1.Genesis 40:14 says, “But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison.” What actually happened? In Genesis 41:1 it says, When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream…” and the cup bearer remembered Joseph.  What does this part of Joseph’s story of waiting two full years say to us about our faith?

So far as this story goes, Joseph was forgotten by the cup bearer. It looked like just another dead end that went nowhere. Joseph had to wait for another whole two years. The important thing is G-d remembered and in His perfect timing Joseph was freed.

But what about us? In the context of the Joseph’s story, This story reminds us how faithful people must live. 

The two paragraphs below is something I read this week written by Jonathan Allen

“Today, we stand and proclaim the return of Yeshua. Two thousand years we have been waiting and nothing has happened. The world around us doesn’t care or – worse – ridicules us. But G-d is remembering His promise beyond the faithlessness of modern society. Even though is seems as though there are few watchmen left on the walls of Jerusalem, G-d is still listening to them; He still wants to be reminded and He is still going to keep His promise.

Many will ask what promise – what are we waiting for? Are we just waiting for our own personal place in heaven? Shame on us if that is so. We are waiting for the full restoration of all things, for the bringing of everything under the rule and authority of Yeshua so that there will be peace, blessing and opportunity for everyone. We look for the end of our exile and the return of the king to set all things in order for a time of justice and righteousness. So lift up your voice and cry out today: come soon, L-rd Yeshua! And in the meantime, L-rd, show the signs Your kingdom on earth through us so that all the world may know that You are coming.” Jonathan Allen

2.In Genesis 38 verse one begins with “Judah went down.” In 39:1 it says Joseph was taken down. Joseph’s descent into the darkness was not his choice. Both of these events have spiritual meaning. What would be the difference for us whether we are taken down or choose to go down into a dark place? 

When it is G-d’s choice to move us into a dark or difficult situation Romans 8:28 would apply. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.” When we make bad choices and move into dark or ungodly places we are walking out from under G-d’s protection and care.  G-d went through Joseph’s Egypt experience with him.

Judah went down willingly. What was the result of Judah’s descent? He married a Canaanite woman. In Genesis 38:1-5 it says, “At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah.”

In Genesis 38:6 we see where Judah takes a wife for his firstborn son, Er. The two Hebrew letters of his name are the same letters found in the Hebrew word for evil, “ra” but in reverse order. We see in 38:7 he is described as wicked and for that G-d took his life. 

According to the custom of the land and later introduced into Torah, the next brother was given Tamar to carry on the name of the dead brother. He too dies for his sin. This leaves Judah with one remaining son who is too young to marry. Judah sends Tamar away to her father’s house with a promise to give her to his last son when he comes of age. He does not do this. 

Now to the really interesting part: In Genesis 38:12 it tells us that Judah “went up” to his sheep shearers. But more importantly this started him on a spiritual path that in the future would be the way G-d brings Messiah into the world.

3.Compare Joseph’s life before he was sold into slavery and afterwards. Do you see any changes for the better or worse? 

Before being sold into slavery Joseph lived a life of the favored child receiving gifts the others did not get.  Because of this his brothers hated him. He shared his dreams with his brothers even when they did not care to hear them. 

After being sold into slavery many things happened to Joseph that could have made him bitter. He became a slave in Potiphar’s house. Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him and because of his refusal she accused him of attempted assault. He was then thrown in jail to spend the rest of his life. At this point he had every right to be bitter. He could have withdrawn into himself and allowed anger and thoughts of victimization to consume him. And he would have been justified for he indeed was a victim. His life had collapsed around him. As the son of a noble father he could have looked down on his fellow inmates in jail. He could have despised the wardens set over him for being a part of a system that perverted justice.

Rather than that we see a man given responsibility by these wardens. Joseph had the ability to roll up his sleeves and contribute rather than withdrawing. His past did not hold him captive. His love of G-d was evident. He never let his situations rob him of his humanity.

This brings us to Genesis 40:1-7. Joseph could have made life hard for Pharaoh’s two officers jailed with him, for they were part of a system that put him where he was. But what did he do in verses 6-7? First he did not ask, “Why are your faces down cast.” He already knew the answer to that. He added the word, “today.” What does that tell us? He saw their mood had changed. He noticed the pain of these men enough to see that today they were sadder than normal. He never stopped reaching outside himself. And ultimately it was this simple act of caring that brought salvation to the world!

He saw their distress, responded and decoded their dreams. It was his interpretation of their dreams that later brought him to the attention of Pharaoh. It was his wisdom that motivated him to fill Egypt’s storehouses. And it was the filled storehouses that fed a starving world – including his family from which came the Messiah. What would have been had not he been sensitive to another’s pain?

In a way he speaks to us all who fight against the unfairness of the world and the urge to blame and to hate. Why should we care when no one seemed to care about us? When we read this story we can see the difference that it can make. The Messianic scripture tells us to love our enemies in Matt. 5:43-48. Yeshua tells us, as Joseph does, our ability to rise above our past and reach out to the world is what will change the world. A little light dispels the darkness. It just might make all the difference in the world. 

4.In Genesis 38:14 Tamar disguises herself as a Temple prostitute and sat beside the road. She sat at a place that the Hebrew text called Pitach Eniem. In English that translates as Opening of the Eyes.  Whose eyes were opened? 

Judah’s eyes were opened.

This follows a pattern in the Torah where things were concealed. Who else concealed their identity?

Abraham and Isaac concealed the identity of their wives. Jacob concealed his identity from his father, Leah concealed her identity from Jacob and here Tamar was determined to stay part of Judah’s family even if it meant doing such a thing as pretending to be a prostitute. She  concealed her true identity from Judah.

Three months later when she was brought to Judah pregnant she said, identify these items. Judah must have been stunned. Where else were these exact words used? How did Judah deal with this information?

Those were the exact same words, in Hebrew, he had used when he brought Joseph’s coat back to Jacob in Genesis 37:32.

Immediately Judah confesses his sin and says Tamar is innocent. Did he have to confess? No, he could have kept quiet and no one would have known. But he didn’t. G-d arranged this to redeem Judah and provide a physical path for the coming of Messiah when eyes would spiritually be opened.

How do we deal with conviction? Do we walk away or do we recognize G-d’s hand in our lives and when presented with, “identify this,” do we keep our eyes shut and continue on in our own ways or do we open our eyes and acknowledge who G-d is and that He has a plan for our lives.

One last thought: Jacob loved Joseph more than his other sons. Jacob gave this favoritism a visible symbol, the richly ornamented robe or coat of many colors that he had made for him. The mere sight of this coat served as constant provocation to the brothers. 

Also there were the bad reports Joseph brought to his father about his half-brothers. By the fourth verse of the parsha we read the following: Genesis 37:4, “When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” In Hebrew it is, velo yachlu dabro le-shalom. In Leviticus 19:17 it says, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.”

In other words, when a person sins against another the injured party should not hate the offender and keep silent. He should inform the offender of what he has done and give him a chance to repent.

Had the brothers be able to speak to Joseph they might have told him of their anger at his talebearing and of their distress at seeing that coat. Joseph might have come to understand their feelings. 

Those who hate tend to hide their hate in their heart. The breakdown of speech is often a prelude to violent revenge. A perfect case of this is the story of Absalom and Amnon. Their story is found in II Samuel 13:7-28. Amnon raped Absalom’s sister Tamar. In verse 21 it says Absalom would not speak to his brother. He maintained his silence for two years. Then he had his servants kill Amnon when he was drunk.  

Hate grows in silence. It did with Absalom and it did with Joseph’s brothers. Conversation does not in itself resolve conflict. But talking to the person that has offended you can allow you to see the incident from the other persons point of view.

In the end Joseph and his brothers had to live through real trauma before they were able to recognize the worth in each other. This warns us of the dangers of lashon hara or evil speech. Words can create, command, redeem. Words can destroy or heal relationships. We use words to talk to our Heavenly Father.  However painful it is to speak about our hurt it is more dangerous not to do so.  Joseph and his brothers might have been reconciled early on and spared themselves, their father and their descendants a lot of grief. Revealing pain is the first step to healing pain.