11) Parshah Vayigash וַיִּגַּשׁ
Parshah in a Nutshell for Vayigash
Judah approaches Joseph to plead for the release of Benjamin, offering himself as a slave to the Egyptian ruler in Benjamin’s stead. Upon witnessing his brothers’ loyalty to one another, Joseph reveals his identity to them. “I am Joseph,” he declares. “Is my father still alive?”
The brothers are overcome by shame and remorse, but Joseph comforts them. “It was not you who sent me here,” he says to them, “but G*d. It has all been ordained from Above to save us, and the entire region, from famine.”
The brothers rush back to Canaan with the news. Jacob comes to Egypt with his sons and their families — seventy souls in all — and is reunited with his beloved son after 22 years. On his way to Egypt he receives the Divine promise: “Fear not to go down to Egypt; for I will there make of you a great nation. I will go down with you into Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again.”
Joseph gathers the wealth of Egypt by selling food and seed during the famine. Pharaoh gives Jacob’s family the fertile county of Goshen to settle, and the children of Israel prosper in their Egyptian exile.
Torah reading for Vayigash
18. Then Judah approached him and said, “Please, my lord, let now your servant speak something into my lord’s ears, and let not your wrath be kindled against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh. 19. My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ 20. And we said to my lord, ‘We have an old father and a young child of his old age, and his brother is dead, and he is left alone of his mother, and his father loves him.’ 21. And you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, and I will set my eye[s] upon him.’ 22. And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he leaves his father, he will die.’ 23. And you said to your servants, ‘If your youngest brother does not come down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 24. And it came to pass when we went up to your servant, my father, and we told him the words of my lord, 26. But we said, ‘We cannot go down; [only] if our youngest brother is with us will we go down, for we cannot see the man’s face if our youngest brother is not with us.’ 27. And your servant, my father, said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two [children]. 28. The one went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces, and I have not seen him since.” 29. Now if you take this one too away from me, and misfortune befalls him, you will bring down my hoary head in misery to the grave.’ 30. And now, when I come to your servant, my father, and the boy is not with us [since] his soul is attached to his (the boy’s) soul,
31. it will come to pass, when he sees that the boy is gone, he will die, and your servants will have brought down the hoary head of your servant, our father, in grief to the grave. 32. For your servant assumed responsibility for the boy from my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him to you, I will have sinned against my father forever.’ 33. So now, please let your servant stay instead of the boy as a slave to my lord, and may the boy go up with his brothers. 34. For how will I go up to my father if the boy is not with me? Let me not see the misery that will befall my father!”
1. Now Joseph could not bear all those standing beside him, and he called out, “Take everyone away from me!” So no one stood with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2. And he wept out loud, so the Egyptians heard, and the house of Pharaoh heard. 3. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” but his brothers could not answer him because they were startled by his presence. 4. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me,” and they drew closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5. But now do not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that G*d sent me before you. 6. For already two years of famine [have passed] in the midst of the land, and [for] another five years, there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7. And G*d sent me before you to make for you a remnant in the land, and to preserve [it] for you for a great deliverance.
8. And now, you did not send me here, but G*d, and He made me a father to Pharaoh, a lord over all his household, and a ruler over the entire land of Egypt. 9. Hasten and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘So said your son, Joseph: “G*d has made me a lord over all the Egyptians. Come down to me, do not tarry. 10. And you shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children and your grandchildren, and your flocks and your cattle and all that is yours.11. And I will sustain you there for there are still five years of famine lest you become impoverished, you and your household and all that is yours.” ‘ 12. And behold, your eyes see, as well as the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth speaking to you. 13. And you shall tell my father [of] all my honor in Egypt and all that you have seen, and you shall hasten and bring my father down here.” 14. And he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and afterwards his brothers spoke with him. 16. And the voice was heard [in] Pharaoh’s house, saying, “Joseph’s brothers have come!” And it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. 17. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this load up your beasts and go, enter the land of Canaan. 18. And take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and [you will] eat the fat of the land.’ 19. And you [Joseph] have been commanded [to tell them], ‘Do this: take yourselves wagons from the land of Egypt for your young children and for your wives, and you shall carry your father and come. 20. And let your eye not be concerned about your utensils, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’ ” 21. And the sons of Israel did so, and Joseph gave them wagons by Pharaoh’s orders, and he gave them provisions for the way. 22. He gave them all, to each one [several] changes of clothes, and to Benjamin he gave three hundred [pieces of] silver and five changes of clothes. 23. And to his father he sent the following: ten he donkeys carrying of the best of Egypt, and ten she donkeys carrying grain, bread, and [other] food, for his father for the way. 24. And he sent off his brothers, and they went, and he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the way.” 25. So they went up from Egypt, and they came to the land of Canaan, to their father, Jacob. 26. And they told him, saying, “Joseph is still alive,” and [they told him] that he ruled over the entire land of Egypt, and his heart changed, for he did not believe them. 27. And they told him all of Joseph’s words that he had said to them, and he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, and the spirit of their father Jacob was revived.
28. And Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
1. And Israel and all that was his set out and came to Beer sheba, and he slaughtered sacrifices to the G*d of his father Isaac. 2. And G*d said to Israel in visions of the night, and He said, “Jacob, Jacob!” And he said, “Here I am.” 3. And He said, “I am G*d, the G*d of your father. Do not be afraid of going down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. 4. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up, and Joseph will place his hand on your eyes. 5. And Jacob arose from Beer sheba, and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob and their young children and their wives, in the wagons Pharaoh had sent to carry him. 6. And they took their livestock and their possessions that they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and they came to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him. 7. His sons and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters and his sons’ daughters and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt.
8. And these are the names of the children of Israel who were coming to Egypt: Jacob and his sons Jacob’s firstborn was Reuben. 9. And the sons of Reuben were Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi. 10. And the sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, and Zohar, and Saul the son of the Canaanitess. 11. And the sons of Levi were Gershon, Kehath, and Merari. 12. And the sons of Judah were Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah. Now Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan; and the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. 13. And the sons of Issachar were Tola, Puvvah, Iob, and Shimron. 14. And the sons of Zebulun were Sered, Elon, and Jahleel. 15. These are the sons of Leah, that she bore to Jacob in Padan Aram, and Dinah his daughter. All the souls of his sons and daughters were thirty three. 16. And the sons of Gad were Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli. 17. And the sons of Asher were Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, and Briah, and Serah, their sister; and the sons of Briah were Heber and Malkiel. 18. These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Leah, and she bore these to Jacob, sixteen souls. 19. The sons of Rachel, Jacob’s wife, were Joseph and Benjamin. 20. And to Joseph were born in the land of Egypt, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the governor of On, bore to him: Manasseh and Ephraim. 21. And the sons of Benjamin were Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Na’aman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard. 22. These the sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen. 23. And the sons of Dan: Hushim. 24. And the sons of Naphtali were Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem. 25. These are the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel, and she bore these to Jacob, all the souls were seven. 26. All the souls coming to Egypt with Jacob, those descended from him, excluding the wives of Jacob’s sons, all the souls were sixty six. 27. And Joseph’s sons, who were born to him in Egypt, two souls; all the souls of the house of Jacob who came to Egypt were seventy.
28. He sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph, to direct him to Goshen, and they came to the land of Goshen. 29. And Joseph harnessed his chariot, and he went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and he appeared to him, and he fell on his neck, and he wept on his neck for a long time. 30. And Israel said to Joseph, “I will die this time, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive.” 31. Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and I will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household who were in the land of Canaan have come to me. 32. The men are shepherds, for they were [always] owners of livestock, and their flocks and their cattle and all they have they have brought.’ 33. And if it comes to pass that Pharaoh calls you and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34. You shall say, ‘Your servants have been owners of livestock from our youth until now, both we and our ancestors,’ so that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, because all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians.”
1. Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and he said, “My father and my brothers and their flocks and their cattle and all that is theirs, have come from the land of Canaan, and behold, they are in the land of Goshen.” 2. And from among his brothers he took five men, and he presented them before Pharaoh. 3. And Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, both we and our forefathers.” 4. And they said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land, for your servants’ flocks have no pasture, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” 5. And Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, saying, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6. The land of Egypt is [open] before you; in the best of the land settle your father and your brothers. Let them dwell in the land of Goshen, and if you know that there are capable men among them, make them livestock officers over what is mine.” 7. So Joseph brought his father Jacob and stood him before Pharaoh, and Jacob greeted Pharaoh. 8. And Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” 9. And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojournings are one hundred thirty years. The days of the years of my life have been few and miserable, and they have not reached the days of the years of the lives of my forefathers in the days of their sojournings.” 10. So Jacob blessed Pharaoh and left Pharaoh’s presence.
11. Joseph settled his father and his brothers, and he gave them property in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had mandated. 12. And Joseph sustained his father and his brothers and his father’s entire household [with] bread according to the young children. 13. Now there was no food in the entire land, for the famine had grown exceedingly severe, and the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan were exhausted because of the famine. 14. And Joseph collected all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan with the grain that they were buying, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. 15. Now the money was depleted from the land of Egypt and from the land of Canaan, and all the Egyptians came to Joseph, saying, “Give us food; why should we die in your presence, since the money has been used up?” 16. And Joseph said, “Give [me] your livestock, and I will give you [food in return] for your livestock, if the money has been used up.” 17. So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food [in return] for the horses and for the livestock in flocks and in cattle and in donkeys, and he provided them with food [in return] for all their livestock in that year. 18. That year ended, and they came to him in the second year, and they said to him, “We will not hide from my lord, for insofar as the money and the property in animals have been forfeited to my lord, nothing remains before my lord, except our bodies and our farmland. 19. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our farmland? Buy us and our farmland for food, so that we and our farmland will be slaves to Pharaoh, and give [us] seed, so that we live and not die, and the soil will not lie fallow.” 20. So Joseph bought all the farmland of the Egyptians for Pharaoh, for the Egyptians sold, each one his field, for the famine had become too strong for them, and the land became Pharaoh’s. 21. And he transferred the populace to the cities, from [one] end of the boundary of Egypt to its [other] end. 22. Only the farmland of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh, and they ate their allotment that Pharaoh had given them; therefore, they did not sell their farmland. 23. Joseph said to the people, “Behold, I have bought you and your farmland today for Pharaoh. Behold, you have seed, so sow the soil. 24. And it shall be concerning the crops, that you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and the [remaining] four parts shall be yours: for seed for [your] field[s], for your food, for those in your houses, and for your young children to eat.” 25. They replied, “You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in my lord’s eyes, and we will be slaves to Pharaoh.” 26. So Joseph made it a statute to this day concerning the farmland of Egypt for the one fifth. Only the farmland of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh’s. 27. And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt in the land of Goshen, and they acquired property in it, and they were prolific and multiplied greatly.
Haftorah In a Nutshell for Vayigash
This week’s haftorah mentions the fusion of the kingdoms of Judah and Joseph during the Messianic Era, echoing the beginning of this week’s Torah reading: “And Judah approached him [Joseph].”
The prophet Ezekiel shares a prophecy he received, in which G*d instructs him to take two sticks and to write one one, “For Judah and for the children of Israel his companions” and on the other, “For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.” After doing so he was told to put the two near each other, and G*d fused them into one stick.
G*d explains to Ezekiel that these sticks are symbolic of the House of Israel, that was divided into two (often warring) kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom that was established by Jeroboam, a member of the Tribe of Ephraim, and the Southern Kingdom, that remained under the reign of the Davidic (Judean) Dynasty. The fusing of the two sticks represented the merging of the kingdoms that will transpire during the Messianic Era — with the Messiah, a descendant of David, at the helm of this unified empire.
“So says the L*rd G*d: ‘Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side, and I will bring them to their land. And I will make them into one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be to them all as a king…'”
The haftorah ends with G*d’s assurance that “they shall dwell on the land that I have given to My servant, to Jacob, wherein your forefathers lived; and they shall dwell upon it, they and their children and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.”
Haftorah Reading for Vayigash
15. And the word of the L*rd came to me, saying: 16. “And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write upon it, ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel his companions’; and take one stick and write upon it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.’ 17. And bring them close, one to the other into one stick, and they shall be one in your hand. 18. And when the children of your people say to you, saying, ‘Will you not tell us what these are to you?’ 19. Say to them, So says the L*rd G*d: Behold I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim and the tribes of Israel his companions, and I will place them with him with the stick of Judah, and I will make them into one stick, and they shall become one in My hand. 20. And the sticks upon which you shall write shall be in your hand before their eyes. 21. And say to them, So says the L*rd G*d: Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side, and I will bring them to their land. 22. And I will make them into one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be to them all as a king; and they shall no longer be two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms anymore. 23. And they shall no longer defile themselves with their idols, with their detestable things, or with all their transgressions, and I will save them from all their habitations in which they have sinned, and I will purify them, and they shall be to Me as a people, and I will be to them as a G*d. 24. And My servant David shall be king over them, and one shepherd shall be for them all, and they shall walk in My ordinances and observe My statutes and perform them. 25. And they shall dwell on the land that I have given to My servant, to Jacob, wherein your forefathers lived; and they shall dwell upon it, they and their children and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. 26. And I will form a covenant of peace for them, an everlasting covenant shall be with them; and I will establish them and I will multiply them, and I will place My Sanctuary in their midst forever. 27. And My dwelling place shall be over them, and I will be to them for a G*d, and they shall be to Me as a people. 28. And the nations shall know that I am the L*rd, Who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever.”