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Genesis 37

37
Joseph and His Brothers
1Jacob lived in the land of Canaan, where his father Isaac had lived, 2and this is the story of his family.
When Jacob's son Joseph was 17 years old, he took care of the sheep with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah.#37.2 Bilhah and Zilpah: See 30.1-13. But he was always telling his father all sorts of bad things about his brothers.
3Jacob loved Joseph more than he did any of his other sons, because Joseph was born when Jacob was very old. Jacob had even given Joseph a fancy coat#37.3 fancy coat: Or “a coat of many colors” or “a coat with long sleeves.” 4which showed that Joseph was his favorite son, and so Joseph's brothers hated him and would not be friendly to him.
5One day, Joseph told his brothers what he had dreamed, and they hated him even more. 6Joseph said, “Let me tell you about my dream. 7We were out in the field, tying up bundles of wheat. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles gathered around and bowed down to it.”
8His brothers asked, “Do you really think you are going to be king and rule over us?” Now they hated Joseph more than ever because of what he had said about his dream.
9Joseph later had another dream, and he told his brothers, “Listen to what else I dreamed. The sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to me.”
10When he told his father about this dream, his father became angry and said, “What's that supposed to mean? Are your mother and I and your brothers all going to come and bow down to you?” 11#Ac 7.9. Joseph's brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept wondering about the dream.
Joseph Is Sold and Taken to Egypt
12One day when Joseph's brothers had taken the sheep to a pasture near Shechem, 13his father Jacob said to him, “I want you to go to your brothers. They are with the sheep near Shechem.”
“Yes, sir,” Joseph answered.
14His father said, “Go and find out how your brothers and the sheep are doing. Then come back and let me know.” So he sent him from Hebron Valley.
Joseph was near Shechem 15and wandering through the fields, when a man asked, “What are you looking for?”
16Joseph answered, “I'm looking for my brothers who are watching the sheep. Can you tell me where they are?”
17“They're not here anymore,” the man replied. “I overheard them say they were going to Dothan.”
Joseph left and found his brothers in Dothan. 18But before he got there, they saw him coming and made plans to kill him. 19They said to one another, “Look, here comes the hero of those dreams! 20Let's kill him and throw him into a pit and say that some wild animal ate him. Then we'll see what happens to those dreams.”
21Reuben heard this and tried to protect Joseph from them. “Let's not kill him,” he said. 22“Don't murder him or even harm him. Just throw him into a well out here in the desert.” Reuben planned to rescue Joseph later and take him back to his father.
23When Joseph came to his brothers, they pulled off his fancy coat#37.23 fancy coat: See the note at 37.3. 24and threw him into a dry well.
25As Joseph's brothers sat down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with all kinds of spices that they were taking to Egypt. 26So Judah said, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and hide his body? 27Let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not harm him. After all, he is our brother.” And the others agreed.
28 # Ws 10.13; Ac 7.9. When the Midianite merchants came by, Joseph's brothers took him out of the well, and for 20 pieces of silver they sold him to the Ishmaelites#37.28 Midianite … Ishmaelites: According to 25.1,2, 12 both the Midianites and the Ishmaelites were descendants of Abraham, and in Judges 8.22-24 the two names are used of the same people. It is possible that in this passage “Ishmaelite” has the meaning “nomadic traders,” while “Midianite” refers to their ethnic origin. who took him to Egypt.
29When Reuben returned to the well and did not find Joseph there, he tore his clothes in sorrow. 30Then he went back to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone! What am I going to do?”
31Joseph's brothers killed a goat and dipped Joseph's fancy coat in its blood. 32After this, they took the coat to their father and said, “We found this! Look at it carefully and see if it belongs to your son.”
33Jacob knew it was Joseph's coat and said, “It's my son's coat! Joseph has been torn to pieces and eaten by some wild animal.”
34Jacob mourned for Joseph a long time, and to show his sorrow he tore his clothes and wore sackcloth.#37.34 sackcloth: A rough dark-colored cloth made from goat or camel hair and used to make grain sacks. It was worn in times of trouble or sorrow. 35All of Jacob's children came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will go to my grave, mourning for my son.” So Jacob kept on grieving.
36Meanwhile, the Midianites had sold Joseph in Egypt to a man named Potiphar, who was the king's#37.36 the king's: See the note at 12.15. official in charge of the palace 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.