How Joseph's Dream Came True
Joseph and his Dream
Genesis xli: 46,
to xlii: 38.
Joseph was made ruler over the land of Egypt, he did
just as he had always done. It was not Joseph's way
to sit down and rest, and enjoy himself, and make
others wait on him. He found his work at once, and
began to do it faithfully and thoroughly. He went
out over all the land of Egypt, and saw how rich and
abundant were the fields of grain, giving much more
than the people could use for their own needs. He
told the people not to waste it, but to save it for
the coming time of need.
And he called upon the people to give him for the
king, one bushel of grain out of every five, to be
stored up. The people brought their grain, after
taking for themselves as much as they needed; and
Joseph stored it up in great store-houses in the
cities; so much at last that no one could keep
account of it.
The king of Egypt gave a wife to Joseph from the
noble young women of his kingdom. Her name was
Asenath; and to Joseph and his wife God gave two
sons. The oldest son he named Manasseh, a word which
means, "making to forget."
"For," said Joseph, "God has made me forget all my
troubles, and my toil as a slave."
The second son he named Ephraim, a word that means,
"Because," said Joseph, "God has not only made the
land fruitful, but he has made me fruitful in the
land of my troubles."
The seven years of plenty soon passed by, and then
came the years of need. In all the lands around
people were hungry, and there was no food for them
to eat; but in the land of Egypt everybody had
enough. Most of the people soon used up the grain
that they had saved: many had saved none at all, and
they all cried to the king to help them.
"Go to Joseph," said King Pharaoh, "and do whatever
he tells you to do."
Then the people came to Joseph, and Joseph opened
the store-houses, and sold to the people all the
grain that they wished to buy. And not only the
people of Egypt came to buy grain, but people of all
the lands around as well, for there was great need
and famine everywhere.
And the need was as great in the land of Canaan,
where Jacob lived, as in other lands. Jacob was rich
in flocks and cattle, and gold and silver; but his
fields gave no grain, and there was danger that his
family and his people would starve. And Jacob,—who
was now called Israel also,—heard that there was
food in Egypt, and he said to his sons:
"Why do you look at each other, asking what to do to
find food? I have been told that there is grain in
Egypt. Go down to that land, and take money with
you, and buy grain, so that we may have bread, and
Then the ten older brothers of Joseph went down to
the land of Egypt. They rode upon asses, for horses
were not much used in those times, and they brought
money with them. But Jacob would not let Benjamin,
Joseph's younger brother, go with them, for he was
all the more dear to his father, now that Joseph was
no longer with him; and Jacob feared that harm might
come to him.
Then Joseph's brothers came to Joseph to buy food.
They did not know him, grown up to be a man, dressed
as a prince, and seated on a throne. Joseph was now
nearly forty years old, and it had been almost
twenty-three years since they had sold him. But
Joseph knew them all, as soon as he saw them. He
resolved to be sharp and stern with them, not
because he hated them, but because he wished to see
what their spirit was, and whether they were as
selfish, and cruel, and wicked as they had been in
They came before him, and bowed, and with their
faces to the ground. Then, no doubt, Joseph thought
of the dream that had come to him while he was a
boy, of his brothers' sheaves bending down around
his sheaf. He spoke to them as a stranger, as if he
did not understand their language, and he had their
words explained to him in the language of Egypt.
"Who are you? And from what place do you come?" said
Joseph, in a harsh, stern manner.
They answered him, very meekly, "We have come from
the land of Canaan to buy food."
"No," said Joseph, "I know what you have come for.
You have come as spies, to see how helpless the land
is, so that you can bring an army against us, and
make war on us."
"No, no," said Joseph's ten brothers, "we are no
spies, we are the sons of one man, who lives in the
land of Canaan; and we have come for food, because
we have none at home."
"You say you are the sons of one man, who is your
father? Is he living? Have you any more brothers?
Tell me all about yourselves."
And they said, "Our father is an old man in Canaan.
We did have a younger brother, but he was lost; and
we have one brother still, who is the youngest of
all, but his father could not spare him to come with
"No," said Joseph, "you are not good, honest men.
You are spies. I shall put you all in prison, except
one of you; and he shall go and bring that youngest
brother of yours; and when I see him, then I will
believe that you tell the truth."
So Joseph put all the ten men in prison, and kept
them under guard for three days; then he sent for
them again. They did not know that he could
understand their language, and they said to each
other, while Joseph heard, but pretended not to
"This has come upon us because of the wrong that we
did to our brother Joseph, more than twenty years
ago. We heard him cry, and plead with us, when we
threw him into the pit, and we would not have mercy
on him. God is giving us only what we have
And Reuben, who had tried to save Joseph, said, "Did
I not tell you not to harm the boy? And you would
not listen to me. God is bringing our brother's
blood upon us all."
When Joseph heard this, his heart was touched, for
he saw that his brothers were really sorry for the
wrong that they had done him. He turned away from
them, so that they could not see his face, and he
wept. Then he turned again to them, and spoke
roughly as before, and said:
"This I will do, for I serve God, I will let you all
go home, except one man. One of you I will shut up
in prison; but the rest of you can go home, and take
food for your people. And you must come back, and
bring your youngest brother with you, and I shall
know then that you have spoken the truth."
Then Joseph gave orders, and his servants seized one
of his brothers, whose name was Simeon, and bound
him in their sight, and took him away to prison. And
he ordered his servants to fill the men's sacks with
grain, and to put every man's money back into the
sack before it was tied up, so that they would find
the money as soon as they opened the sack. Then the
men loaded their asses with the sacks of grain, and
started to go home, leaving their brother Simeon a
When they stopped on the way to feed their asses,
one of the brothers opened his sack, and there he
found his money lying on the top of the grain. He
called out to his brothers, "See, here is my money
given again to me!" And they were frightened; but
they did not dare to go back to Egypt, and meet the
stern ruler of the land. They went home, and told
their old father all that had happened to them; and
how their brother Simeon was in prison, and must
stay there until they should return, bringing
Benjamin with them.
When they opened their sacks of grain, there, in the
mouth of each sack, was the money that they had
given; and they were filled with fear. Then they
spoke of going again to Egypt, and taking Benjamin,
but Jacob said to them:
"You are taking my sons away from me. Joseph is
gone, and Simeon is gone, and now you would take
Benjamin away. All these things are against me!"
Reuben said, "Here are my own two boys. You may kill
them, if you wish, in case I do not bring Benjamin
back to you."
But Jacob said, "My youngest son shall not go with
you. His brother is dead, and he alone is left to
me. If harm should come to him, it would bring down
my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave."
Joseph and his Dream