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But in addition to that, in Rashi's approach, when the brothers present their father with the bloody coat, they're actually lying - right? They're really telling a very bald-faced untruth, they're lying to their father when they say they don't know what happened, because of course they know very well what happened, they're the ones who sell Joseph off into slavery. But they say, here's his bloody coat, instead implying that he was killed instead of sold as a slave.
You know, the Rashbam's approach something actually much more kind of intriguing is happening, which is that when the brothers actually approach their father with the bloody coat they haven't maybe quite told the truth - [maybe 1:21] this isn't true, they haven't really told their father the truth. But they've actually only told a white lie because it's actually true that we don't know what happened to him, here's his coat. That's basically what they're saying; Zot matzanu haker nah - here's what we found, recognize please his coat.
Now it is true that they are creating an alibi for themselves, they're pretending that something happened that it didn't happen, they're pretending that he was killed, but for all they know he sort of was killed, it's just there's no evidence one way or the other. One minute he was in the pit and then when they came back an hour and a half later and he wasn't there. So it's true that the brothers actually don't know what happened to him more or less, like they're saying to their father. Even though they're sort of throwing their father off the trail and they're suggesting that Joseph might have been killed, but in essence what they're saying is kind of true. Nobody knows what happened to him in the story, really the father doesn't know and just as much as the father doesn't know the brothers don't know.
So if you kind of add it up we talked before about these Akeidah parallels on the one hand - the story of the Binding of the Isaac - and the story of the expulsion of Yishmael and the parallels there in the story of the sale of Yosef. There's an interesting kind of symmetry that emerges, specifically according to the Rashbam, when you look at the father's perspective on the sale of Joseph and the brothers' perspective.
So here's how it kind of lines up. If we look at the father's perspective, what was he trying to do? He was trying to create sort of an Akeidah-like test of the child that he thinks is his firstborn. He thinks that Yosef is his firstborn and he's not quite sure what's the deal with these dreams, the riddle of the bowing moon. I want to test you, are you really a faithful firstborn and will you go check on the brothers and not bring back bad reports but just see as to their welfare, see perhaps if you can make Shalom - make peace - with them? So it's an Akeidah-like test, are you going to put yourself in possible danger to be a faithful firstborn for me? Of course, perhaps, it's not so dangerous, he thinks he's sending him to Shechem and he's going to turn around, doesn't realize that the angel is going to see him and he's going to go all the way back to Dotan.
So the father is trying to create this Akeidah-like test to the child he thinks is his firstborn, but that test spins out of control, the father never knows how it ends. Because there's that angel there that redirects Joseph and says, go to Dotan. So Joseph disappears; that wasn't part of the plan, and of course, little does the father know that what he originally contemplated, that is what Yaakov contemplated, actually ends up happening. Which is - remember what Yaakov was contemplating was, go check on the brothers, in fact Joseph does go all the way down to the brothers, he encounters his brothers all the way in Dotan, but Yaakov is unaware of that. So what he had originally anticipated, send Joseph to check on the brothers, actually happens, it's just that Yaakov is unaware that it happens, he just doesn't know it.
Something very similar to that is happening over here with the brothers. If you look on the other side you can just line this up in a color-coded kind of way. The brothers are not trying to create an Akeidah-like test to the firstborn, they're trying to do the opposite, they're creating an Ishmael-like expulsion of a brother. They're saying, not only are you not a firstborn, you're not a brother. Remember the two coats and the no coats? The father is giving him two coats, the second coat you're my firstborn, the brothers are stripping him of both coats, you're not even a brother. So they're sort of expelling him from the family.
Just like the Akeidah spins out of control, over here on this side, the story which the brothers are doing also spins out of control, they also never know how it ends. Joseph disappears, that wasn't part of their plan, they were planning on selling him. But ironically enough, little do the brothers know what they originally contemplated ends up happening also. Because what they were thinking of doing was, we were going to sell him to the Ishmaelites, and in fact Joseph is sold to the Ishmaelites just like they thought. Just, they're unaware of it.
So in fact both the father and the brothers end up contemplating things which in fact take place in the end; Joseph meets up with the brothers just like father had dispatched him, Joseph is sold to the Ishmaelites just like the brothers contemplated it. But neither the brothers and the father are in the loop anymore. Both of them are entirely clueless as to what's happening to Joseph. This is the beginning, I think, of the interesting kind of connections between the Akeidah story and the expulsion of Ishmael story. These are some of the ramifications of the Rashbam's perspective on the story, I want to come back with you and examine some of the other ramifications as well.
1. The First of Three Mysteries
2. Where is Reuven?
3. Three Card Monte
4. Keep Your Eye on the Midianites
5. Rashi and Ramban on 'Who Sold Joseph'
6. Where is Reuven - Redux
7. The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men
8. What Does God Think of All This?
9. Is Apathy the Ultimate Evil?
10. Seven Brothers
12. Still Responsible?
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