Bible Society of South Africa


Jacob lived in the land of Canaan. He had twelve sons. The one was called Joseph. Jacob loved Joseph more than all his other sons. He made a long robe with full sleeves for him.

Joseph's brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more than he loved them. They hated their brother and would not speak to him in a friendly manner.

Joseph stayed at home while his brothers went to take care of their father's flock. Jacob said to Joseph, “Go and see if your brothers are safe. Then come back and tell me.”

Joseph went to find his brothers. They saw him in the distance and said to one another, “Come on now, let's kill him.” Reuben then said, “Let's not kill him.”

Then they took him and threw him into a dry well.

Suddenly the brothers saw travellers coming along and they pulled Joseph out of the well.

The brothers sold Joseph and the people carried him off as a slave to Egypt.

Jacob's sons dipped Joseph's robe in blood and showed it to Jacob. Jacob said, “Some wild animal has killed Joseph.” Jacob mourned for his son a long time.

Egypt was a very big country and Joseph was very far away from his father.

One night the king of Egypt had a dream. He dreamt that he was standing by the River Nile.

Seven cows came up out of the river. They were seven fine fat cows.

Then seven other cows came up. They were thin and bony. The thin cows ate up the fat cows, but they looked just as thin as before.

The king woke up. He had only been dreaming. But no one could explain his dream to him.

Then the king sent for Joseph. He said, “I have had a dream, and no one can explain it.” Joseph answered, “I cannot. God will give the right answer.”

Then Joseph said to the king, “God has told you what he is going to do. The seven fat cows are seven years. The grain will grow. There will be seven years of great plenty.”

“The seven thin cows are also seven years, seven years of famine. The grain will not grow. For seven years there will no be food. The people will die. The king must help.”

Joseph said, “The king must choose a wise man. He must collect all the food in the good years. The people must store up grain.”

The king said, “I choose you. You must take care of everything. All the people must do what you say.”

The seven years of plenty came to an end. There was famine in every other country, but there was food in the whole of Egypt.

There was famine also in the land of Canaan.

Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy some grain. The brothers saw Joseph, but they did not know who it was.

Joseph was very glad to see his brothers. Later he told them who he was.

His brothers were very much afraid. Joseph said, “There is enough food in Egypt. Go and bring back our father.”

Joseph’s brothers went back home to Canaan. They told Jacob, “Joseph is still alive!” They were all very glad.

Jacob and all his family went to Egypt. The Lord had told him, “Do not be afraid. I will go with you to Egypt.”

Genesis 37:1-36; 40:1-47:26


Illustrations by Annie Vallotton © Bible Society of South Africa

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
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