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This proposition was at length agreed to; and Joseph having, by this time, come up to his brethren, they, without any ceremony, stripped him of his coat of many colours that was on him, and took him and cast him into a pit; and the pit was empty, and there was no water in it. Here poor Joseph must have expired, both from hunger and thirst, had it not been for the kind providence of his heavenly Father.
It happened,that afterthe brethren had been guilty of this inhuman conduct, they sat down to eat bread, and lifting up their eyes, they beheld a company of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead with their camels, bearing spices, and balm, and myrrh, going to carry them down to Egypt. On which Judah, one of the brethren, repenting of the crime he and his brothers were guilty of, said, "What profit is it that we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh." To this proposal the brethren agreed, and they drew up Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. Although the effort had but the shadow of kindness, yet it is proof that it is desirable to endeavour by a generous sentiment to affect hearts, though hard as these which we are now considering.
The Ishmaelites proceeded on their journey, and Joseph, who was now become a slave, was brought down into Egypt. He was about seventeen years of age, pleasing in his appearance, mild, gentle, and conciliating in his disposition; so that the Ishmaelites had reason to expect great profit in the disposal of the poor slave. They accordingly conveyed him to Potiphar, an Egyptian who was captain of the guard of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. In the service of Potiphar, Joseph succeeded far better than he did when he was with his brethren; for Potiphar, his master, seeing him a pious and excellent servant, and every thing prosperous in his hands, greatly to his own advantage, raised him from the condition of a slave to that of overseer; and finding him trustworthy, placed all that he had in his hands. The Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake, and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had, in the house and in the field.
In this state of good fortune, when Joseph Wat daily increasing in prosperity,he was on account of an evil-minded woman, placed in very distressing circumstances. This woman was the wife of Potiphar, his master. She becoming enamoured of Joseph's beauty, endeavoured, like the wily serpent, to tempt him to sin ; but Joseph, strengthened by the grace of God, resisted her importunities, and maintained his character guiltless. She, in the ardour of her desires, laid hold upon his garment; but he, to rescue himself from her embraces, left his garment in her hands, and fled. Seeing her unlawful passion was not gratified, revenge took place of love in her bosom ; andit came to pass, that when she saw he had left his garment in her hand and had fled, that she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them saying, "See, my husband hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me his. mistress, to caress me; but I cried with a loud voice, and as soon as he heard that I lifted my voice and cried, he left this his garment with me, and fled."
The artful woman having settled this part of her false accusation with her servants, waited anxiously for her husband's return, and on his arrival thus addressed him: "Behold! the Hebrew servant which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me; but it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left this his garment with me, and fled." On hearing this, Potiphar hecame exceedingly incensed against Joseph, and believing him to be guilty, without any further examination into the case, cast him into prison. In this unexpected and unhappy change from prosperity to adversity, he perhaps thought it would have been better if he had perished in the pit in the wilderness, than in a dungeon among heathen malefactors ; hut an event soon occurred, which rendered his situation more tolerable, and alleviated his affliction.
It happened that Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, became displeased with two of his officers, his chief butler and chief baker, on account of some fault which they had committed, and ordered them both to be confined in prison, and they were cast into the same prison with Joseph. Previous to this occurrence, Joseph, by his amiable and gentle conduct, had completely won the heart and good opinion of his fellow prisoners, and of the prison-keeper; so much so, that the latter, thinking him worthy of his confidence, entrusted him with the charge of all the prisoners. When the chief butler and chief baker arrived in the ward of the prison, they also were placed under the charge of Joseph.
One morning, when Joseph was visiting the prisoners, he perceived that the countenances of these two officers were very sad. He, therefore, kindly enquired of them, "Wherefore look ye so sadly to-day?" They dejectedly replied, that they had each dreamed a dream, which no one could interpret. On which Joseph interrogated, "Do not interpretations belong to Gods' Tell me them, I pray you." The chief butler then told his dream to Joseph Ps follows: "Behold, a vine was before me, and in the vine were three branches, and it was as though it budded, «nd its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes; and Pharaoh's cup was in my h.nnd, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand." Joseph, on hearing the dream, interpreted it as follows. "The three branches are three days ; yet within three days, shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place, and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand after the former manner, when thou wast his butler; but think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness I pray thee unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house; for indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into this dungeon."
The chief baker, having heard so favourable an interpretation of the butler's dream, desired Joseph to interpret his, and repeated it to him. "I also," he said, " was in my dream, and behold I had three white baskets on my head; and in the uppermost basket, there was of all manner of baked meats for Pharaoh, and the birds did eat them out of the baskets upon my head:" to