Bereishit (Genesis)

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Sefer Bereishit is the first book of the Tanach and the first book of the Torah. The narrative speaks of the time from the creation of the world to the descent of the children of Israel into Egypt, and it contains some of the best-known biblical stories, including:

Adam and Eve;
Cain and Abel;
Noah’s Ark;
Tower of Babel;
Biblical Patriarchs and,
Story of Joseph.

For Jews the theological importance of Bereishit centers on the Covenants linking God to His Chosen People and the people to the Promised Land.

Structurally, Bereishit consists of the “primeval history” (chapters 1-11) and cycles of Patriarchal stories – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel. The narrative of Joseph stands apart from these.

In Hebrew the book is called Bereshit, meaning “in the beginning”, from the first word of the Hebrew text, in line with the other four books of the Torah.

When the Bible was translated into Greek in the 3rd century BCE to produce the Septuagint, the name given was Genesis, meaning “birth” or “origin”. This was in line with the Septuagint use of subject themes as book names. The Greek title has continued to be used in all subsequent Latin and English versions of the book, and most other languages.

The oldest Biblical manuscripts of Bereishit are the 24 fragments found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, dating from the few centuries immediately prior to the Christian era. The next oldest manuscripts are the Greek Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus based on the Septuagint and produced by the early Christian church in the 4th century CE. The Masoretic Text, which forms the basis of Jewish worship today, is also the youngest of these manuscripts, dating from around 1000 CE.

Also worthy of note are the Samaritan and Syriac translations, whose manuscripts are not as old as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint, but preserve noteworthy differences which are pointers to both the history of the text and the history of the communities which produced them.

Scholars generally accept the division of Bereishit into the Primeval History of Bereishit 1-11, the Patriarchal cycles of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the story of Joseph. The “primeval history” consists of three narrative units separated by two genealogies and an ethnography (or ethno-geography). The first narrative is that of Creation-Eden and the descendants of Cain and Seth. The second narrative is Noah and the Curse of Ham and ethnography, the 70 Nations. The third narrative is that of the Tower of Babel and the dispersal of peoples and the descendants of Seth to Abraham.

Primeval History

“In the beginning of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was astonishingly empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”

The second day saw the “firmament” separating “the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.” On the third day dry land, seas, plants, and trees which grew fruit with seed were created. Fourth day creations included the creation of the sun, moon and stars and their placement in the firmament. On the fifth day, God created air-breathing sea creatures, fishes and birds. On the sixth day, “the beasts of the earth according to their kinds” were all created by God. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and they shall rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the heaven and over the animals and over all the earth and over all the creeping things that creep upon the earth.”

On Shabbat, God rests from the task of completing the heavens and the earth: “And God blessed the seventh day and He hallowed it, for thereon He abstained from all His work that God created to do.”

God forms Adam “from the dust of the ground…and man became a living being.” God sets the man in the Garden of Eden and permits him to eat of all the fruit within it, except that of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”

God makes “every beast of the field and every bird of the air, … and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name … but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him.” God causes the man to sleep, and makes a woman from his side, and the man awakes and names his companion Woman, “because she was taken out of Man.” “And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.”

The serpent tells the woman that she will not die if she eats the fruit of the tree: “When you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So the woman eats and gives to the man who also eats. “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.”

God curses the serpent: “upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life;” the woman he punishes with pain in childbirth and with subordination to man: “your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you;” and the man he punishes with a life of toil: “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground.” The man names his wife Eve, “because she was the mother of all living”.

“Behold”, says God, “the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” God expels the couple from Eden, “lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” The gate of Eden is sealed by a cherub and a flaming sword “to guard the way to the tree of life.”

Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Abel, the first a farmer, the second a shepherd.

Each bring an offering to God, but God rejects Cain’s offering. Cain murders Abel, and God then curses Cain: “When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain fears that whoever meets him will kill him, but God places a mark on Cain to protect him, with the promise that “if any slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” Cain settles in the land of Nod, “away from the presence of the Lord.”

The descendants of Cain are Enoch, Irad, Mehujael, Methushael, and Lamech. Seth is born to replace Abel.

The generations of Adam are described, including Enoch, who “walked with God…[and] was no more, for God took him”, Methuselah, and Noah.

The antediluvian Patriarchs are notable for their extreme longevity, with Methuselah living 969 years. The list ends with the birth of Noah’s sons, from whom all humanity is descended.

God sets the days of man at 120 years. “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of the nobles would come to the daughters of man, and they would bear for them; they are the mighty men, who were of old, the men of renown.”

Angered by the wickedness of mankind, God selects Noah, “a righteous man, blameless in his generation,” and commands him to build an Ark, and to take on it his family and representatives of the animals. God destroys the world with a Flood, and afterwards enters into a covenant with Noah and his descendants, the entire human race, promising never again to destroy mankind in this way. God creates the rainbow and puts it in the sky as a sign of his promise

Noah plants a vineyard, drinks wine, and falls into a drunken sleep. Ham “uncovers his father’s nakedness,” and Noah places a curse on Ham’s son Canaan, saying that he and all his descendants shall henceforth be slaves to Ham’s brothers Shem and Japheth.

The seventy generations of the descendants of Noah are named, “and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.”

Men decide to build “a tower with its top in the heavens” in the land of Shinar, “lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” God fears the ambition of mankind: “This is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” And so mankind is scattered over the face of the earth, and the city “was called Babel, because there God confused the language of all the earth.”

The Generations of Shem brings the biblical genealogy down to the generation of Abraham.

Patriarchs

Abraham

Terah leaves Ur of the Chaldees with his son Abram, Abram’s wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot, the son of Abram’s brother Haran, towards the land of Canaan. They settle in the city of Haran, where Terah dies.

God commands Abram, “And the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and [you shall] be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you.” So Abram and his people and flocks journey to the land of Canaan, where God appears to Abram and says, “To your descendants I will give this land.

Abram is forced by famine to go into Egypt, where Pharaoh takes possession of his wife, the beautiful Sarai, who Abram has misrepresented as his sister. God strikes the king and his house with plagues, so that he returns Sarai and expels Abram and all his people from Egypt.

Abram returns to Canaan and separates from Lot in order to put an end to disputes about pasturage. He gives Lot the valley of the Jordan River, as far as Sodom, whose people” were very evil and sinful against God.”

To Abram God says, “Please raise your eyes and see, from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward. For all the land that you see I will give to you and to your seed to eternity. And I will make your seed like the dust of the earth, so that if a man will be able to count the dust of the earth, so will your seed be counted. Rise, walk in the land, to its length and to its breadth, for I will give it to you.”

Lot is taken prisoner during a war between the King of Shinar and the King of Sodom and their allies, “four kings against five.” Abram rescues Lot and is blessed by Melchizedek, king of Salem and “priest of God Most High”.

Abram refuses the King of Sodom’s offer of the spoils of victory, saying: ” I raise my hand to the Lord, the Most High God, Who possesses heaven and earth. Neither from a thread to a shoe strap, nor will I take from whatever is yours, that you should not say, ‘I have made Abram wealthy.”

God makes a covenant with Abram, promising that Abram’s descendants shall be as numerous as the stars in the heavens, that they shall suffer oppression in a foreign land for four hundred years, but that they shall inherit the land “from the river of Egypt until the great river, the Euphrates river.”

Sarai, being childless, tells Abram to take his Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar, as a concubine. Hagar becomes pregnant with Ishmael, and God appears to her to promise that the child will be “a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be upon all, and everyone’s hand upon him,” whose descendants” will not be counted for abundance.”

God makes a covenant with Abram: Abram will have a numerous progeny and the possession of the land of Canaan, and Abram’s name is changed to “Abraham” and that of Sarai to “Sarah,” and circumcision of all males is instituted as an external sign of the covenant.

Abraham asks of God that Ishmael “will live before You”, but God replies that Sarah will bear a son, who will be named Isaac, and that it is with Isaac and his descendants that the covenant will be established. “And regarding Ishmael, I have heard you; behold I have blessed him, and I will make him fruitful, and I will multiply him exceedingly; he will beget twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this time next year.”

While God is speaking with Abraham, three strangers appear, and Abraham receives them hospitably. Abraham is told that Sarah will shortly bear a son, and Sarah, overhearing, laughs: “After I have become worn out, will I have smooth flesh? And also, my master is old.”

God tells Abraham that he will punish Sodom, “since the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah has become great, and since their sin has become very grave.” The strangers depart. Abraham protests that it is not just to “destroy the righteous with the wicked,” and asks if the whole city can be spared if even ten righteous men are found there. God replies: “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”

The two messengers are hospitably received by Lot. The men of Sodom surround the house and called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, and let us be intimate with them.” Lot offers his two virgin daughters in place of the messengers, but the men refuse. Lot and his family are led out of Sodom, and Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed by fire-and-brimstone; but Lot’s wife, looking back, is turned to a pillar of salt.

Lot’s daughters, fearing that they will not find husbands and that Lot’s line will die out, make their father drunk and lie with him; their children become the ancestors of the Moabites and Ammonites.

Abraham represents Sarah as his sister before Avimelech, king of Gerar. God visits a curse of barrenness upon Avimelech and his household and warns the king that Sarah is Abraham’s wife, not his sister. Avimelech restores Sarah to Abraham, loads them both with gifts and sends them away.

Isaac

Sarah gives birth to Isaac, saying, “God has made joy for me; whoever hears will rejoice over me.”

At Sarah’s insistence Ishmael and his mother Hagar are driven out into the wilderness. When Ishmael is near dying, an angel speaks to Hagar and promises that God will not forget them but will make of Ishmael a great nation; “And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water, and she went and filled the pouch with water and gave the lad to drink,”… And God was with the lad, and he grew…”

Abraham enters into a covenant with Avimelech, who confirms his right to the well of Beer-sheba.

God tests Abraham by commanding that he sacrifice Isaac. Abraham obeys; but, as he is about to lay the knife upon his son, God restrains him, promising him numberless descendants.

On the death of Sarah, Abraham purchases Machpelah for a family tomb and sends his servant to Mesopotamia, Nahor’s home, to find among his relations a wife for Isaac; and Rebekah, Nahor’s granddaughter, is chosen.

Other children are born to Abraham by another wife, Keturah, among whose descendants are the Midianites; and he dies in a prosperous old age and is buried in his tomb at Hebron.

Jacob

Isaac’s wife Rebekah is barren, but Isaac prays to God, and she gives birth to the twins Esau, and Jacob.

Isaac represents Rebekah as his sister before Avimelech, king of Gerar. Avimelech learns of the deception and is angered. Isaac is fortunate in all his undertakings in that country. His prosperity excites the jealousy of Avimelech, who sends him away; but the king sees that Isaac is blessed by God and makes a covenant with him at the well of Beer-sheba.

Jacob deceives his father Isaac and obtains the blessing of prosperity which should have been Esau’s. Fearing Esau’s anger he flees to Haran, the home of his mother’s brother Laban. On the way, Jacob falls asleep on a stone and dreams of a ladder stretching from Heaven to Earth and thronged with angels, and God promises him prosperity and many descendants; and when he awakes Jacob sets the stone as a pillar and names the place Beit-el.

Jacob hires himself to Laban on condition that, after having served for seven years as a herdsman, he shall marry the younger daughter, Rachel, with whom he is in love. At the end of this period Laban gives him the elder daughter, Leah, explaining that it is the custom to marry the elder before the younger. Jacob does get to marry Rachel at the same time, but to be allowed to leave with her he must serve another seven years. During the next seven years, he has sons by his two wives and their two handmaidens, the ancestors of the tribes of Israel.

Jacob then works another seven years, deceiving Laban to increase his flocks at his uncle’s expense, and gains great wealth in sheep, goats, camels, donkeys and slave-girls. Jacob flees with his family and flocks from Laban; Laban pursues and catches him, but God warns Laban not to harm Jacob, and they are reconciled.

On approaching his home he is in fear of Esau, to whom he sends presents under the care of his servants, and then sends his wives and children away. “And Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.” Neither Jacob nor the stranger can prevail, but the man touches Jacob’s thigh and pleads to be released before daybreak, but Jacob refuses to release the being until he agrees to give a blessing; the stranger then announces to Jacob that he shall bear the name “Israel”, “for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” and is freed. “And the sun rose for him when he passed Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh.”

The meeting with Esau proves friendly, and the brothers are reconciled. Jacob greets him by saying, “I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of an angel, and you have accepted me.”

The brothers part and Jacob settles near the city of Shechem. Jacob’s daughter Dinah goes out, and “Shechem the son of Hamor, the Hivvite, the prince of the land, saw her, and he took her, lay with her, and violated her.” Shechem asks Jacob for Dinah’s hand in marriage, but the sons of Jacob deceive the men of Shechem, slaughter them, take their wives and children captive, and loot the city. Jacob is angered that his sons have brought upon him the enmity of the Canaanites, but his sons ask, “Shall he make our sister like a harlot?”

Jacob goes up to Beit-el. There “God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob. Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ And He named him Israel”. Jacob sets up a stone pillar at the place and names it Beit-el. He goes to his father Isaac at Hebron, and there Isaac dies and is buried.

Joseph

Jacob makes a coat of many colors for his favorite son, Joseph.

Jacob’s son Judah takes a Canaanite wife and has two sons, Er and Onan; Er dies, and his widow Tamar, disguised as a prostitute, tricks Judah into having a child by her. She gives birth to twins, the elder of whom is Perez, ancestor of the future royal house of David.

Joseph’s jealous brothers sell him to some Ishmaelites and show Jacob the coat, dipped in goat’s blood, as proof that Joseph is dead. Meanwhile the Midianites sell Joseph to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard, but Potiphar’s wife, unable to seduce Joseph, accuses him falsely, and he is cast into prison. Here he correctly interprets the dreams of two of his fellow prisoners, the king’s butler and baker.

Joseph next interprets the dream of Pharaoh, of seven fat cattle and seven lean cattle, as meaning seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, and advises Pharaoh to store grain during the good years. He is appointed second in the kingdom, and, in the ensuing famine, “all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.”

Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain. The brothers appear before Joseph, who recognizes them but does not reveal himself. After having tested them on this and on a second journey, and they having shown themselves so fearful and penitent that Judah even offers himself as a slave, Joseph reveals his identity, forgives his brothers the wrong they did him, and he promises to settle in Egypt both them and his father Jacob brings his whole family to Egypt, where Pharaoh assigns to them the land of Goshen.

Jacob receives Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh among his own sons, then calls his sons to his bedside and reveals their future to them. Jacob dies and is interred in the family tomb at Machpelah (Hebron).

Joseph lives to see his great-grandchildren, and on his death-bed he exhorts his brethren, if God should remember them and lead them out of the country, to take his bones with them. The book ends with Joseph’s remains being “put in a coffin in Egypt.”

Sefer Bereishit (בּראשית) is divided into the following Parshiot

Bereshit (1:1-6:8) – (In the Beginning):
Haftorah: Isaiah 42:5-43:10 (Ashkenazi); Isaiah 42:5-21 (Sephardi)
1:1-31: Creation 4:1-16: Cain and Abel
2:1-7: The Seventh Day 4:17-26: Descendants of Cain
2:8-14: The Garden of Eden (Gan Eden) 5:1-2: The genealogy of mankind
2:15-25: Man in the Garden 5:3-32: The ten generations from Adam to Noah
3:1-5: Serpent’s Enticement 6:1-8 Prelude to the flood
3:6-24: Sin and Expulsion from the Garden

 

Noach (6:9-11:32) – (Noah):
Haftorah: Isaiah 54:1-55:5 (Ashkenazi); Isaiah 54:1-10 (Sephardi)
6:9-12: Noah 9:12-19: The rainbow
6:13-22: Decree of the flood 9:20-23: Intoxication and shame of Noah
7:1-24: The flood 9:24-29: Noah foretells his sons’ destinies
8:1-5: Receding of the waters 10:1-7: Genealogy of Noah (the seventy nations)
8:6-12: Sending forth the raven and the dove 10:8-32: Nimrod
8:13-19: The earth dries 11:1-9: Tower of Babel
8:20-22: Noah brings an offering 11:10-32: The ten generations from Noah to Abraham
9:1-11: G-d’s covenant with Noah

 

Lech Lecha (12:1-17:27) – (Go, Leave):
Haftorah: Isaiah 40:27-41:16 (Ashkenazi); Isaiah 40:27-41:16 (Sephardi)
12:1-3: G-d’s call to Abraham 14:21-24: Abraham shuns honor
12:4-9: Abraham comes to Canaan 15:1-6: G-d’s reassurance to Abraham
12:10-20: Abraham and Sarah in Egypt 15:7-12: Covenant Between the Parts: The promise of the land
13:1-4: The return to Eretz Yisrael 15:13-16: Egyptian exile and redemption
13:5-13: Abraham and Lot part ways 15:17-21: The ratification of the covenant
13:14-18: The repetition of the promise 16:1-15: Hagar and Ishmael
14:1-9: The war of the kings 17:1-4: The covenant
14:10-11: Sodom is defeated 17:5-14 New names and a new destiny
14:12-14: Lot taken captive 17:15-27: The promise to Sarah
14:15-20: Abraham saves Lot

 

Vayeira (18:1-22:24) – (And He appeared):
Haftorah: II Kings 4:1-37 (Ashkenazi); II Kings 4:1-23 (Sephardi)
18:1-9: Visiting the sick and hospitality to strangers 20:14-18: Abimelech appeases Abraham and Sarah
18:10-16: The promise of a son is revealed to Sarah 21:1-8: The birth of Isaac
18:17-22: G-d’s love for Abraham 21:9-16: Hagar and Ishmael are expelled
18:23-33: Abraham intercedes for Sodom 21:17-21: Ishmael is saved
19:1-3: Sodom is destroyed 21:22-34: The alliance with Abimelech at Beer-sheba
19:4-29: Lot 22:1-19: The tenth trial: The Akeidah/Binding of Isaac on the altar
19:30-38: Lot’s daughters and the birth of Moab and Ammon 22:20-24: The birth of Rebecca
20:1-13: Abraham in Gerar

 

Chaya Sarah (23:1-25:18) – (Life of Sarah):
Haftorah: I Kings 1:1-31 (Ashkenazi); I Kings 1:1-31 (Sephardi)
23:1-20: Sarah’s death and the purchase of a burial site 24:19-33: Laban
24:1-12: Finding a wife for Isaac 24:34-61: The recapitulation
24:13-17: Eliezer’s criteria 24:62-67: Isaac and Rebecca
24:18-28: Rebecca is equal to the test 25:1-18: Abraham’s genealogy

 

Toldot (25:19-28:9) – (Line):
Haftorah: Malachi 1:1-2:7 (Ashkenazi); Malachi 1:1-2:7 (Sephardi)
25:19-23: Rebecca’s barrenness and pregnancy 26:34-35 Esau marries
25:24-26: The birth of Jacob and Esau 27:1-4: Isaac’s decision to bless Esau
25:27-28: The personalities emerge 27:5-17: Rebecca’s scheme
25:29-34: Sale of the birthright 27:18-29: Jacob gets Isaac’s blessing
26:1-5: A famine forces Isaac to Philistia 27:30-40: Esau arrives for his blessings
26:6-18: Isaac in Gerar 27:41: Esau’s hatred of Jacob
26:19-22: The prophetic dispute over the wells 27:42-46: Jacob is told to flee to Laban
26:23-25: G-d assures Isaac 28:1-8: The admonition against marrying a Canaanite; the Abrahamic blessing is conveyed to Jacob
26:26-33: Abimelech reaffirms the treaty 28:9 Esau marries the daughter of Ishmael

 

Vayeitzei (28:10-32:3) – (And He Left):
Haftorah: Hosea 12:13-14:10 (Ashkenazi); Hosea 11:7-12:12 (Sephardi)
28:10-22: Jacob’s flight and his vision at Moriah 30:27-33: Jacob wishes to leave; employment contract with Laban
29:1-13: Jacob meets Rachel 30:34-43 Laban’s new deceit
29:14-21: Jacob contracts to marry and is deceived 31:1-3: The decision to flee from Laban
29:22-30: Laban substitutes Leah for Rachel 31:4-16: Jacob wins the consent of his wives
29:31-35: Leah bears four sons 31:17-21: Jacob’s flight
30:1-13: Rachel is fulfilled through Bilhah 31:22-24: Laban’s pursuit and G-d’s warning
30:14-16: The dudaim 31:25-43: The confrontation of Jacob and Laban
30:17-21: Leah’s last three children 31:44-32:3: Laban proposes a treaty
30:22-26: Rachel conceives: the birth of Joseph

 

Vayishlach (32:4-36:43) – (And He Sent):
Haftorah: Obadiah 1:1-21 (Ashkenazi); Obadiah 1:1-21 (Sephardi)
32:4-7: Esau advances to attack Jacob 35:1-5: Jacob journeys to Bet-el
32:8-9: Military preparations 35:6-8: The deaths of Rebecca and Deborah
32:10-13: Prayer 35:9-15: G-d blesses and renames Jacob
32:14-22: The tribute 35:16-21 The birth of Benjamin and death of Rachel
32:23-30: The struggle with the angel 35:22-26: Reuben’s error and partial vindication
32:31-33: The prohibition of eating the tendon of an animal’s thigh 35:27: Jacob and Isaac are reunited
33:1-17: The encounter between Jacob and Esau 35:28-29: Isaac’s death
33:18-20: Jacob arrives in Shechem 36:1-5: The chronicles of Esau
34:1-5: Dinah’s abduction 36:6-19: Esau separates himself from Jacob
34:6-12: Jacob’s family learns of the outrage 36:20-30: The Seirite genealogy
34:13-24: The deception 36:31-43: The Edomite kings
34:25-31: Simeon and Levi decimate Shechem

 

Vayeishev (37:1-40:23) – (And He Lived):
Haftorah: Amos 2:6-3:8 (Ashkenazi); Amos 2:6-3:8 (Sephardi)
37:1-4: The chronicles of Jacob and his offspring 38:1-7: Judah and Tamar
37:5-7: Joseph’s dream 38:8-12: Judah’s sons marry Tamar but die for their sin
37:8: The intensified hatred 38:13-23: The moral basis for the union of Tamar and Judah
37:9-11: Joseph’s second dream 38:24-26: Tamar’s pregnancy
37:12-20: Joseph is sent to visit his brothers 38:27-30: Tamar bears twins
37:21-24: Reuben saves Joseph from the plot to kill him 39:1-12: Joseph in Egypt
37:25-30: Joseph is sold 39:13-23: Potiphar’s wife slanders Joseph
37:31-36: The version told to Jacob 40:1-23: The cupbearer and the baker

 

Mikeitz (41:1-44:17) – (At The End):
Haftorah: I Kings 3:15-4:1 (Ashkenazi); I Kings 3:15-4:1 (Sephardi)
41:1-8: Pharaoh’s dream 42:6-13: The brothers bow to Joseph
41:9-13: The Chamberlain of the Cupbearer’s remembers Joseph 42:14-20: Joseph stands his ground; offers his brothers a way out
41:14-16: Joseph is summoned 42:21-22: The brothers’ regret
41:17-24: Pharaoh recapitulates his dream 42:23-24: Joseph chooses his hostage
41:25-36: Joseph’s interpretation 42:25-28: Joseph sends them back—with their money
41:37-46: Joseph becomes Viceroy 42:29-38: The dialogue with Jacob
41:47-49: Joseph’s plan is implemented 43:1-15: The brothers request that Jacob send Benjamin to Egypt
41:50-52: Joseph’s children: Manasseh and Ephraim 43:16-34: Joseph sees Benjamin and tests his brothers’ sincerity
41:53-57: The famine devastates Egypt 44:1-15: The final test: Benjamin is accused of thievery
42:1-5: Jacob sends his sons to Egypt 44:16-17: Judah speaks on behalf of all

 

Vayigash (44:18-47:27) – (And He Drew Near):
Haftorah: Ezekiel 37:15-28 (Ashkenazi); Ezekiel 37:15-28 (Sephardi)
44:18-34: Judah steps forward 46:27-28: Seventy descendants journeying to Egypt
45:1-15: Joseph identifies himself and conciliates his brothers 46:29-30: Jacob arrives in Egypt
45:16-20: Pharaoh joins in the welcome 46:31-34: Joseph ensures his family’s settlement in Goshen
45:21-24: Joseph dispenses gifts and sends his brothers off 47:1-6: Joseph reports his father and brother’s arrival to Pharaoh
45:25-38: Jacob receives the news 47:7-12: Jacob and Pharaoh meet
46:1-26: Jacob undertakes the journey to Joseph 47:13-27: Joseph and the famine

 

Vayechi (47:28-50:26) – (And He Lived):
Haftorah: I Kings 2:1-12 (Ashkenazi); I Kings 2:1-12 (Sephardi)
47:28-31: Jacob’s end draws near; his request of Joseph 50:4-6: Permission for burial
48:1-7: Jacob’s illness 50:7-14: The burial procession
48:8-22: The blessing of Manasseh and Ephraim 50:15-21: Joseph reassures his brothers
49:1-27: Jacob’s blessings 50:22-23: Joseph lives out his years
49:28-33: Jacob’s final request 50:24-26 Signs of the redemption