General Overview: Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, becomes viceroy over Egypt, and implements his plan to save the region from famine. Joseph is harsh with his brothers who come to Egypt to buy food, and demands that Benjamin be brought to Egypt. When Benjamin eventually comes he is framed and accused of theft.
First Aliyah: Pharaoh had a dream: seven fat cows arose from the Nile, followed by seven emaciated cows. The gaunt cows then consumed the robust ones. He then had a second dream, wherein seven healthy ears of grain were eaten by seven thin and parched ears. In the morning, none of Pharaoh’s wise men were capable of interpreting the dreams to Pharaoh’s satisfaction. Pharaoh’s butler approached and related his past jailhouse experience, when a Hebrew boy, Joseph, successfully interpreted dreams. Pharaoh ordered Joseph’s release, and he appeared before the king.
Second Aliyah: Pharaoh recounted his dreams to Joseph. Joseph told Pharaoh that both dreams contained a singular message: seven years of plenty were destined to come upon Egypt, followed by seven years of severe famine. Joseph proposed a plan to store the excess grain of the years of plenty, to serve as a reserve for the famine years to follow. Pharaoh was greatly impressed by Joseph’s wisdom.
Third Aliyah: Pharaoh appointed Joseph as viceroy of Egypt, and placed him in charge of the impending food collection operation. Thirty-year-old Joseph was placed second-in command of the Egyptian empire, accountable to no one but Pharaoh himself. Indeed, the seven years of plenty arrived as foretold by Joseph, and Joseph skillfully oversaw the collection of the surplus grain. Joseph married Osnat, the daughter of Poti-phera, and she bore him two sons: Manasseh and Ephraim.
Fourth Aliyah: Then the famine predicted by Joseph commenced, a grave famine that affected Egypt and the entire Mediterranean region. Exactly as planned, Joseph had sufficient stores of food, which he personally sold to all who needed. Meanwhile, in nearby Canaan, Joseph’s father, Jacob, dispatched his eldest ten sons – all of them excepting Benjamin – to Egypt to purchase food provisions. The brothers arrived and stood before Joseph, but did not recognize him, as his boyish appearance had changed in the interim years. When the brothers broached their request to purchase food, Joseph dealt with them harshly, accused them of espionage, and incarcerated them all for three days.
Fifth Aliyah: On the third day, Joseph released them all, aside for Simon, whom he held hostage. He bid the rest of the brothers to return to Canaan and return with their youngest brother, Benjamin, and thus establish their innocence. The brothers recognized that this was punishment for the sale of Joseph, and expressed regret for their deed. Joseph instructed his servants to place the monies the brothers had paid for the food in the sacks of grain they were given. The brothers arrived back in Canaan and recounted the entire episode to Jacob. Jacob was highly disturbed by the happenings, and initially refused to send Benjamin, unwilling to consider the possibility of losing Rachel’s only remaining son. Eventually, though, after the food provisions ran low, and Judah personally guaranteed Benjamin’s safe return, Jacob acceded to send him. He sent them to Egypt with a prayer on his lips, and armed with a gift for the Egyptian ruler.
Sixth Aliyah: The brothers arrived in Egypt. Joseph instructed his palace supervisor to invite the brothers to join him for the afternoon repast. The brothers arrived at Joseph’s residence where they were reunited with Simon. Joseph arrived, and the brothers presented him with the gift they had prepared, and they exchanged pleasantries.
Seventh Aliyah: Upon seeing his brother Benjamin, Joseph was overcome with emotion, which he concealed. The brothers sat down and enjoyed a feast, and Joseph presented them all with gifts—Benjamin’s gift greater than all the others’. In the morning the brothers departed, but not before Joseph had his royal goblet planted in Benjamin’s sack of food. Joseph then dispatched a posse to confront the brothers and “uncover” the planted goblet. The brothers were all brought back to Joseph, who demanded that the “thief,” Benjamin alone, remain behind as his slave.
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