Torah Portion: Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17)
Gospel readings: Luke 24:13-29
Commentary by: Daniel Musson
Parasha Miketz tells a story we are well familiar with. Many, if not most, of us were raised listening to the stories of Yoseph from our earliest days. We have heard the stories about how Yoseph was sold into slavery by his very own brothers, how he was wrongly accused of something he didn't do, and how he was summarily wrongly placed in prison as a result of this false accusation. Parasha Miketz opens up with Yoseph still in prison. Pharaoh has two dreams which require interpretation. In last week's Parasha, we learned about the baker and the cup-bearer, who had also been accused of a crime. During their brief time in prison, they also had dreams and Yoseph had interpreted their dreams correctly; the cup-bearer was cleared of all charges and the baker was sentenced to death. Upon properly interpreting the dreams of the cup-bearer and baker, Yoseph admonished the men with "Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house" (Genesis 40:14).
Flash back forward 2 years later to Pharaoh's dreams in this week's readings, and we see that none of the "wise" men of the kingdom of Egypt could properly interpret the dreams of their king. It is at this moment that something very interesting takes place. The cup-bearer, who had, like Yoseph, been falsely accused and found himself in prison, remembered the kindness of Yoseph and realized that he had failed to recompense Yoseph for his kindness. "The chief cup-bearer spoke to Pharaoh, saying, 'I would make mention today of my own offenses.'" (Genesis 41:9) There are two lessons we can learn form this seemingly minor character in this age-old story in our Scriptures.
First, we are not much different than the cup-bearer, if we are honest with ourselves. In the midst of his trial and challenges, the cup-bearer sought the counsel of the representative of the Most High. Likewise, most of us cry out to Our King when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances. When we find ourselves exonerated from these difficult circumstances, however, and are enjoying the good times, where there is no difficulty, we tend to, like the cup-bearer, forget to petition the One Who set us free. Like the cup-bearer, we generally have a tendency to only seek Adonai when times get tough. We would do well to heed the words of the prophet Isaiah and King David. "Seek Adonai while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near." (Isaiah 55:6) "I will bless Adonai at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth." (Psalm 34:1). Instead of remembering Our Deliverer only when times become difficult, may we constantly and continually be mindful of Him in all circumstances, good or bad.
Second, the Hebrew recorded for us in verse 9 is very interesting. It says אֶת־חֲטָאַי אֲנִי מַזְכִּיר הַיֹּֽום (et chatey ani mazkeer hayom). Literally, "my sins I remember today." This should communicate an important message to us. How interesting is it that a man who, at least judging by the clues we see in the Scriptural account in Genesis, was NOT a believer in The Most High, yet he recognizes that he has sinned. If a man who is an unbeliever recognizes and confesses his sins, how much more so should we, who profess to be believers, be quick to recognize our sin and confess it. James, the brother of Yeshua Our Master, said these words about confession of sin, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (James 5:16). The intuitive take-away from this verse is the converse must be true: that the prayers of one who is not in the practice of confessing his sins will have an ineffectual prayer. Additionally, we see the words of the disciple John, who said "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us" (1 John 1:8-10).
We. like the cup-bearer in last week's Parasha, and like Yoseph in Parasha Miketz, have been set free from the prison in which we were bound; the prison of sin and death. By the magnificent and matchless work of our Master, Yeshua our Messiah, we have been set free from our bondage, our slavery to sin. In light of this fact, how fervent should we be to heed the lessons of this Parasha? May we be certain to seek Adonai at all times. May His praise continually be upon our lips, regardless of, in spite of, and because of our immediate circumstances. May we be quick to confess our sins to one another, that our prayers might be effectual. May we heed the words of the apostle Paul, who says, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1). Indeed, we have been set free through the bloody sacrificial death of Messiah. May we live our lives in such a way that we honor The One who paid the price of our debt and set us free from the prison we found ourselves in.