Sunday, November 25, 2007

Vayeshev Summary

Ya'akov (Jacob) settles in the land of Canaan. He makes his son Yosef (Joseph) a colourful coat. Yosef's brothers hate him because of their father's love for him. Yosef has two dreams showing his prominence over his brothers and they hate him even more.

Ya'akov sends Yosef to Shechem to see his brothers. They plot to kill him, but Reuven (Reuben) saves him, and persuades the brothers instead to throw him into a pit. They later decide to sell Yosef to a passing Arab caravan. They take Yosef's coat back to Ya'akov. Assuming that Yosef must be dead Ya'akov mourns him inconsolably.

Yehuda (Judah) leaves his brothers and goes into business with Chirah the Adullamite. He marries the daughter of Shua and has three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah. Er marries Tamar, but because he is evil in G-d's eyes he dies young. Onan performs levirate marriage and marries Tamar, but because he knows that any children would be considered his brother's, he makes sure that Tamar would not become pregnant. Therefore G-d makes him die also. A long time passes, and Tamar sees that Yehuda will not let her marry Shelah. In order to keep her husband's memory alive she dresses as a prostitute, seduces Yehuda, and becomes pregnant from him. When Yehuda finds out that Tamar is pregnant, he sentences her to death for adultery. Tamar gives Yehuda signs that she is pregnant from him, and he acknowledges that she has acted more righteously than he. Tamar gives birth to twin boys, Peretz and Zerach.

Meanwhile Yosef is sold to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officers. G-d grants him success and he quickly rises to being in charge of the household. Potiphar's wife tries to seduce Yosef, but when he flees from her, she falsely accuses him of raping her, and has him thrown into jail. G-d again shows Yosef favour, and he is soon placed in charge of all the other prisoners.

Pharaoh's wine steward and baker offend their master, and are thrown into jail. One night they each have a dream. Yosef interprets their dreams to mean that the steward will be returned to his former position in three days, and that the baker will be executed at that same time. He asks the steward to remember him to Pharaoh. On the third day it comes to pass as Yosef had said. But the steward forgot about Yosef.

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