Old Testament Story List

Joseph

Jacob lived in the land of Canaan with his twelve sons. He was a rich man, and owned great flocks of sheep and goats, and herds of cattle. The ten eldest sons tended the flocks. The eleventh son, Joseph, and his father's favorite, and the youngest son, Benjamin, remained at home with their father.

Jacob showed in many

ways how much he loved Joseph. On Joseph's seventeenth birthday, his father gave him a beautiful coat of many colors. When his older brothers saw it, they were jealous and angry. They hated Joseph and could not speak kindly to him.

At about the same time, Joseph had a strange dream, that he and his brothers were binding sheaves of wheat in the field. He sheaf stood upright while his brothers' sheaves bowed down before it. When Joseph told his brothers of this dream, they became very angry and hated him even more, for to them it meant that he, their younger brother, would rule over them.

And then Joseph told of yet another dream in which the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed before him. This time, even his father rebuked him, saying "What is this dream? Shall I and your mother and brothers bow down before you?" The older brothers made no effort to conceal their anger against Joseph.

One day, when the older brothers had taken the flocks to the rich grazing fields in Shechem, some distance away, Jacob sent Joseph to see if all were well and to bring back news of them. It took Joseph a long time to reach them, for they had moved on further to Dothan.

As he approached, his brothers saw the beautiful coat in the distance. Realizing that it was Joseph, alone, they saw a chance to be rid of him and his dreams. They talked among themselves and decided to kill him, to throw him into a nearby pit and say that a wild beast had devoured him.

The oldest brother, Reuben, persuaded them that it would be better not to shed any blood, but to throw him into the pit and leave him there in the wilderness. He secretly planned to return later and rescue Joseph from the pit, and to return him to Jacob.

When Joseph came up to his brothers, they seized him, tore off his coat of many colors, and cast him into a deep pit from which he could not escape.

Reuben went away to tend the flocks, and the other brothers sat down to eat. Just then a camel caravan of Ishmaelite merchants came passing by, on their way to trade in Egypt. One of the brothers, Judah, suggested that they sell Joseph as a slave and thus make some money for themselves, rather than kill him or leave him in the pit; for, after all, he was their brother. So they lifted Joseph from the pit and sold him to the merchants for twenty pieces of silver.

When Reuben returned and found Joseph gone, he was filled with despair, fearing that in his absence the others had killed him. But when he learned that Joseph was alive and had been sold as a slave, he fell in with the plan of his brothers. They killed on of the goats and dipped Joseph's coat in its blood. When they returned home, they showed the coat to Jacob.

"We found this coat," they said. "Do you know if it is Joseph's?"

Poor Jacob recognized the coat and, beholding it torn and bloody, cried out that some evil beast must have attacked and killed his favorite son. Jacob put  on sackcloth and mourned for Joseph, and all his other sons could not comfort him. He could only weep and declare, "I will go to my grave mourning for my son."

When the Ishmaelite merchants brought Joseph to Egypt, they sold him as a slave to Potiphar, who was a captain of the guard in the palace of the Pharoah, ruler in Egypt.


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