Friday, December 25, 2020



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 Israel, in Samaria, are being chastised in the entire chapter for being self-serving, selfish, complacent and living in ignorance of their impending judgment. The thrust of the charge leveled at them (‘them’ being those who were part of the “house of Joseph”) was for not grieving over the “affliction of Joseph – the shev’ver – the brokenness, the fracture, the crisis of their own household. And indeed they suffered the consequences. “Their house was left desolate to them” and they ended up scattered and lost.


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).


Decoding, or 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 isnear 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 Judah stand out as major traits that were needed for the events to take their course.


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 Egypt and Canaan and handed it over to Pharaoh (v. 14). When the people found themselves bereft of sustenance, both food and money, Joseph appropriated all of their livestock in exchange for food (v.17). Shortly after, when there was nothing left to pay with and the people offered themselves and their land, in exchange for seed. And although it is not recorded that Joseph had actually made them into slaves, he did buy all the land and turned it over to  Pharaoh in return for seed (vs. 20, 23). “And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end” (Genesis 47:21). This was nothing short of population transfer, which caused the now totally weakened people to become even more subject to governmental control. A firth of the produce that, they were to grow from the seeds that Joseph provided for them was to be handed to the monarch (v. 24).


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!

Friday, December 18, 2020

Focusing Our Aim


Shalom Fellow Israelite,

In our group zoom discussion the other night, a question was raised in regards to the massive focus on the American Constitution which is currently consuming Christians and Messianic Believers in the United States. The Republic of the US was founded on Judeo/Christian values, statutes and ordinances. These principles of freedom have their roots more specifically in the Torah of Moses. However, much of the Christian population in the United States does not live by what is written in those sacred writings, and in fact has even chosen to discard them under the doctrine of “not being under the law”. Thus, at this time when seeking justice looms large in the eyes of American Believers, the question must be raised: “Can lawlessness combat lawlessness? Is there a flawed foundation in the godly motivations of those trying to correct injustice and unrighteousness in the US, and does that affect the potential for a successful outcome…?” Thank you, Kay B. for asking! To drive this point even more poignantly, Kay also added another question, quoting from Mark 3:23: “How can Satan cast out Satan?”

I would like to add another point that came up in this week’s meeting. What about the role of the Ephraimites, who likewise are pursuing American identity at this time, rather than their own ancestral one? What is more important in these days of the restoration of the whole house of Israel, than the everlasting covenants and promises that are yet to be fulfilled? In regards to the House of Israel in the nations, especially the USA, Rimona had a word a couple of days ago – “diversion”.  Is it possible that the entire upheaval which is sweeping the world at the moment, is actually for the purpose of ultimately gathering YHVH’s people and setting up His everlasting kingdom in its designated location? Let us remember that in the midst of preparations for a time of calamity (famine) in Egypt, our ancestor Joseph was said to have “stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea…” (Gen. 41:49). This evokes the promises to his fathers that their seed would be “like the sand of the sea”. It is no coincidence that the verse which follows Joseph’s “ingathering” action reports the birth of his two sons, to whom the above irrevocable promise pertained.  

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Scriptures for Lighting the Chanukah Candles


When Lighting the Chanukah Candles read each evening, as each candle is being lit:

 When lighting the Shamash candle:  "And now YHVH says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him…Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Nations, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'"(Isaiah 49:5-6). "Then Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12) "In Me is life, and the life is the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it" (John 1:4-5).


 First Candle:  "But you/we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you/we may proclaim the praises of Him who called you/us out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but now the people of Elohim, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy" (1Peter 2:9-10).


Second Candle:  "For so YHVH has commanded us [body of Messiah]: 'I have set you as a light to the Nations, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47) "to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to Elohim, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' (Acts 26:18 a word commissioned to the Apostle Paul but by inference to all of us).


Third Candle:  "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you/we do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your/our hearts" (2Peter 1:19).


Fourth Candle:  "I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness"(John 12:46). "For you/we were once darkness, but now you/we are light in the Lord. [We should then] walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8).


Fifth Candle:  "No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lamp stand, that those who come in may see the light" (Luke 11:33). "He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him" (1John 2:10)."For if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Messiah Yeshua  His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1John 1:7).


Sixth Candle:  "If you/we extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your/our light shall dawn in the darkness, and your/our darkness shall be as the noonday…(Isaiah 58:10) "Therefore let your/our light so shine before men, that they may see your/our good works and glorify your/our Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).


Seventh Candle:  "Then Yeshua said to them, "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light" (John 12:35-36).


Eighth Candle:  "The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light" (Romans 13:12). "For you/we, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you/us as a thief.  You/we are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night, nor of darkness" (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5). "O house of Jacob, come and let us walk In the light of YHVH" (Isaiah 2:5). "For Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path"(Psalm 119:105). "Arise, shine; for your/our light has come! And the glory of YHVH is risen upon you/us" (Isaiah 60:1).