Genesis 37:1 – 40:23

Genesis chapter 37, verse 1 to chapter 40, verse 23


This portion is the beginning of the story of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph is his father Jacob’s favorite son. Jacob gives him an ornamented coat. This type of treatment makes Joseph’s brothers very jealous of him.

Joseph has two dreams in which he seems to have power over the rest of his family. He tells this to his brothers, which make them even more angry.

One day Jacob tells Joseph to go to where his brothers are grazing their father’s flock to see how they are doing and to report back to him. His brothers see him approach from afar and plot to kill him. One brother, Reuben, convinces his siblings to throw him into a pit, rather than murder him. He planned on rescuing him later. They agree and upon his arrival they take his coat from him and fling him into the pit.   Another brother, Judah sees a caravan in the distance and convinces his brothers that they should sell Joseph. So they sold him to some merchants who then sell him into slavery in Egypt to a nobleman named Potiphar. They tell Jacob that Joseph was killed by wild animal, and all they could find was his bloody tunic. Jacob mourned Joseph, his favorite, for a long time.

In the middle of this story we read about a story of Judah and his daughter in law Tamar. When his son (her husband) dies without them having any children, Judah gives Tamar to his second son so that they can have kids. When he dies (without having a child with Tamar), Judah promises Tamar that she will marry his youngest son. She has to wait as he was still a young boy. However, he goes back on his promise, which means that Tamar is still childless. She becomes angry with Judah and tricks him into having sexual relations with her, which results in her having twins. This way she now was a mother.

We return to the story of Joseph, who becomes a trusted servant in Potiphar’s home. Joseph is put in charge of the household. Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph but he rejects her. She becomes angry and accuses him of attempting to rape her. Potiphar sends Joseph to prison.

In prison Joseph was put in charge of all the prisoners. While there he meets Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker, both of whom committed offenses and were imprisoned by the Egyptian ruler. Each of them has a dream and they ask Joseph what he thinks they mean. Joseph predicts that the cupbearer’s dream meant that he would return to his old position, while the baker’s future is that he will be put to death. Joseph is correct and both of these predictions come true. Joseph asks the cupbearer to remember him to Pharaoh, but he is forgotten.

Torah Portion in English

Now Jacob was settled in the land where his father had sojourned, the land of Canaan. 2) This, then, is the line of Jacob: At seventeen years of age, Joseph tended the flocks with his brothers, as a helper to the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. And Joseph brought bad reports of them to their father. 3) Now Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him an ornamented tunic. 4) And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of his brothers, they hated him so that they could not speak a friendly word to him. 5) Once Joseph had a dream which he told to his brothers; and they hated him even more. 6) He said to them, “Hear this dream which I have dreamed:

Getting to Know my Parasha

What Does my Parasha Say?

  1. Why did Joseph’s brothers hate him?
  2. What did Jacob give Joseph?
  3. What did the brothers plan on doing?
  4. What was Reuben’s role?
  5. What did Judah do?
  6. What did the brothers tell Jacob?
  7. Who was Potiphar?
  8. Who was Tamar? What’s her story?
  9. Why was Joseph imprisoned?
  10. What was Joseph’s special talent in jail?