November 16, 2013 Shabbat Bible Study
©2013 Mark Pitrone and Fulfilling Torah Ministries
November 16, 2013 – Year 1 Sabbath 36
Genesis 39:1-23 – Isaiah 52:3-9 – Psalm 32 – Acts 7:9-37
B’reishith 39.1-8a – The chapter opens in the past perfect tense, because the event of v.1 happened long before the events of ch.38, and it recaps the important point of ch.37. Yoseph was brought down to Egypt, he did not travel of his own will to Egypt. He was sold to Potiphar, whose name means ‘one devoted to the sun’ who was an officer. Officer is from the unused root cariyc, which literally means to castrate, so it is supposed that he was a eunuch. Why would a eunuch have a wife? Did Pharaoh make him marry a beautiful woman just to spite him? Appearances? Well, perhaps. He was the captain of the guard, which literally means he was the “Lord High Executioner” – not a guy to tick off. Or it could mean ‘chief butcher’, which is nearly the same thing, just a different direct object to the job’s action. Potiphar bought him from the Ishmaelites from Midian (they are variously described as Ishmaelites and Midianites in ch.37; so why does it have to be one or the other – why not both?). Potiphar’s name is never mentioned again, and the woman is never called Potiphar’s wife. I think it’s possible that Potiphar was a go between, a slave buyer for his master and that Yoseph’s master was Pharaoh, or one of the Priest’s of On – maybe even Potiphera (cf.41.45, 50, 46.20). Potiphar and Potiphera have the same translation and are thought by some to be the same man, but they have different jobs; Phar is a eunuch and an executioner, Phera is the Priest of the Sun who has at least one child. It IS possible that they are the same man, Asenath being the wife’s daughter by another man but raised as his own, and the ayin being added to Potiphar’s name with the promotion from LHE to Priest of Sun worship. I’ll ask Yoseph when I see him. I may even ask Potiphar/phera himselves.
So Yoseph went to work in his master’s house and quickly showed that he was blessed of Y’hovah and also scrupulously honest in all that he did, so his master set him up as 2nd in his house and just left it to Yoseph to manage. And Yoseph’s management made his master even more wealthy. In vv.4-8, Yoseph is in charge of ‘all’ his master owns 5 times, showing the grace of Y’hovah on his life. But with much grace comes much responsibility and much attention. And the attention is not only with those who are for the object of the attention. The man’s enemies will also see the blessing and try to stop him from getting any more. And Yoseph was a Tzadik; a righteous man, aman who is after the heart of Y’hovah to be his own.
My little children of Yisrael, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an Intercessor with Abba, Yeshua ha Moshiach Ha-Tzadik. (1Yochanan 2.1 Restoration Scriptures)
This explains the gracious provision of Y’hovah. But it also explains the attention he drew from haSatan.
HaSatan sent Yoseph’s master’s wife to try to entice him. Yoseph was a good looking guy (almost as good looking as Moi!), so it’s not surprising that his master’s wife was chasing around the household help. What was probably surprising to the rest of the household help was that Yoseph refused her advances. Yoseph had long before set himself apart unto Y’hovah. The nation’s religion was based in sex, as were the religions of every Canaanite nation. Potipherah is devoted to the sun, as I assume his wife was. Here’s some of what that source of all truth; Wikipedia, has to say about Egyptian sun worship:
The Neolithic concept of a solar barge, the sun as traversing the sky in a boat, is found in the later myths of ancient Egypt, with Ra and Horus. Earlier Egyptian myths imply that the sun is within the lioness, Sekhmet, at night and can be seen reflected in her eyes or that it is within the cow, Hathor during the night, being reborn each morning as her son (bull).
First Hathor, and then Isis, give birth to and nurse Horus and Ra. Hathor the horned-cow is one of the 12 daughters of Ra… (and the golden calf of Ex.32 and 1Ki.12)
26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: 27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of Y’hovah at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. 28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went before the one, unto Dan. 31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
When male deities became associated with the sun in that culture, they began as the offspring of a mother (except Ra, King of the Gods who gave birth to himself?!).
This religion had similarities to the Tophet worship in Canaan. From the Jewish Encyclopedia (www.jewishencyclopedia.com):
Tophet, as described especially in Jer. vii. 31, 32, was dedicated to the horrible rites of human sacrifice, of the immolation of children to Ba’al and other abominable idols. Josiah takes especial pains (II Kings xxiii. 10) to defile this despicable spot and thus to put a stop to the atrocious sacrifices of human life which had been made by at least two kings of Judah.
Ba’al was a fertility god of Canaan – also from the Jewish Encyclopedia:
The noxious elements in such Ba’al-Worship were not simply the degradation of Y’hovah and the enthronement in his place of a baseless superstition. The chief evil arose from the fact that the Ba’als were more than mere religious fantasies. They were made the symbols of the reproductive powers of nature, and thus their worship ministered to sexual indulgences, which it at the same time legalized and encouraged. Further, there was placed side by side with the Ba’al a corresponding female symbol, the Ashtoreth (Babyl. “Ashtar”) and the relation between the two deities was set forth as the example and the motive of unbridled sensuality. The evil became all the worse when in the popular view Y’hovah himself was regarded as one of the Ba’als and the chief of them (Hosea ii. 16).
16 And it shall be in that day, says Y’hovah, that you shall call Me Ishi – My Husband; and shall no more call Me Ba’ali – my lord. (Hoshea 2.16 (Restoration)
It was in northern Israel, where agriculture was more followed than in the southern kingdom, that Ba’al-Worship was most insidious and virulent.
The Book of Hosea speaks eloquently and pathetically of the moral and religious ruin which it wrought in the days just before the fall of the monarchy. It was to the Ba’als that the popular worship of the high places was paid; or, more frequently, to Y’hovah Himself with Ba’alish rites… More pernicious while it lasted than this popular inland Canaanitic cult was the elaborate official Ba’al-Worship of Ahab and Jezebel… It had prophets by the hundreds, as well as priests, and had the effect of virtually, though not avowedly, putting the religion of Y’hovah under the ban.
Worship of Ba‘al involved imitative magic, the performance of rituals, including sacred prostitution, which were understood to bring vitality to Ba‘al…
You can see the parallels between the sun worship of Egypt and the Ba’al worship of Babylon/Canaan, primarily in the fertility rites associated with both, including ritual child sacrifice. It wasn’t so much that Ba’al, Molech and Ra were seen by the Canaanites as the same god, but that they were all associated with the return of spring and the rains that would bring forth the crops the people lived on. So I think[i] the Tophet became something of a conglomeration of worship systems; the ritual prostitution, the resulting children and their being offered to the gods as a supplication for the spring rains. When the Tophet became an outlet of Y’hovah worship, Y’hovah became ‘mildly displeased’.
That’s a little background on the situation in which Yoseph found himself. Q&C
Vv.8b-20 – Yoseph said, “My master has been very gracious to me and has placed me in charge of all he has, except you. How could I do this great wickedness and sin against Eloha?” To do what she proposed was not only an injustice to his master in Yoseph’s eyes, but a sin against Y’hovah. Now, put yourself in the wife’s shoes and apply the context. Yoseph had just told her that her religion was wicked and sinful. How could that be? Yoseph was a Canaanite, wasn’t he? Weren’t Canaanites also sun-worshippers? Didn’t the Canaanites have similar systems of worship to Egypt’s? She didn’t know that Y’hovah demanded an entirely different order of worship, so she persisted. After a few weeks or months of this refusal and Yoseph actually eschewing contact with her, she probably felt scorned, and you know the old saying, “Hell hath no fury …”.
In v.11, we have a day when no other servants were in the Master’s house (big pagan holiday? Xmas? Ishtar?) and Yoseph had business there. Bad situation! And there’s his master’s wife in the house, pulling her usual shenanigans – this time grabbing his garment and removing it from him. He left it with her and ran out of the house. Why? Why didn’t he take it back from her? Since he was a slave, he and all he had was his master’s property, so to take it back may have been a capital offense. I think it may have been embarrassment at the indignity of having his nakedness uncovered. Whatever the case, she had men of HER house waiting in the wings to cover her 6 with her husband, and fed them the story as she wanted it told to him.
Now, Yoseph’s master was a pretty bright guy, and I think he knew his wife, Yoseph, and who was the more trustworthy and truthful and he knew this was a line of bullsh…tuff. I think his wrath was kindled against his wife, not Yoseph. Her accusation of Yoseph was a very thinly veiled accusation of her husband, as she said, “HE brought this Hebrew here …”, implying strongly that those Hebrews are just NOT to be trusted and the master was obviously under the Hebrew witch-doctor’s control. But what could the LHE do? Being a high government official, he could have had Yoseph killed. But he also knew his wife was lying and that Yoseph was innocent, so rather than kill him (and thereby please the shrew), he delivered him out of her hands and took him to prison. No trial, just a high level escort [probably a personal one] to the jailer, who more or less immediately sees the advantage of having Yoseph in his domain. As we’ll see in a couple of weeks, Yoseph ends up marrying, by order of Paraoh, Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, Priest of On. So, in a way, Yoseph’s master was his deliverer, and Israel’s, also. Q&C
Vv.21-23 – So, now Yoseph finds himself in prison. Let’s see where his faithfulness to his father has gotten him. He’d gone to Dothan to ensure that his brothers and the flocks are doing well, where he was taken and thrown into a pit to die a slow death from hunger and thirst, then dragged out and sold by Yehudah into slavery to Ishmaelite slave traders from Midian, taken down to Egypt where he was sold to an Egyptian, slave-buying eunuch and delivered to an unnamed master who was Egypt’s LHE and whose wife tries repeatedly to seduce him and whose seductions he rebuffed only to find out what happens to a slave who scorns the wife of a high-ranking government official in Egypt. He’s gone from one pit to another to another, each one outwardly seeming deeper than the last. And his descent was not any fault of his own – it was jealousy, circumstance and spite that had done it to him. But more than anything, and in all reality, it was the hand of Y’hovah molding him into the archetypical tzadik he was to be (Rom.8.28). And in all his trial and tribulation, he never lost his integrity or his faith in Y’hovah and his ultimate deliverance.
I think that Yoseph’s master told the Jailer about Yoseph, that he knew he was innocent and that the jailer ought to take it easy on Yoseph. So he makes him the equivalent of a trustee in today’s jails, who get rewarded with limited freedom within the jail for good behavior. Yoseph did not take advantage of his position, as most folks would, but applied a servant’s heart to all he did, and Y’hovah prospered him because of it.
While he was in prison, Yoseph again distinguished himself to the Egyptian jailer who, perhaps at the advice of Yoseph’s master, delivered almost complete control of the prison to Yoseph. If, as I suspect, Yoseph’s master was the LHE, he was leaving Yoseph where he could STILL prosper from Yoseph’s service and Y’hovah’s blessing thereby. As always, Yoseph rose almost overnight from junior inmate to 2nd in command. While in the prison, he didn’t become ‘Lord High Executioner’ but servant to both the master of the jail and the prisoners themselves, and thereby to Y’hovah. The jailer didn’t even have to watch Yoseph, could have felt free to vacate the premises, not shown for work, even travel at his leisure and KNOW that Yoseph would have everything in hand when he finally DID come back from two weeks in Jamaica, or wherever. This helps explain how he got to hear both the baker’s and butler’s dreams and interpret them in next week’s portion. Q&C
Is.52.3-9 – In.v.1, we see that this is a prophecy of the 2 houses being awakened and restored in Zion. The context shows the end of the awakening in the New Earth and New J’lem into which no uncircumcised or unclean man will ever enter. This speaks of the resurrection, where the bands that tie us to the world are broken [brings to mind Ophiuchus, the Breaker, who stands poised to break the bands that hold the 2 houses in the Constellation Pisces under the feet of Cetus, the Sea monster]. All humanity had been sold into bondage in Adam; but in Moshiach, Y’hovah has defeated the evil inclination/OSN that IS the bands, and he has set us free of them by his and our physical resurrection. We are metaphorically and spiritually free of the bands even as I type, but we will fully EXPERIENCE absolute freedom from sin in our new bodies.
We sold ourselves for nothing. What nothing did we sell ourselves for? In 1Cor.8.4-6;
As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be elohim many, and adonim many,) 6 But to us one Elohim, the Father, of whom [are] all things, and we in him; and one Master Yeshua haMoshiach, by whom [are] all things, and we by him.
Now, since we sold ourselves for nothing, why should we be redeemed for something the world values? We were bought for a price, but not a price the world prized. Yeshua’s life and blood had no value to the world, though it was of absolutely matchless value. Hence, we were redeemed without money because money is one of the idols we sold ourselves for.
Israel had gone down to Egypt to sojourn (not to DWELL, but to be a ger), so they went into exile of their free will. Then the Assyrian (antiMoshiach) oppressed them, which was anything but voluntary. So we see in v.4 a principle that when we give up our liberty for security, even our privileges are taken from us by whatever dictator we set up. In Israel’s case, the dictator was any other worthless god the Canaanites had that tickled our fancy. In America’s case, it’s money, which is truly worth less and less every day [don’t ask me how something of absolutely NO value can become worth LESS, but it does], as well as power and comfort. Our oppression under the priests of the idols we set up [In America’s case, government rats] makes us howl at Y’hovah for the state in which we find ourselves. He uses the oppression to make us see our need to repent and seek his face. The majority of those who are oppressed blame Y’hovah for abandoning them. OR, the heathen who oppress us keep blaspheming the Name of Y’hovah because they know it bothers the remnant to hear his Name abused, and it’s for that reason that he delivers us from their hands.
Only the called out remnant will see his deliverance. May we all be among them, for only his people (Hos.1.10) shall know his name, only his people will know and behold that Y’hovah speaks. Then his people shall be the ones who carry the good tidings to the world, drawing them out from among the nations. Look at how v.7 is worded, he uses parallels to show equivalence of meaning. Those good tidings we publish are that those who are oppressed can have peace with Y’hovah, that he wants peace with us, and that that peace IS salvation. There you have Tanakh’s answer to what is the gospel; that you can have peace with Y’hovah IS the gospel. How that gospel was delivered to us was what Paul spoke of in 1Cor.15.1-6. Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection were HOW Y’hovah made our deliverance and salvation available to us.
The peace that we have is what people will notice about us. And because of that peace, we can live in our blessed hope that Y’hovah will fulfill his promises that came to us through Avi, Yitzy and Jake. And they will ask us about the hope we have. So we need to be ready to testify to the reason of that hope. I get to do it all the time, and hallel Y’hovah for his deliverance from the tree with which haSatan wanted to kill me.
How can anyone think that Y’hovah will remove his people from the world at its time of direst need of the hope that WE have in the good tidings that he has given to US to deliver to them? Do they think he is NOT a God of Love? Do they think he CAN’T deliver even the vilest wretches? Did he not deliver YOU?! And even more amazingly, ME!?! The reason he’s leaving us here for the hard times ahead is so we can be a shining beacon to someone or some group that needs to hear how he loves them. The gentiles will grab hold of your tzitzioth and beg you to tell them the truth, because they have heard only the lies of the church fathers and the heathen all their lives.
19 O Y’hovah, my strength, and my stronghold, and my refuge in the Yom of Tribulation, 8 the gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our ahvot have inherited only lies, only vanity, and things in which there is no profit. (YirmeYahu 16.19 Restoration)
Before we move on, look quickly at v.8. Do you see that ‘watchmen’ is plural, as the word Awake was in v.1 and the word depart is in v.11? That’s because there are watchmen in BOTH houses of Ya’acov, Ephraim AND Yehudah. When the Messiah comes we will see eye to eye, exactly the same thing and exactly the same interpretation of what we see. THAT will be the day when there is peace not only between Adonai Y’hovah and us, but between our brother Yehudah and us. THAT will be a glorious day. Q&C
Psalm 32 – Do you see the progression from Is.52.7 to Psalm 32.1? From the blessings on them who are publishing Peace with Y’hovah to the blessings of Peace with Y’hovah? Do you see the parallel in vv.1-2? Transgressions forgiven and sins covered are likened to Iniquities not imputed and a guileless spirit? We are the publishers of peace with Y’hovah in 52.7, and when we keep our yaps shut about it in Ps.32.3, our own spirits beat us up about it, and our spirits feel old from the constant wrestling with Y’hovah’s Spirit in us. My moisture – my tears that kept coming until I had no more to cry. My silence in v.3 is broken by my repentance and confession before Y’hovah. ONLY THEN could Y’hovah forgive me. My repentance had to be followed by my confession before Y’hovah could forgive me – faith MUST have accompanying action to be true faith. What we believe or think isn’t submission; what we do BECAUSE of what we believe or think declares to whom we are in submission.
‘In a time when thou mayest be found’ sounds like a mo’ad, does it not? A shabbat or a Feast, maybe? Not to say that he can’t be found on other days except in those days he appointed that he would meet with us. But Y’hovah has made the appointment and he will not miss it. He may certainly be found on a Shabbat or Feast is what I mean.
David shifts gears in v.7, going from talking ABOUT Y’hovah, to talking TO him. He praises Y’hovah for being a shelter from his enemies who preserves or guards him from trouble. This is what he will do for us in the time of trouble. He will preserve us and deliver us when we trust him and stay faithful to him. Then there’s another shift into v.8, where Y’hovah speaks to David (and us). He will give us instruction, teach us and keep his eye on us to keep us safe. He tells us not to be like an animal that needs to be forced to go where the master wants us to go. If he needs to bridle and bit us to make us go where he wants, he’ll do it, but he wants us to understand and go willingly. The sorrows are intended for the wicked, but he’ll use them to correct his child’s direction. And if we’ll show our trust in him, he’ll surround us with his mercy. When we are surrounded by his mercy, we will sing, shout, and live in his righteousness and our righteous heart. Q&C
Acts 7.9-37 – Stephen was rehearsing the history of Israel, and he made what seem to be a few mistakes in it, but that helps to establish the bona fides of the account. If Luke were fabricating this story, he’d have made sure to cross his ‘T’s and dot his ‘I’s. The fact that we seem to witness a couple of mistakes, well one actually, in Stephen’s monologue tells me that Luke is telling the story as it happened; exactly as Stephen spoke it. ‘Mistake’ #1 is that Jacob was buried in Shechem, when he was really buried in Hevron and Machpelah on land that Avraham bought. ‘Mistake’ #2 is that Stephen says that Avraham bought the land from Hamor, father of Shechem, when Yacov bought that land. I think Stephen just got the land involved in his story wrong, a simple human mistake. The Ruach may not have been inspiring Stephen’s memory, but Luke’s account of it. OR, Stephen was using Midrash to show that Yacov’s sons had conquered the Canaanites long before they entered the land to possess it and that when he bought the property it was a foreshadowing of Israel occupying kol haAretz, the whole land, as Y’hovah had prophesied to Avraham. I lean toward Stephen’s use of Midrash. There was no problem from the Pharisees with what he said in his recounting of history, so I think that the crowd accepted what he said as correct or, at least, familiar doctrine.
There is a remez, a hint, here. When Stephen talks of Yoseph revealing himself to his brethren the 2nd time they came to Egypt (v.13), it hints at Yoseph (Ephraim/10-Israel) being revealed to his Yehudi brethren (2-Israel) at Messiah’s (2nd) coming as benDavid.
‘When Moshe was fully 40 years old’? Why the adverb ‘fully’. I think it refers to his birthday, or perhaps his ‘found-floating-in-the-Nile’ day. As I’ve shared before, I don’t think the Hebrews celebrated birthdays. Every birthday celebration in scripture is for a king, and Moshe was in the line of succession to the throne of Pharaoh. I think this was another pagan practice that was incorporated into the church. If this was his birthday and he knew his heritage, it might explain why he went to the aid of the Hebrew and ended up killing the Egyptian. Meanwhile, I don’t recall any mentions of birthdays in scripture other than pagan kings’, like Herod’s, Ahasuerus’, Belshazzar’s, Paraoh’s, etc. None of them really worked out well for the birthday boy and most held no good for Yisrael, either. Why should Moshe’s be an exception?
There’s another hint in v.34 – “I have seen, I have seen.” Before Yacov died he blessed his sons. I think Yacov was the 11th MelechTzadik (Righteous King) High Priest. If I am correct in that idea (I COULD be wrong, but I doubt it), he conferred the Melech/Royalty to Yehudah and the Tzadik/Righteousness to Ephraim. When Y’hovah said, “I have seen, I have seen” he was doing at least 2 things; 1) he was emphasizing the truth of what he was saying and 2) he was recognizing the two houses that Yacov created in his sons’ blessings and 3) each house being exiled in separate diasporas from haAretz.
In v.37 he prophesies of ‘a prophet like unto Moshe’. The AENT (pg.714-15) has a good appendix dealing with that subject. I’ll read it and then open to Q&C.
[i] An italicized I think denotes an educated guess, not necessarily hard and fast truth. I COULD be wrong … but I doubt it!