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Genesis  ◦   Chapter 37

1Jacob lived in the land of Canaan, where his father had stayed.

2This is the history of Jacob’s family:

When Joseph was a young man of seventeen, he was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of the surrogates Bilhah and Zilpah, as well as the sons of his father’s wife. Upon returning home, Joseph, with innocent concern for his brothers, gave an honest report to his father of the wrongs his brothers were doing.

3Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because Joseph had a pure heart and honored God, and was borne to him in his old age by his beloved wife Rachel. So he made a finely ornamented and beautifully colored coat for him. 4When the brothers saw that their father loved and trusted Joseph more than them, they resented it, and rather than evaluating their own characters and practices, they chose to hate Joseph and refused to speak a kind word to him.

5Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they were outraged and hated him even more. 6Joseph said to them, “Brothers, listen to this dream I had. 7We were all out in the field, gathering sheaves of grain into bundles; suddenly my bundle rose up and stood tall, while your bundles circled around mine and bowed down to it.”

8His brothers derided him, saying, “So, you intend to be our master and rule over us? Do you really think we would ever bow down to you?” And they despised him, hating him even more after hearing this dream.

9Then Joseph had another dream and told this one to his brothers also, saying, “Brothers, I had another dream. This time the sun and moon and eleven stars all bowed down to me.”

10When he told his father along with his brothers, his father tried to reduce tension with his brothers by playing down the dream and said, “What kind of dream is that? Do you think your mother and I and all your brothers will actually come and bow down to you?” 11While his brothers remained jealous of Joseph, his father thought deeply about the possible implications.

12One day, when Joseph’s brothers had taken their father’s flocks to Shechem to graze, 13Israel became concerned for them and said to Joseph, “Your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. I am sending you to them to check that all is well.”

“I am happy to go, father,” Joseph replied.

14So he instructed him, “Go, find your brothers, and ensure all is well with them and the flocks and report back to me.” Then Jacob sent him off from the Hebron Valley.

When Joseph arrived at Shechem, he was wandering around the fields, looking for his brothers,
15when a man found him and asked him, “What are you looking for?”

16“I am looking for my brothers,” he replied. “Please tell me, do you know where they are grazing their flocks?”

17The man told him, “They left here a while ago. I heard them say they were going to Dothan.”

So Joseph headed off to find his brothers and caught up to them near Dothan.
18But Joseph’s brothers spotted him in the distance, and before he arrived, they plotted to kill him.

19Stoking each other’s hate, they said, “Here comes the dream-master – the one who dreams of being our lord! 20Hey, this is our chance to get rid of him. Let’s kill him and throw him into one of these dry wells and say that wild animals devoured him. Then we’ll see how his dreams turn out.”

21But when Reuben heard what they were plotting, he intervened, trying to rescue Joseph. “We can get rid of him without killing him ourselves,” he said. 22“Why should his blood be on our hands? Let’s not kill him but throw him into this dry well here in the desert. He will die of exposure, but we won’t be guilty of killing him.” Reuben said this because he planned on rescuing Joseph and taking him back to his father.

23So when Joseph reached his brothers, they grabbed him, stripped off his finely ornamented coat, 24and threw him into a dry well.

25When the brothers sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. They were heading to Egypt with their camels loaded with spices, balm and myrrh to trade.

26Beginning to question their actions and not experiencing the relief anticipated, Judah said to his brothers, “What good can possibly come to us if we kill our own brother and cover up his murder? 27Come on, let’s not kill him but sell him to the Ishmaelites instead; after all, he’s family – our brother, our very own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

28So when the Ishmaelite traders came, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the dry well and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver; and they took him to Egypt.

29When Reuben returned to get Joseph out of the well, he wasn’t there. Reuben was overcome with distress and tore his clothes in grief. 30He confronted his brothers, “What have you done with Joseph? He’s not in the well!” When they told him what they had done, he said, “What am I going to tell father now?”

31So they all agreed to kill a young goat and dip Joseph’s coat in the blood. 32Then they took the finely ornamented coat stained with the goat’s blood back to their father and said, “We found this coat on the way home. Look at it; it isn’t Joseph’s coat, is it?”

33Jacob recognized it immediately and cried out in anguish, “It is my son’s coat! Oh, no! A ferocious animal has killed him... My precious Joseph has been torn to pieces!”

34Jacob tore his clothes, covered himself in sackcloth and mourned for his son many, many days. 35The rest of the family – all his sons and daughters – tried to comfort him, but his grief would not resolve. He said, “No, I will never stop grieving for Joseph. I will go to my grave still mourning for my son.” So Jacob continued to mourn for his son.

36Meanwhile, the Ishmaelite traders sold Joseph in the slave market in Egypt to Potiphar, an official in Pharaoh’s court, the captain of the guard.