Joseph and His Brothers
1 Jacob lived in the land of Canaan, where his father Isaac had lived,
2 and this is the story of his family.
When Jacob's son Joseph was seventeen years old, he took care of the sheep with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah.
c 37.2 Bilhah and Zilpah: See 30.1-13.
But he was always telling his father all sorts of bad things about his brothers.
Jacob loved Joseph more than he did any of his other sons, because Joseph was born after Jacob was very old. Jacob had given Joseph a fancy coat
d 37.3,23 fancy coat: Or “a coat of many colors” or “a coat with long sleeves.”
to show that he was his favorite son, and so Joseph's brothers hated him and would not be friendly to him.
5 One day, Joseph told his brothers what he had dreamed, and they hated him even more.
6 Joseph said, “Let me tell you about my dream.
7 We were out in the field, tying up bundles of wheat. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles gathered around and bowed down to it.”
8 His brothers asked, “Do you really think you are going to be king and rule over us?” Now they hated Joseph more than ever because of what he had said about his dream.
9 Joseph later had another dream, and he told his brothers, “Listen to what else I dreamed. The sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to me.”
When he told his father about this dream, his father became angry and said, “What's that supposed to mean? Are your mother and I and your brothers all going to come and bow down in front of you?”
Joseph's brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept wondering about the dream.
Joseph Is Sold and Taken to Egypt
12 One day when Joseph's brothers had taken the sheep to a pasture near Shechem,
13 his father Jacob said to him, “I want you to go to your brothers. They are with the sheep near Shechem.”
“Yes, sir,” Joseph answered.
14 His father said, “Go and find out how your brothers and the sheep are doing. Then come back and let me know.” So he sent him from Hebron Valley.
Joseph was near Shechem
15 and wandering through the fields, when a man asked, “What are you looking for?”
16 Joseph answered, “I'm looking for my brothers who are watching the sheep. Can you tell me where they are?”
17 “They're not here anymore,” the man replied. “I overheard them say they were going to Dothan.”
Joseph left and found his brothers in Dothan.
18 But before he got there, they saw him coming and made plans to kill him.
19 They said to one another, “Look, here comes the hero of those dreams!
20 Let's kill him and throw him into a pit and say that some wild animal ate him. Then we'll see what happens to those dreams.”
21 Reuben heard this and tried to protect Joseph from them. “Let's not kill him,” he said.
22 “Don't murder him or even harm him. Just throw him into a dry well out here in the desert.” Reuben planned to rescue Joseph later and take him back to his father.
When Joseph came to his brothers, they pulled off his fancy coat
d 37.3,23 fancy coat: Or “a coat of many colors” or “a coat with long sleeves.”
and threw him into a dry well.
25 As Joseph's brothers sat down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with all kinds of spices that they were taking to Egypt.
26 So Judah said, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and hide his body?
27 Let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not harm him. After all, he is our brother.” And the others agreed.
When the Midianite merchants came by, Joseph's brothers took him out of the well, and for twenty pieces of silver they sold him to the Ishmaelites
e 37.28 Midianite ... Ishmaelites: According to 25.1,2,12 both the Midianites and the Ishmaelites were descendants of Abraham, and in Judges 8.22-24 the two names are used of the same people. It is possible that in this passage “Ishmaelite” has the meaning “nomadic traders,” while “Midianite” refers to their ethnic origin.
who took him to Egypt.
29 When Reuben returned to the well and did not find Joseph there, he tore his clothes in sorrow.
30 Then he went back to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone! What am I going to do?”
31 Joseph's brothers killed a goat and dipped Joseph's fancy coat in its blood.
32 After this, they took the coat to their father and said, “We found this! Look at it carefully and see if it belongs to your son.”
33 Jacob knew it was Joseph's coat and said, “It's my son's coat! Joseph has been torn to pieces and eaten by some wild animal.”
Jacob mourned for Joseph a long time, and to show his sorrow he tore his clothes and wore sackcloth.
f 37.34 sackcloth: A rough dark-colored cloth made from goat or camel hair and used to make grain sacks. It was worn in times of trouble or sorrow.
All of Jacob's children came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will go to my grave, mourning for my son.” So Jacob kept on grieving.
Meanwhile, the Midianites had sold Joseph in Egypt to a man named Potiphar, who was the king's
g 37.36 the king's: See the note at 12.15.
official in charge of the palace guard.
Judah and Tamar
1 About that time Judah left his brothers in the hill country and went to live near his friend Hirah in the town of Adullam.
2 While there he met the daughter of Shua, a Canaanite man. Judah married her,
3 and they had three sons. He named the first one Er;
4 she named the next one Onan.
5 The third one was born when Judah was in Chezib, and she named him Shelah.
Later, Judah chose Tamar as a wife for Er, his oldest son.
But Er was very evil, and the Lord
took his life.
So Judah told Onan, “It's your duty to marry Tamar and have a child for your brother.”
h 38.8 It's your duty ... child ... brother: If a man died without having children, his brother was to marry the dead man's wife and have a child, who was to be considered the child of the dead brother (see Deuteronomy 25.5,6).
Onan knew the child would not be his,
i 38.9 the child ... not be his: When Judah died, Onan would get his dead brother's share of the inheritance, but if his dead brother had a son, the inheritance would go to him instead.
and when he had sex with Tamar, he made sure that she would not get pregnant.
wasn't pleased with Onan and took his life too.
11 Judah did not want the same thing to happen to his son Shelah, and he told Tamar, “Go home to your father and live there as a widow until my son Shelah is grown.” So Tamar went to live with her father.
12 Some years later Judah's wife died, and he mourned for her. He then went with his friend Hirah to the town of Timnah, where his sheep were being sheared.
13 Tamar found out that her father-in-law Judah was going to Timnah to shear his sheep.
14 She also realized that Shelah was now a grown man, but she had not been allowed to marry him. So she decided to dress in something other than her widow's clothes and to cover her face with a veil. After this, she sat outside the town of Enaim on the road to Timnah.
15 When Judah came along, he did not recognize her because of the veil. He thought she was a prostitute
16 and asked her to sleep with him. She asked, “What will you give me if I do?”
17 “One of my young goats,” he answered.
“What will you give me to keep until you send the goat?” she asked.
18 “What do you want?” he asked in return.
“The ring on that cord around your neck,” was her reply. “I also want the special walking stick
j 38.18 ring ... walking stick: The ring was shaped like a cylinder and could be rolled over soft clay as a way of sealing special documents. The walking stick was probably a symbol of power and the sign of leadership in the tribe, though it may have been a shepherd's rod.
you have with you.” He gave them to her, they slept together, and she became pregnant.
19 After returning home, Tamar took off the veil and dressed in her widow's clothes again.
20 Judah had his friend Hirah take a goat to the woman, so he could get back the ring and walking stick, but she wasn't there.
21 Hirah asked the people of Enaim, “Where is the prostitute who sat along the road outside your town?”
“There's never been one here,” they answered.
22 Hirah went back and told Judah, “I couldn't find the woman, and the people of Enaim said no prostitute had ever been there.”
23 “If you couldn't find her, we'll just let her keep the things I gave her,” Judah answered. “And we'd better forget about the goat, or else we'll look like fools.”
24 About three months later someone told Judah, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has behaved like a prostitute, and now she's pregnant!”
“Drag her out of town and burn her to death!” Judah shouted.
25 As Tamar was being dragged off, she sent someone to tell her father-in-law, “The man who gave me this ring, this cord, and this walking stick is the one who got me pregnant.”
26 “Those are mine!” Judah admitted. “She's a better person than I am, because I broke my promise to let her marry my son Shelah.” After this, Judah never slept with her again.
27-28 Tamar later gave birth to twins. But before either of them was born, one of them stuck a hand out of her womb. The woman who was helping tied a red thread around the baby's hand and explained, “This one came out first.”
Right away his hand went back in, and the other child was born first. The woman then said, “What an opening you've made for yourself!” So they named the baby Perez.
k 38.29 Perez: In Hebrew “Perez” sounds like “opening.”
When the brother with the red thread came out, they named him Zerah.
l 38.30 Zerah: In Hebrew “Zerah” means “bright,” probably referring to the red thread.
Joseph and Potiphar's Wife
The Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, the king's
m 39.1; 40.1-3 the king's: See the note at 12.15.
official in charge of the palace guard.
So Joseph lived in the home of Potiphar, his Egyptian owner.
Soon Potiphar realized that the Lord was helping Joseph to be successful in whatever he did.
4 Potiphar liked Joseph and made him his personal assistant, putting him in charge of his house and all of his property.
5 Because of Joseph, the Lord began to bless Potiphar's family and fields.
6 Potiphar left everything up to Joseph, and with Joseph there, the only decision he had to make was what he wanted to eat.
Joseph was well-built and handsome,
7 and Potiphar's wife soon noticed him. She asked him to make love to her,
8 but he refused and said, “My master isn't worried about anything in his house, because he has placed me in charge of everything he owns.
9 No one in my master's house is more important than I am. The only thing he hasn't given me is you, and that's because you are his wife. I won't sin against God by doing such a terrible thing as this.”
10 She kept begging Joseph day after day, but he refused to do what she wanted or even to go near her.
11 One day, Joseph went to Potiphar's house to do his work, and none of the other servants were there.
12 Potiphar's wife grabbed hold of his coat and said, “Make love to me!” Joseph ran out of the house, leaving her hanging onto his coat.
13 When this happened,
14 she called in her servants and said, “Look! This Hebrew has come just to make fools of us. He tried to rape me, but I screamed for help.
15 And when he heard me scream, he ran out of the house, leaving his coat with me.”
16 Potiphar's wife kept Joseph's coat until her husband came home.
17 Then she said, “That Hebrew slave of yours tried to rape me!
18 But when I screamed for help, he left his coat and ran out of the house.”
19 Potiphar became very angry
20 and threw Joseph in the same prison where the king's prisoners were kept.
While Joseph was in prison,
helped him and was good to him. He even made the jailer like Joseph so much that
he put him in charge of the other prisoners and of everything that was done in the jail.
The jailer did not worry about anything, because the Lord
was with Joseph and made him successful in all that he did.
Joseph Tells the Meaning of the Prisoners' Dreams
While Joseph was in prison, both the king's
m 39.1; 40.1-3 the king's: See the note at 12.15.
n 40.1-3 personal servant: The Hebrew text has “cup bearer,” an important and trusted official in the royal court, who personally served wine to the king.
and his chief cook made the king angry. So he had them thrown into the same prison with Joseph.
They spent a long time in prison, and Potiphar, the official in charge of the palace guard, made Joseph their servant.
5 One night each of the two men had a dream, but their dreams had different meanings.
6 The next morning, when Joseph went to see the men, he could tell they were upset,
7 and he asked, “Why are you so worried today?”
8 “We each had a dream last night,” they answered, “and there is no one to tell us what they mean.”
Joseph replied, “Doesn't God know the meaning of dreams? Now tell me what you dreamed.”
9 The king's personal servant told Joseph, “In my dream I saw a vine
10 with three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its grapes became ripe.
11 I held the king's cup and squeezed the grapes into it, then I gave the cup to the king.”
12 Joseph said:
This is the meaning of your dream. The three branches stand for three days,
13 and in three days the king will pardon you. He will make you his personal servant again, and you will serve him his wine, just as you used to do.
14 But when these good things happen, please don't forget to tell the king about me, so I can get out of this place.
15 I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and here in Egypt I haven't done anything to deserve being thrown in jail.
16 When the chief cook saw that Joseph had given a good meaning to the dream, he told Joseph, “I also had a dream. In it I was carrying three breadbaskets stacked on top of my head.
17 The top basket was full of all kinds of baked things for the king, but birds were eating them.”
18 Joseph said:
This is the meaning of your dream. The three baskets are three days,
19 and in three days the king will cut off your head. He will hang your body on a pole, and birds will come and peck at it.
20 Three days later, while the king was celebrating his birthday with a dinner for his officials, he sent for his personal servant and the chief cook.
21 He put the personal servant back in his old job
22 and had the cook put to death.
Everything happened just as Joseph had said it would,
23 but the king's personal servant completely forgot about Joseph.
Joseph Interprets the King's Dreams
Two years later the king
o 41.1,37 the king: See the note at 12.15.
of Egypt dreamed he was standing beside the Nile River.
Suddenly, seven fat, healthy cows came up from the river and started eating grass along the bank.
Then seven ugly, skinny cows came up out of the river and
ate the fat, healthy cows. When this happened, the king woke up.
5 The king went back to sleep and had another dream. This time seven full heads of grain were growing on a single stalk.
6 Later, seven other heads of grain appeared, but they were thin and scorched by the east wind.
7 The thin heads of grain swallowed the seven full heads. Again the king woke up, and it had only been a dream.
The next morning the king was upset. So he called in his magicians and wise men and told them what he had dreamed. None of them could tell him what the dreams meant.
9 The king's personal servant said:
Now I remember what I was supposed to do.
10 When you were angry with me and your chief cook, you threw us both in jail in the house of the captain of the guard.
11 One night we both had dreams, and each dream had a different meaning.
12 A young Hebrew, who was a servant of the captain of the guard, was there with us at the time. When we told him our dreams, he explained what each of them meant,
13 and everything happened just as he said it would. I got my job back, and the cook was put to death.
14 The king sent for Joseph, who was quickly brought out of jail. He shaved, changed his clothes, and went to the king.
15 The king said to him, “I had a dream, yet no one can explain what it means. I am told that you can interpret dreams.”
16 “Your Majesty,” Joseph answered, “I can't do it myself, but God can give a good meaning to your dreams.”
17 The king told Joseph:
I dreamed I was standing on the bank of the Nile River.
18 I saw seven fat, healthy cows come up out of the river, and they began feeding on the grass.
19 Next, seven skinny, bony cows came up out of the river. I have never seen such terrible looking cows anywhere in Egypt.
20 The skinny cows ate the fat ones.
21 But you couldn't tell it, because these skinny cows were just as skinny as they were before. Right away, I woke up.
22 I also dreamed that I saw seven heads of grain growing on one stalk. The heads were full and ripe.
23 Then seven other heads of grain came up. They were thin and scorched by a wind from the desert.
24 These heads of grain swallowed the full ones. I told my dreams to the magicians, but none of them could tell me the meaning of the dreams.
25 Joseph replied:
Your Majesty, both of your dreams mean the same thing, and in them God has shown what he is going to do.
26 The seven good cows stand for seven years, and so do the seven good heads of grain.
27 The seven skinny, ugly cows that came up later also stand for seven years, as do the seven bad heads of grain that were scorched by the east wind. The dreams mean there will be seven years when there won't be enough grain.
28 It is just as I said—God has shown what he intends to do.
29 For seven years Egypt will have more than enough grain,
30 but that will be followed by seven years when there won't be enough. The good years of plenty will be forgotten, and everywhere in Egypt people will be starving.
31 The famine will be so bad that no one will remember that once there had been plenty.
32 God has given you two dreams to let you know that he has definitely decided to do this and that he will do it soon.
33 Your Majesty, you should find someone who is wise and will know what to do, so that you can put him in charge of all Egypt.
34 Then appoint some other officials to collect one-fifth of every crop harvested in Egypt during the seven years when there is plenty.
35 Give them the power to collect the grain during those good years and to store it in your cities.
36 It can be stored until it is needed during the seven years when there won't be enough grain in Egypt. This will keep the country from being destroyed because of the lack of food.
Joseph Is Made Governor over Egypt
o 41.1,37 the king: See the note at 12.15.
and his officials liked this plan.
So the king said to them, “No one could possibly handle this better than Joseph, since the Spirit of God is with him.”
The king told Joseph, “God is the one who has shown you these things. No one else is as wise as you are or knows as much as you do.
I'm putting you in charge of my palace, and everybody will have to obey you. No one will be over you except me.
You are now governor of all Egypt!”
Then the king took off his royal ring and put it on Joseph's finger. He gave him fine clothes to wear and placed a gold chain around his neck.
He also let him ride in the chariot next to his own, and people shouted, “Make way for Joseph!” So Joseph was governor of Egypt.
The king told Joseph, “Although I'm king, no one in Egypt is to do anything without your permission.”
He gave Joseph the Egyptian name Zaphenath Paneah. And he let him marry Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, a priest in the city of Heliopolis.
p 41.45 Heliopolis: The Hebrew text has “On,” which is better known by its Greek name “Heliopolis.”
Joseph traveled all over Egypt.
46 Joseph was thirty when the king made him governor, and he went everywhere for the king.
47 For seven years there were big harvests of grain.
48 Joseph collected and stored up the extra grain in the cities of Egypt near the fields where it was harvested.
49 In fact, there was so much grain that they stopped keeping record, because it was like counting the grains of sand along the beach.
Joseph and his wife had two sons before the famine began.
Their first son was named Manasseh, which means, “God has let me forget all my troubles and my family back home.”
His second son was named Ephraim, which means “God has made me a success
q 41.52 God has made me a success: Or “God has given me children.”
in the land where I suffered.”
r 41.52 Ephraim ... suffered: In Hebrew “Ephraim” actually means either “fertile land” or “pastureland.”
Egypt's seven years of plenty came to an end,
and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was not enough food in other countries, but all over Egypt there was plenty.
When the famine finally struck Egypt, the people asked the king for food, but he said, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you to do.”
56 The famine became bad everywhere in Egypt, so Joseph opened the storehouses and sold the grain to the Egyptians.
57 People from all over the world came to Egypt, because the famine was severe in their countries.
Joseph's Brothers Go to Egypt To Buy Grain
When Jacob found out there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you just sitting here, staring at one another?
I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Now go down and buy some, so we won't starve to death.”
3 Ten of Joseph's brothers went to Egypt to buy grain.
4 But Jacob did not send Joseph's younger brother Benjamin with them; he was afraid that something might happen to him.
5 So Jacob's sons joined others from Canaan who were going to Egypt because of the terrible famine.
6 Since Joseph was governor of Egypt and in charge of selling grain, his brothers came to him and bowed with their faces to the ground.
7-8 They did not recognize Joseph, but right away he knew who they were, though he pretended not to know. Instead, he spoke harshly and asked, “Where do you come from?”
“From the land of Canaan,” they answered. “We've come here to buy grain.”
Joseph remembered what he had dreamed about them and said, “You're spies! You've come here to find out where our country is weak.”
10 “No sir,” they replied. “We're your servants, and we have only come to buy grain.
11 We're honest men, and we come from the same family—we're not spies.”
12 “That isn't so!” Joseph insisted. “You've come here to find out where our country is weak.”
13 But they explained, “Sir, we come from a family of twelve brothers. The youngest is still with our father in Canaan, and one of our brothers is dead.”
14 Joseph replied:
It's just like I said. You're spies,
15 and I'm going to find out who you really are. I swear by the life of the king that you won't leave this place until your youngest brother comes here.
16 Choose one of you to go after your brother, while the rest of you stay here in jail. That will show whether you are telling the truth. But if you are lying, I swear by the life of the king that you are spies!
17 Joseph kept them all under guard for three days,
18 before saying to them:
Since I respect God, I'll give you a chance to save your lives.
19 If you are honest men, one of you must stay here in jail, and the rest of you can take the grain back to your starving families.
20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me. Then I'll know that you are telling the truth, and you won't be put to death.
Joseph's brothers agreed
21 and said to one another, “We're being punished because of Joseph. We saw the trouble he was in, but we refused to help him when he begged us. That's why these terrible things are happening.”
Reuben spoke up, “Didn't I tell you not to harm the boy? But you wouldn't listen, and now we have to pay the price for killing him.”
23 They did not know that Joseph could understand them, since he was speaking through an interpreter.
24 Joseph turned away from them and cried, but soon he turned back and spoke to them again. Then he had Simeon tied up and taken away while they watched.
Joseph's Brothers Return to Canaan
Joseph gave orders for his brothers' grain sacks to be filled with grain and for their money
s 42.25 money: Probably in the form of small pieces of silver and/or other precious or semi-precious metals; there were no coins or paper money at this time.
to be put in their sacks. He also gave orders for them to be given food for their journey home. After this was done,
they each loaded the grain on their donkeys and left.
27 When they stopped for the night, one of them opened his sack to get some grain for his donkey, and right away he saw his moneybag.
28 “Here's my money!” he told his brothers. “Right here in my sack.”
They were trembling with fear as they stared at one another and asked themselves, “What has God done to us?”
29 When they returned to the land of Canaan, they told their father Jacob everything that had happened to them:
30 The governor of Egypt was rude and treated us like spies.
31 But we told him, “We're honest men, not spies.
32 We come from a family of twelve brothers. The youngest is still with our father in Canaan, and the other is dead.”
33 Then the governor of Egypt told us, “I'll find out if you really are honest. Leave one of your brothers here with me, while you take the grain to your starving families.
34 But bring your youngest brother to me, so I can be certain that you are honest men and not spies. After that, I'll let your other brother go free, and you can stay here and trade.”
35 When the brothers started emptying their sacks of grain, they found their moneybags in them. They were frightened, and so was their father Jacob,
36 who said, “You have already taken my sons Joseph and Simeon from me. And now you want to take away Benjamin! Everything is against me.”
37 Reuben spoke up, “Father, if I don't bring Benjamin back, you can kill both of my sons. Trust me with him, and I will bring him back.”
But Jacob said, “I won't let my son Benjamin go down to Egypt with the rest of you. His brother is already dead, and he is the only son I have left.
t 42.38 only son I have left: Jacob had only two sons by Rachel, his favorite wife.
I am an old man, and if anything happens to him on the way, I'll die from sorrow, and all of you will be to blame.”
Joseph's Brothers Return to Egypt with Benjamin
1 The famine in Canaan got worse,
2 until finally, Jacob's family had eaten all the grain they had bought in Egypt. So Jacob said to his sons, “Go back and buy some more grain.”
3-5 Judah replied, “The governor strictly warned us that we would not be allowed to see him unless we brought our youngest brother with us. If you let us take Benjamin along, we will go and buy grain. But we won't go without him!”
6 Jacob asked, “Why did you cause me so much trouble by telling the governor you had another brother?”
7 They answered, “He asked a lot of questions about us and our family. He wanted to know if you were still alive and if we had any more brothers. All we could do was answer his questions. How could we know he would tell us to bring along our brother?”
8 Then Judah said to his father, “Let Benjamin go with me, and we will leave right away, so that none of us will starve to death.
9 I promise to bring him back safely, and if I don't, you can blame me as long as I live.
10 If we had not wasted all this time, we could already have been there and back twice.”
11 Their father said:
If Benjamin must go with you, take the governor a gift of some of the best things from our own country, such as perfume, honey, spices, pistachio nuts, and almonds.
u 43.11 honey, spices, pistachio nuts, and almonds: Some of these foods were still available in Canaan, but the main food was bread, and there was no grain to make bread.
Also take along twice the amount of money for the grain, because there must have been some mistake when the money was put back in your sacks.
Take Benjamin with you and leave right away.
14 When you go in to see the governor, I pray that God All-Powerful will be good to you and that the governor will let your other brother and Benjamin come back home with you. If I must lose my children, I suppose I must.
15 The brothers took the gifts, twice the amount of money, and Benjamin. Then they hurried off to Egypt. When they stood in front of Joseph,
16 he saw Benjamin and told the servant in charge of his house, “Take these men to my house. Slaughter an animal and cook it, so they can eat with me at noon.”
17 The servant did as he was told and took the brothers to Joseph's house.
18 But on the way they got worried and started thinking, “We are being taken there because of the money that was put back in our sacks last time. He will arrest us, make us his slaves, and take our donkeys.”
19 So when they arrived at Joseph's house, they said to the servant in charge,
20 “Sir, we came to Egypt once before to buy grain.
21 But when we stopped for the night, we each found in our grain sacks the exact amount we had paid. We have brought that money back,
22 together with enough money to buy more grain. We don't know who put the money in our sacks.”
23 “It's all right,” the servant replied. “Don't worry. The God you and your father worship must have put the money there, because I received your payment in full.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.
24 The servant took them into Joseph's house and gave them water to wash their feet. He also tended their donkeys.
25 The brothers got their gifts ready to give to Joseph at noon, since they had heard they were going to eat there.
26 When Joseph came home, they gave him the gifts they had brought, and they bowed down to him.
27 After Joseph had asked how they were, he said, “What about your elderly father? Is he still alive?”
28 They answered, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And again they bowed down to Joseph.
29 When Joseph looked around and saw his brother Benjamin, he said, “This must be your youngest brother, the one you told me about. God bless you, my son.”
30 Right away he rushed off to his room and cried because of his love for Benjamin.
31 After washing his face and returning, he was able to control himself and said, “Serve the meal!”
32 Joseph was served at a table by himself, and his brothers were served at another. The Egyptians sat at yet another table, because Egyptians felt it was disgusting to eat with Hebrews.
33 To the surprise of Joseph's brothers, they were seated in front of him according to their ages, from the oldest to the youngest.
34 They were served food from Joseph's table, and Benjamin was given five times as much as each of the others. So Joseph's brothers drank with him and had a good time.
The Missing Cup
1-2 Later, Joseph told the servant in charge of his house, “Fill the men's grain sacks with as much as they can hold and put their money in the sacks. Also put my silver cup in the sack of the youngest brother.” The servant did as he was told.
3 Early the next morning, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys.
4 But they had not gone far from the city when Joseph told the servant, “Go after those men! When you catch them, say, ‘My master has been good to you. So why have you stolen his silver cup?
5 Not only does he drink from his cup, but he also uses it to learn about the future. You have done a terrible thing.’ ”
6 When the servant caught up with them, he said exactly what Joseph had told him to say.
7 But they replied, “Sir, why do you say such things? We would never do anything like that!
8 We even returned the money we found in our grain sacks when we got back to Canaan. So why would we want to steal any silver or gold from your master's house?
9 If you find that one of us has the cup, then kill him, and the rest of us will become your slaves.”
10 “Good!” the man replied, “I'll do what you have said. But only the one who has the cup will become my slave. The rest of you can go free.”
11 Each of the brothers quickly put his sack on the ground and opened it.
12 Joseph's servant started searching the sacks, beginning with the one that belonged to the oldest brother. When he came to Benjamin's sack, he found the cup.
13 This upset the brothers so much that they began tearing their clothes in sorrow. Then they loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.
14 When Judah and his brothers got there, Joseph was still at home. So they bowed down to Joseph,
15 who asked them, “What have you done? Didn't you know I could find out?”
16 “Sir, what can we say?” Judah replied. “How can we prove we are innocent? God has shown that we are guilty. And now all of us are your slaves, especially the one who had the cup.”
17 Joseph told them, “I would never punish all of you. Only the one who was caught with the cup will become my slave. The rest of you are free to go home to your father.”
Judah Pleads for Benjamin
18 Judah went over to Joseph and said:
Sir, you have as much power as the king
v 44.18; 45.2; 46.5-7 the king: See the note at 12.15.
himself, and I am only your slave. Please don't get angry if I speak.
You asked us if our father was still alive and if we had any more brothers.
So we told you, “Our father is a very old man. In fact, he was already old when Benjamin was born. Benjamin's brother is dead. Now Benjamin is the only one of the two brothers who is still alive, and our father loves him very much.”
21 You ordered us to bring him here, so you could see him for yourself.
22 We told you that our father would die if Benjamin left him.
23 But you warned us that we could never see you again, unless our youngest brother came with us.
24 So we returned to our father and reported what you had said.
25 Later our father told us to come back here and buy more grain.
26 But we answered, “We can't go back to Egypt without our youngest brother. We will never be let in to see the governor, unless he is with us.”
27 Sir, our father then reminded us that his favorite wife had given birth to two sons.
28 One of them was already missing and had not been seen for a long time. My father thinks the boy was torn to pieces by some wild animal,
29 and he said, “I am an old man. If you take Benjamin from me, and something happens to him, I will die of a broken heart.”
30 That's why Benjamin must be with us when I go back to my father. He loves him so much
31 that he will die if Benjamin doesn't come back with me.
32 I promised my father that I would bring him safely home. If I don't, I told my father he could blame me the rest of my life.
33 Sir, I am your slave. Please let me stay here in place of Benjamin and let him return home with his brothers.
34 How can I face my father if Benjamin isn't with me? I couldn't bear to see my father in such sorrow.
Joseph Tells His Brothers Who He Is
Since Joseph could no longer control his feelings in front of his servants, he sent them out of the room. When he was alone with his brothers, he told them, “I am Joseph.”
Then he cried so loudly that the Egyptians heard him and told about it in the king's
v 44.18; 45.2; 46.5-7 the king: See the note at 12.15.
3 Joseph asked his brothers if his father was still alive, but they were too frightened to answer.
4 Joseph told them to come closer to him, and when they did, he said:
Yes, I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt.
5 Don't worry or blame yourselves for what you did. God is the one who sent me ahead of you to save lives.
6 There has already been a famine for two years, and for five more years no one will plow fields or harvest grain.
7 But God sent me on ahead of you to keep your families alive and to save you in this wonderful way.
8 After all, you weren't really the ones who sent me here—it was God. He made me the highest official in the king's court and placed me over all Egypt.
Now hurry back and tell my father that his son Joseph says, “God has made me ruler of Egypt. Come here as quickly as you can.
You will live near me in the region of Goshen with your children and grandchildren, as well as with your sheep, goats, cattle, and everything else you own.
I will take care of you there during the next five years of famine. But if you don't come, you and your family and your animals will starve to death.”
12 All of you, including my brother Benjamin, can tell by what I have said that I really am Joseph.
13 Tell my father about my great power here in Egypt and about everything you have seen. Hurry and bring him here.
14 Joseph and Benjamin hugged each other and started crying.
15 Joseph was still crying as he kissed each of his other brothers. After this, they started talking with Joseph.
16 When it was told in the palace that Joseph's brothers had come, the king and his officials were happy.
17 So the king said to Joseph:
Tell your brothers to load their donkeys and return to Canaan.
18 Have them bring their father and their families here. I will give them the best land in Egypt, and they can eat and enjoy everything that grows on it.
19 Also tell your brothers to take some wagons from Egypt for their wives and children to ride in. And be sure to have them bring their father.
20 They can leave their possessions behind, because they will be given the best of everything in Egypt.
21 Jacob's sons agreed to do what the king had said. And Joseph gave them wagons and food for their trip home, just as the king had ordered.
22 Joseph gave some new clothes to each of his brothers, but to Benjamin he gave five new outfits and three hundred pieces of silver.
23 To his father he sent ten donkeys loaded with the best things in Egypt, and ten other donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other food for the return trip.
24 Then he sent his brothers off and told them, “Don't argue on the way home!”
25 Joseph's brothers left Egypt, and when they arrived in Canaan,
26 they told their father that Joseph was still alive and was the ruler of Egypt. But their father was so surprised that he could not believe them.
27 Then they told him everything Joseph had said. When he saw the wagons Joseph had sent, he felt much better
28 and said, “Now I can believe you! My son Joseph must really be alive, and I will get to see him before I die.”
Jacob and His Family Go to Egypt
1 Jacob packed up everything he owned and left for Egypt. On the way he stopped near the town of Beersheba and offered sacrifices to the God his father Isaac had worshiped.
2 That night, God spoke to him and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”
“Here I am,” Jacob answered.
3 God said, “I am God, the same God your father worshiped. Don't be afraid to go to Egypt. I will give you so many descendants that one day they will become a nation.
4 I will go with you to Egypt, and later I will bring your descendants back here. Your son Joseph will be at your side when you die.”
Jacob and his family set out from Beersheba and headed for Egypt. His sons put him in the wagon that the king
v 44.18; 45.2; 46.5-7 the king: See the note at 12.15.
had sent for him, and they put their small children and their wives in the other wagons. Jacob's whole family went to Egypt, including his sons, his grandsons, his daughters, and his granddaughters. They took along their animals and everything else they owned.
When Jacob went to Egypt, his children who were born in northern Syria
w 46.8-15 northern Syria: See the note at 24.10.
also went along with their families.
Jacob and his wife Leah had a total of thirty-three children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but two of their grandchildren had died in Canaan.
Their oldest son Reuben took his sons Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.
Their son Simeon took his sons Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, whose mother was a Canaanite.
Their son Levi took his sons Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
Their son Judah took his sons Shelah, Perez, and Zerah. Judah's sons Er and Onan had died in Canaan. Judah's son Perez took his sons Hezron and Hamul.
Their son Issachar took his sons Tola, Puvah, Jashub,
x 46.8-15 Jashub: The Samaritan Hebrew Text and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text “Iob.”
Their son Zebulun took his sons Sered, Elon, and Jahleel.
Their daughter Dinah also went.
16-18 Jacob and Zilpah, the servant woman Laban had given his daughter Leah, had a total of sixteen children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Their son Gad took his sons Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli.
Their son Asher took his sons Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, and Beriah, who took his sons, Heber and Malchiel.
Serah, the daughter of Asher, also went.
Jacob and Rachel had fourteen children and grandchildren.
Their son Joseph was already in Egypt, where he had married Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, the priest of Heliopolis.
y 46.19-22 Heliopolis: See the note at 41.45.
Joseph and Asenath had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
Jacob and Rachel's son Benjamin took his sons Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard.
23-25 Jacob and Bilhah, the servant woman Laban had given his daughter Rachel, had seven children and grandchildren.
Their son Dan took his son Hushim.
Their son Naphtali took his sons Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem.
Sixty-six members of Jacob's family went to Egypt with him, not counting his daughters-in-law.
Jacob's two grandsons who were born there made it a total of seventy members of Jacob's family in Egypt.
28 Jacob had sent his son Judah ahead of him to ask Joseph to meet them in Goshen.
29 So Joseph got in his chariot and went to meet his father. When they met, Joseph hugged his father around the neck and cried for a long time.
30 Jacob said to Joseph, “Now that I have seen you and know you are still alive, I am ready to die.”
31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to everyone who had come with them:
I must go and tell the king
z 46.31 the king: See the note at 12.15.
that you have arrived from Canaan.
I will tell him that you are shepherds and that you have brought your sheep, goats, cattle, and everything else you own.
The king will call you in and ask what you do for a living.
When he does, be sure to say, “We are shepherds. Our families have always raised sheep.” If you tell him this, he will let you settle in the region of Goshen.
Joseph wanted them to say this to the king, because the Egyptians did not like to be around anyone who raised sheep.
1-2 Joseph took five of his brothers to the king and told him, “My father and my brothers have come from Canaan. They have brought their sheep, goats, cattle, and everything else they own to the region of Goshen.”
Then he introduced his brothers to the king,
3 who asked them, “What do you do for a living?”
“Sir, we are shepherds,” was their answer. “Our families have always raised sheep.
4 But in our country all the pastures are dried up, and our sheep have no grass to eat. So we, your servants, have come here. Please let us live in the region of Goshen.”
5 The king said to Joseph, “It's good that your father and brothers have arrived.
6 I will let them live anywhere they choose in the land of Egypt, but I suggest that they settle in Goshen, the best part of our land. I would also like for your finest shepherds to watch after my own sheep and goats.”
7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and introduced him to the king. Jacob gave the king his blessing,
8 and the king asked him, “How old are you?”
9 Jacob answered, “I have lived only a hundred thirty years, and I have had to move from place to place. My parents and my grandparents also had to move from place to place. But they lived much longer, and their life was not as hard as mine.”
10 Then Jacob gave the king his blessing once again and left.
11 Joseph obeyed the king's orders and gave his father and brothers some of the best land in Egypt near the city of Rameses.
12 Joseph also provided food for their families.
A Famine in Egypt
The famine was bad everywhere in Egypt and Canaan, and the people were suffering terribly.
So Joseph sold them the grain that had been stored up, and he put the money
a 47.14 money: See the note at 42.25.
in the king's treasury.
But when everyone had run out of money, the Egyptians came to Joseph and demanded, “Give us more grain! If you don't, we'll soon be dead, because our money's all gone.”
16 “If you don't have any money,” Joseph answered, “give me your animals, and I'll let you have some grain.”
17 From then on, they brought him their horses and donkeys and their sheep and goats in exchange for grain.
Within a year Joseph had collected every animal in Egypt.
18 Then the people came to him and said:
Sir, there's no way we can hide the truth from you. We are broke, and we don't have any more animals. We have nothing left except ourselves and our land.
Don't let us starve and our land be ruined. If you'll give us grain to eat and seed to plant, we'll sell ourselves and our land to the king.
b 47.19 the king: See the note at 12.15.
We'll become his slaves.
The famine became so severe that Joseph finally bought every piece of land in Egypt for the king
and made everyone the king's slaves,
c 47.21 made ... slaves: One ancient translation and the Samaritan Hebrew Text; the Standard Hebrew Text “made everyone move to the cities.”
except the priests. The king gave the priests a regular food allowance, so they did not have to sell their land.
Then Joseph said to the people, “You and your land now belong to the king. I'm giving you seed to plant,
but one-fifth of your crops must go to the king. You can keep the rest as seed or as food for your families.”
25 “Sir, you have saved our lives!” they answered. “We are glad to be slaves of the king.”
26 Then Joseph made a law that one-fifth of the harvest would always belong to the king. Only the priests did not lose their land.
Jacob Becomes an Old Man
The people of Israel made their home in the land of Goshen, where they became prosperous and had large families.
Jacob himself lived there for seventeen years, before dying at the age of one hundred forty-seven.
When Jacob knew he did not have long to live, he called in Joseph and said, “If you really love me, you must make a solemn promise not to bury me in Egypt.
47.29,30 Gn 49.29-32; 50.6.
Instead, bury me in the place where my ancestors are buried.”
“I will do what you have asked,” Joseph answered.
31 “Will you give me your word?” Jacob asked.
“Yes, I will,” Joseph promised. After this, Jacob bowed down and prayed at the head of his bed.
Jacob Blesses Joseph's Two Sons
1 Joseph was told that his father Jacob had become very sick. So Joseph went to see him and took along his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
2 When Joseph arrived, someone told Jacob, “Your son Joseph has come to see you.” Jacob sat up in bed, but it took almost all his strength.
Jacob told Joseph:
God All-Powerful appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, where he gave me his blessing
4 and promised, “I will give you a large family with many descendants that will grow into a nation. And I am giving you this land that will belong to you and your family forever.”
5 Then Jacob went on to say:
Joseph, your two sons Ephraim and Manasseh were born in Egypt, but I accept them as my own, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.
Any children you have later will be considered yours, but their inheritance will come from Ephraim and Manasseh.
Unfortunately, your mother Rachel died in Canaan after we had left northern Syria
d 48.7 northern Syria: See the note at 24.10.
and before we reached Bethlehem.
e 48.7 Bethlehem: The Hebrew text has “Ephrath, that is, Bethlehem.”
And I had to bury her along the way.
8-10 Jacob was very old and almost blind. He did not recognize the two boys, and so he asked Joseph, “Who are these boys?”
Joseph answered, “They are my sons. God has given them to me here in Egypt.”
“Bring them to me,” Jacob said. “I want to give them my blessing.” Joseph brought the boys to him, and he hugged and kissed them.
Jacob turned to Joseph and told him, “For many years I thought you were dead and that I would never see you again. But now God has even let me live to see your children.”
Then Joseph made his sons move away from Jacob's knees,
f 48.12 move ... Jacob's knees: The two boys were placed either on or between Jacob's knees, as a sign that he had accepted them as his sons.
and Joseph bowed down in front of him with his face to the ground.
13 After Joseph got up, he brought his two sons over to Jacob again. He led his younger son Ephraim to the left side of Jacob and his older son Manasseh to the right.
14 But before Jacob gave them his blessing, he crossed his arms, putting his right hand on the head of Ephraim and his left hand on the head of Manasseh.
15 Then he gave Joseph his blessing and said:
My grandfather Abraham and my father Isaac worshiped the Lord God. He has been with me all my life,
16 and his angel has kept me safe. Now I pray that he will bless these boys and that my name and the names of Abraham and Isaac will live on because of them. I ask God to give them many children and many descendants as well.
17 Joseph did not like it when he saw his father place his right hand on the head of the younger son. So he tried to move his father's right hand from Ephraim's head and place it on Manasseh.
18 Joseph said, “Father, you have made a mistake. This is the older boy. Put your right hand on him.”
19 But his father said, “Son, I know what I am doing. It's true that Manasseh's family will someday become a great nation. But Ephraim will be even greater than Manasseh, because his descendants will become many great nations.”
Jacob told him that in the future the people of Israel would ask God's blessings on one another by saying, “I pray for God to bless you as much as he blessed Ephraim and Manasseh.” Jacob put Ephraim's name first to show that he would be greater than Manasseh.
After that, Jacob said, “Joseph, you can see that I won't live much longer. But God will be with you and will lead you back to the land he promised our family long ago.
Meanwhile, I'm giving you the hillside
g 48.22 the hillside: Or “a larger share than your brothers, the land.”
I captured from the Amorites.”
Jacob Blesses His Sons
1 Jacob called his sons together and said:
My sons, I am Jacob,
your father Israel.
2 Come, gather around,
as I tell your future.
3 Reuben, you are my oldest,
born at the peak of my powers;
you were an honored leader.
4 Uncontrollable as a flood,
you slept with my wife
and disgraced my bed.
And so you no longer deserve
the place of honor.
5 Simeon and Levi,
you are brothers,
each a gruesome sword.
6 I never want to take part
in your plans or deeds.
You slaughtered people
in your anger,
and you crippled cattle
for no reason.
7 Now I place a curse on you
your fierce anger.
will be scattered
among the tribes of Israel.
8 Judah, you will be praised
by your brothers;
they will bow down to you,
as you defeat your enemies.
My son, you are a lion
ready to eat your victim!
You are terribly fierce;
no one will bother you.
10 You will have power and rule
until nations obey you
h 49.10 until ... you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
and come bringing gifts.
11 You will tie your donkey
to a choice grapevine
and wash your clothes
in wine from those grapes.
12 Your eyes are darker than wine,
your teeth whiter than milk.
13 Zebulun, you will settle
along the seashore
and provide safe harbors
as far north as Sidon.
14 Issachar, you are a strong donkey
resting in the meadows.
i 49.14 resting ... meadows: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
15 You found them so pleasant
that you worked too hard
and became a slave.
j 49.16 Dan: In Hebrew “Dan” means “justice” or “judgment.”
you are the tribe
that will bring justice
17 You are a snake that bites
the heel of a horse,
making its rider fall.
18 Our Lord, I am waiting
for you to save us.
k 49.19 Gad: In Hebrew “Gad” sounds like “attack.”
you will be attacked,
then attack your attackers.
20 Asher, you will eat food
fancy enough for a king.
21 Naphtali, you are a wild deer
with lovely fawns.
l 49.21 with lovely fawns: Or “speaking lovely words.”
22 Joseph, you are a fruitful vine
growing near a stream
and climbing a wall.
m 49.22 wall: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
23 Enemies attacked with arrows,
refusing to show mercy.
24 But you stood your ground,
swiftly shooting back
with the help of Jacob's God,
the All-Powerful One—
his name is the Shepherd,
Israel's mighty rock.
n 49.24 mighty rock: The Hebrew text has “rock,” which is sometimes used in poetry to compare the Lord to a mountain where his people can run for protection from their enemies.
25 Your help came from the God
your father worshiped,
from God All-Powerful.
God will bless you with rain
and streams from the earth;
he will bless you
with many descendants.
26 My son, the blessings I give
are better than the promise
of ancient mountains
or eternal hills.
o 49.26 eternal hills: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Joseph, I pray these blessings
will come to you,
because you are the leader
of your brothers.
27 Benjamin, you are a fierce wolf,
destroying your enemies
morning and evening.
28 These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is how Jacob gave each of them their proper blessings.
Jacob told his sons:
Soon I will die, and I want you to bury me in Machpelah Cave. Abraham bought this cave as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, and it is near the town of Mamre in Canaan. Abraham and Sarah are buried there, and so are Isaac and Rebekah. I buried Leah there too.
32 Both the cave and the land that goes with it were bought from the Hittites.
When Jacob had finished giving these instructions to his sons, he lay down on his bed and died.
1 Joseph started crying, then leaned over to hug and kiss his father.
2 Joseph gave orders for Jacob's body to be embalmed,
3 and it took the usual forty days.
The Egyptians mourned seventy days for Jacob.
When the time of mourning was over, Joseph said to the Egyptian leaders, “If you consider me your friend, please speak to the king
p 50.4 the king: See the note at 12.15.
Just before my father died, he made me promise to bury him in his burial cave in Canaan. If the king will give me permission to go, I will come back here.”
6 The king answered, “Go to Canaan and keep your promise to your father.”
7-9 When Joseph left Goshen with his brothers, his relatives, and his father's relatives to bury Jacob, many of the king's highest officials and even his military chariots and cavalry went along. The Israelites left behind only their children, their cattle, and their sheep and goats.
After crossing the Jordan River and reaching Atad's threshing place, Joseph had everyone mourn and weep seven days for his father.
The Canaanites saw this and said, “The Egyptians are in great sorrow.” Then they named the place “Egypt in Sorrow.”
q 50.11 Egypt in Sorrow: Or “Abel-Mizraim.”
So Jacob's sons did just as their father had instructed.
They took him to Canaan and buried him in Machpelah Cave, the burial place Abraham had bought from Ephron the Hittite.
14 After the funeral, Joseph, his brothers, and everyone else returned to Egypt.
Joseph's Promise to His Brothers
15 After Jacob died, Joseph's brothers said to each other, “What if Joseph still hates us and wants to get even with us for all the cruel things we did to him?”
16 So they sent this message to Joseph:
Before our father died,
17 he told us, “You did some cruel and terrible things to Joseph, but you must ask him to forgive you.”
Now we ask you to please forgive the terrible things we did. After all, we serve the same God that your father worshiped.
When Joseph heard this, he started crying.
18 Right then, Joseph's brothers came and bowed down to the ground in front of him and said, “We are your slaves.”
19 But Joseph told them, “Don't be afraid! I have no right to change what God has decided.
20 You tried to harm me, but God made it turn out for the best, so that he could save all these people, as he is now doing.
21 Don't be afraid! I will take care of you and your children.” After Joseph said this, his brothers felt much better.
Joseph lived in Egypt with his brothers until he died at the age of one hundred ten.
Joseph lived long enough to see Ephraim's children and grandchildren. He also lived to see the children of Manasseh's son Machir, and he welcomed them into his family.
Before Joseph died, he told his brothers, “I won't live much longer. But God will take care of you and lead you out of Egypt to the land he promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Now promise me that you will take my body with you when God leads you to that land.”
26 So Joseph died in Egypt at the age of one hundred ten; his body was embalmed and put in a coffin.