Summary of Parshat Mikeitz
Parshat Mikeitz (Genesis 41:1-44:17) begins with Pharaoh's famous two-part dream about seven scrawny cows devouring seven robust cows, followed by seven thin ears of grain swallowing seven healthy, good ones. When his advisors and necromancers are unable to adequately solve the perplexing riddle, Pharaoh summons Joseph, who had been in prison for a total of twelve years, to interpret his dreams. Ascribing his power of interpretation solely to Hashem, Joseph tells Pharaoh that after first experiencing seven years of extraordinary and abundant crops, Egypt will be ravaged by seven years of a devastating famine. Joseph therefore advises Pharaoh to seek a wise man to oversee the collection and storage of the abundant food during the years of plenty. Impressed with the brilliant interpretation, Pharaoh appoints Joseph to be the viceroy of Egypt, making him the second most powerful man in the land. Joseph's wife Asnat gives birth to two sons, Menashe and Ephraim, and the years of plenty and famine unfold just as Joseph had predicted.
With the famine also devastating the land of Canaan, Joseph's brothers descend to Egypt to purchase food. When they do not recognize their royal brother, Joseph sets in motion a plan to determine if the brothers have fully repented for their sin of selling him almost twenty-two years before. Joseph treats them robustly and accuses them of being spies, holding Simeon as hostage while the rest of the brothers return with the food to Canaan. Joseph, still unrecognized, tells them that Simeon will be released only when they return to Egypt with their youngest brother. Initially reluctant, but faced with the heightening famine, Jacob finally agrees to allow the brothers to take Benjamin with them. Upon their arrival in Egypt, Joseph tests the brothers further by treating them all well, but showing blatant favoritism to Benjamin. When the brothers are finally sent back home with their sacks full of grain, Joseph conceals his goblet in Benjamin's bag and he is accused of stealing the precious object. The portion concludes with the looming threat that Benjamin will be made a slave to the Egyptian ruler.
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