Abhorrent? Why is That?
The moment finally arrives and Joseph can no longer contain himself. I, for one, hope someone has a camera on the faces of the brothers when the words, “I am Yosef” finally sunk in. I think you could have knocked them over with the proverbial feather. The brothers probably felt mixed emotions like joy, relief, anxiety, fear, and a few others all at the same time. When the dust of emotions settled, fear may have been the one closest to the surface.
The first order of business in Joseph’s mind is to get his father to Egypt. You have to wonder if it ever occurred to Joseph if instead of Yaakov coming to him, he should have left Egypt and gone to Yaakov. I doubt the words Yah had spoken to his Grandfather regarding the family going to a foreign land ever came to his mind. Just as today, prophecy happens whether we perceive it or not.
Yosef sends the boys back with more material goods than they have seen for some time. He also sends them with one instruction, “Don’t quarrel among yourselves as you’re traveling.” Did he know his brothers or what? He may have been away from them for a number of years, but he had already seen that some things in their lives had not changed. Could it also be that The One who is prophesied in the life of Joseph was also sending a message which was to be taken to heart by a bunch of brothers in the future who are still known to do a bit of quarreling?
So this brings us to an interesting question. Just how do we put an end to quarreling? Stop quarreling! That was easy! Just as it takes two to tango, it also takes two to quarrel. A quarrel in which only one person shows up and is quarreling with themselves is basically a man or woman yelling at nothing. Who gets lead off in the funny white coat in that one?
The next instruction Yosef gives is regarding their meeting with Pharaoh. He tells the family to tell him they are shepherds. His motive in this is to keep some distance between his family and the life of Egypt he has had to deal with. In this, we see some great insights.
First it shows us that though Yosef may have looked like, talked like, and maybe even acted like an Egyptian on the outside, inside he was pure Hebrew through and through. He had not allowed the culture of Egypt to corrupt him. What an incredible pattern of Messiah we have here.
The question has to be asked of just why shepherds were abhorrent to the Egyptians. After all, it was a shepherd that had made them the most prosperous and powerful nation on the earth in their day. The answer lies in the heart of a shepherd and how that heart is diametrically opposed to Egypt. A shepherd never thinks about himself first. His first thoughts are always the safety and comfort of the sheep in his care.Through thick and thin, his first priority is the sheep. He is even willing to give his life if need be to protect his sheep. Egypt on the other hand is all about self and self preservation. It is a ‘me’ culture which is convicted to the very root just by the sight of the heart of a shepherd.
Today our culture is waging the same war. It is the Egyptian/Roman/European/American/Western ‘me’ culture. The very thought that someone should put someone else first in our modern society is treated like a plague.
What should our response be to this Torah portion? First of all, don’t quarrel on our journey back home. Second, let us imitate The Shepherd who gave Himself as a ransom for many and if people think that is strange and want to put us in quarantine somewhere, so be it. We choose to live for Him and for others, and not for ourselves. (Click to Article)