by Dr Chris Koster

Yoseph. eleventh son of Ya'aqob, having a character which one might call unimpeachable, was sold by his jealous brothers as a slave, and was taken to Mitsrayim. Here he served as slave for thirteen years, the last two years of it in prison, after having been falsely accused by a seductress, a lying woman, the wife of Potiphar.

Lusting after him, she enticed him, daily, to get him to have intercourse with her. Eventually she even grabbed him by his garment when she saw that her attempts were futile - but he fled away from her. Why did he refuse to yield to her seduction? In 1 Mosh. 39:9 we read why, when Yoseph said, "And how shall I do this great evil and sin against Elohim?"

Yoseph refused to sin against Elohim, he resolutely resisted the seductive approaches of Potiphar's wife, he remained true and loyal to his Elohim, and therefore he was imprisoned! Would you believe it - refuse to "do this great evil and sin against Elohim" and they send you to prison!

The Hebrew word for "sin" means to "commit an offence," according to modern Hebrew scholars. This word "sin" is found even as far back as 1 Mosh. 4:7. Some form of do's and don'ts of what is right and what is wrong, if only in a primitive code, must have been known ever since the time of Adam. How else would one "commit an offence" if there does not exist some rule or rules?

Yoseph knew that adultery is an evil, that it is a sin, and because he was truly loyal to Elohim, he refused to sin, he refused to commit an offence against Elohim. He only did what was right in the eyes of Yahuweh, and therefore he was imprisoned.

At this stage we would like to sound a warning, in case all those in prison might wish to apply Yoseph’s imprisonment to themselves. According to 1 Kepha 2:20 those who get a beating when they sin, deserve to get the beating - in contrast to those who suffer for doing good (Read 1 Kepha 4:15 too.)

If you should ask a million people what is right, what is "doing good," what is sin? - you can be sure to get as many different replies. All that matters is this: What does the Word of Elohim say? What does Yahuweh say? He gave us the Ten Words in order that His fear may be before us, so that we do not sin (2 Mosh. 20:20, Rom. 3:20, 4:15 and 7:7).

And according to these same Ten Words Yoseph was tried (tested) and proved. After having been a slave in Mitsrayim for eleven years, he was enticed by this seductress to commit adultery, but Yoseph prevailed. In Ps. 105:19 we read, "The Word of Yahuweh tried him." Yoseph was tried, but prevailed. Thereafter he proved to be a true prophet indeed, and then he was released from prison and from slavery, and the sovereign elevated him to the highest position in Mitsrayim, next to Pharaoh.

The trustworthiness and loyalty of this one man, Yoseph, eventually led to one of the greatest epochs of all time, the exodus of an entire nation, the establishment of a new nation founded on the Word, the Everlasting Covenant. Please note that it was also said of Yoseph that the Spirit of Elohim was in him, Yoseph (1 Mosh. 41:38).

Although Yoseph is not regarded as a typical "type" of Messiah, there are so many resemblances between them, and scholars have listed at least 40 points of similarity between Yoseph and Yahushua - but the details of this similarity are not the purpose of this study.

Let us now turn to another unjust imprisonment, that of Yochanan the Immerser. In Mat. 14:3-4 we read that Herodes put him in prison because Yochanan told Herodes that it was not right (or not lawful) for him to have his brother’s wife, Herodias. In other words, Yochanan told Herodes it was wrong to commit adultery, and therefore he put Yochanan in prison.

Interestingly, Herodes was not even an Yisraelite who is supposed to live according to the Commandments. No, Herodes was an Edomite, he was not an Yisraelite. We, who are evangelical, usually say someone must first be declared right (justified) by belief (faith) before the keeping of the Commandments are taught to him. But strangely enough, Yochanan was telling an unbeliever that it was unlawful for him to live in adultery!

Yochanan was merely continuing to preach the message of repentance, the same he did when he started his ministry (Matt. 3:2). For this he was imprisoned. But that’s not all. Later on he was beheaded for this - telling Herodes it is unlawful to live in adultery!

Who was Yochanan, in the eyes of Elohim? Yahushua said in Luk. 7:28 that among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than Yochanan the Immerser. In other words, Yochanan was reckoned to be great, if not greater, than all the prophets up to that time (Yahushua, of course, being the True Great Prophet of all times). But more than that, Yochanan was much more than a prophet (Luk. 7:26), because he was the messenger of Elohim who was sent "to prepare the way before Me" (Luk. 7:27, Mal. 3:1). In Matt. 3:3, "Prepare the way of Yahuweh, make His path straight." In Luk. 1:17 the messenger of Yahuweh says, "to make ready a people prepared for Yahuweh."

So Yochanan came, "filled with the Set-apart Spirit even from his mother’s womb" (Luk 1:15) and did exactly what he was called to do - and so he was imprisoned, and even beheaded! Remember there was no greater prophet than Yochanan up to that time (except Yahushua, of course). But even more: Yochanan was the chosen messenger of Elohim, chosen to prepare the way for Yahushua - yet he was to be imprisoned, and beheaded, because he told a sinning Edomite it was not right for him to sin!

Another unjust imprisonment was that of Yirmeyahu. He was not only imprisoned, but was threatened with death, and was thrown in the muddy dungeon as well. These dungeons apparently were muddy cisterns, and those thrown in them were left to die! Why was Yirmeyahu imprisoned? Simply because he was called by Yahuweh to prophesy to Yerushalayim and Yehudah during the reigns of the last five sovereigns of Yehudah, and even after the destruction of Yerushalayim. This made him most unpopular.

Yirmeyahu related to them the words of Yahuweh, namely that because of all their evil and idolatry He was sending judgement upon them, they would be taken off into Babylonian captivity. The priests did not enquire after Yahuweh, "and the shepherds transgressed against Me, and the prophets prophesied by Ba’al ... they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters ... The prophets have prophesied falsely, and the priests rule by their own hand, and My people loved it so ... prophets of falsehood ... who try to make My people forget My Name by their dreams ... For every man’s message is his own word, for you have changed the Words of the living Elohim" (Yirm. 2, Yirm. 5, Yirm. 23). All this is still true, and even more applicable since the third century C.E.

In Yirm. ch. 6 we read of how the Word of Yahuweh was a reproach to them, they delighted not in it, they refused to walk in the old paths, the good way, "and they rejected My teaching (law)." Yirmeyahu kept on prophesying and called them to repentance, to turn back to Yahuweh, but they would not listen.

Eventually, when the judgement of Babylonian captivity became a certainty, as was determined by Elohim, Yirmeyahu said so, and made himself extremely unpopular with Tsidqiyahu, and he ended up in prison and in the dungeon.

Yet another example was that of Dani’el. In him was the Spirit of the Set-apart Mighty One, as we read in Dan. 4:8 and 9, Dan. 5:11 and 14 (If this was written in Hebrew instead of Aramaic, it would have read, "Spirit of the Set-apart Elohim").

In Dani’el ch. 6 we read that there was such an "excellent spirit in him," and the governors and viceroys were jealous of him because of his steadfastness, and they were unable to find negligence or corruption in him (vv. 3-4). So the only accusation against him was to find it "concerning the Law of his Mighty One." So they persuaded the sovereign to issue a decree forbidding anyone to bow down before any mighty one, except the sovereign.

Dani’el, however, remained true and loyal to his Elohim and continued to worship Him three times a day towards Yerushalayim, before an open window. So this led to Dani’el being thrown into the lions’ den, but miraculously, his Elohim shut the lions’ mouths! Notice the way Elohim tried him - he was not saved from the lions’ den, no, he was saved from the lions’ mouths!

That is the extreme test. The three friends of Dani’el were similarly put to the extreme test. They were not saved from the furnace, no, they were saved from the fire in the furnace - they too were true and loyal to Elohim, they would not worship the golden image of Nebukadnetstsar.

There are quite a few other examples in Scripture of trustworthy believers who were imprisoned, or even stoned to death. Because they were true and loyal to the Elohim of Yisra’el, they remained steadfast in the Word of Yahuweh and upheld His Word, His Teaching, His Law, His Commandments. Let’s look at two of these, both being filled with the Spirit:

In 2 Annals 24:20-21 we read, "‘"Then the Spirit of Elohim came upon Zekaryah ... and said to them, ‘This said Elohim, "Why are you transgressing the Commandments of Yahuweh, and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken Yahuweh, He has forsaken you." So Yo’ash commanded that he be stoned to death right there in the courtyard of the House of Yahuweh.

The other example is that of Stephanos, as we read in Acts 7. Stephanos was a man filled with the Set-apart Spirit (Acts 6:5 and 7:55). He was addressing the Yehudim and reminded them how Mosheh had received "the Living Words" on Mt. Sinai "to give to us," but the fathers would not obey. He reminded them of the fact that all the prophets were persecuted, and that they killed those who announced the coming of the Righteous One, and of whom they now have become the betrayers and murderers. Then in Acts 7:53 his last words were that they were not keeping the Law! Verse 54 says, "And hearing this they were cut to the hearts and gnashed the teeth." So they stoned him to death.

Nowadays they don’t imprison you or stone you to death, literally, but the True Believer who witnesses is indeed figuratively imprisoned and figuratively stoned, especially by the religious leaders - at least that, and worse might even befall them in time to come, as was prophesied.

Yahushua and His emissaries repeatedly told us that we will endure sufferings, pressure and persecution. But this persecution is (according to the Messianic Scriptures) only for two reasons:

(1) For the sake of Yahushua’s Name.

(2) For righteousness’ sake.

It is still the same, especially in our day as we witness for the Name of Yahushua and for the righteousness of Elohim - in the same way the prophets suffered persecution, as we discussed in this article.

"Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness’ sake, because theirs is the reign of the heavens." (Matt. 5:10).

In a subsequent article we shall be focusing on the greatest unjust persecution, rejection and impalement of all time - that of Yahushua.