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Genesis 37

37
Joseph’s Brothers Sell Him into Slavery
1Jacob continued to live in the land of Canaan, where his father had lived.
2This is the account of Jacob and his descendants.
Joseph was a seventeen-year-old young man. He took care of the flocks with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. Joseph told his father about the bad things his brothers were doing.
3Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons because Joseph had been born in Israel’s old age. So he made Joseph a special robe with long sleeves. 4Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them. They hated Joseph and couldn’t speak to him on friendly terms.
5Joseph had a dream and when he told his brothers, they hated him even more. 6He said to them, “Please listen to the dream I had. 7We were tying grain into bundles out in the field, and suddenly mine stood up. It remained standing while your bundles gathered around my bundle and bowed down to it.”
8Then his brothers asked him, “Are you going to be our king or rule us?” They hated him even more for his dreams and his words.
9Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream: I saw the sun, the moon, and 11 stars bowing down to me.”
10When he told his father and his brothers, his father criticized him by asking, “What’s this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers come and bow down in front of you?” 11So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept thinking about these things.
12His brothers had gone to take care of their father’s flocks at Shechem. 13Israel then said to Joseph, “Your brothers are taking care of the flocks at Shechem. I’m going to send you to them.”
Joseph responded, “I’ll go.”
14So Israel said, “See how your brothers and the flocks are doing, and bring some news back to me.” Then he sent Joseph away from the Hebron Valley.
When Joseph came to Shechem, 15a man found him wandering around in the open country. “What are you looking for?” the man asked.
16Joseph replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Please tell me where they’re taking care of their flocks.”
17The man said, “They moved on from here. I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.
18They saw him from a distance. Before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19They said to each other, “Look, here comes that master dreamer! 20Let’s kill him, throw him into one of the cisterns, and say that a wild animal has eaten him. Then we’ll see what happens to his dreams.”
21When Reuben heard this, he tried to save Joseph from their plot. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. 22“Let’s not have any bloodshed. Put him into that cistern that’s out in the desert, but don’t hurt him.” Reuben wanted to rescue Joseph from them and bring him back to his father.
23So when Joseph reached his brothers, they stripped him of his special robe with long sleeves. 24Then they took him and put him into an empty cistern. It had no water in it.
25As they sat down to eat, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were carrying the materials for cosmetics, medicine, and embalming. They were on their way to take them to Egypt.
26Judah asked his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother and covering up his death? 27Let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites. Let’s not hurt him, because he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
28As the Midianite merchants were passing by, the brothers pulled Joseph out of the cistern. They sold him to the Ishmaelites for eight ounces of silver. The Ishmaelites took him to Egypt.
29When Reuben came back to the cistern and saw that Joseph was no longer there, he tore his clothes in grief. 30He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! What am I going to do?”
31So they took Joseph’s robe, killed a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. 32Then they brought the special robe with long sleeves to their father and said, “We found this. You better examine it to see whether it’s your son’s robe or not.”
33He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has eaten him! Joseph must have been torn to pieces!” 34Then, to show his grief, Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth around his waist, and mourned for his son a long time. 35All his other sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. He said, “No, I will mourn for my son until I die.” This is how Joseph’s father cried over him.
36Meanwhile, in Egypt the Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials 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.