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
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
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
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.
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.
this coat," they said. "Do you know if it is
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."
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.