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Yaakov settles in the land of Canaan.
His favorite son, Yosef,
brings him critical reports about his brothers. Yaakov makes for
Yosef a fine tunic of multi-colored woolen strips. Yosef
exacerbates his brothers' hatred by recounting prophetic dreams:
of sheaves of wheat bowing to his sheaf, and of the sun, moon and stars
bowing to him - signifying that all his family will appoint him king.
The brothers indict Yosef and resolve to execute him. When Yosef
comes to Shechem, the brothers relent and decide, at Reuven's
instigation, to throw him into a pit instead. Yehuda persuades the
brothers to take Yosef out of the pit and sell him to a caravan
of passing Yishmaelim.
When Reuven returns to find the pit empty, he rends his clothes
in anguish. The brothers soak Yosef's tunic in goat's blood and
show it to their father Yaakov, who assumes that Yosef has
been devoured by a wild animal. Yaakov is inconsolable.
Meanwhile, in Egypt, Yosef has been sold to Potiphar, Pharaoh's
Chamberlain of the Butchers.
In the Parsha's sub-plot, Yehuda's son Er dies as punishment
for preventing his wife Tamar from becoming pregnant because he
feared that she would lose her beauty. Onan, Yehuda's second son,
then weds Tamar by levirate marriage. He too is punished in
circumstances similar to those of his brother.
When Yehuda's wife dies, Tamar resolves to have children
through Yehuda, as this union will found the Davidic line
culminating in the mashiach.
Meanwhile, Yosef rises to power in the house of his Egyptian master.
His extreme beauty attracts the unwanted advances of his master's wife.
Enraged by his rejection of her, she slanders Yosef, accusing him
of attempting to seduce her, and he is imprisoned.
In jail, Yosef successfully predicts the outcome of the dream of
Pharaoh's wine steward, who is re-instated; and the dream of
Pharaoh's baker, who is hanged. In spite of his promise,
the wine steward forgets to help Yosef after he is released,
and Yosef languishes in jail.