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Vayigash or Vaigash (ויגש — Hebrew for “and he drew near” or “then he drew near,” the first word of the parshah) is the eleventh weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading. It constitutes Genesis 44:18–47:27. Jews in the Diaspora read it the eleventh Sabbath after Simchat Torah, generally in December or January.

Bourgeois Joseph recognized by his brothers

Joseph Recognized by His Brothers (1863 painting by Léon Pierre Urbain Bourgeois)


Judah’s plea to Joseph

Judah approached Joseph, whom he likened to Pharaoh, and recounted how Joseph had asked the brothers whether they had a father or brother, and they had told him that they had a father who was an old man, and a child of his old age who was a little one, whose brother was dead, who alone was left of his mother, and whose father loved him. (Genesis 44:18–20.) Judah recalled how Joseph had told the brothers to bring their younger brother down to Egypt, they had told Joseph that the lad’s leaving would kill his father, but Joseph had insisted. (Genesis 44:21–23.) Judah recalled how the brothers had told their father Joseph’s words, and when their father had told them to go again to buy a little food, they had reminded him that they could not go down without their youngest brother. (Genesis 44:24–26.) Judah recounted how their father had told them that his wife had born him two sons, one had gone out and was torn in pieces, and if they took the youngest and harm befell him, it would bring down his gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. (Genesis 44:27–29.) Judah explained to Joseph that if Judah were to come to his father without the lad, seeing that his father’s soul was bound up with the lad's, then his father would die in sorrow. (Genesis 44:30–31.) And Judah told how he had become surety for the lad, and thus asked Joseph to allow him to remain a bondman to Joseph instead of the lad, for how could he go up to his father if the lad was not with him? (Genesis 44:32–34.)


Joseph identified by his brothers (1789 painting by Charles Thévenin)

Joseph Forgives His Brothers

Joseph Forgives His Brothers (illustration from a Bible card published 1907 by the Providence Lithograph Company)

Joseph reveals himself

Joseph could no longer control his emotions and ordered everyone but his brothers to leave the room. (Genesis 45:1.) He wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. (Genesis 45:2.) Joseph told his brothers that he was Joseph, and asked them whether his father was still alive, but his brothers were too frightened to answer him. (Genesis 45:3.) Joseph asked them to come near, told them that he was Joseph their brother whom they had sold into Egypt, but that they should not be grieved, for God had sent Joseph before them to preserve life. (Genesis 45:4–5.) Joseph recounted how for two years there had been famine in the land, but there would be five more years without harvests. (Genesis 45:6.) But God had sent him before them to save them alive for a great deliverance, so it was not they who sent him to Egypt, but God, who had made him ruler over all Egypt. (Genesis 45:7–8.) Joseph thus directed them to go quickly to his father and convey that God had made him lord of all Egypt and his father should come down to live in the land of Goshen and Joseph would sustain him for the five years of famine. (Genesis 45:9–11.) And Joseph and his brother Benjamin wept on each other’s necks, Joseph kissed all his brothers and wept upon them, and after that, his brothers talked with him. (Genesis 45:14–15.)

The report went through Pharaoh's house that Joseph's brothers had come, and it pleased Pharaoh. (Genesis 45:16.) Pharaoh directed Joseph to tell his brothers to go to Canaan and bring their father and their households back to Egypt. (Genesis 45:17–18.) Joseph gave his brothers wagons and provisions for the way, and to each man he gave a change of clothes, but to Benjamin he gave 300 shekels of silver and five changes of clothes. (Genesis 45:21–22.) And Joseph sent his father ten donkeys laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten donkeys laden with food. (Genesis 45:23.) So Joseph sent his brothers away, enjoining them not to fall out on the way. (Genesis 45:24.)

Jacob goes to Egypt

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 043

Jacob Comes Into Egypt (woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld from the 1860 Die Bibel in Bildern)

The brothers went to their father Jacob in Canaan and told him that Joseph was still alive and ruled over Egypt, but he did not believe them. (Genesis 45:25–26.) They told him what Joseph had said, and when Jacob saw the wagons that Joseph had sent, Jacob revived and said that he would go to see Joseph before he died. (Genesis 45:27–28.)

Jacob journeyed to Beersheba with all that he had and offered sacrifices to God. (Genesis 46:1.) God spoke to Jacob in a dream, saying that Jacob should not fear to go to Egypt, for God would go with him, make a great nation of him, and also surely bring him back. (Genesis 46:2–4.) Jacob’s sons carried him, their little ones, and their wives in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent. (Genesis 46:5.) They took their cattle and their goods and came to Egypt, Jacob’s entire family, 70 men in all, including Joseph and his two children. (Genesis 46:6–27.) Jacob sent Judah before him to show the way to Goshen. (Genesis 46:28.) Joseph went up to Goshen in his chariot to meet Jacob, and fell on his neck and wept. (Genesis 46:29.) Jacob told Joseph that now he could die, since he had seen Joseph’s face. (Genesis 46:30.)

Tissot Joseph and His Brethren Welcomed by Pharaoh

Joseph and His Brethren Welcomed by Pharaoh (watercolor by James Tissot)

Joseph told his brothers that he would go tell Pharaoh that his brothers had come, that they kept cattle, and that they had brought their flocks, herds, and all their possessions. (Genesis 46:31–32.) Joseph instructed them that when Pharaoh asked them their occupation, they should say that they were keepers of cattle, for shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians. (Genesis 46:33–34.)

Joseph told Pharaoh that his family had arrived in the land of Goshen, and presented five of his brothers to Pharaoh. (Genesis 47:1–2.) Pharaoh asked the brothers what their occupation was, and they told Pharaoh that they were shepherds and asked to live in the land of Goshen. (Genesis 47:3–4.) Pharaoh told Joseph that his family could live in the best of the land, in Goshen, and if he knew any able men among them, then he could appoint them to watch over Pharaoh’s cattle. (Genesis 47:5–6.) Joseph set Jacob before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. (Genesis 47:7.) Pharaoh asked Jacob how old he was, and Jacob answered that he was 130 years old and that few and evil had been the years of his life. (Genesis 47:8–9.) Jacob blessed Pharaoh and left. (Genesis 47:10.)

Joseph Overseer of the Pharaohs Granaries

Joseph Overseer of the Pharoahs Granaries (1874 paiting by Lawrence Alma-Tadema)

Joseph placed his father and brothers in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded, and sustained them with bread while the famine became sore in the land. (Genesis 47:11–13.)

Joseph gathered all the money in Egypt and Canaan selling grain and brought the money into Pharaoh's house. (Genesis 47:14.) When the Egyptians exhausted their money and asked Joseph for bread, Joseph sold them bread in exchange for all their animals. (Genesis 47:15–17.) When they had no more animals, they offered to sell their land to Joseph and become bondmen in exchange for bread. (Genesis 47:18–19.) So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh — except for that of the priests, who had a portion from Pharaoh — and in exchange for seed, Joseph made all the Egyptians bondmen. (Genesis 47:20–23.) At harvest time, Joseph collected for Pharaoh a fifth part of all the people harvested, and it continued as a statute in Egypt that Pharaoh should have a fifth of all produced outside of the priests’ land. (Genesis 47:24–26.) And Israel lived in Egypt, in the land of Goshen, accumulated possessions, and was fruitful and multiplied. (Genesis 47:27.)

In inner-biblical interpretation

Genesis chapter 45

Joseph’s explanation in Genesis 45:5 that God sent him to Egypt before his brothers to preserve life finds an echo in Genesis 50:20, where Joseph told his brothers that they meant evil against him, but God meant it for good to save the lives of many people. Similarly, Psalm 105:16–17 reports that God called a famine upon the land and sent Joseph before the children of Israel.

Genesis chapter 47

Jacob’s blessing of Pharaoh in Genesis 47:7 enacts the promise of Genesis 12:3, 22:18, 26:4, and 28:14 that through Abraham’s descendants would other families of the earth be blessed.

The report of Genesis 47:27 that the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied finds an echo in Exodus 1:7.

In early nonrabbinic interpretation

Genesis chapter 44

Philo observed that having attained authority and presented with the opportunity to avenge his brothers’ ill-treatment of him, Joseph nonetheless bore what happened with self-restraint and governed himself. (On Joseph 28:166.)

In classical rabbinic interpretation

Genesis chapter 44

A Midrash taught that, as reported in the words “Judah came near to him” in Genesis 44:18, Judah did not cease from answering Joseph word for word until he penetrated to his very heart. (Genesis Rabbah 93:4.) Rabbi Judah taught that in the words of Genesis 44:18, “Judah came near” for battle, as in 2 Samuel 10:13, where it says: “So Joab and the people that were with him drew near to battle.” Rabbi Nehemiah said that “Judah came near” for conciliation, as in Joshua 14:6, where it says that “the children of Judah drew near to Joshua” to conciliate him. The Rabbis said that coming near implies prayer, as in 1 Kings 18:36, where it says that “Elijah the prophet came near” to pray to God. Rabbi Leazar combined all these views, teaching that “Judah came near to him” ready for battle, conciliation, or prayer. (Genesis Rabbah 93:6.)

Rab Judah asked in the name of Rab why Joseph referred to himself as “bones” during his lifetime (in Genesis 50:25), and explained that it was because he did not protect his father's honor when in Genesis 44:31 his brothers called Jacob “your servant our father” and Joseph failed to protest. And Rab Judah also said in the name of Rab (and others say that it was Rabbi Hama bar Hanina who said) that Joseph died before his brothers because he put on superior airs. (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 13b.)

Dore Bible Joseph Makes Himself Known to His Brethren

Joseph Makes Himself Known to His Brethren (engraving by Gustave Doré from the 1865 La Sainte Bible)

Eliezer ben Matiah, Hananiah ben Kinai, Simeon ben Azzai, and Simeon the Yemenite deduced from Judah’s offer to remain instead of Benjamin in Genesis 44:33 that Judah merited the kingship because of his humility. (Tosefta Berakhot 4:18.)

Peter von Cornelius 004

Joseph Reveals His Identity (1816–1817 painting by Peter von Cornelius)

Genesis chapter 45

Rabbi Hama bar Hanina and Rabbi Samuel ben Nahmani differed about how prudent it was for Joseph to clear the room in Genesis 45:1. Rabbi Hama thought that Joseph acted imprudently, for one of them could have kicked him and killed him on the spot. But Rabbi Samuel said that Joseph acted rightly and prudently, for he knew the righteousness of his brethren and reasoned that it would not be right to suspect that they might commit bloodshed. (Genesis Rabbah 93:9.)

Rabbi Elazar wept whenever he read Genesis 45:3, for if men became too frightened to answer a wronged brother, how much more frightening will they find God’s rebuke. (Babylonian Talmud Chagigah 4b; Genesis Rabbah 93:10.)

A Midrash taught that “Joseph said to his brethren: ‘Come near to me’” in Genesis 45:4 so that he might show them his circumcision to prove that he was their brother. (Genesis Rabbah 93:10.)

The Tosefta deduced from Genesis 45:6 that before Jacob went down to Egypt there was famine there, but after he arrived, as Genesis 47:23 reports, they sowed the land with seed. (Tosefta Sotah 10:9.)

Rabbi Levi used Genesis 37:2, 41:46, and 45:6 to calculate that Joseph’s dreams that his brothers would bow to him took 22 years to come true, and deduced that a person should thus wait for as much as 22 years for a positive dream’s fulfillment. (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 55b.) Rav Huna in the name of Rabbi Joshua used Genesis 45:6 as a mnemonic for calculating what year it was in the Sabbatical cycle of seven years. (Babylonian Talmud Avodah Zarah 9b.) The Gemara used Genesis 45:6 to help calculate (among other things) that Jacob should have been 116 years old when he came to Egypt, but since Genesis 47:8–9 indicated that Jacob was then 130 years old, the Gemara deduced that the text did not count 14 years that Jacob spent studying in the Academy of Eber. (Babylonian Talmud Megilah 16b–17a.)

Figures Joseph Reveals Himself

Joseph Makes Himself Known to His Brethren (illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible)

Rabbi Elazar interpreted Joseph’s reference to Benjamin in Genesis 45:12 to mean that just as Joseph bore no malice against his brother Benjamin (who had no part in selling Joseph to Egypt), so Joseph had no malice against his other brothers. And Rabbi Elazar interpreted Joseph’s reference to his mouth in Genesis 45:12 to mean that Joseph’s words reflected what was in his heart. (Babylonian Talmud Megilah 16b.) A Midrash interpreted Joseph’s reference to his mouth in Genesis 45:12 to mean that Joseph asked them to note that he spoke in Hebrew. (Genesis Rabbah 93:10.)

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 042

Joseph Reveals Himself to His Brothers (woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld from the 1860 Die Bibel in Bildern)

Rabbi Elazar noted that Genesis 45:14 uses the plural form of the word “necks” and asked how many necks Benjamin had. Rabbi Elazar deduced that Joseph wept on Benjamin’s neck for the two Temples that were destined to be in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin and be destroyed. And Rabbi Elazar deduced that Benjamin wept on Joseph’s neck for the tabernacle of Shiloh that was destined to be in the territory of the tribe of Joseph and be destroyed. (Babylonian Talmud Megilah 16b; see also Genesis Rabbah 93:10.)

Examining Genesis 45:22, the Gemara asked whether Joseph repeated his father’s mistake of favoring one sibling over the others. (Babylonian Talmud Megilah 16a–b.) Rabbi Benjamin bar Japhet said that Joseph was hinting to Benjamin that one of his descendants, Mordecai, would appear before a king in five royal garments, as Esther 8:15 reports. (Babylonian Talmud Megilah 16b.)

Rabbi Benjamin bar Japhet in the name of Rabbi Elazar deduced from Genesis 45:23 that Joseph sent Jacob aged wine, which the Rabbi reported pleases the elderly. (Babylonian Talmud Megilah 16b.)

A Midrash told that when Joseph was young, he used to study Torah with Jacob. When Joseph’s brothers told Jacob in Genesis 45:26 that Joseph was still alive, Jacob did not believe them, but he recalled the subject that Jacob and Joseph had been studying when they last studied together: the passage on the beheaded heifer (עֶגְלָה עֲרוּפָה, egla arufa) in Deuteronomy 21:1–8. Jacob told the brothers that if Joseph gave them a sign of which subject Joseph and Jacob had last studied together, then Jacob would believe them. Joseph too had remembered what subject they had been studying, so (as Genesis 45:21 reports) he sent Jacob wagons (עֲגָלוֹת, agalot) so that Jacob might know that the gift came from him. The Midrash thus concluded that wherever Joseph went he studied the Torah, just as his forbears did, even though the Torah had not yet been given. (Genesis Rabbah 95:3.)

Genesis chapter 46

Rab Nahman taught that when Jacob “took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba” in Genesis 46:1, he went to cut down the cedars that Genesis 21:33 reports his grandfather Abraham had planted there. (Genesis Rabbah 94:4.)

The Sifra cited Genesis 22:11, Genesis 46:2, Exodus 3:4, and 1 Samuel 3:10 for the proposition that when God called the name of a prophet twice, God expressed affection and sought to provoke a response. (Sifra 1:4.)

Rabbi Hama bar Hanina cited Genesis 46:4 to prove that one who sees a camel in a dream has been delivered from a death decreed by heaven. In Hebrew, the words in the verse gam aloh resemble the word for camel, gamal. (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 56b.)

Rabbi Zadok noted that Genesis 46:15 attributed sons to Leah but attributed the daughter Dinah to Jacob, and deduced that the verse thus supported the proposition that if the woman emits her egg first she will bear a son and if the man emits his semen first she will bear a girl. (Babylonian Talmud Nidah 31a.)

Rabbi Samuel ben Nahman taught that Benjamin’s son’s names, as listed in Genesis 46:21, reflected Benjamin’s loss of Joseph. The name Bela signified that Benjamin’s brother was swallowed up (nit-bala) from him; Becher signified that he was a firstborn (bechor); Ashbel signified that he was taken away captive (nishbah); Gera signified that he became a stranger (ger) in a strange country; Naaman signified that his actions were seemly (na'im) and pleasant (ne'im-im); Ehi signified that he indeed was “my brother” (ahi); Rosh signified that he was Benjamin’s superior (rosh); Muppim signified that he was exceedingly attractive (yafeh ‘ad me'od) in all matters; and Huppim signified that Benjamin did not see his marriage-canopy (huppah) and he did not see Benjamin’s; and Ard signified that he was like a rose-bloom (ward). (Genesis Rabbah 93:7.)

Abaye cited the listing for Dan in Genesis 46:23 to demonstrate that sometimes texts refer to “sons” in the plural when they mean a single son. But Rava suggested perhaps the word “Hushim” in Genesis 46:23 was not a name but, as taught by the Academy of Hezekiah, the word “clusters” or “leaves,” thus signifying that Dan’s sons were as numerous as the leaves of a reed. Rava found, however, support in Numbers 26:8 and 1 Chronicles 2:8 for the proposition that sometimes texts refer to “sons” when they mean a single son. (Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 143b.)

Abba Halifa of Keruya asked Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba why Genesis 46:27 reported that 70 people from Jacob’s household came to Egypt, while Genesis 46:8–27 enumerated only 69 individuals. Rabbi Hiyya first argued that the Hebrew word et preceding Dinah in Genesis 46:15 indicated that Dinah had a twin sister, and the twin brought the total to 70. But Abba Halifa responded that if that were so, then the parallel language of Genesis 43:29 would indicate that Benjamin also had a twin sister. Rabbi Hiyya then revealed his real explanation, which he called “a precious pearl”: Rabbi Hama bar Hanina taught that the seventieth person was Moses’ mother Jochebed, who was conceived on the way from Canaan to Egypt and born as Jacob’s family passed between the city walls as they entered Egypt, for Numbers 26:59 reported that Jochebed “was born to Levi in Egypt,” implying that her conception was not in Egypt. (Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 123b–24a; see also 119b–120a.)

Rabbi Nehemiah read the words “to show” in Genesis 46:28 as “to teach,” and thus inferred that Jacob sent Judah to prepare an academy for him in Egypt where he would teach Torah and where the brothers would read Torah. (Genesis Rabbah 95:3.)


Joseph Presents His Father and Brothers to the Pharaoh (painting by Francesco Granacci)

Genesis chapter 47

Rabbi Jose deduced from Genesis 47:6 that the Egyptians befriended the Israelites only for their own benefit. Rabbi Jose noted, however, that the law of Deuteronomy 23:8 nonetheless rewarded the Egyptians for their hospitality. Rabbi Jose concluded that if Providence thus rewarded one with mixed motives, Providence will reward even more one who selflessly shows hospitality to a scholar. (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 63b.)

Rab Judah in the name of Samuel deduced from Genesis 47:14 that Joseph gathered in and brought to Egypt all the gold and silver in the world. The Gemara noted that Genesis 47:14 says: “And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan,” and thus spoke about the wealth of only Egypt and Canaan. The Gemara found support for the proposition that Joseph collected the wealth of other countries from Genesis 41:57, which states: “And all the countries came to Egypt to Joseph to buy corn.” The Gemara deduced from the words “and they despoiled the Egyptians” in Exodus 12:36 that when the Israelites left Egypt, they carried that wealth away with them. The Gemara then taught that the wealth lay in Israel until the time of King Rehoboam, when King Shishak of Egypt seized it from Rehoboam, as 1 Kings 14:25–26 reports: “And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; and he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house.” (Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 119a; see also Avot of Rabbi Natan 41.)

The Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael, the Mekhilta of Rabbi Simeon, and the Tanna Devei Eliyahu praised Joseph, as Genesis 47:14 reports that he “brought the money into Pharaoh's house” and did not steal any of it. (Mekhilta Beshallah 1; Mekhilta of Rabbi Simeon Beshallah 20:3; Tanna Devei Eliyahu Seder Eliyyahu Rabbah 24.)

Resh Lakish deduced from the words “and as for the [Egyptian] people, he [Joseph] removed them city by city” in Genesis 47:21 that Joseph exiled the Egyptians from their home cities so that they could not later berate the Hebrews for being exiles. (Babylonian Talmud Chullin 60b.)

Rabbi Abba ben Kahana taught that Joseph inspired the Egyptians with a longing to be circumcised and convert to Judaism. Rabbi Samuel read the words “You have saved our lives” in Genesis 47:26 to mean that Joseph had given them life both in this world and in the World to Come, through acceptance of Judaism. (Genesis Rabbah 90:6.)

Rabbi Johanan taught that wherever Scripture uses the term “And he abode” (vayeshev), as it does in Genesis 47:27, it presages trouble. Thus in Numbers 25:1, “And Israel abode in Shittim” is followed by “and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.” In Genesis 37:1, “And Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan,” is followed by Genesis 37:3, “and Joseph brought to his father their evil report.” In Genesis 47:27, “And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen,” is followed by Genesis 47:29, “And the time drew near that Israel must die.” In 1 Kings 5:5, “And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree,” is followed by 1 Kings 11:14, “And the Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was the king’s seed in Edom.” (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 106a.)


According to Maimonides and Sefer ha-Chinuch, there are no commandments in the parshah. (Maimonides. Mishneh Torah. Cairo, Egypt, 1170–1180. Reprinted in Maimonides. The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, 2 vols. London: Soncino Press, 1967. ISBN 0-900689-71-4. Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, 1:91. Jerusalem: Feldheim Pub., 1991. ISBN 0-87306-179-9.)

Levant 830

Kingdom of Judah (light green) and Kingdom of Israel (dark green) circa 830 B.C.E.


The haftarah for the parshah is Ezekiel 37:15–28.


God’s word came to Ezekiel, telling him to write on one stick “For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions,” to write on a second stick “For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and of all the house of Israel his companions,” and to join the two sticks together into one stick to hold in his hand. (Ezekiel 37:15–17.) When people would ask him what he meant by these sticks, he was to tell them that God said that God would take the stick of Joseph, which was in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his companions, and put them together with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick in God’s hand. (Ezekiel 37:18–19.) Ezekiel was to hold the sticks in his hand for people to see, telling them that God said that God would gather the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they had gone, bring them into their own land, and make them one nation with one king, no longer two nations with two kings. (Ezekiel 37:20–22.) No longer would they defile themselves with idols or transgressions, but God would save them and cleanse them, so that they would be God’s people, and God would be their God. (Ezekiel 37:23.) David would be king over them, and they would have one shepherd and observe God’s statutes. (Ezekiel 37:24.) They and their children, and their children’s children forever, would dwell in the land that God had given Jacob, where their fathers had dwelt, and David would be their prince forever. (Ezekiel 37:25.) God would make an everlasting covenant of peace with them, multiply them, and set God’s sanctuary in the midst of them forever. (Ezekiel 37:26.) God’s dwelling-place would be over them, God would be their God, and they would be God’s people. (Ezekiel 37:27.) And the nations would know that God sanctified Israel, when God’s sanctuary would be in their midst forever. (Ezekiel 37:28.)

Connection to the Parshah

The parshah and the haftarah both tell stories of the reconciliation of Jacob’s progeny. The parshah and the haftarah both tell of the relationship of Judah and Joseph, in the parshah as individuals, and in the haftarah as representatives for the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel.

Haggadah 14th cent

A page from a 14th century German Haggadah

In the liturgy

The Passover Haggadah, in the magid section of the Seder, reports that Israel “went down to Egypt — forced to do so by the word [of God],” and some commentators explain that this statement refers to God’s reassurance to Jacob in Genesis 46:3–4 to “fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of you a great nation. I will go down with you into Egypt.” (Joseph Tabory. JPS Commentary on the Haggadah: Historical Introduction, Translation, and Commentary, 90. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2008. ISBN 978-0-8276-0858-0.) Shortly thereafter, the Haggadah quotes Genesis 47:4 for the proposition that Israel did not go down to Egypt to settle, but only to stay temporarily. (Tabory, at 90. Menachem Davis. The Interlinear Haggadah: The Passover Haggadah, with an Interlinear Translation, Instructions and Comments, 43. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-57819-064-9.)

Further reading

The parshah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:


Early nonrabbinic





Classical rabbinic

  • Tosefta Berakhot 4:18; Sotah 10:9. Land of Israel, circa 300 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 27, 877. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
  • Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael Beshallah 1–2. Land of Israel, late 4th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Mekhilta According to Rabbi Ishmael. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:130, 136. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988. ISBN 1-55540-237-2. And Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael. Translated by Jacob Z. Lauterbach, 1:122, 128. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1933, reissued 2004. ISBN 0-8276-0678-8.
  • Mekhilta of Rabbi Simeon Beshallah 20:3, 21:1. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai. Translated by W. David Nelson, 83, 87. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2006. ISBN 0-8276-0799-7.
  • Genesis Rabbah 39:12; 40:6; 55:8; 63:3; 79:1; 80:11; 82:4; 84:20; 89:9; 90:1, 6; 93:1–96. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Genesis. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
First page of the first tractate of the Talmud (Daf Beis of Maseches Brachos)


  • Leviticus Rabbah 32:5. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Genesis. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
  • Babylonian Talmud: Berakhot 56b, 63b; Pesachim 119a; Beitzah 16a; Megillah 16a–b; Chagigah 4b; Nazir 3a; Baba Kama 92a; Baba Batra 120a, 123a, 143b; Avodah Zarah 9b; Chullin 60b; Nidah 31a. Babylonia, 6th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr, Chaim Malinowitz, and Mordechai Marcus, 72 vols. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2006.
  • Esther Rabbah 7:20.
  • Song of Songs Rabbah 1:56; 4:25; 6:20.
  • Ruth Rabbah 4:1.
  • Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:6, 33; 9:12.


  • Avot of Rabbi Natan, 41. Circa 700–900 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan. Translated by Judah Goldin, 172. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1955. ISBN 0-300-00497-4. The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan: An Analytical Translation and Explanation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 256. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986. ISBN 1-55540-073-6.
  • Deuteronomy Rabbah 1:13. Land of Israel, 9th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Deuteronomy. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
  • Exodus Rabbah 3:3, 4, 8; 15:16; 18:8; 40:4. 10th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Deuteronomy. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
Rashi woodcut


  • Tanna Devei Eliyahu. Seder Eliyyahu Rabbah 24. 10th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Tanna Debe Eliyyahu: The Lore of the School of Elijah. Translated by William G. Braude and Israel J. Kapstein, 285. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1981. ISBN 0-8276-0634-6.
  • Rashi. Commentary. Genesis 44–47. Troyes, France, late 11th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashi. The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated. Translated and annotated by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg, 1:493–520. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1995. ISBN 0-89906-026-9.
  • Numbers Rabbah 3:8; 8:4; 12:2; 13:3, 20; 14:7, 8, 12; 19:3; 22:8. 12th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Numbers. Translated by Judah J. Slotki. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
  • Zohar 1:93b, 119a, 149b, 153b, 180b, 197a, 205a–211b, 216b, 222a, 226a; 2:4b, 16b, 53a, 85a; 3:206a. Spain, late 13th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., The Zohar. Translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon. 5 vols. London: Soncino Press, 1934.
Thomas Mann 1937



  • Irving Fineman. Jacob, An Autobiograhical Novel. New York: Random House, 1941.
  • Thomas Mann. Joseph and His Brothers. Translated by John E. Woods, 257, 274–75, 464, 541–42, 547, 568–69, 663, 668, 672, 717–18, 722, 758, 788, 792–94, 796–97, 803–04, 852–53, 859, 878, 881, 886, 923, 1373–447. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. ISBN 1-4000-4001-9. Originally published as Joseph und seine Brüder. Stockholm: Bermann-Fischer Verlag, 1943.
  • Anne Frank. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition. Edited by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler; translated by Susan Massotty, 107. New York: Doubleday, 1995. ISBN 0-385-47378-8. Originally published as Het Achterhuis. The Netherlands, 1947. (“As the Benjamin of the Annex, I got more than I deserved.”)
  • Donald A. Seybold. “Paradox and Symmetry in the Joseph Narrative.” In Literary Interpretations of Biblical Narratives. Edited by Kenneth R.R. Gros Louis, with James S. Ackerman & Thayer S. Warshaw, 59–73. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1974. ISBN 0-687-22131-5.

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