In פרק מז, פסוק ו, Paroah says to Joseph:

״...ואם ידעת ויש בם אנשי-חיל ושמתם שרי מקנה על-אשר-לי.״ "If you know and there are capable men among you, appoint them as managers over my livestock which is mine."

In the very next verse, we are told:

״ויבא יוסף את יעקב אביו ויעמדהו לפני פרעה...״

"And Joseph brought Jacob his father and stood him before Pharaoh."

Jacob was a master shepherd. We know this because we are told the entire episode of how he spent 14 years shepherding for his father-in-law. Pharaoh then asks Jacob about his life, seems like an interview.

Nobody seems to talk about this juxtaposition. The commentators discuss the subsequent conversation in a way that implies that there's no relevance between the two but we never see a response to Pharaoh's request.

What's going on here?

2 Answers 2


I'm afraid you mistranslated a word: "בם" means "among them" not "among you" and is referencing Joseph's brothers who were already presented to Pharaoh in the preceding verses and who were still young enough to act as shepherds. Jacob by then was quite old as is noted by Pharaoh himself when he meets him and as is suggested by the Midrashim on those verses.

וּמִקְצֵ֣ה אֶחָ֔יו לָקַ֖ח חֲמִשָּׁ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֑ים וַיַּצִּגֵ֖ם לִפְנֵ֥י פַרְעֹֽה׃ וַיֹּ֧אמֶר פַּרְעֹ֛ה אֶל־אֶחָ֖יו מַה־מַּעֲשֵׂיכֶ֑ם וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֗ה רֹעֵ֥ה צֹאן֙ עֲבָדֶ֔יךָ גַּם־אֲנַ֖חְנוּ גַּם־אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ׃ וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֗ה לָג֣וּר בָּאָרֶץ֮ בָּאנוּ֒ כִּי־אֵ֣ין מִרְעֶ֗ה לַצֹּאן֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לַעֲבָדֶ֔יךָ כִּֽי־כָבֵ֥ד הָרָעָ֖ב בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וְעַתָּ֛ה יֵֽשְׁבוּ־נָ֥א עֲבָדֶ֖יךָ בְּאֶ֥רֶץ גֹּֽשֶׁן׃ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר פַּרְעֹ֔ה אֶל־יוֹסֵ֖ף לֵאמֹ֑ר אָבִ֥יךָ וְאַחֶ֖יךָ בָּ֥אוּ אֵלֶֽיךָ׃ אֶ֤רֶץ מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ לְפָנֶ֣יךָ הִ֔וא בְּמֵיטַ֣ב הָאָ֔רֶץ הוֹשֵׁ֥ב אֶת־אָבִ֖יךָ וְאֶת־אַחֶ֑יךָ יֵשְׁבוּ֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ גֹּ֔שֶׁן וְאִם־יָדַ֗עְתָּ וְיֶשׁ־בָּם֙ אַנְשֵׁי־חַ֔יִל וְשַׂמְתָּ֛ם שָׂרֵ֥י מִקְנֶ֖ה עַל־אֲשֶׁר־לִֽי׃

And from among his brethren he took five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto his brethren: ‘What is your occupation?’ And they said unto Pharaoh: ‘Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and our fathers.’ And they said unto Pharaoh: ‘To sojourn in the land are we come; for there is no pasture for thy servants’flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan. Now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.’ And Pharaoh spoke unto Joseph, saying: ‘Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee; the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and thy brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell. And if thou knowest any able men among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.’

  • This makes sense, but what happened to Paroah's request?
    – Moshe
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 18:43
  • @Moshe There is no response mentioned because Yosef wanted to avoid having them work for Par'o. That is why he presented the five "weakest" brothers. Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 4:00

The answer to your question in the title is No. Rav Hirsch translates 47:7

וַיָּבֵא יוֹסֵף אֶת יַעֲקֹב אָבִיו וַיַּעֲמִדֵהוּ לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה וַיְבָרֶךְ יַעֲקֹב אֶת פַּרְעֹה

This means that Ya'akov stood as an almost equal to Par'o and was someone who would be honored and able to bless Par'o. Thus he would not be presented to Par'o as someone who would be offered a subordinate position. Since Yoseph was the chief minister, Par'o would not offer Ya'akov a position subordinate to those who served Yoseph.

Rav Hirsch translates the previous verse as

... if you know that there are capable men among them, then set them as superior officers over the herds which I have

There is no further reference because Yoseph wanted to avoid this situation as the meforshim explain the "weakest" brothers being presented.

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