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by Nissan Mindel

Talks and Tales


Library » History » Patriarchs, 12 Tribes | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Eleven happy brothers were on their way to Canaan, returning to their aged father Jacob. Their sacks were full of food for their starving children and they were all together at last. Here was also their brother Simeon who had been held hostage by the'cruel' Egyptian Viceroy, Zofnath Paaneach; here was also their youngest brother Benjamin, about whom their father had been so worried and anxious. Once again they felt united and strong. If only their brother Joseph were with them! 0, how remorseful they felt now! They had gone to no end of trouble trying to find their lost brother; they searched all Egypt and aroused upon themselves the suspicion of being spies. But thank G-d, they were on their way home now, and Benjamin was safe with them. They thanked G-d for all His mercies ...

Suddenly they heard a stern call from the distance: "Stop there, ho!"

The brothers stopped abruptly and turned their heads. Galloping fast toward then was the Viceroy's Chief Steward, leading a company of horsemen.

"How dare you steal my master's divining goblet?" the Chief Steward exclaimed, as soon as he pulled up his horse in front of the astonished brothers. "Is this how you repay for kindness and hospitality?"

It was Benjamin's turn now, and suddenly they froze with horror
The accusation came like a bolt from the sky, and the brothers grew pale and frightened. The next moment, however, they recovered from the shock, and burst out all together:

"How can you accuse us of such a dreadful thing? Have we not proven to you our honesty by twice returning the money that we have found in our sacks together with our food? We have never stolen anything from anybody, let alone from your noble master! With whomsoever the stolen thing be found, let him die, and we shall all be your master's slaves!"

Hastily they lowered their sacks from the backs of their asses, and opened them. Beginning at the eldest, the Chief Steward searched everybody's sack, while the brothers looked on confidently, as the search proved fruitless in one sack after another. It was Benjamin's turn now, and suddenly they froze with horror.

"Here it is!" the Chief Steward exclaimed triumphantly.

The brothers stood dazed and horrified, staring incredulously at that fiendish goblet.

"I am afraid I'll have to take your youngest brother with me back to Egypt..." the Chief Steward said.

The brothers did not doubt Benjamin's innocence. A thought flashed through Judah's mind, how easy it would be for him and his brothers to tackle the Chief Steward and his men, and free their innocent brother. But no, they would not take the law into their own hands; the last time two of them took the law into their own hands, their father was greatly displeased. They would all return to Egypt and clear themselves of the disgraceful accusation. Surely, there must be some mistake!

Silently, they packed their sacks again and followed the Chief Steward back to Egypt.

Joseph was in his state room, when the brothers were ushered in before him.

"What a disgraceful thing to do!" Joseph chided them mercilessly. "Here I invite you to my house, treat you like respectful guests, almost like my equals, and what do you do? You steal my divining goblet! Any one else in my place would very well carry out your own verdict - put the thief -to death, and put you all in chains as slaves for the rest of your lives! But I will be lenient with you! I will only retain the guilty one as my slave, and the rest of you go home to your father..."


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Third of the three Patriarchs and father of the Twelve Tribes. Lived most his life in Canaan and died in Egypt in 1505 BCE. Also known by the name of "Israel."
The land which G-d promised to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Named after the Tribe of Canaanites who dwelt there at the time. Eventually, when the Israelites conquered the land in 1272 BCE, it was renamed the "Land of Israel."
1. The fourth son of Jacob and Leah. He was blessed by Jacob to be the leader of the tribes. Consequently, the Davidic royal dynasty is from the tribe of Judah. 2. The southern part of Israel which was occupied by the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and always remained under the reign of the kings from the tribe of Judah.
Firstborn son of Rachel and Jacob. Because he was Jacob's favorite son, his brothers conspired against him and sold him into slavery He ended up in Egypt where he became viceroy of the land, and eventually brought his entire family to Egypt. Died in 1451 BCE.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.