Zaphenath-paneah and the Christmas Tree

If you recognize the name of Zaphenath-paneah (as spelled in the ESV Bible) as being the name of a very well known Biblical character who lived roughly 1500 years before Yeshua (Jesus), then you should enter Bible trivia contests!

Zaphenath-paneah is the name Pharaoh gave to Joseph (the son of Jacob and Rachel) when he elevated him to 2nd in command over Egypt.  What did Joseph have to do with a Christmas tree?  Well, nothing really, but the title leads into the topic of this blog post.

The teaching where Joseph is presented as a shadow of Yeshua is fairly well known.  If you haven’t heard of such an idea, google something such as “Joseph as a type of Jesus”.  You’ll get many hits, some from some very good sources.  One source I see there is from the group Jews for Jesus.

This post is about one aspect of that idea.  After the famine hits Egypt, Joseph’s brothers travel to Egypt to buy food.  They appear before Joseph but don’t recognize him, and bow before him.  (It’s a really fun story – read it in Genesis 41 through 44).  Why don’t they recognize him?  Well, he looked and talked Egyptian!

One of the reasons today that Jews do not accept Yeshua (Jesus) as the promised Messiah is that he has been made over to look like a gentile.

(By the way, ‘gentile’ is not a bad word.  It simply means ‘of the nations’.)  All manner of lifestyle and traditions have been painted over him; so much so that he is no longer recognizable as the pork avoiding, Sabbath observing, Jew that he is.

The difference between Yeshua and Joseph, though, is that Joseph was truly dressed up and talked as an Egyptian, whereas Yeshua never actually wore the costume that is over him.  But it has been taught as tradition for so long that only the made up Jesus (Yeshua) is visible.

For this Christmas, then, I challenge you, the reader, to peel back some of the trappings that have been put around Yeshua (Jesus) and see if you can’t find the real man.  The one born to Jewish parents (see the next blog for a neat fact about them), and raised in Jewish surroundings.  One who never violated any of God’s Torah, and even observed some Jewish traditions! 

All of this can be discovered simply by reading the gospels and paying attention to what is really being said – not what traditionally has been put in his mouth!

Shalom!    – Yosef

Days, Months, Seasons and Years – Paul in the Book of Galatians

This is the first entry in the ‘Apostle Paul’ series that deals with what Paul wrote.  The earlier entries are some background information.

The apostle Paul wrote,

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.  But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?  You observe days and months and seasons and years!  I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.”  Galatians 4:8-11 (ESV)

The above verse is often used to support a doctrine that basically states that Paul taught against keeping any of God’s “appointed times” (Sabbath, Passover, day of Atonement, Tabernacles, and other feast days or times.)  But is that really what he is saying?

Galatians is a great book – but keep it in the context with which Paul wrote it. He wrote it ‘to the churches of Galatia.’ Galatians 1:2 (ESV). In other words, gentiles. When he speaks of ‘days and months and seasons and years,’ why assume he is talking about God’s times when he is talking to gentiles who knew nothing of any times God had given?

The world in the time of Paul was full of all sorts of gods and goddesses, and they all had their special days and months and seasons and years.  It is these things that Paul is calling the ‘worthless elemental principles of the world.’  There is even a clue in the verses above where Paul says, ‘how can you turn back again.’

The gentiles never knew God or Yeshua (Jesus) prior to hearing the gospel message. They weren’t ‘turning back’ to God’s times, but to the pagan days, months, seasons and years.  The beginning of the verses above states from what the Gentiles are coming from.

Throughout Paul’s writings he has nothing but good to say about God’s law. He does, however, try to caution all the gentile believers from thinking that following the law leads to salvation. It was never meant for that purpose and Paul is trying to make that point over and over.

So, if you think that Paul is, in Galatians, telling us that God’s days, months, seasons, and years aren’t important, please do an overview of Paul’s life, teachings, and his relationship to God’s law. You will see him over and over upholding the law in his actions and words, yet also pointing to Messiah Yeshua as the one through whom salvation is given.

If, in light of the context of all his letters, he is (here in Galatians) stating that God’s times, sabbath included, are not important, then we have a schizophrenic Paul, being one thing in one letter and another thing in another. Such a person wouldn’t be worth listening to.

But he isn’t schizophrenic. 

And he is worth ‘listening’ to. 

But keep all his sayings both in the context of all his letters, and in the context of the cultures he is writing to!

Shalom

  • Yosef

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Messiah Son of Joseph

The story of Joseph is well known.  How is hated by his brothers and sold into slavery, and his subsequent rise to leadership in Egypt.  In Jewish tradition, there will be two messiahs.  The first is Messiah son of Joseph who prepares the way for the Messiah son of David.  The Son of Joseph dies in an act of self sacrifice for his people.

It is interesting to note the similarities between the one called “Jesus” and Joseph.  Jesus was Jewish, but was hated by many of his brethren, and his death was really a self sacrifice (read the accounts of his death; He had to give the high priest the grounds for the death pronouncement – see the book of Matthew chapter 26, verses 59 to 66).

Christianity then took him and so made him up to be as a gentile that he is no longer recognizable by his brethren.  To a Jew looking at Jesus, they see a gentile who has little or nothing to do with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Yet the time will come, hopefully soon, when this Jesus will reveal himself to his people.  May it be soon!

This story paints a big picture of our God.  His love extends to all people, and He reveals Himself to all who will look.

-Yosef