After 22-years’ time,

Yosef’s brothers

Went to Egypt

Where they faced their old crime;

A ruthless viceroy

Playing ludicrous mind games,

Uncovering their secrets,

Disparaging their claims,

“Seer of the hidden,”

His sobriquet.

He played with their lives

Like they were marionettes,

When false charges were leveled

To enslave Benjamin,

It seemed Yaakov’s heart

Would be broken again.


How did it feel

To plead for compassion,

To be judged and condemned

With smug satisfaction?

You had held the cards

Twenty-two years before;

Yosef had begged you,

But you had been so sure.

Now it was all collapsing,

Your whole universe

Spiraling downward,

Going from bad to worse.


Yehudah channeled the strategy

Yaakov used before:

Prayer, conciliation,

If those two failed, war;

His logic was clear,

Sincere, and concise,

But the viceroy wasn’t

About to play nice.

Yehudah’s life in both worlds

Was on the line;

There was no way he’d leave

Benjamin behind.


A mighty ox faced the lion,

All the others stood back;

Two great kings in conflict,

Each braced for attack.

Time had run out,

They had pled their case,

The next step would be

Laying Egypt to waste;

Yehudah stepped forward,

His sword wouldn’t unsheathe;

Could the viceroy be a tzadik?!

Too far out to believe,

But he was a rodef

To be vanquished, no doubt,

Then and there is where

The bottom dropped out.


“Clear the guard,”

The viceroy ordered,

His tone emotive,

When he said “I am Yosef,

Does my father yet live?”


The world stopped

In that instant,

They stood there mortified,

Brought to light

The wrong, for so long, rationalized,

All was forgiven;

Yosef comforted them:

He’d been sent to provide,

It was all from Hashem.


Yosef’s brothers

Faced agonizing

Shame and regret,

But they found forgiveness,

The outcome fortunate.

Yaakov’s broken heart and spirit

Were finally revived.

Together, towards the future,

United, the twelve tribes.


Yosef’s story has it all:

The drama, the intrigue,

The heartbreak, the danger,

Joy and reprieve.


We must never forget

Who is pulling the strings,

Through the highs and lows,

Twists and turns,

Life often brings

Obstacles and trials,

Placed as steppingstones.

Stay strong and keep faith,

We are never alone.


By Sharon Marcus