PARASHA 009 MAIN PAGE
Vayeshev Genesis 37:1–40:23
The name of the Parshah, "Vayeshev," means "And he dwelt" and it is
found in Genesis 37:1.
Jacob settles in Hebron with his twelve sons. His favorite is
seventeen-year-old Joseph, whose brothers are jealous of the
preferential treatment he receives from his father, such as a precious
many-colored coat that Jacob makes for Joseph. Joseph relates to his
brothers two of his dreams which foretell that he is destined to rule
over them, increasing their envy and hatred towards him.
Simeon and Levi plot to kill him, but Reuben suggests that they throw
him into a pit instead, intending to come back later and save him. While
Joseph is in the pit, Judah has him sold to a band of passing
Ishmaelites. The brothers dip Joseph’s special coat in the blood of a
goat and show it to their father, leading him to believe that his most
beloved son was devoured by a wild beast.
Judah marries and has three children. The eldest, Er, dies young and
childless, and his wife, Tamar, is given in levirate marriage to the
second son, Onan. Onan sins by spilling his seed, and he too meets an
early death. Judah is reluctant to have his third son marry her.
Determined to have a child from Judah’s family, Tamar disguises herself
as a prostitute and seduces Judah himself. Judah hears that his
daughter-in-law has become pregnant and orders her executed for
harlotry, but when Tamar produces some personal effects he left with her
as a pledge for payment, he publicly admits that he is the father. Tamar
gives birth to twin sons, Peretz (an ancestor of King David) and Zerach.
Joseph is taken to Egypt and sold to Potiphar, the minister in charge of
Pharaoh’s slaughterhouses. God blesses everything he does, and soon he
is made overseer of all his master’s property. Potiphar’s wife desires
the handsome and charismatic lad; when Joseph rejects her advances, she
tells her husband that the Hebrew slave tried to force himself on her,
and has him thrown into prison. Joseph gains the trust and admiration of
his jailers, who appoint him to a position of authority in the prison
In prison, Joseph meets Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker, both
incarcerated for offending their royal master. Both have disturbing
dreams, which Joseph interprets; in three days, he tells them, the
butler will be released and the baker hanged. Joseph asks the butler to
intercede on his behalf with Pharaoh. Joseph’s predictions are
fulfilled, but the butler forgets all about Joseph and does nothing for