B'resheet/Genesis 45:28 And Israel said, "Great! My son Yosef is still alive! ..."
Focusing on the pointing here, notice where the maqqef is positioned in this text. Without it, we might have been tempted to group the words together to translate as "Enough already", so having Israel commanding his sons to stop telling him any more about Yosef because he had already decided - as the rest of the verse goes on to tell us - to go to Egypt to visit and see his long-lost son. The maqqef, however, forces us to take as a free-standing adjective or exclamation, translated perhaps a little flippantly here as "Great!", leaving the to combine with and produce the sense "still-Yosef lives".Rashi implies a couple of words and comments: " - There is much joy and gladness for me because 'my son Yosef still lives'." This follows nicely from the last words of the previous verse that tell us that when Ya'acov has heard the news of Yosef's life and position in Egypt and saw the wagons that had been sent to collect him, "the spirit of their father Ya'acov was revived". After twenty years of mourning for his son, Ya'acov's spirits rise and - almost - for the first time in all these years he has something to look forward to.
In 1 Kings 17 we find the start of the ministry of Elijah. After he has stayed with the widow of Zerepath and they have experienced the miracle of the jar of flour and cruise of oil, the widow's son dies; Elijah prays and Hashem restores the boy to life. "Elijah said, 'See, your son is alive.' Then the woman said to Elijah, 'Now I know that you are of G-d, and that the word of the L-rd in your mouth is truth'" (1 Kings 17:23-24, NASB). Even though they have survived the drought and famine by the supernatural provision of flour and oil, yet it takes this miracle of restoring the dead boy to life to elicit this confession of faith from the widow: "Now I know ..." Perhaps in the shock of her son dying she had forgotten the flour and oil; perhaps because that miracle happened every day it had become commonplace and so diminished in value or impact; the way she now speaks is strongly reminiscent of the blind man whose sight had been given to him who, when questioned about the way it had happened, simply replied, "One thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see" (John 9:26, NASB).
Sometimes it seems that only seeing is believing! How would another parent - Miryam, the mother of Yeshua - receive the news that her son, publicly crucified, pronounced dead and then buried only three days before, was now alive again? The account in Mark's gospel reads: "When Yeshua rose early Sunday, He appeared first to Miryam of Magdala ... she went and told those who had been with Him ... but when they heard that He was alive and that she had seen Him, they wouldn't believe it. After that, Yeshua appeared in another form to two of them as they were walking into the country. They went and told the others, but they didn't believe them either" (Mark 16:9-13, CJB). This was difficult to swallow: everyone had seen Yeshua die and knew that it had been three days; after all, Elijah prayed for the widow's son on the day he died, and although Ya'acov had to wait over twenty years, Yosef hadn't really died. They all of them forgot Lazarus, whom Yeshua had raised from the dead after three days only a week or so ago! Luke's account sums up the disciple's reaction: "The emissaries didn't believe them; in fact, they thought what they said was utter nonsense" (Luke 24:11, CJB). It took several reappearances over the next few days to convince all the talmidim and Yeshua spent the next 40 days with them, teaching and encouraging them before He ascended into heaven.
Yet barely two weeks later - on the day of Shavuot - three thousand people, many of whom had come into Jerusalem for the feast and so had at best only heard of Yeshua, became believers. Hearing and believing the eye-witness testimony of those disciples, they accepted the reality of the resurrection and witnessed not only Ruach-inspired preaching but an outpouring of signs and wonders in the same way as Yeshua Himself started His ministry in the Galil. Years later, another biblical author wrote, "This deliverance, which was first declared by the L-rd, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him; while G-d also bore witness to it with various signs, wonders and miracles" (Hebrews 2:3-4, CJB). So we can have confidence to believe in a G-d who does miracles and and whose Son was raised from the dead. Like Ya'acov, we too can say: Enough already, I believe! Like Job we can proclaim: "I know that my Redeemer lives!" (Job 19:25, CJB).
Further Study: 2 Kings 4:32-37; John 20:29
Application: Where do you stand? Are you one of these proof people who are holding out for the final verdict before casting your vote? Sometimes we have to go on the available evidence and the balance of probability - if G-d is speaking to you, then you need to answer His call - what more evidence do you need? Respond and you'll find out quick enough that you have all the evidence you need.
© Jonathan Allen, 2007
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