There's some information that I find missing from this question that cites various commentaries debating of the brothers were responsible for selling Yosef to Egypt or not.

We do see in Miketz that Yehuda says to sell them to the Ishmaelites. In Breishit 37:28 it says that Midianites came by first, and they sell Yosef to the Yishmaelites who bring him to Egypt. Yet, in Breishit 37:36 it says that the Medanim sold him to Egypt. OK, I saw Rash"i on 37:28 that says that the brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites and there were multiple sales until he was eventually brought to Egypt.

One "problem" is that when Yosef reveals himself to his brothers, is that he says, in Breishit 45:4, "I am Yosef your brother whom you sold to Egypt."

Even according to those commentaries that say that the brothers were responsible for the sale, how does Yosef make this accusation? Yes, apparently, the brothers knew that the Ishmaelites were heading to Egypt (see end of Breishit 37:25 "...going down to Egypt".) However, of course, Yosef knew exactly how things happened, and at the end, pshat says that the Medanites wre the ones who brought him to Egypt, not the Ishamelites. So was Yosef accusing his brothers based on original thought and intention?

  • I believe Yehuda says to sell him to the Ishmaelites in Vayeishev. Dec 20, 2017 at 22:35
  • A couple of thoughts: -Yosef was indeed accusing them based on original thought -It's an intro to the next Passuk, I was sold to Mitzrayim, and that's a good thing -See Hakesav Vehakabbalah, who deals with this question directly, also see Shadal, Netziv, and Seforno (quoted by Netziv), all available at this link: mg.alhatorah.org/Full/Bereshit/45/4#e0n7 Dec 20, 2017 at 22:42

2 Answers 2


Rashbam, who writes that the brothers did not even sell Yosef at all (rather the Midianites stole Yosef from the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites), addresses the potential question from Yosef's accusation of אשר מכרתם אותי מצרימה, and says that Yosef merely meant that their actions enabled the sale.

ואף על פי אשר כתב אשר מכרתם אותי מצרימה יש לומר שהגרמת מעשיהם סיעה במכירתו

If this can explain the situation in a world where the brothers did not sell Yosef at all, it can certainly explain it in a world where the brothers did sell Yosef (albeit not directly to Egypt).


Yosef was in the pit and did not know the details as to what happened. Slave dealers would not tell the slaves about anything that was going on until they turned him over to his new master. As far as Yosef was concerned, his brothers threw him into a pit, he was pulled out, and eventually taken to Egypt for sale. He would not have known about any paper transactions along the way. Indeed, as I say in Another reason for Yosef not communicating with his father, Yaakov?, he might even have thought that his father had rejected him and accepted the sale.

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