Story Sixteen

 •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 5
THE men who bought Jṓ s̝eph from his brothers were called Ĭsh́ ma-el-ītes, because they belonged to the family of Ĭsh́ ma-el, who, you remember, was the son of Hā́ gar, the servant of Sā́ rah. These men carried Jṓ s̝eph southward over the plain which lies beside the great sea on the west of Cā́ năan; and after many days they brought Jṓ s̝eph to Ḗ ġy̆pt. How strange it must have seemed to the boy who had lived in tents, to see the great river Nile, and the Cities, thronged with people, and the temples, and the mighty pyramids!
The Ĭsh́ ma-el-ītes sold Jó̄ s̝eph as a slave to a man named Pŏt́ ĭ-phar, who was an officer in the army of Phā́ raōh, the king of Ḗ ġy̆pt. Jṓ s̝eph was a beautiful boy, cheerful and willing in spirit, and able in all that he undertook; so that his master, Pŏt́ ĭ-phar, became very friendly with him, and after a time he placed Jṓ s̝eph in charge of his house, and everything in it. For some years Jṓ s̝eph continued in the house of Pŏt́ ĭ-phar, a slave in name, but in reality the master of all his affairs, and ruler over his fellow-servants.
But Pŏt́ ĭphar's wife, who at first was very friendly to Jṓ s̝eph, afterward became his enemy, because Jṓ s̞eph would not do wrong to please her. She told her husband falsely that Jṓ s̞eph had done a wicked deed. Her husband believed her, and was very angry at Jṓ s̝eph, and put him in the prison with those who had been sent to that place for breaking the laws of the land. How hard it was for Jṓ s̝eph to be charged with a crime, when he had done no wrong, and to be thrust into a dark prison among wicked people!
But Jṓ s̝eph had faith in God, that at some time all would came out right; and in the prison he was cheerful, and kind, and helpful, as he had always been. The keeper of the prison saw that Jṓ s̝eph was not like the other men around him, and he was kind to Jṓ s̝eph.
In a very little while Jṓ s̝eph was placed in charge of all his fellow-prisoners, and took care of them; just as he had taken care of everything in Pŏt́ ĭ-phar's house. The keeper of the prison scarcely looked into the prison at all, for he had confidence in Jṓ s̝eph, that he would be faithful and wise in doing the work given to him. Jṓ s̝eph did right, and served God; and God blessed Jṓ s̝eph in everything.
While Jṓ s̝eph was in the prison, two men were sent there by the king of Ḗ ġy̆pt, because he was displeased with them. One was the king's chief butler, who served the king with wine; the other was the chief baker, who served him with bread. These two men were under Jṓ s̞eph's care, and Jṓ s̝eph waited on them, for they were men of rank.
One morning, when Jṓ s̝eph came into the room in the prison where the butler and the baker were kept, he found them looking quite sad. Jṓ s̝eph said to them:
"Why do you look so sad to-day?" Jṓ s̝eph was cheerful and happy in his spirit, and he wished others to be happy, even in prison.
And one of the men said, "Each one of us dreamed last night a very strange dream; and there is no one to tell us what our dreams mean.”
For in those times, before God gave the Bible to men, he often spoke to men in dreams; and there were wise men, who could sometimes tell what the dreams meant.
"Tell me," said Jṓ s̝eph, "what your dreams were. Perhaps my God will help me to understand them.”
Then the chief butler told his dream. He said, "In my dream I saw a grape-vine with three branches; and as I looked the branches shot out buds, and the buds became blossoms, and the blossoms turned into clusters of ripe grapes. And I picked the grapes, and squeezed their juice into King Phā́ raōh's cup, and it became wine; and I gave it to King Phā́ raōh to drink, just as I used to do when I was beside his table.”
Then Jṓ s̝eph said, "This is what your dream means. The three branches mean three days. In three days King Phā́ raōh will call you out of prison, and will put you back in your place; and you shall stand at his table, and shall give him his wine, as you have given it before. But when you go out of prison, please to remember me, and try to find some way to get me, too, out of this prison. For I was stolen out of the land of Cā́ năan, and sold as a slave; and I have done nothing wrong, to deserve being put in this prison. Do speak to the king for me, that I may be set free.”
Of course the chief butler felt very happy to hear that his dream had so pleasant a meaning; and then the chief baker spoke, hoping to have an answer as good.
"In my dream," said the baker, "there were three baskets of white bread on my head, one above the other, and on the topmost basket were all kinds of roasted meat and food for Phā́ raōh; and the birds came, and ate the food from the baskets on my head.”
And Jṓ s̝eph said to the baker:
"This is the meaning of your dream, and I am sorry to tell it to you. The three baskets are three days. In three days, by order of the king, you shall be lifted up, and hanged upon a tree; and the birds shall eat your flesh from your bones as you are hanging in the air.”
And it came to pass, just as Jṓ s̝eph had said. Three days after that, King Phā́ raōh sent his officers to the prison. They came and took out both the chief butler and the chief baker. The baker they hung up by his neck to die, and left his body for the birds to pick in pieces. The chief butler they brought back to his old place, where he waited at the king's table, and handed him his wine to drink.
You would have supposed that the butler would remember Jṓ s̝eph, who had given him the promise of freedom, and had shown such wisdom. But in his gladness, he forgot all about Jṓ s̝eph. And two full years passed by, while Jṓ s̝eph was still in prison, until he was a man thirty years old.
But one night, King Phā́ raōh himself dreamed a dream, in fact two dreams in one. And in the morning he sent for all the wise men of Ḗ ġy̆pt, and told them his dreams; but there was not a man who could give the meaning of them. And the king was troubled, for he felt that the dreams had some meaning, which it was important for him to know.
Then suddenly the chief butler, who was by the king's table, remembered his own dream, in the prison two years before, and remembered, too, the young man who had told its meaning so exactly. And he said:
"I do remember my faults this day. Two years ago King Phā́ raōh was angry with his servants, with me and the chief baker, and he sent us to the prison. While we were in the prison, one night each of us dreamed a dream, and the next day a young man in the prison, a Hḗ brew from the land of Cā́ năan, told us what our dreams meant; and in three days they came true, just as the Hḗ brew had said. I think that, if this young man is in the prison still, he could tell the king the meaning of his dreams.”
You notice that the butler spoke of Jṓ s̞eph as "a Hḗ brew." The people of Ĭś̝ ra-el, to whom Jṓ s̝eph belonged, were called Hebrews as well as Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes. The word Hḗ brew means "one who crossed over," and was given to the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes because Ā́ bră-hăm their father had come from a land on the other side of the river Eū-phrā́ tēs̝, and had crossed over the river on his way to Cá năan.
Then King Phā́ raōh sent in haste to the prison for Jṓ s̝eph; and Jṓ s̝eph was taken out, and he was dressed in new garments, and was led in to Phā́ raōh in the palace. And Phā́ raōh said to Jṓ s̝eph: "I have dreamed a dream, and there is no one who can tell what it means. And I have been told that you have power to understand dreams and what they mean.”
And Jṓ s̝eph answered Phā́ raōh: "The power is not in me; but God will give Phā́ raōh a good answer. What is the dream that the king has dreamed?”
"In my first dream,” said Phā́ raōh, "I was standing by the river; and I saw seven fat and handsome cows come up from the river to feed in the grass. And while they were feeding, seven other cows followed them up from the river, very thin, and poor, and lean, such miserable creatures as I had never seen. And the seven lean cows ate up the seven fat cows; and after they had eaten them, they were as lean and miserable as before. Then awoke.
“And I fell asleep again, and dreamed again. In my second dream, I saw seven heads of grain growing upon one stalk, large, and strong, and good. And then seven heads came up after them, that were thin, and poor, and withered. And the seven thin heads swallowed up the seven good heads, and afterward were as poor and withered as before.
"And I told these two dreams to all the wise men, and there is no one who can tell me their meaning. Can you tell me what these dreams mean?”
And Joseph said to the king:
"The two dreams have the same meaning. God has been showing to King Phā́ raōh what he will do in this land. The seven good cows mean seven years, and the seven good heads of grain mean the same seven years. The seven lean cows, and the seven thin heads of grain also mean seven years. The good cows and the good grain mean seven years of plenty, and the seven thin cows and thin heads of grain mean seven poor years. There are coming upon the land of Ḗ ġy̆pt seven years of such plenty as have never been seen; when the fields shall bring greater crops than ever before; and after those years shall come seven years when the fields shall bring no crops at all. And then for seven years there shall be such need, that the years of plenty will be forgotten, for the people will have nothing to eat.
"Now, let King Phā́ raōh' find some man who is able and wise, and let him set this man to rule over the land. And during the seven years of plenty, let a part of the crops be put away for the years of need. If this shall be done, then when the years of need come there will be plenty of food for all the people, and no one will suffer, for all will have enough.”
And King Phā́ raōh said to Jṓ s̝eph:
"Since God has shown you all this; there is no other man as wise as you. I will appoint you to do this work, and to rule over the land of É̄ ġy̆pt. All the people shall be under you; only on the throne of É̄ ġy̆pt, I will be above you.”
And Phā́ raōh took from his own hand the ring which held his seal, and put it on Jṓ s̞eph's hand, so that he could sign for the king, and seal in the king's place. And he dressed Jṓ s̝eph in robes of fine linen, and put around his neck a gold chain. And he made Jṓ s̝eph ride in a chariot which was next in rank to his own. And they cried out before Jṓ s̞eph, "Bow the knee." And thus Jṓ s̞eph was ruler over all the land of É̄ ġy̆pt.
So the slave boy, who was sent to prison without deserving it, came out of prison to be a prince and a master over all the land. You see that God had not forgotten Jṓ s̝eph, even when he seemed to have left him to suffer.
Lesson 7. Joseph in Egypt.
(Tell Stories 15 and 16.)
1. Who was Joseph? One of the younger sons of Jacob.
2. How did Jacob feel toward Joseph? He loved Joseph more than his older sons.
3. How did Joseph’s older brothers feel toward him? They hated him.
4. How did Joseph’s brothers treat Joseph? They sold him for a slave.
5. To what land was Joseph taken and sold? To the land of Egypt.
6. How was Joseph treated as a slave in Egypt? He was put in prison.
7. What is told of Joseph in the prison? "The Lord was with Joseph.”
8. Who sent for Joseph in the prison? Pharaoh, the King of Egypt.
9. What did Joseph do for Pharaoh? He told him the meaning of his dreams.
10. What did Joseph tell Pharaoh were coming upon the land? Seven years of great plenty.
11. What would come after the seven years of plenty? Seven years of great need.
12. What did King Pharaoh do, when he heard these things? He made Joseph ruler over all the land.