Once appointed as Pharaoh’s deputy, with all the appropriate regalia, Joseph was also given a new name: Tzofnat Pa’a’ne’ach (transliteration according to the Hebrew original), which in Modern Hebrew means “the decoder of the hidden”. There is much about the story of Joseph which is associated with “codes” that require decoding. For starters, of all the various figures in Scripture who prefigure Yeshua, Joseph is one of the most obvious. But even with that, the text has to be examined quite closely in order for a clear picture to emerge. Another such example is the vision cast by Joseph’s life upon the eventual destiny of his progeny, and that of the progeny of those related to him. Here too a close deciphering is required of text and facts.
When it comes to Joseph, the Hebrew narrative is very deliberate in its vocabulary, especially in certain episodes. One such example is the usage of the root letters shin, bet/vet, resh – which form the word “sheh’ver”, with its primordial meaning being “to break” or “to sever”. Joseph’s specific role as well as his family’s efforts to obtain sustenance is couched in this term with its variety of meanings, such as: sell, grain, buy, provider etc. Moreover, in chapters 41-44 of Genesis it appears 18 times, although Joseph himself uses this term only once (in 42:19).
Admittedly, the repeated usage of such a term to describe the situation that revolved around Joseph is indeed strange, and therefore begs the question: Why? What is its significance? There are two more times in which this term is used by the Sacred Text related to Joseph. Psalm 105:16-23 tells the story of Joseph with some additions, such as: “They hurt his feet with fetters. Iron pierced his soul, until the time that his word came to pass, the word of YHVH tested him” (vs. 18,19). This passage is introduced by: “He [Elohim] called a famine in the land; He destroyed all the provision, - sheh’ver – of bread” (v. 16).
The next passage is in
Amos 6:6. Those of the house of
Thus we see that decoding the usage of sh.b/v.r in Joseph’s story leads to more than just provision, buying, selling, grain etc. but to a very serious crisis of near annihilation that YHVH expects His people to be very concerned about – then AND now. The Hebrew word used in Amos 6:6 is “ne’ch’lu” – literally to become sick and weak, over the fate of the entity called Joseph. Our Father seems to regard this issue very seriously, can we do any less?
One more “she’ver”, which appears in Scripture, is found in Judges 7, when a dream that Gideon happens to overhear confirmed to him his assured victory over Midian by the hand of YHVH. Gideon is said to have heard the telling of the dream and “its interpretation” – shivro… (v. 10).
interpreting (discerning), is also what is before us at this present time, so
that the only “breaking” will be that of the “heart”, as YHVH is “near to those who have a broken heart”
(Psalm 51:17; 34:18). That contrite heart and humble spirit is of utmost
import at a time such as we are in, a time which is not unlike the seven years
of famine that prevailed in the world covered by the Biblical narrative. In the
midst of tribulation, the faith and humility of Joseph and the brokenness of
Viewing these events of
the seven year famine from a historical perspective, it is quite clear that
this upheaval had as its central pivot the family of Jacob/Israel, for the sake
of their ultimate destiny - to be formed into a nation. This of course took
place not without having its effect far and wide, just as things are in our
day. From Genesis 48:14 we learn that further on into the famine, Joseph took
gradual managerial steps in order to be ‘on top” of the situation. He first
gathered all the money that was ‘floating’ in
Joseph’s methodology is quite totalitarian, but under whose orders was he operating? It does not say anything about Pharaoh instructing him thus. Was Joseph getting his ideas from a “Higher Power”? Remember Psalm 105:16, and who “called famine on the land”? Even so today, no matter what is happening and ‘fixing’ to happen in the near future, our trust is in Elohim Almighty who is navigating our ship to the port that He has in mind. With that said, it is worthwhile to note that in Judaism, and especially now, the Messiah is said to not just “come”, but mainly “to be revealed”. We wait for the Greater Son of Joseph to reveal Himself to His brethren, perhaps at such a time as this, just as Jacob’s favorite son did during the days of adversity to his brothers. But before we sign off, there is another question that comes to mind: “Could this prospective revealing come, at least partially, through the Body, the “sons of the living Elohim”, whose head is Messiah? Here again sh.v/b.r helps us to do some “decoding”. There are two passages where this root word comes into play: “Today is a day of trouble, rebuke and disgrace. Children are ready to be born – “mishbar”, but there is no strength to bring them to birth” (2nd Kings 19:3), and especially Hosea 13:12-13: “The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hidden. The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth – mishbar - of sons”. However, Revelation 12:5 tells us of a birth that is not aborted. Let us therefore get ready for the birth, and remember to decode the hidden things!