The 22-year-long contest between Joseph and his brothers is now approaching its climax: Judah approaches Joseph—whom he knows only as Tzaphenath Paaneach, viceroy of Egypt—to plead, argue and threaten for the release of Benjamin. The viceroy’s magic goblet had been discovered in Benjamin’s sack; “He shall be my slave,” declared the Egyptian ruler in the closing verse of last week’s Parshah, “and you go up in peace to your father.”
But the brothers won’t go in peace. Judah, their spokesman and leader, and the one who assumed personal responsibility to Jacob for Benjamin’s safe return, pleads: “How shall I go up to my father if the boy is not with me?” Benjamin is the only surviving child of our father’s most beloved wife, his older brother having disappeared many years ago; our father’s very life is bound up with Benjamin’s life. “When he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die; and your servants will bring down the white head of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave.”
“I beg you,” concludes Judah, “let your servant remain instead of the boy as a slave to my lord, and let the boy go up with his brothers . . . lest I see the evil that shall befall my father.”
He wept aloud; and Egypt heard, and the household of Pharaoh heard.
Joseph said to his brothers: “I am Joseph; is my father still alive?” His brothers could not answer him, for they were terrified before him.
Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please,” and they came near. He said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.”
The brothers are beside themselves with shame and remorse, and it is Joseph who comforts them. “It was not you who sent me here,” he says to them, “but G‑d.” It has all been ordained from Above: because you sold me into slavery, we will all be saved from the hunger which has stricken the entire region these last two years, and which is destined to continue for another five.
“Hasten and go up to my father, and say to him: Thus says your son Joseph: G‑d has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not delay . . . and you shall be near me . . . and there will I sustain you.”
Pharaoh sends wagons to bring Jacob and his entire family to Egypt, and declares: “The bounty of the entire land of Egypt is yours.”
The Divine Promise
They went up out of Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan, to Jacob their father, and told him, saying: “Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.” His heart fainted, for he did not believe them.
Israel said: “It is enough: Joseph my son is still alive! I will go and see him before I die.”
On the way to Egypt, at the oasis of Be’er Sheva, G‑d appears to Jacob. “I am the L‑rd, the G‑d of your father; fear not to go down to Egypt, for I will there make of you a great nation. I will go down with you into Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again."
The Seventy Souls
These are the names of the children of Israel, who came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons . . .
The sons of Reuben: Chanoch, Pallu, Chetzron and Carmi.
The sons of Simeon: Yemuel, Yamin, Ohad, Yachin, Tzohar, and Shaul the son of the Canaanite woman.
The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kehat and Merari.
The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Peretz and Zerah; but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Peretz were Chetzron and Chamul.
The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puvvah, Yov and Shimron.
The sons of Zebulum: Sered, Elon and Yachle’el . . .
[Jacob’s] daughter Dinah . . .
The sons of Gad: Tzifyon, Chaggi, Shuni, Etzbon, Eri, Arodi and Ar’eli.
The sons of Asher: Yimnah, Yishvah, Yishvi, Beriah, and Serach their sister. The sons of Beriah were Chever and Malkiel . . .
To Joseph in the land of Egypt were born . . . Manasseh and Ephraim . . .
The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Echi, Rosh, Muppim, Chuppim and Ard . . .
The sons of Dan: Chushim.
The sons of Naftali: Yachtze’el, Guni, Yetzer, and Shillem . . .
All the souls of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.
The Jews in Egypt
Jacob sends Judah ahead to Egypt, “to show the way before him.”
Joseph harnessed his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen . . .
He fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. Israel said to Joseph: “Now I can die, since I have seen your face, because you are still alive.”
Pharaoh grants Jacob’s family the country of Goshen, a place suitable for their vocation as shepherds. Joseph presents his father and brothers to Pharaoh.
Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the years of your life?”
Jacob said to Pharaoh: “The days of the years of my sojournings are a hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojournings.”
And Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
Joseph gathers the wealth of Egypt and the surrounding countries, as all the money and valuables are expended in the purchase of food during the famine. Joseph then “nationalizes” all the land in Egypt, transferring its population and decreeing that a fifth of its produce must be given to Pharaoh in return for its use; only the priests are exempted from this tax.
Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; they took possession of it, and grew and multiplied exceedingly.