Parashat Vayeshev

Joseph's dreams anger his brothers, who sell him into slavery in Egypt, where he eventually ends up in prison, still interpreting others' dreams.

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The following article is reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!

These are the descendants of Jacob. Joseph was 17 and a shepherd watching sheep with his brothers. In an evil manner, Joseph reported his brothers' idle talk to his father. But Jacob loved Joseph more than all his other sons and made him an embroidered coat. When the brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more, they hated him.

Joseph's Dreams

Joseph dreamed a dream. The brothers did not want to hear the dream and hated him even more. But Joseph said to them, "Please listen to this dream. We're piling up wheat in the middle of the field and my wheat pile arose and stood upright and your wheat piles formed a circle around me and bowed down."

"Are you to become king over us," asked the brothers hatefully, "or perhaps do you rule over us already?"

Then Joseph dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and father. "The sun and the moon and 11 stars bowed down to me," he said. His father rebuked him, "What kind of dream is this? Shall I, your mother and your brothers come to bow to the ground before you?" His brothers now envied him and his father kept the matter in mind.

The Brothers Plot Against Joseph

The brothers went to tend to their father's sheep. Later, Jacob sent Joseph to check on them. He found his brothers, but as he approached, they imagined Joseph plotting against them and believed that he deserved to die.

They said to one another. "Behold, here comes the master of dreams. Come let us kill him, let us throw him into one of the pits and say that a wild beast ate him. Then we shall see what becomes of his dreams."

Reuben, the eldest son, heard this and rescued Joseph from their hands. Reuben said, "Do not spill any blood, throw him into this pit but do not lay a hand on him." Reuben left planning to return later and bring Joseph back to their father.

The brothers seized Joseph, taking his coat and throwing him into the empty, waterless pit. Suddenly, a caravan of Yishmaelites came on the horizon. They were going to Egypt.

So Yehudah says to the others. "Hey, let's sell him. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh." For twenty pieces of silver, Joseph was sold to the caravan going to Egypt.

When Reuben returned and saw Joseph was gone, he tore his clothes in mourning. Then they decided to slaughter a goat and dip Joseph's coat in the blood. They returned home and Jacob recognized Joseph's coat immediately. He tore his clothes in mourning as he learned of the wild beast tearing his son apart. Everyone tried to console Jacob but he refused to accept consolation, saying, "For I will go down to my son, mourning, into the grave." And so, his father wept for him.

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.