Rabbi Marc Rubenstein
Special to Valley News
The ninth weekly Torah portion, Vayeshev, “And he dwelt,” covers the story of Joseph in Egypt from Genesis 37:1-40:23.
When Joseph was young his brothers, including Judah, had it out for him.
One day the brothers grabbed Joseph and threw him into a deep well and left him for dead.
The brothers actually sat and had lunch, while Joseph’s screams came echoing from inside the well.
At that moment, a caravan of people headed for Egypt was passing by.
The brothers decided rather than leave Joseph to die; they would sell him as a slave to the passing caravan.
The brothers pulled Joseph out of the well and sold him as a slave.
After being taken to Egypt as a slave, Joseph ran into more undeserved trouble.
The wife of his owner and master tried to seduce Joseph. In the Torah, Joseph was described as a handsome man, and his mother Rachel was also noted to be incredibly beautiful.
After rejecting the wife of his master, she became furious and wrongfully accused Joseph of trying to abuse her.
Joseph was imprisoned as an innocent man.
While in prison, Joseph developed a skill of interpreting the dreams of his fellow inmates.
He impressed two of his cell mates by interpreting their dreams. One inmate was a baker, and the other was a butler.
Later, after being released, the butler was working for the pharaoh, who at the time was having deep emotional struggles. The pharaoh was haunted by his dreams and no one could help him. The butler remembered Joseph from prison and told the pharaoh.
Immediately Joseph was summoned by the pharaoh to interpret his dreams and make a prediction for the future. Joseph predicted there would be seven years of famine followed by seven years of prosperity.
The pharaoh was so impressed by Joseph that he appointed him as his direct assistant and his right-hand man.
Joseph was given great power over Egypt.
Jacob and his 11 sons were living in the land of Canaan, which is modern day Israel, when a terrible famine broke out, as predicted by Joseph. People were starving to death every day.
He sent 10 of his sons – all, except his youngest, Benjamin – to Egypt to find food.
When Jacob’s sons arrived in Egypt, they went straight to the pharaoh’s palace, where they saw their brother Joseph sitting on a glorious throne.
Joseph recognized his brothers, but the brothers did not recognize Joseph.
When they talked with him the story Joseph’s brothers told did not match up exactly.
Where was their father? Where was their youngest brother Benjamin?
Joseph ordered the brothers to return to their home land and bring back their youngest brother Benjamin and their father Jacob to prove they were telling the truth.
The brothers did as they were asked. They went back to Canaan and returned with their brother Benjamin and their father Jacob.
During this spectacular family reunion, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and forgave them for the horrible things they did.
Joseph embraced his father and hugged him after all the years of being apart.
This amazing event in Jewish history also marks the ending of the first book of the Torah: Genesis.