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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 dwelleth in the land of his father's sojournings — in the land of Canaan.
2These [are] births of Jacob: Joseph, a son of seventeen years, hath been enjoying himself with his brethren among the flock, (and he [is] a youth,) with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives, and Joseph bringeth in an account of their evil unto their father.
3And Israel hath loved Joseph more than any of his sons, for he [is] a son of his old age, and hath made for him a long coat;
4and his brethren see that their father hath loved him more than any of his brethren, and they hate him, and have not been able to speak [to] him peaceably.
5And Joseph dreameth a dream, and declareth to his brethren, and they add still more to hate him.
6And he saith unto them, ‘Hear ye, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
7that, lo, we are binding bundles in the midst of the field, and lo, my bundle hath arisen, and hath also stood up, and lo, your bundles are round about, and bow themselves to my bundle.’
8And his brethren say to him, ‘Dost thou certainly reign over us? dost thou certainly rule over us?’ and they add still more to hate him, for his dreams, and for his words.
9And he dreameth yet another dream, and recounteth it to his brethren, and saith, ‘Lo, I have dreamed a dream again, and lo, the sun and the moon, and eleven stars, are bowing themselves to me.’
10And he recounteth unto his father, and unto his brethren; and his father pusheth against him, and saith to him, ‘What [is] this dream which thou hast dreamt? do we certainly come — I, and thy mother, and thy brethren — to bow ourselves to thee, to the earth?’
11and his brethren are zealous against him, and his father hath watched the matter.
12And his brethren go to feed the flock of their father in Shechem,
13and Israel saith unto Joseph, ‘Are not thy brethren feeding in Shechem? come, and I send thee unto them;’ and he saith to him, ‘Here [am] I;’
14and he saith to him, ‘Go, I pray thee, see the peace of thy brethren, and the peace of the flock, and bring me back word;’ and he sendeth him from the valley of Hebron, and he cometh to Shechem.
15And a man findeth him, and lo, he is wandering in the field, and the man asketh him, saying, ‘What seekest thou?’
16and he saith, ‘My brethren I am seeking, declare to me, I pray thee, where they are feeding?’
17And the man saith, ‘They have journeyed from this, for I have heard some saying, Let us go to Dothan,’ and Joseph goeth after his brethren, and findeth them in Dothan.
18And they see him from afar, even before he draweth near unto them, and they conspire against him to put him to death.
19And they say one unto another, ‘Lo, this man of the dreams cometh;
20and now, come, and we slay him, and cast him into one of the pits, and have said, An evil beast hath devoured him; and we see what his dreams are.’
21And Reuben heareth, and delivereth him out of their hand, and saith, ‘Let us not smite the life;’
22and Reuben saith unto them, ‘Shed no blood; cast him into this pit which [is] in the wilderness, and put not forth a hand upon him,’ — in order to deliver him out of their hand, to bring him back unto his father.
23And it cometh to pass, when Joseph hath come unto his brethren, that they strip Joseph of his coat, the long coat which [is] upon him,
24and take him and cast him into the pit, and the pit [is] empty, there is no water in it.
25And they sit down to eat bread, and they lift up their eyes, and look, and lo, a company of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, and their camels bearing spices, and balm, and myrrh, going to take [them] down to Egypt.
26And Judah saith unto his brethren, ‘What gain when we slay our brother, and have concealed his blood?
27Come, and we sell him to the Ishmaelites, and our hands are not on him, for he [is] our brother — our flesh;’ and his brethren hearken.
28And Midianite merchantmen pass by and they draw out and bring up Joseph out of the pit, and sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty silverlings, and they bring Joseph into Egypt.
29And Reuben returneth unto the pit, and lo, Joseph is not in the pit, and he rendeth his garments,
30and he returneth unto his brethren, and saith, ‘The lad is not, and I — whither am I going?’
31And they take the coat of Joseph, and slaughter a kid of the goats, and dip the coat in the blood,
32and send the long coat, and they bring [it] in unto their father, and say, ‘This have we found; discern, we pray thee, whether it [is] thy son's coat or not?’
33And he discerneth it, and saith, ‘My son's coat! an evil beast hath devoured him; torn — torn is Joseph!’
34And Jacob rendeth his raiment, and putteth sackcloth on his loins, and becometh a mourner for his son many days,
35and all his sons and all his daughters rise to comfort him, and he refuseth to comfort himself, and saith, ‘For — I go down mourning unto my son, to Sheol,’ and his father weepeth for him.
36And the Medanites have sold him unto Egypt, to Potiphar, a eunuch of Pharaoh, head of the executioners.