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Bereshit 37:28 בראשית ל״ז:כ״ח
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ויעברו אנשים מדינים סוחרים וימשכו. לפי הפשט העוברים משכוהו ומכרוהו לא האחים, ולפי זה מה שאמר להם יוסף אני יוסף אחיכם אשר מכרתם אותי מצרימה, הענין כי השלכתם אותי לבור שהיתה סבת המכירה, וזהו שאמר מצרימה כלומר שנתגלגל מאדון לאדון ונמכר פעמים רבות עד שהורד למצרים, והחטא שנמצא עליהם המפורש בעשרה הרוגי מלכות הוא זה שהם היו סבת המכירה, וגדולי עולם כמותם ראויים להענש על השלכת אחיהם הנכבד לבור ולהחשב להם לרציחה כאלו הרגוהו בידם, כענין שכתוב (שמואל ב י״ב:ט׳) ואותו הרגת בחרב בני עמון. כי אין הפרש בין ההורג את חברו בידים או המסבב לו מיתה אלא דינא רבה ודינא זוטא.

ויעברו אנשים מדינים סוחרים, וימשכו, “Midianite men, merchants, passed by and pulled Joseph (out of the pit).” According to the plain meaning of the text the passing Midianites pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him, not the brothers. According to this interpretation, Joseph saying to the brothers in Genesis 45,4 “I am Joseph whom you have sold to Egypt,” has to refer to the fact that the brothers dumped him in the pit as a result of which he was eventually sold to Egypt. This would be supported by the fact that at that time he said מצרימה, i.e. in the direction of Egypt, as opposed to למצרים, which would have meant: “to Egypt.” He referred to a process which eventually brought him to Egypt after he had been traded from master to master. In that event the sin attributed to the brothers by the Romans (who punished Jewish scholars over 1200 years later) would have been an indirect sin at best. They were punished for being the cause which triggered Joseph’s eventually winding up in Egypt as a slave. The Romans felt that leading citizens of the Jewish people should pay for this indirect sale of Joseph by the brothers. They considered it murder seeing that if the Ishmaelites or Midianites had not come along Joseph would have died in that pit. The principle of prominent people being considered guilty of murder even if it was not by laying an actual hand of the victim is reflected in the Bible by the case of David who ordered his commander-in-chief Yoav to place Bat Sheva’s husband Uriah in such an exposed position at the front against the Bney Ammon that he was almost certain to be killed. He instructed Yoav to ensure that Uriah would be killed by withdrawing the support of his comrades-in-arms from Uriah. As a result, Uriah was killed. by the Ammonites, and the Bible (the prophet Natan in Samuel II 12,9) accused David outright of having murdered Uriah though he had not laid a hand on him. The only difference between murdering someone with one’s own hands and between contriving his certain death in another fashion is the culpability before a human tribunal. The sin vis-a-vis G’d is the same (compare Kidushin 43)

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בעשרים כסף. נצטוינו בתורה בפדיון הבן שיהיה חמש סלעים, הוא שכתוב (במדבר י״ח:ט״ו-ט״ז) ופדויו מבן חדש תפדה בערכך כסף חמשת שקלים. והסלע ד' דינרים, וא"כ ה' סלעים ד' פעמים הם עשרים כסף, וזהו שתרגם אונקלוס בעשרים כסף, ולא תרגם בעשרין סלעין דכסף, והא למדת למצות פדיון הבן שהוא חמשה סלעים שהם עשרים כסף, לפי שבא לכפר על מכירת יוסף בכורו של רחל שנתנה לו הבכורה, שנמכר בכ' כסף.

בעשרים כסף, “for twenty pieces of silver.” We have been commanded by the Torah (Numbers 18,16) that the redemption of a firstborn son, an Israelite, (as distinct from a Kohen or a Levite) is to be performed in exchange for 5 selaim. The sela is a coin worth 4 “kesseph,” pieces of silver, such as mentioned in our verse here. This is the reason that Onkelos does not translate “twenty selaim of silver” but leaves the wording of the Torah unchanged and writes: עשרים כסף. One of the underlying reasons for the whole procedure of redeeming the firstborn is the need to atone for that sale of Joseph who was Rachel’s firstborn son and who had been wrongly sold for this amount (compare Jerusalem Talmud Shekalim 2,3).