Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

Joseph's Dreams

Jacob did not remain very long at Shechem, but soon passed on to Bethel, where he renewed his covenant with God. While on a journey from this place, his beloved wife Rachel died, after giving birth to a second son, named Benjamin. Rachel was buried near Bethlehem, and over her grave still rises a rude dome, which is called her tomb, and is often visited by Jews, Christians, and Mussulmans.

At the next resting place, Reuben, Jacobís oldest son, forfeited his birthright by doing wrong; and soon afterwards the caravan reached Isaacís encampment. Here they found the patriarch still alive, although he was now one hundred and sixty-five years old; and here Jacob sojourned until his fatherís death, fifteen years later.

Jacob and Esau buried their father, Isaac, in the cave of Machpelah, where Abraham, Sarah, and Rebecca already lay; and then Esau journeyed away to seek pasture for his flocks. His family is little mentioned in the Bible, but we are told that his descendants were the Edomites, who became the enemies of the Chosen Race.

Jacob went on dwelling in the Land of Canaan, and because he "loved Joseph more than all his children," he was very partial to him. To show his affection, he gave this favorite child a princely robe of many colors.

When Jacobís other sons saw that their father preferred Joseph, they grew angry and envious. These wicked feelings grew worse when Joseph told about two dreams which he had had, and which were as follows:

In the first dream he thought he was in the midst of a harvest field, where he and his brothers were binding grain, and he said that he saw their sheaves bow down and do homage to his, which alone stood boldly upright. In the second dream, "the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance "to him.

These dreams were, according to the custom of the time, considered as signs of the future; and they were thought to mean that Joseph would rule over his brothers.

The jealousy of the elder brothers was made still greater by this way of interpreting the dreams; and they began to plot how to get rid of Joseph. They soon had a chance to do what they wished; for, before long, Jacob sent Joseph alone to Shechem, to inquire how his sons and flocks were getting along there.

The brothers recognized Joseph from afar by his bright robe, and hastily consulted together how they might kill him. Reuben alone wished to save Joseph, but he did not dare oppose his brothers openly; so he now suggested that instead of shedding the ladís blood it would be better to put him into an empty cistern nearby.

The wicked brothers agreed, and after taking off Josephís coat of many colors, they lowered the poor boy into the cistern, whence he could not escape without aid. Then they stained his gay garment with the blood of a kid, and sent it back to Jacob, who thought that his favorite son had been devoured by the wild beasts, and bitterly mourned his loss.

Before Reuben could carry out his kind intentions, and release Joseph from the empty cistern, the other brothers sold him to a caravan of passing merchants for twenty pieces of silver; and when Reuben came back, after a short absence, Joseph was already well on his way to Egypt, where he was to be sold as a slave.

We are told very little about the after lives of the older sons of Jacob, although they married and had many children. The story now follows Joseph into Egypt, where he became the slave of Potiphar, an officer at the kingís court. Here Joseph worked so faithfully that he was soon promoted to the office of steward, or overseer of all the slaves of the household.

He had not forgotten his fatherís teachings during this sojourn in a heathen land, and when Potipharís wife tempted him to do wrong, he refused to listen to her. This made her so angry that she had him sent to prison, where, in due time, Joseph became the jailerís assistant.

Joseph and Brothers