Vayeshev- Shared Reading
Torah Portions 1.9 Bereshith (Genesis) Chapters 37:1-40:23
Hebrew Word/Phrase of the Week: Vayeshev
Meaning: ‘He Settled/he dwelt’
This week’s Torah Portion is called Vayeshev (וישב), and it means “ He settled, or he dwelt .” The first verse of this portion reads, “Now Ya’acob dwelt (vayeshev) in the land of his father’s sojournings..”. However, this torah portion is mostly about Yoseph (Yahuseph) and his life in Mitsrayim (Egypt).
Chapter 37: After Yitshaq (Ya’acob’s dad) passes away in the last lesson, Ya’acob is still dwelling in the land of Kena’an, where his father had been. Ya’acob loves his son Yahuseph (Yoseph) more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age.
Ya’acob makes Yahuseph a long robe, but when his brothers realize that their father loves Yahuseph more than the rest of them, they hated him! Even more, Yahuseph dreams that he’s binding sheaves in a field with his brothers, and his sheaf rises higher than theirs, and his brothers’ sheaves bow down to his sheaf. This made his brothers even more angry with him! Then, Yahuseph dreams another dream. He dreams that the sun, moon and 11 stars bow down to him (these representing his dad, mom and brothers).
Now, his brothers were very, very jealous of him.
Fun Fact: Each month, the sun appears to pass through 1 of 12 special constellations in our sky. These are a picture of the 12 tribes!
And so his brothers go to feed their father’s flock in Shekem and Ya’acob sends Yahuseph to check on them and let him know if everything is fine. A man finds Yahuseph wandering in a field and tells him that his brothers have left to Dothan. Yahuseph finds them there and while he is still in the distance, his brothers plot to kill him. Reuben, his eldest brother, secretly tries to save Yahuseph by suggesting they throw him in a pit instead, so he can rescue him out of there later. While Reuben is away, the other brothers strip Yahuseph of his coat and throw him into a pit. While eating a meal, a group of Yishma’elites come through with spices and things they are taking to Mitsrayim. His other brother Yahudah, suggests that they sell him instead of killing him, and trade him to the Yishma’elites for 20 pieces of silver.
Fun Fact: Yahuseph was 17 when he was sold into slavery.
So later on, Reuben returns to the pit and realizes his brother isn’t there and tears his clothes! When he finds his other brothers he tells them ‘the boy is gone!’, what is he to do? So they took Yahuseph’s robe and dipped his robe in goat’s blood, to deceive their father, Ya’acob. When they bring the robe to Ya’acob, he believes a wild beast devoured Yahuseph and mourns for him many days. Yahuseph, still alive of course, is sold in Mitsrayim to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard.
Fun Fact: The style robe Yahuseph received as a gift from his dad Yitshaq was the type of robe that would have been worn often by middle eastern princes and royalty at that time.
Chapter 38: While Yahuseph is gone, Yahudah his brother (the one that actually suggested selling Yahuseph in the first place), marries a Kena’anite woman and has 3 boys. When the eldest son Er is old enough, Yahudah finds a wife for him named Tamar. But Er was evil in YHWH eyes, and YHWH takes his life!
Fun Fact: In Hebrew culture, when a woman marries a man and doesn’t have any kids before he passes away, the next brother of his was suppose to marry her so she could still have kids.
Now it is the duty of Onan, Yahudah’s 2nd born to marry Tamar but YHWH takes his life away too for displeasing him. Yahudah has only one son left and he is still too young for Tamar to marry. So he tells her to wait, and after a while, Yahudah’s wife the Kena’anite woman passes away as well. Then one day, when his youngest son Shelah is old enough, Yahudah doesn’t give his son Shelah to Tamar like he’s suppose to! Tamar then tricks Yahudah for not being righteous, and eventually has sons like she was suppose to have in the first place.
Chapter 39: But let’s not forget about Yahuseph. Going back to Yahuseph being sold by his brothers, he was brought to Mitsrayim and sold as a slave to Potiphar, an officer of the Pharaoh. Soon enough, Potiphar notices that YHWH is with Yahuseph and puts him in charge of all his house. But Potiphar’s wife accuses Yahuseph of doing something he didn’t do, and then he was thrown into Pharaoh’s prison. But even in prison, YHWH gives Yahuseph favor in the eyes of the prison warden and he puts Yahuseph in charge of all the prisoners.
Chapter 40: And so, as time goes on, the pharaoh’s cupbearer and chief baker are thrown into the same prison and Yahuseph is in charge of them. After being there for some time, the cupbearer and the baker both dream important dreams. In the morning Yahuseph notices that they are sad and asks them why. They tell Yahuseph that they are sad because there is no interpreter to tell them what their dreams mean. Yahuseph, knowing that all dream interpretations belong to YHWH, tells them to tell him about their dreams.
The cupbearer tells Yahuseph about his dream and Yahuseph tells him that pharaoh will restore him back as cupbearer again in 3 days. Then Yahuseph tells the cupbearer to remember him and mention him to pharaoh when he gets out. The chief baker, hearing that the dream meant something well, explained his dream to Yahuseph also. However, the baker’s dream did not mean something nice like the cupbearer’s did. Instead, Yahuseph told him that his dream meant that pharaoh would take his life in 3 days. When the time comes, Pharaoh celebrates his birthday (which was 3 days later) and calls for both the cupbearer and the baker. And so Yahuseph’s dream interpretations become true exactly when he said they would. But poor Yahuseph, the cupbearer didn’t remember to mention him to Pharaoh. He forgot about Yahuseph…
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