Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Friday, 18 December 2009

Eye to the Future

A quick thought on the parasha:
When Yosef HaTzadik's brothers return to Egypt in the second half, they bring the money they believe was mistakenly (or not) placed in their sacks after their first trip and all the trouble that ensued.  On the way into Yosef's palace, they corner the emmissary guiding them and assure him:
"And said: My lord, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food, and it came to pass, when we came to the lodging place, that we opened our sacks and behold, every man's money was in the mouth of his sack and we have brought it back in our hand." (Bereshis 43:20-21)
To which the servant replies:
"And he said: 'Peace be to you, fear not; your God and the God of your fathers has given you a treasure in your sacks.  Your money came to me." (43:23)
On a superficial reading, this makes sense.  The servant is clearly in on the ruse Yosef is playing on his brothers and knows what to answer them to assuage their concerns.  However, looking a little deeper, this isn't just a glib answer but an outright lie.  No, their money never came to him.  They did take it come to Israel.
The Malbim, however, notes a different facet that brings truthfulness back to this answer.  Chazal tell us that the reason for the famine was not only to get Yaakov Avinu and his family down into Egypt but also to gather all the regional finances so that when our ancestors walked out 210 later it would be with all this wealth. 
As a result, there is a fundamental difference between the money brought by an average person to pay for grain and the money brought by the brothers.  The latter, quite simply, did not need to enter Egypt's coffers since the only purpose of those coffers was store up money for them in the first place!  Hence the servant could honestly say "Don't worry my homeys, your money (from the other people who are buying grain and which will eventually become yours) did come to me.
I could add that there is a play on words that can also bring another aspect to the answer.  The root for money, KSF, is also the root for yearning.  While the brothers thought they heard "Your money" the servant may really have meant "Your yearning" referring to their desire to find Yosef and reunite with him.

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