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Whilst they were eating, a company of their kinsmen, the Ishmaelites, came past from Gilead, on their way to Egypt, carrying merchandise. Judah proposed that they should sell their brother to these, that they might take him down with them for a slave. Then they drew him again out of the pit, and he began with joy to smile, and thank them, supposing that they had repented of their cruel purpose ; but, when he saw them receiving money from the strangers, and understood what was their real intention, his heart died within him. How can those cruel men look upon that trembling boy and persist in their design ? How can they look upon that beautiful face, and those tearful blue eyes, turned so entreatingly upon them, and see the cloud of sorrow and despair hanging upon that fair and once sunny brow, from which his flaxen hair is now thrown backward in sad disorder, and not relent? Alas ! in vain those tears are shed, in vain those clasped hands raised ; in vain that gentle voice
1 entreats; a rock could not be more unyielding than those whose hearts are steeled by sin. His price is paid-his tender limbs are bound, and with a torn and bleeding heart he is forced with the rest down to Egypt.
Now Reuben was not present when they sold him ; after a time he returned to the pit, and lo! he was gone. In an agony of grief, he rent his clothes, and wept ; and returning to his brethren, he reproached them with their cruelty. “The child is dead,” he cried, “and I, whither shall I go? How can I meet my father, or what can I say to comfort him, or shield us from his anger?" Then they told him what they had done to Joseph; and they killed a kid, and dipped his coat of many colours in the blood, and took it to their father, saying they had found it.
If Reuben had wept at the anticipation of his father's sorrow, how much more did his heart now accuse him ? Jacob exclaimed, “It is my son's coat, an evil beast hath devoured him ! Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces !" And uttering a cry of anguish, deep as that which he had once caused his brother Esau, he sank
upon the ground and wept. And he rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth, and mourned many days.
His sons and daughters came around him, and with words of affection tried to comfort him ; but he refused to hear them. The light
l of heaven brought with it the recollection of Joseph's sunny features and golden hair-the bird's song made him think of the melody of the voice, now no more sounding in his ears ; all things reminded him of his lost child, and “ he refused to be comforted, for he said I will go down into the grave unto my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.
THE EXALTATION OF JOSEPH.
AFTER a long and painful journey, Joseph arrived in Egypt, and was sold to Potiphar, a captain of the guard, and an officer of the king Pharaoh's. Here, though a slave in a foreign land, Joseph was not alone, for he called upon the God of his fathers, and his prayer was heard. The Lord was with him, and made all things prosper in his hand ; so that the poor slave, destitute of friends, and but a youth, was shortly raised to be the principal steward of the house. None was greater than he in the whole household, except Potiphar. His master trusted him so entirely that he knew nothing that he possessed, but gave all into the hand of Joseph.
But the wife of Potiphar was a sinful woman, and seeing the beauty of the youth, she loved him; and when he refused to listen to her, she calumniated him to her husband. Potiphar was very angry that after all his kindness the young Hebrew slave should prove so ungrateful as his wife represented, and he cast him into prison.
Here he languished, and often wept when he thought of his father and his brother, Benjamin. He wept, too, for the sins of his brothers; but he continually lifted up his heart to God, who gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. The man was touched with compassion, when he saw the sad countenance and tears of the youth, and he alleviated the rigour of his imprisonment, as far as possible, making him keeper of the prisoners under himself. For nine years he remained in this position, when two of Pharaoh's officers, the chief butler and the chief baker, offended the king, and were cast into prison. After they had lain there two years, each had a dream which they told to Joseph. Now God had given to him wisdom to interpret secret things, and he knew by