Parashat Vayeshev (And He Dwelt)

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Beresheet (Genesis) 37:1-40:23

This week we are learning about Joseph. Joseph was the youngest (and favorite) of Jacob’s 12 sons. Joseph’s brothers were very jealous of him because of their father’s love, which caused them to hate Joseph deeply.

Joseph was indeed special; He knew his father’s God, Elohim, and had a very close relationship with the Lord. He began dreaming prophetic dreams at a young age, and when he told his brothers his dreams, they hated him even more. I believe that the Scriptures show us that their jealousy was not just because of Jacob’s special love for Joseph, but also because they saw something different in Joseph…they saw God’s blessing on him:

“And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the word (The prophetic word) in mind.” Genesis 37:11

As we know, the jealousy led to hatred, and the hatred planted a seed of murder in their hearts. But Reuven saved Joseph from death, and the brothers decided instead to sell him to an Ishmaelite, which is how Joseph eventually found himself in Egypt.

One of the most amazing things about Joseph is that throughout his entire journey of being hated, sold into slavery, and then slandered, is that he never complained or showed any bitterness. I believe that Joseph knew and understood his God; he knew that nothing could happen to him without God allowing it, and that God Himself was his provider.

In Chapter 39 we read” Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelite’s, who had taken him down there. And the LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. And it came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the LORD’S blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field. So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.” Genesis 39:1-6

There is an important spiritual principle in these verses that we can learn and apply to our lives: when we are faithful to Him, remain in Him, and keep our eyes on Him no matter what, others will see this in us, possibly giving us great favor for His name. Potiphar (Joseph’s master) recognized that the Lord was with Joseph and that, as a result, all of Potiphar’s household and fields were blessed. Joseph’s very presence in Potiphar’s household brought much blessing upon Potiphar and his family!

From verse 6, we also learn that Joseph was a very handsome young man. Now imagine yourself in Joseph’s place, a blessed man that in turn brings great blessing to everything and everyone in his path. You start to receive more power and responsibility, and on top of everything, you are a good-looking person! No doubt this success could become a source of arrogance and pride.

However, as I mentioned before, Joseph knew his God and had a close relationship with him; he knew that the Lord was the source for each and every blessing that came forth! In Genesis 39:7-18, we learn of Joseph’s “secret”…

“And it came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. “There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?” And it came about as she spoke to Joseph day after day, that he did not listen to her to lie beside her, or be with her. Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. And she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and had fled outside, she called to the men of her household, and said to them, “See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. “And it came about when he heard that I raised my voice and screamed, that he left his garment beside me and fled, and went outside.” So she left his garment beside her until his master came home. Then she spoke to him with these words, “The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; and it happened as I raised my voice and screamed, that he left his garment beside me and fled outside.”

Joseph’s faith and obedience to God was tested in this temptation to sin with his master’s wife. However, it’s Joseph’s response to her in verse 9 that we see why he was the man who he was: “How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?” Joseph knew that if he dared to touch his master’s wife, it would cause him to sin against his beloved God. This is the thing I love the most about Joseph’s character!

His faith was not in the words that he spoke, but rather in the way he lived; he chose to live righteously before the Lord, even at the cost of the false accusations that followed. Joseph’s refusal to compromise initially cost him greatly, but eventually brought great reward.

Living a righteously before the Lord can be difficult, and can cause us to lose those things that the world considers important…but in God’s economy, it will bring us blessing and reward!

Are you willing to stand for righteousness as Joseph did, regardless of the cost?

This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel, December 21, 2016, and reposted with permission.