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    Kissing hands – Mikketz

    kiss handThe Israelite boy Joseph finally made it. The king appointed him to high office, second only to the throne (Gen. 41:40).

    “According to your word yishak kol ammi, shall all my people be ruled,” said Pharaoh. Literally the Hebrew means “upon your mouth shall all my people kiss”.

    The reference to kissing must be a metaphor for the grant of authority; I Sam. 10:1 speaks of Samuel anointing Saul and kissing him, and Psalm 2:12 tells the kings to kiss God’s anointed.

    To this day the phrase “kissing hands” is used when a British prime minister is commissioned.

    Rashi thinks that yishak means “all my people shall be fed”, linking it with m-sh-k in Gen. 15:2.

    Later scholars support Rashi but do not accept his etymology. They point out that “to kiss food” was an Egyptian idiom for eating. Hence the verse is saying that Joseph’s word would determine how and when the people would receive food supplies.

    What confidence the king placed in Joseph! History would judge Joseph’s success by whether anyone went hungry.

    It is still not a bad means of assessing a political leader. If the people are well fed, the country is doing well.

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