The Torah In Haiku: Mikeitz

Joseph’s sons are born
Menasseh and Ephraim
Their mom’s Egyptian

The Maccabees fought
But Joseph seems to embrace


Genesis 41:50-52
Joseph had two sons before the famine years came, borne to him by Asenath, daughter of Poti Phera, priest of On. Joseph named the first-born Menasseh – ‘Because God has made me forget (nasheh) all my troubles – and even my father’s house.’ He named his second son Ephraim – ‘Because God has made me fruitful (p’ri) in the land of my suffering.’


Mikeitz is almost always read during Hanukkah, and presents a stark contrast to the Hanukkah story. The Maccabees fought forced assimilation into the Syrian Greek culture. The Torah text suggest that Joseph was so comfortable with his assimilation into Egyptian society – becoming Pharoah’s second in comment – that the names he chose for his sons reflected his desire to put his Hebrew past behind him.


Photo by Dominic Alves via Flickr