Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We Were Warned!

At last week's "Shiur Nashim," Women's Torah class, Shabbat Vayechi, in my Shiloh neighborhood, we were asked why the distinguished Joseph, wasn't he the viceroy second in command to Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt? had to beg Pharaoh for the privilege of taking his father for burial in the Jewish HolyLand.
ד וַיַּעַבְרוּ, יְמֵי בְכִיתוֹ, וַיְדַבֵּר יוֹסֵף, אֶל-בֵּית פַּרְעֹה לֵאמֹר: אִם-נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן, בְּעֵינֵיכֶם--דַּבְּרוּ-נָא, בְּאָזְנֵי פַרְעֹה לֵאמֹר. 4 And when the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph spoke unto the house of Pharaoh, saying: 'If now I have found favour in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying:
ה אָבִי הִשְׁבִּיעַנִי לֵאמֹר, הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי מֵת--בְּקִבְרִי אֲשֶׁר כָּרִיתִי לִי בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, שָׁמָּה תִּקְבְּרֵנִי; וְעַתָּה, אֶעֱלֶה-נָּא וְאֶקְבְּרָה אֶת-אָבִי--וְאָשׁוּבָה. 5 My father made me swear, saying: Lo, I die; in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come back.'

I hadn't thought about it before, but the answer was obvious, especially since we know that in Shmot, Exodus, the next Book of the Torah we'll be told:
ח וַיָּקָם מֶלֶךְ-חָדָשׁ, עַל-מִצְרָיִם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדַע, אֶת-יוֹסֵף. 8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph.

Joseph was no longer in power when his father Jacob died.  His job was finished; he had only been hired to administer the riches and the famine.  By the time his father died, that was history, and the chances are that even though the Egyptian people may have remembered him fondly, especially considering that they joined the mourning for Jacob, but Pharaoh didn't like that.  As long as Joseph was alive, he was "untouchable," but no doubt Egyptian history was rewritten after his death, and the Hebrew former slave/prisoner wasn't credited with saving the economy of the nation.

Unfortunately, it's rather easy to rewrite history, as many of us have seen.

Shabbat Shalom


Unknown said...

Even if Yoseph was still in power (and possibly even more than otherwise) Yoseph would have had to beg for permission to leave the country. Par'o was the "god-king" and everything had to be explicitly permitted by him. There is a medrash that the famine stopped when Yaakov came to Mitzrayim and resumed 17 years later upon his death. As a result, Par'o would not have wanted to take the risk of losing his "magic" servant. Indeed, had Yoseph not sworn to Yaakov that he would be buried in Canaan, Par'o would not have allowed them to take the body out of the country. There are meforshim who state that Par'o made sure to keep the families in Mitzrayim as hostages to make sure that they would come back after the funeral and not "defect".

THe actual shibud only started after Levi (who lived the longest of the brothers) died. It was only after the last survivor of the original generation died that the Egyptians were able to start the oppression. Consider what is being done now as the generation of the Holocaust dies out.

Batya said...

Interesting, Sabba, the rabbi who gave the shiur didn't mention that midrash.

Sammy Finkelman said...

They didn't necesseraly reqrite it right away

The oppression started - or the big oppression started when a new king arose who didn't know Yosef - he was not even alive at the time. This was some time after the whole generation died out.

TAs for rewriting histiory - it is true that rameses re-wriote history. He is well kown for putting his name on things that other Pharohs had built, and of coure he renamed Goshen "Ramses"

The Egyptians continued re-writing history more and more, eventually hiring a Greek Herodtus, to write a book taht purported to describe ALL the peoples of the area with the idea of removing Jews from history. Therefore he could not bring down the history of the Persian Wars down to his own time.

Batya said...

Thanks for the additional info.