Parashat Vayigash

Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, prompting the entire family to move to Egypt, where Joseph reunites with his father, Jacob.

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Then Jacob’s sons carried their father in the Pharaoh’s wagons Joseph went to greet his father in Goshen, flinging himself upon his father’s neck to weep.

"Now, I can die since I have seen you are alive," said Jacob.

"Let’s go tell Pharaoh that you are here," says Joseph. "Since every shepherd is an abomination in Egypt, if Pharaoh asks your occupation, tell him that you have been breeders of herds all your life and ask to dwell in the land of Goshen."

Joseph then spoke to Pharaoh and suggested that his family dwell in Goshen. The brothers, too, spoke of the famine in Canaan and requested permission to live in Goshen.

Living in Goshen

Pharaoh agreed. "Let them dwell in the choicest of lands of Goshen, and if you know that there are capable men among them, appoint them chief clerks over the herds I have."

Then Joseph presented his father to Pharaoh. Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh asked, "How old are you?"

"One hundred and thirty years old," answered Jacob. "The days have been few and unhappy, and they have not been as long as my fathers in the days of their wanderings." Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and settled in the land of Rameses in Goshen as the Pharaoh had commanded.

Now the famines in the lands of Egypt and Canaan were so bad that Joseph had all the people’s money because they had used it to buy grain. All of Egypt came to Joseph, saying, "Give us bread, lest we die."

"Bring me your herds to trade," Joseph replied. And they did.

But the famine was too great, and they came back to Joseph with neither money nor livestock. They said, "There is nothing left to give you except our bodies and our land. Why should we and our land perish before your very eyes? Purchase us and we and our land shall be slaves to Pharaoh. You can give us seed so the land shall not become desolate."

So Joseph purchased all the farmland and Joseph gave the people grain and made a law that one-fifth of their land production went to Pharaoh. Only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s property.

So Jacob settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. They acquired property there and became fruitful and multiplied exceedingly.

Questions For Discussion

1. What did Joseph mean when he told his brothers not to be troubled by selling him, because it was God who brought him to Egypt? Has God ever brought you to a certain place, a certain time, a certain person? When? How?

2. How do you know that God created a situation and that it was not another person or your own actions?

3. When Judah is describing his father’s potential anguish over the loss of Benjamin, he describes "the soul of one bound up with the soul of the other." What does that mean?  Is there anyone to whom your soul is bound?

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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.