Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness: Intro

See: "Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness: Part 1"
"Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness: Part 2 "
"Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness: Part 3"

STORY (adapted from Genesis, illustrations by R. Crumb)

Jacob had 12 sons -- Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin – and one daughter, Dinah. The eleventh son, Joseph, was Jacob’s favorite.

When Joseph was seventeen, one day, after shepherding the flock with his brothers he brought a bad report of his brothers to their father. So his brothers didn’t like Joseph.

Jacob made for Joseph a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more than all his brothers, they felt bad and further disliked Joseph.

Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us?”

One day when many of the brothers were tending flocks far from home, Jacob sent Joseph to see how things were going. From a distance, the brothers saw Joseph coming, and they made a plan to get Joseph out of their lives.

So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit.

Then they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming by. This gave them the idea to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites to be their slave. And that’s what they did.

The Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt, where they re-sold him to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard.

Joseph was a good thinker and planner, and helped Potiphar prosper. Potiphar trusted Joseph to manage almost all his affairs.

Then one day, Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph to do something that Joseph knew Potiphar wouldn’t want him to do. Joseph refused. Potiphar’s wife told Potiphar a lie about Joseph, which cause Potiphar to have Joseph thrown in prison.

Joseph was so inherently helpful and talented, that soon he had earned the complete trust of the chief jailor, who put Joseph in charge of managing the prison.

Joseph could interpret dreams. He gave such insightful interpretations of the dreams of some of the other prisoners that word even got back to Pharaoh about it.

So when Pharaoh had two disturbing dreams one night, he sent for the prisoner Joseph to interpret them. This was Paraoh’s dream: seven fat cows were swallowed up by seven thin cows. In the second dream, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were swallowed up by seven ears thin and blighted.

Joseph told Pharaoh that the seven fat cows and the seven plump ears of grain represented seven years of plenty, which would be followed -- swallowed up -- by seven years of famine. What Pharaoh needs to do, said Joseph, is appoint supervisors to make sure food is stored up during the good years to see Egypt through the lean years.

Pharaoh released Joseph from prison and appointed him the overseer of the preparations for the famine years. Suddenly, Joseph was very powerful, and heaped with the riches corresponding to his station.

When the famine came, it affected all the surrounding areas, including Canaan, where Joseph’s father, brothers, and sister were. When Jacob heard that Egypt had storehouses of grain, he sent his sons to Egypt to buy some.

When the brothers came before Joseph seeking food, they didn’t recognize Joseph – though Joseph recognized them. When Joseph threatened to have Benjamin thrown into enslavement, Judah begged, “let him go – take me instead.”

Then Joseph, weeping, revealed himself to his brothers. He had them and their father, Jacob, moved to Egypt, where he ensured their survival through the famine.

The brothers finally came to Joseph to beg forgiveness for their crime. They offered themselves as his slaves. Joseph and all the brothers were crying.

Joseph said, “Do not be afraid! Even though you intended to do harm to me, it has put me in position to preserve a numerous people. I will provide for you and your little ones.”

See: "Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness: Part 1"
"Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness: Part 2 "
"Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness: Part 3"

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