Throughout the next four Torah portions we read about Joseph and his life. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son; the other brothers felt this favoritism and they were jealous. Joseph dreams two dreams which foreshadow his supremacy over his family. He relates these dreams to the family, which does little to help the already strained relations between Joseph and his brothers.
Jacob and his sons were shepherds. Jacob sends Joseph to check on his brothers and their sheep. Upon seeing Joseph, the brothers plot to kill him. Reuben convinces the brothers not to kill Joseph, but rather to throw him into a pit, from which Reuben plans to later rescue him. Plans have a way of changing, and without Reuben’s knowledge, the brothers decide to sell Joseph to some merchants. Before Joseph is sold, the brothers take his famous coat of many colors. The coat is then dipped in goat’s blood and presented to Jacob as proof of Joseph’s having been killed by a wild animal. The merchants sell Joseph to Potiphar, who is an Egyptian noble.
Potiphar entrusts Joseph with the entire house. Life looks good for Joseph until Potiphar’s wife who could not get Joseph to succumb to her, accuses him of rape. Joseph is jailed, and there he meets Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. While in prison, they both have dreams, which Joseph interprets. Joseph correctly foretells that the cupbearer will return to his service in the palace, and the baker will be put to death. Joseph asks the cupbearer to remember him, but he is forgotten.
“And Joseph was brought down to Egypt (39:10).” Anyone viewing the scene of Joseph being brought down to Egypt as a slave would have considered it a major tragedy. His brothers sold him into slavery and he was being taken far away from his father and his homeland. But the reality was that this was the first step toward his being appointed the second in command of Egypt. He would eventually be in charge of the national economy of Egypt and would be the mastermind behind the complex program to prepare for the years of famine during the years of plenty.
Later on, when Jacob went down to Egypt, anyone viewing the scene would have considered it a very positive one. Jacob was going to be reunited with his favorite son after so many years of separation. His son was a powerful leader and he would be treated with the honors of royalty. But what was the total picture. This was the first step in the exile of the Children of Israel. Their enslavement in Egypt was beginning at this very moment, although the entire process would take some time until it was finally felt.
No human being has the ability to know what the final consequences of any situation will actually be. Therefore, when a situation seems to be extremely negative, do not despair. This could lead to wonderful things for you. Conversely, when things seem to be going extremely well, do not become complacent or arrogant. One can never tell what the future has in store.