Benjamin is framed as a thief. Joseph announces that he will keep Benjamin as a slave.
Judah, who has personally sworn to his father to bring Benjamin home at all costs, steps forward to plead on his behalf. Emphasizing the grief Jacob will experience if Benjamin does not return, Judah offers himself as a slave in Benjamin’s place. Judah reveals the sincerity and devotion Joseph has been hoping to see; Joseph decides that the moment has arrived to reveal his identity. To spare his brothers from embarrassment, Joseph sends everyone out of the room.
With his ringing declaration, “I am Joseph!” all is suddenly, shatteringly cIear. Joseph is ruler of Egypt. His dreams of kingship were not adolescent fantasies but true prophecy; Joseph was never a dangerous upstart but a Divinely ordained leader. The brothers are speechless with humiliation.
Joseph utters not a word of rebuke, instead using every means at his disposal to convince his brothers not to blame themselves. He instructs them to return with all haste to Canaan, collect their families, and settle in Egypt. Joseph emphasizes that his travails were obviously part of a Divine plan to bring him to a leadership role, enabling him to sustain Jacob’s family during these years of famine. In a larger context, the children of Israel’s emigration to Egypt is the first step in the fulfillment of Jewish destiny; Joseph’s position enables them to arrive in Egypt as honored guests rather than miserable captives.
Informed that Joseph is alive, Jacob reacts first with disbelief, then with joy. His spirit revives, and he regains the prophetic inspiration that has been absent for the twenty-two years he has been in mourning.
Jacob travels to Egypt; en route, G-d promises him that he will survive the dangerous environment of Egypt and eventually return to the Holy Land. Jacob and Joseph experience a tearful reunion.
Joseph instructs his brothers to introduce themselves to Pharaoh as shepherds, an occupation despised by the sheep-worshipping Egyptians. Joseph settles his family in Goshen, a fertile district removed from the depraved culture of metropolitan Egypt.
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