The New Testament Canon In The First Three Centuries From The Encyclopedia Britannica 1903

The first Christians relied on the Old Testament as their chief religious book. To them it was of divine origin and authority The New Testament writings came into gradual use by the side of the older Jewish documents, according to the times in which they appeared and the reouted names of the authors.

When Marcion came from Pontus to Rome (144 A.D.),” he brought with him a Scripture-collection consisting of ten Pauline epistles. Those addressed to Timothy and Titus, with the epistle to the Hebrews, were not in it. The gospel of Marcion was Luke’s in an altered state. From this and other facts we conclude that external parties were the first who carried out the idea of collecting Christian writings, and of putting them either beside or over against the sacred books of the Old Testament, in support of their systems As to Basilides (125 A.D.), his supposed quotations from the New Testament in Hippolytus are too pre carious to be trusted.8 It is inferred from statements in Origen and Jerome that he had a gospel of his own somewhat like Luke’s, but extra-canonical. His son Isidore and succeeding disciples used Matthew’s gospel. Jerome says that Marcion and Basilides denied the Pauline author ship of the epistle to the Hebrews and the pastoral ones.8 It is also doubtful whether Valentinus’s (140-166) alleged citations from the New Testament can be relied upon. The passages of this kind ascribed to him by the fathers belong in a great measure to his disciples; and Heurici has not proved his position that he used John’s gospel. But his followers, including Ptolemy (180 A.D.) and Heracleon (185-200), quote the gospels and other portions of the New Testament. From Hippolytus’s account of the Ophites, Peratse, and Sethians, we infer that the Christian writings were much employed by them. An apocryphal work they rarely cite. More than 160 citations from the New Testament have been gathered out of their writings.4 We may admit that these Ophites and Peratse were of early origin, the former being the oldest known of- the Gnostic parties; but there is no proof that the acquaintance with the New Testament which Hippolytus attributes to them belongs to the first rather than the second half of the 2nd century. The early existence of the sect does not show an early citation of the Christian books by it, especially of John’s gospel; unless its primary were its last stage. Later and earlier Ophites are not distinguished in the Philosophumena. Hence there is a presumption that the author had the former in view, which is favoured by no mention of them occurring in the ” Advertsus omues Hsereses” usually appended to Tertullian’s Prascriptiones HoSreticorum, and by Irenseus’s derivation of their heresy from that of Valentinus. The latter father does not even speak of the Peratae. Clement of Alexandria is the first who alludes to them. The early heretics were desirous of confirming their peculiar opinions by the writings current among catholic Christians, so that the formation of a canon

‘ Davidson’s Introduction to the Study of the Ar. Talam., vol. ii. p. 388. * JExphnaiio in Bpist. ad TUum, voL iv. p. 407, ed. Benedict. 4 Sea the Indexes to Dnncker and Schneidewin’s edition.

by them began soon after the commencement of the 2d century, tad continued till the end of it, contemporaneously with the development of a catholic church and its necessary adjunct a catholic canon. No New Testament canon, except a partial and unauthoritative one, existed till the latter half of the ,2d century, that is, till the idea of a catholic church began to be entertained. The Ebionites or Jewish Christians had their favorite gospels and Acts. The gospel of Matthew was highly prized by them, existing as it did in various recensions. Other documents, such as the Revelation of John, and the Preaching of Peter, (a Jewish-Christian history subsequently re-written and employed in the Clementine Recognitions and Homilies) were also in esteem. Even so late as 170-175, Hegesippus, a Jewish Christian, used the gospel according to the Hebrews and despised Paul’s writings, in conformity with the leading principle of the party to which he belonged, viz., the identity of Jesus’s words with the Old Testament. The Clementine Homilies (161-180) used the four canonical gospels, even the fourth, which they assign to the apostle John. The gospel according to the Egyptians was also employed. Paul’s epistles were rejected, of course, as well as the Acts; since the apostle of the Gentiles was pointed at in Simon Magus, whom Peter refutes. It is, therefore, obvious that a collection of the New Testament writings could make little progress among the Ebionites of the 2d century. Their reverence for the Law and the Prophets hindered another canon. Among the Gentile Christians the formation of a canon took place more rapidly, though Judaic influences retarded it even there. After Paul’s epistles were interchanged-between churches a few of them would soon be put together. A collection of this kind is implied in 2 Peter iii. 16

The apostolic fathers quote from the Old Testament, to them an inspired and sacred thing. They have scarcely any express citations from the Now Testament. Allusions occur, especially to the epistles. The letter of Clement to the Corinthians (about 120) does not use written gospels, though it presupposes an acquaintance with the epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, and Hebrews. Where ” Scripture” is cited, or the expression “it is written” occurs, the Old Testament is meant.

Hermas (about 130) seems to have used the epistles to the Ephesians and Hebrews, those of James and 1 Peter, perhaps, too, the Acts; but there is great uncertainty about the matter, and he has no express quotation from any part of the New Testament. The writer often alludes to words of Jesus found in Matthew’s gospel, so that he may have been acquainted with it.

Barnabas (about 119) has but one quotation from the New Testament, if, indeed, it be such. Apparently, Matthew xx. I6 is introduced by “it is written,” showing that the gospel was considered Scripture. This is the earliest trace of canonical authority being transferred from the Old Testament to Christian writings.

As far as we can judge, from Eusebius’s account of Papias’ (t 163), that writer knew nothing of a New Testament canon. He speaks of Matthew and Mark; but whether he had their present gospels is uncertain. According to Andreas of Caesarea he was acquainted with the Apocalypse of John, while Eusebius testifies to his knowledge of 1 Peter and 1 John. But he seems to have had no conception of canonical authority attaching to any part of the New Testament.

Traces of later ideas about the canonicity of the New Testament appear in the shorter Greek recension of the seven Ignatian epistles (about 175). There “the Gospel” and ” the Epistles” are recognized as the constituents of the book.’ The writer also used the Gospel according to the Hebrews, for there is a quotation from it in the epistle to the Smyrnians.7 The second part of the collection seems to have wanted the epistle to the Ephesians.”

Justin Martyr (150 A.D.) knew some of the’ synoptic gospels— the first and third. The evidence of his acquaintance with Mark’s is but small. His knowledge of the fourth u denied by many, and zealously defended by others. Thoma finds proof that Justin used

‘ Episl. ad Philadelph., ch. 5. See Hefele’s note on the passage. The other well-known passage in chapter viii. is too uncertain in read ing and meaning to be adduced hero. 7 Chapter iii.

It freely as a textbook of gnosis, without recognizing it as the historical work of an apostle.’ It is pretty certain that he employed an extra-canonical gospel, perhaps the so-called gospel of the Hebrews He had also the older Acts of Pilate. Paul’s epistles are never mentioned, though he doubtless knew them., Having little sympathy with Paulinism he attached his belief to the primitive apostles. The Apocalypse, 1 Peter, and 1 John he esteemed highly; the epistle to the Hebrews and the Acts he treated in the same way as the Pauline writings. Justin’s canon, as far as divine authority and inspiration are concerned, was the Old Testament. He was merely on the threshold of a divine canon made up of primitive Christian writings, attaching no exclusive sanctity to those he used, because they were not to him the only source of doc trine. Even of the Apocalypse he says, “A man among ns named John, &c, wrote it.'” In his time none of the gospels had been canonized, not even the synoptists, if, indeed, he knew them all. Oral tradition was the chief fountain of Christian knowledge, as it hid been for a century. In his opinion this tradition was embodied in writing; but the documents in which he looked for all that related to Christ were not the gospels alone. Others he used freely, not looking upon any as inspired. Though lessons out of the gospels (some of our present ones and others), as also out of the prophets, were read in assemblies on the first day of the week,’ the act of converting the Christian writings into Scripture was posterior; for the mere reading of a gospel in churches on Sunday does not prove that it was considered divinely authoritative; and the use of the epistles, which formed the second and less valued part of the collection, must still have been limited.

Justin’s disciple, Tatian (160-180), who wrote an address to the Greeks, quotes the beginning of John’s gospel; and his Diatessaron or Harmony probably included selections from the four canonical ones; but too little is known of it to enable us to speak with certainty. Doubtless he was acquainted with Faul’s writings, as he quotes statements contained in them. He seems, however, to have rejected several of his epistles, probably 1 and 2 Timothy.4

In Polycarp’s epistle (150-166) there are reminiscences of the synoptic gospels; and most of Paul’s epistles as well as 1 Peter were used by the writer. But the idea of canonical authority, or a peculiar inspiration belonging to these writings, is absent.

Athenagoras of Athens wrote an apology addressed to Marcus Aurelius (176). In it he uses written and unwritten tradition, testing all by the Old Testament, which was his only authoritative canon. He makes no reference to the Christian documents, but adduces words of Jesus with the verb “he says.” His treatise on t lie resurrection appeals to a passage in one of Paul’s epistles.’

The author of the epistle to Diognetus (about 200) shows his acquaintance. with the gospels and Paul’s epistles; but he never cites the New Testament by way of proof. Words are introduced into his discourse in passing, and from memory. Dionysius of Corinth (170) complains of the falsification of his writings, but consoles himself with the fact that the same is done to the “Scriptures of the Lord,” i.e., the gospels containing the Lord’s words ; or rather the two parts of the early collection, ” the gospel ” and ” the apostle ” together ; which agrees best with the age and tenor of his letters.’ If such be the meaning, the col lection is put on a par with the Old Testament, and regarded as inspired. But Hegesippus still made a distinction between ” the divine writings” (the Old Testament) laid “the words of the Lord;”7 showing that Holy Scripture was nothing else, in his opinion, then the Jewish books. He also used the gospel of the Hebrews and Jewish tradition.8

The letter of the churches at Vienne and Lyons (177) has quotations from the epistles to the Romans, Philippians, 1 Timothy, 1 Peter, Acts, the gospels of Luke and John, the Apocalypse. The lost is expressly called “Scripture.”* This shows a fusion of the two original tendencies—the Petrine and Pauline, and the formation of a catholic church with a common canon of authority. Accordingly, the two apostles, Peter and Paul, are mentioned together.

Theophilus of Antioch (180) was familiar with the gospels and most of Paul’s epistles, as also the Apocalypse. He puts the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures on the same level, because they proceeded from men who had the same spirit. Passages are cited from Paul as ” the divine word.” ”

The conception of a catholic canon was realized about the same time as that of a catholic church. One hundred and seventy years from the coming of Christ elapsed before the

•Diatogus, part ii. p. 315, ed. Tairll-.y. Comp. on Justin, Tjcenk- Willink’s Justinus Marlyr in zijne Vtrhoudtn-r tot i*aubu. •Apolog. i. p. 97, ed. Tbirlby. 4 Hieronymi Proam. in Epill. ad TUum. * Chapter xviil. •Euseb. H.B., jv. 23. * Ibid., iv. 22. 1 Photii BibUoiheca, cod. 232. » Euseb. H.B., v. 1, p. 144, ed. Bright. ” turn Xiyos. Ad Auloliicum. iii 14, p. ed. Migne,

collection assumed a form that carried with it the idea holy and inspired.11 The way in which it was done was by raising the apostolic writings higher and higher till they were of equal authority with the Old Testament, so that the church might have a rule of appeal The Old Testament was not brought down to the New ; the New was raised to the Old. It is clear that the earliest church fathers did not use the books of the New Testament as sacred documents clothed with divine authority, but followed for the most part, at least till the middle of the second century, apostolic tradition orally transmitted. They were not solicitous about a canon circumscribed within certain limits.

In the second half, then, of the second century there was a canon of the New Testament consisting of two parts called the gospel (to evayyeXiov) and tint apostle (6 iiroo- roAos). The first was complete, containing the four gospel- alone; the second, which was incomplete, contained the Acts of the Apostles and epistles, i.e., thirteen letters of Paul, one of Peter, one of John, and the Revelation. How and where this canon originated is uncertain. Its birth place may have been Asia Minor, like Marcion’s; but it may have grown about the same time in Asia Minor, Alexandria, and Western Africa, At all events, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian speak of its two parts and the three agree in recognizing its existence.

Irenaeus had a canon which he adopted as apostolic In his view It was of binding force and authoritative. This contained the four gospels, the Acts, thirteen epistles of Paul, the first epistle of John, and the Revelation. He had also a sort of appendix or deuterocanon (which he highly esteemed, without putting it on a par with the received collection), consisting of-John’s second epistle, the first of Peter, and the Shepherd of Hernias. The last he calls a ” Scripture ” because it was prophetic.” The epistle to the Hebrews, that of Jude, James’s, 2 Peter, and 3 John h« ignored.

Clement’s collection was more extended than Irenaeus’s. His appendix or deuterocauon included the epistle to the Hebrew*, 2 John, Jude, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Shepherd of Hennas, the epistles of Clement and Barnabas. He recognizes no distinction between the New Testament writings except by the more frequent use of those generally received, and the degree of importance attached to them. Yet Barnabas is cited as an apostle.1′ So is the Roman Clement.14 The Shepherd of Hermas is spoken of as divine.” Thus the line of the Homologoumena is not marked off even to the same extent as in Irenteus, and is seen but obscurely.’

Tertullian’s canon consisted of the gospels, Acts, thirteen epistles of Paul, the Apocalypse, and 1 John. As an appendix he had the epistle to the Hebrews, that of Jude, the Shepherd of Hernias, 2 John probably, and 1 Peter. This deutero-canon was not regarded as authoritative. No trace occurs in his works of James’s epistle, 2 Peter, and 3 John. He used the Shepherd, but thought little of it, with the Montauists in general.1′ These three fathers did not fix the canon absolutely. Its limits were still unsettled. But they sanctioned most of the books now accepted as divine, putting some extra-canonical productions almost on the same level with the rest, at least in practice.

The canon of Muratori is a fragmentary list which was made towards the end of the 2d century (170). Its birthplace is uncertain, though there are traces of Roman origin. Its translation from the Greek is assumed; but that is uncertain. It begins with the four gospels in the usual order, and proceeds to the Acts, thirteen epistles of Paul, the epistles of John, that of Jude, and the Apocalypse. The epistle to the Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, and James on. not named. The epistle “to the Laodiceans” is probably that to the Ephesians, which had this superscription in Murcion’s canon: and that ” to the Alexandrians seems to be the epistle to the Hebrews. According to the usual punctuation, both are said to have been forged in Paul’s name, an opinion which may have been entertained among Roman Christians about 170 A.D. The epistle to the Hebrews was rejected in the West, and may have been thought a supposititious work in the interests of Paulism with some reason, because of its internal character. The story about the origin of the fourth gospel, with its apostolic and episcopal attestation, evinces a desire to establish the authenticity of a work which had not obtained universal^ acceptance at the time. It is

11 See Davidson’s Introduction to Oie Study of the New Testament vol. ii. p. SOP, he. 11 Advert, llcercs., iv. 20, 2. ” NroMala, ii. fi, p. 065, ed. iligue. 14 Ibid., iv. 17, p. 1312. ‘» Ibid., i 29, p. 928. Ds i’tuiicitw, cap. 10.

considerable diversity of opinion among the expositors of the document1

The stichometrical list of the Old and New Testament Scriptures m the Latin of the Clermont MS. (D) was that read in the African Church in the 3d century. It is peculiar. After the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and the historical books, follow Psalms; Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, ‘Wisdom, Sirach, the twelve minor prophets, the four greater, three books of the Maccabees, Judith, Esaras, Esther, Job, and Tobit. In the New Testament, the four gospels, Matthew, John, Mark, Luke, are succeeded by ten epistles of Paul, two of Peter, the epistle of James, three of John, and that of Jude. The epistle to the Hebrews (characterized as that of Barnabas), the Revelation of John, the Acts of the Apostles, the Shepherd of Hennas, the Acts of Paul, the Revelation of Peter, follow. There are thus three New Testament works, afterwards reckoned apocryphal. It is possible that the carelessness of a transcriber may have caused some of the singularities observable in this list, — such as the omission of the epistles to the Philippians and Thessalonians; but the end shows a freer idea of books fitted for reading than what was usual even at that early time in the African Church. * In Syria a version of the New Testament for the use of the church was probably made early in the 3d century. This work, commonly called the Peshito, wants 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and the Apocalypse. It has, however, all the other books, including the epistle of James and that to the Hebrews. The last two were received as apostolic.

Towards the middle of the 3d century Origen’s testimony respecting the Canon (t 254) is of great value. He seems to have distinguished three classes of books—authentic ones, whose apostolic origin was generally admitted, those not authentic, and a middle class not generally recognized, or in regard to which his own opinion wavered. The first contained those already adopted at the beginning of the century both in the East and West, with the Apocalypse, and the epistle to the Hebrews so far as it contains Pauline ideas ; * to the second belongs the Shepherd of Hennas, though he hesitated a little about it, the epistle of Barnabas, the acts of Paul, the gospel according to the Hebrews, the gospel of the Egyptians, and the preaching of Peter ; 4 to the third, the epistle of James, that of Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John.8 The separation of the various writings is not formally made, nor does Origen give a list of them. His classification is gathered from his works; and though its application admitted of considerable latitude, he is cautious enough, appealing to the tradition of the church, and throwing in qualifying expressions. *

The Canon of Eusebius (+ 340) is given at length in his Ecclesiastical History.” He divides the books into three classes, containing those writings generally received* those controverted, * and the heretical 18 (iii. .31). The first has the four gospels, the Acts, thirteen epistles of Paul, 1 John, 1 Peter, the Apocalypse.” The second class is subdivided into two, the first corresponding to Origen’s mixed or intermediate writings,11 the second to his spurious ones.1′ The farmer subdivision contains the epistles of James, 2 Peter, Jude, 2 and 3 John; the latter, the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd, the Revelation of Peter, the’ epistle of Barnabas, the Doctrines of the Apostles, the Apocalypse of John, the gospel according to the Hebrews. The third class has the gospels of Peter and of Thomas, the traditions of Matthias, the Acts of Peter, Andrew, and John. The subdivisions of the second class are indefinite. The only distinction which Eusebius put between them was that of ecclesiastical use. Though he classes as spurious the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd, the Revelation of Peter, the epistle of Barnabas, the doctrines of the Apostles, the Apocalypse of John, the gospel according to the Hebrews, and does not apply the epithet to the epistle of James, the 2 of Peter, 2 and 8 John, he uses of James’s in one place the

verb yo0«£o/<ai.14 In like manner he speaks of the Apocalypse of Peter and the epistle of Barnabas as controverted. 18 The mixed or spurious of Origen are vaguely separated by Eusebius ; both come under the general head of the controverted ; for after specifying them separately he sums up, “all these will belong to the class of the controverted,” the very class already described as containing “books well known and recognized by most,” implying also that they were read in the churches.18 About 332 the Emperor Constantino entrusted Eusebius with the commission to make out a complete collection of the sacred Christian writings for the use of the Catholic Church. How this order was executed we are not told. But Credner is probably correct in saying that the code consisted of all that is now in the New Testament except the Revelation. The fifty copies which were made must have supplied Constantinople and the Greek Church for a considerable time with an authoritative canon.

Eusebius’s catalogue agrees in substance with that of Origen. The historian followed ecclesiastical tradition. He inquired diligently into the prevailing opinions of the Christian churches and writers, the views held by others before and contemporaneously with himself, but could not attain to a decided result. His hesitation’ stood in the way of a clear, firm view of the question. The tradition respecting certain books was still wavering, and he was unable to fix it. Authority fettered his independent judgment. That he was inconsistent and confused does not need to be shown.

The exact principles that guided the formation of a canon in the earliest centuries cannot be discovered. Definite grounds for the reception or rejection of books were not very clearly apprehended. The choice was determined by various circumstances, of which apostolic origin was the chief, though this itself was insufficiently attested, for, if it be asked whether all the New Testament writings proceeded from the authors whose names they bear, criticism cannot reply in the affirmative. The example and influence of churches to which the writings had been first addressed must have acted upon the reception of books. Above all, individual teachers here and there saw the necessity of meeting heretics with their own weapons, in their own way, with apostolic records instead of oral tradition. The circumstances in which the orthodox were placed led to this step, effecting a bond of union whose need must have been felt while each church was isolated under its own bishop and the collective body could not take measures in common. Writings of more recent origin would be received with greater facility than such as had been in circulation for many years, especially if they professed to come from a prominent apostle. A code of apostolic writings, divine and perfect like the Old Testament, had to be presented as soon as possible against Gnostic and Manichaean heretics, whose doctrines were injurious to objective Christianity; while the multiplication of apocryphal works threatened to overwhelm genuine tradition with a heap of superstition.

When it is asked, to whom do. we owe the canon? the usual answer is, to the Church, which is hardly correct. The Church Catholic did not exist till after the middle of the second century. The preservation of the early Christian writings was owing, in the first instance, to the congregations to whom they were sent, and the neighboring ones with whom such congregations had friendly connection. The care of them devolved on the most influential teachers, —on those who occupied leading positions in the chief cities, or were most interested in apostolic writings as a source of instruction. The Christian books were mostly in the hands of the bishops. In process of time the canon was the care of assemblies or councils. But it had been made before the first general council by a few leading fathers towards the end of the second, century in different countries. The formation of a Catholic Church and of a canon was simultaneous. The circumstances in which the collection originated were unfavorable to the authenticity of its materials, for tradition had been busy over them and their authors. Instead of attributing the formation of the canon to “the Church, it would be more correct to say that the important stage in it was due to three teachers, each working separately and in his own way, who were intent upon the creation of a Christian society which did not appear in the apostolic age,—a visible organization united in faith,—where the discordant opinions of apostolic and sub-apostolic times should be finally merged. The canon was not the work of the Christian Church so much as of the men who were striving to form that Church, and could not get beyond the mould received by primitive Christian literature. The first mention of a ” Catholic Church ” occurs in The Martyrdom of Polycarp, an epistle that cannot be dated earlier than 160 A.D, and may perhaps be ten years later. But though the idea be there end in the Ignatian epistles, its established us» is due to Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Cyprian.

Origen was the first who took a somewhat scientific view of the relative value belonging to the different parts of the biblical collection. His examination of the canon was critical. Before him the leading books had been regarded as divine and sacred, the source of doctrinal and historic truth; and from this stand-point he did not depart. With him ecclesiastical tradition was a prevailing principle in the recognition of books belonging of right to the New Testament collection. He was also guided by the inspiration of the authors, —a criterion arbitrary in its application, as his own statements show. In his time, however, the collection was being gradually enlarged, —his third class, i.e., the mixed, approaching reception into the first. But amid all the fluctuations of opinion to which certain portions of the New Testament were subject, and the unscientific procedure both of fathers and churches in the matter, though councils had not met to discuss it, and vague tradition had strengthened with time, a certain spiritual consciousness manifested itself throughout the East and West in the matter of the canon. Tolerable unanimity ensued. The result was a remarkable one, and calls for our gratitude. Though the development was pervaded by no critical or definite principle, it ended in a canon which has maintained its validity for centuries.

It is sometimes said that the history of the canon should be sought from definite catalogues, not from isolated quotations. The latter are supposed to be of slight value, the former to be the result of deliberate judgment. This remark is more specious than solid. In relation to the Old Testament, the catalogues given by the fathers, aa by Melito and Origen, rest solely on the tradition of the Jews, apart from which they have no independent authority. As none except Jerome and Origen knew Hebrew, their lists of the Old Testament books are simply a reflection of what they learned from others. If they deviate in practice from their masters by quoting as Scripture other than the canonical books, they show their judgment over-riding an external theory. The very men who give a list of the Jewish books evince an inclination to the Christian and enlarged canon. So Origen says, in his Epistle to Africanus, that ” the churches use Tobit.” In explaining the prophet Isaiah, Jerome employs Sirach vL 6, in proof of his view, remarking that the apocryphal work is in the Christian catalogue. In like manner Epiphanius, in a pas sage against Aetius, after referring to the books of Scripture, adds, “as well as the books of Wisdom, t.f., the Wisdom of Solomon and of Jesus son of Sirach; finally, all the other books of Scripture.” In another place he. gives the canon of the Jews historically, and excludes the apocryphal Greek books; but here he includes some of the latter. We also learn from Jerome that Judith was in the number of the books reckoned up by the Nicene Council. Thus the fathers who give catalogues of the Old Testament show the existence of a Jewish and a Christian canon in relation to the Old Testament;—the latter wider than the former, their private opinion more favorable to the one, though the other was historically transmitted. In relation to the New Testament, the synods which drew up lists of the sacred books show the opinion of some leading father like Augustine, along with what custom had sanctioned. In this department no member of the synod exercised his critical faculty; a number together would decide such questions summarily. Bishops proceed in the track of tradition or authority.

This Week’s Torah Portion | December 10 – December 16, 2017 – 22 Kislev – 28 Kislev, 5778

Miketz (At The End) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

MIKETZ

TORAH : GENESIS 41:1-44:17
PROPHETS : ZECHARIAH 2:14-4:7
GOSPEL : LUKE 24:13-29

About the Weekly Torah Portion

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage.

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will highlight specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.

The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world.

The readings for this week 10-16 December 2017 are called MiKetz—“At the End Of”:

(NOTE: Years in which Hanukkah does not fall within the week for this parashah, the Haftarah reading for MiKetz is: I Kings 3:15—4:1)

*Genesis 41:1; 15-16. “Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh had a dream…And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.’ So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of shalom.’”

PLEASE PRAY: That the LORD release dreams into our secular leaders—which can only be interpreted by those godly ones whom He has prepared to be near to them. Pray that the Lord raise up young men and women who will be filled with His Spirit, and who will be able supernaturally (in this rationalistic age) to show the way for our Prime Minister and other leaders to “an answer of Shalom.”

*Genesis 44:5, 15: “Get up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? Is not this the one from which my lord drinks, and with which he indeed practices divination? You have done evil in so doing.’” “Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?”

Joseph never actually tells the brothers that he “practices divination”—rather, he presents them with two questions, “Is this not the one…with which he indeed practices divination?” and “Didn’t you know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?” (He is still allowing his brothers to assume him to be a native Egyptian ruler, who normally would be expected to do such things.). Numbers 23:23 uses the same Hebrew word translated here “divination” (nakhash—also the Hebrew word for “snake”) in asserting that “there is no sorcery in Jacob”. As we have already seen (Genesis 40:8; 41:16), Joseph as a wise and humble prophet was always open in attributing his powers, not to himself or his expertise, but to his God.

*Zechariah 2:10-11. “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the LORD. “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.”

There is nothing in the Hebrew of this passage to suggest that the One (i.e. the LORD—Yehovah) who in vs. 10 and again in vs. 11 says He is “coming to dwell in Zion’s midst” is not the same “One” who continues, “Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.” We see this “knowing” as the same “recognition” taking place in Zechariah 12:10, when “they will look on Me whom they pierced.”

PLEASE PRAY: For revelation in Israel to understand and believe that The LORD of Hosts (who promised to “dwell in Israel’s midst”) and the One sent to her (“whom she pierced”) are ONE (John 10:30).

*Zechariah 2:12-13. “And the LORD (Yehovah) will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Hush! all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!”

With the passage five years ago of UN General Assembly Resolution 67/19, granting “Palestine” official recognition as a “state”, whose borders would presumably encompass this adamat-hakodesh, (literally “holy earth”), within which the YHVH (Yehovah—“The LORD”) says He will “take possession” as His “inheritance”— things are coming into position for a clash of unprecedented proportions. Remember, the November 29, 2012 date of that vote fell in the Hebrew calendar on the 15th of Kislev, the same day as the setting up of the Abomination of Desolation mentioned in I Maccabees 1:54 and alluded to in Daniel 11:31). To survive and see our way—to see His way—in the coming storm, it will be of paramount importance that we “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit,” that we “set our minds on the things of the Spirit” and “by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body, that we may live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:4,5, 13-14).

PLEASE PRAY: That the Body of Messiah in Israel move into a deep understanding and practice of what it means to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25 NIV), to say “Hush!” to our flesh before our LORD, as He is aroused from His holy habitation!

*Zechariah 3:2. “And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’”

Revelation 12:11 points to a time when the Accuser will be overcome “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” We infer from this Zechariah passage that part of that “word of testimony” may include a linking of the name of the LORD/YHVH with his choosing of Jerusalem. This will be the place of His throne! (Psalm 2).

An acknowledgment and confession of the LORD’s covenant link with Jerusalem will release a power to silence the Accuser in the last days!

*Zechariah 3:8. “Behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.”

Part of the Hanukkah celebration includes use of a special eight-branched menorah (hanukki’ah) upon which a new oil lamp or candle is lit each evening. Every light is ignited from the flame of a separate “branch” called shamash—“servant”. Remarkably, the Haftarah reading for this Saturday within Hanukkah, besides containing, as might be expected, a menorah (Zechariah 4:2-3), also includes these words, “Behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.” Although a different Hebrew word for “servant” is used here, there is no doubt that it refers to the Servant-Messiah, sent by the Father—the Light Inextinguishable, who illumines all coming into the world (John 1:9)!

Zechariah 4:6. “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts.”
These words are emblazoned in Hebrew across the bottom of the outer branches of the menorah which stands before the Knesset in Jerusalem (below).

PLEASE PRAY: that the Holy Spirit of God invade the halls of government in Israel. That Spirit-filled believers rise into the higher echelons of government, displacing the powers of darkness there and influencing the leadership for righteousness!

In A Nutshell

The portion, Miketz (At the End), begins with Pharaoh’s dream about seven healthy and well-fed looking cows coming up from the Nile, followed by seven meager and malnourished looking cows. In a second dream, Pharaoh sees seven plump and wholesome looking ears of grain, followed by seven ears that were thin and scorched, and the thin ears eat the plump ones.

None of Pharaoh’s counselors could solve his dreams. The chief cupbearer, who was saved, remembered Joseph and his gift for deciphering dreams. He took the opportunity and asked to bring Joseph out of prison. Joseph came and solved Pharaoh’s dream. He said that there would be seven years of wealth and abundance in Egypt, immediately followed by seven years of hunger, and that Pharaoh should prepare for them.

Joseph also suggested how Pharaoh should prepare for them. Pharaoh appointed Joseph in charge, second only to the king, so he would set up the warehouses.

Indeed, the seven plentiful years were followed by seven years of famine, and the entire nation turned to Joseph to relieve their hunger and help them through it. Everyone, including Jacob’s sons, who were in the land of Israel, came to Egypt due to the hunger.

Jacob’s sons came to Joseph and did not recognize their own brother. At first, Joseph thought they were spies. Afterward, he sent Simeon to prison and said to his brothers, go back, but without Simeon. Joseph hid a goblet in Benjamin’s belongings and declared that if the thief who stole the goblet is caught, he will be put to death, and everyone will be punished.

The brothers returned to Jacob and told him of Joseph’s request that their brother Benjamin should go down to Egypt with them. Initially, Jacob refused to send Benjamin back to Pharaoh because he has already lost Joseph and Simeon, but he finally agreed to let him go.

The portion describes the different predicaments that Joseph puts his brothers through, causing them to separate, but the brothers reinforce their unity.

The portion ends with everyone being in Egypt, Benjamin is accused of stealing the goblet, and Joseph decides to keep him as a slave.

Commentary

These stories represent different states that we must go through as we advance in the correction of our souls. The Torah tells us how we must perform the correction.

There is no need to correct our bodies because they are part of the animal kingdom and exist as do all other animals. Our souls, however, we must beget out of the current state, and this portion narrates how we should approach the correction and achieve the birth of our souls.

It is written, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice.” In other words, our foundation is the evil inclination, our ego. When we recognize the ego and begin to work with it, we experience first hand the entire process the Torah describes.

The previous portions dealt with the point in the heart that awakens and develops in a person. This portion deals with how that development takes place. We all come from a broken Kli (vessel), which must be corrected, connected. This is the correction by which we achieve the rule, “love your neighbor as yourself; it is the great rule of the Torah,”[1] inferring the connection of all of us into a single Kli, when all the people are as one.

First, the people of Israel will achieve unity. Subsequently, it will serve as “a light for the nations” and will connect everyone to that Kli. Thus, “They shall all know Me from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jeremiah 31:33). Knowing means attaining, as it is written, “And the man knew Eve, his wife” (Genesis 4:1). This is the goal we must reach, and it is achievable only through unity.

When we connect, we discover how wicked we are, how undesirable connection is to us, and how we prefer to avoid it. Who among us thinks these days about brotherly love, about “love your neighbor as yourself”? Although it is written in the Torah, although it is the great rule on which the entire Torah stands, no one engages in actual implementation of it.

We have virtually forgotten that single rule without which the whole Torah is meaningless. The portion explains how we should approach the correction stage by stage. All the Mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah are but internal corrections of ourselves toward achieving the principle that is the great rule of the Torah, and shift from love of man to love of God, as Baal HaSulam wrote in Matan Torah (the Giving of the Torah) and The Arvut (the Mutual Guarantee). Love of man is the Kli within which appears the Creator’s upper light, and the revelation of the Creator to the creatures is the purpose of creation, as it is written, “And they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.”

Whether we want to or not, we go through states in which we descend to a state called Pharaoh. In that state, the ego appears. Pharaoh, the ego, appears precisely when we want to unite, when we understand that the purpose of creation is to obtain the connection, the unity. The more we try to accomplish it between us, the more we discover Pharaoh within us. Pharaoh is a great and important degree in our progress toward attainment of the spiritual degree, the human level.

Life as we know it is on the animate level. To reach the human level we must be connected like Adam HaRishon (Adam, the first man) who included the whole of humanity within him. Adam’s soul divided into 600,000 souls, which then multiplied so that in each of us there is a spark of Adam HaRishon. The human level is the level of collecting those sparks in each of us. However, we are still on the animate level and must elevate ourselves by ourselves from the animate level to the speaking level.

The portion explains that we can rise to the speaking level by recognizing Pharaoh within us, with the egoistic desire that wants only to receive, and to give nothing. We approach it and come to know it precisely when we are in a state that he “feeds” us and we are helpless against him.

It is the same in our lives today: if we leave our egos, we will have nothing to eat. If, for example, we abolish all competitiveness between us, the envy, lust, and pursuit of power and respect, the world will stop developing. Therefore, we need these forces, as it is written, “Envy, lust, and honor deliver man out of the world.”[2] These forces deliver us from this world, and into a higher, more spiritual world.

We must come to know Pharaoh, our ego, in a deeper sense. We must bring ourselves to want it although we naturally do not. That desire contradicts our natural inclination.

If we aim toward connection with people, understanding that the purpose of creation is to achieve love and connection, we seemingly oppose it. Therefore, the ego necessarily appears in us. On the other hand, the ego understands that we must use all of our good qualities.

This situation instigates a split into two forces—the force of Jacob and the force of Pharaoh, or the force of Joseph and the force of Pharaoh. Gradually, we learn to discern between those two forces in us and understand how they complement one another, how Joseph mingles with Pharaoh, and how Pharaoh mingles with Joseph.

Joseph is “the righteous Joseph.” He is Yesod, who collects all the good, all of our good qualities of bestowal—the giving and the love. Pharaoh is the correction of all the bad, egoistic qualities. These two qualities must unite in order to complement one another so the bad qualities become as good ones, so the evil inclination becomes as the good inclination, as it is written, “The angel of death is destined to become a holy angel.”[3]

These processes happen within us. We notice that we are confused, like to Pharaoh, who is confused by his dream. A dream is a very high degree in one’s progress. It occurs when a person is confused and disoriented. In the transition from state to state, a person does not understand what is going on, having left the previous state but not yet reached the recognition, the new understanding, and therefore one is confused.

Anyone who engages in self-scrutiny, or even in more superficial research, experiences periods where one is still not in control of the new perception. At the same time, the researcher must leave the previous perception or he or she will not be able to rise to the new level. This is why that state is called “a dream.” Similarly, in our world, between each two days there must be night, darkness, departure of the intellect, reason. The dream comes to help us prepare to perceive what the new day holds in store for us.

Here we can see the mingling that exists between spiritual qualities, the qualities of the Creator and the qualities of the person, the creature. The qualities of the Creator, who aims only to bestow, are called “the right side.” The qualities of the creature, who aims entirely to receive, are “the left side.” The connection between them occurs when Jacob and his entire household go down to Egypt.

Jacob is in Egypt and mingles with the Egyptians in order to later elicit from there all the Kelim (vessels), to elicit all the power from the ego, except for the ego itself. This state is called “And afterward they shall come out with great substance” (Genesis 15:14).

The entire portion deals with the descent into that state. A person may have good desires but will still be unable to progress with them because these desires are too thin.

When we begin to study, we uncover a desire to advance and understand ourselves, to know the reality that governs us, the upper reality. On the one hand, we feel we do not have this power. On the other hand, we feel that the process we are going through is preinstalled in us, so it is inevitable that we should discover the evil inclination, Pharaoh within us. Our good qualities are included in our egoistic qualities, and this is called, “for the famine was in the land of Canaan” (Genesis 42:5). Therefore, we have no choice but to go down to Egypt.

When we do not see spirituality as a strong foundation, we become included in our will to receive. The will to receive then grows and becomes crueler and more intense, to the point that it seems as though it is about so swallow us. But when we advance in the right direction, we find Joseph that already exists within our will to receive.

Joseph is already in Egypt, and through it, a person becomes included in the ego. This is why there is always a kind of partition between the qualities of bestowal and the qualities of reception.

Joseph says to Simeon that the brothers are spies, and sends the rest of the brothers to their country. However, they have no choice but to return to Egypt. It happens because we have no choice but to work with the ego, the will to receive, or there will not be any progress.

Our ego is help made against us. If we do not invert it to work in order to bestow, we will not be able to enter creation and discover the upper world.

In fact, we work only with our own qualities. This is why this wisdom is called Hochmat HaKabbalah (the wisdom of reception), since we nonetheless receive within the vessels of reception, the Kelim that were once cruel. We will feel the spiritual world only after we correct our Kelim.

As just said, the brothers return to Joseph for the second time. However, this time Joseph gives them a Kli, his goblet. What he received from Egypt, the goblet, he hands over to the house of Jacob, thus pulling all of them back, and all the children of Israel go down to Egypt. Joseph connects to Egypt in a special way—in the quality of Yesod that characterizes him. This quality concentrates within it all the upper qualities that enter Malchut—our will to receive—through it.

Joseph marries the daughter of one of Pharaoh’s spiritual advisors, Osnat, and has two sons, Ephraim and Menashe. This means that with the entrance of the children of Israel to Egypt, Pharaoh begins to change. It seems as though a connection is made that works in Pharaoh’s favor, since the whole world comes to him, to Malchut—the only one who can provide nourishment. But this nourishment is actually received from the first nine Sephirot, not from Malchut.

The first nine Sephirot are included in Malchut because they first have to be included in Pharaoh, Malchut. A person absorbs these qualities as one who acquired new good qualities and good behavior, and uses them in order to receive. Such a person uses what he or she has acquired in one’s own favor—deceiving people, penetrating good environments and stealing wherever possible.

We must go through such a period when our the good qualities are “captive.” And although we use them for our own pleasure, they still gradually work on us, just as with the children of Israel in Egypt. When the children of Israel came to Egypt, they connected to Pharaoh so that afterward, when the plagues would come over Pharaoh, they would still feel that they can no longer stay with the general will to receive and work in favor of their egos, and then they would run with great substance.

The connection is between the qualities of the Creator and the qualities of the creature. The nine Sephirot of the Creator enter the tenth Sephira (singular for Sephirot), Malchut, the quality of the creature, our ego, but it does not happen instantaneously, but gradually.

In this portion, Joseph tests his brothers, separating them. They overcome it and reunite, then he separates them again. It seems that currently the world is in a similar situation: we understand that we have to connect, but we can’t, due to our egos. What can we learn from this portion about the direction that the world should take today?

This portion serves as a big warning sign, especially to the people of Israel. The people of Israel have to come down to Pharaoh. That is, we must go out to the world and help it rise. If we fail to do it, it will be bad because this is not the way of Torah.

We must direct all of our teaching, all the light, toward disseminating the wisdom of Kabbalah throughout the world. It is called the “Messiah’s horn.”

It is written in The Zohar that only through the power of The Book of Zohar will the children of Israel come out of exile. However, we are still not in exile; we must first enter it. Exile is a state where we want to connect but do not know how to do it because something is stopping us. We search for the ego, which is stopping us, and we must find the Pharaoh within us and between us. This is why we must first connect among us as much as we can, as in “all of Israel are friends.”[4]

We must circulate the Integral Education of “love your neighbor as yourself,” throughout the nation and explain in a scientific manner everything that Kabbalah discloses—that we must obtain unity and mutual guarantee or our situation will truly be desperate. We must convey to the world the same message, too, or the whole world will come to us with demands. They will not even know why, but they will be right because it is according to the laws of nature. This demand of the world is “the war of Gog and Magog,” the war of the end of days.

This is why the house of Jacob goes down to Egypt, and this is what we, too, must do. We should begin with connecting among us, with feeling our inner Pharaohs, and begin to tend to them. Through the light that reforms we must study the Torah in such a way that it becomes to us a reforming light. In other words, we will draw light through our desire to unite.

When we study Torah, we aim only for connection. We do not aspire for knowledge or wits, but only for unity among us. It is the rule that the Torah requires of us, “love your neighbor as yourself; it is the great rule of the Torah.” It is the only reason why the Torah was given.

“I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice because the light in it reforms it.” We must observe it, and today the whole world demands it of us.

Thus, we will finally arrange our nation. Our nation was founded on the unity of exiles from Babylon around Abraham. Maimonides writes that they connected based on the rule, “love your neighbor as yourself,” and that this is why they became a nation. Once we have lost that principle, we have stopped being a nation. Instead, we have become a collection of exiles. We are still in exile, in a kind of collection, so we must circulate these words and notify everyone as quickly as we can.

If we circulate through all the nations the method for connecting everyone in mutuality, as nature requires, as the current crisis is demanding, according to the wisdom of Kabbalah, we will see how differently everyone begins to relate to us. They will be willing to connect and to help.

What do years of abundance and years of hunger mean, and why is the number seven mentioned twice?

It is a process we must go through, in ascents and descents, once on the animate level and once on the vegetative level. It is similar to the shattering of the two Temples. In a descent from above, from the degree of Jacob, we need to descend once on the level of Mochin of Haya, and once on the level of Mochin of Neshama. It is the same as with the two Temples, the first Temple and the Second Temple, the same as the ruin that happened to us in the spiritual world, the world of Nekudim.

Will every person have to experience it personally?

To an extent, each and everyone experiences this process. But when we advance together toward connection it is not a problem; we can go through this entire process with joy.

If we disseminate the wisdom and the world hears and understands, will it still be necessary for the world to go through this process?

It is the recognition of evil. This is how we come to know our disease. Just as a physician uses diagnosis to determine a person’s illness and prescribe the proper medicine, we rise to a higher degree. Therefore, we need not be afraid. If we all march toward mutual guarantee, toward unity, we will have no problems along the way because even things that will seem undesirable will work toward our attainment of the degree that has been prepared for us— Yashar El (straight to God), toward unity.

[1]“love your neighbor as yourself. Rabbi Akiva says, ‘It is a great rule in the Torah’” (Jerusalem Talmud, Seder Nashim, Masechet Nedarim, Chapter 9, p 30b).

[2]Mishnah, Seder Nezikin, Masechet Avot, Chapter 4, p 27.

[3]Mentioned in The Writings of Rabash, Vol 1, “What Is Torah and Work in the Path of the Creator?”

[4]Mishnah, Shekalim, Ikar Tosfot Yom Tov, Chapter 8, Mishnah 1.

A Declarations & Decrees: You Who Are Born of the Spirit Radiate God’s Glory!

Declarations & Decrees: You Who Are Born of the Spirit Radiate God’s Glory!

I write these decrees in the Name of Jesus Christ and in His authority and through His power.

The Angelic troops stand ready to dispatch these decrees to the heavenly realms to the rulers, and authorities, and to post in the King’s Palace (Revelations 2-3, Esther 8:10,13).

◦ We decree and declare ONLY THOSE BORN OF THE SPIRIT will SEE the Kingdom of Elohim God! What is born from the Spirit is spirit.

◦ We declare those of the World are having their eyes, hears, and minds open to the REALITY OF ELOHIM GOD, the First and the Last, the Great I AM!

◦ We decree that, though the World might be AMAZED AT THE CONCEPT of being born again, their hearts are CRYING OUT for a FILLING of that void within themselves.

◦ Only the filling of the Holy Spirit can make them complete.

◦ We decree and declare the WIND OF THE SPIRIT is blowing across this Land and OVER the whole Earth.

◦ The Spirit moves where He desires, and you hear His sound, but you don’t know where He has come from and where He is going.

◦ Keep in prayer, be READY to move with the Spirit.

◦ We declare that those LEAD OF THE SPIRIT cannot be ANTICIPATED.

◦ They move as the Spirit leads them; the World will not be able to SEE or STOP them.

◦ We decree and declare it was NECESSARY for the Son of Man to be LIFTED UP, just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that EVERYONE WHO TRUSTS IN HIM MAY HAVE ETERNAL life!

◦ We declare that ELOHIM GOD SO LOVED the World that HE GAVE His only and unique Son, so that EVERYONE who TRUSTS in Him may have ETERNAL LIFE, instead of being utterly destroyed.

◦ For Elohim God did not send His Son into the World to judge the World, but rather so that THROUGH HIM the World might be saved.

◦ We decree and declare to those who SEEK GLORY, HONOR and IMMORTALITY by PERSEVERANCE in DOING GOOD, He will pay back ETERNAL LIFE.

◦ He will pay back glory and honor and peace to everyone who keeps doing what is good.

◦ But to those who disobey the truth and obey evil, He will pay back wrath and anger.

◦ For Elohim God does not show favoritism.

◦ We declare Believers in Jesus Christ/ Yeshua Messiah are RADIANT with the Glory of Elohim God!

◦ The World is SEEING God’s GLORY within and upon you.

◦ Do not question that STRANGERS ARE DRAWN TO YOU.

◦ It is the Spirit of God’s ANOINTING PRESENCE that draws them.

◦ We declare it is not merely the hears of the Law whom God considers righteous, rather, it is the DOERS OF WHAT THE LAW SAYS who will be made RIGHTEOUS in God’s sight.

◦ For Gentiles who do not have the Law(Torah-Instruction of Elohim) do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law(Torah-Instruction of Elohim) ,are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law(Torah-Instruction of Elohim) written in their hearts.

◦ We declare a CLEANSING and UNIFYING of the people of this land as these decrees go forth.

In the name of King Jesus Christ, empowered and led of the Holy Spirit of Elohim God, we dispatch the Angelic troops, throughout this land and in the spirit realm, to deliver these decrees to all, both flesh and spirit.

The enemy, the principalities and powers, have no authority to act against these decrees of our King, the Lord Elohim God Almighty; their actions will be of no effect to God’s chosen ones, but will be turned back on themselves for destruction.

The Lord Elohim God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, we praise Your Name for You are True and Faithful and Just to perform it. Amen!

“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?  Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.  If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.  As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God,” John 3:1-21.

A Declarations & Decrees: Let the World Rejoice

Declarations & Decrees: Let the World Rejoice – Elohim God Sent His Son That the World May Know Him!

I write these decrees in the Name of Jesus Christ and in His authority and through His power.

The Angelic troops stand ready to dispatch these decrees to the heavenly realms to the rulers, and authorities, and to post in the King’s Palace (Revelations 2-3, Esther 8:10,13).

◦ We declare the World is SEEING THE LIGHT, the Son of God, Jesus Christ/ Yeshua Messiah!

◦ We decree there are MULTITUDES coming to the saving knowledge through Jesus/ Yeshua.

◦ Their hearts, minds and eyes are open to HIS GLORY – Holy Spirit is wooing them.

◦ We praise YOU FATHER for loving mankind so much that YOU sent Your Son Jesus/ Yeshua, to live the life of a man and to lay His life down for the sins of mankind; He is Your Spotless Lamb that was slain, known before the foundations of the world,  (1 Peter 1:19-20)

◦ We decree and declare the Son of Elohim God, the Child born in Bethlehem, is COMING BACK soon and DOMINION WILL REST ON HIS SHOULDERS, HE IS Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace!

◦ We praise You Father for Your coming Kingdom!

◦ We decree and declare the World will KNOW the One True Elohim God, the First and the Last, who is TRUSTWORTHY, He loves RIGHTEOUSNESS and JUSTICE; the Earth is full of the GRACE of the Lord!

◦ We decree the whole Earth FEARS the Lord!

◦ All living in the Word STAND IN AWE of Him! For He spoke, and there it was; he commanded, and there it stood.

◦ We declare the COUNSEL of the Lord STANDS FOREVER, His heart’s plans are for all generations.

◦ BLESSED is the Nation whose God is the Lord, the People He chose as His heritage!

◦ The Lord LOOKS OUT FROM HEAVEN; He sees EVERY human being; from the place where He lives He watches everyone living on Earth, and UNDERSTANDS all they do.

◦ We declare the EYES OF THE LORD watch over those who FEAR Him, over those who WAIT for His GRACE to rescue them from death and keep them alive in famine.

◦ His GLORY, His WORD covers these, His Servants who dwell in His Presence.

◦ We decree and declare WOE to those who don’t PAY ATTENTION to the Lord and how He works.

◦ Those who call themselves by His Name, but do not LISTEN to His voice will find they don’t know their way.

◦ For lack of knowledge Elohim God sends His people into exile; this is also why their respected men starve and their masses are parched from thirst.

◦ We declare the MASSES ARE LOWERED, the NOBLES ARE HUMBLED – proud looks are brought down.

◦ But the Lord Elohim God Almighty is EXALTED through JUSTICE, Elohim God the Holy One is consecrated through RIGHTEOUSNESS.

◦ We declare a CLEANSING and UNIFYING of the people of this land as these decrees go forth.

In the name of King Jesus Christ, empowered and led of the Holy Spirit of Elohim God, we dispatch the Angelic troops, throughout this land and in the spirit realm, to deliver these decrees to all, both flesh and spirit.

The enemy, the principalities and powers, have no authority to act against these decrees of our King, the Lord Elohim God Almighty; their actions will be of no effect to Elohim God’s chosen ones, but will be turned back on themselves for destruction.

The Lord Elohim God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, we praise Your Name for You are True and Faithful and Just to perform it. Amen!

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.  You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.  For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.  For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.  For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this,”   Isaiah 9:2-7.

For the word of the Lord is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord.  By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.  He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses.  Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.  For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.  The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.  The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; from His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works.  The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength.  A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.  Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.  Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name.  Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You,”   Psalm 33:4-22.

“Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink, who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them!  Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; but they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord, nor do they consider the work of His hands.  Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude is parched with thirst.  Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure; and Jerusalem’s splendor, her multitude, her din of revelry and the jubilant within her, descend into it.  So the common man will be humbled and the man of importance abased, the eyes of the proud also will be abased.  But the Lord of hosts will be exalted in judgment, and the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness.  Then the lambs will graze as in their pasture, and strangers will eat in the waste places of the wealthy,”   Isaiah 5:11-17.

A Declarations & Decrees: By The Name of Jesus Christ You Are Free

Declarations & Decrees: By the name of Jesus Christ you are free from oppression and affliction!

I write these decrees in the Name of Jesus Christ and in His authority and through His power.

The Angelic troops stand ready to dispatch these decrees to the heavenly realms to the rulers, and authorities, and to post in the King’s Palace (Revelations 2-3, Esther 8:10,13).

◦ We decree and declare ANY FORCES or UNCLEAN SPIRITS that have kept you bound or isolated are BROKEN now in the Name of Jesus Christ/ Yeshua Messiah!

◦ These forces and restrictions, that society has attempted to restrict you with, are of NO EFFECT!

◦ We declare the demonic forces of the evil one MUST SUBMIT to the Lord God Almighty, in the Name of Jesus/ Yeshua!Unclean spirits are cast away from you and your environment and into the sea.

◦ They can no longer control you or weigh you down in defeat.

◦ We declare the Lord God KNOWS THE PAIN of His People.

◦ He sees those who are oppressed and He hears their cry for RELEASE!

◦ He says, “I have come down to RESCUE YOU, and to bring you out of your oppression, into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey!

◦ We decree and declare YOU ARE A VESSEL OF ELOHIM GOD chosen to set His People free.

◦ He is giving you gifts and signs to perform that HIS NAME WILL BE KNOWN throughout the Earth.

◦ Do not think yourself inadequate for the task; Elohim God Almighty is your Father and has given His Spirit to you with all the ability and wisdom you need.

◦ PRAISE THE LORD for His great MERCY and GRACE.

◦ We decree and declare Believers are being STRENGTHENED and ENCOURAGED as the Word of the Lord is spoken forth.

◦ As YOU STAND STRONG, your actions are having a “ripple effect” to touch MULTITUDES.

◦ We declare the HARVEST IS COMING IN!

◦ Elohim God’s Word, His Gospel is being preached throughout the Earth.

◦ We speak strength and blessing upon His RIGHTEOUS SERVANTS!

◦ Multiply their resources, their strength and the impact of their words as the villages and jungle regions are reached in the Name of the Lord!

◦ We decree and declare the Lord does not play favorites.

◦ THE FATHER ACCEPTS whoever FEARS Him and does what is right, NO MATTER WHAT PEOPLE HE BELONGS TO.

◦ We break the spirit of discrimination and deceit within the “church”.

◦ The LOVE of God is what will be seen by the World and draw mankind unto Salvation.

◦ We decree YOU will move in the power and anointing of Holy Spirit and will DO GOOD and HEAL all the people oppressed by the enemy, because ELOHIM GOD IS WITH YOU!

◦ We decree and declare by the witness of the disciples, those previously chosen by Elohim God, those who ate and drank with Jesus/ Yeshua after He had risen again from the dead.

◦ God commands you to PROCLAIM and ATTEST to the Jews and Gentiles that Jesus/ Yeshua is appointed by Elohim God to judge the living and the dead.

◦ We declare ALL THE PROPHETS bear witness to Christ/ Messiah, that EVERYONE WHO PUTS HIS TRUST in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name!

◦ This is the Good News.

◦ As it is proclaimed in the streets and by-ways the Holy Spirit will fall on ALL WHO HEAR the message!

◦ We declare a CLEANSING and UNIFYING of the people of this land as these decrees go forth.

In the name of King Jesus Christ, empowered and led of the Holy Spirit of Elohim God, we dispatch the Angelic troops, throughout this land and in the spirit realm, to deliver these decrees to all, both flesh and spirit.

The enemy, the principalities and powers, have no authority to act against these decrees of our King, the Lord Elohim God Almighty; their actions will be of no effect to Elohim God’s chosen ones, but will be turned back on themselves for destruction.

The Lord Elohim God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, we praise Your Name for You are True and Faithful and Just to perform it. Amen!

“When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and he had his dwelling among the tombs.  And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.  Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones.

Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and shouting with a loud voice, he *said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I implore You by God, do not torment me!”

For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”  And He was asking him, “What is your name? ” And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”  And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.  Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain.

The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.”  Jesus gave them permission.  And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; ad they were drowned in the sea,”    Mark 5:2-13, 18-20.

“The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.  So I have come down to deliver them from thepower of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.  Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them,”   Exodus 3:7-9.

“Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do.  Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel; and Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses.  He then performed the signs in the sight of the people.  So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped,” Exodus 4:28-31.

“Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.  The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all) — you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed.  You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power,and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.  We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem.  They also put Him to death by hanging Him on across.  God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.  And He ordered us top reach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.  Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.  All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.  Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?”  And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days,”
   Acts 10:34-48.

This Week’s Torah Portion | December 03 – December 09, 2017 – 15 Kislev – 21 Kislev, 5778

VaYeshev (And Jacob Sat) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

TORAH : GENESIS 37:1-40:23
PROPHETS : AMOS 2:6-3:8
GOSPEL : MATTHEW 1:18-25

About the Weekly Torah Portion

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage.

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will highlight specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.

The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world.

The readings for this week 3-9 December 2017 are called VaYeshev—“And He Settled”:

This week we begin the story of Joseph and his brothers.

*Genesis 37:11. “His brothers were jealous of him [Joseph’s prophetic dream], but his father kept the matter in mind” (NKJV). A more literal rendering of the Hebrew might be: “but his father guarded the word.” (Luke 2:51 tells how Miriam (Mary) similarly “kept, guarded” the prophetically significant words and occurrences which were taking place with her young son Yeshua).

Both the Torah and Haftarah for this week focus upon God’s prophetic gifts for His people, particularly as they are and shall be released upon the godly young (See also Joel 2:28-32). As the Lord returns to Zion with deliverance and an outpouring of His Spirit.

PLEASE PRAY for mature instruction in the prophetic among Israelis—when and how to share prophecies and dreams; how to “guard” and save a Word of the LORD until its time comes to fruition; also how to guard against giving place to the flesh which can awaken jealousies towards those who may be more gifted in certain areas than we are.

*Genesis 39:8-9. “But he refused [his master’s wife’s seductive advances] and said, ‘Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house…he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”

PLEASE PRAY for clean minds and hearts and the Fear of the Lord in believing Israeli youth who are under constant temptation to compromise their integrity and sexual purity. Revelation 14 speaks of 144,000 who will not have defiled themselves. Perhaps there are some of that army already alive in the land! If so, the Evil One will do all he can to divert them from their destiny. Pray for a new wave of bold and victorious youth and young adults governed by godly integrity—who would like Joseph have hatred of the very thought of sinning against their neighbor and their God.

*Genesis 40:8. “And they said to him, ‘We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.’ So Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.’” Joseph’s rhetorical question is answered centuries later by another godly young Hebrew captive, Daniel, “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets…” (Daniel 2:28).

*Amos 2:6. “Thus says YHVH, ‘For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver…’” This is the usual reason given for the choice of this passage as the week’s Haftarah, the connection being the selling of the righteous Joseph by his brothers to Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver (Genesis 37:28). Yet in a strange way, the following verses also make a connection: “A man and his father go in to the same girl, to defile My holy name. They lie down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge…” Genesis 38 relates how a most un-righteous Judah would (unknowingly) go in to the same woman as had his older sons…leaving a signet, cord and staff as pledge.

In this story we see many ways in which the righteous Joseph prefigures Yeshua, the coming Messiah. He here remains pure in the face of temptation, even though it will mean suffering. On the other hand, Judah, through whose seed the Messiah will someday come, is immediately seen as one enslaved to desires of his fallen human nature. God would work sovereignly through even his sinful failures (Judah will, in fact, later acknowledge his unrighteousness—38:26; 44:16), so as to guard the passage of the seed He had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to bless. Over 800 years later, a blessing over Naomi (Ruth 4:12) will be “May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the LORD will give you from this [Ruth] young woman!” That “offspring” would eventuate in David the King…and finally, Yeshua the Hebrew Messiah and Saviour of the World.

Lion in a Jerusalem Zoo.
“A Lion has Roared!” The King of Beasts in a Jerusalem Zoo.

“Surely the Lord YHVH does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to his servants the prophets.
A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord YHVH has spoken! Who can but prophesy?”
(Amos 3:7-8).

*Amos 2:11-12; 3:7-8. “ ‘I raised up some of your sons as prophets, and some of your young men as Nazirites. Is it not so, O you children of Israel?’ Says the LORD…Surely the Lord YHVH does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to his servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord YHVH has spoken! Who can but prophesy?”

PLEASE PRAY for the raising up of sons and daughters in Israel who move confidently and soundly in the prophetic giftings. Pray for the restoration of the office of “Prophet” in the Land. Satan hates this—because the spirit of prophecy involves “the testimony of Yeshua” (Revelation 19:10b), and most of Israel is still behind a veil regarding their Messiah. It is this gift and office which brings clarity, understanding, instruction and encouragement to the Body regarding “what the Spirit is saying to the congregations.” We rejoice to report that we see this gifting beginning to manifest in a powerful and clean way among Jewish and Arab young adults in the Land. Pray Joel 2:28-32 over this young eager generation:

“…I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughter shall prophesy… For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as YHVH has said, among the remnant whom YHWH calls.”

[The readings for next week (10-16 December 2017) are called MiKetz—“At the End Of”. TORAH: Genesis 41:1—44:17; HAFTARAH (Hanukkah): Zechariah 2:10—4:7.]

In A Nutshell

In the portion, VaYeshev (And Jacob Sat), Jacob dwells in the land of Canaan. The protagonist of this portion is Joseph, Jacob’s youngest son. Joseph was gifted with a knack for prophetic dreams. In one of them, he sees himself ruling over his brothers. He tells them about it and turns their envy against him.

His brothers lead the cattle to Shechem to graze there, and his father sends him to them. On his way he meets a man and asks him about his brothers: “I seek my brethren” (Genesis 37:16). By the time Joseph finds his brothers they are already conspiring to kill him because of their envy. Reuben manages to prevent them from committing the murder and the brothers decide to throw Joseph in a pit, instead, in order to sell him to the Ishmaelites. A convoy of Midianites that passes by takes Joseph with them down to Egypt.

When Joseph arrives in Egypt, he hides in the home of Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph but he refuses. She avenges by saying that Joseph tried to force himself on her, and he is thrown to the dungeon.

In the pit, Joseph meets Pharaoh’s two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. He also discloses his gift for prophetic dreams. He predicts that within three weeks the chief cupbearer will be released, and the chief baker will be hanged. Joseph asks the chief cupbearer that upon his release he will go to Pharaoh and tell him that he, Joseph, is jailed for no reason and that he should be released.

Commentary
This portion contains a profound spiritual message. It narrates the correction of the soul, which is man’s purpose in life, and the reason why the Torah was given. Initially, the evil inclination appears, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created for it the Torah as a spice,” for “the light in it reforms it.” “Reforming” means returning to a state of “love your neighbor as yourself.” That is, it brings a person back to the quality of bestowal, similarity with the Creator. This is what we should achieve, as it is written, “Return, Oh Israel unto the Lord your God” (Hosea 14:2).

The Torah demonstrates how the ego, the will to receive, keeps changing until it is corrected. In the example shown in this portion we see how all our qualities connect, then separate, manifesting imbalance among them until they beget more advanced qualities, closer to bestowal.

Jacob is the beginning of the quality of bestowal within us. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the three patriarchs. Jacob is actually the senior, containing both the desire to receive and the desire to bestow within us, as it is only possible to elicit the middle line using both. The middle line, Jacob, is still not attributed to the level of execution in us, but to the level of decision making.

The expression of Jacob’s execution level is his sons, from Reuben, the eldest, to Joseph, the youngest. And precisely in this hierarchy do the qualities within us hang down. This is how our ego, in all its (still incorrect) forms, is corrected. The one who completes them is Joseph, the righteous. He gathers all the previous qualities into the quality of Yesod (foundation), which is called “the righteous Joseph,” or “a righteous, the foundation of the world” (Proverbs 10:25).

On the one hand Joseph is using all his previous qualities—Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and Yesod—but on the other hand he needs to lead them into Malchut. Malchut is the egoistic will to receive, Pharaoh, Egypt, symbolizing the entirety of our ego.

Once a person has reached a state of discovering within these qualities of bestowal—from Abraham, the quality of Hesed, through Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and through Yesod, who is Joseph—it is time for one to part from the fathers and belong to the will to receive. First, one needs to permeate the will to receive, and then the will to receive permeates the person.

Once we are permeated with both qualities—reception and bestowal—we must see that first the quality of bestowal enters the quality of reception and begins to correct it. Only then does it begin to take out of the quality of reception, the part of the will to receive that can be corrected.

It is similar to an educator working with a band of criminals. He can take several of the more advanced members of the group, who are willing to work with him, and bring them out to correction. In other words, when entering the will to receive, it is exile. And when exiting it, one comes out with “great substance,” meaning with several “felons” who desire correction and consider it redemption. Once they are corrected, a person has “great substance” because one has acquired additional power in the general quality of bestowal.

Thus, through all those exiles and redemptions we correct the entire evil inclination. This is also how we understand the whole process, how we come to know the plan of creation, and how we become similar to the Creator. Joseph the last of the qualities of bestowal, goes through many processes in order to detach from the quality of bestowal and prepare to enter the quality of reception, i.e. Egypt.

This is the reason for his contention with his brothers. They hate him and reject him because they cannot understand what he wants. They do not understand how the youngest son can be the greatest. But Joseph is different from them.

Banim (sons) is three times Yod–Hey–Vav–Hey, in three lines. These are the twelve sons. Not only is he the greatest because he is willing to connect with them, but they also bow to him, surrender to him. As long as they do not enter Malchut, while he is already mingled with Egypt, they accept it because they see how that situation will later be realized in the will to receive for the purpose of correction. It follows that we go through stages that seem to us completely incorrect and bad, just as we do not understand the brothers’ conduct with Joseph.

Jacob is suffering but is helpless. The brothers wish to kill him and lie to Jacob, and strangers save Joseph from the pit, albeit their intention is to sell him. This is how we become detached from our previous qualities. We accumulate those previous qualities within the qualities of Yesod, the quality of Joseph, and we separate ourselves from using them. Put differently, we leave the land of Canaan and enter Egypt.

In Egypt, when we come in contact with the will to receive, when the quality of bestowal enters the will to receive, the will to receive immediately senses how much it can gain and profit from it. If it were just another form of reception it would not matter all that much. But if you can bestow in order to receive, as well, then you are like a merchant. You calculate every manner of bestowal that you add to the will to receive by connecting to everything, and through negotiation you can gain profits from them for yourself.

In this manner we discover that the quality of Joseph can be very lucrative to the will to receive. Such a person feels that he or she becomes shrewder, more powerful, more useful, and more successful than others. One does not behave aggressively in order to receive, but rather obtains by deliberation: “I will sell you this and you will sell me that.” It is a development of the ego.

This is why when the quality of Joseph mingles with our will to receive, as Joseph mingled with Egypt, it brings great profits to those who are with him in Egypt, according to the story, or to the person, meaning to one’s self-centered form.

In fact, the profit is so great that a person develops a desire to use it in order to receive, but the human in us cannot agree to it. This is what happened when Joseph arrived at the house of Potiphar. When he arrived at his house it was fine, but with his wife it was past the limit because here the human in us sees there is a desire to exploit it in order to receive, meaning to cut the person from one’s foundation, and this is something to which one cannot agree. When a person disagrees with it, one feels helpless, imprisoned, incarcerated.

That sensation lasts a long time and grows through the alien “forces,” the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, in the state of being in prison. These qualities within us are in touch with the Joseph in us. They bring him to Pharaoh and accompany him. The quality of the chief baker is destroyed because it belongs to the ego’s forces of bestowal, with which Joseph understands he cannot work. But the ego’s forces of reception—the chief cupbearer, which is tantamount to wine—are the ones that awaken. The chief cupbearer does not save Joseph right away, but only after a person awakens from the fall, from the descent.

In order to rise from one degree to the next, we dream. A dream is a state of losing the previous state and attaining a new one. A person needs to be inverted, to be reborn.

There are three states in a person: laying down, sitting, and standing. Laying down is the state of dreaming. When in that state, the head, body, and legs are all on the same level, indicating that a person has neither intellect nor wisdom. But it is precisely in this form that one acquires the Kelim (vessels) of the next degree and becomes inverted, just as a newborn baby emerges from its mother’s womb: while in the womb it is with its head up, toward birth it turns upside down, and once it’s out, it turns upward once again.

Laying down means losing all the Mochin (light of Hochma, wisdom) within a person. It is in this way that one should transfer from one state to the next. On the one hand, the previous degree is lost, and on the other hand, one begins to acquire the next degree, which becomes a whole new world for that person. This is the inner vision with which one begins to understand the meaning of “tomorrow,” the next degree to which one enters.

It is nothing like the dreams in our world. Rather, here the Torah is telling us about the entrance to a higher level. In the dream state, one sees oneself in more advanced forms, knows how to use such qualities as the chief cupbearer, the chief baker, and Pharaoh, and can advance with them because they are already formed within.

In the end, when Joseph is incarcerated because of Potiphar’s wife, he discovers within him the qualities of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. Precisely because he kills the chief baker and nurtures the quality of the chief cupbearer, he arrives at the house of Pharaoh.

Throughout the evolution of the generations there is hatred between brothers—between Cain and Abel, between Isaac and Ishmael, and between Jacob and Esau. This hatred is defined as Klipa (shell/peel) and Kedusha (sanctity/holiness). In this portion, there are twelve brothers, Jacob’s sons, which are man’s qualities, but there is such hatred among them that they are willing to kill the quality called Joseph.

However, the hatred is only toward Joseph. They understand one another. Each of them represents a different quality within us. We have many qualities, but no knowledge how to integrate them together in the middle line. We cannot understand how to work with the various qualities together, meaning with our egos, our will to receive.

The interesting thing about Joseph is that he tells his brothers, “A person has an egoistic desire, not the qualities of bestowal that you have. That is, I can connect your qualities to the egoistic desire; I know how to do it.” Therefore, each one who represents a certain quality knows that through bestowal he will achieve something, from the right or from the left—to Hesed, to Gevura, to Tifferet, to Netzah, to Hod, except for Yesod.

The entire structure of twelve brothers, twelve sons of Jacob, is that they all work above the ego, above the will to receive, bestowing in order to bestow. It is so because the middle line, Jacob, who still belongs to the Rosh (head), to the degree of the patriarchs, begets all the qualities of the brothers except for that of Joseph, and they are all in bestowal, too, from below upward.

Questions and Answers

So why did Jacob understand it and even love Joseph?

Jacob loved Joseph because he was a continuation of him; they were both in the middle line—Jacob in Tifferet and Joseph in Yesod.

What does it mean that each brother represents a certain quality?

The twelve sons of Jacob are qualities that relate to bestowal. Actually, they are eleven because Joseph has no quality; he is merely a collection of those qualities.

The idea behind the quality of Joseph in us is that one can take all those qualities, merge them in different combinations, and use them with one’s ego. In other words, one can begin to work with the ego so it would work with those qualities, as well, so it would support them. In this manner one can correct oneself. These qualities do not understand how it is possible to steal in order to bestow.

What is a quality? Is stealing a quality or are anger and laziness qualities?

Hesed, for instance, is the quality of bestowal. In a state of Hesed, a person is in Hassadim (mercy). Such a person gives, contributes, and does all that he or she can. This begs the question, “How can one’s ego join one’s Hesed?” A person can give but only if it is in order to gain profits. In fact, this is how Joseph is used in Egypt, first in Potiphar’s house, then with Pharaoh.

Joseph brings them the quality of Hassadim and they use it. Egypt becomes rich and thriving through Joseph because all the egoists understand that bestowal makes everyone benefit egoistically.

However, the qualities of bestowal themselves do not understand how it is possible to use the ego in order to support them. This is the essence of the contrast between Abraham and Isaac, who loved Ishmael because the pure quality cannot maintain its clean form and at the same time connect with Malchut, the will to receive.

There is a very special and complicated process here of hatred and misunderstandings between them. But Joseph can connect the qualities of bestowal to the will to receive so that eventually it will benefit the qualities of bestowal. The brothers—qualities of bestowal within us—do not understand how this is possible, so they object. We, too, do not understand how this is possible.

The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches us how to use the qualities of bestowal correctly in order to correct our egos. Besides Kabbalah, no one deals with it because no one has the three-line method. All religions, faiths, and methods are seemingly above the ego; we ostensibly rise above the ego as though we are not selfish and are all in bestowal.

Does that mean that the “self” lives between the two lines?

Yes, only the qualities of Joseph and Jacob. Jacob is in this quality in the middle line in the Rosh, and Joseph is at the end of the middle line, at the entrance to Malchut, because he is Yesod. In Joseph there is contact with the house of Pharaoh from the start, and then with Pharaoh himself. This is why he is misunderstood; the brothers cannot feel what he wants to do. They think that his contact with the ego, the will to receive, will harm them.

We, too, are the same inside, and so is human society. We can see that everyone hates the wisdom of Kabbalah. No one understands what it does, and no one even knows what it’s for because Kabbalah deals with strange things—man’s correction, the correction of the soul. It seems unreasonable for one to take those sublime qualities—bestowal and Godliness—and connect them to the ego, to the desire to steal, rape, to the worst levels of the ego. But it is for this reason that this method is called “the wisdom of Kabbalah (Heb: reception),” as it teaches how to use the worst will to receive in order to achieve love precisely through it.

All other methods cannot achieve man’s correction, a state of “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is why everyone forgets this rule of the Torah and do not deal with it. Only the wisdom of Kabbalah corrects us. We must remember that all those who work “above” the ego, every kind of religion and faith, do not understand how it is possible to correct man’s ego, so they perform superficial gestures without diving into the ego and genuinely tending to it. They do not deal with the essence: “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice.”

In this portion we see for the first time how difficult it is to deal with it. Henceforth there will be a reason to all the ruins, transgressions, the problems in the desert, and all the wars. The problem that still remains is how to properly join the qualities of bestowal with the qualities of reception in us—to correct our egos.

Can we deduce from that regarding what is happening in the world today? After all today the world is also in a type of slavery—we are slaves to our egos. Who is today’s Joseph?

Today’s Josephs are those who have the method for correcting the ego, which is appearing in the world through the upper force. In other words, it is those who study the wisdom of Kabbalah, as it is written, “I have created for it the Torah as a spice” because “the light in it reforms it.” The method of the light is the wisdom of Kabbalah, and it is very difficult to explain it to the world. It is also difficult to accept that there is a way to correct the ego, the mutual hatred, the crisis we are experiencing, which is a result of our egos.

Joseph was not trying to explain anything; he was simply sold to slavery, went into Egypt, and mingled there. Why do we need to explain it today?

Today this is what we need to do—explain by disseminating the wisdom of Kabbalah, which is called “the Messiah’s Shofar (horn).” We must circulate it and spread it throughout the world because by that we become included in the nations of the world like Joseph in Egypt. In this manner we sow the sparks of bestowal that will make everyone begin to understand the reason for all the troubles until they, too, can rise.

The troubles are intensifying and there is no way to avoid them because our hanging down, our evolution, is continuing. There will be many more troubles we will not be able to avoid. The present state of affairs is a cause for war. The war of Gog and Magog stems from the same reason, as do all our wars. We are standing at a tipping point, and this portion is very pertinent and meaningful.

The focal point of the problem is hatred among brothers (unfounded hatred), and this is the state we are in today. On the one hand, it seems as though there is nothing we can do; hatred exists among people, as well as toward the wisdom of Kabbalah. Moreover, it is expected to intensify because it is hard for people to understand the wisdom of Kabbalah despite all the explanations. On the other hand, this very point reveals the two opposites within us: the soul and the body. It is impossible to disconnect them, and Joseph is the point that connects them.