The Dreamer: Biblical Story of Joseph of Egypt — A Preview

The Dreamer: Biblical Story of Joseph of Egypt

The Dreamer is a story based on Joseph of Egypt. This historical fiction novel is available on Amazon.com. It is free to those with Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited.

Here is a four chapter preview of The Dreamer: Biblical Story of Joseph of Egypt:

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The Dreamer: Biblical Story of Joseph of Egypt

Chapter 1: Evil Report

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

A stinging wind of sandy grit and blackness blew. Joseph was riding his camel flat out on the trail heading for Canaan a day in front of the family flocks, he was trying to outrun a sandstorm, but couldn’t run fast enough and was overtaken by the sand storm that swept in on the trail unexpectedly. Joseph’s innate tendency to get the job done forced his camel onward. Eventually, it became impossible to see through the dark clouds of sand where he was going.
In spite of fearing that he might lose the trail, he stopped when he found a steep hillside. He caused his camel to lay down so he could get off then tie the camel to a nearby bush. He positioned his camel just in front of himself with the hillside at his back creating as much shelter as possible. Joseph spent the rest of the day and all of the night in that same spot huddled, waiting for the storm to stop.
While stuck in that position, Joseph had nothing to do but listen to the loud wind rage by as it carried the biting sand. He was alone with his memories and thoughts. He was still upset by the terrible discovery he made when he learned that four of his brothers Dan, Gad, Naphtali and Asher along with their servants, stole sheep from smaller flocks on the other side of the hill from where the family flocks were grazing. They stole enough sheep to almost double the size of their flock. The sheep herders from the smaller flocks dared not say or do anything.
Then they went to the market to sell off a part of their flock, they sold the stolen sheep as well. They skimmed off the money from the stolen sheep and when they got home, they would divide the ill-gotten profits with their brothers, except for Joseph and Benjamin.
They left Benjamin out because he was too young to participate in herding the sheep. They left out Joseph because they knew he wouldn’t approve and he would likely give Father Jacob a report on their illegal deeds. Jacob would not abide their wicked ways.
Ever since the eldest brothers went after Shechem and his servants (for what they did to their sister Dinah), they knew the wrath of their father was terrible. They thought they were doing right by Dinah to go after Shechem, but they had no idea just how terrible the wrath of their father could be. Ever since that episode, the oldest ten brothers stayed as far away from their father as possible. They figured it would be much easier to keep Joseph out of their plans.
There was a terrible animosity between the ten older brothers and Joseph. Joseph was naturally inclined to do things that pleased his father, whereas the brothers seemed content to go their own way and didn’t care so much about pleasing their father. There was another reason for the animosity between Joseph and his older brothers.
Father Jacob, who was also called Israel because of the covenant and because he was the Patriarch, stripped the birthright from the firstborn son Reuben because he committed sin with one of his fathers’ wives.
Israel turned around and bestowed the birthright on Joseph, who was the first born son of his wife Racheal. When this happened, it added greatly to the natural divide between the older brothers and Joseph. There were many brothers who thought the birthright should have gone to Simeon, who was next in line after Reuben or to Gad, who was the first born of Zilpah, or even to Dan the first born of Bilhah. In every case, they were all older than young Joseph.
There was always pressure on Joseph with whatever he did. He lived to please his father and he was growing and maturing in his relationship with God. The other brothers didn’t seem to care so much about the God of Jacob and they hated Joseph for his relationship with both God and their father.
Joseph had decided he needed to inform Father Jacob of the evil deeds his brothers had done by stealing sheep and selling them off. He left his brothers and the flocks behind and rushed on ahead of them toward Canaan to tell his father.
Joseph was only a day ahead of the returning flock. It was even possible that one or more of the brothers might have left the flocks behind and raced after Joseph to stop him from informing their father of their misconduct. If that were the case, they could be close.
It was hard for Joseph to never get any fellowship from his brothers, but he considered the love of his brother Benjamin and the love of his Father Jacob more than enough, but still, he wished he could please his brothers and get on their good side. He just wasn’t willing to live like they did and do the things they did to win over their affection.
Now that he knew his brothers were thieves, he assumed that his father didn’t know. They might sneak around their father on occasion, but if he ever found out something bad was going on, he could put the fear of God into them. Since they were still engaged in rustling sheep, it was safe to assume that they had not yet been caught. Joseph had no idea what his brothers might do to him if they caught him before he made it home to the protection of Jacob and he didn’t want to find out.
Joseph was miserable packed between a smelly camel and the side of a foothill. The wind was causing the sand to blow hard and covering everything it touched. Even though Joseph was well covered with his thick woolen clothes and scarves, somehow the sand found its way to Joseph’s skin. It was dusty, dry and gloomy. He could barely see the camel lying down before him.
He wondered what his brothers would do to him if they caught him. Would they just threaten him? That probably wouldn’t work. They could beat him, but would they consider killing him? After all, there was a lot of hate between some of his brothers and him.
When Joseph discovered their evil deeds, they tried to bribe him with a large portion of the profits from the stolen sheep, but he refused. He overheard Dan and Asher talking about killing him after he went to sleep, but were they serious? Dan and Asher were known to be hot heads and spouting off over anything they didn’t like. Killing him would be extreme, but Joseph wasn’t so sure they were kidding.
The roaring wind storm raged on and Joseph kept pulling his clothes tightly around him trying in vain to keep the sand out. Why did Father give me the birthright? He wondered. If given the choice of carrying the mantle of the birthright or letting one of his brothers have it, he would gladly let it go. He knew it didn’t work that way and he did his best with the responsibility of the mantle because he loved and respected his father. He also loved and worshiped the God of Abraham as he was taught by his mother, and Patriarch father.
As the blinding sand storm raged on, Joseph was worried, if this storm didn’t blow over soon, the landscape could change and he could easily get turned around. He knew the basic’s of keeping his bearings, but he didn’t have the experience his older brothers had.
These massive storms could entirely change the landscape by removing landmarks and adding new ones. He was a gifted Shepard and he could do amazing things with a large flock of sheep, he just didn’t have the experience for orienteering yet. He needed to get to his father before his brothers and he needed to get there safely.
In spite of the fierce winds and the stinging sand, sleepiness finally overtook him. It wasn’t a long rest, but at the time while he was asleep, he was able to experience an unusually vivid dream where he was with all of his brothers in the fields as they were gathering and binding sheaves of grain for the harvest. He noticed that his stack of grain was bigger than any of his eleven brothers bundles and it continued to grow larger with each passing minute. As his bundle grew it was surrounded by eleven stacks of grain. One for each brother.
Once Joseph’s bundle was completely surrounded by his brothers’ sheaves they all bowed down before his stack. They bowed down over and over before Joseph’s stack of wheat as they gave obeisance to his large bundle.
At first, this concerned Joseph until he realized, surely this must be because I have the birthright and they are finally giving me the respect that it demands. While he thought, he understood the meaning of the dream, he wasn’t comfortable with the reverence they were showing his sheaf of grain.
The dream repeated over in Joseph’s mind vividly three times. When the third dream finished Joseph woke up to find the storm was over and the skies were clear. As he feared, the landscape was vastly different from the day before. He noticed the direction his camel’s head was positioned and he took out his knife and laid the point in that same direction so he wouldn’t forget which direction they were heading as he prepared to leave.
He tried in vain to shake the sand out of his clothes. He finally took out some food for both himself and the camel. While Joseph ate, he prayed to the God of his fathers and asked for divine guidance and safety on the journey. While taking a deep breath, he wrapped his scarf around his neck and head, leaving a hole for his eyes. He headed off in the direction that the knife was pointing. He hoped he could find some familiar landmarks before nightfall. He wanted to know he was on the right course to Canaan.
His camel plodded along in the loose sand. After a while, Joseph saw the heat waves coming from off the ground. He kept his eyes open for a large lone tree on top of a dune. In spite of the shifting sand, Joseph was sure that the tree would have survived the storm. He looked for that familiar landmark to verify he was on the right path home.
He thought about the dream he had and how vivid it was. It made no sense that a sheaf of grain would bow like a person to a much larger sheaf of grain, but that’s what happened in his dream. Then he thought about the need to get to Canaan before his brothers. If they got their first, they would tell father Jacob a tale that would contradict his story. He needed to get there first.
As the sun got heavy on the horizon and began its descent, Joseph saw a large sand hill with a solitary tree on the top. The hill looked like nothing he could remember, but the lone tree looked familiar. He was relieved because he had no more food and only a few drops of water left. If he remembered right, he was two full days away from his fathers’ estate in Canaan.
He pushed on and traveled until it was too dark to travel. He had no food to cook so he didn’t bother with a fire. He was still hot from a blistering day in the sun. He let his camel wander around a little before tying him up. As Joseph prepared his small camp, he thought of his brothers and their hatred toward him. Until now he had never turned on his brothers. All he had ever done was follow the teachings of his father. When the brothers were out having fun, Joseph preferred the company of his father.
He would rather have his father tell his memories of his mother and teach him things about God, the birthright and other gospel subjects than being with his brothers. There was also an age difference between him and the youngest of his older brothers and that also contributed to him seeking company other than with his brothers. In fact, his older brothers had children that were just a little younger than Joseph and he often spent time with them.
This was his first major assignment herding sheep with his brothers in a far away pasture and he was disappointed that his brothers turned out to be thieves. He was surprised at his brother’s behavior, stealing sheep and selling them. Surely he needed to let his father know what was going on.
He was only seventeen, but life didn’t seem to be turning out like he thought it would. Of course, he was young and not completely sure what life should be like. He finally drifted off to sleep.
While he was asleep, he dreamed the same dream of the sheaves and his brothers. It gave him hope when he reflected on the dream in the morning. The dream made Joseph think that it was a sign from God. Why tell him in a dream that his brothers would one day respect his birthright if Joseph was going to die in the wilderness?
He kept the few drops of water for himself, the camel would have to go dry. He knew he could go a day or two without food and water. It wasn’t wise, but he had done it before.
The night came and there was a full moon with clear skies. He decided to keep going for a while longer since it wasn’t so bad traveling at night, it was a little cooler and he could still see where he was going. Eventually, he needed to sleep so he made camp. He had the same dream as the night before, about the sheaves of grain. In the morning he started on his journey with a throat so dry it hurt to swallow.
Everything around him was stunning in its beauty. The brilliant blue sky and the several shades of tan and brown sand on the horizon with a glowing orange disc beating down on the painted landscape. Every now and again there was a lone tree or a small stand of bushes. There were sand dunes along the way. As he examined the wonderful landscape, he licked his dry cracked lips. It didn’t help. He was developing a powerful headache caused by being so thirsty and hungry. The desert was as hot as an oven they cooked bread in. But Joseph pushed on because there was so much at stake.
Later in the afternoon Joseph came upon two sets of camel tracks that came in from a different direction, but was now going in the same direction as he was. They could be from anyone, but he feared they were from two of his brothers.
How would Father Jacob react to what Joseph had to say? How would he react if his brothers got there before he did? He was used to being treated badly by his brothers, but lately, they seem to be meaner and harder toward him than they had been. Ironically, sometimes Reuben would defend Joseph to the other brothers and then other times he would be the leader in some plot against Joseph.
The sun was starting its downward decline as Joseph found himself atop of a large dune which allowed him to see for miles around. He spotted what looked like two men on camels trotting toward his father’s farm in Canaan.
For the time being, he was more relieved that he was close to home rather than being upset that his brothers would get to his father first. He was tired, thirsty and hungry. His face felt as dry as the sand around him. He coughed when he tried to swallow. He was feeling weaker by the minute. He nudged his camel homeward.
Chapter 2: Birthright

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:27

As the horizon was about to swallow the sun, Benjamin, the youngest of the twelve brothers saw Joseph in the distance and rode out to meet him. Seeing him parched and weak, he gave a fresh crock of water to Joseph. As he tried to swallow the clean, cool water, he choked and coughed, wasting much of the lifesaving water trying to quickly satisfy his ravaging thirst. He finally got enough down his throat to perk himself up. As Joseph spurred the camel on toward the barn, he found out from Benjamin that Father Jacob was not at home. He was scheduled to arrive sometime in the next two days. This was a pleasant surprise. That meant that even though Dan and Asher had arrived sooner than Joseph, they hadn’t had a chance to speak with Israel. At least he was safe and could take some time to rest. He knew his brothers wouldn’t dare try to hurt him in his fathers’ house. Feeling safe he went into the house and ate, drank and went to sleep.
While he was asleep, he had the same dream of the sheaves. However, that dream was followed by another dream that seemed to have an even greater impact on Joseph. In his dream state his mind came upon a sea of total blackness. Then, one by one, stars started to appear until there were eleven little dots in the night sky. Shortly thereafter came a moon dimly lit in the dark expanse. Lastly, a bright sun came into view. Its radiance caused the moon and stars to shine brighter than the rest of the celestial bodies.
Joseph wondered at this dream. Why eleven stars, a moon, and a sun? What were they doing? In that dream state, Joseph floated through the vast expanse and came to where these heavenly bodies were. As he moved closer to them, they kindly moved out of his way, allowing him to pass without touching, it was as if these great heavenly bodies were showing obeisance to him, a young boy of seventeen.
It shook young Joseph seeing that such grand celestial bodies were showing such respect, even reverence to him. What could it mean? Was it similar to the sheaves he had dreamed about so frequently over the last few days? It was so much more grand and vivid than sheaves of grain that he wondered at the meaning of it all. There was one thing both dreams had in common, the first dream had eleven sheaves and the second dream had eleven stars. Was that similarity significant?
The next day came and slowly went as Joseph was, with the help of Dinah and Benjamin, nursing himself back to health. He had lost so much energy from not eating and drinking in the scorching hot desert for two days that he could hardly move. He slept a lot. When he was awake, he shared his evil report regarding his four brothers with Dinah, his older sister who was always a trusted friend and confidant.
She told Joseph to concern himself with getting rest and building up his strength. Also she advised Joseph to gain all the health and strength possible so he could be ready to lead when Father Jacob came home. She assured young Joseph that their father would believe and respect what Joseph had to say. She said it in a way that sounded like she knew more than she was letting on. She did let slip to Joseph and Benjamin that there would be a great feast for the household after Israel arrived.
Dinah’s words gave confidence to Joseph’s young and troubled mind. Benjamin was excited to see his father and to know there would be a grand celebration. Benjamin was young enough so as not to appreciate the intrigue between the older ten brothers and his favorite brother, Joseph. Later that day Gad and Asher, along with their servants brought the flock home and once they were settled in they met up with the other brothers to divide the profits of their ill-gotten gains. In their meeting, Gad and Dan spoke to Reuben about the venomous young Joseph finding out their secret plans. Reuben could tolerate losing the birthright. He could tolerate just about every crazy thing that Father Jacob required of them, but when it came to his wealth, that’s where he drew the line. He vacillated on just about everything, but he wasn’t about to let the dreamer get in their way.
They discussed how to prevent their vile younger brother from spoiling their secret plans to gain their own wealth. Reuben said that all options were fair game except for murder. Judah suggested that they take the money that Dan and Gad brought back and immediately bury it.
“Then if it becomes an issue with Father, we tell him to go ahead search our possessions and our houses and find the money that Joseph is talking about. He will not find it and we will be in the clear and Joseph will look like a fool to father.”
“That is a good idea for now, but what about the next time and time after that? I do not want to have to deal with the snake every time we make our private profits. Let us kill the boy and be done with it,” said Simeon.
“No. Murder is not an option,” said Reuben. “We can look at all other options, except killing the boy. That is not an acceptable solution.”
“How do you expect us to be free from this stinking little rat?” asked Zebulon, “if we don’t get rid of him permanently?”
Naphtali and Levi joined in the argument and within a matter of minutes there was a free-for-all in the debate. Judah looked to Reuben, the undisputed leader of the older brothers. Undisputed by all except their father.
“Do something Reuben, nothing will get done like this,” said Judah.
Just after Reuben had regained control of the hot debate, Asher spoke up, “You know as well as I do, we have to do something extreme or we will be plagued with the little rat dreamer for the rest of our lives.”
“We won’t have to. In another ten years we will have more than enough wealth to strike out on our own and be free from Grandfather Isaac and Father Jacob. Maybe sooner depending on the size of the flocks, we can get our hands on,” said Reuben.
“Until then, what do we do with Joseph?” asked Simeon.
There was another outbreak of voices and opinions, most of which dealt with killing Joseph in one fashion or another.
“All right, all right! Quiet down, everyone. Quiet down,” Reuben regained control of the rabid group. “We will consider killing the little viper when we can all be away from the homestead. We will have to have a solid plan though,” said Reuben, giving way to the demands of the mob. “Until then we stick to the plan that Judah suggested and buried the recent profits with the money we already have.”
The meeting was adjourned and everyone returned to their homes on the homestead and resumed their normal routine while Zebulon and Issachar took their money and left the homestead to bury it.
The next day when the sun was high in a cloudless sky and the bleating sounds of sheep along with the guttural sounds of the cattle were heard by Father Jacob as he made his way down from a sandy berm toward his pastoral grounds in the land of Canaan. Even though he had only been away for a few days, he was always happy to see the entirety of his temporal blessings, the vast pastures and stables for his flocks and herds. He saw at a distance his youngest son on a horse running flat out toward his caravan to greet him. Benjamin, with his dark brown hair and dark brown eyes, brought him much happiness as did his stalwart son Joseph, who was getting too old for such displays of admiration.
After a joyful reunion, Benjamin joined Jacob out in front of the caravan which was laden down with food, spices, fabric and many other household goods needed to maintain a sprawling estate along with other things that could only come from the city. After settling in, Israel sent Benjamin out with a message to every son and daughter and their families, instructing them to come to a feast that evening.
Joseph was feeling much better after taking time to rest from his harrowing trip in the sandstorm. He came to the feast early to give Israel the evil report of his four brothers, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. Father Jacob listened intently as Joseph recited all the details of the plot he had uncovered.
His response to Joseph wasn’t what he expected. “You have had the birthright for nearly two years now and though you are still just a boy, but with a mans responsibility. I expect great things from you. I expect you to be able to handle yourself among your brethren. You are strong and able both physically and spiritually. I expect you to be able to deal with your brethren and see that they do right by God and by the laws of my household. It is by handling the various issues that come up that help you develop wisdom and that takes time.”
“But Father, they have threatened my life. They have sought to kill me. Would you have me use physical force with my brothers?” asked a deflated Joseph.
“I would prefer my sons get along with each other, but I know very well that they do not. I know they are jealous of you and they do not agree with me and the Lord in giving you the birthright. There are, apparently times when you may have to use your size to put a few of them in their place. That is not the preferred way, but there are times when that may be the only way.”
“I know I am strong and big for my age, but how can I stand against four brothers at one time? That is what I would have had to do out in the fields if I were to have responded to their rustling of sheep.”
“No, no, I guess you are right about that. It is one thing to physically stand up to one or two at a time. Tonight at the feast I am making a presentation to you. I will not tell you more than that because I want you to be surprised. I expect that afterward, your brothers will see you in a different light. That may help.”
Joseph left his father wondering what had just happened. His father did not seem to be upset about the evil report and his father seemed to think that the power of the birthright should always prevail. One thing Joseph was good at was having faith in God and faith in his fathers’ teachings. Of course, now he was wondering about his father’s teachings since his father did not seem to care about the evil afoot in his household. Didn’t he care that his sons were thieves and hurting other people?
The feast was well underway and everyone was well fed and enjoying themselves. As was usual in these settings, Joseph was surrounded by many of his brothers’ wives and children. Both Joseph and Benjamin enjoyed time with the nephews and nieces. In many cases, they treated their older nephews and nieces as younger siblings.
After the servants had cleared away the dishes and stoked the fires, Father Jacob stood up and stroked his long gray beard. His presence commanded everyone’s attention.
“The reason why I have called this feast was to make a public presentation to your brother Joseph. As you know, in accordance with the Patriarchal laws and the will of God, Joseph is the legal and lawful bearer of the birthright that I have bestowed upon him. While he has held that lofty position for two years now, he has not yet received the symbol of the birthright. When the coat was taken from Reuben, it was tattered, torn and useless. I commissioned another coat of many colors and I have it now. Joseph come up here and received the symbol of your office.”
Joseph, in his youthful vigor, short beard and broad shoulders stood up tall. He walked with his head held high to where his father stood. His father held out a dazzling new coat with long sleeves and a twelve colored stripe pattern that ran from collar to hem. He helped Joseph put on the coat. It fit perfectly. The crowded hall filled to capacity with ten families erupted into a congratulatory applause, all except for the ten older brothers.
After the noise settled, Israel called on Joseph to say a few words. Joseph cleared his throat and started to speak. He wasn’t prepared to speak and wasn’t sure what to say.
He cleared his throat again, “I know that you all jokingly refer to me as the dreamer. That is all right. I do not mind. I feel the need to share a dream I have had recently. I would rather not share the dream and leave it to myself, but because of the urgency with which it was given to me, I feel the need to share it with you all.”
He set the stage for the dream and how the dream came to him in a setting from the fields where they would harvest grain.
“The pile of sheaves I had was large and all the sheaves in that pile came together as one very large sheaf of grain. It stood upright. It was twice as tall as I am. All of your small sheaves joined together into eleven smaller sheaves. They stood at the feet of my sheaf and bowed down to my bundle. Your sheaves worshiped my sheaf.”
There was a loud murmur in the audience, which came from each of the ten oldest brothers. The murmuring turned into angry catcalls. It was one thing to see their younger brother arrayed in a glorious coat of many colors. They didn’t like that, but they could deal with it. But it was another thing entirely to see him stand and tell them they would all bow down to their younger brother as if he was to be their ruler and have dominion over them.
Joseph felt awkward and insecure at his brother’s response. He turned to Israel for guidance. Father Jacob put his hands together like a spire in front of his face and bowed to Joseph encouraging him to go on with his speech.
Joseph took courage from his fathers’ response. He stood tall, squared his shoulders and raised his voice to a commanding tone which restored order to the fray.
“I can only speak to you from the feelings of my heart and the words and dreams given me from the God of Abraham.” The crowd quieted even more after hearing such a declaration.
“I received another dream after the dream of the sheaves. This dream was even more spectacular. In this dream, I saw countless stars of the heavens, and the moon. Then when the sun came out, eleven stars shone brighter than the rest. Along with the moon, they gave of their reflected light. When I came into the scene, I saw the eleven stars, the moon and the son all bow down to me and give me obeisance– ”
Joseph was cut off sharply by murmuring from the audience. Joseph turned to his father for guidance. He saw Father Jacob along with Leah, Zilpah and Bilhah and grandfather Isaac all shook their heads in disbelief.
Oh no, I’ve done it now, thought Joseph. I’ve gone too far. But what was I supposed to do? The God of my fathers gave me these great dreams to share. If I didn’t share these dreams with my family who would I have shared them with, the servants?
He looked around in the great hall and saw a commotion as the brothers were talking back and forth angrily gesturing toward Joseph. Father Jacob was still shaking his head as he spoke to Grandfather Isaac. The only people in the audience that seemed unaffected by what he had to say were the nephews and nieces scattered around, along with Dinah and Benjamin.
Seeing Dinah smiling and nodding her head reassuringly toward him gave Joseph courage. He tried unsuccessfully to get the audience’s attention.
What have I done? Why would God give me these dreams with the strong feeling to share them with my family only to have them turn on me?
In spite of the uproar, he put his trust in God that he had done the right thing. He wasn’t sure what would happen, but he knew he was correct which gave him peace. He turned to Father Jacob to see him listening to Grandfather Isaac. Jacob seemed to be agreeing with Isaac and his countenance was changing as Isaac spoke to him emphatically. Joseph stood on the stand alone commanding no one’s attention.
Joseph started to notice slowly that the audience was quieting down. He looked around to see the cause of the shift in the mood. He saw Isaac in his frail state walking with Jacob to where Joseph was standing. There was a change in the countenance of his father.
Israel motioned for Joseph to step aside. By the time Jacob was in place to speak to the crowd they were all curiously quiet waiting to hear what rebuke Jacob would give their insulting and venomous little bother.
“My children. Give an ear to my words,” said Israel, “when I heard the dream of the sheaves of grain, I was in agreement with it. It went along perfectly with the birthright Joseph has. He was entitled to receive that dream. When I heard the second dream, the dream where even me and his mother bowed down to him made me bristle at the very thought. As my dear Father Isaac reminded me, as the birthright is passed down from one generation to the next, so is the authority. While Joseph is only seventeen he is worthy of the mantle placed upon him. He is the chosen one of the God of our fathers. You will, we all will give Joseph the respect of the birthright and the mantle that comes with the coat of many colors.”
There was complete silence in the room. And for a moment, there was a peaceful spirit in the air, which didn’t last long as they all started to file out of the great hall. Outside of that hall, the murmuring and complaining erupted again as fast and sure as a wildfire.Chapter 3: Obedience

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

A month passed and it was time to round up most of the sheep and send them to greener pastures to graze. This would take several weeks of work and organization. Throughout the homestead, everything was busy. Some were gathering the flocks while others continued to shear the sheep before they left. As was customary, Israel held classes three times a week to teach his family the glorious ways of the Hebrew God.
While the other sons had never fully appreciated these opportunities to learn about God, Joseph never missed one if he was at home. As Benjamin was growing older, his interest was growing stronger in the classes. As the hour of the next class came up, Joseph told Judah, Zebulon and some of his other brothers standing nearby that he was leaving the fields and the hot dry weather to learn at the feet of his father in the comfort of a shaded garden.
“Who does that little slithering serpent think he is?” asked Zebulon.
“What he thinks he is and what he is are two very different things. That little serpent will get what’s coming to him the first chance we get,” responded Simeon as he wiped some of the perspiration from his forehead.
“I do not know how much more I can take from that rat,” said Levi shaking his fist. Judah just shook his head in disbelief.
With each passing day, Joseph’s brothers grew angrier and more hateful toward him. The only members of his fathers’ household that were peaceful toward him were his younger brother Benjamin, his father Jacob, his grandfather Isaac and his sister Dinah. After sharing the dreams he had with his family, some of his brothers’ wives started to turn on him. He was starting to feel like a stranger in his own home.
As Joseph, with his strong gait, was walking toward the garden where the lessons were held he could hear both of his brothers and some servants speak evil about him, saying, “How does he possibly think he can reign over us?” While he could reprimand the servants, there was virtually nothing he could effectively do toward his brothers. He swallowed his pride and made his way to the shaded garden, all the while wishing he could beat some humility into his brothers.
“I know it has been hard for you Joseph since I rightfully bestowed the birthright on you two years ago and now that you officially have the symbol of the birthright in the coat of many colors. It seems your brethren are even more upset with you than ever before. I’ve told you before that you need to sometimes physically stand up for yourself and that is still true. However, there are other ways to deal with those who are opposed to you. That is to love them– ”
“What?” exclaimed Joseph with a look of shock on his face. “How is that possible? It makes no sense. How can you possibly love those who hate you and abuse you?”
Warmly smiling, Israel went on to say, “There are many different types of love, the love of a friend, romantic love, a type of respect that includes love. I could go on, but the one thing that those types of love have in common is what we will talk about in today’s lesson.”
While some of Jacobs daughters, servants and daughters-in-law were in attendance, they were not permitted to speak. Only the men of the family could actively participate. Joseph and young Benjamin were the only students who could interact with Israel as was their tradition.
“There is an element of love that is more important than any other aspect of Godly attributes. The word for it is Charity. Without charity all the gifts and blessings we have are worthless.”
Looking directly at Joseph, Father Jacob went on, “You are known for your dreams. Those dreams are God’s way of using you to tell of things to come. This is a prophetic blessing. It is a great gift from God. However, if you do not have charity, then you are nothing. If you don’t prove yourself by exercising charity, then with time, your gifts and blessings from the Lord will be taken from you and you will be left to your own devices.”
Joseph’s ruggedly handsome face showed worry in the furrows of his forehead and the shallow wrinkles around the corners of his mouth and eyes. Joseph nervously ran his large, strong hands through his thick brown hair.
Sensing that Joseph was concerned, Israel went on teaching that charity was more important than faith, good works, understanding mysteries or any other godly characteristic. But charity is something that, when understood, was easily within anyone’s grasp if they were humble and sought after it.
“The special kind of love we are talking about is the attribute of being long-suffering, kind, and not puffed up in our own pride. It does not envy what others have and it does not put itself above others. We are all God’s children and he loves every one of us the same.”
Israel paused while he took a drink of fresh, cool water and he wiped perspiration from off his face. “He doesn’t always love what his children do, but he wants every one of his children to come back and live with him in the end.
“If you want to have charity, then you cannot be selfish, or think of evil things. Don’t allow yourself to be easily provoked and don’t behave unseemly. If you have charity you have hope and you are willing to believe all good things that come from God, and you are willing, no matter how hard it is to endure all things put before you.”
Even in the shade of the garden trees it was still hot and dry, just not as hot as in the fields. Joseph took a drink of water and then asked, “Father, I have always tried to do my best, but what you are teaching me seems impossible. How can a person possibly live at that level?”
“With God all things are possible. If you put forth your best efforts and keep trying and seeking after this level of living you will be richly blessed throughout your life.”
Joseph took a long, deep breath and his face seemed to relax a little as he listened to these inspired words from the family Patriarch. Joseph had learned early on that if he did not fully understand his father, he eventually would if he was patient and looked to the God of Abraham for comfort and guidance.

~

“Benjamin, run out into the fields and find Reuben and tell him that I want to talk to him,” said Father Jacob.
“Do I have to? It could take hours to find him. It is so hot out there. I am afraid I will roast to death. Can you wait until the evening meal to talk to him? Please?” whined Benjamin.
“I need to talk to him now, not this evening. Now, get a drink of water and go and do as you are told.”
Benjamin wasn’t happy, but at last he was obedient and ran out to find Reuben. As Benjamin feared, it took two hours that seemed like five hours to find Reuben and have him report back to Israel.
“Father. You called for me?”
“Reuben. Yes, come forward and sit down.”
Reuben dusted himself off and took a drink from the large bucket of fresh water as he stepped before Israel and sat down.
“It is time to take the flock to greener fields. You will be in charge of your brothers and the expedition.”
“Does not that job belong to young Joseph, the bearer of the birthright?” said Reuben sardonically.
“Yes, it does, but he is not going,” said Israel.
“He will never earn our respect if he does not carry his weight and work the sheep and herds with us.”
“Do not worry yourself about Joseph. He will be staying behind to manage the herds and to teach Benjamin a little about the farm and the herds. He is pulling his weight just fine.”
“Whatever you say, Father, you are the Patriarch of the family. Where would you like us to graze the flock?”
“I want you to take the sheep to Shechem. We have not used that land in years and it should be thick and well prepared for our flock.”
“Certainly you cannot be serious. I do not think it is safe for us to be there so soon after we fled out of that land,” said Reuben scornfully.
“It has been several years and if we do not make an effort to use the land someone might take it for themselves. The land is legally ours. Surely you and your brothers can handle yourselves if there is any conflict. You managed to do plenty well fighting in Shechem those many years ago. Take extra servants with you if you are afraid for your safety,” said Father Jacob.
“Very well. We should be ready within a week to depart,” said Reuben in a tone indicating that he had given up.
“Do not rustle any sheep while you are gone.”
Reuben’s eyes lit up when he heard that statement.
“Joseph told me what happened when he was out with Dan, Gad, Asher, and Naphtali. That practice had better stop or you and your brothers will be without any inheritance at all,” said Father Jacob sternly.
Reuben was furious when he heard what his father had just said. He got up and stomped out of the hall without saying anything more. That night at the evening meal he told his brothers, they would be having a meeting after they had finished eating. During dinner, Joseph and Benjamin were sitting by each other and talking.
“Joseph, you are so lucky to have memories of our mother. You and all the rest of my brothers all know their mothers. It is not fair that I do not know anything about her except for what I am told. I do not have any memories,” sighed Benjamin.
“I never thought of that. I can understand that you would be upset. I can tell you that there will never be another woman born to this earth that is as fair and lovely as our mother was,” said Joseph comfortingly.
“Beside what she looked like, what was she like?”
She was gentle and kind. I do not have as many memories of her as you might think. I was young when she died. But I do remember sitting on her lap and being held by her. She loved me and taught me some important things.”
“Do you remember what those things were?”
“Not as much as I remember how she taught me.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I remember that she taught with love and she made me feel like I wanted to do what she told me to do,” Joseph dabbed a tear away.
Shaking his head like he was starting to understand, Benjamin asked, “Do you think that could happen to me since I do not know how it felt to be in her presence?”
Joseph was not sure how to answer that question. As he thought about it, he took a sip of water and dabbed his forehead.
“For me, our Mother is a symbol of love and all that is right with the world. I feel her when I do good, and sometimes when I feel sad and alone. It is similar to how the Holy Spirit works with us.” Joseph saw the expression of a question on Benjamin’s face.
“When was the last time you did something good or right? Can you remember?” asked Joseph.
“Earlier today it seemed hotter than usual and I was tired and I did not want to finish working in a pig pen. I was ready to leave early, but I remembered a lesson that Father Jacob taught us once about honesty and so I decided to stay and finish the work.”
“How did you feel after you were finished with the work?” asked Joseph.
“Hot and sweaty.”
Joseph smiled at his response. “Other than that, how did you feel? You know, how did you feel inside?”
“Thinking for a moment, Benjamin said, “I felt strong and good inside, like I could be relied on.”
“There you go. You felt good inside. If you had quit and walked away without finishing the job you would have felt bad or guilty for not doing it right?”
“Right,” Benjamin nodded in agreement.
“Where did the good feeling come from?” Joseph asked encouragingly.
Benjamin had a look like he knew, but didn’t have the words to express it. He thought a for a few moments and then looked at Joseph silently asking for some help.
“When we do something good we get a good feeling and when we do something bad we get a bad feeling. The Holy Spirit helps us with those good feelings we have.”
Benjamin nodded as it dawned on him what Joseph was getting at. Joseph went on to say. “Like all that, when I do good or right things I feel good, sometimes from the Holy Spirit and other times it feels like a loving feeling from Mother Racheal. It looks like you are starting to understand and I think if you pray and ask the Lord to help you discern, maybe you can feel her. If you are not sure where that good feeling comes from just know that it is all the same because our Mother was deeply committed to the God of our Fathers.”
Benjamin replied by taking a deep breath and shaking his head, which indicated that he only partially understood what Joseph was telling him.
“How about you and I go talk to Father Jacob? He might have a better answer than I do,” said Joseph.
“Yes. That is a good idea. Maybe right after we are finished eating?”
“Yes, as soon as we are done eating. Now eat. My food is getting cold.”
The evening meal was over and Joseph, and Benjamin were in conversation with Father Jacob, which meant that Reuben and his brothers would have to find another place to meet. They decided to go to Reuben’s house. His house was the largest among the brothers.
“Father knows about our sheep rustling and keeping the profits,” announced Reuben angrily.
“Let me guess, Joseph got to him after all,” replied Simeon with contempt.
“Exactly. He threatened us with taking away our inheritance if we did not stop.”
“That filthy venomous little serpent,” said Asher red faced. “Who does he think he is?”
“We have to do something about him,” said Naphtali in frustration.
“He thinks he is so wonderful that he can rule over us. That will be the day,” said Issachar with a snide tone to his voice.
“Father thinks Joseph is so wonderful, such a great leader with the birthright and he cannot even keep from getting lost in a sandstorm,” bellowed Gad.
“I called this meeting,” said Reuben in a loud voice, “To tell you that we have a week to get everything ready to take the flock out to graze.”
“Where are we taking them?” asked Levi still shaking his head in animosity.
“Shechem,” answered Reuben.
“Really? That should be interesting,” replied Simeon with an evil grin on his face.
“That concerns me,” said Dan. “What we did there and how we fled so fast, do you think those people have forgotten us?”
“I hope so. I am not afraid to fight, but I would rather not,” said Judah trying to sound strong.
“Father thinks it will be all right and he thinks the grass will be thick and green and perfect for the sheep,” added Reuben.
“Well, if we only have a week to get started, then we better get ourselves a good night’s rest and get started early in the morning,” said Judah.

Chapter 4: Forgiveness

So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. Genesis 50:17

Five months had passed since Reuben led his brothers and their thousands of sheep to their seasonal grazing in Shechem. During those five-months, Joseph and Benjamin had been regularly taught more in the ways of doctrine and the ways of managing the estate. Benjamin wasn’t as interested in these topics as he was in spending time with his brother and father, but he did learn. Joseph was gaining more confidence in his responsibilities while having this extra time with his father.
After their midday meal Dinah, Benjamin and Joseph went for a walk in the shady garden with the sky a brilliant blue and long shadows cast over the garden giving them good relief from the scorching sun. They were enjoying a nice conversation with each other when Benjamin asked, “Dinah, how come you are not married?”
“Benjamin that is not a polite thing to ask,” responded Joseph. Dinah blushed.
“All of our brothers are married and all of our sisters except Dinah are married. Why is that not a polite thing to ask? I am just curious,” replied Benjamin weakly. Dinah was still blushing.
“You do not need to know that. Go over to the barn and feed the livestock,” demanded Joseph with an air of authority.
“I did not mean to do anything wrong,” replied Benjamin as he got up and left the great hall.
“Thank you for that,” said Dinah as Benjamin closed the door.
“You are welcome. I hope I was never like that when I was that young,” said Joseph.
“You were young and foolish just like Benjamin, but in different ways. It is part of growing up. I suppose we all went through something like that when we were young,” said Dinah.
“Dinah, since the topic has come up, if you do not want to talk about it, then tell me, but from what I know about your story with Shechem, I have wondered why you have not married. You did nothing wrong. So why not marry?”
“We are only suppose to marry Hebrews and since I am not a virgin, no one wants to marry me.”
“Why does that part of your life matter to anyone?”
“You are young, Joseph, maybe too young for this conversation.”
“I am young I know, but I do know about life and from what I know about your story, what happened should not be held against you.”
“Well, I was there – ”
“But from what I have heard from my brothers you were not a willing participant. Is that right?”
“That is true. I did tell him to stop and he refused. He said he wanted to marry me, but– ”
“If he really wanted to marry you then why did he treat you like that?”
“I have wondered that many times before,” said Dinah wistfully.
“Maybe what Simeon and Levi did was not such a bad thing,” observed Joseph.
“Father Jacob did not think it was a wise thing for them to do and I think I agree. I am not sure killing Shechem, and Hamor was right. I know that killing all the men in Shechem was wrong, I know that much for sure.”
“I do not know if I agree. If I was old enough and understood, I may have joined my brothers, at least in killing Shechem. Maybe not all the men in the city of Shechem, but at least the man who hurt you.”
“I have spent much time talking with Father and with my Mother Leah. I think forgiveness is a better way to go in the end, at least better than trying to exact revenge.”
“But what he did to you still affects you making it so that you are not married and not having your own kids. He really hurt you with a pain that will last your whole life,” said Joseph with a hint of rage in his voice. “How can you possibly forgive anyone who has done something like that to you?”
“Forgiveness is not easy, but it is worth it in the long run. My life is not ruined. There is more than one way to live life and who knows, I may still marry,” replied Dinah hopefully.
“Maybe you are crazy or maybe I do not understand . . . How can you forgive someone like that for what they did to you?”
“What he did to me was wrong and it was terrible, but if I did not forgive him, he would still be hurting me even to this very day. Forgiving him was a smart way to get over what he did to me.”
“Please forgive me Dinah, I am young I know it, but I am not dumb, but I just do not understand what you are saying, it makes no sense . . .” Joseph was getting frustrated.
“Forgiving means many things, but the most important parts of forgiving is to let go of what they did to you – ”
“But – ” Joseph was trying to interrupt.
“Just hear me out. Sit still and listen to me my dear young brother.”
“All right, I will be quiet, go on.”
“I could harbor all those terrible feelings from what Shechem did to me. If I hold onto all those angry feelings, then whenever I remember back, it would still hurt. I would be hurting all the time. Letting go of it and trying not to dwell on it freed me from being hurt again by him. I strive to not let what happened continue to hurt me or define me. What I am is not a victim to Shechem, but a daughter of God who has a lot to offer my family and my God.”
There were several years just after it all happened that I felt like I was under his control even though he was dead and gone. But with the advice and counsel from Mother Leah and Father Jacob, I am free from the effect of Shechem. That is my forgiveness to him. It is strange that forgiving him helps me.”
“Since you have forgiven him, does that mean he should not have been punished?” asked Joseph.
“Not at all. He should have been punished, not killed, but punished. He should not be allowed to ever do that again to any other woman.”
“So maybe killing him like Simeon and Levi did was not so bad after all. Since he is dead, he can no longer hurt any other woman,” suggested Joseph.
“Maybe all you brothers are alike after all, all you talk about is killing . . .” Dinah’s voice trailed off.
Joseph did not like being compared to his brothers. He meant what he said in the most sincere way.
“I am sorry Dinah, I will no longer mention killing Shechem. I do not want to add to your burden.”
“Let us turn the tables Joseph. We both know how rotten our brothers have been to you. Do you carry that hurt feeling around, or have you forgiven them for their meanness?”
“I do not know. I have never thought of it. I know Father has talked about forgiveness before, but not like we have today. I guess I have not fully forgiven them.”
“Do you think you should?” asked Dinah.
“Yes, I probably should. What they have done to me is far less than what has been done to you,” said Joseph thoughtfully.
“Think about it and consider fully forgiving them. I have to go help prepare the evening meal,” said Dinah as she walked up to Joseph and gave him a hug.
~

Father Jacob called Benjamin into the great hall. “Son, I need you to go find Joseph and tell him I need to see him after he was done with his work at the end of the day.”
After looking around, Benjamin found Joseph working in the barn with some cows. “Father wants to see you when your work is done for the day,” Benjamin said matter of factly.
“Do you know what he wants of me?” asked Joseph.
“He did not tell me. All he said was that he wanted to speak with you.”
“All right then, thanks for the message.” Faithful to his fathers’ wishes, Joseph went directly to his father’s house after his last job was completed.
“It has been five months since your brothers have left for Shechem, and I have not yet received word from them. They were supposed to send a servant once a month with a report on how they are doing,” said Israel with a worried tone in his voice.
“I want you to take tomorrow and prepare everything you need for a long trip and the next day rise up early and travel to the land of Shechem, and check on the flocks and your brothers and then return and bring me an update.”
“Benjamin might want to come – ”
“No!” declared Israel. “He will stay behind.”
“I will gladly do as you wish,” said Joseph eager to see if the forgiveness he had given his brothers would hold up once he saw them in person.
Joseph brought with him two servants and enough pack animals for all the required provisions. He led the small caravan. As they rode on day after day under the burning heat of the scorching sun, Joseph tried striking up a conversation with both of the servants. They were respectful yet withdrawn. In the past, he never seemed to have any trouble talking with any of the servants. This was an unusual circumstance. He wondered if he should flat out ask them why they seemed to be hesitant in speaking with them, then the thought came to him that they may have had a change of heart from all the anti Joseph feelings that his brothers had been spreading throughout the estate. The more he thought about it, the more likely it seemed. He kept to himself the rest of the trip.
Joseph had seldom experienced loneliness in the past because he always felt at home in his mind. In his mind, he felt safe, safe from the evil words and ridicule from his hateful brothers and he felt a calming, peaceful feeling as he pondered on the things of God. Sometimes in his mind, memories of his dear mother flourished.
Why has God chosen me to have the birthright? Why do my brothers hate me so badly? If they would simply follow the commandments of the Hebrew God, they would be so much happier and content, and they wouldn’t have any reason to hate me so much and to treat me so badly, Joseph thought to himself.
Joseph was eight years old when his mother Racheal died while giving birth to Benjamin. He tried hard to remember what she looked like. Sometimes he would dream about her, but in the light of day, all that was left of those dreams were great memories of love. These memories had a physical quality about them. It was as if he could feel warm inside as he thought about his mother’s love for him. He also reflected on the many things she taught him in his young life. Those that he remembered all centered around love.
Joseph wasn’t old enough to get married, but he always knew he would marry a righteous woman favored of God. He wouldn’t deliberately do anything to sin against the birthright. He knew something about the birthright that his brothers seem to overlook. The birthright blessings were not just the leadership role over the family and the flocks, herds and lands. The birthright was also a spiritual blessing.
His father told him when he gave him the birthright that is was immense responsibility. If Joseph strived to please the Lord, he would have the capacity to bare up the great responsibilities.
He yearned for a friendly relationship with his older brethren and he felt like he would do anything he possibly could to earn their acceptance, anything that is, except evil deeds. He loved his brothers dearly, but he loved God more.

 

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