Catholic Courier

Posted: March 8, 2017

Illustration by Linda Jeanne Rivers

Joseph's brothers sell him into slavery

By Jennifer Ficcaglia

Jacob had 12 sons. His favorite was one of the youngest ones, Joseph.

Jacob loved Joseph so much that he gave the boy a special coat that was very beautiful.

Joseph's brothers were jealous and began to hate him. They hated him even more after the boy told his family about some of his dreams.

In one of the dreams, Joseph saw 11 stars, the sun and the moon, all of which bowed down before him.

Joseph's brothers were angry when they heard this, and even Jacob scolded the boy. They thought it was wrong for Joseph to think his elders would bow before him.

One day, Joseph's brothers were tending the flocks, and Jacob asked Joseph to see how they were doing.

When the brothers saw Joseph approaching, they started to grumble.

"Here comes that master dreamer!" they said. "Come on, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We shall then see what comes of his dreams."

One of the brothers, Reuben, stopped them.

"Instead of shedding blood," he said, "just throw him into that cistern there in the desert; but do not kill him outright."

Reuben planned to rescue Joseph and return him to Jacob unharmed.

So when Joseph reached his brothers, he was stripped of his special coat and thrown into the cistern. Then his brothers went to have something to eat.

While they ate, they decided to sell Joseph instead of killing him. So the brothers sold the boy for 20 pieces of silver. He was taken to Egypt, where he became the slave of the pharaoh's chief steward.

When Reuben returned to the cistern and found Joseph was gone, he was so upset that he tore his clothes.

The brothers decided to cover up what they had done by killing a goat and dipping Joseph's coat in the blood. They sent the coat to Jacob.

"My son’s tunic! A wild beast has devoured him! Joseph has been torn to pieces!" Jacob cried when he saw the coat.

No matter how much his children tried to comfort him, Jacob would not stop mourning the son who he thought was dead.

 

READ MORE ABOUT IT:

Genesis 37

 

Q&A:

1. Who was Jacob's favorite son?

2. Who suggested that Joseph's life be spared?