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Genesis 37

37
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.

Genesis 37

37
1And Jacob dwelt in the land of Chanaan wherein his father sojourned.
2And these are his generations. Joseph, when he was sixteen years old, was feeding the dock with his brethren, being but a boy. And he was with the sons of Bala and of Zelpha his father's wives. And he accused his brethren to his father of a most wicked crime.
3Now Israel loved Joseph above all his sons, because he had him in his old age: and he made him a coat of divers colours.
4And his brethren seeing that he was loved by his father, more than all his sons, hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.
5Now it fell out also that he told his brethren a dream, that he had dreamed: which occasioned them to hate him the more.
6And he said to them: Hear my dream which I dreamed.
7I thought we were binding sheaves in the field: and my sheaf arose as it were, end stood, and your sheaves standing about, bowed down before my sheaf.
8His brethren answered: Shalt thou be our king? Or shall we be subject to thy dominion? Therefore this matter of his dreams and words ministered nourishment to their envy and hatred.
9He dreamed also another dream, which he told his brethren, saying: I saw in a dream, as it were the sun, and the moon, and eleven stars worshipping me.
10And when he had told this to his father and brethren, his father rebuked him, and said: What meaneth this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother, and thy brethren worship thee upon the earth?
11His brethren therefore envied him: but his father considered the thing with himself.
12And when his brethren abode in Sichem feeding their father's flocks,
13Israel said to him: Thy brethren feed the sheep in Sichem: come, I will send thee to them. And when he answered:
14I am ready: he said to him; Go, and see if all things be well with thy brethren, and the cattle; and bring me word again what is doing. So being sent from the vale of Hebron, he came to Sichem.
15And a man found him there wandering in the field, and asked what he sought.
16But he answered: I seek my brethren; tell me where they feed the flocks.
17And the man said to him: They are departed from this place; for I heard them say: Let us go to Dothain. And Joseph went forward after his brethren, and found them in Dothain.
18And when they saw him afar off, before he came nigh them, they thought to kill him.
19And said one to another: Behold, the dreamer cometh.
20Come, let us kill him, and cast him into some old pit; and we will say: Some evil beast hath devoured him: and then it shall appear what his dreams avail him:
21And Ruben hearing this, endeavoured to deliver him out of their hands, and said:
22Do not take away his life, nor shed his blood: but cast him into this pit, that is in the wilderness, and keep your hands harmless. Now he said this, being desirous to deliver him out of their hands and to restore him to his father.
23And as soon as he came to his brethren, they forthwith stript him of his outside coat, that was of divers colours:
24And cast him into an old pit, where there was no water.
25And sitting down to eat bread, they saw some Ismaelites on their way coming from Galaad, with their camels, carrying spices, and balm, and myrrh to Egypt.
26And Juda said to his brethren: What will it profit us to kill our brother, and conceal his blood?
27It is better that he be sold to the Ismaelites, and that our hands be not defiled: for he is our brother and our flesh. His brethren agreed to his words.
28And when the Madianite merchants passed by, they drew him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ismaelites, for twenty pieces of silver: and they led him into Egypt.
29And Ruben, returning to the pit, found not the boy:
30And rending his garments he went to his brethren, and said: The boy doth not appear, and whither shall I go?
31And they took his coat, and dipped it in the blood of a kid, which they had killed.
32Sending some to carry it to their father, and to say: This we have found; see whether it be thy son's coat, or not.
33And the father acknowledging it, said: It is my son's coat; an evil wild beast hath eaten him; a beast hath devoured Joseph.
34And tearing his garments, he put on sackcloth, mourning for his son a long time.
35And alibis children being gathered together to comfort their father in his sorrow, he would not receive comfort, but said: I will go down to my son into hell, mourning. And whilst he continued weeping,
36The Madianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Putiphar, an eunuch of Pharao, captain of the soldiers.