1Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.
2This is the account of Jacob’s family line.
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.
3Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate37:3 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain; also in verses 23 and 32. robe for him. 4When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
5Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6He said to them, ‘Listen to this dream I had: 7we were binding sheaves of corn out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered round mine and bowed down to it.’
8His brothers said to him, ‘Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?’ And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
9Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.’
10When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, ‘What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?’ 11His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
Joseph sold by his brothers
12Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13and Israel said to Joseph, ‘As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.’
‘Very well,’ he replied.
14So he said to him, ‘Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.’ Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, ‘What are you looking for?’
16He replied, ‘I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?’
17‘They have moved on from here,’ the man answered. ‘I heard them say, “Let’s go to Dothan.” ’
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
19‘Here comes that dreamer!’ they said to each other. 20‘Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.’
21When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. ‘Let’s not take his life,’ he said. 22‘Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.’ Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.
23So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe – the ornate robe he was wearing – 24and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
25As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
26Judah said to his brothers, ‘What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.’ His brothers agreed.
28So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels37:28 That is, about 230 grams of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
29When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30He went back to his brothers and said, ‘The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?’
31Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, ‘We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.’
33He recognised it and said, ‘It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.’
34Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.’ So his father wept for him.
36Meanwhile, the Midianites37:36 Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac (see also verse 28); Masoretic Text Medanites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.