Story Fifteen

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 5
AFTER Jā́ cob came back to the land of Cā́ năan with his eleven sons, another son was born to him, the second child of his wife Rā́ chel, whom Jā́ cob loved so well. You remember we told in Story Thirteen how long Jā́ cob worked for Lā́ ban caring for his sheep and oxen in order that he might have Rā́ chel for his wife.
But now a great sorrow was to come to Jā́ cob, for soon after the baby came, his mother Rā́ chel died, and Jā́ cob was filled with sorrow. Even to this day you can see the place where. Rachel was buried on the road between Jē̇-rṳ́ sa-lĕm and Bĕth́˗hem. Jā́cob named the child whom Rā́chel left, Bĕńja-mĭn; and now Jā́ cob had twelve sons. Most of them were grownup men, but Jṓ s̞eph was a boy, seventeen years old, and his brother Bĕń ja-mĭn was almost a baby.
Of all his children, Jā́ cob loved Jṓ s̝eph the best, because he was Rā́ chel's child, because he was so much younger than most of his brothers, and because he was good, and faithful, and thoughtful. Jā́ cob gave to Jṓ s̝eph a robe or coat of bright color made somewhat like a long cloak with wide sleeves. This was a special mark of Jā́ cob's favor to Jṓ s̝eph, and it made his older brothers very envious of him.
Then, too, Jṓ s̝eph did what was right, while his older brothers often did very wrong acts, of which Joseph sometimes told their father, and this made them very angry at Jṓ s̝eph. But they hated him still more because of two strange dreams that he had, and of which he told them. He said one day:
"Listen to this dream that I have dreamed. I dreamed that we were out in the field binding sheaves, when suddenly my sheaf stood up, and all your sheaves came around it, and bowed down to my sheaf." And they said, scornfully, "Do you suppose that the dream means that you will some time rule over us, and that we shall bow down to you?" Then a few days after Jṓ s̝eph said, "I have dreamed again. This time I saw in my dream the sun and the moon and eleven stars all come and bow down to me.”
And his father said to him, "I do not like you to dream such dreams. Shall I, and your mother, and your brothers, come and bow down before you, as if you were a king?”
His brothers hated Jṓ s̝eph, and would not speak kindly to him; but his father thought much of what Jṓ s̞eph had said.
At one time, Jṓ s̝eph's ten older brothers were taking care of the flock in the fields near Shḗ chem, which was nearly fifty miles from Hḗ bron, where Jā́ cob's tents were spread. And Jā́ cob wished to send a message to his sons, and he called Jṓ s̝eph, and said to him, "Your brothers are near Shḗ chem with the flock. I wish that you would go to them, and take a message, and find if they are well, and if the flocks are doing well; and bring me word from them.”
That was quite an errand for a boy to go alone over the country, and find his way, for fifty miles, and then walk home again. But Jṓ s̝eph was a boy that could take care of himself, and could be trusted; so he went forth on his journey, walking northward over the mountains, past Bĕth́-lĕ-hĕm, and Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇,-lĕm, and Bĕth́-el,—though we are not sure that any of those cities were then built, except Jē̇-rṳ́ sa-lĕm, which we know was already a strong city.
When Jṓ s̞eph reached Shḗ chem he could not find his brothers, for they had taken their flocks to another place. A man met Jṓ s̝eph wandering in the field, and asked him, "Whom are you seeking?"
Jṓ s̝eph said, "I am looking for my brothers, the sons of Jā́ cob. Can you tell me where I will find them?" And the man said, "They are at Dṓ than; for I heard them say that they were going there.” Then Jṓ s̝eph walked over the hills to Dṓ than, which was fifteen miles further. And his brothers saw him afar off coming towards them. They knew him by his bright garment; and one said to another: "Look, that dreamer is coming!
Come, let us kill him, and throw his body into a pit, and tell his father that some wild beast has eaten him; and then we will see what becomes of his dreams.”
One of his brothers, whose name was Reṳ́ ben, felt more kindly toward Jṓ s̞eph than the others; but he did not dare to oppose the others openly. Reṳ́ ben said:
"Let us not kill him; but let us throw him into this pit, here in the wilderness, and leave him there to die.”
But Reṳ́ ben intended, after they had gone away, to lift Jṓ s̝eph out of the pit, and take him home to his father. The brothers did as Reṳ́ ben told them; they threw Jṓ s̝eph into the pit, which was empty. He cried, and begged them to save him, but they would not. They calmly sat down to eat their dinner on the grass, while their brother was calling to them from the pit.
After the dinner, Reṳ́ ben chanced to go to another part of the field, so that he was not at hand when a company of men passed by with their camels, going from Gĭĺ e-ăd, on the east of the river Jôŕ dan, to Ḗ ġy̆pt, to sell spices and fragrant gum from trees to the Ē-ġy̆ṕ tians̞. Then Judah, another of Jṓ s̝eph’s brothers, said, "What good will it do us to kill our brother? Would it not be better for us to sell him to these men, and let them carry him away? After all, he is our brother, and we would better not kill him?" His brothers agreed with him; so they stopped the men who were passing, and drew up Jṓ s̝eph from the pit; and for twenty pieces of silver, they sold Jṓ s̝eph to these men; and they took him away with them down to Ḗ ġy̆pt.
After a while, Reṳ́ben came to the pit, where he had left Jṓs̝eph, and looked into it; but Joseph was not there. Then Reṳ́ben was in great trouble, and he came back to his brothers saying, "The boy is not there! What shall I do?”
Then his brothers told Reṳ́ ben what they had done, and they all agreed together to deceive their father. They killed one of the goats, and dipped Jṓ s̝eph's coat in its blood, and they brought it to their father, and they said to him, "We found this coat out in the wilderness. Look at it, and, see if you think it was your son's." And Jā́ cob knew it at once. He said, "It is my son's coat. Some wild beast has eaten him. There is no doubt that Jṓ s̝eph has been torn in pieces!”
And Jā́cob's heart was broken over the loss of Jṓ s̝eph, all the more because he had sent Jṓ s̝eph alone on the journey through the wilderness. They tried to comfort him, but he would not be comforted. He said:
"I will go down to the grave mourning for my poor lost son." So the old man sorrowed for his son Jṓ s̝eph; and all the time his wicked brothers knew that Jṓ s̝eph was not dead; but they would not tell their father the dreadful deed that they had done to their brother, in selling him as a slave.