10) Parshah Mikeitz מִקֵּץ
Parshah in a Nutshell for Mikeitz
Joseph’s imprisonment finally ends when Pharaoh dreams of seven fat cows that are swallowed up by seven lean cows, and of seven fat ears of grain swallowed by seven lean ears. Joseph interprets the dreams to mean that seven years of plenty will be followed by seven years of hunger, and advises Pharaoh to store grain during the plentiful years. Pharaoh appoints Joseph governor of Egypt. Joseph marries Asenat, daughter of Potiphar, and they have two sons, Menasseh and Ephraim.
Famine spreads throughout the region, and food can be obtained only in Egypt. Ten of Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt to purchase grain; the youngest, Benjamin, stays home, for Jacob fears for his safety. Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him; he accuses them of being spies, insists that they bring Benjamin to prove that they are who they say they are, and imprisons Shimon as a hostage. Later, they discover that the money they paid for their provisions has been mysteriously returned to them.
Jacob agrees to send Benjamin only after Judah assumes personal and eternal responsibility for him. This time Joseph receives them kindly, releases Shimon, and invites them to an eventful dinner at his home. But then he plants his silver goblet, purportedly imbued with magic powers, in Benjamin’s sack. When the brothers set out for home the next morning they are pursued, searched, and arrested when the goblet is discovered. Joseph offers to set them free and retain only Benjamin as his slave.
Torah reading for Mikeitz
1. It came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh was dreaming, and behold, he was standing by the Nile. 2. And behold, from the Nile were coming up seven cows, of handsome appearance and robust flesh, and they pastured in the marshland. 3. And behold, seven other cows were coming up after them from the Nile, of ugly appearance and lean of flesh, and they stood beside the cows [which were] on the Nile bank. 4. And the cows of ugly appearance and lean of flesh devoured the seven cows that were of handsome appearance and healthy; then Pharaoh awoke. 5. And he fell asleep and dreamed again, and behold, seven ears of grain were growing on one stalk, healthy and good. 6. And behold, seven ears of grain, thin and beaten by the east wind, were growing up after them. 7. And the thin ears of grain swallowed up the seven healthy and full ears of grain; then Pharaoh awoke, and behold, a dream. 8. Now it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; so he sent and called all the necromancers of Egypt and all its sages, and Pharaoh related to them his dream, but no one interpreted them for Pharaoh. 9. Now the chief cupbearer spoke with Pharaoh, saying, “I call to mind my faults today. 10. Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and he put me in prison, in the house of the chief slaughterer, me and the chief baker. 11. And we dreamed a dream on the same night, I and he; each one according to the interpretation of his dream, we dreamed. 12. And there with us was a Hebrew lad, a slave of the chief slaughterer, and we told him, and he interpreted our dreams for us; [for] each [of us], he interpreted according to his dream. 13. And it came to pass that just as he had interpreted, so it was; me he restored to my position, and him he hanged.” 14. So Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they rushed him from the dungeon, and he shaved and changed his clothes, and he [then] came to Pharaoh.
15. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter for it, but I have heard it said of you [that] you understand a dream, to interpret it.” 16. And Joseph replied to Pharaoh, saying, “Not I; G*d will give an answer [that will bring] peace to Pharaoh.” 17. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream, behold, I was standing on the bank of the Nile. 18. And behold, seven cows of robust flesh and handsome form were ascending from the Nile, and they pastured in the marshland. 19. And behold, seven other cows were ascending after them, emaciated and of very ugly form and with meager flesh; I have not seen such ugly ones throughout the entire land of Egypt. 20. And the meager and ugly cows devoured the first seven healthy cows. 21. And they went inside them, but it was not known that they had gone inside of them, for their appearance was as ugly as in the beginning; then I awoke. 22. Then I saw in my dream, and behold, seven ears of grain were growing on one stalk, full and good. 23. And behold, seven ears of grain, hardened, thin, and beaten by the east wind, were growing up after them. 24. And the thin ears of grain swallowed up the seven good ears of grain; I told the necromancers, but no one tells me [its meaning].” 25. And Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dream is one; what G*d is doing He has told Pharaoh. 26. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears of grain are seven years; it is one dream. 27. And the seven meager and ugly cows coming up after them are seven years, and the seven empty ears of grain, beaten by the east wind, will be seven years of famine. 28. It is this matter that I have spoken to Pharaoh; what G*d is about to do He has shown Pharaoh. 29. Behold, seven years are coming, great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. 30. And seven years of famine will arise after them, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt, and the famine will destroy the land. 31. And the plenty will not be known because of that famine to follow, for it [will be] very severe. 32. And concerning the repetition of the dream to Pharaoh twice that is because the matter is ready [to emanate] from G*d, and G*d is hastening to execute it. 33. So now, let Pharaoh seek out an understanding and wise man and appoint him over the land of Egypt. 34. Let Pharaoh do [this] and appoint officials over the land and prepare the land of Egypt during the seven years of plenty. 35. And let them collect all the food of these coming seven good years, and let them gather the grain under Pharaoh’s hand, food in the cities, and keep it. 36. Thus the food will remain as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will be in the land of Egypt, so that the land will not be destroyed by the famine.” 37. The matter pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38. So Pharaoh said to his servants, “Will we find [anyone] like this, a man in whom there is the spirit of G*d?”
39. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since G*d has let you know all this, there is no one as understanding and wise as you. 40. You shall be [appointed] over my household, and through your command all my people shall be nourished; only [with] the throne will I be greater than you.” 41. So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Look, I have appointed you over the entire land of Egypt.” 42. And Pharaoh removed his ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s hand, and he attired him [with] raiment of fine linen, and he placed the golden chain around his neck. 43. And he had him ride in his chariot of second rank, and they called out before him, “[This is] the king’s patron,” appointing him over the entire land of Egypt. 44. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and besides you, no one may lift his hand or his foot in the entire land of Egypt.” 45. And Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenath Pa’neach, and he gave him Asenath the daughter of Poti phera, the governor of On, for a wife, and Joseph went forth over the land of Egypt. 46. And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and Joseph went out from before Pharaoh and passed through the entire land of Egypt. 47. And in the seven years of plenty, [the inhabitants of] the land gathered [food] by handfuls. 48. And he collected all the food of the seven years that was in the land of Egypt, and he placed food in the cities, the food of the field surrounding the city, he put within it. 49. And Joseph gathered grain like the sand of the sea, in great abundance, until [one] stopped counting, because there was no number. 50. And to Joseph were born two sons before the year of the famine set in, whom Asenath the daughter of Poti phera, the governor of On, bore to him. 51. And Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, for “G*d has caused me to forget all my toil and all my father’s house.” 52. And the second one he named Ephraim, for “G*d has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
53. And the seven years of plenty that were in the land of Egypt were finished. 54. And the seven years of famine began, as Joseph had said, and there was famine in all the lands, but throughout the land of Egypt there was bread. 55. When the entire land of Egypt hungered, the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread, but Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; what he tells you, do.” 56. Now the famine spread over all the face of the land, and Joseph opened all [the storehouses] in which there was [grain], and he sold [it] to the Egyptians, and the famine intensified in the land of Egypt. 57. And all [the inhabitants of] the land came to Egypt to Joseph to purchase, for the famine had intensified in the entire land.
1. Jacob saw that there was grain being sold in Egypt; so Jacob said to his sons, “Why do you appear satiated?” 2. And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain being sold in Egypt. Go down there and buy us [some] from there, so that we will live and not die.” 3. So Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4. But Joseph’s brother, Benjamin, Jacob did not send with his brothers, because, he said, “Lest misfortune befall him.” 5. So the sons of Israel came to purchase among those who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 6. Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; it was he who sold grain to the entire populace of the land, and Joseph’s brothers came and prostrated themselves to him, with their faces to the ground. 7. And Joseph saw his brothers, and he recognized them, but he made himself a stranger to them, and he spoke to them harshly, and he said to them, “Where do you come from?” And they said, “From the land of Canaan to purchase food.” 8. Now Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 9. And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about them, and he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.” 10. And they said to him, “No, my master, your servants have come to buy food. 11. We are all sons of one man. We are honest. Your servants were never spies.” 12. But he said to them, “No! But you have come to see the nakedness of the land.” 13. And they said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is with our father today, and one is gone.” 14. And Joseph said to them, “This is just what I have spoken to you, saying, ‘You are spies.’ 15. With this you shall be tested: By Pharaoh’s life, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16. Send one of you and let him fetch your brother, and you will be imprisoned so that your words will be tested whether truth is with you, and if not, as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17. And he put them in prison for three days. 18. On the third day, Joseph said to them: “Do this and live I fear G*d.
19. If you are honest, your one brother will be confined in your prison, and you, go bring the grain for the hunger of your households. 20. And bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified, and you will not die.” And they did so. 21. And they said to one another, “Indeed, we are guilty for our brother, that we witnessed the distress of his soul when he begged us, and we did not listen. That is why this trouble has come upon us.” 22. And Reuben answered them, saying, “Didn’t I tell you, saying, ‘Do not sin against the lad,’ but you did not listen? Behold, his blood, too, is being demanded!” 23. They did not know that Joseph understood, for the interpreter was between them. 24. And he turned away from them and wept, then returned to them and spoke to them; and he took Simeon from among them and imprisoned him before their eyes. 25. And Joseph commanded, and they filled their vessels with grain, and [he commanded] to return their money into each one’s sack, and to give them provisions for the journey, and he did so for them. 26. And they loaded their grain upon their donkeys, and they went away from there. 27. The one opened his sack to give fodder to his donkey at the lodging place, and he saw his money there it was, in the mouth of his sack. 28. And he said to his brothers, “My money has been returned, and indeed, here it is in my sack! ” Their hearts sank, and trembling, they turned to one another, saying, “What is this that G*d has done to us?” 29. And they came to Jacob their father, to the land of Canaan, and they told him all that had befallen them, saying, 30. “The man, the lord of the land, spoke to us harshly, and he accused us of spying on the land. 31. And we said to him, ‘We are honest; we were never spies. 32. We are twelve brothers, the sons of our father; one is gone, and today the youngest is with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33. And the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘With this I will know that you are honest; leave one of your brothers with me, and [what is needed for] the hunger of your households, take and go. 34. And bring your youngest brother to me, so that I will know that you are not spies, that you are honest; [then] I will give you your brother, and you may travel around in the land.’ ” 35. And it came to pass that they were emptying their sacks and behold! Each one’s bundle of money was in his sack; they saw the bundles of their money, they and their father, and they became frightened. 36. And their father Jacob said to them, “You have bereaved me-Joseph is gone, and Simeon is gone, and you want to take Benjamin! All these troubles have come upon me.” 37. And Reuben spoke to his father, saying, “You may put my two sons to death if I don’t bring him (Benjamin) to you. Put him into my hand[s] and I will return him to you.” 38. But he (Jacob) said, “My son shall not go down with you, because his brother is dead, and he alone is left, and if misfortune befalls him on the way you are going, you will bring down my gray head in sorrow to the grave.”
1. But the hunger was severe in the land. 2. And it came to pass, when they finished eating the grain that they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, “Go back [and] buy us a little food.” 3. But Judah spoke to him, saying, “The man warned us repeatedly, saying, ‘You shall not see my face if your brother is not with you.’ 4. If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy food for you. 5. But if you do not send [him], we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face if your brother is not with you.’ ” 6. And Israel said, “Why have you harmed me, by telling the man that you have another brother?” 7. They said, “The man asked about us and about our family, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have a brother?’ And we told him according to these words. Could we have known that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?” 8. And Judah said to Israel, his father, “Send the lad with me, and we will get up and go, and we will live and not die, both we and you and also our young children. 9. I will guarantee him; from my hand you can demand him. If I do not bring him to you and stand him up before you, I will have sinned against you forever. 10. For had we not tarried, by now we would have already returned twice.” 11. So Israel, their father, said to them, “If so, then do this: take some of the choice products of the land in your vessels, a little balm and a little honey, wax and lotus, pistachios and almonds. 12. And take double the money in your hand[s], and the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks you shall return in your hand[s], perhaps it was an error. 13. And take your brother, and get up, go back to the man. 14. And may the Almighty G*d grant you compassion before the man, and he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin, and as for me as I am bereaved, I am bereaved.” 15. So the men took this gift, and they took double the money in their hand[s] and Benjamin, and they got up and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.
16. [When] Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the overseer of his house, “Bring the men into the house and [give orders] to slaughter an animal and to prepare, for the men will eat with me at lunch.” 17. And the man did as Joseph had said, and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house. 18. Now the men were frightened because they had been brought into Joseph’s house, and they said, “On account of the money that came back in our sacks at first, we are brought, to roll upon us and to fall upon us and to take us as slaves and our donkeys [as well].” 19. So they drew near the man who was over Joseph’s house, and they spoke to him at the entrance of the house. 20. And they said, “Please, my lord, we came down at first to purchase food. 21. And it came to pass when we came to the lodging place that we opened our sacks, and behold! each man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, and we returned it in our hand[s]. 22. And we brought down other money in our hand[s] to purchase food. We do not know who put our money into our sacks.” 23. And he said, “Peace to you; fear not. Your G*d and the G*d of your father gave you a treasure in your sacks; your money came to me.” And he brought Simeon out to them. 24. Then the man brought the men (the brothers) into Joseph’s house, and he gave [them] water, and they washed their feet, and he gave fodder to their donkeys. 25. And they prepared the gift until Joseph would come at lunchtime, for they heard that there they would eat bread. 26. And Joseph came home, and they brought him the gift that was in their hand[s], into the house, and they prostrated themselves to him to the ground. 27. He inquired after their welfare, and he said to them, “Is your elderly father, whom you mentioned, well? Is he still alive?” 28. And they said, “Your servant, our father, is well; he is still alive.” And they bowed and prostrated themselves. 29. And he lifted his eyes and saw Benjamin, his brother, the son of his mother, and he said, “Is this your little brother, whom you told me about?” And he said, “May G*d favor you, my son. ”
30. And Joseph hastened, for his mercy was stirred toward his brother, and he wanted to weep; so he went into the room and wept there. 31. And he washed his face and came out, and he restrained himself and said, “Serve the food.” 32. And they set for him separately and for them separately, and for the Egyptians who ate with him separately, because the Egyptians could not eat food with the Hebrews, because it is an abomination to the Egyptians. 33. They sat before him, the firstborn according to his age, and the youngest according to his youth, and the men looked at each other in astonishment. 34. And he had portions brought to them from before him, and Benjamin’s portion was five times as large as the portions of any of them, and they drank and became intoxicated with him.
1. Then he commanded the overseer of his house, saying, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money into the mouth of his sack. 2. And my goblet, the silver goblet, put into the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his purchase money.” And he did according to Joseph’s word, which he had spoken. 3. The morning became light, and the men were sent [on their way] they and their donkeys. 4. They had exited the city, but had not gone far when Joseph said to the overseer of his house, “Get up, pursue the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? 5. Is not this the one my master drinks from? Why, he even divines with it! You have done evil by the way you have acted.’ ” 6. He overtook them, and he said these words to them. 7. And they said to him, “Why should my master say such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do a thing like this! 8. Behold, the money we found in the mouth of our sacks we returned to you from the land of Canaan; so how could we steal from your master’s house silver or gold? 9. Whichever one of your servants with whom it is found shall die, and also we will be slaves to my master.” 10. And he said, “Now indeed, so it is as you have spoken. [But] the one with whom it is found shall be my slave, and you shall be cleared.” 11. So they hastened, and each one lowered his sack to the ground, and each one opened his sack. 12. He searched; he started with the eldest and finished with the youngest, and the goblet was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13. So they rent their garments, and each one loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city. 14. And Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, and he was still there, and they fell before him upon the ground. 15. And Joseph said to them, “What is this deed that you have committed? Don’t you know that a person like me practices divination?” 16. And Judah said, “What shall we say to my master? What shall we speak, and how shall we exonerate ourselves? G*d has found your servants’ iniquity both we and the one in whose possession the goblet has been found.” 17. But he said, “Far be it from me to do this! The man in whose possession the goblet was found he shall be my slave, but as for you go up in peace to your father.”
Haftorah In a Nutshell for Mikeitz
I Kings 3:15-4:1
This week’s haftorah opens with the words “And Solomon awoke, and behold it was a dream,” echoing this week’s Torah portion which opens with Pharaoh’s dreams.
Though not included in the haftorah, in this dream G*d granted King Solomon his legendary wisdom. The haftorah relates a famous episode that made all of Israel aware of their new monarch’s keen intellect.
Two harlots approach King Solomon to adjudicate their dispute. They lived together in the same house, and each had given birth to an infant three days apart. One night, one of the infants was accidentally crushed to death by her mother, and one woman accused the other of switching infants in order to have a live baby. Each woman claimed that the live child is theirs and the deceased child was the other’s. King Solomon asks that a sword be brought and orders that the child be cut in half with each woman receiving one half. At this point, the mother of the living child exhorts the king to give the child to the other woman so that he may live, while the other woman says, “Let it be neither mine nor yours, divide!” The king ruled: “Give her the living child, and by no means slay him: she is his mother!”
Haftorah Reading for Mikeitz
I Kings 3:15-4:1
15. And Solomon awoke, and behold (it was) a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the L*rd, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants. 16. Then came two women, harlots, to the king, and stood before him. 17. And the one woman said, “Oh, my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I gave birth to a child with her in the house. 18. And it came to pass the third day after I had given birth, that this woman gave birth also; and we (were) together, (there was) no stranger with us in the house, besides us two in the house. 19. And this woman’s son died at night; because she had lain on him. 20. And she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from beside me, while your handmaid slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead son in my bosom. 21. And I rose in the morning to nurse my son, and behold he was dead, but I looked closely at him in the morning, and behold, it was not my son whom I had borne.” 22. And the other woman said, “Not so, the living (is) my son, and the dead (is) your son,” and this one said, “Not so, the dead (is) your son, and the living (is) my son.” Thus they spoke before the king. 23. And the king said, “This one says, ‘This (is) my son that lives, and your son (is) the dead, and the other says, ‘Not so, your son (is) the dead, and my son (is) the living.’ ” 24. And the king said, “Fetch me a sword.” And they brought a sword before the king. 25. And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. 26. And the woman whose son (was) the live one, said to the king, for her compassion was aroused for her son, and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means slay him.” But the other said, “Let it be neither mine nor yours, divide (it).” 27. And the king answered and said, “Give her the living child, and by no means slay him: she (is) his mother.” 28. And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king; for they saw that the wisdom of G*d (was) in him to do judgment.
1. And King Solomon was king over all Israel.