Last week, in Parasha Vayeshev, Joseph (Yoseph) was persecuted by his brothers and treated unjustly by others.
His own brothers threw him into a pit and sold him to slave traders. In Egypt, he was sold to Potiphar, the captain of the palace guard, who had him thrown in prison on the false charge of raping his wife.
Although he languished in prison, his talents made a way for him.
Besides amazing administrative skills, Joseph showed an uncanny accuracy in interpreting prophetic dreams.
It was here in prison that he interpreted the dream of Pharaoh’s cupbearer. (Genesis 40:13–14)
Despite Joseph accurately predicting the cupbearer’s release, and his plea to be remembered, the cupbearer seemed to forget about Joseph as soon as he was out of jail.
As disappointing as that must have been for Joseph, it does seem that it was part of God’s plan for Joseph to be forsaken and forgotten in prison, since that left him in the right place to fulfill his destiny at the right time.
This week’s Parasha takes up the story two years after this incident. It begins with Pharaoh having a disturbing dream that no one can interpret. It is only then that the cupbearer (butler) remembers Joseph.
When Pharaoh sent for Joseph, he didn’t waste any time by telling Pharaoh the story of his unjust imprisonment. Instead, Joseph was careful to explain to Pharaoh that God had the answer.
“Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.’
‘I cannot do it,’ Joseph replied to Pharaoh, ‘but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.’” (Genesis 41:15–16)
Despite years of hardship and suffering, Joseph’s trust in God was still unwavering.
As Joseph delivered to Pharaoh the interpretation of the dream, he explained to him that the dream was in fact a revelation from God that there would be a season of plenty, followed by a season of famine and lack.
“Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, ‘The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what He is about to do.’” (Genesis 41:25)
Wisdom and the Prophetic Dream
“Joseph said: ‘And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.’” (Genesis 41:33–34)
This Jewish son of Jacob was no ordinary interpreter of dreams. Pharaoh had plenty of educated, gifted men who could do such things, but they could not interpret a revelation from God.
Joseph was head and shoulders above all of Pharaoh’s scholarly wise men.
He was not only a wise, prudent and practical man, but he heard from the God of his great grandfather Abraham, and the same God who spoke to his grandfather Isaac and his father Jacob.
Through God’s gifting, Joseph discerned the meaning of the dream, wisely determined the proper course of action, and boldly informed Pharaoh about how to manage the coming crisis.
Likewise, we must also be wise, prudent and practical people, knowing how to act upon the insights God gives us as we hear the voice of the Lord.
In the same way that it was evident to Pharaoh that God had filled Joseph with His Spirit of wisdom, it should be evident to those around us that as Believers, we receive supernatural wisdom.
Indeed, the word of God promises us wisdom.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)
Many of us lack confidence in our ability to make wise decisions. But wisdom is “more precious than rubies, and all the things we may desire cannot compare with her (Proverbs 3:15),” so we must take hold of this promise in James and ask in faith for wisdom, without doubting.
Yoseph and Yeshua: Sustainers of Life
“Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
Pharaoh gave Joseph the Egyptian name Zaphenath-paneah, which some scholars suggest means the one who furnishes the nourishment of life.
Interestingly enough, Yeshua (Jesus) referred to Himself as the Bread of Life (Lechem Chayim in Hebrew).
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)
Just as Yoseph (Joseph) provided physical sustenance for the people, thus preventing them from perishing, Yeshua provides spiritual sustenance, in order that all who believe in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Yeshua and Yoseph: Hidden Identities
“Joseph knew his brethren, but they did not know him.” (Genesis 42:8)