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imprisoned as an adulterer, raised to be ruler over the land of Egypt. The king afterwards called Joseph Zaphnath-Paaneah, and he gave him to wife Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah, priest of On.
Now being established in his high situation, Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt to survey it, so that during the seven plenteous years, when the earth brought forth abundantly, he gathered grain together in all directions, and laid it up in cities; and Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, so much so that they left numbering the quantity.
In this prosperity, to add to Joseph's domestic happiness, the Lord blessed him with two sons. The first he called Manasseh; for God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil; and the name of the second he called Ephraim; "for God," said he, " hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my afflictions."
Now the seven plenteous years having expired, the seven years of dearth commenced throughout all the land of Egypt, and the people began to cry for bread to Pharaoh. He ordered them to go to Joseph, whoopened the store-houses, and sold grain to them. And the famine was great also in all the countries round about Egypt.
But it is now necessary that we should revert to Jacob, the father of Joseph. It has already been mentioned that he had twelve sons, and that Joseph was the youngest except one, and was very much beloved by his father. How great, therefore, must have been Jacob's concern and sorrow, when, having sent him in search of his brethren, he found he did not return at the expected time!
Joseph's brethren found it difficult at first to decide upon a plan for deceiving their father in regard to their wicked conduct. At length they adopted the following expedient: they took Joseph's coat, and having killed a kid, dipped the coat in the blood, so that on their return home, they assumed the countenance of innocence and concern; and bringing the coat, which was covered with blood, inquired of Jacob, whether he knew it to be his son's coat or not, as they had found it in the field. The recognition was instant to the aged parent, who with the deepest sorrow exclaimed, " It is my son's coat! an evil beast has devoured him? Joseph, without doubt, is rent in pieces." Seeing him so grievously afflicted, his sons and daughters rose up on the occasion to comfort him; but he refused, saying, "I will go down to the grave to my son mourning." It has often appeared to men paradoxical, why God should permit trouble to visit those he loves; but according to the words of holy writ, we are satisfactorily instructed in the text, that "Wisdom is justified of her children."
Thus Jacob continued to mourn for his son, believing that he had been destroyed by some wild beast. While he was in this state of sorrow, still greater affliction and distress were pending over the house of Israel. The famine began to come on in the land of Canaan where he resided, so that he and his family, in addition to their other sufferings, began now to fear that they should perish with hunger. But having heard that there was corn in Egypt, he said to his sons, who during their whole conduct evinced a heartlessness and want of sympathy which called forth expressions of rebuke, "Why do ye look one upon another? behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt; get you down thither, and buy for us from thence, that we may live and not die." This admonitory remonstrance had its effect. Joseph's ten brethren went down into Egypt to buy food; but Benjamin, Joseph's brother by the same mother, Jacob would not send, perad venture mischief should likewise befal him.
At this time, Joseph was governor over Egypt, and all persons coming from foreign nations to purchase grain, first came and presented themselves before him, and bowed down themselves to him with their faces to the earth. When his brethren, on their arrival, came into his presence, he knew them,but they did not know him.
On this occasion, therefore, he judged it right not to disclose himself, but rather to speak roughly to them; he accordingly said, "Whence come ye?" to which they replied, " From the land of Canaan to buy food." On which Joseph observed, "Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land, ye are come!" to which they tremblingly answered, " Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. We are all one man's sons; we are true men; thy servants are no spies." Joseph, however, continued to maintain his charge : "Nay but," said he, "to see the nakedness of the land are ye come." They then, being filled with great fear and apprehension, replied, "Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not." But Joseph continued his accusation, "That is it that I spake unto you; ye are spies. Hereby ye shall be proved: by the life of Pharaoh, ye shall not go forth hence, except your younger brother come hither. Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved whether there be any truth in you; or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely ye are spies." Having said this, he ordered them all to prison; but when they had been confined three days, Joseph commanded them to be brought before him, and thus addressed them: "Behold, this ye must do, if ye desire to live; for I fear God. If ye he true men, let one of your men be left here as hostage; but go ye carry corn for the famine of your houses; but bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die."
The brethren, now conversing together in their own language, not being aware that Joseph understood them, said to one another, " We are really guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us,and we would not hear; therefore has the Lord visited this distress upon us." On which Reuben, one of the brethren, remarked, "Spake I not unto you saying, do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear; and, therefore, behold, his blood is required by the Lord at our hands." This deep repentance and affliction, on the part of the brethren, overpowered the kind heart of Joseph, and he turned from them and wept. But to fulfil his purpose, he turned to them again, and communed with them, and having taken from them Simeon, bound him before their eyes. He then commanded their sacks to be filled with corn, and to restore every man's money to his sack, and to give them provision for the way: they then loaded their asses with the corn, and departed. Having proceeded on their