Vayeshev, Siman 1 וישב, א׳
1 א

כָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁהוּא אוֹמֵר וַיֵּשֶׁב, לְשׁוֹן צַעַר הוּא. וַיֵּשֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בְּאֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן וְגוֹ', וַיִּקְרְבוּ יְמֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לָמוּת (בראשית מז, כט). וַיֵּשֶׁב הָעָם לֶאֱכֹל וְשָׁתוֹ וַיָּקֻמוּ לְצַחֵק וְגוֹ', וַיִּפֹּל מִן הָעָם בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא (שמות לב, כח). וַיֵּשְׁבוּ לֶאֱכָל לֶחֶם, וְהִנֵּה אֹרְחַת יִשְׁמְעֵאלִים (בראשית לז, כה). וַיֵּשֶׁב יְהוּדָה וְיִשְׂרָאֵל לָבֶטַח (מלכים א ה, ה), וַיָּקֶם ה' שָׂטָן לִשְׁלֹמֹה (מלכים א יא, יד). וַיֵּשֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּשִּׁטִּים, וַיָּחֶל הָעָם לִזְנוֹת (במדבר כה, א). וְכֵן אַתָּה פּוֹתֵר אֶת כֻּלָּם בָּרָעָה הַזּוֹ. וְאַף כָּאן וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב, וַיָּבֵא יוֹסֵף אֶת דִּבָּתָם רָעָה.

And Jacob sat in the land (Gen. 37:1). Whenever Scripture uses the expression and he sat (also translated “and he dwelt”), it connotes misfortune: And Israel sat in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, … and the time drew near that Israel must die (Gen. 47:29); And the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to make merry (Exod. 32:37); And there fell of the people on that day three thousand men (Exod. 38:28); And they sat down to eat bread; and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites (Gen. 37:25); And Judah and Israel sat safely (I Kings 5:5); And the Lord raised up an adversary against Solomon (ibid. 11:14); And Israel sat among the cedars, etc., and the people began to commit harlotry (Num. 25:1). You may explain every other use of “and he sat” with this negative implication. In this instance And Jacob sat is followed by and Joseph brought evil report of them unto his father (Gen. 37:2).

2 ב

מַה כְּתִיב לְמַעְלָה מִן הָעִנְיָן, אֵלֶּה אַלּוּפֵי בְנֵי עֵשָׂו אַלּוּף מַגְדִּיאֵל אַלּוּף עִירָם. כֵּיוָן שֶׁרָאָה יַעֲקֹב אַלּוּפֵי בְנֵי עֵשָׂו נִתְיָרֵא, אָמַר מִי יוּכַל לַעֲמֹד כְּנֶגֶד אַלּוּפִים אֵלּוּ. מָשָׁל לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה, לִגְמַלִּים הַרְבֵּה שֶׁהָיוּ טְעוּנִין פִּשְׁתָּן, הָיָה עוֹמֵד הַנַּפָּח וְתָמֵהּ וְאָמַר הֵיכָן יִכָּנֵס כָּל הַפִּשְׁתָּן הַזֶּה. פִּקֵּחַ אֶחָד הָיָה שָׁם, אָמַר לוֹ מַה לְּךָ לִתְמוֹהַ, נִיצוֹץ אֶחָד יֵצֵא מִמַּפּוּחַ שֶׁלְּךָ וִיכַלֶּה אוֹתוֹ. אַף כָּךְ, כְּשֶׁרָאָה יַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ עֵשָׂו וְאַלּוּפָיו, נִתְיָרֵא. אָמַר, מִי יוּכַל לַעֲמֹד לִי כְּנֶגֶד אֵלּוּ. אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, גֵּץ שֶׁלְּךָ יְכַלֶּה אוֹתָם וְזֶה יוֹסֵף, דִּכְתִיב: וְהָיָה בֵית יַעֲקֹב אֵשׁ וּבֵית יוֹסֵף לֶהָבָה וּבֵית עֵשָׂו לְקַשׁ וְדָלְקוּ בָהֶם וְגוֹ' (עובדיה א, יח), לְכָךְ כְּתִיב וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב וְגוֹ', אֵלֶּה תֹּלְדוֹת יַעֲקֹב יוֹסֵף.

What is written prior to this episode? These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau: … the chief of Lotan, the chief of Magdiel … These are the chiefs of Edom (ibid. 36:15–43). When Jacob saw the chiefs of the sons of Esau, he was terrified. “Who will be able to withstand these chiefs?” he exclaimed. To what may this be compared? It may be compared to many camels laden with flax (in a certain place), and a blacksmith standing nearby asked in amazement: “Where will it be possible to store all this flax?” An observer responded: “Why do you wonder about that? After all, a single spark from your forge can consume it all.” Similarly, when our patriarch Jacob became terrified at the sight of Esau and the chiefs, and cried out: “Who will be able to assist me against them?” The Holy One, blessed be He, answered: A spark from you will consume them. And Joseph was that spark, as it is said: And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them (Obad. 19). Therefore it is written: And Jacob sat … these are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, etc.

3 ג

דָּבָר אַחֵר, לָמָּה נִתְעַסֵּק הַכָּתוּב לִכְתֹּב יִחוּסֵיהֶם. וְכִי לֹא הָיָה לוֹ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַה שֶּׁיִּכְתֹּב אֶלָּא אַלּוּף תִּמְנָע אַלּוּף לוֹטָן. אֶלָּא לְלַמֶּדְךָ שֶׁמִּתְּחִלַּת בְּרִיָּתוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, הָיָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִתְעַסֵּק וּמִתְיַחֵס בְּיִחוּסֵיהֶן שֶׁל אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה לָהֶם פִּתְחוֹן פֶּה, לְהוֹדִיעַ לַבְּרִיּוֹת עִקָּרֵיהֶן וְנִוּוּלֵיהֶם. כֵּיצַד, כְּשֶׁבָּא לְיַחֵס אֶת בְּנֵי חָם, וּבְנֵי חָם כּוּשׁ וּמִצְרַיִם, וְכוּשׁ יָלַד אֶת נִמְרוֹד, עָמַד לְהַכְעִיס, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: הוּא הֵחֵל לִהְיוֹת גִּבּוֹר (בראשית י, ח). וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר, וּמִצְרַיִם יָלַד אֶת לוּדִים וְגוֹ' אֲשֶׁר יָצְאוּ מִשָּׁם וְגוֹ', אֵינוֹ אוֹמֵר אֲשֶׁר הוֹלִידוּ אֶלָּא אֲשֶׁר יָצְאוּ, לְהוֹדִיעַ שֶׁהֵן כֻּלָּן בְּנֵי זִמָּה.

Another explanation. Why did Scripture concern itself with the genealogy of the chiefs? Did the Holy One, blessed be He, have nothing else to write about other than the chief of Timna, the chief of Lotan, etc.? He did so to teach us that from the very beginning of the creation of the world, the Holy One, blessed be He, concerned himself with the genealogies of the idolatrous nations so that it would not be left to them to describe for mankind their sterility and their degeneracy. How did He do that? When He came to the genealogy of the sons of Ham, He said: The sons of Ham: Cush, and Mizraim … and Cush begot Nimrod (Gen. 10:6–8); thus He indicated that they had become defiant, as it is said: He began to be a mighty one in the earth (ibid., v. 8). Similarly, when He said: And Mizraim begot Ludim … whence went forth (ibid., vv. 13–14), He did not say “he bore him” but he went forth, thereby informing us that he was the product of an incestuous relationship.

4 ד

וְכֵן נִתְעַסֵּק בְּיִחוּס בְּנֵי עֵשָׂו, וְאֵלֶּה תֹּלְדוֹת עֵשָׂו, לְהוֹדִיעַ נִוּוּלָן. שֶׁאַתְּ מוֹצֵא שֶׁהֵן בְּנֵי זִמָּה, שֶׁכֵּן הוּא אוֹמֵר, בְּנֵי אֱלִיפָז תֵּימָן וְאוֹמָר צְפִי וְגַעְתָּם קְנַז וְתִמְנַע וַעֲמָלֵק (דה״‎א א, לו). וְתִמְנַע הָיְתָה פִילֶגֶשׁ לֶאֱלִיפַז (בראשית לו, יב), מְלַמֵּד שֶׁנָּשָׂא אֶת בִּתּוֹ. כֵּיצַד, הָיָה בָא אֶל אִשְׁתּוֹ שֶׁל שֵׂעִיר וְעִבְּרָהּ וְיָלְדָה מִמֶּנּוּ תִּמְנָע וּנְשָׂאָהּ כְּנוֹשֵׂא בִתּוֹ שֶׁל שֵׂעִיר, וְהָיְתָה בִתּוֹ.

He concerned Himself also with the genealogy of Esau’s sons in the chapter These are the generations of Esau to disclose their degeneracy. You find that they too were the offspring of incestuous relations. Scripture states in one place: And the children of Elephaz were: Teman, and Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and Kenaz. And Timna (ibid. 36:11), and elsewhere it states: And Timna was concubine to Elephaz (ibid., v. 12). This clearly informs us that Elephaz had sexual relations with his own daughter. How did that occur? He had sexual relations with Seir’s wife first and made her pregnant and begot Timna. Later he married Timna, as though she were Seir’s daughter, when in fact she was his own. That is why it says: And the children of Seir: Lotan … and Timna was Lotan’s sister (I Chron. 1:38–39). She was Lotan’s sister by her mother, but not by his father; Elephaz was her father, and Timna became the concubine of Elephaz the son of Esau.

5 ה

וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר, אֵלֶּה בְנֵי שֵׂעִיר הַחֹרִי ישְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ לוֹטָן וְגוֹ'. וַאֲחוֹת לוֹטָן תִּמְנָע, מִן הָאֵם וְלֹא מִן הָאָב, שֶׁהָיְתָה מִן אֱלִיפָז, וְתִמְנַע הָיְתָה פִילֶגֶשׁ לֶאֱלִיפַז בֶּן עֵשָׂו. וְכֵן אַתְּ מוֹצֵא שׁוּב שֶׁאֵין קַלְקָלָה אֶלָּא בְנֵי שֵׂעִיר, דִּכְתִיב: אֵלֶּה בְנֵי שֵׂעִיר הַחֹרִי ישְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ לוֹטָן וְשׁוֹבָל וְצִבְעוֹן וַעֲנָה (בראשית לו, כא). וּלְהַלָּן עוֹשֶׂה עֲנָה בֶּן צִבְעוֹן, הוּא עֲנָה אֲשֶׁר מָצָא וְגוֹ' (בראשית לו, כד). מְלַמֵּד שֶׁבָּא צִבְעוֹן עַל אִמּוֹ וְיָלְדָה מִמֶּנּוּ אֶת עֲנָה, נִמְצָא שֶׁהָיָה אָחִיו וּבְנוֹ. שׁוּב בָּא אֶל כַּלָּתוֹ אֵשֶׁת עֲנָה וְיָצְתָה אָהֳלִיבָמָה מִבֵּין שְׁנֵיהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְאֵלֶּה הָיוּ בְּנֵי אָהֳלִיבָמָה בַת עֲנָה בַּת צִבְעוֹן אֵשֶׁת עֵשָׂו (בראשית לו, יד), וּנְשָׂאָהּ עֵשָׂו לְאִשָּׁה. וּלְפִי שֶׁהָיוּ כֻלָּם בְּנֵי זִמָּה, פֵּרְשָׁם הַכָּתוּב לְהוֹדִיעַ נִוּוּלָם.

You find likewise (that the expression sat also alludes to) the degeneracy of the descendants of Seir, since it is written: These are the sons of Seir the Horite, who sat on the land: Lotan and Shobal and Zibeon and Anah (Gen. 36:20). However, Anah is elsewhere called the son of Zibeon: And these are the children of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah (ibid., v. 24). We learn from this that Zibeon had sexual relations with his own mother, and conceived and begot Anah by her. Consequently, (Anah) was both (Zibeon’s) brother and his son. Later he had intercourse with his daughter-in-law, the wife of Anah, and Oholibamah was their child, as it is said: And these were the sons of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon, Esau’s wife (ibid., v. 14), and Esau took her as a wife. Inasmuch as they were all products of incestuous relations, Scripture mentions them only to disclose their degeneracy.

6 ו

אֲבָל יִשְׂרָאֵל, קֵרְבָן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וּקְרָאָן חֶבֶל וְנַחֲלָה וָחֵלֶק, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: כִּי חֵלֶק ה' עַמּוֹ יַעֲקֹב חֶבֶל נַחֲלָתוֹ (דברים לב, ט). וּכְתִיב: וִהְיִיתֶם לִי סְגֻלָּה מִכָּל הָעַמִּים (שמות יט, ה). וּכְתִיב: וְאָנֹכִי נְטַעְתִּיךְ שׂוֹרֵק כֻּלֹּה זֶרַע אֱמֶת (ירמיה ב, כא). וְלָמָּה נִתְעַסֵּק הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִתְּחִלָּה בְּיִחוּסֵיהֶן שֶׁל אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם. מָשָׁל לְמֶלֶךְ שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ מַרְגָּלִית מֻשְׁלֶכֶת בְּתוֹךְ הֶעָפָר וּבְתוֹךְ הַצְּרוֹרוֹת. הֻצְרַךְ הַמֶּלֶךְ לְפַשְׁפֵּשׁ בְּעָפָר וּבִצְרוֹרוֹת לְהוֹצִיא אֶת הַמַּרְגָּלִית מִתּוֹכָן. כְּשֶׁהִגִּיעַ הַמֶּלֶךְ לַמַּרְגָּלִית, הִנִּיחַ אֶת הֶעָפָר וְאֶת הַצְּרוֹרוֹת וְנִתְעַסֵּק בַּמַּרְגָּלִית.

The Holy One, blessed be He, however, befriended Israel and called them his possessions, inheritance, (and) portion, as it is said: For the portion of the Lord is His people Jacob, the lot of His inheritance (Deut. 32:9); and ye shall be Mine own treasure among all the peoples (Exod. 19:5); and I have planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed (Jer. 2:21). Why did the Holy One, blessed be He, concern Himself from the very beginning of time with the genealogies of the nations? This may be likened to a king who dropped a pearl into sand and pebbles. The king was compelled to search the sand and the pebbles to recover the pearl. As soon as he recovered the pearl, however, he discarded the sand and the pebbles, for he was only interested in retrieving the pearl.

7 ז

כָּךְ נִתְעַסֵּק הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּדוֹרוֹת לְשֶׁעָבַר וּכְלָלָן וּמַנִּיחָן, אָדָם שֵׁת אֱנוֹשׁ, קֵינָן מַהֲלַלְאֵל יָרֶד וְגוֹ' (דה״‎א א, א-ב). וְכֵן בַּעֲשָׂרָה דוֹרוֹת הַשְּׁנִיִּים, שֵׁם אַרְפַּכְשַׁד שֶׁלַח וְגוֹ'. וְהַתִּינוֹק נוֹטֵל אֶת הַסֵּפֶר וְקוֹרֵא עֲשָׂרָה דוֹרוֹת מֵאָדָם עַד נֹחַ בְּבַת אֶחָת. כְּשֶׁהִגִּיעַ לַעֲשָׂרָה דוֹרוֹת שֶׁמִּנֹּחַ וְעַד אַבְרָהָם, כְּמוֹ כֵן קוֹרְאָם בְּבַת אֶחָת. כְּשֶׁהִגִּיעַ לַמַּרְגָּלִיּוֹת, אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב, הִתְחִיל מִתְעַסֵּק בָּהֶן. לְכָךְ נִסְמְכָה פָּרָשַׁת אַלּוּפֵי בְנֵי עֵשָׂו לְפָרָשָׁה זוֹ.

Similarly, the Holy One, blessed be He, devoted Himself superficially to the earlier generations, and then ignored them. He mentioned Adam, Seth, Enoch, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, etc. (I Chron. 1:1–2), and also the second ten generations, Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, etc. (ibid. 1:24), so that a child could take the Bible and read about the ten generations from Adam to Noah at a single sitting, and also about the ten generations from Noah to Abraham at one time. But when he reached the section dealing with the pearls, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he would have to apply himself diligently in reading about them. That is why the section on Elephaz the son of Esau is included in this chapter.

8 ח

דָּבָר אַחֵר, אֵלֶּה תֹּלְדוֹת יַעֲקֹב יוֹסֵף, וַהֲלֹא רְאוּבֵן הוּא הַבְּכוֹר. אֶלָּא, וּבְחַלְּלוֹ יְצוּעֵי אָבִיו נִתְּנָה בְּכֹרָתוֹ לִבְנֵי יוֹסֵף בֶּן יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלוֹ לְהִתְיַחֵשׂ לַבְּכֹרָה (דה״‎א ה, א). דָּבָר אַחֵר, אֵלֶּה תֹּלְדוֹת יַעֲקֹב יוֹסֵף, אַתָּה מוֹצֵא שֶׁהָיָה יוֹסֵף דּוֹמֶה לְאָבִיו בְּכָל דָּבָר, וְכָל מַה שֶּׁעָבַר עַל יַעֲקֹב כָּךְ עָבַר עַל יוֹסֵף. יַעֲקֹב קִנֵּא בוֹ עֵשָׂו אָחִיו, וְיוֹסֵף קִנְּאוּ בוֹ אֶחָיו. יַעֲקֹב גָּלָה לְחָרָן, יוֹסֵף גָּלָה לְמִצְרָיִם. יַעֲקֹב אָמַר, גְּנֻבְתִי יוֹם וּגְנֻבְתִי לָיְלָה, וְיוֹסֵף אָמַר, כִּי גֻנֹּב גֻּנַּבְתִּי.

Another comment on These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, etc. (Gen. 37:2). Was not Reuben actually the firstborn? He was, but since he defiled his father’s couch (I Chron. 5:1), his birthright was given to the descendants of Joseph, the descendants of Israel. However, they are not actually accounted as the firstborn in the genealogy of the people. Another explanation. These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph. You find that Joseph resembled his father in every way, and that everything that happened to Jacob also happened to Joseph. Jacob’s brother was envious of him, and Joseph’s brothers were envious of him; Jacob was exiled to Haran, and Joseph was exiled to Egypt; Jacob said: Whether stolen by day or stolen by night (Gen. 31:39), and Joseph said: For indeed, I was stolen away (ibid. 40:15).