Name Repentance: Go Back to the Man
From Torah Portion Miketz (At the End)
Even before you read the Torah portion Miketz, you already know the theme!
Yes, you really do!
The first mention of the word miketz is in the Torah portion Bereishit, when Kain and Abel bring their gifts to sacrifice miketz yamim, "at the end of days." The theme is that there is jealousy over the Father's approval, there will be a quarrel, and someone will disappear from the family. This hatred of his brother will mark Kain for the rest of his life, and Abel's blood will "cry out" in distress. In spite of Kain's hatred and sin toward his brother, Elohim will protect him even as the brother bears His judgment.
Okay, now is it sounding familiar?
It is ironic that the brothers sold Joseph to a caravan loaded with healing substances, yet there was no healing for their own wounds. They lifted their eyes, so the Ishmaelite caravan was a prophetic glimpse into their future when they would find healing based on true repentance. They allowed the Ishmaelite traders to carry away their own dreams along with Joseph. They traded their dreams in order to deny a brother his dream.
Years later, when the brothers began the process of true, not bargained, teshuvah, what did Israel tell the unrighteous congregation of his ten sons to give to the man? Did Israel know that "the man" had to be released from the slavery of his brothers' ill will, and that in turn was the key to their own freedom?
Take some of the best fruits of the land in your vessels and carry down a present (minchah/sacrifice) for the man-a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. Take double money in your hand, and take back in your hand the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks; perhaps it was an oversight. Take your brother also, and arise, go back to the man. (Ge 43:11-13)
"Go back to the man" is a commandment of teshuvah, which means to turn back in repentance. Israel commands his sons to become the vessels of the healing gifts themselves, to take the money in their own hands. The word for vessel is kli, and it means instrument, utensil, or tool. The brothers were not to use Ishmaelite traders in these acts of teshuvah. The camels in the slave caravan carried the medicines of superficial healing, but one can never shake the memories and emotions of the past with such medicine. The pain cannot merely be sent away. As Kain and Jacob's sons realized, it just stays with you.
The camel represents the rich man in Scripture. It is hard for a rich man to be truly repentant, for he can afford the merchandise of repentance without ever becoming the vessel of healing himself.
This is similar to Reuven's offer to let his own son suffer the consequences of failing to bring home Benjamin safely. It is easier to use money, perfumes, roses, or treats to appease those whom we've wronged rather than to become that broken vessel of balm ourselves. Teshuvah requires a servant of Yeshua to be broken at the fountain of living waters.
However, broken people either can become bitter or they can be resurrected to life and holiness. If the breaking causes one to blame others for his broken vessel, he will not resurrect. "Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?" Joseph did not blame his brothers for his breaking; instead he gave the glory to Elohim and assured them that it was His doing and His plan for Joseph to suffer at their hands. This is a fountain of living water.
One goal of the famine was to reduce the Israelite brothers from being "rich," letting others be their scapegoats of atonement. The rich man can afford to escape discomfort in this life, but as with the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, in the next life, they suffer heat, thirst, worry, and torment. The soul exists, but it does not live with a spirit or a body that can express or satisfy the senses. Accepting the pain of the poor man and eating his unleavened bread of humility in this life prepares the soul, spirit, and body to dwell in Yeshua's hard-won living shalom in the next.
The brothers had to bear the burden of atonement themselves, represented by lowly asses of humility. They needed perfect repentance, which is to become the vessel or instrument of healing balm. In this, Messiah Yeshua is pictured, for although innocent of guilt, he took the burden of atonement on himself. He did not ride into Yerushalayim on a camel or a horse, but on a donkey, the most humble transportation. This was finally Judah's heart, who said, "If I fail, lay the blame on me, and I will bear it all myself." This was his minchah, his gift, his poor man's sacrifice, and this is the name of the afternoon prayer.
Joseph's meal was planned for noon in order for the gifts of repentance to be presented to him during the allowed time frame of the minchah prayer, and the blessing after meals that was later incorporated into the Shabbat after-meal blessing is a reminder that one who goes out weeping, bearing his seed, shall return with joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Joseph went out of Israel weeping, but his dream of the sheaves becoming one was fulfilled in tears of joy. Joseph gathered his brothers for a Shabbat blessing of family restoration, just as Pharoah's dream-symbols numbered in sevens.
Joseph seated the brothers according to their birth order, reminding them of their degree of responsibility within the family. The sons of Zilpah and Bilhah, who suffered from young Joseph's tattling, needed to see that they were esteemed members of the congregation. Their feelings of being second-class brothers because their mothers were concubines were not founded in fact, merely their own feelings of insecurity. Regardless of how Jacob or the other brothers may have treated them, their inheritance was equal with the other brothers. Joseph seated them according to their birth order, not according to favored or unfavored wives. This prayer minyan of ten brothers led their donkeys full of balm to restore the family, and Joseph in turn applies a healing balm to the old offenses.
If you have decided that you need to become a vessel of repentance, not just an Ishmaelite of a blame trader, what should you bring to heal the relationship? Here are the ingredients of repentance:
* balm- soothing words to heal the wound, medicine, sometimes translated as opium, a pain-killing medicine, or sometimes translated as aloes, which heal burns, minimize scars, and cleanse the digestive system.
* honey- words of Torah; sweetness; a disinfectant, anti-bacterial; it prevents the bitterness from re-infecting
* spices- (resinous gum); it is procured by making an incision in the bark of the tree and allowing the resin to flow out; produces sweet odors like perfume
* myrrh- an aromatic gum used as an embalming agent; the myrrh signifies our transition from the bitterness of death to life, for its name is from maror, Hebrew for bitter; take real, not crocodile tears back to the man
* pistachio nuts- boten, from beten, belly, womb, body; pistachios hold the pregnant hope of new life, for the nutmeats are green; it moves one past the bitterness of the hurt
* almonds-shaked, from shakad,to wake, watch, awake, be alert; to keep watch of, be wakeful over (as mourner or sufferer); demonstrate a real awareness of the suffering caused. Do not settle for superficial apologies; apologies should reflect the full view of the trespass. An almond looks like an eye; see and admit wrongs.
* silver money, both what was taken wrongfully and double the value of what you are asking; if the sin cost someone something, repay their loss double; this is more than the minimum Torah requires. Merely adding a fifth to the value of the loss says that you were caught; double restitution says you repent. It is up to the receiver whether he accepts or returns it.
* Brother Benjamin- take the hope and the risk of enlarging the congregation of faith in unity when true repentance characterizes the return; take responsibility even when it is legally someone else's or the responsibility is shared by others
Who is to blame is not the question. How badly the person provoked you by tattling or playing the favorite is not the question. Go back to the man until you can speak a decent word in greeting. Go back to the man until you're okay with his tent sitting beside yours, or at least living in the same country! It's up to the Father how he brings your brother to repentance, but it's up to you how you respond to your own errors in relationships.
(With a Homework Assignment)
In repentance, the brothers moved to the prophetic sides of their names instead of the pain and bitterness in which their parents sowed their names in them:
Reuven (See a son)-Although Reuven refuses to see to his responsibility of protecting Joseph by stopping the plot at its inception, and then he offers Jacob his own son in exchange for Benjamin, Reuven finally sees that tardy righteousness is only self-preservation.
Shimon (Hearer)-Although Shimon refused to hear the distress of Joseph's cries from the pit, refuses to hear the counsel of Jacob concerning Shechem and Dinah, and refuses to hear the cries of oxen whom he's lamed in anger, in prison, Shimon hears the call to repentance.
Levi (Attached to me)-Levi had an attachment to Shimon, and their hot tempers intensified the fire when they teamed up to kill animals or people. Levi had to learn to attach in love to his family and submit to the will of his father's counsel. When he attached in love, then he could finally attach to Joseph. Shimon and Levi disguised their vengeful anger as righteous anger and zeal for their family and justice, but it was entirely self-serving.
Judah (Praise)-Judah was a trader, a good earner. He proposed selling instead of killing Joseph, but he withheld his youngest son from Tamar. Losing two sons, however, instilled compassion in Judah for his father's loss of Joseph, and he finally credits Tamar with more righteousness than his own. He humbles himself and offers himself in place of Benjamin. He esteems other more highly than himself, putting aside his own dreams, bitterness of rejection, and other self-interests. When Judah gives worth and value to others, he finally gives praise to Elohim. Judah makes things right with Joseph and Benjamin, and therefore he makes things right with his father Jacob. Making things right in human relationships is a high praise to the Father, and it restores His family.
Can you fill in the "name repentance" of all the additional brothers?
Naftali (I wrestled)-
Asher (happy, rich)-
Joseph (he will add)-
Ben-oni (son of suffering) Benjamin (son of the right hand)-
The correlation to Minchah prayer and the poor man is found in Jewish law. Berachot 34b of the Talmud, the code of Jewish law and commentary, reads, "The Minchah has the same high degree of holiness which is generally brought by a poor person." The reason is that a poor man may have to fast his daily bread in order to afford his offering, so his Minchah has a heightened degree of holiness. Adonai's concern for the poor is evidenced by the many provisions in Leviticus for the poor man to bring an offering of reduced cost, whether turtledoves and meal in place of flesh, or a single lamb instead of several. A poor man's Minchah request for help from Joseph is endowed with special favor from his Father in heaven. (Alewine, 2003, p. 24)
We know that Minchah may be offered as early as "half hour past the half day mark until sundown." (Cohen, 1949, p. 163).
Passover in Israel