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JOSEPH AND HIS BROTHERS.
THE Bible is the best book in the world:
it is a holy book, for it is that which God
has caused to be written for our learning.
In it are given many true stories, which
we should often read, that we may learn
our duty, to love and fear God, and to
avoid all sin. One of the most pleasing
of these stories is the history of Joseph
and his Brethren, in the thirty-seventh
chapter, and the thirty-ninth to the forty-
fifth chapter of the Book of Genesis. I
will tell you about it.
A great many years ago, there lived,
in a country called Canaan, a man whose
name was Jacob. He was a rich man,
4 JOSEPH AND
and had a great number of sheep and
cattle. He had twelve sons, and the
eldest son was named Reuben, and the
two youngest were called Joseph and
Benjamin. Jacob loved Joseph more
than all his children, because he was the
son of his old age. There was also
another reason. It was that Joseph was
a good son, and would not join with any
of his brothers in doing wrong. All
children ought to obey their parents:
but the elder sons of Jacob did not
always obey their father, and they would
sometimes tell falsehoods to deceive him,
and to hide their faults. And because
Joseph always spoke the truth, and
would not consent to deceive their kind
father, his brothers hated him, and did
not even speak to him with kindness.
It is sad to think that Jacob's sons
should have been so wicked, for brothers
and sisters ought always to live in peace
and love. When they were so unkind,
Joseph found it hard to bear; yet he
was much more happy than if he had
joined in their sinful ways, for God gives
comfort and joy to every one who tries
to please him, and Joseph knew that he
had God for his friend. His father also
loved him dearly, and was very kind to
him. He gave Joseph a coat made of
many bright colours; and often, by other
tokens, Jacob showed his love for this
good son. So that Joseph and his father
were very happy together in their plea-
Joseph dreamed a dream, and told it
to his brothers, which made them hate
him still more. He dreamed that they
were all binding sheaves of corn in the
harvest-field, and that his sheaf stood
upright, and the sheaves of his brothers
stood round, and bowed low before it.
After this he dreamed another dream,
and told it to them also. He dreamed
that the sun and moon and eleven stars
came and bowed down before him. Now
his brothers thought that he meant to
show by these dreams that he was to be
above them all; and they said, "Shalt
thou indeed reign over us ?" And they
hated him more and more.
I have told you that Jacob had a great
number of sheep, and his sons used to
take care of the flocks, and to feed them.
Sometimes they went a long way from
home to find good pasture for the sheep,
and did not come back for days or weeks.
Now it happened once, when they were
away, that Jacob said to his son Joseph,
who stayed with him at home, "Do not
thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem ?
-Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well
with thy brethren, and well with the
flocks, and bring me word again." So
Joseph set out on his journey, and came
to the place where his brothers were
keeping the sheep.
The cruel brothers saw him coming
when he was still a long way off; and
they said one to another, "Behold, this
dreamer cometh. Come now therefore,
and let us slay him, and cast him into some
pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath
devoured him: and we shall see what will
become of his dreams." There was no
8 JOSEPH AND
pity for him in their hearts; and as soon
as he came up to them, they took off his
coat of many colours, which his father had
made for him, and cast him into a deep
pit, Poor Joseph! they gave no heed to
his cries and tears, but left him alone in
the deep pit, with no one near but God.
And did God forget Joseph in this
time of trouble? No. The wicked bro-
thers thought that no eye beheld their
cruel deed; but God saw it from heaven,
his dwelling-place, and he did not suffer
Joseph to die in the pit. God never for-
gets those who put their trust in him.
He will help you, young reader, and be
your friend in every danger, if you are
sorry for your sins, and ask him with
your whole heart to pity and forgive you,
for the sake of Jesus Christ, his Son.
No doubt Joseph was very sad when
he thought of his father, and his little
brother Benjamin, whom he had left at
home. But very soon a company of
merchants came that way with camels,
loaded with spices and other things,
which they were going to sell in Egypt:
and Joseph's brothers took him out of the
pit, and sold him to these merchants, to
be their slave. So now there seemed no
hope that he would ever see his dear
father, and little brother, and happy
home again, for he was to be a slave in
The next thing that the cruel brothers
did was to kill one of the kids of the
flock, and they dipped Joseph's coat of
many colours in the blood of the kid.
Then they took the coat to their father
Jacob, and said they had found it on
their way; and asked if it was Joseph's
coat; or not ? As soon as Jacob saw the
coat, all stained with blood, he felt sure
that Joseph had been torn to pieces by
the wild beasts; and his sorrow was so
great that no one could comfort him;
but he said he should mourn for his dear
son Joseph all the days of his life. Thus
those hard-hearted and wicked sons were
able to deceive their aged father: but they
could not deceive -God. He saw their sin;
he heard the falsehoods that they told to
hide it: there is nothing hid from God.
Do you wish to know what became of
Joseph after he was taken into Egypt?
He was sold to a great man, the captain
of the guard, who was a kind master to
him, and trusted him with all that he had,
IHe put into his hands much money, gave
him the care of his house, and made him
ruler over all his affairs. And God
blessed Joseph, and caused everything
that he did to prosper, so that he grew
more and more in favour with his master.
But when all things seemed to be going
on well, his mistress, a wicked woman,
came to Joseph, while he was attending to
his duties in the house, and tempted him
to sin. Now Joseph loved God for all his
goodness to him, and could not bear to
displease him: therefore he said, How
can I do this great wickedness, and sin
against God ?" My young friend, try to
remember these words of Joseph, and
pray that the Holy Spirit may give you
grace to say No, when any one tempts
you to do wrong.
This wicked woman was so angry with
Joseph because he would not do as she
wished, although it was a very wicked
thing she desired, that she went to his
master and told him many falsehoods, to
make him believe that Joseph was a bad
man, and had wished to commit a great
sin, and was not fit to be trusted with his
affairs. His master thought that she
spoke the truth; and he also became so
angry with Joseph that he put him into
prison; and he was there a long time.
Yet he was not without comfort even in
the prison, for God was with him, and
still blessed him, and made the keeper of
the prison to be kind and friendly to
him; so that the keeper of the prison
trusted him as much as his master, the
captain of the guard, had done.
HIS BROTHERS. 13
Two men of the king's household, the
chief butler and the chief baker, were put
into prison while Joseph was there, for
having done something to displease the
king. One night, they had each of them
a dream, which made them very sad.
When Joseph saw how sad they looked,
he asked them the reason, and they told
him their dreams.
Now God had given great wisdom to
Joseph, so that he knew the meaning of
things that other men could not under-
stand. And when he had heard the
dream of the chief butler, he told him it
was a sign that in three days the king
would forgive him and take him into his
service again. Joseph asked the chief
butler to think of him when he was out
of prison, and to beg of the king to let
14 JOSEPH AND
him be set free, as he had done nothing
Then the chief baker also came to
Joseph and told him his dream. And
Joseph said that in three days the king
would take him out of prison, and put
him to death.
In three days' time it happened just as
Joseph had said. The chief baker was
hanged, by the command of the king;
but he forgave the chief butler, and sent
for him again to the palace. Now the
chief butler ought to have thought of
Joseph, who had been kind to him in
trouble. But he forgot him, and did not
speak of him to the king to get him out
of prison until two more long years were
At the end of two years, the king of
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HIS BROTHERS. 15
Egypt had two dreams which troubled
him very much, for in those days God
often spoke to men in dreams and visions
of the night. The king sent for his wise
men and advisers, but no one could tell
him the meaning of his dream. Then
the chief butler thought of Joseph, and
told the king .what had happened when
he and the chief baker were in prison
together. So the king sent for Joseph
in haste, and when he was brought before
him, he told him his dreams.
Joseph took care *to let the king know
that he had not of himself the power to
tell the meaning of these dreams, but that
it was God who gave him wisdom to ex-
plain them. He then told the king his
dreams were to show that there would be
seven years of great plenty through all
the land of Egypt. And after them there
would be seven years of famine, when no
corn would grow in the land, and bread
would be so scarce that people would
forget the seven years of plenty which
had gone before. Therefore the king
should look out a wise man, and set
him over the land of Egypt, that he
might save up a great deal of the corn
in the seven years of plenty, and keep
it in store against the seven years of
famine; or else the people would die for
want of food.
The king was very much pleased with
this good advice, and he said, "Can we
find such a one as this is, a man in whom
the Spirit of God is ?" So he took the ring
from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's
hand, and arrayed him in rich clothes,
and put a gold chain about his neck.
And he made him ride through the city
in a handsome chariot, and all the people
were told to bow before him, for he was
to be ruler over the land of Egypt, and
next in greatness to the king.
Thus Joseph, whom his wicked brothers
had sold to be a slave, was now, by the
power of God, raised to great honour.
The seven years of plenty came, and
Joseph laid up a great store of corn, and
showed much wisdom in all that he did.
He was very high in the king's favour,
and lived in a large house, and had
many servants to attend upon him. But
he did not forget God now that he was
a great man, for he knew that it was
He alone who had brought him safely
out of the pit, and from the prison,
and made him ruler over all the land of
After the years of plenty were over,
there came the seven years of famine.
Now the famine spread over all lands,
but there was no store of food laid up in
any other land than Egypt; so that the
people from distant countries came there
to buy corn. And amongst the rest,
Joseph's elder brothers came, for their
father had said to them, I have heard
that there is corn in Egypt: get you
down thither, and buy for us from thence;
that we may live, and not die." But he
would not let his youngest son, Benja-
min, go with them, for fear that any
harm should happen to him.
Now it was Joseph who sold the corn
to the people that came to buy; so his
HIS BROTHERS. 19
brothers were brought to him, and he
knew them directly; but they did not
remember Joseph, and they bowed low
before him, with their faces to the ground.
Would not this put him in mind of the
dreams which had made his brothers so
angry, when he was a youth, and lived
with them at home ?
He perhaps wished to find out if they
were at all changed for the better during
the long time that he had been away from
them, and therefore did not make him-
self known. He spoke to them in a
rough manner, and asked them who they
were, and why they were come to Egypt,
They said to him, that they were twelve
brothers, and lived with their father in
the land of Canaan. They also said that
one of their brothers was dead; and that
20 JOSEPH AND
they had left the youngest with their
father at home, while they came into
Egypt to buy food.
When he heard this, Joseph made as
if he did not believe them, for he wanted
to know if it was true that his brother
Benjamin was alive, or whether they bad
hated him also and done him some harm.
So he said to them, "If ye be true men,
let one of your bretliuen be bound in the
house of your prison: go ye, carry corn
for the famine of your houses: but bring
your youngest brother unto me; so shall
your words be verified, and ye shall not
Joseph's brothers were greatly dis-
tressed when they heard this, for they
did not like to leave one behind in
prison; and they spoke to each other in
their own language,-that it was a just
punishment from God, because they had
been so cruel to their brother Joseph,
and had shown no pity to him.
They did not know that Joseph
could understand what they said; and
he turned away from them and wept,
for his heart was full of love to his
brothers, and he forgave them all that
they had done. But that he might
be quite sure of their repentance, he
took one of them, named Simeon, and
put him into prison; and sent the rest
home to their father, with as much
corn as they liked to buy. He told
them to bring their youngest brother
without fail when they came again.
And we may be certain that Simeon was
kindly treated while they were away.
When the brothers reached home,
and gave their father an account of
their journey, he was much grieved,
and at first he said that Benjamin
should not go down with them into
Egypt. For he said, "Joseph is not,
and Simeon is not, and ye will take
Benjamin away. If mischief befall him
by the way in the which ye go, then
shall ye bring down my grey hairs with
sorrow to the grave." But after some
time, when the corn was nearly all gone,
and it was needful that they should again
travel into Egypt for more, he gave
his consent that Benjamin should go.
The elder brothers promised to take
care of him; and Jacob prayed that God
would protect them on their way, and
that they might find mercy before the
HIS BROTHERS. 23
ruler of Egypt, so that both Simeon
and Benjamin might come home in
You may think how Joseph would
rejoice to see his youngest brother again.
He longed to fall upon his neck and
embrace him; but he wished to try his
brothers still more, and therefore he
would not yet make himself known.
This time, however, he spoke to them
kindly, and he brought Simeon to them
again. Joseph had a very tender and
loving heart, and it was more than he
could bear to see them all together,
and his dear brother Benjamin, and
to hear them talking about his kind
father, from whom he had been parted
so many long years. He made haste to
leave them, and went into his chamber,
and wept there. It was not for grief that
he wept; they were tears of joy and love.
And he did not forget to give thanks to
God, from whom all blessings come.
Joseph made a feast for his brothers,
and they sat down to dine with him,
and his servants waited upon them.
They thought it a great honour to
dine with the ruler of all the land.
And Joseph told his steward, the chief
of his servants, to fill their sacks with
corn, as much as they could carry. He
also directed the steward to put a silver
cup in the sack of the youngest. The
steward did as Joseph bade him; and in
the morning, as soon as it was light, the
brothers set out on their journey home.
But they were only a little way from
the city when the steward went after
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HIS BROTHERS. 25
them, by Joseph's command. And
when he overtook them, he charged
them with returning evil for good, and
with having taken away his master's
silver cup. As no one had seen the
steward put the cup into Benjamin's
sack, they every one denied it; and they
were willing, if it was found that one of
them had taken the cup, that he should
die, and all the rest should be slaves.
But the steward said he would not
punish all; but only him that had stolen
the cup, and that the others might go
away. Then they opened their sacks,
and the steward began to search; and in
Benjamin's sack the silver cup was found.
This was the trial by which Joseph
meant to find out whether they really
loved their brother Benjamin, or not.
The elder brothers did not forsake
Benjamin in his distress. They did not
go on their journey without him. They
were not now so hard-hearted and cruel
as in former years, when they sold Jo-
seph for a slave. They went all together
back to the city, with sad and heavy
hearts; and the steward took them again
before Joseph, and told him that he had
found the cup in Benjamin's *ack.
Then Joseph said that Benjamin must
stay in Egypt as his slave, and that the
elder brothers might go in peace to their
father. But the brothers fell upon the
ground at Joseph's feet, as he sat upon
his throne, and begged him to have
pity. And one of them, whose name
was Judah, begged of Joseph not to be
angry, for they knew that he was as
great and mighty as the king. Judah
also said, that when they were with him
before, he had told them to bring their
youngest brother, that he might see him,
and then he would know that they spoke
the truth. And when they had reported
this to their father, he feared to part
with their brother Benjamin-for that
his son Joseph was torn in pieces by a
wild beast; and if any harm should
happen to Benjamin also, they would
bring his grey hairs with sorrow to the
grave. So that if they went back home
without their youngest brother, their fa-
ther would die of grief, for his life was
bound up in the lad's life. Judah
prayed that he himself might rather be
kept to be a slave instead of Benjamin,
who should go home to his father. For
_ __ __I __
they could not bear to see their father's
face again, unless their brother Benja-
min went with them.
When Joseph heard this, and saw
their love for their youngest brother,
he could not keep silence any longer.
He sent all his servants away; and
when alone with his brothers he wept
aloud. And he said to them, "I am
Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into
His brothers could not answer him
a word, for they were afraid of him.
They thought he would punish them,
now he had the power. But he spoke
to them kindly, and embraced them, to
show that he forgave them. So he set
their fears at rest, and then they talked
together with much joy.
The king in his palace soon heard
HIS BROTHERS. 29
that Joseph's brothers were come; and
he told him to send for his father
Jacob to live with him in Egypt. So
his brothers set out on their journey
again, to carry home the good news,
and they took with them a rich pre-
sent from Joseph to his father, and
wagons for the journey into the land of
At first Jacob could not believe that
Joseph was alive, and was so great a
man. But when he saw the present
and the wagons, he believed them, and
said, "Joseph, my son, is yet alive: I
will go and see him before I die."
So Jacob went into Egypt with his
sons and all his family. And when
Joseph heard that he was coming, he
went out in his chariot to meet him.
It was a happy meeting after all their
30 JOSEPH AND
troubles; and their hearts were full of
joy and praise to God.
Joseph took his father and five of his
brothers, to present them before the
king. Jacob was now very old, and
the king treated him with great kind-
ness and respect. He also gave to
Joseph's brothers part of the land of
Egypt to live in, where there was good
pasture for their flocks. And Jacob
lifted up his hands, and prayed for a
blessing upon the king. So from this
time Jacob lived happily in Egypt with
his sons until the end of his days.
Young reader, try to learn something
from the story of Joseph and his Brothers.
It shows you what a good and happy
thing it is to have God for your friend.
He watches over those who love him, and
brings them safely out of every danger.
HIS BROTHERS. 31
IHe saved Joseph from his cruel brothers,
and brought him out of prison. He will
not suffer any evil to happen to you if
you pray for grace to love and obey him,
and try to keep his commands.
Brothers and sisters may also learn,
from Joseph's example, to return good for
evil. How kind he was to the cruel
brothers who had sold him for a slave!
Instead of wishing to punish them, when
they were in his power, he forgave them
everything, and showed them the greatest
kindness. He said not one word of re-
proach. And will you try to revenge
yourself for an unkind act? Rather go,
when anything happens to vex you, and
pray to God for a meek, forgiving temper,
and a loving heart. "Be not overcome
of evil, but overcome evil with good."
Above all, let Joseph's kindness to his
JOSEPH AND HIS BROTHERS.
cruel brothers bring to your mind the
great love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ, the Son of God, who gave himself
to die for sinful man. It was for us, and
for our sins, that he suffered such bitter
pains upon the cross. And now he gives
pardon and eternal life to all who believe
in him. Though' we are guilty, he will
hear us: though we have done so many
things to displease him, he is full of pity
and love. He says, "Come unto me,
and I will give you rest." -Go, young
reader, in prayer, to this kind Saviour.
Ask him to forgive your sins, and to
change your heart by the grace of his
Holy Spirit. Then you will be a holy
and a happy child.
Reed and Pardon, Printers, Paternoster Row.
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