Joseph and Egypt - Bible Stories answers questions


The story of Joseph

According to the Bible, Isaac was the son of Abraham and Sarah, and he married Rebecca. And they had two sons, Jacob and Esau (EE-sow). And Jacob married two women (this was allowed then), Rachel and Leah, who were sisters. Jacob and Leah had many sons, and then Jacob and Rachel had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin, whom Jacob loved best, because he loved Rachel best. Jacob made Joseph a fancy wool coat, and the other boys were all jealous. Then Joseph made things worse by telling them he had dreamed that someday his brother and even his parents would bow down to him.

cloth with many small people embroidered on it
Joseph dreams and gets put in the well, then talks to
Pharaoh (Egypt, 500s AD, cloth)

Now one day the boys were all out tending the sheep (because the Jews are still nomads; this is now around maybe 1300 BC), when the older ones decided to get rid of Joseph. They threw him in an empty well, and when some slave traders came by they sold Joseph to the slave traders.
The slave traders took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to the Pharaoh's captain of the guard, to be his slave. The captain's name was Potiphar (POT-ih-far). Joseph worked hard, but he got into trouble anyway. Potiphar's wife fell in love with Joseph, and when Joseph told her to go away and leave him alone, she lied to Potiphar and told him that Joseph had attacked her. (compare the Greek story of Phaedra). So Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison.

When Joseph was in prison, he interpreted a dream for the Pharaoh, because it was known that he was good at interpreting dreams. He did so well that he was released from prison and made the main advisor of the Pharaoh, and not a slave anymore, and he married the daughter of the Priest of On.
There came a time when there was another drought in Israel and Canaan, and the Jews did not have enough to eat. Joseph's bad brothers came to Egypt looking for food, and Joseph gave it to them, and finally after testing them he told them who he was, and forgave them. They were really sorry. Then Joseph and all his brothers and his father Jacob lived in Egypt for many years, and so did their children and their childrens' children.

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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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