Vayigash - The Epic Confrontation Between Judah and Joseph
Vayigash - Does God Speak To Us Today? Part 3
Vayigash Torah Portion: Genesis 44:18–Genesis 47:27
At the conclusion of the previous
And so, in this most emotional speech, Judah tells all of this to the Egyptian high official. He tells him that his father had several wives but loved one more, that his father’s heart was broken when he lost a child and will be broken once more, perhaps irreparably, if he loses another. Judah shares all of this in an attempt to persuade the Egyptian high official to let Benjamin return home – even if it means that he, Judah, will take his place as an eternal slave in Egypt. This is a shocking offer, especially when he recalls that, many years ago, Judah seemed all too eager to throw his brother Joseph under the bus, to lift him from a pit and sell him into slavery, in order to make a quick buck. What we are seeing is a profound development of character on the part of Judah.
Joseph listens to Judah’s speech, to Judah’s
Joseph seems to understand that they must be shocked beyond belief by this news, and also terrified: for perhaps they worry that Joseph has been holding a grudge against them for all of these years and that now, as he sits before them in his high position of power, he will seek revenge. So Joseph reassures them (to paraphrase): “Don’t worry. I know that you think that you did a bad thing, selling me into slavery. But it was actually for the best. This was all a part of God’s plan — so that I could be in a position to help you all today. For how would you survive the famine if things hadn’t worked out the way they did?”
Joseph sends his brothers to Canaan with gifts and instructions to bring their father, Jacob. On that trip back to Egypt, God appears to Jacob in
And so the whole family returns, everyone enjoys an emotional reunion and a meeting with Pharaoh, and Joseph settles his family in the neighboring area of Goshen. While Joseph’s family thrives in Goshen, for he is in charge of all of the grain of Egypt and he is personally minding their welfare, things do not look so rosy for the rest of Egypt. In order to secure life-saving grain for themselves, the Egyptian people end up selling their land and themselves to Pharaoh. It is an understudied section of the Book of Genesis with admittedly haunting hints to the story that will be told at the start of the Book of Exodus, which reads like a mirror image of this: when the children of Israel are pressed into servitude to Pharaoh.