Genesis 37

Joseph and his brothers

1 Jacob lived in Canaan. This is where his father had lived.

37:1God gave Jacob the name ‘Israel’.

2 This is the report about Jacob and his family.

Joseph was Jacob's son. He was 17 years old. He kept the sheep safe with his brothers. These were the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah. Bilhah and Zilpah were his father's wives. Now Joseph told Jacob bad things about his brothers. 3 Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph. He loved him more than he loved any of his other sons. This was because Joseph was born when Jacob was old. And Jacob made a special coat for him. 4 Joseph's brothers knew that Jacob loved him more than them. And they hated Joseph. They could not say anything nice to him.

5 Joseph had a dream. And he told his brothers about it. And his brothers hated Joseph even more than they did before. 6 Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Listen to what happened in my dream: 7 We were out in the field tying the crops into bundles. And my bundle stood up. And your bundles each stood in a circle with mine in the middle. And all your bundles bowed down to my bundle.’ 8 Joseph's brothers said to him ‘Do you think that you will be like a king to us? Will you rule over us?’ And they hated him even more. They hated him because of what Joseph told them about his dream. 9 Then Joseph had another dream. And he told his brothers about it. He said, ‘Listen to me. I have had another dream. This is what happened. The sun and moon and 11 stars bowed down to me.’ 10 Joseph told his father and his brothers about the dream. His father was angry with him. Jacob said, ‘What is this dream that you had? Do you think that your mother and me, and your brothers will come and bow down in front of you? Do you really think that this will happen?’ 11 Joseph's brothers felt very angry with him. But Jacob thought about what Joseph had said.

12 Some time passed. Joseph's brothers had taken their father's sheep to eat grass. This was near the place called Shechem. 13 And Israel (Jacob) said to Joseph ‘You know that your brothers have taken my sheep to eat grass. They are near Shechem. I want you to go to them.’ Joseph replied ‘Very well.’ 14 So Israel said to Joseph ‘Go and see your brothers. Come back and tell me how everything is with them. And tell me if the sheep are all right.’ Then Israel sent Joseph off from the Valley of Hebron. And Joseph arrived at Shechem. 15 A man found Joseph walking in the fields. He asked Joseph ‘What are you looking for?’ 16 Joseph replied ‘I am looking for my brothers. They have taken the sheep to eat grass. Can you tell me where they are?’ 17 The man said, ‘They have moved away from here. I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph followed his brothers. And he found them near the place called Dothan. 18 But his brothers recognized Joseph, while he was still far away. And before he had arrived at the place, they planned to kill him. 19 They said to each other ‘Here comes the man who dreams! 20 We will kill him. And we will throw him down this dry well. We will say that a wild animal ate him. Then he will not dream again!’ 21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to save Joseph. He said, ‘We should not kill him. 22 Do not have his blood on your hands. Throw him into this dry well in the desert. But do not attack him.’ Reuben said this to save Joseph from his brothers. Then later Reuben would save Joseph and take him back to his father.

23 So Joseph arrived at where his brothers were. He was wearing his special coat. They took his coat off him. 24 And they took Joseph. And they threw him into the dry well.

25 Then the brothers sat down to eat their meal. They looked up and saw a group of Ishmaelites coming towards them. They came from the place called Gilead. The Ishmaelites had camels that carried spices, balm and myrrh. They were on their way to Egypt. There they would sell them.

37:25Ishmaelites were also called Midianites and Medanites. Ishmael, Midian and Medan were all sons of Abraham.
37:25People put spices in food.
37:25Balm is an oil to help make cuts better. It also makes ill people better.
37:25Myrrh comes from the leaves of a special kind of rose (a flower). People put it in a drink. The ill people drink it. It helps to stop the pain.

26 Judah said to his brothers, ‘We could kill our brother. We could then say that we did not kill him. But then we will not get anything. 27 Let us sell him to the Ishmaelites. Then we will not have to kill him. After all, he is our brother. He is our own relative.’ His brothers agreed to what Judah said. 28 When the Midianite merchants (men who buy and sell things) came to them, Joseph's brothers pulled him out of the dry well. And they sold Joseph for 20 pieces of silver. They sold him to the Ishmaelites. And the Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt.

29 Reuben returned to the dry well. And he saw that Joseph was not there. He tore his clothes because he was very worried. 30 Reuben went back to his brothers. He said, ‘The boy is not there! Where can I go now?’

37:30Reuben could be worried because he is the oldest son. And he will have to tell his father that Joseph is gone.

31 Then the brothers got Joseph's special coat. They killed a goat. And they put the blood from the goat on to Joseph's coat. 32 They took the special coat back to their father. They told him ‘We found this. Look at it. Tell us if it is your son's coat.’ 33 Israel (that is Jacob) saw that it was Joseph's coat. He said, ‘It is my son's coat! A wild animal has eaten him. The animal has torn Joseph to pieces.’ 34 Then Jacob tore his own clothes. He did this because he was very sad. He put on clothes made from sackcloth because he was very sad. He wore sackcloth for many days.

37:34Sackcloth is a kind of material. People wore it when they were sad.

35 All Jacob's sons and daughters came to him. They tried to make Jacob feel less sad. But Jacob was very sad. Jacob said, ‘I will be sad until I die. I will be sad because my son is dead.’ And he wept because Joseph was dead. 36 While this was happening, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt. They sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officers. Potiphar had authority over all of Pharaoh's guards.