It is known that at the first time Joseph ask to return the money that his brother paid for the grains to their bags. Joseph was a leader of the Egypt nation. The money he got for the grains belongs to the Egyptians. He practically gave them the grains for free on the expense of the Egyptians. Did he have the right to do it?

  • 6
    "The money his got for the grains belong to Egyptians." This wasn't a modern democracy...
    – Double AA
    Oct 19, 2020 at 13:28
  • 1
    I seem to recall seeing some Medrash or the like which says that Yosef did indeed reimburse the government out of his own pocket for this expense (even if it may not have technically been required), although I do not as of yet have a source. Oct 19, 2020 at 14:03
  • IMHO as he was the ultimate ruler in Egypt, he was a Beis Din, so he had the right to confiscate property from whoever he wants and hand it to whomever he likes. So if he commanded - "take this money and give it to Ahmad", that would be perfectly legal. The situation today is not much different, the authorities have the right to give away public money.
    – Al Berko
    Oct 21, 2020 at 19:31

1 Answer 1


It's written in parashat Vaygash (Bereshit 47:20) the following:

וַיִּ֨קֶן יוֹסֵ֜ף אֶת־כָּל־אַדְמַ֤ת מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ לְפַרְעֹ֔ה כִּֽי־מָכְר֤וּ מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ אִ֣ישׁ שָׂדֵ֔הוּ כִּֽי־חָזַ֥ק עֲלֵהֶ֖ם הָרָעָ֑ב וַתְּהִ֥י הָאָ֖רֶץ לְפַרְעֹֽה׃

English: "So Joseph gained possession of all the farm land of Egypt for Pharaoh, every Egyptian having sold his field because the famine was too much for them; thus the land passed over to Pharaoh."

So he literally bought the Egyptian land for the government, so the land and the grains were his property, therefore he had the right to do so.

  • Even if Joseph was the one who caused the government to have the money in the first place, why would that entitle him to redistribute it as he sees fit? He was doing his job under his employer. An IRS agent who collects a million dollars in taxes isn't allowed to give an extra thousand dollars refund to his friend. Oct 20, 2020 at 3:03
  • He was clearly not an ordinary employee of the Egyptian government.
    – Julio GB
    Oct 20, 2020 at 11:58

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