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In Bereishit 42:24 Shimon is taken away from the brothers and put in prison as surety so that the other brothers will bring back Binyamin to prove that they are not spies. The brothers then return to Ya'akov and retell all the events. He refuses to let them go back to Mitzrayim.

In the beginning of perek 43, the famine increases and the sons have eaten the provisions they brought on the previous trip so they have to appeal to Ya'akov to let them go back down. Meanwhile, the whole time, Shimon was "in jail" and they hung around eating.

How long was Shimon stuck in Mitzrayim (I know that rashi on pasuk 24 says Shimon wasn't in prison but I doubt he was free enough to leave)?

  • Exactly what is the question here? You seem to have a couple. – Scimonster Dec 21 '14 at 18:06
  • @Scimonster They all hinge on the matter of time as per the title. After that is resolved I can know if the others are worth pursuing. – rosends Dec 21 '14 at 18:51
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According to the meforshim (Rashi, Rabbi Munk, Rav Hirsch, etc.) Shimon's status was that of "honored hostage". An example of this status can be seen from the history of the Roman empire. The hostages were treated as honored "guests" with the status of the nobility, except they could not leave. It is not the same as a prisoner.

One of the Ohr Sameach questions on the parsha states that the food finally ran low after they could have gone to Mitzraim and returned two times. It does not give an exact timing of the events (in months).

How long did it take for Yaakov and family to eat all the food that the brothers brought back from Egypt? Give the answer in terms of travel time.

43:2,10 - Twice the travel time to and from Egypt.

It does not say any more than that.

  • and does that source cite any discussion over whether it was appropriate to leave Shimon there for that whole time? – rosends Dec 21 '14 at 19:40
  • @Danno judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/ask – msh210 Dec 21 '14 at 19:50
  • @msh210 I am not re3ady to ask a larger question -- I just need the source for this answer or more clarification about exactly what that referenced source said. – rosends Dec 21 '14 at 19:56
  • ohr.edu/1385 How long did it take for Yaakov and family to eat all the food that the brothers brought back from Egypt? Give the answer in terms of travel time. 43:2,10 - Twice the travel time to and from Egypt. – sabbahillel Dec 21 '14 at 20:59
  • Sure he was an honored guest. Especially, considering that he was his step father-in-law. According to Midrashim Yosef married the daughter of Dina and Shimon married Dina. – HaLeiVi Dec 17 '15 at 3:37

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