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Genesis 37

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Joseph Sold into Egypt. 1Jacob settled in the land where his father had sojourned, the land of Canaan.#The statement points ahead to 47:27, “Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the region of Goshen.” These two statements frame the Joseph narrative; the later material (47:28–49:33) is about Jacob; chap. 50 brings to a conclusion themes remaining from the earlier story. One aim of the Joseph story is to explain how Israel came to Egypt after sojourning so long in Canaan. 2This is the story of the family of Jacob.#The Joseph story is great literature not only in its themes but in its art. The stories show an interest in the psychology of the characters; everyone acts “in character” yet there is never a doubt that a divine purpose is bringing events to their conclusion. According to a literary analysis, vv. 1–4 set the scene; vv. 5–36 introduce the dramatic tension in the form of a conflict within the family; chaps. 38–41 describe the journeys away from their family of the eponymous ancestors of the two great tribes of later times, Judah (chap. 38) and Joseph (chaps. 39–41) and their preliminary conclusions; chaps. 42–44 detail the famine and journeys for food (chaps. 42, 43) that bring the brothers and (indirectly) the father into fresh contact with a mature Joseph who now has the power of life and death over them; 45:1–47:27 is the resolution (reconciliation of Joseph to his brothers) and the salvation of the family. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he was tending the flocks with his brothers; he was an assistant to the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah, and Joseph brought their father bad reports about them. 3Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long ornamented tunic.#Jacob’s favoring Joseph over his other sons is a cause of the brothers’ attempt on his life. Throughout the story, Jacob is unaware of the impact of his favoritism on his other sons (cf. vv. 33–35; 42:36). Long ornamented tunic: the meaning of the Hebrew phrase is unclear. In 2 Sm 13:18–19, it is the distinctive dress of unmarried royal daughters. The “coat of many colors” in the Septuagint became the traditional translation. Ancient depictions of Semites in formal dress show them with long, ornamented robes and that is the most likely meaning here. Possibly, the young Joseph is given a coat that symbolizes honor beyond his years. Later, Pharaoh will clothe Joseph in a robe that symbolizes honor (41:42). 4When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his brothers, they hated him so much that they could not say a kind word to him.
5#Joseph’s dreams of ruling his brothers appear at first glance to be merely adolescent grandiosity, and they bring him only trouble. His later successes make it clear, however, that they were from God. Another confirmation of their divine source is the doubling of dreams (cf. 41:32). Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers, they hated him even more.#Gn 42:9. 6He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had. 7There we were, binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf rose to an upright position, and your sheaves formed a ring around my sheaf and bowed down to it.” 8His brothers said to him, “Are you really going to make yourself king over us? Will you rule over us?” So they hated him all the more because of his dreams and his reports.#Gn 50:17–18.
9Then he had another dream, and told it to his brothers. “Look, I had another dream,” he said; “this time, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10When he told it to his father and his brothers, his father reproved him and asked, “What is the meaning of this dream of yours? Can it be that I and your mother and your brothers are to come and bow to the ground before you?” 11So his brothers were furious at him but his father kept the matter in mind.
12One day, when his brothers had gone to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem, 13Israel said to Joseph, “Are your brothers not tending our flocks at Shechem? Come and I will send you to them.” “I am ready,” Joseph answered. 14“Go then,” he replied; “see if all is well with your brothers and the flocks, and bring back word.” So he sent him off from the valley of Hebron. When Joseph reached Shechem, 15a man came upon him as he was wandering about in the fields. “What are you looking for?” the man asked him. 16“I am looking for my brothers,” he answered. “Please tell me where they are tending the flocks.” 17The man told him, “They have moved on from here; in fact, I heard them say, ‘Let us go on to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan. 18They saw him from a distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19They said to one another: “Here comes that dreamer! 20Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We will see then what comes of his dreams.”#Gn 44:28.
21#The chapter thus far is from the Yahwist source, as are also vv. 25–28a. But vv. 21–24 and 28b–36 are from another source (sometimes designated the Elohist source). In the latter, Reuben tries to rescue Joseph, who is taken in Reuben’s absence by certain Midianites; in the Yahwist source, it is Judah who saves Joseph’s life by having him sold to certain Ishmaelites. Although the two variant forms in which the story was handed down in early oral tradition differ in these minor points, they agree on the essential fact that Joseph was brought as a slave into Egypt because of the jealousy of his brothers. But when Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from their hands, saying: “We must not take his life.” 22Then Reuben said, “Do not shed blood! Throw him into this cistern in the wilderness; but do not lay a hand on him.” His purpose was to save him from their hands and restore him to his father.#Gn 42:22.
23So when Joseph came up to his brothers, they stripped him of his tunic, the long ornamented tunic he had on; 24then they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
25Then they sat down to eat. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, balm, and resin to be taken down to Egypt.#Gn 43:11. 26Judah said to his brothers: “What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood?#Jb 16:18. 27Come, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers agreed.
28Midianite traders passed by, and they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern. They sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver#They sold Joseph…silver: editors tried to solve the confusion, created by different sources, by supposing that it was the Midianite traders who pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him to Ishmaelites. In all probability, one source had the brothers selling Joseph to Ishmaelites, whereas the other had them cast him into the pit whence he was taken by Midianite traders. to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.#Ps 105:17; Wis 10:13; Acts 7:9. 29When Reuben went back to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not in it, he tore his garments,#Tore his garments: the traditional sign of mourning in the ancient Near East. 30and returning to his brothers, he exclaimed: “The boy is gone! And I—where can I turn?” 31They took Joseph’s tunic, and after slaughtering a goat, dipped the tunic in its blood. 32Then they sent someone to bring the long ornamented tunic to their father, with the message: “We found this. See whether it is your son’s tunic or not.” 33He recognized it and exclaimed: “My son’s tunic! A wild beast has devoured him! Joseph has been torn to pieces!”#Gn 44:28. 34Then Jacob tore his garments, put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned his son many days. 35Though his sons and daughters tried to console him, he refused all consolation, saying, “No, I will go down mourning to my son in Sheol.”#Sheol: see note on Ps 6:6. Thus did his father weep for him.#Gn 42:38.
36The Midianites, meanwhile, sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh and his chief steward.#Ps 105:17.
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1Iaakob nowe dwelt in the lande, wherein his father was a stranger, in the lande of Canaan. 2These are the generations of Iaakob, when Ioseph was seuenteene yeere olde: he kept sheepe with his brethren, and the childe was with the sonnes of Bilhah, and with the sonnes of Zilpah, his fathers wiues. And Ioseph brought vnto their father their euill saying. 3Nowe Israel loued Ioseph more then all his sonnes, because he begate him in his old age, and he made him a coat of many colours. 4So when his brethren sawe that their father loued him more then all his brethren, then they hated him, and could not speake peaceably vnto him. 5And Ioseph dreamed a dreame, and told his brethren, who hated him so much the more. 6For he saide vnto them, Heare, I pray you, this dreame which I haue dreamed. 7Beholde nowe, wee were binding sheues in the middes of the field: and loe, my shefe arose and also stoode vpright, and behold, your sheues compassed rounde about, and did reuerence to my shefe. 8Then his brethren saide to him, What, shalt thou reigne ouer vs, and rule vs? or shalt thou haue altogether dominion ouer vs? And they hated him so much the more, for his dreames, and for his wordes. 9Againe hee dreamed an other dreame, and tolde it his brethren, and saide, Behold, I haue had one dreame more, and beholde, the Sunne and the Moone and eleuen starres did reuerence to me. 10Then he tolde it vnto his father and to his brethren, and his father rebuked him, and saide vnto him, What is this dreame, which thou hast dreamed? shall I, and thy mother, and thy brethren come in deede and fall on the ground before thee? 11And his brethren enuied him, but his father noted the saying. 12Then his brethren went to keepe their fathers sheepe in Shechem. 13And Israel said vnto Ioseph, Doe not thy brethren keepe in Shechem? come and I will send thee to them. 14And he answered him, I am here. Then he saide vnto him, Goe now, see whether it bee well with thy brethren, and how the flocks prosper, and bring me word againe. so hee sent him from the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. 15Then a man found him: for lo, hee was wandring in the fielde, and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou? 16And he answered, I seeke my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they keepe sheepe. 17And the man said, they are departed hece: for I heard them say, Let vs goe vnto Dothan. Then went Ioseph after his brethren, and found them in Dothan. 18And when they sawe him a farre off, euen before he came at them, they conspired against him for to slay him. 19For they sayd one to another, Behold, this dreamer commeth. 20Come now therefore, and let vs slay him, and cast him into some pitte, and wee will say, A wicked beast hath deuoured him: then wee shall see, what will come of his dreames. 21But when Reuben heard that, he deliuered him out of their handes, and saide, Let vs not kill him. 22Also Reuben saide vnto them, Shed not blood, but cast him into this pitte that is in the wildernesse, and lay no hande vpon him. Thus he said, that he might deliuer him out of their hand, and restore him to his father againe. 23Now when Ioseph was come vnto his brethren, they stript Ioseph out of his coate, his particoloured coate that was vpon him. 24And they tooke him, and cast him into a pit, and the pit was emptie, without water in it. 25Then they sate them downe to eate bread: and they lift vp their eyes and looked, and behold, there came a companie of Ishmeelites from Gilead, and their camels laden with spicerie, and balme, and myrrhe, and were going to cary it downe into Egypt. 26Then Iudah said vnto his brethren, What auaileth it, if we slay our brother, though wee keepe his blood secret? 27Come and let vs sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our handes be vpon him: for he is our brother and our flesh: and his brethren obeyed. 28Then the Midianites marchant men passed by, and they drewe foorth, and lift Ioseph out of the pit, and solde Ioseph vnto the Ishmeelites for twentie pieces of siluer: who brought Ioseph into Egypt. 29Afterwarde Reuben returned to the pit, and beholde, Ioseph was not in the pit: then he rent his clothes, 30And returned to his brethren, and said, The childe is not yonder, and I, whither shall I goe? 31And they tooke Iosephs coate, and killed a kidde of the goates, and dipped the coate in the blood. 32So they sent that particoloured coat, and they brought it vnto their father, and saide, This haue we founde: see nowe, whether it be thy sonnes coate, or no. 33Then he knewe it and said, It is my sonnes coate: a wicked beast hath deuoured him: Ioseph is surely torne in pieces. 34And Iaakob rent his clothes, and put sackecloth about his loynes, and sorowed for his sonne a long season. 35Then all his sonnes and all his daughters rose vp to comfort him, but he woulde not be comforted, but said, Surely I will go downe into the graue vnto my sonne mourning: so his father wept for him. 36And the Midianites solde him into Egypt vnto Potiphar an Eunuche of Pharaohs, and his chiefe stewarde.