Vayeishev – Shlishi

Who REALLY Sold Yoseif?

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

When Yoseif arrived, his brothers took his coat (a very visible symbol of their issues) and tossed him in the pit. The brothers sat down to eat and they saw an Ishmaelite caravan approaching. Yehuda suggested that they sell Yoseif as a slave to the Ishmaelites. While this discussion was going on, some Midianite traders arrived and removed Yoseif from the pit. It was they who sold Yoseif to the Ishmaelites. (Really! See verse 28. There are different interpretations, but that’s the simple meaning.) Yoseif was sold and resold several times until he finally reached Egypt.

Reuven, who had planned to rescue Yoseif, returned to the pit and found Yoseif gone. As the oldest, he felt personally responsible and he grieved.

The brothers ripped Yoseif’s coat and dipped it in goat blood. They sent the coat to Yaakov to identify. Yaakov recognized it and assumed that Yoseif must have been killed by a wild animal. He mourned, but he could not be consoled. Meanwhile, Yoseif was being purchased by an Egyptian officer named Potifar.

As we mentioned earlier, in parshas Vayeitzei, verse 35 here mentions Yaakov’s daughters. There are two opinions: either (1) he had daughters aside from Dina, who are simply not named in the text or (2) this refers to his sons’ wives, who were like daughters to him.

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