RE-GENESIS NOW Project chapter 11
Parashat vaYigash (44:18-47:27)
The Torah Approach to Human Reconstruction
The Name of the Parashah and its Meaning
Yoseph as psycho-dramatist – Yoseph's planning of the Encounter
The Appearance of Yehudah
Seniority of Yoseph or of Yehudah?
The Qabbalah Interpretation of the Encounter between Yoseph and Yehudah
The 15 passages, ascent and descent in the questions
The Choice of Yoseph
Yoseph's Revelation to his Brothers
Yoseph as privy to the Divine Plan
Yoseph's Invitation to his Family to descend to Egypt
The Settlement of the Children of Yisra'el in Egypt
The Choreography of the meeting among the brothers
Yoesph's Restructuring of
the Egyptian Economy
Appendices (not yet
Appendix A: Messiah Son of Yoseph and Messiah Son of David (the Jew) – and Son of Levi
Appendic B: King Herod as Messiah ben Yoseph (and as ante/anti Messiah)
Appendix C: Yoseph and Yeshu'ạ/Jesus
Appendix D: Yoseph and Egypt's Contribution to the House of the God of Yisra'el
Appendix E: Determining the axis for the New Jerusalem Pattern
The Name of the Parashah and its Meaning
The key word for this Parashah (Torah weekly portion) is va’Yigash (ויגש), a verb related to Gishah (גישה) – which can have two meanings: on the one hand approaching towards meeting, on the other hand hitgosheshut – a violent struggle, a brawl. It is thus like a wrestling match, that at its peak the two brothers stand face to face, and they are not just brothers but leaders that everything depends on their face-to-face dealing. The manner of approach – Gishah (גישה) – will determine the course of the next chapter. The beginning of the parashah is “vayigash elav Yehudah – And Yehudah came near to him”, and its ending is the settlement of the children of Yisra’el in the land of Goshen (the land of approach – Gishah – to Egypt). The encounter – Mifgash – between the brothers brings the rectification for the sin of Qayin (Cain) and Hevel (Abel) and the gradual completion of the process of reconciliation and brotherly love.
Forms of the root N.G.S (נגש) appear three times in parashat vaYigash. The additional two times come in the most dramatic verse: “And Yoseph said to his brothers, Come near to me, I pray you – Geshu na elay – and they came near – vaYigashu - . And he said, I am Yoseph your brother…” (45:4). In addition, the name of the Land of Goshen (ארץ גושן) appears nine times. Together, these are a Dozen of Gishot (גישות) – approaches – that surround and contain the action of the Mifgash (מפגש) – encounter. This is a hint to the Twelve Tribes that would camp around the Tabernacle under four flags/standards (Degalim) – flags of the camps of Yehudah, Ephraim (namely Yoseph), Re’uven and Dan (see below about the New Jerusalem Pattern). The flag of the Camp of Yehudah would be the leader in the journeys in the desert. Yehudah becomes the leader of the course of Yisra’el due to “vayigash Yehudah”.
The Gematria value of the word “vaYigash” is 319, which equals 11 x 29. Yehudah represents the eleven brothers (including Binyamin), whereas 29 represents the lunar cycle (about 29.5 days), namely – there is here the encounter of 11 moons of the year with another moon, the twelve – an astrological symbolism. In Yoseph’s second dream, he dreamt that eleven stars would bow to him (Gen. 37:9), and this just happened (42:6, 44:14). But Yehudah’s approach has shown to Yoseph that he is the twelfth star, one among his brothers.
Through the encounter (Mifgash) Yehudah (יהודה) shows his seniority by acting the role model of “Yisra’el” (ישראל) better than his father and his brothers: he approaches straight - nigash Yashar - to the issue (ניגש ישר-אל העניין), confessed – hodah (הודה) – in all that happened, and does not follow the course of “Ya’ạqov” – the crooked ways.
In the continuation of the story, in Parashat Shemot there would appear another word connected with the same word-root – Nogsim (נגשים) – taskmasters: "And Par'ọh the same day commanded the taskmasters (Nogsim) of the people, and their officers, saying, You shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore" (Exodus 5:6-7). The Egyptian Nogsim (plural of Noges-נוגש) were in charge of officers from the Children of Yisra'el and have beaten the latter when their subordinates the usual quantity of bricks. This makes a certain repetition of the position of Yoseph and Yehuda in Parashat vaYigash, where Yoseph, the apparent Egyptian, deputy for Par’ọh, stands opposite Yehudah, who has just taken upon himself to be a leader and officer for the Children of Yisra’el. In this meaning of Noges there is a consequence of the slavery that Yoseph caused upon all of Egypt.
In our studies of the Book of Genesis, we have so far surveyed five instances of brothers’ confrontations. In each case there were different situations, and the outcomes of one encounter served as moral for the next one: 1) in the confrontation of Qayin (Cain) and Hevel (Abel) there was murder. 2) In the encounter of the Sons of No’aḥ the friction was averted by territorial separation to different continents, with the punishment by slavery to one that breaches the division. 3) The likely dangerous encounter in the childhood of the half-brothers was prevented ahead by the mother of the younger brother, who forced the common father to expel his firstborn to exile and maturation in the desert. But she also brought to the assignment of the tombs of the patriarchs as a common sacred place. 4) the encounter of Ya’ạqov and Ẹsav, in which first the younger brother who had stolen the seniority was expelled, after twenty years in exile he matured and reconciled with his brother for a moment, but this did not lead to their dwelling together permanently (not for two thousand years anyway).
The case of Yoseph and his brothers is the fifth case in this series. Yoseph and his brothers have split by the pit (it may be claimed that Yoseph was expelled to the desert and was saved specifically by the Ishma’elites – as if Yishma’el had been sent to the desert to enable the later saving of Yoseph). Now in Parashat va’Yigash, Yehudah rectified under his leadership the sin of the brothers, the sale to slavery of their brother Yoseph – who was the son of the preferred mother. He offered himself as a substitute for the enslaving of Binyamin, the brother of Yoseph from the same mother. By the merit of this act, the brothers have reached the potential for the ideal arrangement of permanent dwelling together, though in practice they were still in a situation of common sojourn, and then slavery, in the Egyptian exile. In the following, through the analysis of the encounter, we shall see how this encounter contains a particular rectification to each of the former encounters among brothers.
The aim of the encounter is as in the verse, “One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. hey are joined one to another; they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.” (Job 41:8-9). In the prophecy that is read in the Haftarah for Parashat vaYigash, there is detailing of these joining and adhesion: “And the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 'And thou, son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it: For Judah, and for the children of Yisra'el his companions; then take another stick, and write upon it: For Yoseph, the stick of Ephraim, and of all the house of Yisra'el his companions; and join them for thee one to another into one stick, that they may become one in thy hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak to thee, saying: Wilt thou not tell us what thou meanest by these? say into them: Thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the stick of Yoseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Yisra'el his companions; and I will put them to him together with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in My hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thy hand before their eyes. And say to them: Thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the children of Yisra'el from among the nations, whither they are gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Yisra'el, and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.” (Ezekiel 37:15-22).
Yoseph as psycho dramatist – Yoseph's Design of the Encounter
We have already noted, in the appendix to Parashat Miqeẓ, that Yoseph planned the meeting with his brothers like a theatre director. Still before he worked in detail the operation of restructuring of the whole Egyptian economy which we shall study at the end of the Prashah (and which he already planned ahead), Yoseph planned the encounter with his brothers in great detail and directed ahead all the acts and scenes. The former scenes brought to him his brothers in a state of guilt and submission, down to the last scene, where he enacted anew the story of the extradition and sale of a brother. He used his full brother Binyamin as a sacrifice and a bait in order to test whether also on this occasion the brothers would forsake, and effectively sell out, their brother – or will be ready to surrender themselves for his sake. Perhaps this was only his way to test the change that has already taken place with the brothers, but it seems it was also the rectification – a therapy session in which all those involved, both Yoseph and his brothers, must undertake in order to pass a stage in their unresolved relationship.
As a start, Yoseph favored Binyamin from his brothers and gave him a portion five times bigger than the presents to the rest. Thus he replicated the favoritism he enjoyed with his father, who made him an ostentatious coat. Thereby he devised conditions for testing the envy of the brothers” would they envy Binyamin and deprive him of the seemingly arbitrary advantage, may even harm him, but in any case bear a grudge and alienate him? Soon after this scene, the brothers were left to their own devices on the roads, and before they got far, they were caught and accused of theft.
In their already known haste the brothers proposed to their pursuer "With whomever of thy servants it be found, let him die". They seem again ready to sell or let kill one of them, just as they did when they saw Yoseph in the field. The steward answers them with a rather opaque saying, “Now also let it be according to your words”. “now also” implies that it all happened before. Did the steward (who repeated the words dictated to him by Yoseph, the effective director) mean to warn them that they are repeating their past mistake? In any case, he could note the confession of the brothers and their willingness to give one of them away to die. But the steward then assumed the former role of Judah “What profit is it if we slay our brother” (37:26), and he makes a less murderous and more generous counter-offer, “he with whom it is found shall be my bondman, and you shall be blameless”. It is possible that the steward only repeated faithfully instructions of Yoseph, who was so moved when he saw Binyamin and cried, and who perhaps wanted that through the pretax of imprisonment Binyamin would stay with him in Egypt, while he, Yoseph, would not have to rejoin with the other ten brothers who betrayed him. (At this stage Yoseph was not sure whether his father was still alive, as we learn from his later asking about it).
All these serve as background to the present portion, in which it will be determined whether the brothers stood the test. Yehudah, who obligated himself before Ya’ạqov to pledge for Binyamin, is the one who now stands to the test. Now arrives the dramatic peak – that of Yoseph who judges his brothers, and who holds the options whether to reveal himself and approach them or not, and whether to make one of them, or them all, into sacrifices.
But the approach - Gishah – of Yehudah, the way he approached Yoseph, as if “turned the table” against Yoseph, and brought him to a cry of submission. Not crying under a shelter, but “and he wept aloud; and Miẓrayim and the house of Par’oh heard”. After this he cannot but reveal himself to his brothers, and not as a ruler from a high throne but as a child crying to his father.
The Appearance of Yehudah
This was not an easy role for Yehudah, the fresh leader, to stand against the unknown Egyptian ruler, the apparently representative of the alien.
The first time that Yehudah received seniority and accepted leadership was when he proposed to sell Yoseph. He contended against Re'uven, the natural firstborn – and overcame him. Re'uven was full of feelings of compassion and charity, but followed twisted routes, like his father Ya'ạqov. Yehudah, on the other hand, was practical (commercial) and direct. Re'uven wanted to save Yoseph, but did not dare to do this publically. Yehudah is the one who saved Yoesph's life, since he knew how to channel the animosity emotion to the emotion of greed' namely to complete something (lehashlim) through paying for it (tashlum). Now he is the one who could step up to the king's deputy in public. We the readers know that this is Yoseph his brother, but Yehudah does not know it, much as Yoseph would not know that it was Yehudah who saved his life (as it appears that the discussion of the brothers about his destiny (37:25-27) took place at a distance from the pit, so that the brothers did not even see the Midyanite merchants who meanwhile pulled Yoseph up from the pit and sold him to the Yishma'elites).
Immediately after the selling of Yoseph the scriptures tell us of the descent of Yehudah, who separate himself from his brothers, who have just accepted him as their natural leader, associated himself with strangers ("a certain Ạdullamite") and founded himself a family. Out of worry for his only remaining son he entangled himself in lying (much like his father Ya'ạqov lied to Esav about joining him). Yehudah almost got his daughter in law to be executed, but in the last moment he confessed his mistake, "And Yehudah acknowledged them, and said, She has been more righteous than I" (38:26).
The two scriptural emphases: the words "And Yehudah came down from his brothers", and then the acknowledgment of Tamar's righteousness, trace the pattern of Yehudah's leadership – the ability to approach the stranger and to humble himself, but also to admit (lehodot) his mistake. These would become two characteristics for which there would be selected a king from the house of Yehudah, and following these also "Messiah Son of David".
Another occasion were Yehudah's leadership became apparent was when the brothers were forced to return to Egypt to obtain food. They knew that if they do not get to Egypt, they would die of hunger, they also knew that the provider in Egypt would not give them food without their bringing the youngest brother. Ya'ạqov was not ready to trust Binyamin to their hands. Re'uven, whom his father would eventually call "unstable as water", proposed to kill his two sons – Ya'aqov's grandchildren – if he does not return Binyamin (a kind of "double Ạqedah totally uncalled for). This nonsense finished his chances for seniority. From here on we would not find Re'uven in the contention for seniority among the Children of Yisra'el. Yehudah, the rising leader, pledges his word of honor, his responsibility – and overcome his father's resistance.
Seniority of Yoseph or of Yehudah?
Now the two brothers confront each other: one who was elected by his brothers and one who was appointed as leader by an absolute ruler, the one who was rejected by his brothers in the past, rejected as outcome of choice, because his father loved him more than he loved all his sons, and because he himself entertained dreams of leadership and power.
Yoseph, just as his name testifies, is archetype of the gatherer and storer (& story-teller). He was appointed by Par'ọh "And he gathered up all the food of the seven years…And Yoseph gathered corn like the sand of the sea…" (41:48-49). He holds the key to the world and to engaging in real, material things. Even in his youth, when he had his grandiose dreams, he did not seek a spiritual legacy, but a material one – rule and not morals. Whereas the seniority of Yoseph is in empowerment, Yehudah's seniority is for the spiritual legacy that passes as a thread in the family of Abraham.
So now stand the two brothers, matter and spirit, facing each other. Yoseph gathers back his brothers by their material need. He accuses them reputedly in spying and theft, he gives them back their money and hides the divination cup in Binyamin's sack. Yehudah stand to argue by the power of the spirit' the power of love: "Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad is not with us; seeing that his life is bound up with the lad's life; it shall come to pass, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die; and thy servants shall bring down the grey hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to She'ol. For thy servant became surety for the lad to my father… then I shall have sinned to my father for ever… " (44:30-31).
The Qabbalah Interpretation of Yoseph and Yehudah's Encounter
The Qabbalah Midrashim (exegeses) are generally based on the theory of the Sephirot (see appendix 1-A, or Wikipedia, Sephirot) always regard Yoseph as a symbol for the Sephirah of Yesod (Foundation) – the one that connects between the World of Action (Ạssiyah) or the Sephirah of Malkhut and the World of Formation (Yeẓirah) and the rest of the higher worlds. Yehudah is treated less by the Qabbalah and less sharply. The Sephirah of Malkhut (Kingdom) is indeed the domain of David King of Yisra'el, and thus connected with Yehudah; but by his name and characteristics, Yehudah also is connected with the Sephirah of Hod (Glory, but also "Confession/Submission" – Hoda'ah). Within the diagram of the Tree of the Sephirot, Yehudah can pass between the Sephirah of Hod and the Sephirah of Malkhut only through the Sephirah of Yesod – the domain of Yoseph – and therefore "then Yehudah came near to him (Yoseph) – vayigash elav Yehudah".
Yehudah and Yoseph may be conceived also in terms of appearances and combinations of the Name (haShem) of YHWH (the Tetragrammaton). The name of Yehudah contains all the four letters of the Name and the additional Dalet (ד, the fourth Hebrew letter), which denotes four and thus refers to the four-letter Name YHWH. Yoseph is connected to the Name in as much as the Gematria value of the name Yoseph (יוסף) is 156, which equal 6 X 26, six times the Gematria value of the YHWH Name. It is thus possible to say about both that "HaShem is in them".
In terms of combinations, the four letters of the Tetragrammaton (of which two are the same) can be permutated in 12 ways. According to the holy ARI, Yehudah is marked/characterized by the combination of "YHWH", whereas Yoseph is marked by the combination "WHYH" (והיה). Both are vessels for different emanations of the divinity in the fabric of the world. By rules of Hebrew grammar, it is evident that the permutation YHWH, starting with the letter Yod (י) is the future tense, thus oriented to the future, whereas the permutation WHYA (והיה), starting with the letter Waw (ו) is past continuous caring for what was. Yoseph would be concerned with sustenance - the continuation of what was - and what is now the threatened survival of the Children of Yisra'el, whereas Yehudah would lead and bind them all to the future vocation.
In the Zohar, the canon of the Qabbalah, Yehudah symbolizes the Sephirah of Malkhut, the manifest world, the action, and the words of the prayer, whereas Yoseph is connected with the principle of Redemption. They represent two worlds, higher and lower, and the object of Yehudah's approach (Gishah) to Yoseph is to connect the two worlds. In the Zohar, the two figures (the forefathers of the eventual kingship in Judea and Yisra'el) are regarded as being kings themselves, whom spoken in the psalms "For lo, the kings were assembled, they came on together. As soon as they saw, they were astounded; they were affrighted" (Psalm 48:4-5).
“Said Rabbi Yehdah, meritous are the Ẓadiqim (righteous) as their drawing near brings peace in the world. Since they know to make unification (Yiḥud) and to bring near in order to increase peace in the world. Because Yoseph and Yehudah, as long as they did not draw near each other, there was no peace. When Yoseph and Yehudah drew near together, then peace increase in the world and there was added joy above and below. When Yehudah and Yoseph drew near and all the tribes were together with Yoseph, this nearness increased peace in the world, therefore “And Yehudah came near to him”. (Zohar vaYigash).
The Zohar further likens the approach in the encounter of Yoseph and Yehudah to the case of Abraham, who pleaded over his son Yishma’el (“Oh that Yishma’el might live before thee” more than he did over Yiẓḥaq and his seed, namely Yisra’el. The evidence for Abraham’s alienation is in the Midrash on the verse “though Avraham be ignorant of us, and Yisra’el acknowledge us not thou, O lord art our father” (Isaiah 63:16). Yoseph, who rose to rule over Egypt, somewhat reminds of yishma’el, whose mother was Egyptian. When Yehudah approached Yoseph, he was certain that he is approaching an Egyptian ruler, and had no notion that this was his brother.
As a rule, the Zohar presents the reconciliation between the brothers as harmonization between the levels of Nefesh (natural soul) and Ru’aḥ (spirit), and even introduces a certain sexual connotation of Yehudah as the leader of the feminine side, who is comparable to King David who raises the joy of the communal female entity of Knesset Yisra’el (community of Yisra'el) to unite with the world of Spirit (the domain of the Holy One), whereas Yoseph is the male member of the world of Spirit who injects the enterprise and success to the world of Action.
The 15 passages, ascent and descent in the questions
The short text of Yehudah’s address before Yoseph is a masterpiece of references and turns. While it is a monologue, it is a monologue that is recollections and reports; recollection of the conversations between the brothers and Yoseph, between them and their father and recollection of situations between Yehudah and Yoseph. If we count, we find in the address 15 passes and changes of the subject of the sentence. These passes are like stairs that go down. We shall also underline the word down till asking for slavery for himself – “a descent for need of ascent”.
Even though Yoseph, the ruler, planned the scene so that there would be no say to the brothers and they would not be able to argue with him, yet here Yehudah build within his monologue a virtual conversation, apparently aware that it is only through conversation that there is a chance for change of a-priori positions, for repentance and for forgiving. In the following, we shall mark with square brackets each occasion when the subject is changed. We shall also underline the word “slave” (Ẹved), which is an important key to this conversation, and bring in brackets and quotation marks the unspoken meaning that is signified by each statement of Yehudah.
[*] “Then Judah came near to him, and said: 'Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not thy anger burn against thy servant; for thou art even as Par’ọh.” Yehudah uses the word “thy servant” to define his approach to him – as a slave to his master. He does not retract from the position he has already offered to Yoseph before (end of parashat Miqeẓ) “What shall we say to my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants; behold, we are my lord's bondmen, both we, and he also in whose hand the cup is found”, and does not accept Yoseph’s offer, “Far be it from me that I should do so; the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my bondman; but as for you, go up in peace to your father”. Here Yehudah expressly confesses (modeh) his inferiority to Yoseph, but in this confession he returns to himself and to his essential quality. (This confession and announcement of Yehudah’s inferiority to Yoseph must have been very hard for the traditional Jewish interpreters, who in spite of this clear pronouncement came up with many Midrashim about the protesting and militant approach of Yehudah to the King’s deputy. Following them the Zohar describes this encounter as the contention and combat of two mighty kings. It is possible that the JPS and Koren translations felt the same, thus substituting the word “slave” of the original Hebrew Ẹved with the word “servant”, as we shall quote in the following)
In this admission of Yehudah, there is an echo of the meeting of Ya’ạqov with Esau: “And he commanded the foremost, saying: 'When Esau my brother meets thee, and asks thee, saying: Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee? Then thou shalt say: They are thy servant Ya’ạqov's; it is a present sent to my lord, even to Esau; and, behold, he also is behind us” (32:18-19); “And he (Esau) lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said: 'Who are these with thee?' And he said: 'The children whom God hath graciously given thy servant” (33:5).
There is in this encounter also an echo – and rectification – to the encounter between the brothers Qayin and Hevel. Here come the shepherds (the side of Hevel) to be bondsmen to the croppers (side of Qayin) and admit they have no advantage over the agriculturists, and at length Yoseph would appoint them to the shepherds of the king of Egypt “” (46:34).
 “My lord asked his servants, saying: Have you a father, or a brother?” Yehudah keeps calling all his brothers servants of Yoseph, and till the end of the passage Yehudah would use the term “servant” (actually “slave”) ten more times (see the underlining in the following). Yet with the same utterance Yehudah also praises the Yoseph’s concern for the family, whether they have a father or a brother – that he would not have bothered his lord with his sad family situation, unless the lord cared to ask and show concern. Here Yehudah becomes a paraclete, a practical “attorney to the defence”. He does not try to argue the innocence of Binyamin, he knows that this would not work (as exposing the truth would mean an attempt to accuse the judge), but utilizes the concern of the judge and weaves the threads of emotional connections. The most important thread that he is trying to hold is the thread of attention. There is here an implied rectification to the situation that occurred between Qayin and Hevel when they were in the field, where Hevel apparently paid no attention to Qayin’s claims.
As a matter of fact, Yoseph did not ask that question at all, and here shows Yehudah’s (emotional) intelligence, who apparently sensed that the situation would be best explained in terms of faithfulness to a common brother and father. Yehudah reminds that the initial move was Yoseph’s and not from Yehudah and his brothers (namely, “we were initially ten brothers who were, and are, blameless. Had you been ready to deal only with us, no mishap would have occurred. It was your request for our younger brother which introduced him and the trouble”.)
 “And we said to my lord: We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loves him”. (subtext: “In our answer we told you the whole truth. The child who sinned against you and you request that he stays as your slave is the only child left from his mother and his father loves him”. This also hints “we are sure that if he were your slave he would receive a good and fair treatment, but we are obligated to the welfare of his loving father”).
There is a further admission (hodayah) here: Yehudah admits that the beloved son who receives the father’s blessing is not from among the sons of Le’ah but son of Raḥel, an admission that his father loves Binyamin and prefers Binyamin to him, which is apparently also admission that the father prefers Yoseph, and reconciliation to this.
 “And thou didst say to thy servants: Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes upon him”. It is possible to discern in this verse also a hint to the situation of the sons of No’aḥ and the contrast between Shem and Yefet versus Ḥam. Yoseph – the presumed Egyptian – is in the role of Ḥam, who wants to expose that which his father would conceal, whereas Yehudah is in the situation of Shem and Yefet, who tried to maintain their father’s honor. There is found here, therefore, also willingness to reverse the situation and rectify it. The state of Shem and Yefet was of mastery over Ḥam – "Cursed be Kena’ạn (Ḥam’s son); a slave of slaves shall he be to his brethren” (9:25)’ and they turned their back to Ḥam and to his expose’s Whereas here Yehudah admits the servitude of Yisra'el to Yoseph the apparent Egyptian, son of Ḥam, while still maintaining the most important value – the father’s honor.
 “And we said to my lord: The lad cannot leave his father; for if he should leave his father, his father would die”. It is possible to discern here a parallel, and a contrast – and with them a rectification – to the relationship of Yishma’el and Yiẓḥaq. The casting away of Yishma’el was grievous to Abraham who loved him (the subtext: "we objected to the separation between our father and his beloved son, even though he is the son of the beloved wife and we are the sons of the rejected wife and it would only have been natural that we might prefer that he would be removed and we shall get his place as the preferred son”). Meanwhile there is raised the taboo subject – the worry of the death of the father.
 “And thou didst say to thy servants: Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, ye shall see my face no more”. (implying “We would not have brought him (and thus the theft of the cup apparently would not have occurred), but you demanded it, and when we tried to prevent this, you made us do it”).
Here there rises an echo to the relationship of Yishma’el and Yiẓḥaq, and even to the relationship of Ya’ạqov and Esau, in which the apparent “solution” was the separation between the brothers, so that they would no more meet face-to-face.
 “And it came to pass when we came up to thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord”. (that is: “we would have preferred that the subject were never mentioned, but we had to report to our father. It was not us who took the initiative to bring Binyamin to Egypt”).
 “And we said: We cannot go down; if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down; for we may not see the man's face, unless our youngest brother be with us”. (that is, “only since our father forced us to do this, that we told him about the case of Binyamin. We just obeyed your command and told him of the condition that you have made to us”). Again, the emphasis is on “seeing the face”.
 “And thy servant my father said to us: Ye know that my wife bore me two sons. And the one went out from me, and I said: Surely he is torn in pieces; and I him not since. And if ye take this one also from me, and mischief befalls him, you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the She’ol”. It is possible to discern here an echo to the life of Abraham. His first beloved son, Yishma’el was cast out to the desert, where he was liable to be devoured by wild animal, and his father did not see him (or did not see him much) again, and there he was commanded to sacrifice his remaining son as well. Through the recognition of the one common father and accepting his preferences, first Yoseph and Binyamin become bonded together as atonement for the separation between Yishma’el and Yiẓḥaq, and through this also the brothers who were sons of Raḥel get bonded with the rest of the brothers, sons of Yisra’el.
 “Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad is not with us; seeing that his life/soul (Nefesh) is bound up with the lad's life/soul”. (That is, “Emotionally, I simply cannot come to my father without his beloved son. I shall do anything in order not to grieve him, and will be his penance, a Nefesh for a Nefesh). It is here that Yehudah reverts for the first time from plural to first person singular.
 “It shall come to pass, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die”. Here is reiterated, and in a resolute manner, the threat for the father’s life.
 “And thy servants will bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to She’ol”. Here is noted, in plural form, the natural responsibility of sons to their father. It may not be yet the case of “all Yisra’el are guarantors for each other”, but they were already responsible for the life and welfare of their father.
The (inner) agreement of Yoseph to consider this reasoning means that they have reached in their inner and unuttered dialogue at least the position of Yishma’el and Yiẓḥaq, who convened together in order to bury their father.
 “For thy servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying: If I bring him not to thee, then I shall have sinned to my father for ever”. In the remaining three sentences, Yehudah remains speaking in first person singular, and he takes personal responsibility. Here is proven Yehudah’s seniority as pioneering the principle of “all Yisra’el are guarantors for each other”. But Yehudah’s merit is also established in the most universal outlook. Yehudah rectifies here the sin dah now does for of Qayin. Qayin killed his brother, and then retorted to God’s question in “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (4:9), whereas Yehudah approached Yoseph as the keeper of his brother.
 “Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant, remain instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren”. Here the surety that Yehudah took on himself towards his father and he acts as a man of honor. This way he gains double honor – of Binyamin and of Yoseph. What Yehudah did not do at the time for Yoseph, he did now and sacrificed himself for the sake of Binyamin, Yoseph’s beloved brother. In this there was broken the curse that stayed over the brothers who betrayed their brother, whether to kill or to sell him.
In the course of scriptural history, we find that in as much as Yehudah guaranteed Binyamin, he has won the cleaving of Binyamin to him. Over time, when the kingdom of David and Shelomoh would split, the Tribe of Binyamin remained with Yehudah, and not with the rest of the Tribes of Yisra'el guided by “the House of Yoseph”.
At this stage, Yehudah offers a deal to the practical-looking Yoseph – all that has been said till then should have increased the value of Yehudah in the eyes of the Egyptian ruler (Yoseph) and now he offers him an opportunity – receive an experienced and responsible man for a faithful servant – one whose value must be much higher than that of that delinquent youth Binyamin.
 “For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest I see the evil that shall come on my father”. The gist of Yehudah’s address is the word “my father” (avi), which repeats twice in this one sentence, and which is the key-word for all the relationships in the Torah (thus when Yisra'el pray “our Father our King” – Avinu Malkenu – this constitutes admission of the amity between them through the common father). Honoring the father as guarantee for amity and reconciliation is built gradually in the book of Genesis. We do not know of Qayin and Hevel honoring their father. In the case of the sons of No’aḥ this is the problematic issue. Yiẓḥaq and Yishma'el showed respect for their dead father and refrained from contention during the funeral and burial of the father in the family tomb. Esau, who still planned to kill his brother Ya’ạqov, delayed the act till after the mourning over the father, so as not to grieve him – whereas here Yehudah was ready to sell himself to servitude in order to spare grief from his father.
Yoseph has gained all the achievements that an immigrant may attain in his new country, only the royal throne was out of his reach. Nonetheless, since he entered wedlock with the family of the high priest of Egypt, he could have hoped that his seed might gain even still more than he. Yoseph had good reasons to deny his original family and identify completely with Egypt. And here he chose to return to his brothers, a band of landless pauper shepherds sojourners in a backwater country. The question arises: did this practical person who manages his actions with amazing efficiency make a smart deal?
The answer is supplied by history, and it is hard to argue with facts: the most intense desire in ancient Egypt was that for eternal life. And it is apparent that Yoseph gained eternal life because of his cleaving to Yisra'el, whereas all the tremendous effort of the Par’ọs to gain eternal life, with all their obsessive dealing with mummification and building of giant memorial monuments, proved to be an utter failure. The winner was the Bible and its progeny, the Kor’an. The tourist who comes to Egypt to be impressed with its past relics may not realize, but among the tens of millions of inhabitants of contemporary Egypt there are but a few who know, or even want to know, about the Par’ọhs, whereas the name of Yoseph-Yusuf is known to everyone. The pyramids stand there, courses upon courses (in Arabic Surahs) as stairs, but the children of Egypt climb the Surahs of the Kor’an and memorize them. What the Jewish wise men told the Prophet Mohammad is what structures the twelfth Surah, the Kor’an chapter about Yoseph. With this Surah, Yoseph gained eternal life not only among Yisra'el, but also in Egypt and the whole Muslim world, and inserted in Islam a mythical connection with Christianity and with Yisra'el, and might aid to bring about a comprehensive reconciliation.
Yoseph's Revelation to his Brothers
It would seem that Yoseph had planned every move, but Yehudah turned the table in his address: “Then Yoseph could not restrain himself before all them that stood by him… And he fell on his brother Binyamin’s neck, and wept… and he kissed all his brethren, and wept on them… ”. From the plain text we can see that that Yoseph wept out of identification with and love for his father and even out of guilt. Till that moment Yoseph alienated himself from his father, for he has already sojourned in Egypt for several years and he could, evidently, send an envoy to his father to tell his father that he was alive, and thereby save his father from years of suffering. But he preferred to build himself a new identity, alien and false, and to try forget his father’s house (“and Yoseph called the name of the firstborn Menashe; For God, he said, has made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house”, 41:51). Yehudah’s address broke the false identity that Yoseph tried to build himself, and like the case of Yehudah, who realized the superior faithfulness of Tamar and acknowledged “she has been more righteous than I”, likewise Yoseph realized here that Yehudah was more righteous than him through Yehudah’s faithfulness to their common father and acknowledged to his brothers his true identity.
“Then Yoseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried: 'Cause every man to go out from me.' And there stood no man with him, while Yoseph made himself known to his brethren. And he wept aloud; and Miẓrayim heard, and the house of Par’ọh heard. And Yoseph said to his brethren: 'I am Yoseph; does my father yet live?' And his brethren could not answer him; for they were terrified at his presence. And Yoseph said to his brothers: 'Come near to me, I pray you.' And they came near. And he said: 'I am Yoseph your brother, whom you sold into Miẓrayim. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me here; for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years has the famine been in the land; and there are yet five years, in which there shall neither be ploughing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a remnant in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (45:1-7).
In order that the encounter between them would take place in the proper intimacy, Yoseph commanded “Cause every man to go out from me”. Yoseph, the masculine ruler is about to cry like a woman, and Yehudah, the representative of the feminine-receptive side (Knesset Yisra’el) who stood up like a man, and because he raised the emotion of love to the father, they both reach emotional equalization – Hishtavut.
With regard to Yoseph’s crying, it may be noted that it is rather complex. It recalls the crying at the encounter of Ya’ạqov and Ẹsav, but it more multifaceted. At first, Yoseph cannot restrain himself, send all people away and breaks into solitary loud crying, so that all “Miẓrayim heard, and the house of Par’ọh heard” the sounds. Then he conducts his appearance in front of his brothers, explaining to them the factual situation and turns to be their leader who is organizing their lives in a calculated way. Then again, “And he fell on his brother Binyamin’s neck, and wept; and Binyamin wept on his neck” and then “ and he kissed all his brethren, and wept on them” and only “after that his brethren talked with him” – yet it is not mentioned that his amazed brothers wept, and later we read that they were more in fear than in excitement of amity. In the meeting of Yoseph and Binyamin there is an echo of the meeting of Ya’ạqov and Ẹsav, when Ya’ạqov “passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. And Ẹsav ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him, and they wept” (Gen. 33:3-4). Yoseph rectifies what Ya’ạqov missed in his meeting with his brother Ẹsav and creates a situation whereby his brother will remain with him, and likewise all the other brothers.
In fact, this is already the fourth event of crying through the meetings of Yoseph with his brothers. The first two occasions were when he saw Binyamin and heard in secret his brothers talking about their sin towards him and their acknowledgment off guilt “Truly, we are guilty concerning our brother”. But on those two occasions Yoseph managed to restrain himself, got out for a moment to wipe his tears and wash his face. On the third occasion, when he heard Yehudah’s address and felt the surge of love towards his father, it is written clearly that he could no longer restrain himself, commanded to send everybody off and revealed himself to his brothers.
The embraces, kisses and crying together with all the brothers rectify the rift between the two sons of Raḥel and the other ten tribes, and these make a remedy for the future reunion of the Ten Lost Tribes with Yehudah and Binyamin.
The Zohar, following the Midrash Raba, explains that Yoseph evidently “cried over” his brothers, about their destiny “He wept over all of these, over the Temple that would be destroyed twice, over the ten tribes that went into exile and got dispersed among the nations. And later his brothers talked with him, and it is not mentioned that they cried; because he cried as the holy spirit sparkled in him, and they did not cry because the holy spirit did not shine upon them (Zohar on vaYigash).
Yoseph as privy to the Divine Plan
Yoseph introduces himself to his brothers and comforts then: "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you sold me here; for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years has the famine been in the land; and there are yet five years, in which there shall neither be plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a remnant in the earth, and to save you alive for a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me here, but God; and He hath made me a father to Par'ọh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Miẓrayim". Yoseph, the master of dreams and seer possibly arrived here to the understanding of the divine plan with all its great scope that started with "Lekh lekha" (go thee) to Abraham and was presented to him at the Covenant between the pieces.
After the nations of the earth became separated at the generation of the Tower, there formed at the cradle of civilization, the "Fertile Crescent" of the Mideast two main civilizations, in Mesopotamia and at the Nile valley-Egypt – and they were both defective, kingdoms of tyranny and slavery. God got Abram to go from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the Land of Kena'ạn, and Abram soon continued from there to Egypt. Abram was forced to give his wife to the king of Egypt, and Ya’ạqov caused, against his will, his beloved son to descend to Egypt. Abraham was told at the covenant between the pieces: “'Know surely that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance” (Gen. 15:13-14).
The descent of the children of Abraham to Egypt enabled the synthesis between the main cultures of the ancient world in order to extract from them a new redemptive agency. The descent into Egypt is the entering of the seed of the new entity, the multifaceted and free entity called “Yisra’el” (Yisra'el) as the covenant of the Twelve Tribes. What is implied is that it is Yoseph who must have realized it and completed the pattern by giving them the Land of Goshen in Egypt as the womb for the birth of this new entity.
The descent to Egypt, the land of the Sphinx and the Pyramids, of temples and mystery rituals, is also the descent of a whole nation into a sacred initiation cell dedicated to the mystery rituals of death and rebirth. What the priests of Osiris staged for a few from the priests became the living experience of a whole nation. And Moshe (Moses), who would be educated as an Egyptian prince knowledgeable of all the Egyptian mysteries, would become kind of “midwife” and deliverer of Yisra’el from Egypt.
“Hasten, and go up to my father, and say unto him: Thus says thy son Yoseph: God has made me lord of all Miẓrayim; come down to me, do not delay. And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast” (45:9-10)
Yoseph's Invitation to his Family to descend to Egypt
"And the report thereof was heard in Par'ọh's house, saying: 'Yoseph's brethren are come'; and it pleased Par'ọh well, and his servants. And Par'ọh said to Yoseph: 'Say to thy brethren: Do this: load your beasts, and go, get you to the land of Kena'ạn; And take your father and your households, and come to me; and I will give you the good of the land of Miẓrayim, and you shall eat the fat of the land. Now thou art commanded, this do you: take wagons out of the land of Miẓrayim for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. Also give no thought to your stuff; for the good of all the land of Miẓrayim are yours.' And the children of Yisra'el did so; and Yoseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Par'ọh, and gave them provision for the way. To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Binyamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of clothing. And to his father he sent in like manner ten asses laden with the good things of Miẓrayim, and ten she-asses laden with corn and bread and food for his father by the way. So he sent his brethren away, and they departed; and he said to them: 'See that you do not fall out by the way.'
And they went up out of Miẓrayim, and came into the land of Kena'ạn to Ya'ạqov their father. And they told him, saying: 'Yoseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Miẓrayim.' And his heart fainted, for he believed them not.
And they told him all the words of Yoseph, which he had said to them; and when he saw the wagons which Yoseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Ya'ạqov their father revived" (Gen. 45:16-27).
With Par'ọh's encouragement, Yoseph with his brothers, who are returning to their father in Kena'ạn, wagons for their comfort. The former descents to Egypt were by the men and on foot. This time also the old father, the women and the children would join. The wagons make the emigration act a public status, and they are also obligating. This time Ya'ạqov would not be able to repeat his last cheating of Esav, when he claimed: "Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant; and I will lead on slowly, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and the children, until I come to my lord unto Se'ịr" (33:14). This time, he would join with his son and would prompt the redemption.
Because, this (fifth) time, the brothers' conflict over inheritance must find its rectification: For Qayin and Hevel divided between them the human inheritance – the entire earth. One an agriculturist with permanent assets, and one a wanderer whose name is Hevel (namely "shepherd of wind" (ro'ẹ Ru'aḥ) whose assets are mobile. In their competition for the grace of God, the losing Qayin envied his brother and killed him. Hius punishment was to become a wanderer himself – "a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be on the rearth" (4:12).
In the third case, Yishma’el was cast out to die in the desert because of the worry that he would inherit together with yiẓḥaq. He was saved, but must have felt that he was cast out of his inheritance.
Also the inheritance-feud between Ya’ạqov and Ẹsav was full of hard feelings, cheatings, threat of murder, a brother who had to be a fugitive in a distant land, and a reconciliation that still has not brought a family reunion.
The twelve sons of were on the brink of a similar confrontation. Again envy arose; the preferred brother was almost murdered, and then got exiled, like the brothers of former generations. Much like between Ya’ạqov and Ẹsav, who met again after twenty years, there passed seventeen years until the brothers met again, forgive each other, fall upon each other’s neck, kiss and cry.
This is a turning-point, but it would be very easy that they would be like Ya’ạqov and Ẹsav, and they would split apart again.
Here the Pattern of the Dozen comes to their help. With twelve members, this is not the situation of polarized confrontation, but a place for coalitions. Yehudah has just joined himself to Binyamin, when he offered himself instead of Binyamin. Binyamin himself is joined with his brother of same mother who re-appears. The brothers of Yehudah chose him as leader and spokesman, and thereby they are joined to him. The chosen seniors are not the natural firstborns, a fact that spreads (and thus lessens) the tensions between brothers. In short, it is easier to settle conflicts among twelve than between two.
And the wagons are sent to assure bringing the uniting figure, Ya’ạqov.
“And Yisra’el said: 'It is enough; Yoseph my son is yet alive; I will go and see him before I die.' And Yisra’el took his journey with all that he had, and came to Be’er-sheva, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Yiẓḥaq. And God spoke to Yisra’el in the visions of the night, and said: 'Ya’ạqov, Ya’ạqov.' And he said: 'Here am I.' And He said: 'I am God, the God of thy father; fear not to go down to Miẓrayim; for I will there make of thee a great nation” (45:28, 46:1-3). Here is stated the goal of the descent of the children of Yisra'el to Egypt, to multiply and become great nation, to fulfill the first commandment of the Torah “Be fruitful, and multiply, replenish the land” (1:28). It is because of this that this section calls him “Yisra’el”, the name of greatness, even as he himself still regards himself as “Ya’ạqov” and is therefore addressed thus by the divine dream. Before Yisra’el leaves the Land of Yisra’el he makes a sacrifice “to the God of his father Yiẓḥaq” – the god who commanded his father - under similar material circumstances - not to leave the land (26:1-3). The permission to leave had to do with the unification and increase of the Yisra'elite nation.
“And Ya’ạqov rose up from Be’er-sheva; and the sons of Yisra’el carried Ya’ạqov their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Par’ọh had sent to carry him”. There may be here a veiled irony. At their descent to Egypt these were “the wagons which Par’ọh had sent to carry him”, whereas at the exodus, “when Par’oh had let the people go” (Ex. 13:17), he hastned to send his war chariots to bring them back, and at Sinai, after 40 days that they have not seen Moses, the children of Yisra'el made themselves a golden calf – Ẹgel (עגל)– which is reminiscent of Ạgalah (עגלה) – wagon. However, Ya’ạqov's descent to Egypt in a wagon helped to complete "the Chariot/wagon of the Patriarchs – Merkevet haAvot – as the Midrash claims "The Patriarchs (Avot) are the wagon (Merkavah) (Bereshit Raba 47:6, 82:6).
"And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Kena'ạn, and came into Egypt, Ya’ạqov, and all his seed with him; his sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Miẓrayim". This is then followed by a listing of all the males of Ya’ạqov's household (but including two women, Dinah and Seraḥ daughter of Asher): him, his sons and his grandsons, but not counting Yoseph, all together sixty-six. Yet then it mentions Yoseph his wife and his sons again and sums it as seventy – a significant number, paralleling the 70 nations of No'aḥ's descendants in Gensis chapter 10.
This list of the children of Ya'ạqov who went to Egypt, which is summed as 70 is important for understanding something that was hidden through many generations of exclusive-xenophobic Jewish interpretations. The six-hundred thousand (males) who eventually exited Egypt, could not be the biological offspring of those 70 persons, offsprings through a period of 210 years. We shall see later, in Parashat Shemot (Exodus) that two midwifes were sufficient to take care of this seemingly-natural increase who "were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and grew exceedingly mighty" (Exodus 1:7). It is clear that these could have been only a few thousands. The secret of the enormous increase of those who exited Egypt has to do with the joining of converts and "a mixed multitude" (Exodus 12:38). This principle is already actually explained with Abram in Parashat Lekh Lekha. When Abram takes "the souls that they acquired in Haran" (Gen. 12:5) and goes to war with "his trained men, born in his house" their number reached "three hundred and eighteen". These were also those circumcised with him in the covenant (Gen. 17:9-13) soon after Abraham was promised: “thou shalt be the father of a multitude of nations… thy name shall be Abraham; for the father of a multitude of nations have I made thee… And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee… And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner, that is not of thy seed. ” (Gen. 17:4-12). At that time, the only blood relatives were Abraham and Yishma’el, whereas the rest who joined “the covenant of our father Abraham” who were not of his biological family were over three hundred fighting men. This ratio, of less than one percent, is roughly the ratio between the offspring of the seventy sons of Ya’ạqov and the 600 thousand fighting men among those who left Egypt.
The conclusion is that compared with the emotional and favoritist actions of his father, Yoseph acted in a balanced way to found a covenant of tribes. This covenant follows the ideal pattern of the 12 equal tribes, and would serve as seed (as Yoseph represents the Sefirah of Yesod (Foundation) whose symbol is the male “organ of covenant”) for the re-arrangement of the multitudes of the Egyptian proletariat that Yoseph bears responsibility for its formation.
We can summarize the census of the children of Yisra'el as seed and pattern and compare it with the full census when the twelve tribes would camp around the Tabernacle of the One God with the tribe of Levi in their midst.
# entering Egypt
# around Tabernacle
Yehudah + 3 sons + 2 grandsons (6)
Yiskhar (5) & Zevulun (4)
15 + Dinah
Shim’ọn (7) & Gad (8)
Ephrayim (Yoseph) (2)
Binyamin (11) & Menashe
Asher (5 sons + daughter + 2 grandchildren) & Naftali (5)
(Ya’ạqov) + Levi (4)
This shows that for each one of Ya’ạqov’s sons and grandsons there eventually appeared almost a myriad of “Children of Yisra'el”.
The Settlement of the Children of Yisra'el in Egypt (46:28-47-10)
As we noted at the beginning of this exegesis of Parashat vaYigash, the key word here is the word "vaYigash" – which has to do with "Approach", where the kind of approach determines the future outcome. The beginning of the Parashah is "vaYigash elav Yehudah", and its ending is the settlement of the children of Yisra'el in the Land of Goshen (the place of approach from the Land of Kena'ạn/Yisra'el to Egypt. As we noted already, the number 7 is used in the Bible for extra significance, and here we see that the seemingly-trivial detail about the name of the place repeats here seven times, five of which as "the Land of Goshen", as if it was a whole country separate from the Land of Egypt-Miẓrayim.
"And he sent Judah before him unto Yoseph, to show the way before him to Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. And Yoseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Yisra'el his father, to Goshen; and he presented himself to him, and fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Yisra'el said unto Yoseph: 'Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art still alive.' And Yoseph said to his brethren, and to his father's house: 'I will go up, and tell Par'ọh, and will say unto him: My brethren, and my father's house, who were in the land of Kena'ạn, are come to me; and the men are shepherds, for they have ever been keepers of cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have. And it shall come to pass, when Par'ọh shall call you, and shall say: What is your occupation? that you shall say: Thy servants' trade has been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers; that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to Miẓrayim" (46:28-34). We soon see that Yoseph's directives to his brothers there was anticipatory planning to make them rich and important for Par'ọh.
"Then Yoseph came and told Par'ọh, and said: 'My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Kena'ạn; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen.' And from among his brothers he took five men, and presented them unto Par'ọh. And Par'ọh said unto his brothers: 'What is your occupation?' And they said to Par'ọh: 'Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and our fathers.' They said to Par'ọh: 'to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants' have no pasture for flocks; for the famine is severe in the land of Kena'ạn. Now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.' And Par'ọh spoke to Yoseph, saying: 'Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee; the land of Miẓrayim is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and thy brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell. And if thou knowst any able men among them, then make them rulers over my cattle" (47:1-6).
What is the special significance in insisting upon "the Land of Goshen"? Research locates Goshen at the east of the Nile Delta, a land of both pasture and agriculture (like the mountain and Negev regions of the Land of Israel, and as explained in the Parashah. We may add here the strategic consideration of Yoseph and the symbolic significance of the place.
The Land of Goshen is the Egyptian district that is nearest to Kena'ạn and is situated on the axis that connects the sacred center of Egypt – the Gizeh Pyramids – with the sacred symbolic center of the Land of Israel – Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. This was the local that enabled the exit-flight from Egypt and leave Par'ọh's armies. And indeed at the Exodus the Children of Israel managed to get in front of Par'ọh's armies that were chasing them behind and to reach the Red Sea. In the next section, "The Choreography of the encounter between the brothers" we shall examine the symbolic aspect.
Yet let us add here that at the end of the Parashah there appears a new arrangement of the brothers that is different than former listings. Yoseph goes to present his brothers to Par'ọh and "and he took miqẓeh his brothers, five men, and presented them to Par'ọh". The word miqẓeh (מקצה) is reminiscent of the name of the last Parashah – MiQez (מקץ). The JPS and Koren translations translate miqẓeh as "some", but the literal translation is "from the edge of (his brothers)". The text does not identify who they were, but the Midrash asserts: "Who were those five? Re'uven, Levi, Binyamin, Shim'ọn, Issakhar". The Midrash characterizes those five "… to show that they were not heroes", because "he did so wisely, saying, If I bring heroes in front of Par'ọh, he would observe them and make them his soldiers". The Midrash seeks to prove the might of the other six brothers from that "each one whose name was repeated twice in Moshe's final blessing to the Tribes was a hero, and whoever his name was not mentioned twice was not a hero". But this is a problematic explanation, as Shim'ọn and Levi who went alone and killed all the men of Shekhem were certainly mighty men of war. But if we heed the word miqẓeh and arrange them by their order of birth: Re'uven, Shim'ọn, Levi (but not Yehudah) and Issakhar sons of Lea'h, and Binyamin, and with his also Yoseph – as children of Raḥel, then they are the firsts and the lasts in the order of the brothers, exactly miqẓeh – from the edges - of their linear order of birth, the eldest and the youngest together. Yoseph thereby completes the order of the brothers as a wheel or Round Table, in which the firsts and the lasts are close to each other. Thereby there forms a different – and more equal – pattern of the arrangement of the tribes, six and six, those led by Yehudah and those led by Yoseph.
In the sequel when we reach the ideal arrangement of the tribes, namely the arrangement of the camps of the tribes as "Camps of the Shekhinah" around the Tabernacle. This arrangement by Yoseph – "the Round Table arrangement" – is finally confirmed in the Book of Numbers chapter 2. The tribes there take position in a circle around the Tabernacle, without a beginning and end, and their leaders are four – Yehudah (who reached the seniority by his own merit), Ephraim (namely Yoseph), and also Re'uven (the first son of Le'ah who was rejected by his father) and Dan (son of Bilhah, maid of Raḥel) as the representative of the sons of the maids.
The Choreography of the meeting among the brothers
- In our exegesis to Parashat Bereshit (Gen. 1:1-5:8) we added an appendix about "The New Jerusalem Diagram", and in the exegesis for Parashat Lekh-Lekha we added the possible application of the diagram by Abraham. Here we can see that the same pattern describes "The Round Table" of the Children of Israel. The axis between the Egyptian pyramids and the Jerusalem Temple Mount, which goes (about) 26 degrees left of the East-West axis is the axis between the camps of Yehudah and Ephraim – namely the House of Yoseph. Yoseph, who is situated at the Egyptian side (West-Southwest) is the one who brought all Yisra'el down to Egypt, whereas Yehudah and his camp, who is positioned at the East-Northeast side, in the direction of Jerusalem, is the one who leads the exodus from Egypt to the Land of Yisra'el (Numbers 2:3, 7:12, 10:14) following Naḥshon the son of Ạmminadav, captain of the children of Yehudah.
The geographic location around the Tabernacle, and the place around the symbolic "Round Table" (see Parashat Miqeẓ above), are relevant for understanding the encounter between Yehudah and Yoseph. Here is an encounter of East and West in geographic, economic and cultural terms - but it is also an orientation of Qabbalah, where the East represents the Sephirah Tif'eret (the South represents the side of Mercy - Ḥesed and the North represents Judgement – Din) and the West represents the Sephirot Malkhut and Yesod – Foundation. The encounter between Yehudah and Yoseph – and of the Messiah son of David and the Messiah son of Yoseph – takes "place" is on the axis of Intention and Realization, the main axis of the Tree of the Sephirot, which is the "vertical" axis of the degrees of the soul (as we related there according to the Zohar.
The question that they put upon the table is at what level to operate: the tried practical-material level or the speculative symbolic-spiritual level. Yehudah represents - even in his very name – "The Name of Being" (HaWaYaH). He can regard the twelve tribes as representing the 12 permutations of the Four-Letter Name (Tetragrammaton, YHWH). The permutation that fits Yehudah is "YHWH" ("would constitute"), whereas the permutation that fits Yoseph (Ephraim) is "WHYH" ("and it was", or "would have been") – which are two different modes of influencing the world.
The guidance, or influence, of the name of “YHWH” is future-oriented. The name comes not as a proper name but in the form of future action, and its meaning is of “Was-Is-and-Will be” (HaYaH HoWeH WeYiHeYeH). Yehudah bases his confidence on the future revelation of eternal Being (HaWaYaH). The conduct of Yoseph, on the other hand, is in past tense, but with the Waw of transformation (Waw haHipukh) – there was something, and it will appear in the future. These different two conducts characterize the two Messiahs – Messiah son of David and Messiah Son of Yoseph. Thus, for example, the ascendency of Yoseph who would solve the great problems that issue from Par’ọh’s dream, who ostensibly introduces vast innovations to the point of revolution, is still in the spirit of that dream – first there would come seven years of great fertility, and with their stored produce it would be possible to overcome the lean years. The final outcome of the application of Yoseph’s efficient methods is complete slavery to Par'ọh. In the final analysis, to subscribe to “what was will be” fixes and contradicts the hope, whereas relying on the entire Being – on what was, is and will be” – allows to act for an ideal that has not been realized in the past.
Yoesph's Restructuring of the Egyptian Economy
"And Yoseph provided abodes for his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Miẓrayim, in the best of the land, in the land of Raạmeses, as Par'ọh had commanded. And Yoseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their little ones" (47:11-12). The original Hebrew term for what is translated as "nourished" or "sustained" is Kilkel connected with Kalkalah, the contemporary term for "Economy". This term appears in the Torah only twice, both by Yoseph (but also see "A good man lends with good grace, he conducts his affairs – Yekhalkel devarav – justly" (Psalm 112:5).) But whereas Yoseph nourished his family generously, he dealt with the Egyptians according to strictly calculated economic interest devoid of emotions.
It is possible that, had the Egyptians gone to Par'ọh to save them from hunger, Par'ọh should have dealt with his people generously. But the appointment of the foreign deputy over the economy and the taxation probably allowed Par'ọh to stay alienated from his people.
In organizing the entire Egyptian economy, Yoseph reached his own self and mission. The basic principle of economics is "Added Value" - Ẹrekh Mussaf – which is also the secret of the name "Yoseph". Yoseph appears here as a reformer who is capable of reorganizing the economy in a more efficient manner ("efficiency" is generally seen from the perspective of the party that aims to profit). At normal times, the economy carried along many and diverse inefficiencies guarded by vested interests and it is almost impossible to introduce reforms. The time of crisis is also the time of opportunity – but only if there is a leadership with a vision, who would know to take advantage of the opportunity.
"And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Miẓrayim and the land of Kena'ạn languished by reason of the famine. And Yoseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Miẓrayim, and in the land of Kena'ạn, for the corn which they bought; and Yoseph brought the money into Par'ọh's house" (47:13-14). Just as earlier Yoseph has been gathering and collecting the corn of the entire country, now he moved to collect their assets. First he gathered all the money that the Egyptians had, so that they lost their economic freedom and their possibility to develop enterprises of their own.
"And when money failed in the land of Miẓrayim, and in the land of Kena'ạn, all Miẓrayim came to Yoseph, and said: 'Give us bread; for why should we die in thy presence? for our money fails.' And Yoseph said: 'Give your cattle, and I will give you [bread] for your cattle, if money fail.' And they brought their cattle to Yoseph. And Yoseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, and for the flocks, and for the herds, and for the asses; and he fed them with bread in exchange for all their cattle for that year" (15-17). At the second stage, all the livestock of the Egyptians was acquired for Par'ọh. With this, they lost their potential for movement. If we return to the primal human condition in the Torah, to the division between Hevel the shepherd and Qayin the agrarian, then here the potential status of Hevel is lost to the Egyptians and reserved only to the Children of Israel. As noted earlier, as soon as his brothers came to settle in Egypt Yoseph arranged it so that his brothers became the shepherds of Par'ọh's livestock. Now all the livestock of Egypt became Par'ọ's property and subject to the care to the children of Israel. That was the stage that all the Egyptian people gave up on their "Hevel part", the possibility of wandering with the cattle (and remained only with their real estate).
"when that year was ended, they came to him the second year, and said unto him: 'We will not hide from my lord, how that our money is spent; a my lord also has our herds of cattle; there is nothing left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands. Why should we die before thy eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants to Par'ọh; and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, and that the land be not desolate.' And Yoseph bought all the land of Miẓrayim for Par'ọh; for the Miẓrim sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them; so the land became Par'ọh's" (18-20). In their despair, the Egyptians themselves offer the surrender and would even be ready to become slaves – and certainly are ready to surrender the title over their homesteads, on the status of "Qayin". But they remain peasants in their souls, and even if they are ready to give up their homestead, their concern is still ' that the land be not desolate '.
"And as for the people, he removed them to the cities from one end of the borders of Miẓrayim, to the other end. Only the land of the priests he bought not, for the priests had a portion assigned them by Par'ọh, and did eat their portion which Par'ọh gave them; therefore they sold not their land. Then Yoseph said unto the people: 'Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Par'ọh. Lo, here is grain for you, and you shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass at harvest times, that you shall give the fifth to Par'ọh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.' And they said: 'Thou hast saved our lives. Let us find favour in the sight of my lord, and we will be Par'ọh's servants" (21-25). The most formative and meaningful step is the urbanization – "And as for the people, he removed them to the cities" – which is also the great transformation that the entire humankind is undergoing in our time, at the ending of the sixth millennium, where the majority of humankind, that used to be agrarian, undergoes urbanization and loses the possessive peasant attitude to the land.
"And Yoseph made it a law over the land of Miẓrayim unto this day, that Par'ọh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests only, which became not Par'ọh's. And Yisra'el dwelt in the land of Miẓrayim in the country of Goshen; and they took possession of it, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly" (26-27).
The Parashah opens with the approach of Yehudah towards the throne of the viceroy of the King of Egypt, and closes with the approach of Yoseph, as the viceroy of the King of Egypt to act and fundamentally change the entire economic and social structure of Egypt. Before he was only an advisor, but from here on he is the one who acts to transform the structure of Egypt in an irreversible manner. Because of Yoseph's actions, all the people of Egypt (apart from the priests) become servants of Par'ọh, and the only course that would be left to them, at length, to escape to freedom would be the way of "the mixed multitudes" to annex themselves the Israelite family-tribal system. The comfortable situation that Yoseph would arrange for his family in the Land of Egypt is the actualization of his penetration into the womb of the government of Egypt; and the brothers that he brought with him are also the training for the reception of the seed – the seventy people of the House of Ya'aqov who descent to Egypt in order to at last release from there a whole nation.
For Joseph and his brothers through the Haphtara
(reading from the prophets followig the Torah portion) look at:
For Joseph and his brothers through the Haphtara
 This recalls the Judenrat serving under the German S.S. in the Nazi Concentration Camps.
 We may recall that in the Temple there were 15 steps between the court with the altar to the sanctuary. It thus seems that there is significance to the number 15, the value of the divine name YaH (יה), the part of the Tetragrammaton YHWH that represents the hidden “world to Come.
 The JPS Bible translates She’ol as “grave”. The Koren Jerusalem Bible prefers to retain the Hebrew word. This word has the meaning of underworld and, much later, connotation of purgatory or even hell. The word She’ol has to do with “asking”, “searching” and “borrowing”. King Sha’ul (Saul) was “borrowed” – a temporary king before King David. It is possible that Saul (Paul) of the NT (who advanced the doctrine of universal eternal damnation in hell) was a temporary prophet, needed for establishing the Gentile Church but no longer needed for recognizers of the Hebrew Roots of their religion.
 This principle originates from a discussion in the Talmud, Bavly, Shevu’ọt 39a.
 See the end of the Introductory chapter
 We know of many similar cases in history, for example the Polish landlords who allowed the Jews to settle in Poland, where their main income was from being tax-collectors over the native people. The hatred of the natives about the tax-collection was directed against the Jews and not the Polish nobility.
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