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Reuven at that point said no, we're not going to actually kill him. Vayomer aleihem Reuven - Reuven instead said; Al tishpechu dam hashlichu oto el habor hazeh asher bamidbar v'yad al tishlechu bo - let's not kill him, let's just put him in this pit and let our hand not be upon him. The reason he had said that was; Lema'an hatzil oto miyadam lehashivo el aviv - he wants Joseph in the pit alive because he's planning on coming back at night and picking up Joseph out of the pit and bringing him back to his father. So this is his plan. He doesn't tell the brothers that, what he tells the brothers is, oh let's not actively kill him, let's just put him in this pit and he'll die. It's better, we're not guilty of actually physically killing him. But Reuven's plan is of course that he's going to save him.
So this over here in verse 22 is the last time we meet Reuven in our story, and if we look at that we realize that Reuven knows something, Reuven is thinking something, which the brothers themselves are unaware of. What Reuven is thinking is, Reuven's plan is, I'm going to save Joseph. Now if you put yourself in Reuven's shoes, thinking, I am going to save Joseph, let's go back to the Rashbam's theory and figure, what is Reuven thinking when Reuven is picnicking with the brothers and all of a sudden Yehuda has this idea, hey let's sell him to the Ishmaelites?
So I don't know about you, but if I'm Reuven and I'm over here where the brothers are eating bread, he sees off in the distance these Ishmaelite traders and they've got a few days until they finally get here, but all of a sudden Yehuda has this plan which is, let's not kill him, let's sell him to them. Well then now, if I'm Reuven, I've got to go into action, I've got to do something, because my whole plan is that I want to save Yosef, I want to come back to him at night. But if I come back to him at night he's not going to be there, because Yehuda is going to have already sold him off to these Ishmaelite traders by that time. So what happens?
Let's go back to the text and see. Over here in verse 26, this is the part where Yehuda comes with his great idea, let's sell him to these Ishmaelite traders and then meanwhile, unbeknownst to the brothers the Midianites come and take Joseph out of the pit first. But remember, none of the brothers, including Reuven, know that. So if you're Reuven you're going to think, well I need to act, I got to do something. In fact, indeed, that's exactly what happens according to the Rashbam, in verse 29. The next thing that happens; Vayoshov Reuven el habor - Reuven Bentches early, he says Birkhat Hamazon before the brothers, and he goes and he leaves the brothers' picnic and he goes and returns back to the pit because his now his only chance is he's got to get Joseph out of the pit before Judah finally gets a chance to make a deal with these Ishmaelite traders who are still pretty far out in the distance but they're approaching.
So; Vayoshov Reuven el habor - so Reuven goes back to the pit and then he sees something; V'hinei ein Yosef ba'bor. Reuven is not the last guy on the scene, as we had originally imagined, Reuven is actually the first person on the scene, he's the first person to realize the truth; V'hinei ein Yosef ba'bor - Joseph was not in the pit, he's gone. Vayikra et begadav - and he goes and he tears his clothes. His plan to save Joseph has failed. And at that point; Vayoshov el echov - he returns to the picnic where the brothers are still leisurely eating their bread with their eyes still on the Ishmaelite caravan; Vayomar - and he says; Hayeled einenu v'ani onoh ani bah - the child is not here. Reuven is not reporting something to the brothers after the brothers actually sold Joseph, something the brothers knew about and was like, where have you been. No, Reuven is actually the first person to bring this news to the brothers. He's gone, he's not here anymore, Joseph has actually gone.
At that point, what do the brothers do? The brothers who did not sell Joseph, according to the Rashbam's, at that point; Vayikchu et ketonet Yosef - they don't know what happened to him but they're looking for an alibi, they've got to explain this to Father somehow. They take Joseph's coat, they slaughter a goat, they put the blood on the coat, they give it to their father and they say; Haker nah - recognize please is it your son's coat or not?
If you come back now - by the way - to the questions which we asked in the beginning, and we've now we've talked about this question over here, what happened to Reuven, so the Rashbam's theory solves that. We've talked about what the Midianites are doing in this story, the Rashbam's theory solves that. And the Rashbam's theory also solves this; how come the brothers pull their punches later on when they discuss their guilt amongst themselves? How come they talk to themselves as only being guilty for having listened to his cries and not responding? Why don't they come clean about what they actually did, which is that they sold him? The answer is, that in fact they did not sell him, it was others that sold him. They really don't know what happened to him. The most that they're guilty really is, that they heard his cries but did not respond. That's really their guilt, that's all they confess to amongst themselves because that's really all they did. They heard Joseph crying in the pit, they didn't respond. They did contemplate selling him, but that by the time they got back to the pit they had no idea what happened; he disappeared and it was a mystery.
So the Rashbam's theory really addresses all three of these issues in a fascinating new way of seeing what happened in the Joseph story. It's really as if the sale of Joseph becomes sort of the greatest crime that never happened, that remains a mystery at some level - at least to the perpetrators - even after it happened.
That's pretty much it for the Rashbam's theory. But it's a fascinating theory; a very, very different way of looking at things, and I want to explore with you in our next video what are the implications of that theory. If you remember back we saw all of these literary connections between the story of the sale of Joseph and the story of the Akeidah on the one hand and the expulsion of Yishmael on the other hand. I want to begin to put all of this together with say, the Rashbam's theory, what begins to emerge? What are the implications of all of this for how we understand the events we know as the sale of Joseph? Let's come back and discuss it.
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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