Saturday, December 01, 2007

Miketz Summary

Two years have passed. Pharaoh dreams that he is standing near the Nile river, and sees seven healthy cows emerge, followed by seven lean cows. The lean cows devour the healthy ones. He then dreams of seven good ears of corn growing on a single stalk. Seven parched ears swallow up the seven good ears. Pharaoh awakes and summons the interpreters of Egypt, but no one gives him the correct interpretation. The wine steward remembers Yosef (Joseph) who is in jail and tells Pharaoh. Yosef is summoned from the prison and brought before Pharaoh.
Yosef tells Pharaoh that all answers come from G-d, but interprets the dream as representing seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine. He tells Pharaoh to appoint a wise man over the country to stockpile the grain during the years of plenty. Pharaoh recognises that Yosef is the most suitable person for the task and appoints him “Prime Minister” to oversee the storing of grain. Pharaoh calls Yosef Tzaphnat Paneach, and gives him Osnat the daughter of Potiphar as his wife. Yosef is thirty years old at this time. Yosef inspects the entire land of Egypt and collects food for seven years. He has two sons, Menashe and Ephraim, before the onset of the famine.
When the famine begins the people of Egypt come to Pharaoh asking for food. He sends them to Yosef and instructs them to do whatever he tells them. People from all over the world come to Egypt in search of food. Ya’akov sends Yosef’s ten brothers, without Binyamin, to Egypt to buy grain.
Yosef recognised his brothers, but they do not recognise him. Recalling his previous dreams, he accuses them of being spies and places them under arrest. After three days he lets them return home except for Shimon. He instructs them to prove that they are not spies by bringing their brother Binyamin back. The brothers realise that all of this is happening as Divine retribution for the way they treated Yosef. Yosef sends them off with bags of grain, and returns their money in the top of their sacks. They return to Ya’akov, and report on all that has happened to them in Egypt. Ya’akov initially refuses to let Binyamin leave, but as the famine gets worse he concedes that there is no alternative. Yehuda (Judah) undertakes to guarantee Binyamin’s safety, and Ya’akov lets them leave.
They return to Yosef bearing gifts, and present Binyamin before him. Yosef invites them all to dine with him, and releases Shimon from jail. Yosef is overcome with emotion and is forced to leave the room. He returns and personally serves them food. He again instructs his overseer to fill each of their sacks with food, and return their money at the tops of the sacks. He also places his silver chalice in Binyamin’s pack. After the brothers have departed, Yosef sends the overseer after them and accuses them of stealing his chalice. When it is found in Binyamin’s pack the brothers tear their garments in grief and throw themselves on the ground before Yosef. They offer themselves as slaves on the condition that Binyamin be set free, but Yosef demands that Binyamin alone be kept as a slave.

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