Parshat Mikeitz Summary

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Parshat Mikeitz is the 10th parsha in Sefer Bereshit (also known as Genesis).

This parsha is verses Genesis 41:1 – 44:17, or a total of 146 verses.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

Aliyah 1: Genesis 41:1 – 41:14, 14 verses

Two years have gone by since Joseph interpreted the dreams of the wine steward and the chief baker.

Pharaoh dreams two dreams. In his first dream seven healthy cows emerge from the Nile River. Then 7 ugly and skinny cows come out the river. The skinny cows ate the healthy cows.

In his second dream he sees 7 healthy ears of grain sprout on a stalk. After them sprouted 7 ears of grain that were thin and withered. These withered ears ate the healthy grain.

7 fat cows

Pharaoh did not understand his dreams. Also, none of is advisers could interpret the dreams.

The wine steward tells Pharaoh about his encounter with Joseph and how he was able to understand and correctly interpret dreams. Pharaoh summons Joseph to come to him.

Aliyah 2: Genesis 41:15 – 41:38, 24 verses

Joseph explains to Pharaoh that he does not have special abilities, but the interpretation would come from God.

Pharaoh proceeds to tell Joseph his dreams.

Joseph explains that it was not two separate dreams, but rather one dream. The healthy cows and ears of grain represent 7 years of plentiful harvest. The thin cows and withered ears represent 7 years of famine.

Joseph also explains that the dream was repeated because God was telling Pharaoh that these years of plenty and then famine were coming soon.

Finally, he advises Pharaoh to appoint someone to oversee the land and store food during the good years to prepare for the coming famine.

Pharaoh is impressed and accepts Joseph’s interpretation.

Aliyah 3: Genesis 41:39 – 41:52, 14 verses

Pharaoh appoints Joseph as viceroy over the land of Egypt. Only Pharaoh would be more powerful.

Joseph is 30 years old when he is freed from prison and appointed viceroy. He was 17 when he was sold by his brothers. That means he has been in Egypt for 13 years.

Pharaoh gives Joseph the name Zaphenath Paneach. He also has him marry Asenath. She bears him two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.

During the 7 years of plenty, Joseph oversees the gathering and storing of grain to prepare for the coming famine.

Aliyah 4: Genesis 41:53 – 42:18, 23 verses

As foretold by Pharaoh’s dream, the 7 years of plenty end and the famine begins. The famine is not only in Egypt but also the surrounding lands.

Joseph sells food to the Egyptians and to other who come to Egypt to buy grain.

healthy ears of grain

Meanwhile, in the land of Canaan there is also famine. Jacob realizes that there is food in Egypt.

He sends 10 of his sons to Egypt to buy food. He keeps Benjamin (Joseph’s brother) with him to ensure his safety.

Joseph’s brothers come before him to buy grain. Joseph recognizes them but they do not realize who he is.

Joseph accuses them of being spies intent on finding weaknesses in Egypt’s defenses.

They reject the accusation and claim that they have never been spies. They explain that they are 12 brothers, but one is dead and the youngest is still at home.

Joseph repeats his claim and demands that one of them go home and return with the youngest brother (Benjamin). He puts them in prison for 3 days.

On the third day Joseph makes them another offer.

Aliyah 5: Genesis 42:19 – 43:15, 35 verses

Joseph proposes that one brother remain in Egypt while the others take food to their families. They are required to bring Benjamin with them the next time they come to purchase food.

The brothers accept. Joseph tells his staff to fill their sacks with grain and to place their money into the sacks. He keeps Simeon as a hostage.

As they are returning to Egypt, one of the brothers discovers his money in his grain sack. They are confounded and wonder what is happening to them.

When they get home they tell Jacob what happened in Egypt. As they empty their grain sacks, they discover all of their has been hidden in the sacks.

The famine continues in the land of Canaan and Jacob wants his sons to purchase more food from Egypt.

Judah reminds his father that the viceroy of Egypt will see them only if they bring Benjamin to him. Jacob does not want to send him. He relents only after Judah takes personal responsibility to return Benjamin safely.

Jacob tells them to take a gift to the viceroy and the money that they found in their grain sacks.

The brothers journey down to Egypt and stand in front of Joseph.

Aliyah 6: Genesis 43:16 – 43:29, 14 verses

Joseph decides that they will eat together at his house. His brothers are brought to the house. They are concerned that they are about to be framed for a crime because of the money that was in their grain sacks.

They explain to Joseph’s chief of staff what happened with the money and how they discovered it. He tells them that if must have come to them from God because he had received all of the money they brought the first time.

Simeon is brought out and joins them at Joseph’s house.

Joseph comes home. This is the first time they have all been together since they sold Joseph 22 years before.

The Calculation of 22 Years

Joseph was 17 when he was sold by his brothers. He was 30 when Pharaoh appointed him viceroy. That means he was already in Egypt 13 years.

During the 7 years of plenty there was no contact with his family in Canaan.

Jacob’s sons made two trips to Egypt. It seems that these trips were in the first and second years of the famine.

Hence we have 13 years as a slave + 7 years of plenty + 2 years of famine = 22 years.

Joseph sees Benjamin and blesses him.

Aliyah 7: Genesis 43:30 – 44:17, 22 verses

Joseph is very emotional due to seeing his younger brother. He leaves the room to compose himself.

Joseph returns and they begin eating. Joseph arranges the seating so that his brothers are seated in age order. Food portions are set before them, but Benjamin’s is five times larger than what the others receive.

The next day the brothers prepare to return home to Jacob. Joseph directs his chief of staff to fill their sacks with grain, put their money in their sacks, and put his silver drinking goblet in Benjamin’s sack.

They leave and Joseph waits a while. He then directs his chief of staff to chase after them and accuse them of stealing the silver goblet.

He catches up to them and levels the accusation. The brothers deny doing anything wrong. The are so confident that they offer that whoever has the goblet should die and the rest of them will become the viceroy’s slaves.

The chief of staff counters that the one holding the goblet will become a slave and the rest of them will be free to leave. He searches them and (of course) finds the goblet with Benjamin.

The brothers tear their garments and return to the city.

They fall to the ground in front of Joseph. Judah offers himself and all of brothers as slaves to Joseph.

Joseph refuses. He will keep only Benjamin as a slave. The other brothers should return to their father.

Haftarah Summary

The “regular” haftarah is 1 Kings 3:15 – 4:1.

In this passage, King Solomon demonstrates his great wisdom by solving a dilemma. Two women had a dispute as to who was the mother of a living child.

However, Parshat Mikeitz is usually read during Chanukah, so the haftarah from Zechariah 2:14 – 4:7.

The prophet Zechariah describes his vision of the restored Temple with the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) ministering there. The vision includes a gold menorah with lamps burning olive oil.

Further Reading

One of the gifts that Jacob had his sons take to Egypt was almonds. In another article I discuss the symbolism of almonds in the Torah.

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