Benjamin - Israelites in Egypt

Israelites in Egypt

The Torah's Joseph narrative, at a stage when Joseph is unrecognised by his brothers, describes Joseph as testing whether his brothers have reformed, by secretly planting a silver cup in Benjamin's bag, then publicly searching the bags for it, and after finding it in Benjamin's possession, demanding that Benjamin become his slave as a punishment. The narrative goes on to state that when Judah (on behalf of the other brothers) begged Joseph not to enslave Benjamin and instead enslave him, since enslavement of Benjamin would break Jacob's heart. This caused Joseph to recant and reveal his identity. The midrashic book of Jasher argues that prior to revealing his identity, Joseph asked Benjamin to find his missing brother (i.e. Joseph) via astrology, using an astrolabe-like tool; it continues by stating that Benjamin divined that the man on the throne was Joseph, so Joseph identified himself to Benjamin (but not the other brothers), and revealed his scheme (as in the Torah) to test how fraternal the other brothers were. However, some classical rabbinical sources argue that Joseph identified himself for other reasons. In these sources, Benjamin swore an oath, on the memory of Joseph, that he was innocent of theft, and, when challenged about how believable the oath would be, explained that remembering Joseph was so important to him that he had named his sons in Joseph's honour; these sources go on to state that Benjamin's oath touched Joseph so deeply that Joseph was no longer able to pretend to be a stranger.

In the narrative, just prior to this test, when Joseph had first met all of his brothers (but not identified himself to them), he had held a feast for them; the narrative heavily implies that Benjamin was Joseph's favorite brother, since he is overcome with tears when he first meets Benjamin in particular, and he gives Benjamin five times as much food as he apportions to the others. According to textual scholars, this is really the Jahwist's account of the reunion after Joseph identifies himself, and the account of the threat to enslave Benjamin is just the Elohist's version of the same event, with the Elohist being more terse about Joseph's emotions towards Benjamin, merely mentioning that Benjamin was given five times as many gifts as the others.

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Famous quotes containing the words egypt and/or israelites:

    The great pagan world of which Egypt and Greece were the last living terms ... once had a vast and perhaps perfect science of its own, a science in terms of life. In our era this science crumbled into magic and charlatanry. But even wisdom crumbles.
    —D.H. (David Herbert)

    The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God.
    Bible: Hebrew, Exodus 2:23.