Children's Bible - Old Testament - Sherman and Kent

Joseph Sold as a Slave by His Brothers

When Joseph was seventeen years old, he and his brothers were shepherds, but he made them angry, for he brought a bad report about them to their father. Now Jacob loved his son Joseph, who was born in his old age; and he made him a long coat with sleeves. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his other sons, they hated Joseph and would not speak to him in a friendly way.

Joseph had a dream which he told to his brothers; and they hated him still more. This is what he said to them, "I dreamed that, as we were binding sheaves in the field, my sheaf rose up and remained standing, while your sheaves came around and bowed down to my sheaf." His brothers said to him, "Will you really be king over us? Will you indeed rule over us?" So they hated him still more because of his dreams and his words.

Then he had another dream and told it to his brothers, saying, "I have had another dream, and it seemed to me that the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down to me." But when he told it to his father and his brothers, his father reproved him and said, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come and bow down to the earth before you?" Therefore his brothers were jealous of him; but his father remembered the dream.

When his brothers went to pasture his father's flocks in Shechem, Jacob said to Joseph, "Go, see whether all goes well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me back word." So he sent him out, and a certain man found him, as he was wandering in the field, and the man asked him, "What are you looking for?" He said, "I am looking for my brothers; tell me, I beg of you, where they are pasturing the flock." The man said, "They have gone away, for I heard them say, 'Let us go to Dothan.'" So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan.

When they saw him in the distance, before he came to them, they planned together to kill him. And they said one to another, "See, here comes that great dreamer! Come, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits, and we will say, 'A fierce beast has devoured him.' Then we shall see what will become of his dreams!"

Judah, however, when he heard it, saved Joseph's life by saying, "Let us not take his life." Reuben also said to them, "Do not shed blood; throw him into this pit, here in the wilderness; but do not harm him." Reuben said this to save Joseph from their hands so that he could bring him back to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they took off his long coat with sleeves and threw him into the pit. But the pit was empty, there being no water in it.

Then they sat down to eat and, when they looked up, they saw a band of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead; and their camels were loaded with spices, gum, and ladanum on their way to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said to his brothers, "What do we gain if we kill our brother and hide his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let us do him no harm, for he is our brother, our own flesh and blood." So his brothers listened to him; and, drawing up Joseph, they sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who brought him to Egypt.

Then his brothers took Joseph's long coat, killed a he-goat, dipped the coat in the blood, and brought it to their father, and said, "We found this; see whether it is your son's coat or not." He recognized it and said, "It is my son's coat! A wild beast has devoured him! Joseph surely is torn in pieces." Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth about his waist, and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and his daughters tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted, saying, "I shall go down to the grave mourning for my son." Thus Joseph's father mourned for him.

Joseph's Eagerness to Help Others

Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an Egyptian, one of Pharaoh's officers, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites.

Now Jehovah was with Joseph, so that he prospered; and he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. When his master saw that Jehovah was with him and made everything succeed that he undertook, he trusted him and made him his own servant. He also made him overseer of his household and placed all that he had in his care. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, Jehovah blessed the Egyptian's household for Joseph's sake, and the blessing of Jehovah was upon all that he had in the house and in the field. Potiphar left all that he had in Joseph's charge, and he knew nothing about his affairs except about the food which he ate. And Joseph was handsome and attractive.

After these honors had come to Joseph, his master's wife tried to tempt him to be unfaithful to his trust. But he refused, saying to her, "See, my master knows nothing about what I do in the house, and he has put all that he has in my charge. How then can I do this great wrong and sin against God?" Day after day she tempted Joseph, but he did not listen to her. One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work and when none of the men of the household were at home, she caught hold of his garment and again tried to tempt him, but he left his garment in her hand and fled out of the house.

She kept his garment by her until his master came home; then she said to him, "The Hebrew slave whom you have brought to us came to me to insult me; and when I cried aloud, he left his garment with me and fled."

When Joseph's master heard what his wife said to him, he was very angry; and he took Joseph and put him into the prison, in the place where the king's prisoners were kept. So he was left there in prison. But Jehovah was with Joseph and showed kindness to him and helped him to win the friendship of the keeper of the prison, so that he placed all the prisoners in Joseph's charge and made him responsible for whatever they did there.

After these things the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their master the king of Egypt, and Pharaoh was so angry with these two officers that he put them in the same prison where Joseph was. And the captain of the guard appointed Joseph to wait on them; and they stayed in prison for some time.

And the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were in the prison, both had dreams the same night, each with a different meaning. When Joseph came in to them in the morning, he saw plainly that they were sad. So he asked Pharaoh's officers, "Why do you look so sad to-day?" They answered, "We have had a dream, and there is no one who can tell what it means." Then Joseph said to them, "Is not God the one who knows what dreams mean? Tell them to me, if you will."

Then the chief butler told his dream to Joseph and said to him, "In my dream I saw a vine before me, and on the vine were three branches, and the buds put out blossoms, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes. Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and squeezed the juice into his cup and gave the cup to Pharaoh."

Then Joseph said to him, "This is what it means: the three branches are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will let you out of prison and restore you to your office, and you will give Pharaoh's cup into his hand as you used to do when you were his butler. But when all goes well with you, remember me, show kindness to me and speak for me to Pharaoh and bring me out of this prison; for I was unjustly stolen from the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me in the dungeon."

When the chief baker saw that the meaning of the butler's dream was good, he said to Joseph, "I also saw something in my dream: there were three baskets of white bread on my head, and in the upper basket there were all kinds of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head." Joseph answered, "This is what it means: the three baskets are three days; within three days Pharaoh will take off your head and hang you on a tree, and the birds shall eat your flesh."

Now on the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, he made a feast for all his servants. Then he set free the chief butler and the chief baker. He restored the chief butler to his office, so that he again gave the cup to Pharaoh; but the chief baker he hanged, as Joseph had told them. Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.