Jailed!By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
The years of plenty ended and the years of famine began. All the neighboring lands were going hungry, but Egypt had plenty of food saved up for just this occasion. When the citizens of Egypt ran out of food, they complained to Pharaoh, who sent them to Yoseif. Yoseif opened up his store houses and provided the people with food, though they did have to pay for it. People from all over the area were soon coming to Egypt to buy food.
The land of Canaan was hit by the famine, so Yaakov told his sons to go to Egypt to buy food. Yoseif’s ten older brothers saddled up for the journey, but Yaakov didn’t send Binyamin. Binyamin was Rachel’s only surviving son (or so Yaakov thought), so he was scared to let the baby of the family out of his sight. The ten brothers came before “Tzafnas Panayach” to buy food.
Yoseif immediately recognized his brothers, but they didn’t recognize him. (Not only had he grown a beard since they last saw him, they also assumed he was dead.) Yoseif decided to put his brothers to the test and see what kind of men they turned out to be, so he accused them of being spies on a mission to look for Egypt’s weaknesses. They denied this charge and told him that they were brothers, the sons of one man. They had two other brothers, they told him, one of whom had died and the other of whom was at home with their father. Yoseif claimed not to believe them and he said they would be executed if one of them did not go back home and produce the youngest brother as proof of their story. He had them all tossed into jail for three days.