Israel (Jacob) and his twelve sons now lived in the Promised Land. Out of all of his sons, Israel loved Joseph the most and made him a beautiful coat with long sleeves. When Joseph was seventeen, he helped his brothers tend the cattle and reported to his father anything they did wrong.
Joseph’s brothers grew to hate him because he was their father’s favourite. They hated him even more when he told them he had dreams about the future where he saw all of them bowing down to him!
One day Joseph went to check on his brothers, and they grabbed him, ripped off his beautiful coat, and threw him into a deep hole. The brothers decided to sell Joseph to slave traders who were passing by on their way to Egypt.
They tore up their brother’s coat, soaked it in goat’s blood, and brought it to their father, saying, “We found this in the field. It’s Joseph’s, isn’t it?”
Israel examined it and said, “Yes, this is my son’s coat. A wild animal must have attacked and eaten him.” He began to weep, saying, “I will mourn my son’s death until the day I die!”
Meanwhile, the slave traders sold Joseph to a man named Potiphar, the head guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Potiphar noticed God was with Joseph and blessed everything he did. He promoted him, putting him in charge of his entire household and business.
Now Joseph was a young, handsome man, and Potiphar’s wife began to desire him. She constantly pressured him to sleep with her. But Joseph refused, saying, “That would be a terrible thing and a great sin against God!”
One night after Potiphar got home, his wife lied and told him, “The Hebrew slave you brought here tried to rape me.” Potiphar became furious and threw Joseph into the king’s prison. However, God gave him favour with the head of the jail. God was with Joseph, continuing to give him success in everything he did.
Before long Joseph was put in charge of the other prisoners and everything that happened there! God also gave Joseph the ability to explain the prisoners’ dreams to them.
A few years later Pharaoh had some dreams that troubled him. In one of them he saw seven fat cows being eaten by seven thin cows! None of Pharaoh’s wisest men could explain to him what this meant. One of the servants who had been in prison with Joseph told Pharaoh about his ability to interpret dreams.
Pharaoh had Joseph brought to him and asked, “Can you really interpret dreams?”
Joseph replied, “That is beyond me, but God will tell you what your dreams mean and ease your worry.”
Pharaoh shared his dreams, and Joseph interpreted them, saying, “For the next seven years Egypt will have more than enough food. This will be followed by seven years of a terrible famine that will spread over the land, when there will not be enough food for everyone.”
The king was so impressed with Joseph that he put him in charge of everything in Egypt—second in power only to Pharaoh himself! During the next seven years Joseph traveled throughout Egypt, making sure plenty of food was being stored up in each city. Joseph was only thirty years old at the time.
Seven years passed, and the famine came, spreading throughout the world. People from all over the land came to Egypt to buy food from Joseph.
When Israel realized his family was running out of food, he sent his sons to Egypt. When the brothers arrived to buy food, they didn’t recognize Joseph and bowed down before him.
At first Joseph was harsh with his brothers, even accusing them of being spies and putting them in prison. Later, after many meetings and two journeys by his brothers, Joseph finally revealed who he was, saying, “I am Joseph, your brother whom you sold as a slave!”
The brothers stood there speechless, shocked, and afraid! They would never have thought Joseph could still be alive.
But Joseph spoke to them kindly and said, “Don’t be afraid. God turned your evil into something good. He put me in this high position so I could save the lives of many people. Now I will take care of you and your families.”
When Pharaoh heard that Joseph’s brothers had come, he invited Israel and his entire family to live in Egypt. He gave them a plot of his best land, plenty of food, and new clothing!
The family of Israel came to live in Egypt, escaping the drought and enjoying the blessings God had given to Joseph.