for thou art even as Pharaoh." They are not truly a match for the might of Egypt.
In the midrash rabba, Chazal treat it differently. The brothers are great warriors and surely a match for Egypt. One midrash explains the situation as reluctance to destroy the great empire, for while they could destroy Shechem with no major repercussions, if they destroy Egypt the entire world, which relies upon it, will be ruined.
I want to focus this week on one of the major themes of the midrash of Vayigash, that of Jewish might, and Jewish superheroes, especially because it fits in nicely with one theme of Chanukka and the Maccabees.
Yehudah's speech is interpreted in three strains at one point in the midrash - as attempted appeasement (= peshat), as prayer to God, and as threats of war. I would suggest that the template for this would be Yaakov's three ways of dealing with Esav in parashat Vayishlach (Bereishit 32). Yaakov sent presents to Esav with words of appeasement, and when he finally met him appeased him. He prayed (see pasuk 10). He split his camp into various camps in preparation for war.
I will leave for now with one concrete midrash showing how Yehudah's words can be interpreted as a threat.
As we read earlier,
|יח וַיִּגַּשׁ אֵלָיו יְהוּדָה, וַיֹּאמֶר בִּי אֲדֹנִי, יְדַבֶּר-נָא עַבְדְּךָ דָבָר בְּאָזְנֵי אֲדֹנִי, וְאַל-יִחַר אַפְּךָ בְּעַבְדֶּךָ: כִּי כָמוֹךָ, כְּפַרְעֹה.||18 Then Judah came near unto him, and said: 'Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant; for thou art even as Pharaoh.|
We see that No is a city in Egypt (just like Denial is a river in Egypt) in Yechezkel 30:13-16:
I hope to post more on this this week, but may not be able to. Deadlines approach.