The chief wine steward spoke to Pharaoh.
"I must recall my crimes today," he said. "Pharaoh was angry at us, and he placed me under
arrest in the house of the captain of the guard, along with the chief baker.
We dreamed one night - he and I each had a dream
that seemed to have its own special meaning. There was a young Hebrew man with us, a slave of
the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them. He provided each of us with an
interpretation, and things worked out just as he said they would. I was given back my position, while
the baker was hanged."
Pharaoh sent messengers and had Joseph summoned.
They rushed him from the dungeon. He got a haircut and changed clothes, and then came to Pharaoh.
Pharaoh said to Joseph,
"I had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I heard that
when you hear a dream, you can explain it."
Joseph answered Pharaoh,
"It is not by my own power. But HaShem may provide an answer concerning
Pharaoh related it to Joseph:
"In my dream, I was standing on the bank of the Nile. Suddenly, seven fat, handsome cows emerged from
the Nile, and grazed in the marsh grass. Then, just as suddenly, seven other cows emerged
after them, very badly formed and emaciated. I never saw such bad ones in all Egypt.
The emaciated, bad cows proceeded to eat the first seven, healthy cows. These were completely swallowed by the
thin cows, but there was no way of telling that they were inside. The cows looked just as bad as they
had at first. Then I woke up. Then I had another dream. There were seven
full, good ears of grain growing on one stalk. Suddenly, seven other ears of grain grew behind
them. The second ones were shriveled, thin, and scorched by the east
desert wind. The thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. I told this to the symbolists, but none of them could
interpret it for me."
Joseph said to Pharaoh,
"Pharaoh's dream has a single meaning. HaShem has told Pharaoh what He is about
to do. The seven good cows are seven years. The seven good ears are the
same seven years. It is one dream. The seven emaciated, bad cows who came up after
the first ones are also seven years. The seven empty, wind-scorched ears will
likewise be seven years of famine. It is as I have told Pharaoh - HaShem
has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do. Seven years are coming, during which there will
be a great surplus of food all over Egypt. These will be followed by seven years of famine,
when all the surplus in Egypt will be forgotten. The famine will ravage the land.
The ensuing famine will be so terrible that there will be no way of telling that there was once a
surplus in the land. The reason that Pharaoh had the same dream twice is because the process has already been set in
motion by HaShem, and HaShem is rushing to do it. Now Pharaoh must seek out a man with insight
and wisdom, and place him in charge of Egypt. Pharaoh must then take further action, and
appoint officials over the land. A rationing system will have to be set up over Egypt during the seven
years of surplus. Let the officials collect all the food during these coming good years, and let them store the grain
under Pharaoh's control. The food will be kept in the cities under guard.
The food can then be held in reserve for the land when the seven famine years come to Egypt. The
land will then not be depopulated by the famine."
Pharaoh and all his advisors considered it an
excellent plan. Pharaoh said to his advisors, "Can there be another person who has
HaShem's spirit in him as this man does?"
Pharaoh said to Joseph,
"Since HaShem has informed you about all this, there can be no one with as much
insight and wisdom as you. You shall be in charge of my government, and food will be distributed to my people by your orders.
Only by the throne will I outrank you."
Pharaoh then formally declared to Joseph, "I am placing you in charge of the entire land of Egypt."
Pharaoh took his ring off his own hand and
placed it on the hand of Joseph. He had him dressed in the finest linen garments, and placed a gold chain
around his neck.
He had Joseph ride in his second royal
chariot, and those going ahead of him announced, "The Viceroy!"
Joseph was thus given authority over all Egypt.
Pharaoh said to Joseph,
"I am Pharaoh. Without your say, no man will lift a hand or foot in all
Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Tzaphnath Paaneach.
He gave him Asenath, daughter of Poti Phera, the priest of On, as a wife. Joseph thus went out to
When he stood before Pharaoh, Joseph was 30
Joseph left Pharaoh's court, and he made an inspection tour of the entire land of Egypt.
During the seven years of surplus, the land
produced loads of grain.
Joseph collected the food during the seven
years that Egypt was now enjoying, and he placed the food in the cities. The food growing in the fields
around each city was placed inside the city. Joseph accumulated so much grain, it was like
the sand of the sea. They had to give up counting it, since there was too much to count.
Joseph had two sons before the famine years came, borne to him by Asenath, daughter of Poti Phera,
priest of On.
Joseph named the first-born Manasseh (Me-nasheh)
- "because HaShem has made me forget (nasheh) all my troubles - and even my father"s house."
He named his second son Ephraim - "Because
HaShem has made me fruitful (p"ri) in the land of my suffering."
The seven years of surplus that Egypt was
enjoying finally came to an end. The seven years of famine then began, just as
Joseph had predicted. There was famine in all the other lands, but in Egypt there was bread.
Eventually, however, all of Egypt also began to
feel the famine, and the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh announced to all Egypt,
"Go to Joseph. Do whatever he tells you."
The famine spread over the entire area. Joseph
opened all the storehouses, and he rationed supplies to Egypt. But the famine was growing worse in Egypt.
The famine was also growing more severe in the entire area, and people
from all over the area came to Egypt to obtain rations from Joseph.
Jacob learned that there were provisions in Egypt, and he said to his sons,
"Why are you fantasizing?"
"I have heard that there are supplies in Egypt,"
he explained. "You can go there and buy food. Let us live and not die."
Joseph's ten brothers went to buy grain in Egypt.
But Jacob did not send Joseph's brother Benjamin along with the others. "Something might happen to
him," he said.
Israel's sons came to buy rations along with the
others who came because of the famine in Canaan. Joseph was like a dictator over the land, since
he was the only one who rationed out food for all the
people. When Joseph's brothers arrived, they prostrated themselves to him, with their faces to the
Joseph recognized his brothers as soon as he saw
them. But he behaved like a stranger and spoke harshly to them. "Where are you from?" he asked.
"From the land of Canaan - to buy food," they replied.
Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. He remembered what he had dreamed about them.
"You are spies!" he said to them. "You have come to see where the land is exposed to attack."
"No my lord!" they replied.
"We are your servants who have come only to buy food. We are all the sons of the same man. We are
honorable men. We would never think of being spies!"
Joseph. "You have come to see where the land is exposed."
"We are twelve brothers," they pleaded.
"We are the sons of one man who is in Canaan. Right now the youngest brother is with our father, and one brother
"I still say that you are spies," replied
Joseph. "There is only one way that you can convince me. By
Pharaoh's life, all of you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here.
Let one of you go back and bring your brother. The rest will remain here under arrest. This will test
your claim and determine if you are telling the truth. If not, by
Pharaoh's life, you will be considered spies."
Joseph had them placed under arrest for three
On the third day, Joseph said to them, "If you
do as I say, you will live. I fear the HaShem. We will see if you are really being candid. One
of you will be held hostage in the same building where you were kept under arrest. The rest can go and bring
supplies to your hungry families. Bring your youngest brother here, and your claim
will be proved. Then you will not die."
They agreed to this, but they said to one another, "We deserve to be
punished because of what we did to our brother. We saw him suffering when he pleaded with us, but we would
not listen. That's why this great misfortune has come upon us now." Reuben interrupted them. "Didn't I tell you not
to commit a crime against the boy?" he said. "You wouldn't listen. Now a
divine accounting is being demanded for his blood!"
Meanwhile, they did not realize that Joseph was
listening, since they had spoken to him through a translator.
Joseph left them and wept. When he returned, he
spoke to them sternly again. He had Simeon taken from them and placed in chains before their eyes.
Joseph gave orders that when their bags were
filled with grain, each one's money should also be placed in his sack. They were also to be given
provisions for the journey. This was done.
The brothers then loaded the food they bought
on their donkeys, and they departed.
When they came to the place where they spent the
night, one of them opened his sack to feed his donkey. He saw his money right there at the top of his pack.
"My money has been returned!" he exclaimed to his brothers. "It's in my pack!"
Their hearts sank. "What is this that HaShem has done to us?" they asked each other with trembling voices.
When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him about all that had happened
"The man who was the lord of the land spoke to
us harshly," they said, "and he charged us with spying on the land.
We said to him, "We are honorable men. We have never been spies. We are twelve brothers, all of the same father.
One of us has been lost, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan."
"The man who was the lord of the land said to
us, "I have a way of knowing if you are honorable. Leave one of your brothers with me, take
what you need for your hungry families, and go. Bring your youngest brother back to me, and then
I will know that you are honorable men, and not spies. I will give your brother back to you, and you will be
able to do business in our land."
They began emptying their sacks, and each
one's money was found to be in his sack. The brothers and their father saw the money-bags and they were
Their father Jacob said to them,
"You're making me lose my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone!
And now you want to take Benjamin! Everything is happening to me!"
Reuben tried to reason with his father.
"If I do not bring Benjamin back to you," he said, "you can put my two sons to death. Let him be my
responsibility, and I will bring him back to you."
"My son will not go with you!" replied Jacob.
"His brother is dead, and he is all I have left. Something may happen to him along the way, and you
will bring my white head down to the grave in misery!"
The famine became worse in the area. When they had used up all the supplies that they
had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, "Go back and get us a little food." Judah tried to reason with him. He said,
"The man warned us, "Do not appear before me unless your brother is with
you. If you consent to send our brother with us, we
will go and get you food. But if you will not send him, we cannot go. The
man told us, "Do not appear before me unless your brother is with you."
Israel said, "Why did you do such a terrible
thing to me, telling the man that you had another brother?"
The brothers replied,
"The man kept asking about us and our family. He asked, "Is your father
still alive? Do you have another brother?" We simply answered his questions. How were we to know that he
would demand that we bring our brother there?"
"Send the boy with me," said Judah to his father
Israel. "Let us set out and get going. Let's live and not die - we, you, and also our children.
I myself will be responsible for him. You can demand him from my own hand. If I do not bring him
back and have him stand before you, I will have sinned for all time. But if we had not waited so long, we could have
been there and back twice by now!"
Their father Israel said to them,
"If that's the way it must be, this is what you must do. Take some of
the land's famous products in your baggage, a little balsam, a little honey, and some gum, resin, pistachio
nuts and almonds. Take along twice as much money, so that you will be able to return the money that was put at the tops
of your packs - it might have been an oversight. And your brother - take him. Go and return to
the man. May HaShem Almighty grant that the man have pity on you and let you go along with your other brother and
Benjamin. If I must lose my children, then I will lose
The brothers took the gift and also brought
along twice as much money as needed. They set out with Benjamin and went to Egypt.
Once again they stood before Joseph. When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to
the overseer of his household, "Bring these men to the palace. Butcher an animal and prepare it. These men
will be eating lunch with me."
The man did as Joseph said, and he escorted the
brothers to Joseph's palace.
When the men [realized that] they were being
brought to Joseph's palace, they were terrified. They said, "We are being brought here because of the money
that was put back in our packs the last time. We will be framed and convicted. Our donkeys can be
confiscated, and we can even be taken as slaves."
When they were at the door of
Joseph's palace, they went over to the overseer and spoke to him. "If you please, sir," they said,
"we originally came down to buy food. Then, when we came to the place where we spent
the night, we opened our packs, and each man's money was at the top of the pack. It was our own money, in
its exact weight. We have brought it back with us. We have also brought along other money to buy
food. We have no idea who put the money back in our packs!"
"Everything is fine as far as you are
concerned," replied the overseer. "Don't be afraid. The HaShem you and your father worship must have placed a
hidden gift in your packs. I received the money you paid." With that, he brought Simeon out to them.
The man brought the brothers into Joseph's palace. He gave them water so they could wash their
feet, and had fodder given to their donkeys. They got their gifts ready for when Joseph would
come at noon, since they heard that they would be eating with him. When Joseph arrived home, they presented him
with the gifts they had brought. They prostrated themselves on the ground to him.
He inquired as to their welfare.
"Is your old father at peace?" he asked. "Remember, you told me
about him. Is he still alive?"
"Your servant our father is at peace," they replied, "He is still alive." They bowed their heads
and prostrated themselves.
Joseph looked up and saw his brother Benjamin,
his mother's son. He said, "This must be your youngest brother, about whom you told me."
To Benjamin he said, "HaShem be gracious to you, my son."
Joseph rushed out. His emotions had been aroused
by his brother, and he had to weep. He went to a room and there he wept.
He washed his face and came out. Holding in his
emotions, he said, "Serve the meal." Joseph was served by himself, and
the brothers by themselves. The Egyptians who were eating with them [were also] segregated. The Egyptians could
not eat with the Hebrews, since this was taboo to the Egyptians.
When the brothers were seated before
Joseph, they were placed in order of age, from the oldest to the youngest. The brothers looked at each other in
Joseph sent them portions from his table,
giving Benjamin five times as much as the rest. They drank with him and became intoxicated.
Joseph gave his overseer special instructions. "Fill the men's packs with as much food as they can
carry," he said. "Place each man's money at the top of his pack.
And my chalice - the silver chalice - place it on top of the youngest
one's pack - along with the money for his food." The overseer did exactly as Joseph
With the first morning light, the brothers took
their donkeys and were sent on their way. They had just left the city and had not gone far,
when Joseph said to his overseer, "Set out and pursue those men. Catch up with them and say to them, "Why
did you repay good with evil? It's the cup from which my master drinks, and
he uses it for divination. You did a terrible thing."
The overseer caught up with them, and repeated
exactly those words to them. They said to him, "Why do you say such things?
Heaven forbid that we should do such a thing! After all, we brought you back the money we found
at the top of our packs - all the way from Canaan. How could we steal silver or gold from your
master's house? If any of us has it in his possession, he shall die. You can take the rest of us for slaves."
"It should be as you declare," he replied.
"But only the one with whom it is found will be my slave. The rest will be able to go free."
Each one quickly lowered his pack to the ground,
and they all opened their packs. The overseer inspected each one, beginning
with the oldest and ending with the youngest. The chalice was found in
The brothers tore their clothes in grief. Each
one reloaded his donkey, and they returned to the city. When Judah and his brothers came to
Joseph's palace, he was still there. They threw themselves on the ground before him.
Joseph said to them,
"What did you think you were doing? Don't you realize that a person like me
can determine the truth by divination?"
"What can we say to my lord?"
replied Judah. "How can we speak? How can we prove our innocence?
HaShem has uncovered our old guilt. Let us be your slaves - we and the one in whose possession the chalice was
"Heaven forbid that I do that!" said
Joseph "The one in whose possession the chalice was found shall be my slave.
The rest of you can go in peace to your father."
In next week's parsha Joseph
talks to Judah and his brothers learn his true identity.