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WELL, my dear little Harry, I suppose you will wish me to tell you something about Joseph, as I believe I promised to do so in our last conversation, which was on the life of Jacob.
Harry.--Yes, Grandmama, if you please, I should like very much to hear about him. I was looking in the Bible this morning, and I see that his life will be the last you will have to tell me of in the book of Genesis; shall you go next to the book of Exodus, as there is a great deal to speak of in that book ?
Grandm.-I cannot tell you at present, my love, but perhaps, at any rate, I may select some particular events to speak to you about. But there is so much to interest you in Joseph's life that I shall not be able to say all I wish in one conversation.
In the life of Jacob, I mentioned that Joseph was the eldest son of Rachel, Jacob's second but favourite wife, and we hear of nothing of his childhood, as he was seventeen years of age when he is first brought before our notice. In the 37th chapter we read that he was feeding his father's flocks with his brethren, and he reported to his father that they did not behave well, which made them hate him, more particularly as they knew that Joseph was their father's favourite, from being, with his brother Benjamin, the son of his old age ; and Jacob to shew his love for him made him a coat of many colors.
Harry.What is the meaning, Grandmama, of “a coat of many colors ?” Was it a patchwork coat ? for that must have been very ugly, I think!
Grandm.--By the notes which we find in the references, we must suppose so, as it is written, “or pieces.” But we find that Turkish noblemen's children when very small wear loose coats, woven in various colors, which are very beautiful, and Joseph's may have been something of the same kind, as it appears to have been a mark of Jacob's love to Joseph, and was therefore, most probably, of value. When his brethren saw how much their father loved him, they were extremely jealous, and as the Bible says, “could not speak peaceably unto him.” (Gen. xxxvii. 4.) This points out to us, Harry, how careful we should be never to let any jealousy arise in our minds. It certainly was not quite right of Jacob to shew
so much partiality in his favour, but at the same time, if Joseph always conducted himself rightly, as we may suppose he did, as there is not a word ever said against him, it would perhaps only be natural that Jacob should love him more than his brethren, who had given their father so much cause for sorrow. Their next cause for hating Joseph, was the dreams he had, which were decidedly a revelation from God to him, of what would afterwards take place. Suppose, Harry, you now read from the sixth to the eleventh verse.
Harry. "And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright, and behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or, shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it to his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more, and behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obei. sance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto bim, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed ? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth ? And his brethren envied him, but his father observed the saying.” What is the meaning of “observed the saying,” Grandmama ?
Grandm. It signifies that Jacob turned it. over in his mind, and understood the dreams to be prophecies of what would take place, but he did not wish that Joseph should consider them as such, for fear it might make him ambitious. We next read that his brethren went to feed the flock at Shechem, and that Jacob wishing to know how they and the flocks were, sent Joseph from Hebron to Shechem.
Harry.- Was Shechem far from Hebron, Grandinama?
Grandm.— Yes, my dear, a great many miles. Hebron was in Judea, and Shechem was in Samaria. It is called Sychem in the Acts of the Apostles, (vii. 16.) and Sychar in the Gospel of St. John, (iv. 5.) When Joseph had found his brethren, (with the assistance of a man, who seeing him wandering about, told him that they had gone to Dothan,) instead of their rejoicing to see him, they said one to .another, “Behold this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore and let us slay him and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil
beast hath devoured him : and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” (Gen. xxxvii. 19, 20.) Reuben his eldest brother, however, was not so cruel as the others, and he begged them not to kill him, but persuaded them to put him into a pit that was near at hand, and intended to have taken him out again as soon as he could, and to have taken him home to his father.
When Joseph was come to where his brethren were, they took off his “coat of many colors,” and cast him into the pit, which was empty, and they sat down to eat their bread, but while they were doing so, a company of Ishmaelites who were bringing spices from Gilead, passed by on their way to Egypt, and the cruel brothers thought it would be better for them to sell Joseph to them than to slay him, so they lifted him out of the pit, and sold him as a slave to these merchants for twenty pieces of silver. It appears that Reuben was innocent of that crime, as we read in verses 29 and 30. “And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and whither shall I go ?”
Harry.-What did he mean by “the child is not,” Grandmama ?