Return of the Brothers

The news of Joseph’s discovery of his brothers was welcomed by King Pharaoh. He urged Joseph to bring the entire family to Egypt and to give them the best of the land.

Laden with presents, and accompanied by a whole caravan of wagons for the removal of the family, the brothers hastened home to bring the happy tidings to their father.

Jacob’s heart stood still as he heard the wonderful news. He could hardly believe that his beloved Joseph was still alive. However, when Jacob saw the gifts his sons brought with them, and especially when he heard the special message Joseph had sent him, reminding his father of their last scholarly discussion before Joseph departed in search of his brothers on that fateful day, Jacob knew that Joseph was alive. Jacob felt like a changed man. He was greatly cheered and strengthened by the good tidings, and immediately prepared for the journey to Egypt, for he wanted to see Joseph before he died.

On The Way to Egypt

With his entire household of seventy persons, Jacob left his native land, but not before he had visited Beer-Sheba, where he offered sacrifices to G‑d. Here G‑d appeared to him and told him not to be afraid to go to Egypt, because He would be with him and eventually turn his small family into a great nation; then He would bring them back from Egypt and they would settle in the land of Canaan.

From Beer-Sheba Jacob continued his journey to Egypt. He sent Judah before him to make preparations for the arrival of the family, and especially to set up a school and an academy for the children.

Jacob Meets Joseph

When Joseph heard that his father was coming, he prepared a big reception. All of Egypt was celebrating the arrival of their govenor’s father. Joseph himself went to meet his father on the way. When Joseph saw his father from a distance, he stepped down from his royal carriage and ran forward to greet him. They embraced each other affectionately and shed many tears over their long separation. Finally, Jacob said: “Now that I have seen your face again, I can die in peace.”

Jacob Visits Pharaoh

Soon after his father’s arrival, Joseph went to Pharaoh and told him that his father and brothers had arrived with all their possessions. Pharaoh was very pleased and granted them the land of Goshen for residence. Then Joseph introduced his father and brothers to the king. Pharaoh, impressed with Jacob’s wisdom and patriarchal appearance, asked him how old he was. Jacob replied that he was one hundred and thirty years old; that most of these years had been full of sorrow and pain, but that now he was looking forward to his happiest years. Jacob then blessed Pharaoh.

Joseph gave his father and brothers’ good land in Goshen, where they settled to live in peace and were provided with everything they needed. When the years of famine were over, the land gradually returned to normal. However, every one knew that if it had not been for Joseph, the entire population would have perished of starvation.

Joseph married Osnath, Dinah’s daughter, who had been brought up in the house of Potiphar. She bore him two children, Manasseh and Ephraim. When his father settled in Goshen, Joseph sent his two sons to stay with their grandfather to be instructed in the knowledge of G‑d.

Jacob’s Last Request

Jacob lived in Goshen for seventeen years. When he felt that his end was approaching, he sent for Joseph and had him swear not to bury him in Egypt, but to take him back to Canaan and lay him to rest with his fathers, in the Cave of Machpelah.

Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Children

One day Joseph was told that his father was seriously ill. Joseph took his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and went to see Jacob.

The aged Jacob was lying on his sick-bed. It was the first case of sickness before death, for beforehand  people had died suddenly of old age. Jacob, however, had prayed to G‑d that death come not unexpectedly, in order that man might have a chance to look back upon his life and make amends through timely repentance.

When Joseph entered his room, Jacob raised himself in his bed and greeted him. Then he blessed Joseph and put Ephraim and Manasseh on an equal footing with his own sons, giving them rights equal to those of Reuben and Simeon. Thus he made Ephraim and Manasseh members of the twelve tribes. (They took the place of Joseph and Levi). Then he placed his hands on the heads of his two grandchildren, and said: “The angel who has redeemed me from all evil will bless the children, and let in there my name be called and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac and may they multiply in the midst of the earth. With you shall everyone in Israel bless his children, saying, ‘G‑d make you as Ephraim and Manasseh.’“

Jacob’s Death

Then Jacob called all his sons together to bless them. He warned his children to keep together and to remain staunch in their belief in G‑d, Jacob died, after he had again told them to bury him in the Cave of Machpelah. Jacob was one hundred and forty-seven years old when G‑d took his holy soul back to heaven.

Jacob’s Burial

All of Egypt mourned with Joseph over the passing of Jacob, who, in the time of his stay in Goshen, had gained the esteem and love of all the people. Jacob’s children fulfilled their promise and carried the coffin all the way to Canaan. When the procession reached the border of Canaan, thirty-one kings turned out to pay homage to the dead. Esau, too, heard of his brother’s death, and came to accompany his body to its place of rest. Finally they reached Hebron and made preparations to bury Jacob in the Cave of Machpelah.

Esau’s Death

Esau did not want to give permission to bury Jacob in the Cave of Machpelah. He wanted to: reserve the place next to his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham for himself, even though twenty-seven years before, when he and Jacob had divided the inheritance of their father, he had sold Jacob all rights to the land. Fighting broke out between Esau’s men and the sons of Jacob in which forty of Esau’s people were killed. Hushim, the son of Dan, who was hard of hearing, had been sitting by the hearse of his dead grandfather. When he finally heard the noise of fighting and observed the delay of the burial, he asked for the reason. He did not understand exactly what had happened. He heard only that Esau withheld permission for Jacob’s burial. He took a sword, ran into the camp, and slew Esau. Esau’s head fell to the floor and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah, where his ancestors had found their last rest. His body was taken back to his home in Seir.

Joseph’s Pledge to His Brothers

After Jacob’s death, his sons be came afraid that Joseph might now take revenge for the evil they had committed against him in his youth. So they sent word to him, telling him that before his death their father had asked them to tell him that he should forgive his brothers for what they had done to him. Joseph, however, calmed their fears and told them not to worry about the past, adding that it had been G‑d’s will that had turned everything just the right way. He assured them of his undying love and loyalty, and pledged to sustain them and their families. They were all greatly moved by his words, and their eyes were filled with tears.

Joseph’s Death

When Joseph felt that his end was coming, he asked his brothers to swear that when G‑d took them out of Egypt and brought them back to Canaan, the land that G‑d had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they would take his bones along. This the brothers promised on oath, which was to be upheld by their children from generation to generation, until the day of their departure from Egypt.

Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years. He was embalmed and put into a sarcophagus (a coffin made out of stone) that was let down into the Nile river. (The Egyptians hoped that the children of Israel would never be able to fulfill their promise, and would thus have to remain in Egypt. But before the Jews left Egypt, Moses went looking for Joseph’s casket. Serach, the daughter of Asher, who was a prophetess, showed him the place where the sarcophagus had been immersed in the water. Moses called to Joseph, and the casket rose from the water. During all the years of wandering through the desert, the children of Israel carried Joseph’s bones along, until they brought them to the Promised-Land, where they were laid to rest).