The Story of Joseph and his Brothers
The Interpreter of Dreams

How God got Joseph into Egypt

Jacob made a fancy robe for his favorite son, Joseph. This made Joseph’s brothers jealous. Then Joseph started having dreams about his family bowing down to him. This made his brothers hate him. So Joseph’s brothers stole his robe and dipped it in goat blood, so their father would think Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. They sold Joseph to some merchants, who took him away to Egypt and sold him as a slave to Potiphar, the captain of the guard.

Inmate interprets increasingly insane imaginings

Potiphar’s wife kept trying to get Joseph to sleep with her, but he refused. Then she accused him of trying to rape her, so Potiphar put him in prison. Two other prisoners, who had been Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker, got Joseph to interpret their dreams for them. Pharaoh’s cupbearer had dreamed about bearing Pharaoh’s cup, which Joseph said meant he would become Pharaoh’s cupbearer again. And it was so. Pharaoh’s baker had dreamed about birds eating Pharaoh’s bread out of a basket on the baker’s head, which Joseph said meant the baker would be executed. And it was so.

Later, Pharaoh had a dream about seven skinny cows eating seven fat cows, and a dream about seven thin heads of grain eating seven full heads of grain. None of his magicians and wise men could tell him what his dreams meant, so his cupbearer suggested asking Joseph. Joseph said both dreams meant that there would be seven years of abundance, and then seven years of famine. Pharaoh was so impressed by this claim that he put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt, without even bothering to wait and see if Joseph’s prediction was accurate.

Do not worry about tomorrow

During the seven years of abundance, Joseph took away all the grain that was grown in Egypt and stored it up, so the people could starve sooner rather than later. Then during the seven years of famine, he sold grain to everyone who needed it in Egypt and Canaan. Joseph gave the Egyptians food (that he had stolen from them) in exchange for all their money, all their livestock, all their land, and their slave labor. He also made them give a fifth of the food they were able to grow to Pharaoh, so that they could have food.

The brothers are reunited

During the famine, Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, so he sent ten of his sons there to get some. But he kept Benjamin (the only remaining son of his favorite wife, Rachel) at home. The brothers came before Joseph, the governor of the land, and bowed down to him. Joseph’s brothers didn’t recognize him, and he pretended not to recognize his brothers.

Joseph accused his brothers of being spies, and threatened to kill them. But they said they were actually ten brothers who had left another brother at home. They said their father would die if his last son left him, so Joseph demanded that they bring him their father’s last son. Joseph gave his brothers grain, but imprisoned one of them until they brought the other brother to him, which would somehow prove that they weren’t spies. So they went home and brought back Benjamin, and Joseph gave them more grain and sent them home again.

But then Joseph sent his steward after them to accuse them of stealing his magic silver cup. The steward caught up with them and found the cup in Benjamin’s grain sack, where the steward had hidden it. So he brought them back to Joseph. Joseph told them that he had found out by divination that they had stolen his silver cup, which he needed for divination. So he threatened to enslave Benjamin. His brother Judah offered to be enslaved instead, so Jacob wouldn’t lose his favorite remaining son.

Then Joseph finally decided to stop tormenting his brothers, and told them who he really was. His brothers were worried that he would hold a grudge against them for selling him into slavery. But he said it was okay because God had needed him to be in Egypt to save lives. Then Pharaoh invited Joseph’s whole family to come and live in luxury in Egypt. So they did.

The end.

The moral of the story

Sometimes it’s okay to enslave people, because if you don’t, the all-powerful God will be incapable of saving people’s lives.


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Judah and Tamar

Next story:

The Ten Plagues1

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