Parashah 10: Miketz

Ecclesiastes, (קֹהֶלֶת, Kohelet, "son of ...
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Torah: B’resheit (Genesis) 41:1 – 44:17
Haftarah: Melekhim Alef (1 Kings) 3:15 – 4:1
B’rit Chadashah: Matthew 9:1-38

Joseph and Solomon are an interesting study in contrasts. Joseph was the son of a shepherd, Solomon of a king.  Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery and had to go into his adult life with nothing, while Solomon was born into royal splendor and given the throne by his father.  Joseph, we see in his early life, was foolish in his dealings with his brothers (one might even call him a tattle-tale) but grew into maturity and wisdom under hard circumstances.  Solomon prayed for and was granted wisdom in his early reign, but as time went on and he forsook the Holy One’s Torah, we see his wisdom changing to a weary bitterness, which he repents of in Ecclesiastes.  Joseph saved a kingdom, while Solomon’s sins divided one.

Many centuries later, the pharisees and the disciples of John the Immerser questioned Yeshua’s choice of followers.  “Why are you offering the immense honor of table fellowship to tax collectors and sinners?” they asked.  “Why have you chosen disciples who don’t even fast on the traditional days?  Or who don’t keep the Sabbath correctly?  Or who don’t ritually wash their hands in the prescribed way?”

Yeshua’s answer is insightful to His purpose:  “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch would tear away from the garment, and a worse hole is made.  Neither do people put new wine into old wineskins, or else the skins would burst, and the wine be spilled, and the skins ruined. No, they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved” (Mat. 9:16-17).  In other words, “I don’t have time to unteach those who have had all the best advantages of discipleship to the rabbis or the prophet before Me.  I need to start fresh with blank slates.”

Sometimes, those who have not had the advantage of college or seminary early in life lament the “wasted” years.  In truth, nothing is wasted.  Yeshua grew up in a poor frontier town and worked for 30 years as a carpenter.  Were those wasted?  Were the years that Peter, Andrew, Jacob, and John spent fishing wasted?

Matthew himself is a prime example of how the Holy One can redeem the “wasted” years.  A tax-collector for many years, he was an outcast and a traitor to his people.  But out of his career, he had the opportunity to learn skills such as the taking of shorthand–which he may well have put to use in quickly writing down our Master’s words.

This is not to say that an early education is to be scorned.  I myself sometimes regret that I did not have the benefit of a classical Jewish education and am having to learn (for example) Hebrew so late in life.  But often times we look back at those years of seeming inactivity and find that like Joseph in the dungeon, Moses herding sheep, or David on the run from Saul, and find that those were the times that God used to forge us into the people we are today.

Wisdom and knowledge easily gained are easily forgotten.


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