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. Continuing the same methodology in the story, we are confronted with Jacob introduced to his grand-children conceived through Joseph by an Egyptian mother. 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 Bible. 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 tricky maneuver. His showing favor to Joseph had already caused him much trouble, so this time, instead of openly giving Joseph the right of first-born, Jacob confers this honor to the first born of his true chosen bride and love of his life, Rachel by adopting as his own the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, thereby causing them to receive each an inheritance. 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.
These could be compared to the offspring of Messiah while in Diasporah 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, one who accepts Messiah and the other who doesn’t. The truth of the matter is that Christianity started as a sect of Judaism within Judaism. Christianity without Judaism did not exist for the first three hundred years after Yeshua and the apostles. The tragedy is that today if a Jew wants Messiah he is told to ‘convert’ and become a Christian. It is strange because the big question and novelty for the disciples in the early days of the Nazarene movement was if a non-Jew could be accepted as a follower of Messiah. 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). We also foresee Joel’s prophecy that at the end of time God will pour His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28), not just Israel. In that day, there will truly be one shepherd and one flock. May it happen soon Abba, even in our days!