Joseph and his Brothers

Nov 29, 2015

וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב בְּאֶרֶץ מְגוּרֵי אָבִיו בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן׃

Now Yaakov was settled in the land where his father had sojourned, the land of Canaan.

Genesis 37:1

וַיִּקָּחֻהוּ וַיַּשְׁלִכוּ אֹתוֹ הַבֹּרָה וְהַבּוֹר רֵק אֵין בּוֹ מָיִם׃

and took him and cast him into the pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

Genesis 37:24

The narrative focus of the Torah shifts from Jacob to his sons, and to Joseph in particular. We are told that at age 17, he serves as a shepherd with his brothers, and grows up with the children of the maidservants. Joseph is prone to carrying harsh tales of his brothers’ antics to their father.


Joseph, having been born late in Jacob’s life, is his father’s favorite, and Jacob makes him a coat of many colors. His brothers, understanding Joseph’s special status, grow to hate him.


Joseph is prone to dreams, as well. He tells his brothers of two dreams. In the first, the brothers’ sheaves all rise and bow to Joseph’s, and in the second, the sun, moon and eleven stars all bow before him. The brothers ask, incredulous, whether Joseph really believes they will serve him, and Jacob, too, scorns his dreams.


One day, Jacob sends Joseph to seek his brothers who are tending sheep. When he finally encounters them, having been directed by a stranger on the road, they fall upon him, take his special coat and throw him in a pit. Reuben, however, makes a secret plan to rescue Joseph and bring him back to their father.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

If the Torah does not include superfluous details, why do you think the story of the stranger redirecting Joseph towards his brothers is included in the Torah?

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