This article is part of a series of Bible passages, which together are mainly about how the Bible says the Jewish race developed and were given laws, how they settled in ancient Israel, and how it says God sometimes punished them for disobeying his commands, which led to them changing their ways.
This is Part 1 (of 2) in Section 2: "The famous story of Joseph".
Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.
Genesis chapter 37 (NIV)
1 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.
2 This is the account of Jacob.
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it."
8 His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father's flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, "As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them."
"Very well," he replied.
14 So he said to him, "Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me." Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, "What are you looking for?" 16 He replied, "I'm looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?" 17 "They have moved on from here," the man answered. "I heard them say, 'Let's go to Dothan.' " So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 "Here comes that dreamer!" they said to each other. 20 "Come now, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we'll see what comes of his dreams."
21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. "Let's not take his life," he said. 22 "Don't shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don't lay a hand on him." Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe-the richly ornamented robe he was wearing- 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, "What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood." His brothers agreed. 28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, "The boy isn't there! Where can I turn now?"
31 Then they got Joseph's robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornamented robe back to their father and said, "We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son's robe." 33 He recognized it and said, "It is my son's robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces."
34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. "No," he said, "in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son." So his father wept for him.
36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard.
Genesis chapter 38 (NLT)
1 About this time, Judah left home and moved to Adullam, where he visited a man named Hirah. 2 There he met a Canaanite woman, the daughter of Shua, and he married her. 3 She became pregnant and had a son, and Judah named the boy Er. 4 Then Judah's wife had another son, and she named him Onan. 5 And when she had a third son, she named him Shelah. At the time of Shelah's birth, they were living at Kezib.
6 When his oldest son, Er, grew up, Judah arranged his marriage to a young woman named Tamar. 7 But Er was a wicked man in the LORD's sight, so the LORD took his life. 8 Then Judah said to Er's brother Onan, "You must marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. Her first son from you will be your brother's heir." 9 But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with Tamar, he spilled the semen on the ground to keep her from having a baby who would belong to his brother. 10 But the LORD considered it a wicked thing for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the LORD took Onan's life, too. 11 Then Judah told Tamar, his daughter-in-law, not to marry again at that time but to return to her parents' home. She was to remain a widow until his youngest son, Shelah, was old enough to marry her. (But Judah didn't really intend to do this because he was afraid Shelah would also die, like his two brothers.) So Tamar went home to her parents.
Genesis chapter 38 (TEV)
12 After some time Judah's wife died. When he had finished the time of mourning, he and his friend Hirah of Adullam went to Timnah, where his sheep were being sheared. 13 Someone told Tamar that her father-in-law was going to Timnah to shear his sheep. 14 So she changed from the widow's clothes she had been wearing, covered her face with a veil, and sat down at the entrance to Enaim, a town on the road to Timnah. As she well knew, Judah's youngest son Shelah was now grown up, and yet she had not been given to him in marriage.
15 When Judah saw her, he thought that she was a prostitute, because she had her face covered. 16 He went over to her at the side of the road and said, "All right, how much do you charge?" (He did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.)
She said, "What will you give me?" 17 He answered, "I will send you a young goat from my flock."
She said, "All right, if you will give me something to keep as a pledge until you send the goat."
18 "What shall I give you as a pledge?" he asked.
She answered, "Your seal with its cord and the walking stick you are carrying." He gave them to her. Then they had intercourse, and she became pregnant.
19 Tamar went home, took off her veil, and put her widow's clothes back on. 20 Judah sent his friend Hirah to take the goat and get back from the woman the articles he had pledged, but Hirah could not find her. 21 He asked some men at Enaim, "Where is the prostitute who was here by the road?"
"There has never been a prostitute here," they answered. 22 He returned to Judah and said, "I couldn't find her. The men of the place said that there had never been a prostitute there."
23 Judah said, "Let her keep the things. We don't want people to laugh at us. I did try to pay her, but you couldn't find her."
Genesis chapter 38 (NLT)
24 About three months later, word reached Judah that Tamar, his daughter-in-law, was pregnant as a result of prostitution.
"Bring her out and burn her!" Judah shouted.
25 But as they were taking her out to kill her, she sent this message to her father-in-law: "The man who owns this identification seal and walking stick is the father of my child. Do you recognize them?"
26 Judah admitted that they were his and said, "She is more in the right than I am, because I didn't keep my promise to let her marry my son Shelah." But Judah never slept with Tamar again.
27 In due season the time of Tamar's delivery arrived, and she had twin sons. 28 As they were being born, one of them reached out his hand, and the midwife tied a scarlet thread around the wrist of the child who appeared first, saying, "This one came out first." 29 But then he drew back his hand, and the other baby was actually the first to be born. "What!" the midwife exclaimed. "How did you break out first?" And ever after, he was called Perez. 30 Then the baby with the scarlet thread on his wrist was born, and he was named Zerah.
Genesis chapter 39 (TEV)
1 Now the Ishmaelites had taken Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, one of the king's officers, who was the captain of the palace guard. 2 The Lord was with Joseph and made him successful. He lived in the house of his Egyptian master, 3 who saw that the Lord was with Joseph and had made him successful in everything he did. 4 Potiphar was pleased with him and made him his personal servant; so he put him in charge of his house and everything he owned. 5 From then on, because of Joseph the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian and everything that he had in his house and in his fields. 6 Potiphar turned over everything he had to the care of Joseph and did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
Joseph was well-built and good-looking, 7 and after a while his master's wife began to desire Joseph and asked him to go to bed with her. 8 He refused and said to her, "Look, my master does not have to concern himself with anything in the house, because I am here. He has put me in charge of everything he has. 9 I have as much authority in this house as he has, and he has not kept back anything from me except you. How then could I do such an immoral thing and sin against God?" 10 Although she asked Joseph day after day, he would not go to bed with her. 11 But one day when Joseph went into the house to do his work, none of the house servants was there. 12 She caught him by his robe and said, "Come to bed with me." But he escaped and ran outside, leaving his robe in her hand.
13 When she saw that he had left his robe and had run out of the house, 14 she called to her house servants and said, "Look at this! This Hebrew that my husband brought to the house is insulting us. He came into my room and tried to rape me, but I screamed as loud as I could. 15 When he heard me scream, he ran outside, leaving his robe beside me."
16 She kept his robe with her until Joseph's master came home. 17 Then she told him the same story: "That Hebrew slave that you brought here came into my room and insulted me. 18 But when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his robe beside me."
19 Joseph's master was furious 20 and had Joseph arrested and put in the prison where the king's prisoners were kept, and there he stayed. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and blessed him, so that the jailer was pleased with him. 22 He put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and made him responsible for everything that was done in the prison. 23 The jailer did not have to look after anything for which Joseph was responsible, because the Lord was with Joseph and made him succeed in everything he did.
Genesis chapter 40 (TEV)
1 Some time later the king of Egypt's wine steward and his chief baker offended the king. 2 He was angry with these two officials 3 and put them in prison in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same place where Joseph was being kept. 4 They spent a long time in prison, and the captain assigned Joseph as their servant.
5 One night there in prison the wine steward and the chief baker each had a dream, and the dreams had different meanings. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were upset. 7 He asked them, "Why do you look so worried today?" 8 They answered, "Each of us had a dream, and there is no one here to explain what the dreams mean."
"It is God who gives the ability to interpret dreams," Joseph said. "Tell me your dreams."
9 So the wine steward said, "In my dream there was a grapevine in front of me 10 with three branches on it. As soon as the leaves came out, the blossoms appeared, and the grapes ripened. 11 I was holding the king's cup; so I took the grapes and squeezed them into the cup and gave it to him."
12 Joseph said, "This is what it means: the three branches are three days. 13 In three days the king will release you, pardon you, and restore you to your position. You will give him his cup as you did before when you were his wine steward. 14 But please remember me when everything is going well for you, and please be kind enough to mention me to the king and help me get out of this prison. 15 After all, I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here in Egypt I didn't do anything to deserve being put in prison."
16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation of the wine steward's dream was favorable, he said to Joseph, "I had a dream too; I was carrying three breadbaskets on my head. 17 In the top basket there were all kinds of baked goods for the king, and the birds were eating them."
18 Joseph answered, "This is what it means: the three baskets are three days. 19 In three days the king will release you-and have your head cut off! Then he will hang your body on a pole, and the birds will eat your flesh."
20 On his birthday three days later the king gave a banquet for all his officials; he released his wine steward and his chief baker and brought them before his officials. 21 He restored the wine steward to his former position, 22 but he executed the chief baker. It all happened just as Joseph had said.
23 But the wine steward never gave Joseph another thought-he forgot all about him.
Genesis chapter 41 (TEV)
1 After two years had passed, the king of Egypt dreamed that he was standing by the Nile River, 2 when seven cows, fat and sleek, came up out of the river and began to feed on the grass. 3 Then seven other cows came up; they were thin and bony. They came and stood by the other cows on the riverbank, 4 and the thin cows ate up the fat cows. Then the king woke up. 5 He fell asleep again and had another dream. Seven heads of grain, full and ripe, were growing on one stalk. 6 Then seven other heads of grain sprouted, thin and scorched by the desert wind, 7 and the thin heads of grain swallowed the full ones. The king woke up and realized that he had been dreaming. 8 In the morning he was worried, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. He told them his dreams, but no one could explain them to him.
9 Then the wine steward said to the king, "I must confess today that I have done wrong. 10 You were angry with the chief baker and me, and you put us in prison in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 One night each of us had a dream, and the dreams had different meanings. 12 A young Hebrew was there with us, a slave of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us. 13 Things turned out just as he said: you restored me to my position, but you executed the baker."
Genesis chapter 41 (GWT)
14 Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and immediately he was brought from the prison. After he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came in front of Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream, and no one can tell me what it means. I heard that when you are told a dream, you can say what it means." 16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, "I can't, but God can give Pharaoh the answer that he needs."
17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile. 18 Suddenly, seven nice-looking, well-fed cows came up from the river and began to graze among the reeds. 19 Seven other cows came up behind them. These cows were scrawny, very sick, and thin. I've never seen such sickly cows in all of Egypt! 20 The thin, sickly cows ate up the seven well-fed ones. 21 Even though they had eaten them, no one could tell they had eaten them. They looked just as sick as before. Then I woke up. 22 "In my second dream I saw seven good, full heads of grain growing on a single stalk. 23 Seven other heads of grain, withered, thin, and scorched by the east wind, sprouted behind them. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but no one could tell me what it meant."
Genesis chapter 41 (TEV)
25 Joseph said to the king, "The two dreams mean the same thing; God has told you what he is going to do. 26 The seven fat cows are seven years, and the seven full heads of grain are also seven years; they have the same meaning. 27 The seven thin cows which came up later and the seven thin heads of grain scorched by the desert wind are seven years of famine. 28 It is just as I told you-God has shown you what he is going to do. 29 There will be seven years of great plenty in all the land of Egypt. 30 After that, there will be seven years of famine, and all the good years will be forgotten, because the famine will ruin the country. 31 The time of plenty will be entirely forgotten, because the famine which follows will be so terrible. 32 The repetition of your dream means that the matter is fixed by God and that he will make it happen in the near future."
Genesis chapter 41 (GWT)
33 "Pharaoh should look for a wise and intelligent man and put him in charge of Egypt. 34 Make arrangements to appoint supervisors over the land to take a fifth of Egypt's harvest during the seven good years. 35 Have them collect all the food during these good years and store up grain under Pharaoh's control, to be kept for food in the cities. 36 This food will be a reserve supply for our country during the seven years of famine that will happen in Egypt. Then the land will not be ruined by the famine."
37 Pharaoh and all his servants liked the idea. 38 So Pharaoh asked his servants, "Can we find anyone like this--a man who has God's Spirit in him?"
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Because God has let you know all this, there is no one as wise and intelligent as you. 40 You will be in charge of my palace, and all my people will do what you say. I will be more important than you, only because I'm Pharaoh." 41 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I now put you in charge of Egypt." 42 Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring and put it on Joseph's finger. He had Joseph dressed in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in the chariot of the second-in-command. Men ran ahead of him and shouted, "Make way!" Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of Egypt. 44 He also said to Joseph, "Even though I am Pharaoh, no one anywhere in Egypt will do anything without your permission."
45 Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenathpaneah and gave him Asenath as his wife. She was the daughter of Potiphera, priest from the city of On.
Genesis chapter 41 (NLT)
45 So Joseph took charge of the entire land of Egypt. 46 He was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And when Joseph left Pharaoh's presence, he made a tour of inspection throughout the land. 47 And sure enough, for the next seven years there were bumper crops everywhere. 48 During those years, Joseph took a portion of all the crops grown in Egypt and stored them for the government in nearby cities.
Genesis chapter 41 (GWT)
49 Joseph stored up grain in huge quantities like the sand on the seashore. He had so much that he finally gave up keeping any records because he couldn't measure it all.
50 Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons by Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest from the city of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn son Manasseh [He Helps Me Forget], because God helped him forget all his troubles and all about his father's family. 52 He named the second son Ephraim [Blessed Twice With Children], because God gave him children in the land where he had suffered.
53 The seven years when there was plenty of food in Egypt came to an end. 54 Then the seven years of famine began as Joseph had said they would. All the other countries were experiencing famine. Yet, there was food in Egypt.
The next file in this section (Part 2), is entitled: "The Reunion Of Joseph And His Brothers And Father, And The Family's Move To Egypt".
The main Bible pages on this site:
|Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories|
|Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites|
|Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.|
|If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.|
The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.
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