Day 6: Vayigash/Genesis 47:12-27
Because of the perversion of men, many aspects of Scriptural life are considered completely repulsive or mournful, at best. Ideas about slavery and subjection are talked about from the point-of-view of shameful deeds done in the name of progress such as the Hebrew slaves in Egypt and the African slave trades that completely obliterated freedom for those unfortunate to be sold by their own countrymen.
Nonetheless, the idea of being indebted to another person or nation can be discussed from a healthy perspective. This can be illustrated through Yosef’s account of accepting the land and the people as payment for grain during the seven-year famine.
While the word slavery conjures up images of whips and beatings, it should be pointed out that bond-slaves are those who earnestly want to remain with their master. Add to this the Torah-based teachings and instructions about how one is to treat others, including slaves, and the bigger picture is readily seen.
Man has the option, through a fallen sin-nature, to alienate himself from YHVH and others through lawlessness (without Torah) and evil choices; or, he can choose to be reconciled to YHVH by Torah lifestyle (the epitome of living in Yeshua) and righteous decisions. The treatment of slaves, servants, and those who are indebted is no different. How one treats and judges others is how they will be treated and judged. It is equal measures in the balances of the Lawgiver.
Now, do not misinterpret the humility of indebtedness to the point of slavery. A harsh reality is very apparent when facing forced servitude. However, that is the topic at hand. At what point does contentment in service and humility override bondage and endangerment? Yosef demonstrates that through the Torah account of receiving the people and their land as payment for food.
B’reisheet 47:17 tells us that Yosef fed/nahal the people in exchange for all their cattle and livestock for that year. The word nahal means to lead with care, give rest, and to guide and refresh. It is understood that the people were refreshed with grain; yet, Torah lends the idea that Yosef did more than just supply food, he shepherded the people with care, leading them to refreshment. Yes, there was an exchange made for food, but the people were nurtured, not exploited as we might assume.
We have a Master who does not condemn us to a harsh existence of labor. Nonetheless, we are to labor for Him and, in doing so, be more than slaves, we are to bond-slaves. We are to choose to stay with our Master because he is so good to us. Similarly, the way in which we treat those that owe us or serve us is foretelling in the way they respond to us in their payment and/or service. As a matter of fact, our willingness to serve those that are indebted to us shows the kind of compassion that Yeshua had for us as the suffering, serving Messiah.
Most of us are in debt in some way to others (i.e. money, support, favors, service…). Likewise, most of us are owed or feel we are due by others in our lives to which we have helped, loaned, or given. There is almost always an exchange for service, money, or support for anything received from others, especially in today’s society and culture.
Man has not changed that much over the centuries as to not want something in return for goods or service. Now, though, we know to do these things in the Name of the One we serve, bringing about full meaning and intentions. We must learn to serve and feed/shepherd through Yeshua. He is the completed implementation of Torah and is the prime example of being both a bond-slave, serving in complete humility, and a righteous King that does not place an overladen burden upon our backs.
How do you expect to be paid, repaid, or served? Exemplify this through the way you pay, repay, and serve others you owe and come in contact with. It is not enough to merely give what we owe or serve because we have to. We should count it a joy to serve the Master and repay Him what He already paid for us. This is done when we joyfully serve others.
Dwell upon Matthew 24:44-46, “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.”