The reading for this Shabbat is from Genesis, Parashat Vayeshev, from Genesis 37:1- 40:23, and from the prophets, Amos 2:6-3:8, and from the New Testament, Matthew 1:18-25.
Of course, the Torah portion is the beginning of the story of Joseph, the son of Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob. This story of Joseph is one of the most fully developed and complete novelettes (mini-novels) in the Bible. It is almost a complete script for making a Hollywood movie.
The narrative and plot of the story of Joseph has a beginning that is dramatic and a middle that is enchanting and an end that is a happy ending. I want us to see the full picture of this Shabbat’s Torah reading.
Here is the key: If you cut into any part of this story and separate it and analyze it you probably will come up with the opinion that this is a terrible tragedy of a family that is falling apart and an old father that is not able to take care of his own family and make peace and order among his own sons.
It would be considered as being a totally dysfunctional family. However, if you back up and look at the whole story the whole narrative of the story of Joseph you see that each picture in the story, each scene in the plot is like a freight train where each car is hooked to the next and is pulling the other cars, with each car connected to the other, and even though each car is full of sadness and horrible events the train itself is headed in a happy direction toward a happy ending.
There is much similarity between the story of Joseph and the story of Yeshua (Jesus). Everything in his life is one tragedy after another. Yeshua is neglected and rejected by His own brothers, and rejected by the people of Nazareth, where He was raised.
He is a person that one might identify today as being “homeless.” Like Superman, He came from another world, and has to live as a stranger in His own land. Joseph, the son of Jacob, is very much the same.
He is misunderstood, by his brothers, and even by his father and mother. He is hated by his brothers because of the revelation and prophecy that he received from God. They want to kill him and they end up selling him to a caravan of merchants. Later, in Egypt where Joseph serves as a slave, the head steward of the house of Potiphar, the chief warden of Pharaoh’s prison, he is falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife of rape, and ends up in jail.
One could easily end the story there and see it as a kind of Greek tragedy. However, this is not the end of the story. What I would like to show you from this Shabbat’s reading is that just as this week’s reading contains one tragedy after the other, that is not the end of the story.
The same is true with Yeshua, our Lord and Messiah: Where we stand today is not the end of the story, the cross is not the end of the story, the resurrection of Yeshua from the grave is not the end of the story. The end of the story has not yet happened. Yeshua is now in Heaven, like Joseph was in Egypt, serving as the prime minister.
Joseph was second only to Pharaoh himself, leading the world’s most powerful empire, the foremost civilization of the world of his day. Egypt, in the days of Joseph, ruled from Tunisia in North Africa, to the Arabian Peninsula in the east and to Somalia in the south east of Africa, all the way to the south of Lake Victoria. The riches and power of ancient Egypt can still be viewed in Egypt today, and in every major historical museum in the world.
Please read this Shabbat’s reading yourselves, take some time to enjoy God’s word. Read it like a novel, not like some holy book. Imagine that you are reading a Tolstoy or Hemingway novel, and you will find the story both fascinating and inspiring, as well as encouraging. Because the story of Joseph is the quintessential proof that, “all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord!”
When the Apostle Paul wrote this in Romans chapter 8, he really meant that “all things,” the good the bad and the ugly, work together for the good of those who love the Lord. Of course, remember my dear brothers “all things don’t always work together for the good of those who don’t really love the Lord!”
Just make sure that you and your family truly love the Lord and you will see that all things work together for you who love the Lord and that while the interest is collected in this life, the principal is collected in eternity.
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and reposted with permission.