Updated: Dec 14, 2020
Read in the Diaspora on 19 December 2020 (4 Tevet 5781).
Parashat Miketz is the 10th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.
Torah Portion: Genesis 41:1-44:17
This week’s portion, Miketz, opens up with Pharoah having two disturbing dreams. They are so vivid that he at first doesn’t realize that they are in fact dreams. In the first dream, seven plump cows come out of the Nile followed by seven emaciated cows that swallow them whole. The next dream has a stalk of grain with seven plump kernels swallowed up by a thin, wind-blown stalk of grain that grows after them.
He calls for his wise men and magicians to interpret them, but they fail to do so to his satisfaction. The Chief Cupbearer then tells Pharaoh about a Hebrew slave in prison that correctly interpreted his dream two years ago when he was interred. Pharaoh sends for Joseph.
Joseph tells him that Hashem will interpret his dreams through Joseph. Joseph tells Pharaoh that the dreams are the same. They portend seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Joseph tells Pharaoh that G-d has told Pharaoh also to put aside grain during the good years for the famine.
Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge, second in command of Egypt also to him. Pharaoh also changes Joseph’s name to Zapaneth-Panea and announces him role to Egypt. Joseph marries Potiphar’s daughter, Aseneth, and has two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
After the seven years of plenty, the famine starts and affects all the neighboring countries. Jacob hears that there is grain in Egypt and sends his sons there to secure provisions. They appear before Joseph to buy grain. Joseph has got older, wears Egyptian clothes and has grown facial hair so the brothers don’t recognize him, but he recognizes them.
He accuses them of being spies so see if they repent how they treated him and whether they also resent his full brother Benjamin. He demands they bring Benjamin to him to prove that they are telling the truth and puts Simeon (who originally suggested the brothers kill Joseph rather than sell him off) in prison as a hostage. Benjamin had been left at home since Jacob was afraid of losing his other son by his favorite wife Rachel.
Joseph sends them off but has planted their money that was supposed to be used to pay for the grain back in their sacks. They discover this en route home.
Once home, they use up their supply and Jacob sends them off to Egypt again for more grain. They tell him that they can’t return without bringing Benjamin to prove they’re not spies. Judah pledges for his safety.
When they return to Egypt, Joseph treats them to a feast. He then sets up Benjamin by planting his goblet in his bag and states that he will imprison Benjamin as a thief, but the rest can go. Judah approaches Joseph to plead for his release and offers to take his place in prison.