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What's In a Name?
Video 2 of 8
What I mean by that is, there are of course various brothers, from oldest to youngest the brothers of Joseph would be Reuven number one. Two, Shimon, three, Leivi. Then we've got Yehuda over here, number 4. So there are various brothers, these are the first four. Shimon gets singled out by Joseph for kind of special treatment over here. If we go back to this text that I asked you to look at, right over here, Yosef actually imprisons Shimon. It happens right down here. The background of course is that Joseph's brothers have come to him, but not realizing that it's him, and Yosef accuses them of being spies and says that in order to ensure that you're not spies, I need you to come back with Benjamin, and meanwhile I'm going to take one of you prisoner. The one he chooses to take prisoner is Shimon. So the question is, why of all brothers did Joseph choose to imprison Shimon? They were all there, he could have taken anybody, why in particular does Yosef pick on Shimon? Is there any answer that we can give to that?
Again, we treated this briefly but let's look at the text in a little bit more detail here. Okay so here's this text I asked you look at, let's take a look now and let's pay some attention to some of the possible wordplays that are playing off the names of the various participants in the story. Starting here with verse 17 - Yud-Zayin. Vaye'esof otam el mishmar - so here's what Yosef does, he takes the brothers - who again do not recognize him they just think they're dealing with any old Egyptian official. Yosef by this time has already accused them of being spies and he takes them and he places them in a holding pen, essentially in jail, for just three days. That's what happens over here in verse 17.
Then he speaks to them. Vayomer aleihem Yosef bayom hashelishi - Yosef says to them on the third day; Zot asu - do the following; V'ichyu - and you shall live. Et haElokim ani yarei - because I fear G-d, I'm going to be nice to you guys, I'm going to give you a chance to get out of this. Im kenim atem achichem echad ye'asser b'beit mishmarchem - if you're in fact telling the truth and you're not spies, I'm only going to keep one of you here in this holding pen, and the rest of you can go and can bring back food to your hungry household. V'atem lechu havi'u shever ra'avon bateichem - the rest of you can carry your crops, can carry corn for the famine that's afflicting your houses. Word for houses over here - Bateichem. The word for famine over here - Ra'avon, from Ra'av, meaning hunger.
Okay now let's look for the wordplays. Wordplays off of let's say, Yosef's name, Reuven's name, do you see any of them? Okay so let's start with Yosef's name right over here, any other words that look kind of like that? Hey what about this one right over here? See that? Yosef - Ye'esof. We've got the Yud over here, the Yud over here, this Vav goes back a little bit before the Yud, there's the Vav. We've got the Samech and then we've got the Pei. Right? Same letters, slightly rearranged. Yosef becomes Vaye'esof.
Could just be a coincidence, but then look at this word. Ra'avon. Hm, that word means hunger. Go bring back corn for the hunger that's afflicting your households. Well hunger, what word does Ra'avon remind you of? Yeah, it kind of sounds like this word over here doesn't it? Reuven. Reuven, Ra'avon, there's the Reish, there's the Reish. The Aleph gets replaced with the Ayin, two very similar words. Here's the Vav, here's the Vav. The Vav gets moved up one letter. Over here the Vav is after the Beit, over here the Vav is before the Beit. Like, by the way, the Vav over here, this Vav over here can move up a letter, same thing. Here's the Nun, here's the Nun. So actually the exact same thing is happening. Same basic word - Vav gets moved up a letter. Same basic word - Vav gets moved up a letter. Only difference, Ayin and Aleph. Only difference Aleph added in.
You know, it doesn't seem to be a coincidence, seems to be a connection between these. Seems to be a connection to between these. I mean, could be coincidental, but it seems sort of un-coincidental. So what is it? Is it just a harmless play on words or does it mean anything? Think about that, and let's come back and we'll discuss it.
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