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Genesis 37 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 37

Joseph Sold into Egypt. Jacob settled in the land where his father had sojourned, the land of Canaan.[a] This is the story of the family of Jacob.[b] When Joseph was seventeen years old, he was tending the flocks with his brothers; he was an assistant to the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah, and Joseph brought their father bad reports about them. Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long ornamented tunic.[c] When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his brothers, they hated him so much that they could not say a kind word to him.

[d]Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had. There we were, binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf rose to an upright position, and your sheaves formed a ring around my sheaf and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Are you really going to make yourself king over us? Will you rule over us?” So they hated him all the more because of his dreams and his reports.

Then he had another dream, and told it to his brothers. “Look, I had another dream,” he said; “this time, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told it to his father and his brothers, his father reproved him and asked, “What is the meaning of this dream of yours? Can it be that I and your mother and your brothers are to come and bow to the ground before you?” 11 So his brothers were furious at him but his father kept the matter in mind.

12 One day, when his brothers had gone to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem, 13 Israel said to Joseph, “Are your brothers not tending our flocks at Shechem? Come and I will send you to them.” “I am ready,” Joseph answered. 14 “Go then,” he replied; “see if all is well with your brothers and the flocks, and bring back word.” So he sent him off from the valley of Hebron. When Joseph reached Shechem, 15 a man came upon him as he was wandering about in the fields. “What are you looking for?” the man asked him. 16 “I am looking for my brothers,” he answered. “Please tell me where they are tending the flocks.” 17 The man told him, “They have moved on from here; in fact, I heard them say, ‘Let us go on to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan. 18 They saw him from a distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 They said to one another: “Here comes that dreamer! 20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We will see then what comes of his dreams.”

21 [e]But when Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from their hands, saying: “We must not take his life.” 22 Then Reuben said, “Do not shed blood! Throw him into this cistern in the wilderness; but do not lay a hand on him.” His purpose was to save him from their hands and restore him to his father.

23 So when Joseph came up to his brothers, they stripped him of his tunic, the long ornamented tunic he had on; 24 then they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

25 Then they sat down to eat. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, balm, and resin to be taken down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers: “What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? 27 Come, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers agreed.

28 Midianite traders passed by, and they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern. They sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver[f] to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. 29 When Reuben went back to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not in it, he tore his garments,[g] 30 and returning to his brothers, he exclaimed: “The boy is gone! And I—where can I turn?” 31 They took Joseph’s tunic, and after slaughtering a goat, dipped the tunic in its blood. 32 Then they sent someone to bring the long ornamented tunic to their father, with the message: “We found this. See whether it is your son’s tunic or not.” 33 He recognized it and exclaimed: “My son’s tunic! A wild beast has devoured him! Joseph has been torn to pieces!” 34 Then Jacob tore his garments, put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned his son many days. 35 Though his sons and daughters tried to console him, he refused all consolation, saying, “No, I will go down mourning to my son in Sheol.”[h] Thus did his father weep for him.

36 The Midianites, meanwhile, sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh and his chief steward.

Footnotes:

  1. 37:1 The statement points ahead to 47:27, “Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the region of Goshen.” These two statements frame the Joseph narrative; the later material (47:28–49:33) is about Jacob; chap. 50 brings to a conclusion themes remaining from the earlier story. One aim of the Joseph story is to explain how Israel came to Egypt after sojourning so long in Canaan.
  2. 37:2 The Joseph story is great literature not only in its themes but in its art. The stories show an interest in the psychology of the characters; everyone acts “in character” yet there is never a doubt that a divine purpose is bringing events to their conclusion. According to a literary analysis, vv. 1–4 set the scene; vv. 5–36 introduce the dramatic tension in the form of a conflict within the family; chaps. 38–41 describe the journeys away from their family of the eponymous ancestors of the two great tribes of later times, Judah (chap. 38) and Joseph (chaps. 39–41) and their preliminary conclusions; chaps. 42–44 detail the famine and journeys for food (chaps. 42, 43) that bring the brothers and (indirectly) the father into fresh contact with a mature Joseph who now has the power of life and death over them; 45:1–47:27 is the resolution (reconciliation of Joseph to his brothers) and the salvation of the family.
  3. 37:3 Jacob’s favoring Joseph over his other sons is a cause of the brothers’ attempt on his life. Throughout the story, Jacob is unaware of the impact of his favoritism on his other sons (cf. vv. 33–35; 42:36). Long ornamented tunic: the meaning of the Hebrew phrase is unclear. In 2 Sm 13:18–19, it is the distinctive dress of unmarried royal daughters. The “coat of many colors” in the Septuagint became the traditional translation. Ancient depictions of Semites in formal dress show them with long, ornamented robes and that is the most likely meaning here. Possibly, the young Joseph is given a coat that symbolizes honor beyond his years. Later, Pharaoh will clothe Joseph in a robe that symbolizes honor (41:42).
  4. 37:5–10 Joseph’s dreams of ruling his brothers appear at first glance to be merely adolescent grandiosity, and they bring him only trouble. His later successes make it clear, however, that they were from God. Another confirmation of their divine source is the doubling of dreams (cf. 41:32).
  5. 37:21–36 The chapter thus far is from the Yahwist source, as are also vv. 25–28a. But vv. 21–24 and 28b–36 are from another source (sometimes designated the Elohist source). In the latter, Reuben tries to rescue Joseph, who is taken in Reuben’s absence by certain Midianites; in the Yahwist source, it is Judah who saves Joseph’s life by having him sold to certain Ishmaelites. Although the two variant forms in which the story was handed down in early oral tradition differ in these minor points, they agree on the essential fact that Joseph was brought as a slave into Egypt because of the jealousy of his brothers.
  6. 37:28 They sold Joseph…silver: editors tried to solve the confusion, created by different sources, by supposing that it was the Midianite traders who pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him to Ishmaelites. In all probability, one source had the brothers selling Joseph to Ishmaelites, whereas the other had them cast him into the pit whence he was taken by Midianite traders.
  7. 37:29 Tore his garments: the traditional sign of mourning in the ancient Near East.
  8. 37:35 Sheol: see note on Ps 6:6.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Genesis 39-50 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 39

Joseph’s Temptation. When Joseph was taken down to Egypt, an Egyptian, Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh and his chief steward, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there. The Lord was with Joseph and he enjoyed great success and was assigned to the household of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and brought him success in whatever he did, he favored Joseph and made him his personal attendant; he put him in charge of his household and entrusted to him all his possessions. From the moment that he put him in charge of his household and all his possessions, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the Lord’s blessing was on everything he owned, both inside the house and out. Having left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge, he gave no thought, with Joseph there, to anything but the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome. After a time, his master’s wife looked at him with longing and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, as long as I am here, my master does not give a thought to anything in the house, but has entrusted to me all he owns. He has no more authority in this house than I do. He has withheld from me nothing but you, since you are his wife. How, then, could I do this great wrong and sin against God?” 10 Although she spoke to him day after day, he would not agree to lie with her, or even be near her.

11 One such day, when Joseph came into the house to do his work, and none of the household servants were then in the house, 12 she laid hold of him by his cloak, saying, “Lie with me!” But leaving the cloak in her hand, he escaped and ran outside. 13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand as he escaped outside, 14 she cried out to her household servants and told them, “Look! My husband has brought us a Hebrew man to mock us! He came in here to lie with me, but I cried out loudly. 15 When he heard me scream, he left his cloak beside me and escaped and ran outside.”

16 She kept the cloak with her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him the same story: “The Hebrew slave whom you brought us came to me to amuse himself at my expense. 18 But when I screamed, he left his cloak beside me and escaped outside.” 19 When the master heard his wife’s story in which she reported, “Thus and so your servant did to me,” he became enraged. 20 Joseph’s master seized him and put him into the jail where the king’s prisoners were confined. And there he sat, in jail.

21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him kindness by making the chief jailer well-disposed toward him. 22 The chief jailer put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners in the jail. Everything that had to be done there, he was the one to do it. 23 The chief jailer did not have to look after anything that was in Joseph’s charge, since the Lord was with him and was bringing success to whatever he was doing.

Chapter 40

The Dreams Interpreted. [a]Some time afterward, the royal cupbearer and baker offended their lord, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the chief steward, the same jail where Joseph was confined. The chief steward assigned Joseph to them, and he became their attendant.

After they had been in custody for some time, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt who were confined in the jail both had dreams on the same night, each his own dream and each dream with its own meaning. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they looked disturbed. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why do you look so troubled today?” They answered him, “We have had dreams, but there is no one to interpret them.” Joseph said to them, “Do interpretations not come from God? Please tell me the dreams.”

Then the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. “In my dream,” he said, “I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. It had barely budded when its blossoms came out, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; so I took the grapes, pressed them out into his cup, and put it in Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Joseph said to him: “This is its interpretation. The three branches are three days; 13 within three days Pharaoh will single you out[b] and restore you to your post. You will be handing Pharaoh his cup as you formerly did when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only think of me when all is well with you, and please do me the great favor of mentioning me to Pharaoh, to get me out of this place. 15 The truth is that I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and I have not done anything here that they should have put me into a dungeon.”

16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to him: “I too had a dream. In it I had three bread baskets on my head; 17 in the top one were all kinds of bakery products for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.” 18 Joseph said to him in reply: “This is its interpretation. The three baskets are three days; 19 within three days Pharaoh will single you out and will impale you on a stake, and the birds will be eating your flesh.”

20 And so on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, when he gave a banquet to all his servants, he singled out the chief cupbearer and chief baker in the midst of his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, so that he again handed the cup to Pharaoh; 22 but the chief baker he impaled—just as Joseph had told them in his interpretation. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not think of Joseph; he forgot him.

Chapter 41

Pharaoh’s Dream. [c]After a lapse of two years, Pharaoh had a dream. He was standing by the Nile, when up out of the Nile came seven cows, fine-looking and fat; they grazed in the reed grass. Behind them seven other cows, poor-looking and gaunt, came up out of the Nile; and standing on the bank of the Nile beside the others, the poor-looking, gaunt cows devoured the seven fine-looking, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

He fell asleep again and had another dream. He saw seven ears of grain, fat and healthy, growing on a single stalk. Behind them sprouted seven ears of grain, thin and scorched by the east wind; and the thin ears swallowed up the seven fat, healthy ears. Then Pharaoh woke up—it was a dream!

Next morning his mind was agitated. So Pharaoh had all the magicians[d] and sages of Egypt summoned and recounted his dream to them; but there was no one to interpret it for him. Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh: “Now I remember my negligence! 10 Once, when Pharaoh was angry with his servants, he put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the chief steward. 11 Later, we both had dreams on the same night, and each of our dreams had its own meaning. 12 There was a Hebrew youth with us, a slave of the chief steward; and when we told him our dreams, he interpreted them for us and explained for each of us the meaning of his dream. 13 Things turned out just as he had told us: I was restored to my post, but the other man was impaled.”

14 Pharaoh therefore had Joseph summoned, and they hurriedly brought him from the dungeon. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh then said to Joseph: “I had a dream but there was no one to interpret it. But I hear it said of you, ‘If he hears a dream he can interpret it.’” 16 “It is not I,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God who will respond for the well-being of Pharaoh.”

17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph: “In my dream, I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when up from the Nile came seven cows, fat and well-formed; they grazed in the reed grass. 19 Behind them came seven other cows, scrawny, most ill-formed and gaunt. Never have I seen such bad specimens as these in all the land of Egypt! 20 The gaunt, bad cows devoured the first seven fat cows. 21 But when they had consumed them, no one could tell that they had done so, because they looked as bad as before. Then I woke up. 22 In another dream I saw seven ears of grain, full and healthy, growing on a single stalk. 23 Behind them sprouted seven ears of grain, shriveled and thin and scorched by the east wind; 24 and the seven thin ears swallowed up the seven healthy ears. I have spoken to the magicians, but there is no one to explain it to me.”

25 Joseph said to Pharaoh: “Pharaoh’s dreams have the same meaning. God has made known to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven healthy cows are seven years, and the seven healthy ears are seven years—the same in each dream. 27 The seven thin, bad cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven thin ears scorched by the east wind; they are seven years of famine. 28 Things are just as I told Pharaoh: God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are now coming throughout the land of Egypt; 30 but seven years of famine will rise up after them, when all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. When the famine has exhausted the land, 31 no trace of the abundance will be found in the land because of the famine that follows it, for it will be very severe. 32 That Pharaoh had the same dream twice means that the matter has been confirmed by God and that God will soon bring it about.

33 “Therefore, let Pharaoh seek out a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh act and appoint overseers for the land to organize it during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these coming good years, gathering the grain under Pharaoh’s authority, for food in the cities, and they should guard it. 36 This food will serve as a reserve for the country against the seven years of famine that will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish in the famine.”

37 This advice pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 “Could we find another like him,” Pharaoh asked his servants, “a man so endowed with the spirit of God?” 39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph: “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one as discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be in charge of my household, and all my people will obey your command. Only in respect to the throne will I outrank you.” 41 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Look, I put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 With that, Pharaoh took off his signet ring[e] and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He then had him ride in his second chariot, and they shouted “Abrek!”[f] before him.

Thus was Joseph installed over the whole land of Egypt. 44 “I am Pharaoh,” he told Joseph, “but without your approval no one shall lift hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh also bestowed the name of Zaphenath-paneah[g] on Joseph, and he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis. And Joseph went out over the land of Egypt. 46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

After Joseph left Pharaoh, he went throughout the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven years of plenty, when the land produced abundant crops, 48 he collected all the food of these years of plenty that the land of Egypt was enjoying and stored it in the cities, placing in each city the crops of the fields around it. 49 Joseph collected grain like the sands of the sea, so much that at last he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure.

50 Before the famine years set in, Joseph became the father of two sons, borne to him by Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh,[h] meaning, “God has made me forget entirely my troubles and my father’s house”; 52 and the second he named Ephraim,[i] meaning, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

53 When the seven years of abundance enjoyed by the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 the seven years of famine set in, just as Joseph had said. Although there was famine in all the other countries, food was available throughout the land of Egypt. 55 When all the land of Egypt became hungry and the people cried to Pharaoh for food, Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians: “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.” 56 When the famine had spread throughout the land, Joseph opened all the cities that had grain and rationed it to the Egyptians, since the famine had gripped the land of Egypt. 57 Indeed, the whole world came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, for famine had gripped the whole world.

Chapter 42

The Brothers’ First Journey to Egypt.[j] When Jacob learned that grain rations were for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons: “Why do you keep looking at one another?” He went on, “I hear that grain is for sale in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, that we may stay alive and not die.” So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he thought some disaster might befall him. And so the sons of Israel were among those who came to buy grain, since there was famine in the land of Canaan.

Joseph, as governor of the country, was the one who sold grain to all the people of the land. When Joseph’s brothers came, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. He recognized them as soon as he saw them. But he concealed his own identity from them and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked them. They answered, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.”

When Joseph recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him, he was reminded of the dreams he had about them. He said to them: “You are spies. You have come to see the weak points[k] of the land.” 10 “No, my lord,” they replied. “On the contrary, your servants have come to buy food. 11 All of us are sons of the same man. We are honest men; your servants have never been spies.” 12 But he answered them: “Not so! It is the weak points of the land that you have come to see.” 13 “We your servants,” they said, “are twelve brothers, sons of a certain man in Canaan; but the youngest one is at present with our father, and the other one is no more.” 14 “It is just as I said,” Joseph persisted; “you are spies. 15 This is how you shall be tested: I swear by the life of Pharaoh that you shall not leave here unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 So send one of your number to get your brother, while the rest of you stay here under arrest. Thus will your words be tested for their truth; if they are untrue, as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 With that, he locked them up in the guardhouse for three days.

18 On the third day Joseph said to them: “Do this, and you shall live; for I am a God-fearing man. 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined in this prison, while the rest of you go and take home grain for your starving families. 20 But you must bring me your youngest brother. Your words will thus be verified, and you will not die.” To this they agreed. 21 To one another, however, they said: “Truly we are being punished because of our brother. We saw the anguish of his heart when he pleaded with us, yet we would not listen. That is why this anguish has now come upon us.” 22 Then Reuben responded, “Did I not tell you, ‘Do no wrong to the boy’? But you would not listen! Now comes the reckoning for his blood.” 23 They did not know, of course, that Joseph understood what they said, since he spoke with them through an interpreter. 24 But turning away from them, he wept. When he was able to speak to them again, he took Simeon from among them and bound him before their eyes. 25 Then Joseph gave orders to have their containers filled with grain, their money replaced in each one’s sack, and provisions given them for their journey. After this had been done for them, 26 they loaded their donkeys with the grain and departed.

27 At the night encampment, when one of them opened his bag to give his donkey some fodder, he saw his money there in the mouth of his bag. 28 He cried out to his brothers, “My money has been returned! Here it is in my bag!” At that their hearts sank. Trembling, they asked one another, “What is this that God has done to us?”

29 When they got back to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. 30 “The man who is lord of the land,” they said, “spoke to us harshly and put us in custody on the grounds that we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him: ‘We are honest men; we have never been spies. 32 We are twelve brothers, sons of the same father; but one is no more, and the youngest one is now with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33 Then the man who is lord of the land said to us: ‘This is how I will know if you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, then take grain for your starving families and go. 34 When you bring me your youngest brother, and I know that you are not spies but honest men, I will restore your brother to you, and you may move about freely in the land.’”

35 When they were emptying their sacks, there in each one’s sack was his moneybag! At the sight of their moneybags, they and their father were afraid. 36 Their father Jacob said to them: “Must you make me childless? Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin away! All these things have happened to me!” 37 Then Reuben told his father: “You may kill my own two sons if I do not return him to you! Put him in my care, and I will bring him back to you.” 38 But Jacob replied: “My son shall not go down with you. Now that his brother is dead, he is the only one left. If some disaster should befall him on the journey you must make, you would send my white head down to Sheol in grief.”

Chapter 43

The Second Journey to Egypt.[l] Now the famine in the land grew severe. So when they had used up all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.” But Judah replied: “The man strictly warned us, ‘You shall not see me unless your brother is with you.’ If you are willing to let our brother go with us, we will go down to buy food for you. But if you are not willing, we will not go down, because the man told us, ‘You shall not see me unless your brother is with you.’” Israel demanded, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man that you had another brother?” They answered: “The man kept asking about us and our family: ‘Is your father still living? Do you have another brother?’ We answered him accordingly. How could we know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”

Then Judah urged his father Israel: “Let the boy go with me, that we may be off and on our way if you and we and our children are to keep from starving to death. I myself will serve as a guarantee for him. You can hold me responsible for him. If I fail to bring him back and set him before you, I will bear the blame before you forever. 10 Had we not delayed, we could have been there and back twice by now!”

11 Israel their father then told them: “If it must be so, then do this: Put some of the land’s best products in your baggage and take them down to the man as gifts: some balm and honey, gum and resin, and pistachios and almonds. 12 Also take double the money along, for you must return the amount that was put back in the mouths of your bags; it may have been a mistake. 13 Take your brother, too, and be off on your way back to the man. 14 May God Almighty grant you mercy in the presence of the man, so that he may let your other brother go, as well as Benjamin. As for me, if I am to suffer bereavement, I shall suffer it.”

15 So the men took those gifts and double the money and Benjamin. They made their way down to Egypt and presented themselves before Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw them and Benjamin, he told his steward, “Take the men into the house, and have an animal slaughtered and prepared, for they are to dine with me at noon.” 17 Doing as Joseph had ordered, the steward conducted the men to Joseph’s house. 18 But they became apprehensive when they were led to his house. “It must be,” they thought, “on account of the money put back in our bags the first time, that we are taken inside—in order to attack us and take our donkeys and seize us as slaves.” 19 So they went up to Joseph’s steward and talked to him at the entrance of the house. 20 “If you please, sir,” they said, “we came down here once before to buy food. 21 But when we arrived at a night’s encampment and opened our bags, there was each man’s money in the mouth of his bag—our money in the full amount! We have now brought it back. 22 We have brought other money to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our bags.” 23 He replied, “Calm down! Do not fear! Your God and the God of your father must have put treasure in your bags for you. As for your money, I received it.” With that, he led Simeon out to them.

24 The steward then brought the men inside Joseph’s house. He gave them water to wash their feet, and gave fodder to their donkeys. 25 Then they set out their gifts to await Joseph’s arrival at noon, for they had heard that they were to dine there. 26 When Joseph came home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought inside, while they bowed down before him to the ground. 27 After inquiring how they were, he asked them, “And how is your aged father, of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” 28 “Your servant our father is still alive and doing well,” they said, as they knelt and bowed down. 29 Then Joseph looked up and saw Benjamin, his brother, the son of his mother. He asked, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you told me?” Then he said to him, “May God be gracious to you, my son!” 30 With that, Joseph hurried out, for he was so overcome with affection for his brother that he was on the verge of tears. So he went into a private room and wept there.

31 After washing his face, he reappeared and, now having collected himself, gave the order, “Serve the meal.” 32 It was served separately to him,[m] to the brothers, and to the Egyptians who partook of his board. Egyptians may not eat with Hebrews; that is abhorrent to them. 33 When they were seated before him according to their age, from the oldest to the youngest, they looked at one another in amazement; 34 and as portions were brought to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as large as[n] anyone else’s. So they drank freely and made merry with him.

Chapter 44

Final Test.[o] Then Joseph commanded his steward: “Fill the men’s bags with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his bag. In the mouth of the youngest one’s bag put also my silver goblet, together with the money for his grain.” The steward did as Joseph said. At daybreak the men and their donkeys were sent off. They had not gone far out of the city when Joseph said to his steward: “Go at once after the men! When you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why did you repay good with evil? Why did you steal my silver goblet? Is it not the very one from which my master drinks and which he uses for divination?[p] What you have done is wrong.’”

When the steward overtook them and repeated these words to them, they said to him: “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money that we found in the mouths of our bags. How could we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? If any of your servants is found to have the goblet, he shall die, and as for the rest of us, we shall become my lord’s slaves.” 10 But he replied, “Now what you propose is fair enough, but only the one who is found to have it shall become my slave, and the rest of you can go free.” 11 Then each of them quickly lowered his bag to the ground and opened it; 12 and when a search was made, starting with the oldest and ending with the youngest, the goblet turned up in Benjamin’s bag. 13 At this, they tore their garments. Then, when each man had loaded his donkey again, they returned to the city.

14 When Judah and his brothers entered Joseph’s house, he was still there; so they flung themselves on the ground before him. 15 “How could you do such a thing?” Joseph asked them. “Did you not know that such a man as I could discern by divination what happened?” 16 Judah replied: “What can we say to my lord? How can we plead or how try to prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt.[q] Here we are, then, the slaves of my lord—the rest of us no less than the one in whose possession the goblet was found.” 17 Joseph said, “Far be it from me to act thus! Only the one in whose possession the goblet was found shall become my slave; the rest of you may go back unharmed to your father.”

18 Judah then stepped up to him and said: “I beg you, my lord, let your servant appeal to my lord, and do not become angry with your servant, for you are the equal of Pharaoh. 19 My lord asked his servants,[r] ‘Have you a father, or another brother?’ 20 So we said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father, and a younger brother, the child of his old age. This one’s full brother is dead, and since he is the only one by his mother who is left, his father is devoted to him.’ 21 Then you told your servants, ‘Bring him down to me that I might see him.’ 22 We replied to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; his father would die if he left him.’ 23 But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall not see me again.’ 24 When we returned to your servant my father, we reported to him the words of my lord.

25 “Later, our father said, ‘Go back and buy some food for us.’ 26 So we reminded him, ‘We cannot go down there; only if our youngest brother is with us can we go, for we may not see the man if our youngest brother is not with us.’ 27 Then your servant my father said to us, ‘As you know, my wife bore me two sons. 28 One of them, however, has gone away from me, and I said, “He must have been torn to pieces by wild beasts!” I have not seen him since. 29 If you take this one away from me too, and a disaster befalls him, you will send my white head down to Sheol in grief.’

30 “So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, whose very life is bound up with his, he will die as soon as he sees that the boy is missing; 31 and your servants will thus send the white head of your servant our father down to Sheol in grief. 32 Besides, I, your servant, have guaranteed the boy’s safety for my father by saying, ‘If I fail to bring him back to you, father, I will bear the blame before you forever.’ 33 So now let me, your servant, remain in place of the boy as the slave of my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. 34 How could I go back to my father if the boy were not with me? I could not bear to see the anguish that would overcome my father.”

Chapter 45

The Truth Revealed.[s] Joseph could no longer restrain himself in the presence of all his attendants, so he cried out, “Have everyone withdraw from me!” So no one attended him when he made himself known to his brothers. But his sobs were so loud that the Egyptians heard him, and so the news reached Pharaoh’s house. “I am Joseph,” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could give him no answer, so dumbfounded were they at him.

“Come closer to me,” Joseph told his brothers. When they had done so, he said: “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. But now do not be distressed, and do not be angry with yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you. The famine has been in the land for two years now, and for five more years cultivation will yield no harvest. God, therefore, sent me on ahead of you to ensure for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance. So it was not really you but God who had me come here; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh,[t] lord of all his household, and ruler over the whole land of Egypt.

[u]“Hurry back, then, to my father and tell him: ‘Thus says your son Joseph: God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me without delay. 10 You can settle in the region of Goshen,[v] where you will be near me—you and your children and children’s children, your flocks and herds, and everything that you own. 11 I will provide for you there in the five years of famine that lie ahead, so that you and your household and all that are yours will not suffer want.’ 12 Surely, you can see for yourselves, and Benjamin can see for himself, that it is I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father all about my high position in Egypt and all that you have seen. But hurry and bring my father down here.” 14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept on his shoulder. 15 Joseph then kissed all his brothers and wept over them; and only then were his brothers able to talk with him.

16 The news reached Pharaoh’s house: “Joseph’s brothers have come.” Pharaoh and his officials were pleased. 17 So Pharaoh told Joseph: “Say to your brothers: ‘This is what you shall do: Load up your animals and go without delay to the land of Canaan. 18 There get your father and your households, and then come to me; I will assign you the best land in Egypt, where you will live off the fat of the land.’ 19 Instruct them further: ‘Do this. Take wagons from the land of Egypt for your children and your wives and bring your father back here. 20 Do not be concerned about your belongings, for the best in the whole land of Egypt shall be yours.’”

21 The sons of Israel acted accordingly. Joseph gave them the wagons, as Pharaoh had ordered, and he supplied them with provisions for the journey. 22 He also gave to each of them a set of clothes, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 Moreover, what he sent to his father was ten donkeys loaded with the finest products of Egypt and another ten loaded with grain and bread and provisions for his father’s journey. 24 As he sent his brothers on their way, he told them, “Do not quarrel on the way.”

25 So they went up from Egypt and came to the land of Canaan, to their father Jacob. 26 When they told him, “Joseph is still alive—in fact, it is he who is governing all the land of Egypt,” he was unmoved, for he did not believe them. 27 But when they recounted to him all that Joseph had told them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him, the spirit of their father Jacob came to life. 28 “Enough,” said Israel. “My son Joseph is still alive! I must go and see him before I die.”

Chapter 46

Migration to Egypt. [w]Israel set out with all that was his. When he arrived at Beer-sheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. There God, speaking to Israel in a vision by night, called: Jacob! Jacob! He answered, “Here I am.” Then he said: I am God,[x] the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you a great nation. I will go down to Egypt with you and I will also bring you back here, after Joseph has closed your eyes.

So Jacob departed from Beer-sheba, and the sons of Israel put their father and their wives and children on the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. They took with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in the land of Canaan. So Jacob and all his descendants came to Egypt. His sons and his grandsons, his daughters and his granddaughters—all his descendants—he took with him to Egypt.

These are the names of the Israelites, Jacob and his children, who came to Egypt.

Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, [y]and the sons of Reuben: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. 10 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, son of a Canaanite woman. 11 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 12 The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah—but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan; and the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. 13 The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron. 14 The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon, and Jahleel. 15 These were the sons whom Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, along with his daughter Dinah—thirty-three persons in all, sons and daughters.

16 The sons of Gad: Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arod, and Areli. 17 The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, and Beriah, with their sister Serah; and the sons of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel. 18 These are the children of Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah; these she bore to Jacob—sixteen persons in all.

19 The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 20 In the land of Egypt Joseph became the father of Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis, bore to him. 21 The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ahiram, Shupham, Hupham, and Ard. 22 These are the sons whom Rachel bore to Jacob—fourteen persons in all.

23 The sons of Dan: Hushim. 24 The sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem. 25 These are the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel; these she bore to Jacob—seven persons in all.

26 Jacob’s people who came to Egypt—his direct descendants, not counting the wives of Jacob’s sons—numbered sixty-six persons in all. 27 Together with Joseph’s sons who were born to him in Egypt—two persons—all the people comprising the household of Jacob who had come to Egypt amounted to seventy persons[z] in all.

28 Israel had sent Judah ahead to Joseph, so that he might meet him in Goshen. On his arrival in the region of Goshen, 29 Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen. As soon as Israel made his appearance, Joseph threw his arms around him and wept a long time on his shoulder. 30 And Israel said to Joseph, “At last I can die, now that I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”

31 Joseph then said to his brothers and his father’s household: “I will go up and inform Pharaoh, telling him: ‘My brothers and my father’s household, whose home is in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds, having been owners of livestock;[aa] and they have brought with them their flocks and herds, as well as everything else they own.’ 33 So when Pharaoh summons you and asks what your occupation is, 34 you must answer, ‘We your servants, like our ancestors, have been owners of livestock from our youth until now,’ in order that you may stay in the region of Goshen, since all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians.”

Chapter 47

Settlement in Goshen. Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and my brothers have come from the land of Canaan, with their flocks and herds and everything else they own; and they are now in the region of Goshen.” He then presented to Pharaoh five of his brothers whom he had selected from their full number. When Pharaoh asked them, “What is your occupation?” they answered, “We, your servants, like our ancestors, are shepherds. We have come,” they continued, “in order to sojourn in this land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, because the famine has been severe in the land of Canaan. So now please let your servants settle in the region of Goshen.” Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Now that your father and your brothers have come to you, the land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and brothers in the pick of the land. Let them settle in the region of Goshen. And if you know of capable men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.” Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh asked Jacob, “How many years have you lived?” Jacob replied: “The years I have lived as a wayfarer amount to a hundred and thirty. Few and hard have been these years of my life, and they do not compare with the years that my ancestors lived as wayfarers.”[ab] 10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and withdrew from his presence.

11 Joseph settled his father and brothers and gave them a holding in Egypt on the pick of the land, in the region of Rameses,[ac] as Pharaoh had ordered. 12 And Joseph provided food for his father and brothers and his father’s whole household, down to the youngest.

Joseph’s Land Policy. 13 Since there was no food in all the land because of the extreme severity of the famine, and the lands of Egypt and Canaan were languishing from hunger, 14 Joseph gathered in, as payment for the grain that they were buying, all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan, and he put it in Pharaoh’s house. 15 When all the money in Egypt and Canaan was spent, all the Egyptians came to Joseph, pleading, “Give us food! Why should we perish in front of you? For our money is gone.” 16 “Give me your livestock if your money is gone,” replied Joseph. “I will give you food in return for your livestock.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, and their donkeys. Thus he supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock in that year. 18 That year ended, and they came to him in the next one and said: “We cannot hide from my lord that, with our money spent and our livestock made over to my lord, there is nothing left to put at my lord’s disposal except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we and our land perish before your very eyes? Take us and our land in exchange for food, and we will become Pharaoh’s slaves and our land his property; only give us seed, that we may survive and not perish, and that our land may not turn into a waste.”

20 So Joseph acquired all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. Each of the Egyptians sold his field, since the famine weighed heavily upon them. Thus the land passed over to Pharaoh, 21 and the people were reduced to slavery, from one end of Egypt’s territory to the other. 22 Only the priests’ lands Joseph did not acquire. Since the priests had a fixed allowance from Pharaoh and lived off the allowance Pharaoh had granted them, they did not have to sell their land.

23 Joseph told the people: “Now that I have acquired you and your land for Pharaoh, here is your seed for sowing the land. 24 But when the harvest is in, you must give a fifth of it to Pharaoh, while you keep four-fifths as seed for your fields and as food for yourselves and your households and as food for your children.” 25 “You have saved our lives!” they answered. “We have found favor with my lord; now we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.” 26 Thus Joseph made it a statute for the land of Egypt, which is still in force, that a fifth of its produce should go to Pharaoh. Only the land of the priests did not pass over to Pharaoh.

Israel Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh. 27 Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the region of Goshen. There they acquired holdings, were fertile, and multiplied greatly. 28 [ad]Jacob lived in the land of Egypt for seventeen years; the span of his life came to a hundred and forty-seven years. 29 When the time approached for Israel to die, he called his son Joseph and said to him: “If it pleases you, put your hand under my thigh as a sign of your enduring fidelity to me; do not bury me in Egypt. 30 When I lie down with my ancestors, take me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” “I will do as you say,” he replied. 31 But his father demanded, “Swear it to me!” So Joseph swore to him. Then Israel bowed at the head of the bed.[ae]

Chapter 48

[af]Some time afterward, Joseph was informed, “Your father is failing.” So he took along with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up in bed.

Jacob then said to Joseph: “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz[ag] in the land of Canaan, and blessing me, he said, ‘I will make you fertile and multiply you and make you into an assembly of peoples, and I will give this land to your descendants after you as a permanent possession.’ So now your two sons who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I joined you here, shall be mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine as much as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Progeny born to you after them shall remain yours; but their heritage shall be recorded in the names of their brothers. I do this because, when I was returning from Paddan, your mother Rachel died, to my sorrow, during the journey in Canaan, while we were still a short distance from Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath [now Bethlehem].”[ah]

When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he asked, “Who are these?” “They are my sons,” Joseph answered his father, “whom God has given me here.” “Bring them to me,” said his father, “that I may bless them.” 10 Now Israel’s eyes were dim from age; he could not see well. When Joseph brought his sons close to him, he kissed and embraced them. 11 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your descendants as well!”

12 Joseph removed them from his father’s knees and bowed down before him with his face to the ground. 13 Then Joseph took the two, Ephraim with his right hand, to Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand, to Israel’s right, and brought them up to him. 14 But Israel, crossing his hands, put out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, although he was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, although he was the firstborn. 15 Then he blessed them with these words:

“May the God in whose presence
    my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has been my shepherd
    from my birth to this day,
16 The angel who has delivered me from all harm,
    bless these boys
That in them my name be recalled,
    and the names of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac,
And they may become teeming multitudes
    upon the earth!”

17 When Joseph saw that his father had laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, this seemed wrong to him; so he took hold of his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s, 18 saying, “That is not right, father; the other one is the firstborn; lay your right hand on his head!” 19 But his father refused. “I know it, son,” he said, “I know. That one too shall become a people, and he too shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall surpass him, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” 20 So he blessed them that day and said, “By you shall the people of Israel pronounce blessings, saying, ‘God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” Thus he placed Ephraim before Manasseh.

21 Then Israel said to Joseph: “I am about to die. But God will be with you and will restore you to the land of your ancestors. 22 As for me, I give to you, as to the one above his brothers, Shechem, which I captured from the Amorites with my sword and bow.”[ai]

Chapter 49

Jacob’s Testament.[aj] Jacob called his sons and said: “Gather around, that I may tell you what is to happen to you in days to come.

“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob,
    listen to Israel, your father.

“You, Reuben, my firstborn,
    my strength and the first fruit of my vigor,
    excelling in rank and excelling in power!
Turbulent as water, you shall no longer excel,
    for you climbed into your father’s bed
    and defiled my couch to my sorrow.

[ak]“Simeon and Levi, brothers indeed,
    weapons of violence are their knives.[al]
Let not my person enter their council,
    or my honor be joined with their company;
For in their fury they killed men,
    at their whim they maimed oxen.
Cursed be their fury so fierce,
    and their rage so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob,
    disperse them throughout Israel.

“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise
    —your hand on the neck of your enemies;
    the sons of your father shall bow down to you.
Judah is a lion’s cub,
    you have grown up on prey, my son.
He crouches, lies down like a lion,
    like a lioness—who would dare rouse him?
10 The scepter shall never depart from Judah,
    or the mace from between his feet,
Until tribute comes to him,[am]
    and he receives the people’s obedience.
11 He tethers his donkey to the vine,
    his donkey’s foal to the choicest stem.
In wine he washes his garments,
    his robe in the blood of grapes.[an]
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
    and his teeth are whiter than milk.

13 “Zebulun shall dwell by the seashore;
    he will be a haven for ships,
    and his flank shall rest on Sidon.

14 “Issachar is a rawboned donkey,
    crouching between the saddlebags.
15 When he saw how good a settled life was,
    and how pleasant the land,
He bent his shoulder to the burden
    and became a toiling serf.

16 “Dan shall achieve justice[ao] for his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Let Dan be a serpent by the roadside,
    a horned viper by the path,
That bites the horse’s heel,
    so that the rider tumbles backward.

18 “I long for your deliverance, O Lord![ap]

19 “Gad shall be raided by raiders,
    but he shall raid at their heels.[aq]

20 “Asher’s produce is rich,
    and he shall furnish delicacies for kings.

21 “Naphtali is a hind let loose,
    which brings forth lovely fawns.

22 “Joseph is a wild colt,
    a wild colt by a spring,
    wild colts on a hillside.
23 Harrying him and shooting,
    the archers opposed him;
24 But his bow remained taut,
    and his arms were nimble,
By the power of the Mighty One of Jacob,
    because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 The God of your father, who helps you,[ar]
    God Almighty, who blesses you,
With the blessings of the heavens above,
    the blessings of the abyss that crouches below,
The blessings of breasts and womb,
26     the blessings of fresh grain and blossoms,
    the blessings of the everlasting mountains,
    the delights of the eternal hills.
May they rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the brow of the prince among his brothers.

27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
    mornings he devours the prey,
    and evenings he distributes the spoils.”

Farewell and Death. 28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said about them, as he blessed them. To each he gave a suitable blessing. 29 Then he gave them this charge: “Since I am about to be gathered to my people, bury me with my ancestors in the cave that lies in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah, facing on Mamre, in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial ground. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried, and so are Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there, too, I buried Leah— 32 the field and the cave in it that had been purchased from the Hittites.”

33 When Jacob had finished giving these instructions to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

Chapter 50

Jacob’s Funeral. Joseph flung himself upon his father and wept over him as he kissed him. Then Joseph ordered the physicians in his service to embalm his father. When the physicians embalmed Israel, they spent forty days at it, for that is the full period of embalming; and the Egyptians mourned him for seventy days. When the period of mourning was over, Joseph spoke to Pharaoh’s household. “If you please, appeal to Pharaoh, saying: My father made me swear: ‘I am dying. Bury me in my grave that I have prepared for myself in the land of Canaan.’ So now let me go up to bury my father. Then I will come back.” Pharaoh replied, “Go and bury your father, as he made you promise on oath.”

So Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went all of Pharaoh’s officials who were senior members of his household and all the other elders of the land of Egypt, as well as Joseph’s whole household, his brothers, and his father’s household; only their children and their flocks and herds were left in the region of Goshen. Chariots, too, and horsemen went up with him; it was a very imposing retinue.

10 When they arrived at Goren-ha-atad,[as] which is beyond the Jordan, they held there a very great and solemn memorial service; and Joseph observed seven days of mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who inhabited the land saw the mourning at Goren-ha-atad, they said, “This is a solemn funeral on the part of the Egyptians!” That is why the place was named Abel-mizraim. It is beyond the Jordan.

12 Thus Jacob’s sons did for him as he had instructed them. 13 They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, facing on Mamre, the field that Abraham had bought for a burial ground from Ephron the Hittite.

14 After Joseph had buried his father he returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all who had gone up with him for the burial of his father.

Plea for Forgiveness. 15 [at]Now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful and thought, “Suppose Joseph has been nursing a grudge against us and now most certainly will pay us back in full for all the wrong we did him!” 16 So they sent to Joseph and said: “Before your father died, he gave us these instructions: 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: Please forgive the criminal wrongdoing of your brothers, who treated you harmfully.’ So now please forgive the crime that we, the servants of the God of your father, committed.” When they said this to him, Joseph broke into tears. 18 Then his brothers also proceeded to fling themselves down before him and said, “We are your slaves!” 19 But Joseph replied to them: “Do not fear. Can I take the place of God? 20 Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve this present end, the survival of many people. 21 So now, do not fear. I will provide for you and for your children.” By thus speaking kindly to them, he reassured them.

22 Joseph remained in Egypt, together with his father’s household. He lived a hundred and ten years. 23 He saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation, and the children of Manasseh’s son Machir were also born on Joseph’s knees.

Death of Joseph. 24 Joseph said to his brothers: “I am about to die. God will surely take care of you and lead you up from this land to the land that he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 Then, putting the sons of Israel under oath, he continued, “When God thus takes care of you, you must bring my bones up from this place.” 26 Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. He was embalmed and laid to rest in a coffin in Egypt.

Footnotes:

  1. 40:1 Joseph interprets the dreams of the Pharaoh’s two officials. His ability to interpret the dreams shows that God is still with him and points forward to his role of dream interpreter for Pharaoh in chap. 41.
  2. 40:13 Single you out: lit., “lift up your head” (see also vv. 19, 20).
  3. 41:1–57 Joseph correctly interprets Pharaoh’s dream and becomes second in command over all Egypt.
  4. 41:8 Magicians: one of the tasks of the “magicians” was interpreting dreams. The interpretation of dreams was a long-standing practice in Egypt. A manual of dream interpretation has been found, written in the early second millennium and re-published later in which typical dreams are given (“If a man sees himself in a dream…”) followed by a judgment of “good” or “bad.” Interpreters were still needed for dreams, however, and Pharaoh complains that none of his dream interpreters can interpret his unprecedented dream. The same term will be used of Pharaoh’s magicians in Exodus.
  5. 41:42 Signet ring: a finger ring in which was set a stamp seal, different from the cylinder seal such as Judah wore; see note on 38:18. By receiving Pharaoh’s signet ring, Joseph was made vizier of Egypt (v. 43); the vizier was known as “seal-bearer of the king of Lower Egypt.” The gold chain was a symbol of high office in ancient Egypt.
  6. 41:43 Abrek: apparently a cry of homage, though the word’s derivation and actual meaning are uncertain.
  7. 41:45 Zaphenath-paneah: a Hebrew transcription of an Egyptian name meaning “the god speaks and he (the newborn child) lives.” Asenath: means “belonging to (the Egyptian goddess) Neith.” Potiphera: means “he whom Ra (the Egyptian god) gave”; a shorter form of the same name was borne by Joseph’s master (37:36). Heliopolis: in Hebrew, On, a city seven miles northeast of modern Cairo, site of the chief temple of the sun god; it is mentioned also in v. 50; 46:20; Ez 30:17.
  8. 41:51 Manasseh: an allusion to this name is in the Hebrew expression, nishshani, “he made me forget.”
  9. 41:52 Ephraim: related to the Hebrew expression hiphrani, “(God) has made me fruitful.” The name originally meant something like “fertile land.”
  10. 42:1–38 The first journey of the brothers to Egypt. Its cause is famine, which was also the reason Abraham and Sarah undertook their dangerous journey to Egypt. The brothers bow to Joseph in v. 6, which fulfills Joseph’s dream in 37:5–11. Endowed with wisdom, Joseph begins a process of instruction or “discipline” for his brothers that eventually forces them to recognize the enormity of their sin against him and the family. He controls their experience of the first journey with the result that the second journey in chaps. 43–44 leads to full acknowledgment and reconciliation.
  11. 42:9, 12 Weak points: lit., “the nakedness of the land”; the military weakness of the land, like human nakedness, should not be seen by strangers.
  12. 43:1–34 The second journey to Egypt. Joseph the sage has carefully prepared the brothers for a possible reconciliation. In this chapter and the following one Judah steps forward as the hero, in contrast to chaps. 37 and 42 where Reuben was the hero. Here Judah serves as guarantee for Benjamin.
  13. 43:32 Separately to him: that Joseph did not eat with the other Egyptians was apparently a matter of rank.
  14. 43:34 Five times as large as: probably an idiomatic expression for “much larger than.” Cf. 45:22.
  15. 44:1–34 Joseph’s pressure on his brothers and Judah’s great speech. Judah has the longest speech in the Book of Genesis; it summarizes the recent past (vv. 18–29), shows the pain Joseph’s actions have imposed on their aged father (vv. 30–32), and ends with the offer to take the place of Benjamin as servant of Joseph (vv. 33–34). The role of Judah in the entire story is exceedingly important and is easily underrated: he tries to rescue Joseph (37:26–27), his “going down away from the brothers” is parallel to Joseph’s (chap. 38) and prepares him (as it prepares Joseph) for the reconciliation, his speech in chap. 44 persuades Joseph to reveal himself and be reconciled to his brothers. Here, Judah effectively replaces Reuben as a spokesman for the brothers. Jacob in his testament (chap. 49) devotes the most attention to Judah and Joseph. In one sense, the story can be called the story of Joseph and Judah.
  16. 44:5 Divination: seeking omens through liquids poured into a cup or bowl was a common practice in the ancient Near East; cf. v. 15. Even though divination was frowned on in later Israel (Lv 19:31), it is in this place an authentic touch which is ascribed to Joseph, the wisest man in Egypt.
  17. 44:16 Guilt: in trying to do away with Joseph when he was young.
  18. 44:19 My lord asked his servants: such frequently repeated expressions in Judah’s speech show the formal court style used by a subject in speaking to a high official.
  19. 45:1–28 Joseph reveals his identity and the family is reconciled.
  20. 45:8 Father to Pharaoh: a term applied to a vizier in ancient Egypt.
  21. 45:9–15 In these verses, as in 46:31–47:5a, all from the Yahwist source, Joseph in his own name invites his father and brothers to come to Egypt. Only after their arrival is Pharaoh informed of the fact. On the other hand, in 45:16–20, which scholars have traditionally attributed to the Elohist source, it is Pharaoh himself who invites Joseph’s family to migrate to his domain.
  22. 45:10 The region of Goshen: the meaning of the term is unknown. It is found in no Egyptian source. It is generally thought to be in the modern Wadi Tumilat in the eastern part of the Nile Delta.
  23. 46:1–47:26 Jacob and his family settle in Egypt. Joseph’s economic policies.
  24. 46:3 I am God: more precisely according to the Hebrew text, “I am El.” “El” is here a divine name, not the common noun “god.”
  25. 46:9–27 This genealogical list is based on the clan lists (Nm 26:5–50) from the Mosaic period.
  26. 46:27 Seventy persons: it is difficult to get this exact number by adding up the persons mentioned in the preceding genealogies. One might assume it refers to Jacob and sixty-nine descendants, excluding Er and Onan but including Dinah. Ex 1:5 repeats the number but excludes Jacob. Dt 10:22 refers to seventy persons descending to Egypt. The best solution is to take the number as expressing totality. Since there are seventy nations in chap. 10, it is likely that the text is drawing a parallel between the two entities and suggesting that Israel “represents” the nations before God.
  27. 46:32 Owners of livestock: the phrase occurs only here and in v. 34. The difference between this term and “shepherds” is not clear, for the brothers do not mention it to Pharaoh in 47:3.
  28. 47:9 Wayfarer…wayfarers: human beings are merely sojourners on earth; cf. Ps 39:13.
  29. 47:11 The region of Rameses: same as the region of Goshen; see note on 45:10.
  30. 47:28–50:26 Supplements to the Joseph story. Most of the material in this section centers on Jacob—his blessing of Joseph’s sons, his farewell testament, and his death and burial in Canaan. Only the last verses (50:15–26) redirect attention to Jacob’s sons, the twelve brothers; they are assured that the reconciliation will not collapse after the death of the patriarch.
  31. 47:31 Israel bowed at the head of the bed: meaning perhaps that he gave a nod of assent and appreciation as he lay on his bed. The oath and gesture are the same as Abraham’s in 24:2. Israel’s bowing here suggests the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams in 37:9–10, when parents and brothers bowed down to Joseph (cf. 42:6; 43:26). By using different vowels for the Hebrew word for “bed,” the Greek version translated it as “staff,” and understood the phrase to mean that he bowed in worship, leaning on the top of his staff; it is thus quoted in Hb 11:21.
  32. 48:1–22 Jacob continues his preparations for death. In a scene that evokes the nearly blind Isaac blessing Jacob and Esau (chap. 27), Jacob blesses Joseph’s two sons. He adopts them, elevating them to a status equal to that of Jacob’s first sons Reuben and Simeon (cf. 1 Chr 5:1). The adoption is one more instance of Jacob’s favoring Rachel and those born of her. The mention of Jacob’s failing eyesight and his selection of the younger son over the older evokes the great deathbed scene in chap. 27. He reaffirms to Joseph the ancient divine promise of progeny and land.
  33. 48:3 Luz: an older name of Bethel (28:19).
  34. 48:7 Since her early death prevented Rachel from bearing more than two sons, Jacob feels justified in treating her two grandsons as if they were her own offspring.
  35. 48:22 Both the meaning of the Hebrew and the historical reference in this verse are obscure. By taking the Hebrew word for Shechem as a common noun meaning shoulder or mountain slope, some translators render the verse, “I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I captured…” The reference may be to the capture of Shechem by the sons of Jacob (34:24–29). Shechem lay near the border separating the tribal territory of Manasseh from that of Ephraim (Jos 16:4–9; 17:1–2, 7).
  36. 49:1–27 The testament, or farewell discourse, of Jacob, which has its closest parallel in Moses’ farewell in Dt 33:6–25. From his privileged position as a patriarch, he sees the future of his children (the eponymous ancestors of the tribes) and is able to describe how they will fare and so gives his blessing. The dense and archaic poetry is obscure in several places. The sayings often involve wordplays (explained in the notes). The poem begins with the six sons of Leah (vv. 2–15), then deals with the sons of the two secondary wives, and ends with Rachel’s two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Reuben, the oldest son, loses his position of leadership as a result of his intercourse with Bilhah (35:22), and the words about Simeon and Levi allude to their taking revenge for the rape of Dinah (chap. 34). The preeminence of Judah reflects his rise in the course of the narrative (mirroring the rise of Joseph). See note on 44:1–34.
  37. 49:5–7 This passage probably refers to their attack on the city of Shechem (Gn 34). Because there is no indication that the warlike tribe of Levi will be commissioned as a priestly tribe (Ex 32:26–29; Dt 33:11), this passage reflects an early, independent tradition.
  38. 49:5 Knives: if this is the meaning of the obscure Hebrew word here, the reference may be to the knives used in circumcising the men of Shechem (34:24; cf. Jos 5:2).
  39. 49:10 Until tribute comes to him: this translation is based on a slight change in the Hebrew text, which, as it stands, would seem to mean, “until he comes to Shiloh.” A somewhat different reading of the Hebrew text would be, “until he comes to whom it belongs.” This last has been traditionally understood in a messianic sense. In any case, the passage aims at the supremacy of the tribe of Judah and of the Davidic dynasty.
  40. 49:11 In wine…the blood of grapes: Judah’s clothes are poetically pictured as soaked with grape juice from trampling in the wine press, the rich vintage of his land; cf. Is 63:2.
  41. 49:16 In Hebrew the verb for “achieve justice” is from the same root as the name Dan.
  42. 49:18 This short plea for divine mercy has been inserted into the middle of Jacob’s testament.
  43. 49:19 In Hebrew there is assonance between the name Gad and the words for “raided,” “raiders,” and “raid.”
  44. 49:25–26 A very similar description of the agricultural riches of the tribal land of Joseph is given in Dt 33:13–16.
  45. 50:10–11 Goren-ha-atad: “Threshing Floor of the Brambles.” Abel-mizraim: although the name really means “watercourse of the Egyptians,” it is understood here, by a play on the first part of the term, to mean “mourning of the Egyptians.” The site has not been identified through either reading of the name. But it is difficult to see why the mourning rites should have been held in the land beyond the Jordan when the burial was at Hebron. Perhaps an earlier form of the story placed the mourning rites beyond the Wadi of Egypt, the traditional boundary between Canaan and Egypt (Nm 34:5; Jos 15:4, 47).
  46. 50:15–26 The final reconciliation of the brothers. Fearful of what may happen after the death of their father, the brothers engage in a final deception, inventing the dying wish of Jacob. Again, Joseph weeps, and, again, his brothers fall down before him, offering to be his slaves (44:16, 33). Joseph’s assurance is also a summation of the story: “Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve this present end, the survival of many people” (v. 20). Joseph’s adoption of the children of Manasseh’s son Machir recalls Jacob’s adoption of his grandchildren (48:5, 13–20); the adoptions reflect tribal history (cf. Jgs 5:14).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exodus 13:19 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

19 Moses also took Joseph’s bones with him, for Joseph had made the Israelites take a solemn oath, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you must bring my bones up with you from here.”

New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Joshua 24:32 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

32 The bones of Joseph,[a] which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried in Shechem in the plot of ground Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor, father of Shechem, for a hundred pieces of money. This was a heritage of the descendants of Joseph.

Footnotes:

  1. 24:32 Joseph’s bones (Gn 50:24–26) and Jacob’s purchase of the burial ground (Gn 33:18–20) relate Joshua with Genesis. A hundred pieces of money: see note on Gn 33:19.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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