At Shechem Jacob lived about seven .years, when he became in-
B.C. 1822-1635. DEATH OF ISAAC. ^ 47
volved in a conflict with the Shechemites. His daughter Dinah
having been carried off by Shechein the son of Hamor, his sons
Simeon and Levi treacherously revenged the wrong done to their
sister by putting to death Hamor and Shechem and their people,
and ravaging the city. To avoid the revenge of the Canaanites,
Jacob deemed it prudent to withdraw from Shechem, and by the
command of God he returned to Beth-el. There he fulfilled the
vows which he had made many years before, when he had fled from
home to escape the enmity of his brother Esau (Gen. xxviii. 16-22).
There he built an altar to the Lord, and God appeared to him again
(Gen. xxxv. 9), and renewed with him the Covenant made with
Abraham. There Deborah, his mother Rebekah's nurse, died and
was buried beneath the "oak of weeping" (Allon-bachutfi).
Jacob did not stay long at Beth-el, but journeyed southward on his
way to visit his father at Mamre, near Hebron. Not far from Eph-
rath, the ancient name of Bethlehem, Rachel died in giving birth to
Jacob's youngest son. The dying mother called him BENONI (son
of my sorrow), but the fond father changed his name to BEN-JAMIN
(son of the right hand) (Gen. xxxv. 16-18). Soon quitting this
melancholy place, he went forward, and at length reached the en-
campment of his father Isaac at the old station beside Hebron,
" where Abraham and Isaac sojourned." It does not appear that
Jacob had seen him from the time that he went to Padan-aram,
some thirty years before, until now. They spent the next thirteen
years together, when Isaac died at the age of one hundred and
eighty. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him in the cave of Mach-
pelah, with Abraham and Sarah (Gen. xxxv. 28, 29). Esau then
returned to Mount Seir, and became the founder of the Edomites
or MUIIKI an nation, and Jacob remained at Mamre (Gen. xxxvi.
The story of Joseph and his brethren, which the sacred writer
now relates, may safely be called the most charming in all history.
As the first-born son of his beloved Rachel, and the son of his old
age, "Israel loved Joseph more than all his children." He gave
him "a coat of many colors ;" but his partiality awoke the jealousy
of his other sons, and they " hated Joseph, and could not speak
1 The following is the list of Jacob's twelve sons by his two wives and
their two handmaids, with the significance of their names :
i. The song of Leah : Renbeu (ee ! a son), Simeon (hearing), Levi (joined),
Jadah (praise), Issachar (hire), Zebnlun (dwelling).
ii. The eons of Rachel : Joseph (adding), Benjamin (son of the, right hand).
III. The sons otBilhah, Rachel's handmaid : Dan (judging), Naphthali (my
iv. The sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid : Gad (a troop), Asher (hajrpy).
Besides Dinah (judgment), the daughter of Leah. Gen. xxxv. 23-26.
48. SCRIPTURE HISTORY. CHAP. III.
peaceably unto him." Their hatred was increased after Joseph had
told them two dreams which he had dreamed. In the first, his
brothers' sheaves of corn bowed down to his, which stood upright in
their midst; and in the second, "behold the sun, and the moon,
and the eleven stars made obeisance " to him. His father rebuked
him for repeating these dreams, and said, " Shall I, and thy mother,
and thy brethren, indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the
_ Jacob was at this time at Hebron, while his sons fed his flocks
wherever they could find pasture ; Joseph being sometimes with
them, and sometimes with his father. On one occasion he was
sent from Hebron to Shechem, where the field lay which Jacob had
purchased, and probably afterwards recovered, from the Amorites,
to inquire after his brethren and the flocks. Finding that they
had gone farther north to Dothan, he went after them ; but as soon
as they saw him coming they conspired to kill him. " They said
-one to another, Behold this dreamer cometh. Come now, let us
slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say some evil
beast hath devoured him. Then we shall see what will become of
his dreams." His life was saved by Reuben, who said, " Let us not
kill him," and he persuaded them to cast him into an empty pit,
whence he intended to take him and restore him to his father.
When Joseph came to them, they stripped him of his tunic "of
many colors," and having cast him into the pit, they coolly sat down
to eat bread. Just then an Arab caravan a company of Ishmael-
ite8 were seen on the road which leads from Gilead through Do-
than to Egypt, carrying to that country on their camels the spices,
and balm, and myrrh of the Syrian desert. As such traders were
always ready to buy up slaves on their way, Judah suggested, dur-
ing the absence of Reuben, that they might now get rid of their
brother without the guilt of murder, and he proposed that he should
be sold to the Ishmaelites. "And his brethren were content."
When the Midianites came near they took Joseph out of the pit
and sold him to them for twenty shekels of silver ; the very sum
which afterwards, under the Law, was set as the value of a male
from five to twenty years old a type of the sale of Him " whom the
children of Israel did value " (Matt, xxvii. 9).
Reuben returned to the pit ; but not finding his brother there, he
was greatly grieved, and rent his clothes. To deceive their father,
his brothers then took Joseph's tunic, and having dipped it in a kid's
blood, they carried it back to Jacob. As soon as he saw it he knew
it, and said, " It is my son's coat ; a wild beast hath, no doubt, torn
him in pieces." With guilty consciences they pretended to com-
fort their father, but he refused to be comforted, and said, " I will
B.C. 1822-1635. HISTORY OF JOSEPH. 49
go down into the grave unto my son mourning" (Gen. xxxvii.
Meanwhile the Ishmaelite merchants carried Joseph down into
Egypt, and sold him as a slave toPoxiPHAK, "an officer of Pharaoh
and captain of the guard." Here Joseph served his master with so
much fidelity that he quickly gained his confidence, when Potiphar
made him steward over his household, and over all that ho had.
" And the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake."
Joseph being "a goodly person and well-favored," his youthful
beauty exposed him to a great temptation from his master's wife,
which, however, he was enabled to withstand. In revenge for this
slight, she made a false charge against Joseph and procured his dis-
grace, stirring up the wrath of her husband against him, who put
him into the state prison. This imprisonment lasted probably eight
or nine years ; and we gather from the words of the Psalmist (Psalm*" *"\
cv. 17, 18), that his treatment was at first severe; "Whose feet "^
they hurt with fetters; the iron entered into his soul." But the
same blessing that had raised him in the house of Potiphar followed
him in the prison, the keeper of which gave him the entire charge
of the other prisoners, " because the Lord was with him, and that
which he did, the Lord made it to prosper " (Gen. xxxix. 1-23).
It happened that the chief of the cup-bearers and the chief of
the cooks" of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, gave some offense to their
master, for which they were cast into prison, and committed to the
charge of Joseph. One morning when he looked upon them he per-
ceived that they were very sad, and, on inquiring the cause, they
replied, "We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter
of it." After reminding them that the interpretation of dreams be-
longed to God, he then interpreted their dreams, which forewarned
them of their fate. Joseph told the chief cup-bearer that his
dream signified that in three days Pharaoh would restore him to
his office ; and to the chief of the cooks he predicted that within
three days he would be hanged. His words came true ; but al-
though he had asked the chief cup-bearer to think on him and in-
tercede witli Pharaoh for his release from prison, yet "did not he
remember him, but forgat him " (Gen. xl. 1-23).
After this two years passed away, when Pharaoh was disturbed
by dreams which none of the wise men of Ejjypt were able to in-
terpret. Then the chief cup-bearer told the king of Joseph's skill,
and he was hastily sent for out of prison, and brought into the pres-.
ence of Pharaoh. After Joseph had told Pharaoh that the power
of interpreting dreams was only in God who had sent them, the
1 The terms chief butler and chief baker, in our version, are misleadim; as
to their dignity.
50 SCRIPTURE HISTORY. CHAP. Ill
king related his dreams, which Joseph proceeded to interpret.
" In my dream," said Pharaoh, " behold I stood upon the bank of
the river (Nile). And I saw seven fat and beautiful heifers come
up out of the river, and feed on the marsh grass by its banks ; then
seven of the leanest and most ill-looking heifers I had ever seen
came up after them, and devoured the others." In his second
dream, he saw seven full ears of corn devoured by seven that were
thin and blasted. Joseph explained to the king that the dream
had been twofold, to mark its certain and speedy fulfillment ; that
the seven heifers and the seven ears of corn had the same mean-
ing ; and that God had taken this way of showing to the king what
He was about to do. The seven fat heifers and the seven full ears
denoted seven years of great abundance, which nevertheless should
be forgotten by reason of the severity of the famine which should
come in the next seven years after them, denoted by the lean and
ill-looking heifers, and the blasted ears of corn. He then advised
Pharaoh to appoint a wise and discreet minister over his whole
kingdom, who should send officers into every part of the land to
store up a fifth part of all the corn of the seven years of plenty
against the seven years of famine. "And the thing was good in
the eyes of Pharaoh and of all his servants." Can we find another
man like this, said the king, in whom is the Spirit of God ? Feel-
ing that no man could be more fit for the office than Joseph him-
self, he said to him, "See, I have set thee over all the land of
Egypt." He then took off his own signet-ring and gave, it to him.
Clothing him with fine linen robes and putting a collar of gold
round his neck, he seated him in the second royal chariot, before
which the people were bidden to fall prostrate. Thus Joseph was
made ruler over all the land of Egypt, with authority next to that
of the king himself. Pharaoh changed his name to ZAPHNATH-
PAANEAH, which perhaps signified, in Egyptian, the preserver of life,
and gave him for wife Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah, priest
(or prince) of On, who bore him two sons during the seven years
of plenty. The elder he named MANASSKH (forgetting), and the
younger EPHRAIM (double fruitfulness).
Joseph was thirty years old when he was made governor over all
Egypt (Gen. xli. 46). The first thing he did was to go through the
country. During his progress, he gave instructions for granaries
to be built in the principal cities, and appointed officers whom he
charged with the duty of buying up one-fifth of the produce of the
land during the seven years of plenty, and storing it away for use
during the years of famine. When the seven years of dearth began
to come, the Egyptians quickly used up their private stores. Joseph
then opened all the store-houses and sold corn to them ; and as tlm
B.C. 1822-1635. HISTORY OF JOSEPH. 51
famine was sore in all the neighboring countries, people from Ca-
naan, and the nations round about, went down into Egypt to buy
corn (Gen. xli. 47-57).
These seven years of famine had the most important bearing on
the chosen family of Israel. When all the corn in Canaan was
gone, Jacob sent down ten of his sons into Egypt to buy corn there ;
but Benjamin, Joseph's brother, he sent not with them, "lest mis-
chief should befall him." Probably he was unwilling to trust;
Rachel's remaining child with his brethren. When Joseph saw
them, he knew them, but they knew not him. He spake roughly
to them, and charged them with being spies, come down to see the
nakedness of the land. To test their truthfulness, he at first de-
manded that one of them should be sent to fetch their youngest
brother ; but, after keeping them three days in prison, he changed
his mind, and said, " Let one of your number remain as a hostage,
and let the rest return with the corn you have purchased for your
houses, but bring your youngest brother back with you to verify
your words." Then his brethren remembered the crime which they
had committed in selling Joseph into slavery, and they said one to
another, " We are verily guilty concerning our brother, therefore is
this distress come upon us." Joseph then, having taken Simeon and
bound him before their eyes, commanded his servants to fill their
sacks with corn, to restore every mnn's money into his sack, and to
give them provision for the way, and afterwards they departed.
They returned unto their father in the land of Canaan, and told
him all that had befallen them. When they emptied their sacks,
they found every man's bundle of money in his sack, and were
afraid. They asked their father to intrust Benjamin to their care ;
but he replied, " Me have ye bereaved of my children ; Joseph is
not, and Simeon 4 s not, and ye will take Benjamin away. All
these things are against me." "My father," said Reuben, "slay
my two sons if I bring him not to thee ; deliver him into my hand,
and I will bring him to thee again." "No," said Jacob, "my
son shall not go down with you ; for his brother is dead, and he is
left alone : if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go,
then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave '
<.Gen. xlii. 1-38).
The famine, however, was sore in the land of Canaan. When
they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt,
their father said to them, " Go again, buy us a little food." " If
thou wilt send our brother with us," said Judah, " we will go down
and buy thee food ; but if thou wilt not send him, we will not go
down, for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face except
your brother be wit> you." " Why dealt ye so ill with me," Israel
52 SCRIPTURE HISTORY. CHAP. III.
said, "as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?" At
length their father consented. "If it must be so now," he said.
" do this ; take of the best fruits in the land, and carry down the
man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices and myrrh,
nuts and almonds. Take double money in your hand, and the
money that was brought back in the mouth of your sacks perad-
venture it was an oversight. Take also your brother, and go again
unto the man. And may God Almighty give you grace before
the man that he may send away your other brother and Benjamin.
If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved."
And the men returned to Egypt and stood before Joseph. As
soon as he saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his
bouse, " Bring these men home and make ready, for these men
shall dine with me at noon." At first they were afraid ; but their
fears were soon dispelled, and Simeon was brought out to them.
When Joseph came home, they made obeisance to him, and pro-
duced the presents they had brought with them. He asked them
of their welfare, and said, " Is your father well, the old man of
whom ye spake? Is he yet alive ?" He then saw his brother
Benjamin, his mother's son, and said, "Is this your younger broth-
er, of whom ye spake unto me ? God be gracious unto thee, my
son." His yearning fondness for his brother moved him to tears,
and he entered into his chamber and wept there. Then their din-
ner was served to each at separate tables, at which they were ar-
ranged strictly in accordance with their several ages. But Benja-
min's mess was five times as much as any of theirs (Gen. xliii.).
Desirous of putting them to one more trial, Joseph commanded
the steward of his house to fill the men's sacks with food, to put
every man's money in his sack's mouth, and to put his silver cup
in the sack's mouth of the youngest. His orders were executed ;
and in the morning, as soon as it was light, the men were sent
away. They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to
his steward, " Up, follow after the men, and say, Why have ye re-
warded evil for good ? The cup you have stolen is one in which
my lord urinketh, and whereby he divineth. " " God forbid," they
replied, " that thy servants should do this thing. With whomsoever
it shall be found, let him die, and we also will become thy lord's
bondmen." The cup was found in Benjamin's sack. At once
they rent their clothes and returned to the city. Judah and his
brethren made their way to Joseph's house and fell before him
on the ground. "What shall we say unto my lord?" he said.
" How shall we clear ourselves ? Behold we are all my lord's sen -
ants." "God forbid that I should do so," said Joseph. " The
man in whose hand tae cup is fouud, he shall be my servant."
B.C. 1822-1635. JACOB SENT FOR BY JOSEPH. 53
Then Judah came near to him, and with most moving eloquence
told his artless talc, offering to become a bondman instead of
Benjamin, and pleading with unequalled earnestness and filial af-
fection that the lad might be sent back to his father. " It shall
come to pass," he said, " that, as his life is bound up in the lad's
life, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, he will die ; and thy
servants shall bring, down the gray hairs of our father with sorrow
to the grave " (Gen. xliv.).
Joseph was unable to resist this touching appeal. He could not
refrain himself, but wept aloud, and said unto his brethren, " I am
Joseph. Doth my father yet live ?" They could not answer him,
for they were troubled at his presence. But no word of upbraid-
ing or of reproach fell from his lips. " Be not grieved or angry
with yourselves," he said, " that ye sold me hither. It was not you
that sent me hither, but God. Hasten back to my father, and say
unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of
all Egypt : come down unto me, tarry not. And thou shall dwell
in the land of Goshen, and be near unto me." Then he fell upon
his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his
neck. Moreover, he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them.
It was soon known in Pharaoh's house that Joseph's brethren
were come ; and the king and his servants were glad. Joseph then
sent wagons for his father and his household, with rich presents,
and to all his brethren he gave changes of raiment. And they
returned to the land of Canaan, and said to their father, " Joseph
is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt." But
Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not at first, until he had
seen the wagons sent for 1 him, and then his spirit revived, and he
said, " It is enough, Joseph my son is yet alive. I will go and see
him before I die " (Gen. xlv.).
Though at that time about one hundred and thirty years old,
Jacob's eager desire to see the son for whom he had so long
mourned induced him to go down at once, with all that he had.
into Egypt. On his way, he rested at Beer-sheba, and offered sac
rifices unto the God of hi3 father Isaac. There God encouraged
him by a vision, commanding him to go down, and promising to
bring him up again in the person of his descendants, and assuring
him that his eyes should be closed by Joseph (Gen. xlvi. 4). So
he went down, with his sons and their wives and children, and all
their cattle. The number of his own descendants who went down
with him into Egypt was sixty-six; to these must be added Jacob
himself, with Joseph and his two sons. Thus "all the souls of
the house of Jacob which cnme with him into Egypt were three-
score and ten " (Gen. xlvi. 27).
64 SCRIPTURE HISTORY. CHAP. Ill
Just before reaching the land of Goshen a province on the ex-
treme frontier of Egypt, towards Canaan Jacob sent Judah on in
advance, to acquaint Joseph with his arrival. Joseph immediately
went to meet his father ; and when he saw him he fell on his neck,
and wept on his neck a good while. "Now," said Israel, "let
me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive '
(Gen. xlvi. 30). Joseph then went and told Pharaoh that his fa-
ther and his brethren had come out of the land of Canaan, and he
presented five of them to him. The king, when he found that they
were shepherds, a class held in abomination by the Egyptians, gare
them for their separate abode the land of Goshen, which was the
best pasture-ground in all Egypt. Joseph then brought his father
into the presence of Pharaoh, and "Jacob blessed Pharaoh.''
"How old art thou?" said the king to him. "The days of my
pilgrimage," he answered, "are one hundred and thirty years:
few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, nor have
they attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in
the days of their pilgrimage'' (Gen. xlvii. 9). These words furnish
a testimony to the gradual decline of human life, and are a mem-
orable example of how the patriarchs confessed that they were
strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Heb. xi. 13).
The removal of the chosen family from Canaan, and their settle-
ment in Egypt, formed a part of the great plan which God had un-
folded to their forefather Abraham (Gen. xv. 13). Two hundred
years had passed away since God had said, " Unto thy seed will 1
give this land," and as yet they had no possessions in the land of
Canaan. In Egypt, under the discipline of affliction, the family
was to be consolidated into a nation. Then God's words would
meet with their fulfillment, and the Israelites would enter on the
possession of their promised inheritance.
After dwelling in the land of Goshen for seventeen vears in com-
fort and prosperity, "the time drew nigh that Israel must die."
As his end npproachetl, he sent for Joseph, and made him swear
that he would not bury him in Egypt, but would take him to the
Promised Land, and " bury him in the burying-placc of his fathers,' 1
in the cave of Machpelah. In thanksgiving to God for the mercies
vouchsafed to him during a troubled life, and for the solemn assur-
ance given to him by his son that he should be "gathered to his
fathers," Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head (Gen. xlvii. 31)
and worshipped (Heb. xi. 21).
Not long afterwards Joseph heard that his father was sick, and
went with his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to visit him.
When Jacob heard that he was come, his strength revived, and he
got up in his bed to receive him. 1 The dying patriarch claimed
B.C. 1822-1635. DEATH OF JACOB. 55
Ephraim and Manasseh for his own children, and henceforth they \
were numbered among the heads of the tribes of Israel. HiS"^
thoughts then went back to the glorious promises God had once
made to him at the crisis of his religious life, when he lay down to
rest a forlorn wanderer at Luz (Bethel)! And then they turned to
the death of his beloved Rachel on his return from Padan, and to
her burial near Ephrath (Bethlehem). His eyes being dim from
age, he did not at first see Joseph's two sons ; but when they were
brought near to him, ho kissed them and embraced them, fondly
saying to Joseph, " I had not thought to see thy face ; and, lo, God
hath showed me thy seed also" (Gen. xlviii. 11). Joseph, having
received his father's blessing, then took his two sons, and, bowing
himself with his face to the earth, placed Manasseh the elder at Ja-
cob's right hand and Ephraim the younger at his left. Jacob, how-
ever, crossing his arms, laid his right hand upon the younger, and
his left upon the elder, and, disregarding Joseph's opposition, he
gave the larger and nobler blessing to Ephraim the younger. " Tru-
ly." said he, " the younger brother shall be greater than the elder,
and his seed shall become a multitude of nations" (Gen, xlviii.
19). Thus was added another instance of God's sovereign choice ~l
to the examples of Abel, Shem, Abram, Isaac, who, like the patri- /
arch Jacob himself, were all younger sons.
Having given his separate and special blessing to Joseph him-
self and his two sons, and bestowed upon Joseph an extra portion
above his brethren (Gen. xlviii. 22), thus marking him as his heir,
he called together all his sons to hear the last words of Israel their
father, that he might tell them what would befall them in the last
days (Gen. xlix.).
It is evident that the blessings and the prophecies of the dying
patriarch were a formal appointment of his twelve sons to be the
twelve heads of the chosen race, and that they had respect to the