Genesis 40 - Letters Of Sin

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Journey Through Genesis


Genesis 40


Letters Of Sin ©


By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

B'nai NOach Torah Institute, LLC


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Our discussion is in the loving memory of Helen, Gladys Ethel, Martha, John, Patrick, Ethel Channah, George, Gary Lee, Donald Wayne, Carrie, Stephen, Sharon, Florence Youman, Jeanne C. W. Pierre, Joseph Adam Pierre, Louella P. Bienvenu, Barbara Pierre, Terrill B. Thomas, Joyce Duff, Michael and Channah may they rest in peace.


Dear Ones Ha Torah Says that a sin was committed in Bereisheit / Genesis 40.1 If we want to know what sin is we must  travel back to Bereisheit / Genesis 4.6 & 7 where sin is mentioned for the first time in the Bible. Ha Torah Says,

Bereisheit / Genesis 4.6

 וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֶל־קָיִן לָמָּה חָרָה לָךְ וְלָמָּה נָפְלוּ פָנֶיךָ  


And He, HaShem, the LORD Said to Kayin, 'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?


Have you ever tried to reason with a son or daughter that was angry?  Have you ever tried to reason with a spouse that was angry?  Have you ever tried to reason with a friend or a boss or a co-worker that was angry?  Our Creator is trying to reason with Kayin who is angry...


Bereisheit / Genesis 4.7


 הֲלוֹא אִם־תֵּיטִיב שְׂאֵת וְאִם לֹא תֵיטִיב לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת  רֹבֵץ וְאֵלֶיךָ תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ וְאַתָּה תִּמְשָׁל־בּוֹ


The LORD Said... Surely, If you do well, i.e if you improve yourself, you are forgiven, i.e. lifted up! And if you don't do well, sin creeps at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it, i.e govern it.


The KJV Says, 'And the Lord Said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?  If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.


There is a huge translation difference here...




The Word  אִם  Eem is a conditional Word that means 'If'.  Eem represents a choice. One can do good. One can do not as good. One can do bad. One can do very bad.  Eem represents a choice. It is very important to understand sin is a choice. Doing better is a choice!!


What are the choices?  The Word תֵּיטִיב Tay Veet means to improve. The LORD says, 'if you improve'.  Our Sages Say HaShem Wanted to Teach Kayin how to repent, Stone p21 (Radak). The emphasis is upon improving. The next Word that follows is שְׂאֵת Sih Ayt meaning to be lifted up to be elevated to be forgiven. The point is that if one improves one is elevated. One is forgiven. Again our Sages Teach, HaShem taught Kayin that man can always repent and that He Will always forgive him, Stone 21 (Ramban).


In this [Verse HaShem] tells Cain that he does not desire sacrifice but obedience ... (Malbim) Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz and Rabbi Nosson Scherman, The Artscroll Tanach Series - Bereishis Vol. I(a) (Brooklyn, New York: Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 3rd Impression, 1989), p 147


Dear Ones, in this first discussion about sin and repentance in the Bible NOTHING is said about offering a sacrifice. The emphasis is upon improvement and controlling one'S evil inclination.  Ha Torah Says,


וְאִם לֹא תֵיטִיב לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת  רֹבֵץ


'And 'if' you do not do well, i.e if you do not improve yourself sin Chah Tawt meaning sin חַטָּאת creeps at the door.


וְאֵלֶיךָ תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ וְאַתָּה תִּמְשָׁל־בּוֹ 


Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it.



The Bible Teaches that we have power over the desires that bring about sin in each of our lives. Nothing is said about needing a redeemer or a savior.  The Word וְאֵלֶיךָ  Vih Ay Leh Chaw means 'to you or towards you'.  The Word Vih Ah Taw means 'yet you...' The LORD is Teaching Kayin that he has the ability to control his desires and to conquer them.  This is how we deal with issues. The LORD Gives each of us strength to conquer our desires.  This is God's Plan and has ALWAYS been God's Plan. If G-d is willing I plan to discuss this in an up coming book entitled God's Plan From The Beginning.


When we consider the Word Tee Mih Shawl - Bow תִּמְשָׁל־בּוֹ we note the Letter in red is a ת Tav. When the Letter Tav is attached to the beginning of a Word where it does not normally belong this often represents that 'this is a sign'. This would be like spelling the word govern with the letter t in front of it, (tgovern). It does not go there.  Those who read English know the word govern is not spelled with a t in the beginning. In English we would call this an incorrect spelling.  In the Original Language of the Bible, Hebrew we call this a Letter that is pointing to an important sign.


The Letter Tav is the last Letter in the Word אות Oht, meaning 'Sign'.


In Bereisheit 4.7 the Letter Tav is not part of the Word. This means that the Tav is a sign we need to pay close attention to. Ha Torah is telling us to dig around a little to mine here. The intent is for us to understand that one can conquer their desires and that one can govern their desires!


Now that we have defined sin as letting our desires get out of line we return to Bereisheit 40.1


The root Word for sin is  חָטָא Chaw Taw.  Notice the red Word in Bereisheit / Genesis 4.7. Chaw Taw means to sin. Notice the Word in Bereisheit / Genesis 40.1


וַיְהִי אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה חָטְאוּ מַשְׁקֵה מֶלֶךְ־מִצְרַיִם וְהָאֹפֶה לַאֲדֹנֵיהֶם לְמֶלֶךְ מִצְרָיִם


When Bereisheit / Genesis 40.1 begins by saying, 'After these events a sin was committed.' We understand that an officer of Pharaoh's court let his desire get out of line. What Ha Torah Says and does not say here is very important.  See if you can pick it up. Pharaoh is angry with his Chief Butler and his Chief Baker. He is not angry with one man alone. He is angry with two men. Yet Ha Torah Says, 'After these events a sin was committed.' The Word used is  חָטְאוּ 

Chah Tih Voo meaning 'a sin'.  There were not multiple sins committed. In Vayikro / Leviticus 20.20 Ha Torah Says,


 וְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב אֶת־דֹּדָתוֹ עֶרְוַת דֹּדוֹ גִּלָּה חֶטְאָם יִשָּׂאוּ עֲרִירִים יָמֻתוּ 



And if a man shall lie with his uncle's wife, he has uncovered his uncle's nakedness; they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless, Leviticus 20.20. The Word used is plural.  How do we know the Word is plural? חֶטְאָם meaning, sins Cheh Tih Awm has the Final Letter ם Mem at the end of the Word. This normally means the Word is plural. Why am I pointing this out? It is because Pharaoh was angry with two men but ha Torah informs ONLY ONE man committed the offense. I discussed this offense in another lesson a few years back so I won't repeat it here. 


וַיַּחַלְמוּ חֲלוֹם שְׁנֵיהֶם אִישׁ חֲלֹמוֹ בְּלַיְלָה אֶחָד אִישׁ כְּפִתְרוֹן חֲלֹמוֹ הַמַּשְׁקֶה וְהָאֹפֶה אֲשֶׁר לְמֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם אֲשֶׁר אֲסוּרִים בְּבֵית הַסֹּהַר


The two of them [the Chief Butler and the Chief Baker] had dreams [plural]. Each had his dream [singular] in one night...


Here we see the use of plural and singular. English translators can really mess things up when they don't make these significant differences known in their translations...


The story goes on to say Yoseif said, 'Do not interpretations belong to God?  Then Yoseif explains the meaning of each dream. The Chief Butler was restored to his position the Chief Baker was executed. So what Ha Torah is sharing with us is that two men were accused and imprisoned but only one was guilty. The innocent officer was restored. The guilty officer was punished. The premise for the entire story is stated in the first five Words of the story, 'After these events a sin was committed.'


What should we take away from this lesson?


Blessings, Love, and Peace,



Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk



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This page contains a single entry by B'nai Noach Torah Institute, LLC Blog published on October 30, 2012 12:01 AM.

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Genesis 41 - The Trauma of Yoseif an Osnat is the next entry in this blog.

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