John 10:16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. |
Retelling the life story of Joseph we have played with the very important midrashic messianic analogy equating Joseph to Messiah. This has led us to observe that Benjamin represented the Jewish people who did not reject Messiah/Joseph. We are now at the part where Jacob meets his two grand-children conceived through Joseph by an Egyptian mother, the daughter of a priest of Egypt. At first, he does not know who these Egyptian looking kids are. When he finds out, he adopts them as his own.
The idea of redemption through adoption is a main theme throughout the whole Tanach. Starting with Abraham, each of us is an adopted son (Romans 9:4-5). In adopting Joseph’s son as his own, Jacob accomplished a very tricky maneuver. His showing favor to Joseph had already caused him much trouble so this time, instead of openly conferring to Joseph the right of first-born, Jacob adopts Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of the son of his true chosen bride and love of his life, Rachel. This not only has the effect of these sons and nephews becoming brothers to their father and uncles, but for Joseph to receive the double-inheritance which is conferred to firstborns.
Ephraim and Manasseh could be compared to the offspring of Messiah while in Diaspora exile. Jacob actually says of Ephraim that he will become ‘the multitude of the nations’ (The Hebrew text uses the definite article ‘the’); in Hebrew, this is the same expression used in Romans 11:25, ‘a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the ‘fullness of the Gentiles’ (in Hebrew: the multitude of the nations) has come in.’ Judaism teaches that when Israel was evicted from its land by the Romans, Messiah went to exile with them. Just like Joseph, while in exile Messiah has been busy raising Himself an offspring among the Gentiles, an offspring to be adopted alongside the Jewish people (Ephesians 1-2).
Today Judaism and Christianity are seen as two different religions. The truth is that Christianity outside of Judaism did not exist for the first three hundred years after Yeshua and the apostles. Today if a Jew wants His Messiah, Christians tell him that he has to ‘convert’. Convert from what to what? It is the pagans who needed to convert from idolatrous paganism to the God of Israel. It is strange because originally the question was not weather a Jew could be part of the Church but weather a non-Jew could be part of Israel. In Acts 15, the Jewish disciples accepted the Gentile converts, but today, does the Church accept a Jew? In the adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh, we see that in actuality, in Messiah non-Jews are grafted in the 'olive tree' of Jacob/Israel, not Israel in the Gentile Roman ‘Christmas tree’ (Romans 11). Joel rightly prophecied that at the end of time God will pour His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28), not just on Israel. In that day, there will truly be one shepherd and one flock.
May it happen soon Abba, even in our days!
Patrick Gabriel Lumbroso
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Ephraim, Manasseh, Paul, Gentiles, adoption, Israel,