At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Please note: I originally posted a draft of this on Wednesday at 07:04:00 PM, disclaiming that it was a work in progress. It is no longer a work in progress, but complete. All bugs and weasels have been banished from the text (which has also, alas, grown longer).
I thank you for your patience, and look forward to your thoughts (hoping, fervently, that you will have some).


11th Parsha in Bereishis (Genesis)
Vayigash = And he drew near
Psookim 44:18 - 47:27

First Aliya: Judah speaks with Josef about the stolen wine-beaker, starting with the events that preceded when Josef asked about their father and their family.
Eerste alija: Jehoedah spreekt met Jozef over de gestolen wijnbeker, beginnende met de vragen die Jozef stelde over hun vader en hun familie.

Second Aliya: Judah proposes to Josef that not Benjamin but he himself should be slave, and that Josef permit Benjamin to return to their father. Deeply moved, Josef reveals to the brothers that he is their sibling, and explains that in what had happened the hand of Hashem is evident.
Tweede alija: Jehoedah pleit met Jozef dat niet Benjamin maar hijzelve slaaf tot Jozef word, mits Jozef Benjamin tot hun vader laat wederkeren. Uiterst ontroerd laat Jozef aan de broeders blijken hun verdwene broeder te zijn, en legt uit dat in het gebeurde de hand van de eeuwige ligt.

Third Aliya: Josef instructs them to return to Canaan, in order to bring their father and their family to Egypt because of the continuing years of scarcity. Pharaoh extends an invitation to this effect.
Derde alija: Jozef zegt hun terug te keren naar Kenaan om hun vader en de rest van de familie te brengen om de komende hongersnood jaren veilig te verblijven. De Pharaoh strekt hun bovendien daar een uitnodiging voor.

Fourth Aliya: Josef sends the finest of Egypt, with supplies, and food for JaKob, to Canaan with his brothers, who upon their arrival tell their father that Josef lives and is viceroy of Egypt.
Vierde alija: Jozef stuurt het fijnste van Egypte, alsmede bevoorading, en voedsel voor Jakob, met zijn broeders terug naar Kenaan, waar de broeders hun vader Jakob vertellen dat Jozef leeft, en onderkoning van Egypte is.

Fifth Aliya: Before leaving for Egypt Jakob brings a scarifice at Beersheba, where Hashem tells him that he will bring him down to Egypt, and will also be with him when he comes up again to the land. The list of the seventy souls that descend to Egypt follows.
Vijfde alija: Alvorens naar Egypte te vertrekken om zijn lang verdwenen zoon Jozef te weerzien, voltrekt Jakob te Beersjeba een offerande, waar Hasjem hem zegt dat hij Jakob zowel neer naar Egypte zal brengen, als met hem zal zijn wanneer hij weder omhoog naar het land zal keren. Vervolgens een lijst van de zeventig zielen die naar Egypte nedergaan zullen.

Sixth Aliya: Jakob and Josef see each other again for the first time in 22 years. Five brothers are presented to Pharaoh to represent the entire family, to tell Pharaoh about the occupations of Jacob's clan, and to show Pharaoh what manner of people he has invited into Egypt. JaKob meets Pharaoh, and there is an exchange of courtesies.
Zesde alija: Jakob en Jozef zien elkaar voor het eerst in twee en twintig jaren. Vijf broeders worden naar Pharaoh gebracht als vertegenwoordigers van de gehele familie, om Pharaoh te vertellen wat hun kunde is, en Pharaoh te laten zien wat voor mensen hij in huis gehaald heeft. Jakob krijgt een audientie, waarin wederzijds beleefdheid geld.

Seventh Aliya: The lasting famine affects Egyptian society severely, and Josef restructures the nation thoroughly in order to preserve both the land and people of Egypt.
Zevende alija: De jarenlange hongersnood tast de Egyptische maatschappij aan, en Jozef hervormd deze grondig tot behoud van land en volk van Egypte.



Psook 44:18 "Vayigash elav Yehuda vayomer bi adoni yedaber-na avdecha davar beaznei adoni veal-yichar apcha beavdecha ki chamocha keFaro"
Then Judah came near to him, and said: 'Oh my lord, let your servant, I pray you, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not your anger flare up against your servant; for you are like Pharaoh.

Rashi suggest here that Yehudah is warning Yosef that a consequence of acting against Benyamin might be tzaraas - absurd! The situation is not at all similar to their great grandmother Sarah detained by Pharaoh!

But rather, 'may your anger not flare up, for you are like Pharaoh' meaning that Yehudah knows of his responsibility and power, but would nevertheless wish to risk speaking to him straightforwardly on this matter, because it is so important to him.

Yehudah had no choice but to attempt to save Benyamin, and so found the courage to speak to Pharaoh's viceroy.

Rashi further implies a threat - if Pharaoh's viceroy antagonizes Yehudah, according to Rashi, Yehudah will kill both the viceroy and Pharaoh. Which, also, is absurd, as even part of it would have guaranteed the death of all brothers.

Psook 44:20
"Vanomer el-adoni yesh-lanu av zaken veyeled zekunim katan veachiv met vayivater hu levado leimo veaviv ahevo"
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.

And his brother is dead - Yehudah at this point has no reason to believe otherwise, because if Yosef is alive, why has he not returned to his family?

Psook 44:22
"Vanomer el-adoni lo-yuchal hanaar laazov et-aviv veazav et-aviv vamet "
And we said to my lord: The lad cannot leave his father; for if he should leave his father, his father would die.

Why can he not leave his father?

Because both father and son rely upon each other, and more, he respresents all the brothers while they are away.

And who would die? Jakov or Benyamin? Rashi opines Benyamin, likening the situation to Rachel who died while on the road, and this is valid.

Psook 44:32
"Ki avdecha arav et-hanaar meim avi lemor im-lo avienu eleicha vechatati leavi kol-hayamim"
For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying: If I bring him not to you, then shall I bear the blame to my father for ever.

["And Yehudah said to Israel his father: 'Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live, and not die, both we, and you, and also our children.
I will be his surety, from my hand you can demand him. If I do not bring him to you, and stand him before you, then let me bear the blame for ever.']

Yehudah has pledged the future of his line on behalf of his brother. Now note - as his brother represents all of the brothers to Yakov, and thus to the collective 'Israel', Yehudah's future and his lineage are pledged to all, including Yosef. This is why we shall read that the leadership shall not pass from Yehudah when Yakov blesses him.

And what Yehudah here proposes is that it is better that he should remain a slave in Egypt and his sons be blessed by Yakov, than that Benyamin stay in Egypt and Yehudah and his sons be cursed.

Psook 44:33
"Veata yeshev-na avdecha tachat hanaar eved ladoni vehanaar yaal im-echav"
Now therefore, let your servant, I pray you, abide instead of the lad as a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brothers.

Instead of - not knowing what would be his fate. If it is said that Potifar acquired Yosef for a catamite, then this is equally likely so for Benyamin as slave to the viceroy. And Rashi points out that Yehudah claimed himself a better candidate for any matter, to persuade the viceroy to choose him instead of Benyamin.

[In reference to Potifera, whom both Rashi and the Midrashic sources aver was Potifar, but because he had purchased Yosef for homosexual purposes, he was made neuter and became Potifera.]


Psook 45:1
"Velo-yachol Yosef lehitapek lechol hanitzavim alav vayikra hotziu chol-ish mealai velo-amad ish ito behitvada Yosef el-echav"
Then Joseph 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 Joseph made himself known to his brothers.

Those who had been standing were the guards, clerks, functionaries, and court officers. As is clear - the brothers, up to that time, had been supplicants, and thus were in abased positions rather than standing upright.

Psook 45:4
"Vayomer Yosef el-echav geshu-na elai vayigashu vayomer ani yosef achichem asher-mechartem oti Mitzraima"
And Joseph said to his brothers: 'Come near to me, I pray you.' And they came near. And he said: 'I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.

Rashi claims at this point that Yosef showed his brothers that he was circumcised, to prove that he was their brother, as is borne out by Tanchumah 5, and Bereishis Rabbah 93:8.

But this implies that they did not believe him despite his emotion, despite his voice, and despite his speaking their language. Think rather, they were still in doubt, because Yosef's revelation of his true identity dramatically changed the situation, and was utterly flabbergasting besides. And if he was indeed their brother, was he vindictive about the past?
They are in shock, they do not know what to think.

But Yosef reassured them by inviting them to come closer to him, as only kin are close, and he explained to them how it was.

Showing that he was circumcised would have been pointless - if they disbelieved all else, this too would not convince them. The appearance of circumcision could be an Egyptian trick, it is inconclusive, and it cannot have been a secret that the second most important man in Egypt was a Hebrew.

And concerning the viceroy being Hebrew, at that time the term may not have been limited to Abraham's descendants, else why would the wine-steward have so described Yosef to Pharaoh? A term which applies to only a few dozen people would have no meaning to the ruler of Egypt. It is likely instead that the term at that time was an alternative to Canaanite, or a Canaanite regionymic. Yet if it does have the particular meaning that we associate it with, this would suggest that our text metaphorizes in terms its readers can understand, in order to make a point.

Now, had there been any implied threat from Yehudah, as Rashi suggested, Yosef would have been ill-advised to have sent away the guards and have these potentially treacherous men, who HAD done ill to him in the past, draw close.

Psook 45:6
"Ki-ze shenatayim haraav bekerev haaretz veod chamesh shanim asher ein-charish vekatzir"
For these two years has the famine been in the land; and there are yet five years, in which there shall be neither plowing nor harvest.

It is normal to prepare for a drought in the following year, as one year's good harvest may not be followed by another like it. And this implies seed for the third year. Yosef here is praeluding to there being more years of famine.

There shall be neither plowing - for what is the use of plowing when the earth is baked, and it is evident that even beyond the depth of the furrow there is no water? Seed sown would be better eaten.

Nor harvest - and even if there were to be a plowing, it would be without issue, so severe is the drought.

Psook 45:8
"Veata lo-atem shelachtem oti hena ki haElohim vayesimeni leav leFaro uleadon lechol-beito umoshel bechol-eretz Mitzrayim"
So now it was not you that sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Father to Pharao = Translation of the title; Vizier. But the expression shows that though his responsibilities may include his kinfolk, it transcends them. But also, Yosef and relatives under his protection must act responsibly towards Egypt. A conflict of interest, or a conflation?
If purposes coincide, neither.

[And note that familial terms indicate a level of closeness and respect even today - young associates are 'achi', respected older gentlemen are 'abba'. Especially so among the Edomites and others native to that region.]

Psook 45:9
"Maharu vaalu el-avi vaamartem elav ko amar bincha Yosef samani Elohim leadon lechol-Mitzrayim reda elai al-taamod"
Make haste, and go up to my father, and say to him: So says your son Joseph: God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay.

Psook 45:10
"Veyashavta veeretz-Goshen vehayita karov elai ata uvaneicha uvenei vaneicha vetzoncha uvekarcha vechol-asher-lach"
And you shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shalt be near to me, you, and your children, and your children's children, and your flocks, and your herds, and all that you have

Dwell in the land of Goshen - Yakov's kin are not to mingle with all Egypt or presume upon their relation to Pharaoh through Yosef, but to exist separately, both for their own and Egypt's sake. It is not intended that they become Egyptian, but merely that they be included under Egypt's umbrella.

As herdsmen, and as stewards of Pharaoh's cattle, they will be separate from those who later in this account sell themselves and their lands to Pharaoh for food, and they will remain mobile - such as a tribe fleeing from oppression at some point in the future might well need to be.

Psook 45:11
"Vechilkalti otcha sham ki-od chamesh shanim raav pen-tivaresh ata uvetcha vechol-asher-lach"
And there will I sustain you; for there are yet five years of famine; lest you come to poverty, you, and your household, and all that you have

He finishes the statement which began in psook 45:6. 'These past two years, and yet five more years'.

Psook 45:12
"Vehine eineichem root veeinei achi Binyamin ki-fi hamedaber aleichem"
And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaks to you.

Paraphrasis: "You are witnesses, and Benyamin, who bears no blame, is also a witness - it cannot be covered up; both your knowledge of events, and the life of Benyamin, wil testify that these are the facts, or else he would be a slave, and you would return desolation to Yakov".

Regarding the language Yosef spoke to this brothers, the Ramban opines that the holy tongue was the language of Canaan, as Abraham did not bring it there from Ur of the Chaldees or from Haran, where Aramaic was spoken. He mentions also that what Yosef said of the circumstance that brought him to Egypt was greater proof of his identity than his language, as linguistic ability (speaking Canaanite) could be expected of important Egyptians accustomed to dealing with foreigners.

Psook 45:14
"Vayipol al-tzavrei Binyamin-achiv vayevke uVinyamin bacha al-tzavarav"
And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.

As brothers who have not seen each other in many years will do, like Yakov and Esav. But on Benyamin first, as this is the brother whom he had not seen longer than the others, who stands in for his father Yakov, and who was blameless of events. Only then his other brothers.

[And note that there is no suggestion of one wishing to bite the neck of the other, as Rashi imputed to Esav - though the circumstances are not dissimilar, and the expression is virtually the same. Some of the early commentators were quick to condemn Esav.]

Rashi here sees fit to allude to the two temples in (the territory of) Benyamin, and the tabernacle of Shiloh in Yoseph, which are destined to be destroyed. The juxtaposition is a useful mnemonic, but no causal link is credible. So, 'as', not 'because'.


Psook 45:16
"Vehakol nishma beit Paro lemor bau achei Yosef vayitav beeinei Faro uveeinei avadav"
And the report thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying: 'Joseph's brothers are come'; and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.

Why was the report pleasing?

Because Pharaoh and his servants knew by this that Yosef was not alone, but had family and the sense of responsibility towards others that his position required. But if Yosef is not alone, then there are others like him (having similar talents or virtues), and among these too there surely must be those by whom Egypt can benefit. And further, Yosef putting his kin separate from, and not over, Egypt, spoke well of his and his kinfolks character, as in a previous parshas we saw that the allegation against Yosef was unbelievable and moot to Pharaoh.

And it may be said that Pharaoh and his household were pleased because they saw that Yosef's brethren had come for him from Canaan, from whence he had been stolen, as Yosef would not have intimated the exact details. One does not portray one's relatives in an unfavourable light, the more as his brothers had eaten at some distance from the pit (so as not to hear his entreaties), wherefore he could not have heard aught of the discussion regarding his fate, and he himself knew who had found him there and who had sold him, and who had brought him down to Egypt.

Psook 45:17
"Vayomer Paro el-Yosef emor el-acheicha zot asu taanu et-beirchem ulechu-vou artza Kenaan"
And Pharaoh said to Joseph: 'Say to your brothers: Do this: load your beasts, and go, get you to the land of Canaan;

Why did Pharaoh say this to Yosef?

Because it shows that it is by his (Pharaoh's) wish that it happen, not by Yosef favouring his kin over his obligations. It is his wish because Yosef had benefitted Egypt (as might his relatives), and Yosef had done so and proven himself worthy of trust because he feared Hashem.

Think of it this way: "If I do well by Yosef, who has preserved my kingdom, then Yosef's god cannot by Yosef withdraw his favour".

Pharaoh, by commanding Yosef's brothers, authorizes the expense, thus either augmenting OR supplanting the money that Yosef had laid out. And one who provides funds has not only the merit of the action he has thus enabled, but also the merit of enabling the action through others, who also gain merit.

Psook 45:22
"Lechulam natan laish chalifot semalot uleVinyamin natan shelosh meot kesef vechamesh chalifot semalot"
To all of them he gave each man changes of clothes, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver, and five changes of clothes.

So much more to Benyamin because Benyamin endured accusation, and as previously mentioned, to Benyamin is as if to Yakov.

Psook 45:23
"Uleaviv shalach kezot asara chamorim nosim mituv Mitzrayim veeser atonot nosot bar valechem umazon leaviv ladarech"
And to his father he sent in like manner ten asses laden with the best of Egypt, and ten she-asses laden with grain and bread and food for his father by the way.

Asses and she-asses - not only what they were laden with, but also the animals themselves, as including both genders makes it a herd which will have young, not merely a pack-train.

The best of Egypt - Rashi, a wine merchant, happily seizes upon this to mean vintage wines, based on Talmudic references. But a better understanding is those things which add enjoyment to life, as well as those things which sustain life (grain and bread), and in addition to delicacies and tonifying foods for his father.

Psook 45:24
"Vayeshalach et-echav vayelechu vayomer alehem al-tirgezu badarech"
So he sent his brothers away, and they departed; and he said to them: 'do not become agitated while underway.'

Do not become agitated... Why is this said?

Because not only are they commissioned by Pharaoh as we read in psook 45:17, but this too is by the hand of Hashem, and therefore their responsibility surely outweighs other considerations.

It is like this: "Do not become entangled in issues or side-tracked, but singlemindedly make haste, for this is of primary importance. Also do not dwell on my reappearance (which may put you in a bad light), or wonder what untruths you told our father before, but focus instead upon the matter at hand. Do not let your resurgent shame prevent you from doing what needs to be done."

Tirgezu (distracted, agitated) is also associated with fear and trembling - "do not fear, because it is by Pharaoh's authority and protection that you travel, and do not fear, lest what you told our father now come to haunt you. You will not be robbed while underway (because of the power of Pharaoh), and when you arrive it will be evident tha Hashem arranged even that you should have made your brother go down to Egypt and become viceroy for precisely this eventuality".


Psook 45:26
"Vayagidu lo lemor od Yosef chai vechi-hu moshel bechol-eretz Mitzrayim, vayafag libo ki lo-heemin lahem"
And they told him, saying: 'Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.' And his heart rejected it, for he believed them not.

Why did his heart (mind) reject it?

Because it defied reason - were he to believe them now it would negate what they had told him all these years, and why would Israel have a future beside the land? It is furthermore natural to disbelieve the extraordinary.
It was unbelievable, like before, when Hashem both spoke of and showed to Pharaoh the coming famine (psook 41:1 - 7), as explained by Yosef (psook 41:25 - 29). NowYakov's sons spoke to their father and showed what had been sent with them by Yosef (as substantiation of what they said), and explained what had happened and what Yosef had told them.

Also, an attachment to the land where he was now settled (after fleeing it years before, and being in exile by Lavan many years) affected Yakov, and an infection by its inhabitants among whom he lived, azoy: if the land was to be the inheritance of Israel, then would it not would include the resources, among which the population?
Israel was small at that time, and it could not yet be conceived that they would be so large as to fill the land (though that is indeed what was promised to Abraham), so logically, a civil assumption of authority springs to mind, rather than a divinely guided inheritance.

As we shall see from the example of the Egyptians who will sell themselves and their land to Pharaoh, and who in the future will side with a new Pharaoh in persecuting the Hebrews, a land cannot sustain two separate peoples.

Psook 45:27
"Vayedabru elav et kol-divrei Yosef asher diber alehem vayar et-haagalot ashero-shalach Yosef laset oto vatechi ruach Yaakov avihem"
And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them; and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived.

The wagons that Yosef had sent - with the authority of his position, and the approval of Pharaoh, and as per Pharaoh's command.

Psook 45:28
"Vayomer Yisrael rav od-Yosef beni chai elcha veerenu beterem amut"
And Israel said: 'There is much; Joseph my son is yet alive; I will go and see him before I die.'

There is much - a surfeit of things good to Israel. The news that his son lives, the return of all his other sons, including Simeon who was held in Egypt, and Benyamin upon whom he relied and ose freedom had been at risk, and also the reconciliation of Yosef with his brothers. There is much.

I shall go and see him before I die - that which he dared not think for many years now becomes reality, and his most heartfelt wish will be fulfilled.

But he does not say that he will die upon seeing his son; he expects and intends to yet return to the land.


Psook 46:1
"Vayisa Ysrael vechol-asher-lo vayavo Beer-shava vayizbach zevachim l'Elohei aviv Yitzhak"
And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

Thus recommitting to the land, as he and his fathers had there trusted Hashem.

By the sacrifice at Beersheba Yakov honoured his father Yitzhak who had been wont to sacrifice there also, and so, by sacrificing to the god of his father he honours both his father and his father's father, and thus reaffirms his faith in and adherence to the covenant of Hashem to Abraham.

Psook 46:2
"Vayomer Elohim leYisrael bemarot halaila vayomer Yaakov Yaakov, vayomer 'hineni'"
And God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said: 'Jacob, Jacob.' And he said: 'Here am I.'

Psook 46:3
"Vayomer anochi ha El-Elohei-avicha al-tira merda Mitzraima ki-legoi gadol asimcha sham"
And He said: 'I am God, the God of your father; fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of you a great nation.

This informs Yakov that it is by Hashem's devising, and it shall be indeed that the land is to be Israel's inheritance - Hashem is everywhere, even in Egypt, and even in Egypt will Israel be heir to the Eretz Kadosh.

Psook 46:4
"Anochi ered imcha Mitzraima veanochi aalcha gam-alo veYosef yashit yado al-eineicha"
I will go down with you into Egypt; and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph shall put his hand upon your eyes.'

Hashem speaks to Yakov in particular, but also means that He wil bring his descendents up from Egypt back to the land.

Note that this is not a promise, but a statement of fact (because it is Hashem speaking).

Jacob the individual will return to the land, and Israel the collective of Jacob are also destined to return. This is a future event, openended when it is said, and hence an eternal certainty. Even at the very end of time, Hashem will bring Israel up, and Israel's return to the land is according to Hashem's design. It is a mitzvah to live in the land, and if a mitzvah is to be performed, Hashem will assist therein. Or rather, it is by the aid of Hashem that one may perform the mitzvah.

And in relation thereto, note that ten represent Israel, as the ten brothers did before Yosef during the first visit. And one also represents Israel, as Benyamin during the second visit, and as Yosef was and Yakov will be before the Pharaoh. Even the remnant represent Israel, with whom Hashem will be when descending and when returning up to the land, at all times since Israel went down into Egypt, as it says "and I will surely bring you up again".

And Joseph shall put his hand upon your eyes - it is customary for the favoured son to close the eyes of his father at the time of death, though normally it is the right of the oldest son to be the one who does so.

[In the family of Abraham normal applecarts, however, are often upset. Younger brothers get the blessings of the eldest son, and second-born sons might end up with the farm. This whole tale turns around such twists.]

Psook 46:5
"Vayakam Yaakov miber shava vayisu venei-Yisrael et-Yaakov avihem veet-tapam veet-nesheihem baagalot ashero-shalach Paro laset oto"
And Jacob rose up from Beer-sheba; and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

Psook 46:6
"Vayikchu et-mikneihem veet-rechusham asher rachshu beeretz Kenaan vayavou Mitzraima, Yaakov vechol-zaro ito"
And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him;


Being a listing of all those whose descendents shall return from Egypt.

Psook 46:7
"Banav uvenei vanav ito benotav uvenot banav vechol-zaro hevi ito Mitzraima"
His sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.

When refering to lineages the plural sons (of) and daughters (of) is accurate. All his seed implies all who are and will be among his descendants.

Psook 46:8
"Veele shemot benei-Yisrael habaim Mitzraima Yaakov uvanav bechor Yaakov Reuven"
And these are the names of the children of Israel who came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's first-born.

Psook 46:10
"Uvenei Shimon Yemuel veYamin veOhad veYachin veTzochar veShaul ben-hakenaanit"
And the sons of Simeon: Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of the Canaanite woman.

Rashi explains that the Canaanite woman was Dinah, by reason of her having been raped by Shechem the son of Chamor the Chivite. Which is bent but logical. Then Rashi states that Shimon, her brother, who was thirteen at the time when she was raped, married her. Which poses a problem - who is the father of Shaul? He is the son of the Canaanite woman, which if that is Dinah means that he was born after Asnat, if Rashi's previous assertion that Asnat, Yosef's wife, was Dinah's daughter, is to be believed.

So if Shimeon had fathered him, why is he called the son of the Canaanite woman?

Rather, he is mentioned last in order, and as the son of the Canaanite woman, which suggests that Shimon may have had a concubine from among the daughters of the land, contrary to the ideal custom of Abraham, Yitzhak, and Yakov.

In any case, the son of the Canaanite woman is not of the same mother as the other sons of Shimon. Rashi's explanation is far-fetched - the obliqueness of reference in the text suggests a mother not worth any further detail, though her son must be mentioned as part of Israel.

Psook 46:15
"Ele benei Lea asher yalda leYaakov beFadan-aram veet Dina vito kol-nefesh banav uvenotav sheloshim veshalosh"
These are the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, with his daughter Dinah; all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three.

With his daughter Dinah - whose offspring adhere to no tribe (unless of course Rashi's incestuous explanation is believed), and thus cannot be counted by tribal nomen or to the land, though nevertheless part of Israel - a foreshadowing of the Erev Rav.

Mention of Dinah here, and mention of the Canaanite woman previously - if they are the same person, why is mention made twice?

All the souls, his sons and his daughters - if daughters, then who beside Dinah? Rashi earlier postulated Asnat, yet it is as logical to suppose the 'Canaanite woman'. If her son is also counted (and his soul came from her), then she too has a lineage among Israel. Likely a convert, perhaps a 'bas Sarah', and conceivably as such adopted. But as she and Dinah are mentioned separately, they are meant separately.
Hence 33 souls.

Rashi also mentions Jochebed, who was born in Egypt, as the thirty third - a monumental stretch, as lineage offspring are listed in order according to their parent, and it is clarified in the list that exceptions to coming to Egypt are Manasseh and Efraim, whose lineage on their mother's side is also made clear - they are the grandchildren of Potifera, priest of On (psook 41:45).

Regarding Jochebed, this is the same as Moses' mother, according to Bava Basra 123a. But this would be most remarkable, as she would then have to become pregnant when already a generation older than Sarah was when she gave birth at the age of ninety years.

Rashi, in reasoning al pi Bereishis Rabbah, that the spouses of Yakov's sons were twin sisters of other brothers, explains the absence of these wives as meaning that they died before the descent to Egypt, hence the soul-count being seventy. But it is those whose lineages will be part of the Hebrews who leave Egypt during the time of Moses who are listed, the count is by lineages descended from Yakov with whom Hashem will be at that return to Canaan, as mentioned in the psook that leads this listing (46:4).

[This count concerns itself with ancestral lines, not individuals - there are no bondsmen or servants mentioned, and we know that Yakov had left Lavan with his own men. Abraham, it will be recalled, also had men of his household who were not related to him. It defies reason to believe that in addition to the women all being dead, the men of the household had all disappeared. And this is in no way even hinted at in this account.]

And further, if it is meant that the non-listing of these wives must mean that they died before the descent to Egypt, then the absence of any other names leaves precious few women by which further members of the tribe would be born - unless they married Egyptian women, which surely would be far worse than marrying Canaanites, who at least would have spoken the same language. It begs the question how Yakov's boys kept from going native (they remain a separate people until the exodus).

Psook 46:26
"Kol-hanefesh habaa leYaakov Mitzraima yotzei yerecho milvad neshei venei-Yaakov kol-nefesh shishim vashesh"
All the souls belonging to Jacob that came into Egypt, that came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six.

Psook 46:27
"Uvenei Yosef asher-yulad-lo veMitzrayim nefesh shenayim kol-hanefesh leveit-Yaakov habaa Mitzraima shivim"
And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two souls; all of the soul of the house of Jacob, that came into Egypt, were seventy.

Seventy is a metaphor for a multitude, and parts, as we have seen throughout the tale of Yosef and his brothers, represent the total. The singular mention of 'soul' to which Rashi alludes shows the unity of Yakov's family, and declares them followers of one god (as distinct from the people whom they left behind, and those adjacent to whom they will live in Egypt).

[Pursuant thereto, it is well to realize that 'soul' in this section of the five books is a metaphor for those who believe in the god of Abraham. Not that other humans have no souls, but in the same way that those who deny the resurrection are denied resurrection, and those who deny an afterlife are denied an afterlife, the souls of those who do not follow the god of Abraham are irrelevant to this tale. Soul in the singular is a collective or multiple concept, like Israel, and souls in the plural refers to individuals, like Israel.]


Psook 46:29
"Vayesor Yosef merkavto vayaal likrat-Yisrael aviv Goshna vayera elav vayipol al-tzavarav vayevke al-tzavarav od"
And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen; and he presented himself to him, and fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a very long time.

He wept excessively, because all that he had forced himself to forget came back to him, and he had so long not been part of the life of his kin.
The Midrash states that Yakov controlled himself at this point by reciting the shema - which, therefore, may be seen as conveying both praise and thankfulness. As you knew.

[This is the second time when someone who has excellent reason to be agrieved falls emotionally on Yakov's neck. Do not mention teeth.]

Psook 46:31
"Vayomer Yosef el-echav veel-beit aviv eele veagida leFaro veomra elav achai uveit-avi asher beeretz-Kenaan bau elai"
And Joseph said to his brothers, and to his father's house: 'I will go up, and tell Pharaoh, and will say to him: My brothers, and my father's house, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me;

He will announce to Pharaoh the arrival of his kin, he will not hide it. But he will prepare Pharaoh also for their arrival.

Psook 46:32
"Vehaanashim roei tzon ki-anshei mikne hayu vetzonam uvekaram vechol-asher lahem heviu"
And the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.

They brought their wealth with them, and all that they have - they did not arrive as paupers to be a burden.

[And wealth further implies men in addition to the sons, as wealth attracts attention and cattle require hands.]

Psook 46:34
"Vaamartem anshei mikne hayu avadeicha minureinu vead-ata gam-anachnu gam-avoteinu baavur teshvu beeretz Goshen ki-toavat Mitzrayim kol-roe tzon"
That you shall say: your servants have been keepers of cattle from our youth till now, both we, and our fathers; that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is abhorrent to the Egyptians.'

This reflects the difference between the settled and nomadic populations, and it is well to bear in mind that they worship at different altars, and are thus suspect to each other, because oaths and therefore trustworthiness are paired with religious affiliation, as are feasts and eating together. One does not trust those with whom one cannot dine, and it is well to recall kashrus at this point.

Psook 47:1
"Vayavo Yosef vayaged leFaro vayomer avi veachai vetzonam uvekaram vechol-asher lahem bau meeretz Kenaan vehinam beeretz Goshen"
Then Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, and said: 'My father and my brothers, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen.'

Psook 47:2
"Umiktze echav lakach chamisha anashim vayatzigem lifnei Faro"
And from among his brothers he took five men, and presented them to Pharaoh.

Five men - as a representative number who can speak for the family. And including Yosef, half of the sons of Yakov.

Why not all?

To show that they speak for each other, not just for themselves or their own households. And with Yosef, they also speak to Pharaoh's benefit. And it is likely that he picked those more likely to make a good impression (Rashi disagrees).

Psook 47:3
"Vayomer Paro el-echav ma-maaseichem vayomru el-Paro roe tzon avadeicha gam-anachnu gam-avoteinu"
And Pharaoh said to his brothers: 'What is your occupation?' And they said to Pharaoh: 'your servants are shepherds, both we, and our fathers.'

Psook 47:4
"Vayomru el-Paro lagur baaretz banu ki-ein mire latzon asher laavadeicha ki-chaved haraav beeretz Kenaan veata yeshvu-na avadeicha beeretz Goshen"
And they said to Pharaoh: 'To sojourn in the land have we come; for there is no pasture for your servants' flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan. Now therefore, we pray you, let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.'

Psook 47:6
"Eretz Mitzrayim lefaneicha hiv bemeitav haaretz hoshev et-avicha veet-acheicha yeshvu beeretz Goshen veim-yadata veyesh-bam anshei-chayil vesamtam sarei mikne al-asher-li "
The land of Egypt is before you; in the best of the land make your father and your brothers to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell. And if you know of any able men among them, then appoint them stewards over my cattle.'

Stewards over my cattle - as agents of Pharaoh, and with his patronage.

Psook 47:7
"Vayave Yosef et-Yaakov aviv vayaamidehu lifnei Faro vayevarech Yaakov et-Paro"
And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and stood him before Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

And Jacob blessed Pharaoh - in greeting. It is still customary to do so.

It is fitting that the leader of the family should be preceded by his sons; Yakov comes not as a servant. And therefore he stood - inferiors or supplicants were expected to abase themselves, but Pharaoh accepts and expects that Yakov stand. Pharaoh honours Jakov (and Yosef) by waving protocol, then shows respect to Yakov by asking about his age.

Psook 47:8
"Vayomer Paro el-Yaakov kama yemei shenei chayeicha"
And Pharaoh said to Jacob: 'How many are the days of the years of your life?'

Psook 47:9
"Vayomer Yaakov el-Paro yemei shenei megurai sheloshim umeat shana meat veraim hayu yemei shenei chayai velo hisigu et-yemei shenei chayei avotai bimei megureihem"
And Jacob said to Pharaoh: 'The days of the years of my sojournings are a hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojournings.'

A courtly exchange, but note that the formality is the politeness of near-equals, a far cry from Yosef's first interview with Pahraoh, which was marked by a to-the-pointness, as of an inferior speaking to a superior. It is well that the boss sees what manner of clan he is giving permission to settle to, and also to show courtesy to his most valued employee.

Jacob in response is self-depreciating, in effect saying "and yet I cannot be compared to my fathers (not only in years but also in other matters) for I have not accomplished what they accomplished".

[How else can one account for his non-germane prolixity?]

Sojournings - having left home as a young man under a cloud, and also having left the home of his maturity, and even having left the home of his old age, Jacob sojourns, not at home anywhere, having the multi-layered sense of home common to nomands and emigrants, where the place of home is an ideal formulation rather than an actual locus. And note that 'home' is ennumerable in years.

Psook 47:10
"Vayevarech Yaakov et-Paro vayetze milifnei Faro"
And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from the presence of Pharaoh.

Now this, though courteous, is the reverse of the normal situation between a monarch (especially one representing the deities of Egypt) from whom the blessing flows outward (it should emphatically not be read as the brocho we say when invoking Hashem, which is as subject to the Master of the Universe). But the blessing of a man like Yakov was something worth having - a man of potent spiritual power, a numinous entity.

Psook 47:11
"Vayoshev Yosef et-aviv veet-echav vayiten lahem achuza beeretz Mitzrayim bemeitav haaretz beeretz Rameses kaasher tziva Faro"
And Joseph placed his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.

In ancient times the region of Rameses (the land of Goshen) in the northwestern part of Egypt was a part of the Semitic cultural zone, as were Canaan, Padan-aram & Aram Naharein, and, forget not, Ugarit.


Psook 47:13
"Velechem ein bechol-haaretz ki-chaved haraav meod vatela eretz Mitzrayim veeretz Kenaan mipnei haraav"
And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was extreme, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine.

Languished - became weary, because agricultural efforts were to no avail, making a waste of the effort, and because the famine weighed heavily upon the populace, bowing them down.

Psook 47:15
"Vayitom hakesef meeretz Mitzrayim umeeretz Kenaan vayavou chol-Mitzrayim el-Yosef lemor hava-lanu lechem velama namut negdecha ki afes kasef"
And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph, and said: 'Give us bread; for why should we die in your sight, as our money fails.'

Why should we die in your sight - said because Yosef had authority over the food-supply, and by his decision in this matter they would live or die.

Psook 47:16
"Vayomer Yosef havu mikneichem veetna lachem bemikneichem im-afes kasef"
And Joseph said: 'Give your cattle, and I will give you bread for your cattle, if money fail.'

By acquiring livestock for Pharaoh Yosef accomplished three things: effected their survival by a trade, preserved both national resources and the worth of the treasury, and demonstrated the worth of his kin (who were, if able, appointed stewards over Pharaohs cattle).

Psook 47:19
"Lama namut leeineicha gam-anachnu gam-admatenu kene-otanu veet-admatenu balachem venihyouanachnu veadmatenu avadim leFaro veten-zera venichyouvelo namut vehaadama lo tesham"
Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be bondmen to Pharaoh; and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, and that the land be not desolate.'

Us and our land - but both already belonged to Pharaoh. Yet by thus trading they are not shamed, and are sustained.

That the land not be desolate - to indicate that the famine will end after the next year, as they will be sustained one more year during which there will be sowing, at the end of which there will be a harvest, and the land will be replenished. But in the meantime, they need to have food.

Psook 47:21
"Veet-haam heevir oto learim miktze gevul-Mitzrayim vead-katzehu"
And as for the people, he resettled them city by city, from one end of the border of Egypt even to the other end thereof.

To better preserve the nation. But in so doing, he unified what had almost certainly been a mixture of ethnicities and differing cultures into a nationality, and prevented regional revolts during the years of famine. Only the priests, directly stipended by the king, and thus, like Yakov's kin (stewards of cattle), functioning directly on behalf of the king, were free from resettlement.

It may be said that in thus leaving two potentialy competing hereditary groups tied to the royal house (namely the priestly caste and the Hebrews), with privileges, who where not of serf-class, the scene was set for a rivalry that those who were not priests were bound to lose upon the falling of the dynasty. The new royals would need the priests to sanctify their power, and would see the Hebrews as dubious, not an asset, and probably supportive of the previous kings. And further, the downfall of so large and prosperous a group (as the Hebrews were to become) could not but be advantageous to the priests (and likely the new Paharaoh). But this is speculation.

Psook 47:22
"Rak admat hakohanim lo kana ki chok lakohanim meet Paro veachlu et-chukam asher natan lahem Paro al-ken lo machru et-admatam"
Only the grounds of the priests he did not purchase, for the priests had a portion from Pharaoh, and lived from the portion which Pharaoh gave them; wherefore they sold not their land.

Psook 47:23
"Vayomer Yosef el-haam hen kaniti etchem hayom veet-admatchem leFaro he-lachem zera uzeratem et-haadama"
Then Joseph said to the people: 'Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh. Lo, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land.

Psook 47:24
"Vehaya batvuot unetatem chamishit leFaro vearba hayadot yihyoulachem lezera hasade uleachlechem velaasher bevateichem veleechol letapchem"
And it shall come to pass at the ingatherings, that you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, 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.'

One part to Pharaoh, in part as as a hedge against future famine.

Four parts - for seed (first part), for food (second part), for the servants and workers of the household (third part), and for the children (fourth part).

Assuming that the five parts are ranked in order of importance, starting with Pharaoh, why are the children mentioned last? Why not ahead of the servants?

Because a household is hostage to the goodwill of its servants, who must be well fed in order to consider the benefit of their master as their own.
And children result only once a family is established - if there is no seed, no food, and no farm, then there is little to sustain the children in any case.

A fifth, and four parts - meaning that the populace is tasked hereby as agents of Pharaoh, not as managed property, nor as mere tenants. And thus the basis is laid for the eventual persecution of the Hebrews, because the Bnei-Yisroel are not tied to Pharaoh-the-instution as a citizenry under common circumstance, but as officers over kine in Goshen and to Pharaoh-the-house, as we shall see when a new Pharaoh (of a new dynasty), who has no relationship with Yakov's clan ("knows not Yosef"), comes to power. The bonds between the Hebrews and the former ruling house will no longer hold, and this new Pharaoh will seek to lower these people, who unlike the rest of his subject are not bound to the land and the country in the way that ensures a smoothly functioning society. It will further be to his benefit to dispossess these people - throughout history that has been a potent argument in favour of striking at minorities.

Psook 47:27
"Vayeshev Yisrael beeretz Mitzrayim beeretz Goshen vayeachazu va vayifru vayirbu meod"
And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen; and they acquired property, and were fruitful, and multiplied exceedingly.

As stewards of Pharaoh's cattle they were insulated from the misfortune that the people of the land had endured.

Acquired property - took holdings, and perhaps laid the seed of discontent against themselves, because they presumed, as herdsmen (shepherds, who were "abhorent to the Egyptians"), and did so at a time when Egyptians suffered.


  • At 9:15 PM, Blogger e-kvetcher said…

    catamite - now there's a word I haven't seen used in a while

  • At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And they STILL don't want to break bread with us!


  • At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Izzy said…

    They actually cried on each other's shoulders rather than neck because the word is in plural. See, for example, here


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