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Genesis 37

37
Joseph Dreams of Greatness
1Now Jacob dwelt in the land #Gen. 17:8; 23:4; 28:4; 36:7; Heb. 11:9where his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. 2This is the history of Jacob.
Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a #Gen. 35:25, 26; 1 Sam. 2:22–24bad report of them to his father.
3Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was #Gen. 44:20the son of his old age. Also he #Gen. 37:23, 32; Judg. 5:30; 1 Sam. 2:19made him a tunic of many colors. 4But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they #Gen. 27:41; 49:23; 1 Sam. 17:28; John 15:18–20hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.
5Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. 6So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: 7#Gen. 42:6, 9; 43:26; 44:14There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.”
8And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
9Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, #Gen. 46:29; 47:25the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”
10So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and #Gen. 27:29your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” 11And #Matt. 27:17, 18; Acts 7:9his brothers envied him, but his father #Dan. 7:28; Luke 2:19, 51kept the matter in mind.
Joseph Sold by His Brothers
12Then his brothers went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. 13And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers feeding the flock in #Gen. 33:18–20Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.”
So he said to him, “Here I am.”
14Then he said to him, “Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me.” So he sent him out of the Valley of #Gen. 13:18; 23:2, 19; 35:27; Josh. 14:14, 15; Judg. 1:10Hebron, and he went to Shechem.
15Now a certain man found him, and there he was, wandering in the field. And the man asked him, saying, “What are you seeking?”
16So he said, “I am seeking my brothers. #Song 1:7Please tell me where they are feeding their flocks.
17And the man said, “They have departed from here, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in #2 Kin. 6:13Dothan.
18Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, #1 Sam. 19:1; Ps. 31:13; 37:12, 32; Matt. 21:38; 26:3, 4; 27:1; Mark 14:1; John 11:53; Acts 23:12they conspired against him to kill him. 19Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming! 20#Gen. 37:22; Prov. 1:11Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!”
21But #Gen. 42:22Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, “Let us not kill him.” 22And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him”—that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father.
23So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they #Matt. 27:28stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. 24Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it.
25#Prov. 30:20And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of #Gen. 16:11, 12; 37:28, 36; 39:1Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead with their camels, bearing spices, #Jer. 8:22balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry them down to Egypt. 26So Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and #Gen. 37:20conceal his blood? 27Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and #1 Sam. 18:17let not our hand be upon him, for he is #Gen. 42:21our brother and #Gen. 29:14our flesh.” And his brothers listened. 28Then #Gen. 37:25; Judg. 6:1–3; 8:22, 24Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, #Gen. 45:4, 5; Ps. 105:17; Acts 7:9and sold him to the Ishmaelites for #Matt. 27:9twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.
29Then Reuben returned to the pit, and indeed Joseph was not in the pit; and he #Gen. 37:34; 44:13; Job 1:20tore his clothes. 30And he returned to his brothers and said, “The lad #Gen. 42:13, 36is no more; and I, where shall I go?”
31So they took #Gen. 37:3, 23Joseph’s tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood. 32Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said, “We have found this. Do you know whether it is your son’s tunic or not?”
33And he recognized it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A #Gen. 37:20wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.” 34Then Jacob #Gen. 37:29; 2 Sam. 3:31tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and #Gen. 50:10mourned for his son many days. 35And all his sons and all his daughters #2 Sam. 12:17arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, “For #Gen. 25:8; 35:29; 42:38; 44:29, 31I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.
36Now #Gen. 39:1the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard.
37
Joseph’s Dream
1So Jacob (Israel) lived in the land #Lit of his father’s sojournings.where his father [Isaac] had been a stranger (sojourner, resident alien), in the land of Canaan. 2These are the generations of Jacob.
Joseph, when he was seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers [Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher]; the boy was with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s [#I.e. concubines (see note 22:24).secondary] wives; and Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father. 3Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a [distinctive] #The meaning of this word is uncertain; some sources indicate that it refers to a long-sleeved tunic that reaches the ankles, essentially a light robe. In any case, the tunic was a visible reminder to Joseph’s brothers of their father’s favoritism toward him.multicolored tunic. 4His brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more than all of his brothers; so they hated him and could not [find it within themselves to] speak to him on friendly terms.
5Now Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brothers, and they #In both vv 5 and 8 “hated him even more” is properly translated, but there is an interesting play on words. The literal Hebrew says, “they added to hate”—the Hebrew word for “added” is the same for the word for Joseph—“they ‘Josephed’ their hate for him.”hated him even more. 6He said to them, “Please listen to [the details of] this dream which I have dreamed; 7we [brothers] were binding sheaves [of grain stalks] in the field, and lo, my sheaf [suddenly] got up and stood upright and remained standing; and behold, your sheaves stood all around my sheaf and bowed down [in respect].” 8His brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Are you really going to rule and govern us as your subjects?” So they hated him even more for [telling them about] his dreams and for his [arrogant] words.
9But Joseph dreamed still another dream, and told it to his brothers [as well]. He said, “See here, I have again dreamed a dream, and lo, [this time I saw] eleven stars and the sun and the moon bowed down [in respect] to me!” 10He told it to his father as well as to his brothers; but his father rebuked him and said to him [in disbelief], “What is [the meaning of] this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow down to the ground [in respect] before you?” 11Joseph’s brothers were envious and jealous of him, but his father kept the words [of Joseph] in mind [wondering about their meaning].
12Then his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. 13Israel (Jacob) said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing [the flock] at Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.” And he said, “Here I am [ready to obey you].” 14Then Jacob said to him, “Please go and see whether everything is all right with your brothers and all right with the flock; then bring word [back] to me.” So he sent him from the Hebron Valley, and he went to Shechem.
15Now a certain man found Joseph, and saw that he was wandering around and had lost his way in the field; so the man asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16He said, “I am looking for my brothers. Please tell me where they are pasturing our flocks.” 17Then the man said, “[They were here, but] they have moved on from this place. I heard them say, ‘Let us go to #Located about twelve miles north of Shechem.Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.
The Plot against Joseph
18And when they saw him from a distance, even before he came close to them, they plotted to kill him. 19They said to one another, “Look, here comes this #Lit master of dreams.dreamer. 20Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the #These were earthen tanks that were dug or carved into rocky ground (perhaps limestone), designed to collect rainwater in the desert during winters. Some were cavernous, with a staircase carved into one of the walls for access to the bottom. The cistern selected by Joseph’s brothers must have been deep enough to make escape very difficult for someone of his size, but constructed without a staircase or other means of access (other than a rope).pits (cisterns, underground water storage); then we will say [to our father], ‘A wild animal killed and devoured him’; and we shall see what will become of his dreams!” 21Now Reuben [the eldest] heard this and rescued him from their hands and said, “Let us not take his life.” 22Reuben said to them, “Do not shed his blood, but [instead] throw him [alive] into the pit that is here in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him [to kill him]”—[he said this so] that he could rescue him from them and return him [safely] to his father. 23Now when Joseph reached his brothers, they stripped him of his tunic, the [distinctive] #See note v 3.multicolored tunic which he was wearing; 24then they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty; there was no water in it.
25Then they sat down to eat their meal. When they looked up, they saw a caravan of #Descendants of Abraham and Hagar (Sarah’s maid, 16:15).Ishmaelites coming from Gilead [east of the Jordan], with their camels bearing ladanum resin [for perfume] and balm and #A valuable tree resin.myrrh, going on their way to carry the cargo down to Egypt. 26Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood (murder)? 27Come, let us [instead] sell him to these Ishmaelites [and #Descendants of Abraham and Keturah, his concubine.Midianites] and not lay our hands on him, because he is our brother and our flesh.” So his brothers listened to him and agreed. 28Then as the #The relationship between the Midianites and the Ishmaelites as they are mentioned here is unclear. It is possible, as some have suggested, that “Ishmaelites” came to be used as a general term for desert tribes, and that the same merchants are called by both names in this verse. This would also explain the reference to the “Midianites” in v 36. Another explanation, which was offered by the rabbis, is that Joseph was sold first to the Ishmaelites, who then sold him to the Midianites. Another possibility is that they were Ishmaelites from the area of Midian.Midianite [and Ishmaelite] traders were passing by, the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and they sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And so they took Joseph [as a captive] into Egypt.
29Now Reuben [unaware of what had happened] returned to the pit, and [to his great alarm found that] Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his clothes [in deep sorrow]. 30He rejoined his brothers and said, “The boy is not there; as for me, where shall I go [to hide from my father]?” 31Then they took Joseph’s tunic, slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood; 32and they brought the multicolored tunic to their father, saying, “We have found this; please examine it and decide whether or not it is your son’s tunic.” 33He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces!” 34So Jacob tore his clothes [in grief], put #An uncomfortable material woven from goat hair and worn in mourning.on sackcloth and mourned many days for his son. 35Then all his sons and daughters attempted to console him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “I will go down to Sheol (the place of the dead) in mourning for my son.” And his father wept for him. 36Meanwhile, in Egypt the Midianites sold Joseph [as a slave] to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and the captain of the [royal] guard.