Shabbat Commentary

14/15 Dec : Vayigash : Shabbat comes in 3:36 pm,  ends  4:46 pm

Josef and his family are now united in Egypt.  Josef asks Pharaoh that his family be allowed to settle in Goshen.  Malbim (Ukraine 19th c.) comments that Josef uses a verb (lagur) which means “to sojourn,” or to stay temporarily.  When Pharaoh replies, he uses the verb leshev, which means, in this context, “to settle permanently.”  Josef seems reluctant to impose on Pharaoh’s hospitality, while Pharaoh (despite the famine in Egypt itself) seems more than happy to have the rest of Josef’s family.

Throughout the whole encounter, Josef, the one who would seem to be the most secure, really is the most ill at ease, trying to paper over his family’s size and its “unacceptable” occupation.  He shows himself unwilling to trust either his family or his adopted sovereign to know how to relate to each other.  Unlike his successors, this particular Pharaoh has gone out of his way to provide for his people and to welcome those in need, and in doing so, he offers Josef and his family a lesson in honest dealing.

Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman




December 13, 2018