Sharing my 2013 notes from Torah Portion Vayeishev, Genesis 37:1-40:23. I had a great time digging into this one and welcome your comments.
CLOTHING & IDENTITY
What does clothing represent?
The things that we wear (whether unconsciously or consciously) identify who we are in a certain way. Think about it. How do you choose what you are going to wear everyday? What determines this?
It could be the type of job you have (business attire, uniform, stay at home, leisure, going shopping, etc) Is it clean, ironed, needs mending, how much are we or are we not covering?
In this Parasha, Joseph is first mentioned as a shepherd:
This is the history of the generations of Ya`akov. Yosef, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. Yosef brought an evil report of them to their father.
How do you think he was dressed?
From Encyclopedias – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia – Shepherd
The shepherd’s equipment is a simple one. His chief garment is a cloak woven from wool or made from sheepskins. This is sleeveless, and so made that it hangs like a cloak on his shoulders. When he sleeps he curls up under it, head and all. During the summer a lighter, short-sleeved `aba or coat is worn.
So are shepherds represented as HUMBLE people?
Now Yisra’el loved Yosef more than all his sons, because he was the child of his old age, and he made him a fine woolen tunic.
- Joseph was given a piece of clothing that set him apart from his brothers.
- What was so special about this garment?
From the book “Strange Scriptures That Perplex the Western Mind”, by Barbara M. Bowen, Pages 40-42, Copyright 1944
Coat of Many Colors (Genesis 37:3).
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors.”
In the Authorized Version of the Bible you find that the word “many” is in italics, always indicating that it was not in the language, and we also notice that the word translated “colors” is given in the margin as “pieces.”
Many commentators tell us that this is “a long garment with sleeves.”
Very likely they are puzzled as to why Jacob should give his son a coat with pieces or a long garment with sleeves as a mark of favor, decided that it surely must have been a very wonderful brilliant kind of garment, more beautiful than the other sons had, so they missed the whole meaning of Joseph’s gift from his father.
It also appeared that the older brothers were very childish men, aroused by jealousy because Joseph had been given a very handsome coat.
This “coat of many colors,” so called, was a plain long white shirt, the kamise, or undergarment of the desert ranger. In nearly all of those garments the sleeves were of moderate size, but the Bedouin told us that only two people in each whole tribe are allowed the privilege of the extremely long pointed sleeve — the Sheikh of the tribe and the man whom he had chosen as his heir.
So the wrath of the elder brothers was not an outburst of childish anger. It represented a very deep-seated hurt of mature men whose claim to succession to the leadership of their tribe had been set aside for their younger brother.
However, we must see Jacob’s viewpoint and feeling about it, too.
Jacob had been fearfully deceived by his father-in-law when, after serving seven years for Rachel, the woman he loved, he was given Leah for his wife instead. Then he served seven years more for Rachel. Had Jacob married Rachel as he desired, her son would have been Jacob’s heir.
As it was, Leah’s sons were born first, but Jacob very much desired that his wife Rachel’s son, Joseph, should be heir as he should have been. Therefore, Jacob makes, or has made the garment with the long sleeves to be worn by his heir and gives it to Joseph.“And Jacob made him a coat with long sleeves.”
From Hebrew Insights commentary on Vayeshev:
In telling the story of Ya’acov, the narrative highlights the story of Yoseph who was favored by his father. As a mark of his affections, Ya’acov made his son a special tunic: “k’tonet passim,” a tunic of “passim.” Unlike the commonly held view that this robe, or tunic, was multi-colored, the word “passim” actually indicates that the robe was extra long – covering the feet and especially the flat of the hands.
(“Pas” is the palm of the hand or sole, while the verb p.s.s – pey, samech, samech – means to “disappear” or “pass on,” e.g. Ps. 12;1, which means that the hand would ‘disappear’ because of the ampleness of the cloth).
Another source interprets “pas” as a stripe. It was of a style “such as the daughters of the king dressed themselves” (in 2nd Sam. 13:18, David’s daughter, Tamar, is recorded as wearing such a robe).
By clothing Yoseph in a princely garb, Ya’acov communicated to the rest of his sons that he had ordained him to inherit the birthright. It is no wonder then that Ya’acov’s favored son incurred the wrath of his brothers, even before he shared his dreams with them. When Ya’acov heard Yoseph’s second dream, he too became somewhat exasperated with this spoiled brat. However, the text goes on to tell us that, “his father kept the saying in his heart” (37:11). Another parent, who on one occasion “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart,” and who at another time “hid [the words] in her heart” was Miriam, Yeshua’s mother (Luke 2:19, 51). In her case, as well as in Ya’acov’s, these “things” were prophetic and had to do with a grand destiny of a son.
Comment: According to the above commentaries, Joseph was given a garment that denoted he was chosen as the official heir to Jacob. Favoritism causes jealousy. You cannot treat children differently.
When you are given a special piece of clothing, do you wear it all the time or put it away for special occasions? Is it possible Joseph wore the “coat” all the time and this is what caused his brothers to be so upset with him? Could he have been “rubbing it in their faces” that he was the “chosen one”? I imagine he may have walked around a little “puffed up”. I believe this coat represents PRIDE.
Proverbs 16:18 NKJV
Pride [goes] before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
Mark 7:21-23 NKJV
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,”thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.”All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
- brothers sheaves bowed down to Joesph’s sheaf
- sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to Joseph
It’s interesting how Joseph shared the dreams with his brothers and father and THEY gave the interpretation!
Why did Jacob keep this matter in mind? Did he somehow deep down know that these dreams might be from YHVH.
Jacob sends Joseph to find his brothers and report back to him. He meets “a man” who directs him to his brother. Joseph went from (Shechem – back or shoulder) to (Dothan – two wells)
Who was this man? What do you think he represented?
The brothers conspire to kill Joseph, but Reuben heard and rescued him from his brothers by suggesting they throw him in a pit with the intention of retrieving him later.
And so it was, when Joseph came to his brothers they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the fine woolen tunic that was on him. Then they took him, and cast him into the pit; the pit was empty, no water was in it.
Stripped – pashat (pey, shin, tet)
The Pashat level is the plain, simple meaning of the text
So they stripped (pashat) Joseph of his outer garment to reveal who he really was…a shepherd.
Comment: The garment being “stripped” from Joseph by his brothers took away the PRIDE and HUMBLED him.
- The brothers saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead
- Judah says to his brothers, “let us sell him to the Ishmaelites”
- Midianite men passed by
- They (who is the they being referred to here?) drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit AND sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites. WHO sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites? His brothers or the Midianites?
Re’uven returned to the pit; and saw that Yosef wasn’t in the pit; and he tore his clothes. He returned to his brothers, and said, “The child is no more; and I, where will I go?”
- Reuven rent his garment when he found that Joseph wasn’t in the pit
- Why did he tear his clothing? He thought Joseph was dead!
Because the Israelites had an agrarian society, clothing was a very valuable commodity. Nothing was mass-produced. Clothes were time-intensive and expensive, which meant that most people in those days only had a very limited wardrobe. For that reason, people who tore their clothes were showing just how upset they felt inside. By damaging one of their more important and expensive possessions, they reflected the depth of their emotional pain. This idea was magnified when people chose to put on “sackcloth” after tearing their regular clothes. Sackcloth was a coarse and scratchy material that was very uncomfortable. Again, people put on sackcloth as a way to externally display the discomfort and pain they felt inside.
They took Yosef’s coat, and killed a male goat, and dipped the coat in the blood.
- The garment was taken from Joseph by his brothers, dipped in blood, then used to identify and “prove” he was dead.
- The coat is the representation of the person, Joseph. What did they do to is coat? They tore it to shreds and they bloodied it. They couldn’t bring themselves to do it to Joseph, so they did it to the next best thing. They took out their anger and aggression on the thing that represented Joseph.
Ya`akov tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
- Jacob rent his garment when he saw the blood stained “coat” of Joseph
- Jacob put on sackcloth
Comment: It seems to me that Jacob may have lost hope in the promise when he thought his son Joseph died. In the next Torah portions, look for Jacob’s response regarding Joseph & Benjamin. He never moved on from the “loss” of his son. He is still living in the past, so to speak.
How many of us have been given a promise, but it has not been fulfilled yet? Do we give up on it and let it die? Or do we hold on to the promise and wait for YHVH’s fulfillment.
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
Judah has 3 sons. Son #1 is Er who marries Tamar. He is evil in the eyes of YHVH and he dies. Son #2 is Onan. He is asked to enter into a levarite marriage:
Deut 25:5 If brothers dwell together, and one of them die, and have no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside to a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in to her, and take her to him as wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.
Onan dies and Jacob tells Tamar to go live as a widow in her father’s house until his 3rd son, Shelah, grows up.
Judah’s wife dies.
- vs 14 Tamar removed her widow’s garb, covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself up.
- Removed widow’s garment (H491 – ‘almanuwth – widowhood)
- Covered her – (H3680 – kacah – to cover, conceal, hide)
- With a veil – (H6809 – tsa’iyph – wrapper, shawl, veil)
- And wrapped herself – (‘alaph – to cover, to enwrap oneself, disguise oneself, faint) (vatit alaph)
Comment: The idea of “covering your face” is very deep. What does it mean to “cover your face”? When you wear a mask, what are you covering? You are covering your very essence. Your face (expressions) reveals everything about you. There are people who can watch a video (say of a criminal suspect) and tell if they are lying or not.
- vs 14 She sat by the crossroads
- Ramban: The prostitute would go to the crossroads by the way, cover herself so no one would know who she was, do her business, go back into the city and remover her veil and become a “regular person”
- vs 15 Judah thought she was a harlot, because she covered her face. He didn’t recognize her. Why would you cover your face if you were a harlot? Because you wouldn’t want anyone to know you were a harlot! When you removed your veil you could walk around in public because no one would know.
- She asked for Judah’s:
- Signet (seal, signet, signet ring)
- Wrap (cord or thread that the signet is suspended from) NOT CLOTHING!
- Staff (staff, branch, tribe)
- After consorting with Judah, Tamar removed her veil and put on her widow’s garb
Comment: After twice loosing two husbands and being denied a third, Tamar took matters into her own hands.
She was dressed in widow’s garb – DEATH
She changed clothes and put on a veil & wrap – HARLOT
After consorting with Judah she removed her veil – HARLOT
And put back on her widow’s garb – DEATH
Comment: It’s interesting how you can use a piece of clothing NOT to enhance who you are but to CHANGE who you are; become a DIFFERENT person.
Comment: Judah so easily gave up his IDENTITY when he left behind the signet, cord, and staff for one night of sexual fulfillment. These three items IDENTIFIED who he was. It reminded me of how easily Esau (Judah’s uncle) gave up his birthright for a pot of stew. Be careful of what you do when you are grieving!
- Tamar conceives twins
- Perez – breach, gap, bursting forth
- Zerah – rising, dawning, shining,
- Joseph is purchased by a courtier of Pharaoh from the Ishmaelites
- Joseph became successful and remained in the house of his Egyptian master
- Joseph found favor in his masters eyes and he appointed Joseph over his household and whatever he placed in his custody.
- Joseph was handsome of form and handsome of appearance
Comment: Joseph, who was humbled when his “coat” was stripped from him, went from wearing the clothes of a PRISONER, to wearing the clothes of a man of prominence.
- Potiphar’s wife propositions Joseph and he refuses
- They have a discussion:
- Look with me here, my master concerns himself about nothing in the house
- Whatever he has he placed in my custody
- There is no one greater in this house than I
- He has denied me nothing but you, since you are his wife
- How then can I perpetrate this great evil and sin against God
- Potiphar’s wife coaxed him day after day
- Joseph would not listen to her to lie beside her, to be with her
- THEN there was an opportune day…no man of the household staff was in the house
- Potiphar’s wife caught hold of Joseph’s garment saying, “Lie with me!”
- He left his garment in her hand and fled
- She kept his garment to identify him
- Once identified as the “perpetrator”, Joseph is thrown into prison
- Potiphar’s wife identifies him as “your slave”
Comment: Joseph went from a man of prominence to a prisoner. I wonder if PRIDE entered in again and he had to be stripped of his garments and thrown into prison again to become HUMBLE?
Who were the two individuals? We are never told their names or their crimes. The fact that one of them, the Baker, was eventually executed, and the other, the Butler, was restored to office, leads us to believe that they were accused of being involved in some kind of plot against the king. Such things happened in ancient Egypt. In such a case, once the king sorted out the facts, the guilty would be punished and the innocent would be exonerated. The Baker was executed (for treason) and the Butler was restored to his position. But what was that position?
- Cupbearer (what identified him as this?)
- A cup-bearer was an officer of high rank in royal courts, whose duty it was to serve the drinks at the royal table. On account of the constant fear of plots and intrigues, a person must be regarded as thoroughly trustworthy to hold this position. He must guard against poison in the king’s cup, and was sometimes required to swallow some of the wine before serving it. His confidential relations with the king often gave him a position of great influence. The position of cup bearer is greatly valued and given to only a select few throughout history. Qualifications for the job were not held lightly but of high esteem valued for their beauty and even more for their modesty, industriousness and courage. (Wikipedia)
- Baker (what identified him as this?)
- Thus, only a most trusted and reliable individual could serve as the royal cupbearer or, for that matter, the head baker. The latter position was no mere cook involved in actual toil in flour and heat, but rather the supervisor of the operations. Indeed, the Giza pyramid reserved a special tomb for a head baker. Obviously, a head baker also had to be trusted not to poison the food. The head cupbearer and head baker, like Potiphar, were members of the small, elite hereditary Egyptian upper class, as no commoner was permitted to serve in these capacities before Pharaoh, and had input into policy decisions as well. (http://www.ou.org/shabbat/recipes/vayeshev62.htm)
- From the dream of the chief baker, we can see a significant difference from that of the chief butler. It is the bakemeats. The cup in the hands of the butler was empty, and he put only the grape juice and went forth to the king. That’s why he could receive life and salvation in front of Pharaoh. On the other hand, the chief baker put bakemeats for Pharaoh on top of white basket, and was destroyed in the long run. When we go to the front of God, we ought to do so by relying on the Lord only, who is the bread of life. But the problem is, we place our favorites on top of that. That’s why God can’t accept it, and we are destroyed. If he had added nothing good to his eyes and went forth to the king with only three baskets, how would the result be? Certainly he could have received salvation, been restored to his old position and served Pharaoh as before. (http://www.goodnews.or.kr/en/goodnews/0805/_0805.QnA.pdf)
A cup-bearer was an officer of high rank in royal courts, whose duty it was to serve the drinks at the royal table. On account of the constant fear of plots and intrigues, a person must be regarded as thoroughly trustworthy to hold this position. He must guard against poison in the king’s cup, and was sometimes required to swallow some of the wine before serving it. His confidential relations with the king often gave him a position of great influence. The position of cup bearer is greatly valued and given to only a select few throughout history. Qualifications for the job were not held lightly but of high esteem valued for their beauty and even more for their modesty, industriousness and courage. Wikipedia
How Do You Clothe Yourself?
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
Every morning we get up we take great care in clothing ourselves. We pick out just the right outfit that we like to think portrays who we are. We make sure our clothes are clean, pressed and straight. We not only want to look good but if truth be known we want others to think we look good as well. So in the physical world we take great care on how we dress each day.
What about the spiritual world? Do you take great care in how you clothe yourself spiritually when you get up? Do you care what God thinks of you enough to clothe yourself in the way HE thinks you will look good? If yes…GREAT! If no…then it’s time to evaluate your spiritual clothing.
Are you compassionate when you see a homeless person on the street and offer some help or do you say “get a job” like everyone else and walk on by?
Do you show kindness when someone calls you up and needs your help or do you see them on your caller ID and not pick up the phone knowing they are going to ask you for help and not wanting to deal with them that day?
Are you humble when someone cuts in front of you in a line or in a car or do you go off on them and mutter how rude they are?
Are you gentle when helping others or do you get mad easily?
Are you patient with your children, setting an example or do you explode on them out of irritation?
It doesn’t matter if you are at home or outside the home, you must always take great care in clothing yourself spiritually just as much as physically. Remember…people can see your spiritual clothing by how you speak and act and those clothes can become just as wrinkled and tattered as your physical clothes and can be seen just as easily.
copyright ©2010 Breaking The Chains Biblical Recovery Ministry
|What are you wearing? Maybe you’ve got on a pair of pants, a shirt, underwear, socks, and shoes. But what else are you wearing? There are a couple of interesting passages of scripture which tell us what we ought to be “wearing” in addition to our physical clothing:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. –Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. –Ephesians 6:11-17 (NIV)
The things mentioned in those scriptures aren’t things you can literally put on like you do clothing. Instead, these are spiritual things that you “put on” or “clothe” yourself with. In other words, they are attitudes and actions you take at all times, because you are a follower of Jesus. Here is a listing of those things, again:
gospel of peace
the word of God
Think of those things. If you haven’t already, begin clothing yourself in those things today. Have compassion for others. Show kindness and gentleness to others. Be humble (the opposite of proud). Be patient with others. Speak only the truth. Be righteous (do only what you know to be the right thing). As much as you possibly can, live peaceably with those around you. Exercise your faith in God (and share it with others). Always be thankful for the salvation you have through Jesus Christ. Read and study the word of God (the Bible) daily. Don’t run around “naked” spiritually. Clothe yourself.
Copyright © 2002 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.
COMMENTS from TORAH STUDY:
- Joseph lost his original garment (Torah) and was “forced” to put on the garment of a slave (Christianity).
- Jacob/Israel does not recognize the “slave” (Christian) as part of them.
- Those who are coming back to Torah are wearing “new garments” (Torah) and are now being recognized by Israel!
- Perez (the son of Tamar & Judah) is in the line of King David
- Reuben bore the guilt of what happened to Joseph. The brunt of the punishment fell on him.