Parshat Vayigash: Joseph travels to Egypt to be reunited with Jacob


Parshat Vayigash

Judah approaches Joseph and begs him to free Benjamin. He even offers himself as a slave (yes, he offers to stay in Egypt as Joseph’s slave instead of Benjamin!) as long as Benjamin is set free and allowed to return to his father’s home in Canaan.

“Joseph Recognized by His Brothers,” painting by Léon Pierre Urbain Bourgeois, 1863 (Musée Municipal Frédéric Blandin, Nevers)

At this point, when Joseph sees how much his brothers care about one another, he can no longer hold back his feelings. He sends all his servants and guards out of the room, and when he and his brothers are left alone he cries and says, “I am Joseph, is my father still alive?”

The brothers are silent. They are shocked and terrified. Is this man — the second most powerful man in all of Egypt — really their brother? And so Joseph begs them to come closer and repeats himself. “I am Joseph!”

The brothers finally realize that it is true, this is their brother, but they are so ashamed at what they have done to him and how they sold him into slavery. But Joseph comforts them and makes them feel comfortable, telling them that it was G-d’s will that he end up in Egypt so that he would become powerful and have a chance to save the entire family from the terrible famine that was still going on at that time. Joseph sends his brothers home to tell Jacob that he is alive and to invite him to come to Egypt, where he will be able to live in peace. Pharaoh sends along carriages to help Jacob move.

When Jacob sees the wagons and hears the good news, he is overjoyed and stops the long 22 years of mourning for his beloved son. Jacob travels to Egypt together with his entire family, exactly 70 people (the 70th is born as they enter the city gates, the newborn is Jocheved, mother of Moses). On his way to Egypt, G-d promises Jacob that He will make Jacob’s children into a great nation, and that He will take them out of Egypt.

Joseph goes out to meet his father as he gets closer to Egypt and when they meet, Joseph hugs and kisses Jacob. They then go to meet Pharaoh, who gives the land of Goshen to Jacob, which is where Jacob and his family will live throughout the next generations.
Jacob blesses Pharaoh.

Copyright and reprinted with permission from For more insights on the Torah portion, visit:

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