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Fox Tales – Parashat Vayyeishev: Yaakov & Son

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Yaakov and Yosef, whose combined stories occupy half of the book of Genesis, are deeply bound together in their biblical portrayal. The Bible already clues us in to this in its purposeful use of numbers: Yosef lives with his father for seventeen years before he is sold to traders and then into Egyptian slavery (Gen. 37:2), and when the two of them are reunited toward the end of Genesis, Yaakov lives with his son for another seventeen years (47:28). The symmetry, using an unconventional number, cannot be accidental.

In many ways, the lives of the two patriarchs exhibit striking parallels. Each is the product of a parent’s favoritism, with initially disastrous results among their other sons. The prophecy received by the pregnant Rivka leads her to emotionally invest heavily in Yaakov, eventually antagonizing Esav; and when Yaakov himself becomes a parent, he visibly favors his late-life son Yosef, to the chagrin of his other sons.

Notable in the Yosef story are the double sets of dreams–of the young Yosef, of Pharaoh’s imprisoned chief cupbearer and baker, and of the Pharaoh himself. All the dreams prove prophetic: Yosef’s predict........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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