Judah Confronts Joseph

44:18 Judah then approached Joseph and said, "Please, my lord, let me, your servant speak a word that will enter my lord's ear, i.e., that will move you,1 for since you hold our lives in your hands, you are the equal of Pharaoh in this regard. Even though my words may sound harsh, do not become angry at your servant.

Do you really expect to avoid the consequences of this injustice? Do you not know that a previous Pharaoh was stricken with severe plagues for having detained my great-grandmother Sarah for just one night?2 We already know that your Pharaoh does not keep his word; you apparently mean to behave likewise. Is this, indeed, what you meant when you told us to bring Benjamin to you in order to substantiate our words?3 If you persist in provoking me thus, I will kill both you and your Pharaoh! Let us review your behavior up until now:

19 From the outset, my lord asked his servants all kinds of irrelevant questions, such as 'Do you have a father or a brother?' What provoked you to make such inquiries about our family? Were we seeking to marry your daughter? Were you seeking to marry our sister?

20 Nonetheless, we answered my lord patiently and honestly, replying, 'We have an aged father, and there is a young son who was born in his old age. We now4 know that his brother—our brother—whom we originally came to Egypt to look for, is dead, so he is his mother's only surviving child, and his father loves him dearly.' " Judah told the viceroy (i.e., Joseph) that their brother Joseph was dead because he was afraid that if he told him otherwise, Joseph would demand that they bring him before him, as he had demanded regarding Benjamin.

21 Judah continued: "You said to your servants, 'Bring him down to me, so that I can see him.'

22 We said to my lord, 'The lad cannot leave his father's side, for this would prove too painful for his father. Furthermore, if he leaves his father's side, he might die, for we are afraid that just as his mother died on a journey, so, too, will he.' " Judah could not tell the viceroy that their brother Joseph had also died on a journey (even though he had already lied when he told him that he was dead) because they had previously told him5 that they had come to Egypt to look for him.6

23 Judah continued: "But you did not care that he was his father's only surviving child from his mother. You said to your servants, 'If your youngest brother does not come down to Egypt with you, you shall never again see my face.'

24 We went back up to Canaan, to your servant, my father, and told him what my lord had said.

25 Then, when our father said, 'Go back and buy us a little food,'

26 we replied, 'We cannot go down this time on our own terms. If our youngest brother is with us, then we can go down, for we cannot go and appear before the man without our youngest brother.'

27 Your servant, my father, then said to us, 'You well know that my wife Rachel bore me two sons.

28 One of them left me and never returned, and I said that he must have been devoured by a beast. I have not seen him since.

29 And if you take this one from me as well, and he meets with disaster just as his brother met with disaster on a journey, you will cruelly bring my white-haired head down to the grave. As long as he is with me, I am consoled over the loss of his mother and brother; if he dies, it will be as if I had lost all three of them at once!' " Judah could not, of course, tell Joseph that the real reason Jacob did not want to send Benjamin along with them was because he suspected them of malice or negligence regarding Joseph's disappearance, so he couched his father's reluctance in these terms.7

30 Judah continued: "So now, when I come back to your servant, my father, and the lad is not with us—and being that his soul is bound up with his soul—

Second Reading
31 then when he sees that the lad is not there, he will die: your servants will have brought your servant our father's white
-haired head down to the grave in grief.

32 If you ask why I, the fourth-oldest son, am the spokesman rather than one of my older brothers, the reason is because I, your servant—in order to convince my father to let Benjamin accompany us—guaranteed to return the lad to my father, saying, 'If I do not bring him back to you, I will have sinned against my father and will forfeit the privilege of associating with him for all the rest of my lifetime, both in this world as well as in the afterlife.'8

33 So now, please let me, your servant, remain as a slave to my lord in place of the lad—since, in any case, I will make a better soldier or servant than he—and let the lad go up with his brothers.

34 For how can I go up to my father if the lad is not with me? Let me not be forced to witness the calamity that would befall my father!"

Joseph Discloses His Identity

45:1 Joseph, now convinced that his brothers had truly repented of their former animosity toward him, understood that that the time had come to disclose his identity to them. But Joseph could not bear to have his brothers shamed in the presence of all the people standing around him. So he exclaimed, "Have everyone leave my presence!" Thus, no man was left standing near Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers.

2 He broke out into loud weeping; the Egyptians heard it, and the members of Pharaoh's household heard it.

3 Joseph said to his brothers, in Hebrew, "I am Joseph, whom you presumed dead because you were not able to find me.9 Because I am alive, my father has surely not been able to stop grieving over me for the past twenty-two years, as he would have had he been mourning someone who had really died.10 Can my father indeed still be alive after such prolonged, intense mourning?! If so, this is surely nothing short of a miracle!"11

But his brothers could not bring themselves to answer him, because they were abashed out of shame before him over what they had done to him. They shrank from his presence.

4 Joseph then said to his brothers, in a softer, more conciliatory tone, "Please come close to me," and when they came closer, he showed them that he was circumcised, like them. He said, "I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt.

5 But now, do not be distressed or reproach yourselves for having sold me into slavery here, since it was ultimately in order for me to be able to provide for your needs that God sent me ahead of you.

6 For it has now already been two years that there has been a famine in the land, and there are still five more years to come in which there will be neither plowing nor reaping.

7 But God sent me ahead of you to ensure that you survive in the land, and to sustain you in an act of great deliverance.

Third Reading
8 So now
you can understand that it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me Pharaoh's counselor, lord over all his household, and ruler over all Egypt.

9 Now, since every additional moment my father spends in mourning could prove fatal, he must be allowed to witness with his own eyes that I am alive. It would be quicker and more respectful on my part if I went to him, but as you can see, I am responsible for the welfare of the entire country and cannot desert my post. For this reason, you should12 make haste and go up to my father and tell him, 'This is what your son Joseph has said: "God has made me master of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry.

fig. 47: Goshen
fig. 47: Goshen

10 You will settle in Goshen and be close to me—you, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your cattle, and all that you own.

11 I will provide for you there, since there remain another five years of famine, so that you will not be impoverished, neither you nor your household, nor anything that is yours." '

12 You can see with your own eyes, just as my brother Benjamin can see with his own eyes, that I am your circumcised brother, and all of you can hear that it is indeed I who am speaking to you in Hebrew. Do not imagine that I am contriving a plot against you, for as far as I am concerned, you have no more reason to suspect me of hating you than does Benjamin—whom I have no cause to hate because he was not even present when I was sold. You should see me with your eyes just as my brother Benjamin sees me with his eyes—innocent of any malicious intent.

You can see, as well, the great honor I am accorded here,

13 So you shall tell my father about the great honor being accorded me in Egypt, proving that it is within my power to do all of this, and about everything else that you have seen: that I am your brother and that I am speaking to you in Hebrew. Finally, tell him that when we last parted, we were in the middle of studying the laws concerning the calf that must be killed when a corpse is found between two cities.13 This will convince him conclusively that it is really I. And you shall make haste to bring my father down here."

14 With that, he fell on his brother Benjamin's shoulders and wept, for he foresaw prophetically that the first two Temples, destined to be built in Benjamin's territory, would be destroyed. Benjamin wept on his brother Joseph's shoulders, for he in turn foresaw prophetically that the Tabernacle of Shiloh, destined to be erected in Joseph's territory, would also be destroyed.

15 He then kissed all his brothers and wept on their shoulders, and after they saw that he was fully reconciled with them, his brothers overcame their embarrassment and conversed with him.

16 Word of their arrival reached Pharaoh's palace: "Joseph's brothers have arrived!" Pharaoh and his courtiers were pleased, and

17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Tell your brothers, 'Do as follows: Load your ten14 animals with grain and go directly to Canaan.

18 I am giving you this gift of grain to present to your father purely as a gesture of goodwill, and not in order to enable you to feed your family for any extended period. On the contrary,15 bring your father and your households and come to me. I will give you the district of Goshen, which is the choicest part of Egypt, and you will eat of the fat of the land.' " Pharaoh unwittingly prophesied that the Jews would eventually empty Egypt of all its wealth.16

19 Pharaoh continued: "Moreover, you are commanded by me to tell them: 'Do as follows, by my edict: Take for yourselves wagons from Egypt for your small children and your wives, and bring your father and come.

20 Do not even give a thought to your belongings, for the best of all Egypt will be at your disposal.' "

21 Israel's sons did so. Joseph gave them wagons in accordance with Pharaoh's instructions, and gave them provisions for the journey.

22 He gave each of them a set of clothing, but to Benjamin he also gave 300 pieces of silver and four additional sets of clothing, making five sets of clothing in all.

23 Since Pharaoh was sending a gift to Jacob, propriety dictated that Joseph also send him a gift, and since he was his son, it would be proper for his gift to be even more valuable than Pharaoh's. Therefore, in order to indicate that his gift was designed to exceed Pharaoh's, he sent his father a gift similar enough to the one that Pharaoh sent to indicate that they were meant to be compared, but different from it in two significant ways: Firstly, whereas Pharaoh had sent ten animals laden with grain, Joseph sent ten male donkeys laden not with grain for assuaging hunger but rather with Egypt's finest delicacies—aged wine and split beans. Besides being delicacies, aged wine is particularly enjoyed by the elderly, and split beans alluded to the nature of Joseph's separation from his family: just as split beans can be eaten only when they are separated, Joseph's separation from his family also proved to be for the greater good.

Secondly, Joseph sent ten female donkeys laden with grain. These ten donkeys matched Pharaoh's gift, while the ten male donkeys laden with additional delicacies doubled it—both quantitatively and qualitatively. Besides the gift, Joseph sent bread and other types of food served with bread to his father and family for the journey to Egypt.17

24 He sent his brothers on their way and they set out, and he said to them, "Do not engage in any involved discussions of Torah law, for doing so could distract you, causing you to lose your way!18 Although I instructed you to make haste,19 do not be so hurried on this journey that you take excessively long steps—since this impairs vision20—or travel into the night and expose yourself to danger; rather, walk at a comfortable pace and take care to find proper lodgings for each night while it is still daylight. And do not quarrel among yourselves along the way over who was at fault for selling me."

25 They went up from Egypt and came to their father Jacob in Canaan.

26 They told him, "Joseph is still alive!" and that he was the ruler of the entire land of Egypt, but he ignored them, for he did not believe them.

27 So they told him everything that Joseph had told them, including what topic he and Joseph had been studying when they last parted, and he saw the wagons Joseph had sent to transport him, understanding that in sending them, Joseph was alluding to the subject of their last study session together, since the word for "wagon" (עגלה) is the same as the word for "calf." Finally convinced of the veracity of their words, he believed them, and the Divine spirit came alive once again21 in their father Jacob.

Jacob Goes Down to Egypt

Fourth Reading
28 Israel said, "
I am blessed with much joy, for my son Joseph is still alive! Let me go and see him before I die."

46:1 Jacob, suspecting he would die in Egypt, prepared a burial place for himself in the Machpelah cave22 before setting out. After arranging that, Israel set out from Hebron with his entire family and with everything he owned. He arrived in Beersheba, and he offered up sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. He specifically invoked Isaac's name when offering up these sacrifices, not mentioning Abraham's name, in order to show honor to his father in particular, since the obligation to honor one's father is greater than the obligation to honor one's grandfather.

2 Now that his family numbered seventy-odd, Jacob felt that it was large enough to be considered a real nation. Recalling that God had promised Abraham that He would make his descendants into a nation specifically in the Promised Land,23 Jacob now felt that in order to facilitate the fulfillment of this promise, he and his family should remain in the land. Therefore, once he reached Beersheba, the last city on his journey out of the land, he began to regret having to leave it. God therefore spoke to Israel in a vision by night and said affectionately, "Jacob! Jacob!"

He replied, "Here I am."

3 And God said, "I am the Almighty, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for it is specifically there that I will make you into a great nation. When I told your grandfather Abraham that I would make him into a great nation specifically while in the Promised Land, I meant that only there would he merit having children; I did not mean that only there could they grow into a nation.24

4 Furthermore, I will go down to Egypt with you and I will make sure that your sons bring you up from there as well after your death, in order to bury you in the Holy Land. When you die, Joseph will place his hand on your eyes."

5 So, in the year 2238, Jacob set out from Beersheba. Israel's sons carried their father Jacob, together with their young children and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

6 They took their livestock and the possessions that they had acquired in Canaan (for as was stated above,25 Jacob retained none of the livestock and possessions he had acquired outside of the Holy Land), and they arrived in Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him. Jacob also took along acacia trees to plant in Egypt, for he foresaw prophetically that God would command his descendants to build a portable sanctuary out of acacia wood, to use during their journey through the desert on their way back to the Promised Land.26

7 His sons and grandsons were with him, and he brought his daughters, his two granddaughters, and all the rest of his offspring with him to Egypt, as well.

Fifth Reading
8 These are the names of the children of Israel who came
down to Egypt, i.e., Jacob and his sons. Jacob's firstborn was Reuben.

9 Reuben's sons were Chanoch, Palu, Chetzron, and Karmi.

10 Simeon's sons were Yemuel, Yamin, Ohad, Yachin, Tzochar, and Shaul, the son of Dinah, who, since she had been raped by Shechem, was known as the Canaanite woman.27

11 Levi's sons were Gershon, Kehot, and Merari. Levi's wife gave birth to his daughter, Yocheved, as they were entering Egypt.28

12 Judah's sons were Er, Onan, Sheilah, Peretz, and Zerach, but Er and Onan died in Canaan;29 and the sons of Peretz were Chetzron, who was born in 2237, when Peretz was eight years old, and Chamul, who was born in this year, 2238, when Peretz was nine.

13 Issachar's sons were Tolah, Puvah, Yov, and Shimron.

14 Zebulun's sons were Sered, Elon, and Yachle'el.

15 The above are the offspring of Leah whom she bore to Jacob in Padan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. All these sons and daughters came to thirty-three persons.

16 Gad's sons were Tzifyon, Chagi, Shuni, Etzbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli.

17 Asher's sons were Yimnah, Yishvah, Yishvi, and Beriah, and their sister was Serach. The sons of Beriah were Chever and Malkiel.

18 The above are the offspring of Zilpah, Leah's half-sister, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah as a handmaid. She bore these to Jacob—sixteen persons.

19 The sons of Jacob's main wife Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin.

20 To Joseph were born in Egypt Manasseh and Ephraim by Asnat, daughter of Potiphera, lord of On.

21 And Benjamin's sons were Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Na'aman, Eichi, Rosh, Mupim, Chupim, and Ard.

22 The above are the offspring of Rachel who were born to Jacob—fourteen persons in all.

23 Dan's son was Chushim.

24 Naphtali's sons were Yachtze'el, Guni, Yetzer, and Shilem.

25 The above are the offspring of Bilhah, Rachel's half-sister, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel as a handmaid. She bore these to Jacob—seven persons in all.

26 Thus, all the people who were now coming to Egypt along with Jacob and who were his own issue were altogether sixty-six persons. This number was aside from Jacob's fourteen other daughters, most of whom had become the wives of Jacob's sons,30 and his one remaining31 wife, Bilhah.

27 And Joseph's sons who were born to him in Egypt were two in number. Thus the total of Jacob's household who came to Egypt besides Jacob himself, his wife Bilhah, and his other fourteen daughters was seventy persons. All of Jacob's household were loyal to his religious teachings and served the One God.

Sixth Reading
28 He had sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph, to make advance preparations in Goshen.
Chief among these preparations was that he set up a place for the family to study the Torah. They then arrived in Goshen.

29 In honor of his father's arrival, Joseph harnessed his chariot himself and went up to Goshen to welcome his father Israel. He presented himself to his father, embraced him around the neck, and wept on his neck for a long while. Jacob, on his part, neither wept nor reciprocated Joseph's embrace, because he was in the midst of reaffirming his belief in God when Joseph presented himself to him.

30 Then Israel said to Joseph, "Now I can die content, having seen your face and having seen that you are still alive. Also, when I was mourning over you, the Divine Presence departed from me, and I thought that it would remain estranged from me even in the afterlife, when I would be judged responsible for your death. This would have meant that I was going to die twice: a physical death in this world and a spiritual death in the afterlife. But now that I see that you are alive, I know that I will only die once—physically."

31 Joseph then said to his brothers and to all his father's household, "I will go up and tell Pharaoh that you have arrived. I will say to him, 'My brothers and all my father's household who were in Canaan have come to me.

32 These men are shepherds, for they have always owned livestock, and they have brought along their flocks, their herds, and all their possessions.'

33 Now, when Pharaoh summons you and asks, 'What is your occupation?'

34 you should answer, 'Your servants have been livestock dealers from our youth up until now, both we and our father and forefathers, and we know no other trade,' so that you will be able to settle in Goshen, which is a land of pasture. When Pharaoh hears that the only vocation you know is shepherding, he will make sure you settle far away from the capital city, for all non-Egyptian shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians, for they raise sheep for food, and the Egyptians worship firstborn sheep."32

47:1 Joseph then went and told Pharaoh as follows: "My father and my brothers have come from Canaan, together with their flocks and their herds and all their possessions, and they are now in Goshen."

2 He selected from among his brothers those five men who looked the least robust and introduced only them to Pharaoh, so that Pharaoh would not be inclined to conscript them into his army. These five were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, and Benjamin. Using different criteria, the five who looked the least robust were Gad, Naphtali, Dan, Zebulun, and Asher, and it was they whom Joseph introduced to Pharaoh.33

3 Pharaoh asked Joseph's brothers, "What is your occupation?"

They replied to Pharaoh, "Your servants are shepherds, both we and our father and forefathers."

4 They further said to Pharaoh, "We have come to sojourn in the land, because there is no grazing for your servants' flocks in Canaan, since the famine is severe in Canaan. So now, please, let your servants settle in Goshen."

5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Now that your father and your brothers have come to you,

6 the whole land of Egypt is at your disposal. Settle your father and your brothers in the choicest part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know that there are men among them who are capable shepherds, you shall appoint them as stewards over my livestock."

7 Joseph then brought his father Jacob and introduced him to Pharaoh, and Jacob greeted Pharaoh.

8 Pharaoh asked Jacob, "How many are the years of your life?"

9 Jacob replied, "I have been a sojourner all my life; the years of my sojourning have been one hundred and thirty. The years of my life have been few and hard, and have not equaled the happiness of the years of my forefathers' lifetimes in the days of their sojourning."

10 With that, Jacob blessed Pharaoh that the Nile would overflow and irrigate the country whenever he would approach it, thereby ending the years of famine. He then took leave of Pharaoh and left Pharaoh's presence.

Seventh Reading
11 Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them an estate in Egypt, in the choicest part of the land, in the Ra'amses region
of Goshen, as Pharaoh had instructed.

12 Joseph provided bread for his father and his brothers and all his father's household. He gave them much more than they needed, as if he was providing for the needs of young children who tend to crumble their bread, wasting a significant portion of it.34

The Years of Famine, continued

The Torah now resumes its narrative of Joseph's administration of Egypt during the years of famine, which it had interrupted35 in order to describe how his family came to settle in Egypt.

13 In the year 2237, the first year of the famine, there was no bread in the entire country, since the famine was very severe and, as described above, all the grain that they had set aside during the seven years of plenty had rotted. Therefore, the people of Egypt and Canaan languished due to the famine.

14 The grain that Joseph had set aside, however, had not rotted. Everyone therefore went to buy grain from him. Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and in Canaan, which the people had given in payment for the produce they were buying, and Joseph brought the money to Pharaoh's palace.

15 When the money from Egypt and Canaan came to an end, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, "Give us bread! Why should we die before your very eyes just because the money has run out?"

16 Joseph replied, "Bring your livestock, and I shall give you bread in exchange for your livestock, if there is no more money."

17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for their horses, flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and donkeys. Thus he took care of them during that year with regard to bread, in exchange for all their livestock. He regulated his distribution of foodstuffs so that a sufficient quantity would remain to provide for their needs during the coming years of famine, as well.36

18 When that year came to an end, they came to him the following year, 2238, and said to him, "We will not deny the truth to my lord: inasmuch as all our money and livestock are gone—since we gave them all to my lord last year—there is now nothing left for my lord to receive from us as payment for food other than ourselves and our land.

19 Why should we perish before your very eyes, both we—by starvation, and our land—by becoming barren? Buy us and our land in exchange for bread, and we with our land will be serfs to Pharaoh. And now that the Nile has started once again to overflow and irrigate the land, thanks to your father's blessing to Pharaoh, give us seed so that we may plant a crop for next year, and thus live and not die, and so that the land will not become barren."

20 So, in this way, Joseph acquired all Egypt for Pharaoh, for each of the Egyptians sold his field because the famine had become too severe for them, and the land thus became Pharaoh's.

21 Joseph then transferred the Egyptian people from city to city, in order to impress on them the fact that they were no longer owners of their own land, and to remove the stigma of being alien residents from his brothers. He put this relocation plan into effect from one end of Egypt's border to the other.

22 The only land he did not buy up was that of the priests, since the priests had a food allotment from Pharaoh, and they lived off the allotment that Pharaoh gave them; they therefore did not have to sell their land.

23 Joseph then said to the people, "Since today I have acquired both you and your land for Pharaoh, here is seed grain for you, and you shall sow the ground.

24 When harvest comes, you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh. The remaining four parts will be yours, for seed grain for the fields, and for food for yourselves and for the servants in your households, and for feeding your young children."

Maftir 25 They said, "You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in my lord's eyes, and please, do as you have said: let us be serfs to Pharaoh, paying him this twenty-percent tax annually."

26 Joseph made it a law regarding all the farmed lands of Egypt, in force until today, that one-fifth of its produce belong to Pharaoh. Only the lands of the priests did not, according to this law, belong to Pharaoh.

27 Thus Israel settled in Egypt. Even though they settled in its choicest part,37 Goshen, it was still part of Egypt, and thus they fulfilled God's prophecy to Abraham that his progeny would dwell in a foreign land.38 They established residence in the estate that Joseph gave them there,39 were fruitful, and increased greatly.