Joseph had one younger and ten elder brothers. The name of the younger brother was Benjamin. Jacob was the father of them all; and Rachel was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Jacob loved Joseph more than all his other sons, and made him a coat of many colours; but his elder brothers hated him, and one day, when far away from home, proposed to kill him. They cast him into a pit instead, and afterwards sold him as a slave to some merchants who were travelling from Gilead to Egypt. When they returned to their father, they took Joseph's coat of many colours, which they had dipped in blood, and brought it to Jacob, saying: "This have we found: know now if it be thy son's coat or no." Jacob knew the coat; and thought Joseph had been killed by some wild beast, and mourned for him greatly.
[Illustration: THE MEETING OF ISAAC AND REBEKAH.]
The merchants carried Joseph into Egypt, and sold him to one of the king's officers, named Potiphar. But, though a slave, he was not forsaken by God. No, God was with him, and made all that he did to prosper. His master placed him over all his house, but his mistress wanted him to commit a great sin. When he refused, she accused him unjustly to his master, and Potiphar had him cast into prison.
God was with Joseph in the prison, and gave him such favour with the keeper that he set him over all the other prisoners. Among them were two; one who had been the king's butler, and the other his baker. Both had dreams which troubled them much, but Joseph was enabled by God to interpret their dreams for them. By-and-by Pharaoh, the king, dreamed a dream. He was standing on the banks of a river, and saw seven fat cows come up out of the water and feed in a meadow; afterwards seven very lean cows came up and devoured the fat ones. Then Pharaoh awoke; but he dreamed again, and saw that seven very poor ears of corn devoured seven that were full and good. In the morning he was greatly troubled. What could the dreams mean? He called for the magicians and the wise men, but they could not tell. At last it was told him how Joseph had interpreted the dreams in the prison; so he sent for Joseph, who came from the prison, and stood before the king.
Pharaoh said, "I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it; and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it." Joseph answered, "It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace." Then Joseph told Pharaoh that the dreams had been sent by God, to show him that after seven years of great plenty had passed there would come seven years of famine. He also advised Pharaoh to lay up corn in cities during the years of plenty, so that the people might be fed during the years of famine. Pharaoh saw what great wisdom God had given Joseph, and made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. The corn was stored up; and after the years of plenty the famine came.
[Illustration: JOSEPH BEFORE THE PHARAOH.]
During all this time Jacob and his sons had been dwelling in Canaan; where, through the famine, they were now in want of food. So Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy corn. The Bible tells us, in the book of Genesis, how they came to Egypt, and all that befell them there; and how at last Joseph, the ruler of the mighty kingdom, made himself known to them as the brother they had cruelly sold for a slave. But he forgave them, and sent to fetch his father Jacob, saying that all were to come into Egypt, where he would provide for them.
Jacob could not at first believe the good news his sons brought; but when he saw the waggons which Joseph had sent to carry him and the little ones, he said, "It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive; I will go and see him before I die." So he journeyed to Egypt, with his sons, and all that he had; and as he drew near Joseph went to meet him. When Joseph met his father, he fell on his neck, and wept there. And Jacob said, "Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive." He was so full of joy that it seemed to him there was nothing else worth living for. Afterwards Joseph presented his father to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh; who allowed him and his family to dwell in the land of Goshen.
[Illustration: JACOB PRESENTED TO PHARAOH.]