mourning his son.
Joseph, in the meantime, was taken to Egypt where he was sold to Potiphar, Pharaoh's captain of the guard.

‘Parsha Vayeishev’ then relates that Judah left his brothers, married, and had three children: Er, Onan and Sheilah. When Er came of age, Judah married him to a woman by the name of Tamar. However, Er was a wicked man and G-d killed him.
Judah then directed Onan to perform a brother’s duty and have children with Tamar in Er’s name. Onan knew that the children would not be counted as his, so he spilled his seed on the ground and G-d killed him as well.
Judah then told Tamar to remain a widow in his house until Sheilah would grow up; however he feared that if Tamar would wed Sheilah, he might also die.

Later, when Judah’s wife died, he went to his sheep-shearers at Timnah. When Tamar learned that Judah had gone to Timnah, she took off her widow’s garments and put on a veil and sat on the road to Timnah, for she saw that Sheilah had grown up and Judah had not given her to be his wife.
Judah took her for a harlot, offered her a young goat for her services and gave her his signet and staff as a pledge for payment. They slept together and Tamar became pregnant by Judah.
About three months later, Judah heard that Tamar had played the harlot and become pregnant and he ordered her to be burned. When they seized her, she sent Judah the pledge to identify saying that she was pregnant by the man whose things they were. Judah acknowledged them and said that she was more righteous than he, inasmuch as he had failed to give her to Sheilah.
Tamar gave birth to twins, Peretz and Zerach.

‘Parsha Vayeishev’ then returns to the account of Joseph.
Potiphar bought Joseph from the Ishmaelites and he saw that G-d was with Joseph and that he prospered in all that he did. Potiphar appointed him overseer over his house and gave him charge of all that he had; G-d blessed Potiphar’s house for Joseph’s sake.
Joseph was a handsome young man and Potiphar’s wife repeatedly asked him to lie with her, but he declined, asking how he could sin against Potiphar and against G-d.
One day, when the men of the house were away, she caught him by his garment and asked him to lie with her; but he fled, leaving his garment behind.
When Potiphar came home, she showed Joseph’s garment to Potiphar and accused him of trying to rape her. Potiphar put Joseph in the prison where the king’s prisoners were held.

The ‘Torah’ tells us that G-d was with Joseph and gave him favour in the sight of the warden, who committed all the prisoners to Joseph’s charge.
Years passed, and when Pharaoh’s butler and baker offended him, Pharaoh put them into the prison as well. One night, the butler and the baker each dreamed a dream. Finding them sad, Joseph asked the cause; they told him that it was because no one could interpret their dreams.
Joseph asked them to tell him their dreams and he interpreted them.
Joseph told the butler that within three days, Pharaoh would restore him to his office, where he would give Pharaoh his cup just as he used to do. Joseph asked the butler to remember him and mention him to Pharaoh, so that he might be brought out of the prison; for he had been stolen away from his land and had done nothing to warrant his imprisonment.
When the baker saw that the interpretation of the butler’s dream was good, he told Joseph his dream. Joseph interpreted the dream and told the baker that within three days Pharaoh would hang him on a tree, and the birds would eat his flesh.

And it happened on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that Pharaoh made a feast, restored the chief butler to his butlership, and hanged the baker - just as Joseph had predicted.

‘Parsha Vayeishev’ ends by telling us that the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

‘Haftorah Vayeishev’, found in Amos 2:6 – 3:8, contains an allusion to the sale of Joseph by his brothers; an incident discussed in this week's ‘Torah’ reading.

Amos opens with a rebuke to the Jewish People. G-d had been patient with them notwithstanding their transgression of the three cardinal sins - sexual impropriety, idolatry and murder. Their fourth sin, however, crossed the line - the mistreatment of the innocent, widows, orphans and the poor.

G-d reminded the Jewish people how He lovingly took them out of Egypt and led them through the desert for forty years and settled them in the Holy Land. There He bestowed the gift of prophecy on some and inspired others to become Nazirites. Yet the Jewish people did not respond appropriately, giving wine to the Nazirites and instructing the prophets not to prophesy.

The prophet Amos then goes on to describe G-d’s punishment on Israel for their errant behaviour, and the ‘haftorah’ ends with an admonition from G-d that also recalls His eternal love for His people: “Hear this word that the LORD has spoken about you, O children of Israel, concerning the entire nation that I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore, I will visit upon you all your iniquities…’” (Amos 3:1-2).
As opposed to other nations to whom G-d did not pay close attention, G-d’s love for His nation caused Him to punish them for their misdeeds in order to cleanse them and prod them back onto the path of righteousness.

What are the lessons learnt from ‘Parsha Vayeishev’?

This week’s ‘parsha’ teaches us a valuable lesson: ‘Never give in to your circumstances, rather hold onto G-d’.

In last week’s ‘parsha’, we read that “a Man wrestled with Jacob until the breaking of day”. The “Man” that Jacob wrestled with was, in fact, G-d.
When the “Man” asked Jacob to let Him go because the day was breaking, Jacob answered Him: “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
Despite the fact that Jacob knew that he would not be able to defeat the “Man”, he would not let go until he had received his blessing.

This is a great lesson for us: Because Jacob would not give up, his entire destiny changed. He went from being a “deceiver” or a “grabber” (Jacob) to being a “Prince with G-d” (Israel).

In this week’s ‘parsha’, we see a similar situation with Jacob’s son, Joseph. He, too, would not give up and let go of G-d, despite his circumstances.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, taken to a foreign country and imprisoned on trumped up charges; yet he never gave up - even when the chief butler forgot about him.
He went from being a ‘favourite son’ to being a prisoner – unjustly thrown in jail because he would not give in to temptation and sin against G-d.
Joseph was faithful to his master, Potiphar, and he was faithful to G-d.

Because Joseph would not give in to temptation, and because he would not give up holding onto G-d, G-d’s divine blessing rested on him – “because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.” (Genesis 39:23).
Joseph prospered as a slave in Potiphar’s house and Joseph prospered in jail…what an example of G-d’s divine blessing.
Joseph had a G-d given destiny that had to be fulfilled, and G-d faithfully bestowed His divine blessing on Joseph in order for him to fulfill his destiny.

What a lesson for you and for me. You, too, have a G-d given destiny that G-d wants you to fulfill.
You may be tempted to give in to ‘peer pressure’; you may be tempted to give in to your circumstances; you may be tempted to give in to the world or you may be tempted to just give up…don’t!
Don’t ever give in and don’t ever give up! G-d is so faithful; He is so wonderful; and He wants to anoint you with His divine blessing.
However, we can be a stumbling block to receiving G-d’s divine blessing, and we can be a stumbling block to fulfilling our G-d given destiny by giving in to the world instead of holding onto G-d.

Joseph faced almost overwhelming odds. As a teenager, he was sold into slavery and he was taken away from his parents, his family and his way of life. And just as things started to improve, he was unjustly thrown into prison for something he didn’t do.
Yet through all of this, G-d’s unmerited divine blessing abounded to him and whatever he did, the L-rd made it prosper - why? Because he never gave in and he never gave up – even when the chief butler forgot about him.

And Almighty G-d wants to shower you with His divine blessing.

However the FULL divine blessing of the L-rd constitutes the forgiveness of sin and eternal life in heaven.
Have you received G-d’s FULL divine blessing? Are your sins taken care of and is your eternal future secure?

Scripture records that Yeshua became the perfect sacrifice when He died on the cross, shedding every last drop of His blood, thus taking mankind’s sins upon Himself, guaranteeing all who believe in His death and resurrection and who invite Him to become L-rd of their lives, eternal life in heaven…and this is for both Jews and Gentiles.

If you would like to accept Yeshua as your L-rd and Saviour, placing your eternal future into His hands, then please pray the Prayer of Salvation found at the end of this article.

In conclusion; don’t ever give in and don’t ever give up. Receive G-d’s divine blessing for you…it’s His gift to you. Then go out and fulfill your G-d given destiny for His glory.

We love you.

Shalom.

Scripture of the week: Genesis 39:1 – 40:23


SALVATION PRAYER

Thank you Yeshua for Your love for me.
Thank you for giving up Your life on the cross for me and for taking my sins upon Yourself.
I confess that I have sinned.
I repent of my sins and I turn from everything I know to be wrong.
I invite You to come into my life as my Messiah, my Saviour.
By Your grace I will serve You all the remaining years of my life.


















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PRAYER OF SALVATION

Perhaps you have never drawn close to Yeshua. Maybe you have never committed your life to Him?
Why not take this opportunity to pray the following prayer of salvation?


Thank you Yeshua for Your love for me.
Thank you for giving up Your life on the cross for me and for taking my sins upon Yourself.
I confess that I have sinned.
I repent of my sins and
I turn from everything I know to be wrong.
I invite You to come into my heart and live in me.
By Your grace I will serve You
all the remaining years of my life.

Amen

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