At the beginning of Miketz, Joseph rises from the dungeon. The Pharaoh has had his disturbing dreams which no one can interpret to his satisfaction, and the Chief Cub Bearer remembers a “Hebrew youth.” (Gen. 41:12). Before he can digest what is happening to him, Joseph is all dolled up, and whisked off to an appearance before the Pharaoh.
Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams as indicating there will be seven good years of harvest and seven years of drought. But he doesn’t stop there. He makes a pragmatic suggestion: Get organized so that when the lean years come, the people won’t starve. In fact, hire a competent person to oversee all this. Guess who gets the job?
When the lean years come, everyone in the Middle East knows that there is grain available in Egypt, including Jacob and his remaining sons. (Gen. 41:57) Jacob dispatches all his sons to pick up the grain ration, except Benjamin, for fear of something happening to him.
In a classic moment Joseph sees his brothers, yet they don’t recognize him. Their bowing deeply to him returns him internally to childhood and his own dream of them bowing to him. (Gen. 42:8) One might expect that this would be Joseph’s moment of triumph, but instead he is a deeply conflicted soul. Part of him wants to hug all his brothers, and part of him is still angry as hell at what they did to him.
Questions for discussion: How does Joseph deal with these conflicted feelings? In the course of plotting a complicated stratagem, is he seeking revenge or rapprochement or both? Why does Benjamin become a linchpin in this plan?