Text: Genesis 44:18-47:27
In Parashat (Torah Portion) Vayigash, Joseph is reunited with his brothers. The brothers do not recognize Joseph – and why should they? They hadn’t seen him in years, and all likely assumed he was either a slave or dead. They only knew that they stood before Pharaoh’s administrator, the man in control of Egypt’s food stores, while their homeland was in the midst of a severe famine. But after Judah tells Joseph about their elderly, fragile father, Joseph demands the Egyptian staff and everyone but the brothers leave the room – and Joseph begins to weep. The brothers are dumbfounded – why is this Egyptian courtier, second in power only to Pharaoh himself, so full of emotion?
Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers, who begin to tremble in fear – would Joseph exact revenge for being sold into slavery all those years ago, now that he certainly had the power to do so?
But Joseph immediately assures his brothers of his forgiveness: they did not sell him into Egypt, God brought him here, for this very purpose: to rise to power and come to the aid of his family. Joseph embraces his brothers for the first time in decades, and sends them home with heavy bags of wheat with an invitation to return to Egypt, where their father can live out his days in comfort, and the brothers’ children need not grow up in famine.
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