Joseph of Egypt - the Bible text

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Joseph's story

Movie: Gladiator

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Joseph and Potiphar's Wife

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Famous paintings of the seduction

Hands bound by chains

Slavery in Bible times

Seductive woman: Claudette Colbert

Potiphar's Wife
Bored, lonely, lascivious

Jacob, Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo

Jacob, Joseph's father

Young Middle Eastern woman preparing for her wedding

Rachel, Joseph's mother

In Ben Hur a Jewish man unjustly enslaved survives adversity and eventually makes good - just as Joseph did

 

 


 


 


 


 

Bible text for Joseph's story 

 

 

Joseph of Egypt - Book of Genesis

The Saga of Joseph is too long to appear on one page, so here are extracts from various chapters: Genesis 37, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, and 50.


Joseph is sold   Genesis 37

2  Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.
3
  Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. 
4
When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

The men of a nomadic tribe. Joseph's family would have lived in much the same way.

12  Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 
13
  and Israel (Jacob) said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks. Come, I am going to send you to them.”   “Very well,” he replied.

17  So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 
18
  But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 
19
“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 
20
“Come, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” 
21
When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 
22
“Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.
23
So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 
24
and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

Limestone carving with rider and camel,  from the palace of Kapara at Tell Halaf, 10th century BC

Limestone carving with rider and camel, from the palace of Kapara 
at Tell Halaf, 10th century BC

25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
26
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 
27
Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
28
So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
29
When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 
30
He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?”
31
Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 
32
They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”
33
He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”
34
Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 


Joseph and Potiphar's Wife       Genesis 39 

1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

4
Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 

Joseph and Potiphar's Wife, 
Joseph Cignani

6 Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 
7
and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
8
But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 
9
No one is greater in this house than I am. My master withheld nothing from me except you, his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 
10
And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
11
One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 
12
She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
13
When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 
14
she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 
15
When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
16
She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 
19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 
20
Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.


The dream of Pharaoh    Genesis 41 

1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 
2
when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 
3
After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 
4
And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5
He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 
6
After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. 
7
The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dream

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dream

8 In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.
 9
Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, 
12
A young Hebrew was there (in gaol) with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 
13
And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us”
14
So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.
15
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”
16
“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”


Joseph tests his brothers    Genesis 42

6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 
7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked.  “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”
8
Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 

14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 
15
And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 
16
Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 
17
And he put them all in custody for three days.

 


Joseph reunited with his brothers   Genesis 45

1 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 
2
And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

9
Joseph said: Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 
10
You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 

Photograph of people and cow in famine

Drought and famine

11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’
12
“You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 
13
Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”
14
Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 
15
And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them.


Egyptians in Servitude    Genesis 47

13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 

14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 
15
When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.”
Joseph, Overseer of Pharaoh's Graneries, by Alma Tadema 16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 
17
So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.
18
When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 
19
Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”
20
So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 
21
and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. 

23
Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 
24
But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.”


The death of Joseph   Genesis 50

22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 
23
and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.
24
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up 

of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 
25
And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”
26
So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

 

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