Parsha Vayeshev (“And he dwelt”)
(Genesis 37:1 – 40:23)
This Torah portion is one of my favorites.
“People who carry torches make easy targets”—Ron Warren.
I wanted to look at one splice of this Torah portion, one section that seemed to pop out at me. It is the word Hineni:
And Yisra’ĕl (Israel) said to Yosĕph (Joseph), “Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Sheḵem? Come, I send you to them.” So he said to him, “Here I am.” (Genesis 27:11-13, ISR).
Here I am. Send Me! Hineni is a total readiness to give of oneself. Joseph is ready to go to his brothers even though they are jealous of his torch. Joseph’s father said, “get prepared because I am sending you to your brothers who hate you and are envious”. Joseph’s response is, “Here I am, I am ready. Send me!”
There are many occurrences of hineni in the Bible. Isaiah is brave to utter these words in Isaiah 6. Have you ever said, “Here I am Father, send me?” I have. It was at a very young age—I was so young indeed that I had no knowledge that the man who said this died by being sawn in half. No one rescued him from this horrific death. He suffered like every other prophet, apostle, disciple, and servant. And who does the Father send Isaiah to? His brothers in the field, and what is the message to them?
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:8-10).
It is not the adversary who blinds eyes, but the Holy One and the healing His people needed was not physical but a spiritual heart condition.
In Genesis 22:1, God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
After Abraham is obedient to take his only son, Isaac, as an offering, the angel of the Lord cries out to stop him from bringing the knife down, and Abraham answers “Here I am.” Genesis 22:10-11.
In Genesis 31:11, An Angel of the Holy One spoke to Jacob in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob.’ And Jacob said, ‘Here I am.’
In Exodus 3:4, An Angel of the Lord appeared to (Moses) in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. When Moses turned aside to study the bush, Adonai called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, Here I am.”
But let’s get back to Joseph and this strange journey to find his brothers. Why is Joseph’s father sending him in his colorful robe to check on his brothers who despise him? Remember, Joseph brought the “evil report” and confided in his father that his brother Reuben was sleeping with Bilhah. The text says: “While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine; and Israel heard of it. Yes, there are multiple reasons Joseph’s brothers hate him. He is their father’s favorite. A son of Rachel (Ewe lamb). His father has made him a special coat that represents his anointing/ mantle. He has been given dreams that reveal his brothers will bow down to him in submission. Could it be that his father Israel knew it was dangerous for Joseph and sent him anyway? Just as the Holy One sent Isaiah? John the immerser? Stephen? And what is this strange language of “checking on them?” Who is the odd man who appears? Let’s relook at this closer:
“And when Joseph arrived in Shechem, a man found him wandering in the field and asked, “What are you looking for?”
“I am looking for my brothers,” Joseph replied. “Can you please tell me where they are pasturing their flocks?” “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’
Joseph finds his brothers grazing the flocks near Dothan – on the plain between the hills of Samaria and the Mount Carmel. Elijah called fire down on Mt. Carmel. Joseph has traveled much on foot at this point. Some say it was a 3 or 4-day journey. Dothan, meaning “two wells,” or “double feast.” Passover and unleavened bread are a type of double feasts. They represent a lamb, a bloody coat, sinless bread, and a cross. Joseph is thrown into an empty well. As a porotype of Yeshua, we see The Living water filling the dry empty well. Yeshua is living water. Yeshua met the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well in Shechem.
Dothan is the hometown of Elisha, the prophet. It is where the king of Aram sent his army to capture Elisha. Elisha’s servant sees the city surrounded by Arameans and becomes terrified. Elisha said, “don’t be afraid there is more with us than them.” The Father opened his servants’ eyes to horses and chariots of fire around the mountain. There is more with Joseph too and he will be pulled out of the pit.
Joseph’s brothers have traveled from Shechem to Dothan. Jacob settled in Shechem when he returned to Canaan. Jacob bought the land from Hamor the Hivite, the father of a man named Shechem. Shechem took a liking to Jacob’s only daughter Dinah and took her virginity by force but offered to make things right. Then Dinah’s brothers Simeon and Levi destroyed and looted the city using violence/ murder. Later the city of Shechem will be assigned to the Levites as a city of refuge. Ironically, the very tribe who acted out in violence due to their sister Dinah will be in charge of a place of refuge. Shechem was, of course, the place where the blessings and curses were uttered from Mount Gerizim (Blessings) and Mount Ebal (Curses). And later, Joseph will be buried in Shechem.
(Joshua 24:32) “And the bones of Joseph, which the Israelites had brought up out of Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the plot of land that Jacob had purchased from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of silver.”
Who is the man Joseph meets while wandering? It reminds me of Jacob, who wrestled with a man all night and received a new name. The man asked Joseph, “What are you looking for?” Can you hear the same token in the story of the angel who addressed Hagar? Now the angel of the LORD found Hagar by a spring. . . “Hagar, servant of Sarai,” he said, “where have you come from, and where are you going?”
Can you hear a similar token offered to Elijah? Elijah wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” An angle appeared to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and on it goes. I believe this man is the same type of messenger speaking to Joseph as he wanders about.
“I am looking for my brothers,” Joseph replied. “Can you please tell me where they are pasturing their flocks?”
Joseph, a prototype of Messiah, is looking for his brothers, even though he knows they despise him. Yeshua goes to his brothers, but His own received Him not. They mocked Yeshua. They accused him of casting out demons by Beelzebub. They pick up stones to stone him. They attempt to push him off a cliff like the goat during Yom Kippur. The Holy One knows that Joseph’s brothers will discuss taking his life and that one day, Yeshua’s brothers will discuss taking his life. He knows that Joseph will end up in Egypt and that he will be tried in the prison in shackles until Joseph is mature enough to handle his gift and to feed such a people during a famine.
There was another man who took a journey to Shechem, the greatest man to ever walk this earth. It happened right after a prophetic word was spoken.
But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. Yeshua therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples. (John 11:49-54).
Yeshua took a journey to Shechem–a city in the hill country of Ephraim, the place allotted to Joseph’s son, Ephraim. Later, Yeshua will take a journey up a hill and give his life. He will proclaim to His Father, Hineni, here AM I, SEND ME. I will drink this cup, Father.
Do you have the courage to utter these words, “Here I am, Send me.”