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Parashat VaYeshev



Gen. 37:1 – 40:23


Hebrew Vocabulary




Hebrew Parsha

Joseph and His Coat

At 17, Joseph is a shepherd just like his brothers. He gossips telling his father of his brothers exploits. Jacob favors Joseph over his other brothers. Jacob even makes him a beautiful coat of many colors. Joseph’s brothers are very jealous of him and the resent his being favored over them.

Joseph is sold into slavery

Joseph dreams about 12 bushels of wheat. Joseph’s bushel rises up and the other bushels bow down to it. When he repeats the dream to his brothers, he is laughed at and they ask him if he really believes that they will ever really bow down to him. His brothers hate him more because of the dream.

Joseph has another dream where the sun and moon and 11 stars are bowing down to him. When he repeats the dream his father scolds him saying, “Will I, your mother, and your brothers bow down to you?”

Joseph has two dreams

Joseph’s brothers tend their father’s flocks near Shehem. Jacob sends Joseph to see how they are doing. When his brothers see him coming, they plot to kill him. Reuben, the oldest brother, suggests that instead of killing him, they throw him into a pit. That way they would not actually kill him. Reuben’s secret desire is to go back and save him from the pit.

When Joseph reaches his brothers, they take off his coat and throw him into the pit. They sit down to eat and a caravan of Ishmaelites arrives. Judah says they should sell Joseph instead of letting him die. They sell him for 20 pieces of silver. Then they tear his coat and dip it in goat’s blood and give it to their father, Jacob. When he sees the blood, he assumes that a wild animal has killed him and he mourns for many days, refusing to be consoled.

Meanwhile, Joseph is resold to a caravan of Midianites, who bring him to Egypt. There he is sold to Potifar, Pharaoh’s chief butcher.

Judah and Tamar

Judah leaves his brothers and marries a Canaanite woman. They have three sons: Air, Onan and Shayla. Judah finds a wife for Air called Tamar. Air does evil things and HaShem kills him. Judah then has Onan marry Tamar. Onan doesn’t want a child because he feels it will be seen as Air’s, so he refuses to let his wife have a child. HaShem kills him as well.

Judah tells Tamar to go back to her father’s house until Shayla is old enough to marry her. A long time later, Judah’s wife dies and after mourning her, he goes to Timna to shear his sheep.

Tamar realizes that even though Shayla is old enough to marry her, Judah won’t allow it. So she puts on a veil and stands by the road to Timna waiting for Judah to walk past. He doesn’t recognize her and thinks that she is a prostitute. He says that he will pay her with goats, but he did not bring them, so he gives her his signet ring, cord and staff as security. Later when Joseph comes back she is gone.

About three months later , Judah hears that Tamar is pregnant. He commends her to death, but before the sentence is carried out she show him the ring, cord and staff. He sets her free and she gives birth to twins: Perez and Zerah.

Joseph’s road to greatness

Meanwhile, in Egypt, Potifar sees that Joseph is successful in everything he does, so he puts Joseph in charge of his household. Potifar’s wife likes Joseph and tries to seduce him. When Joseph refuses her, she claims he attacked her and Potifar has him thrown in jail.

HaShem is with Joseph while he is in jail and the warden puts him in charge of the other prisoners.

The Pharaoh’s drink server and baker are in jail with him. Each of them has a dream and Joseph interprets their dreams for them. The drink server dreams that he has three clusters of grapes which he squeezes and gives to Pharaoh.

Joseph tells him that the three clusters represent three days. In three days, the Pharaoh is going to give the butler his job back and he will be free.

The baker dreams that there are three baskets of food that Pharaoh likes to eat. Birds come and eat from the basket. Joseph says that the dream means that in three days Pharaoh is going to hang the baker.

Three days later, on the Pharaoh’s birthday, the drink server is freed to go back to his job and the baker is hung. Joseph asks him to remember him when he gets out of jail. The drink server forgets about Joseph.


Haftarah Connection

Haftarah Study

Amos 2.6-3.8

This week’s Parsha has Joseph being kidnapped and sold into slavery by his brothers.

The prophet Amos, in our Haftara, tells the nation of Israel that< even though they are bringing sacrifices the nation will be punished because the people are “selling righteousness for money”. Which is the same sin that Joseph’s brothers committed when they sold him into slavery. You have to be committed to your fellow man and to HaShem.


Sidra Stats

Sidra Stats

  • Ninth of 54 Sedras in the Torah
  • Written on 190 lines in the Sefer Torah
  • 112 P’sukim (verses)
  • 1,558 words
  • 5,972 letters

Next week’s Parashat:  Miketz