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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN

AFTER the death of Isaac, Jacob grew richer and more prosperous, and in time he came to be looked upon as the most highly blessed by God of all the men in that country. He had twelve sons, who were strong and handsome young men, capable of doing much work in the fields. Jacob was very proud of these sons, and was fond of them all. But we was especially fond of Joseph, who, next to Benjamin, was the youngest of all, for Joseph was not only the handsomest of the young men, but he was also the kindest and the most obedient.

Now this affection of the father excited the envy and hatred of his brethren, and the hatred was increased when Joseph told [34] them of two dreams of his, which, when interpreted, foretold that his future happiness would be greater than that of any of the others.

The first of his dreams was as follows: He thought that in harvest-time he and his brothers were binding up sheaves of grain, and his sheaf stood still in the place where he set it, but their sheaves ran to bow down to it, as servants bow down to their masters. And the brothers were angry when they heard this dream, because it seemed to mean that they would bow down to Joseph. They did not let Joseph know the meaning they put upon it, but only prayed in secret that what they feared might not come to pass.

The second dream was even more wonderful than the first. It seemed to Joseph that the sun and the moon came down from heaven with eleven stars and bowed down to him. He told this vision to his father in the presence of his brethren, and begged him to interpret it. Jacob was secretly pleased with this dream, for it seemed to promise great things to his favorite son, and he guessed that this was its meaning: the sun and the moon signified the father and mother of Joseph, and the eleven stars were his brethren, and the time would come when Joseph, by the blessing of God, should be honored and deemed worthy of worship by his parents and his brethren. The second dream made the brothers still more angry than the first.

A short time after this, Joseph's brethren went down to a country called Shechem, which was famous for its pasturage, and there they fed their flocks. But as they had not told their father of their removal he became very anxious, and sent Joseph out to see if he could not learn any news about them. The brethren rejoiced when they saw Joseph coming towards them, for they had resolved to kill him. Reuben, the eldest, was less hardened in his heart than the others, and he began to reason with them, telling them that it was a great crime to kill a brother, even if he had done a [35] serious wrong, and Joseph had done no wrong. But when he saw that his words were of no avail, he begged of them at least not to kill their brother with their own hands, but to cast him into the pit that was hard by, and so let him die, and at least they would not then have defiled their hands with his blood. To this the young men agreed. Reuben took the lad and tied a cord around him and let him down gently into the pit. And then he went his way to seek for such pasturage as was fit for feeding the flocks.

After Reuben was gone, Judah, who was another of the brethren, saw a company of merchants, called Ishmaelites, who were carrying spices and Syrian wares out of the land of Gilead to sell to the Egyptians. Then he advised the others to draw Joseph out of the pit and sell him to these merchants, for in this way they would be rid of him without the guilt of murder. They all agreed to this; and Joseph was drawn up out of the pit and sold to the merchants for twenty pieces of silver.

In the night-time Reuben came back to the pit with the intention of secretly saving Joseph. And when he called to him and received no answer he was much distressed, fearing they had destroyed him after he was gone. But when he went to his brethren and complained to them they told him what they had done, and he was satisfied.

The brethren then considered among themselves what they should tell their father. They had taken away from Joseph the coat which he had on when he came to them,—a beautiful coat of many colors given to him by Isaac,—so they decided to tear that coat to pieces, and to dip it into goat's blood, and then to carry it and show it to their father, that he might believe Joseph had been destroyed by wild beasts. And when they had so done, they came to the old man, and he recognized the coat as the one he had given to Joseph, and, believing that his favorite son had been slain, he lamented sorely and could not be comforted.


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