Sharona Margolin Halickman
Sharona Margolin Halickman

Yosef’s Hints

In Parshat Miketz, Yosef’s brothers still do not know that Pharaoh’s second in command is in fact their brother, who seats them in age order (Breisheet 43:33):

They were seated before him, the firstborn according to his seniority and the youngest according to his youth. The men looked at one another in astonishment.

The Midrash, Breisheet Rabba 92:5 states that Yosef assigned their seats by tapping his goblet and calling out, “Yehuda is the king (and leader of his brothers) and is the most important so he will sit at the head. Reuven, who was born first will sit next to him etc.” When he got to Binyamin, he said, “He has no mother and I have no mother- let him sit nearest to me.”Therefore the brothers were surprised.

Rashi brings a variant of the Midrash quoted above: Yosef assigned their seats by tapping his goblet and calling out, “Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Yisachar, Zevulun sons of one mother, sit in that order, which is the order in which you were born.” He did the same with the others (the sons of Bilha and the sons of Zilpa). When he got to Binyamin, he said, “He has no mother and I have no mother- let him sit nearest to me.”

Either way, the brothers found it amazing that Pharaoh’s second in command was able to know who was more important, who was older and who was younger.

When Yosef gave out their portions of food, he did something that seemed strange (43:34):

He had portions carried from before him to them. Binyamin’s portion was greater than all of theirs- five times as much. They drank with him and became intoxicated.

Was Yosef trying to get the brothers to realize that it was him? Didn’t he think that being overly nice to Binyamin would be suspicious?

According to Radak, the brothers assumed that Yosef was being nice to Binyamin to make it up to him since he caused Binyamin to leave his father despite the fact that he did not want to send him.

It was not on the brothers’ radar screens that this man could possibly be Yosef.

Why does the verse conclude with the brothers getting drunk?

Sforno teaches that they weren’t used to drinking the royal wine and therefore they got drunk.

I wonder if the brothers noticed some of the strange things that Pharaoh’s second in command was doing, causing them to drink more than they normally would have.

Even though Yosef dropped some hints, the brothers still had no idea that this man was in fact their brother, Yosef, as the thought never would have occurred to them.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments