This week’s Torah portion covers Genesis 41:1 to 44:17.

The text follows Joseph’s meteoric rise from forgotten prisoner to the pharaoh’s chief economic advisor, second in command only to Pharaoh. It exposes Joseph as a brilliant leader as he secures Egypt’s food supply in preparation for the coming seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine as revealed in Pharaoh’s dream.

Joseph’s story is chop full of moral lessons, messianic foreshadowing, and brilliant undertones of God’s divine hand in the lives of individuals. That is the priority of the text.

However, for Bible historians the Joseph story is of particular interest as well because no other episode in the Old Testament has so many details about Egypt, the backdrop of the Joseph drama. The Egyptian coloring is all there for the taking and it matches in an astonishing way the abundant historical material available about ancient Egypt.