« السابقةمتابعة »
the son of hing sold, the Obdifficult to
Moved with envy, Joseph's brethren sold him to the Ishmelites, who were going from Gilead with spies into Egypt, where Joseph was again sold for a bond slave. The causes which seemed to occasion this deadly envy were the following. Joseph was the son of his father's old age, and until about the time of his being sold, the only child of the belova ed Rachel. It seems rather difficult to determine whether Benjamin was born, or not at this time. The faithful historian informs us, that “ Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age.” By this it would rather seem that Benjamin was not born for he was more especially the son of Jacob's old age than Joseph. But the scripture chronology supposes that Benjamin was born, and of course, that Rachel died in the one thousand seven hundred and twenty ninth year before Christ, and that Joseph was sold the same year. Such is the nature of partiality it seldom avoids being seen. It was so visible in Jacob's conduct, that it created an unhappy jealousy in the minds of the rest of the family, so that they “ hated Joseph, and could not speak peaceably unto him.”
Nor was this parental partiality the only occasion of that cruel envy which moved Joseph's brethren against him ; for we are informed that heaven inspired him with two remarkable dreams, which evidently suggested the idea of his future superiority over them, and their bowing down to him as to a superior. An envious mind is always in the dark. Had these brethren been wise, thev would have seen no occasion to be angry at their brother. If their father was imprudent enough to indulge an improper partiality in favor of the son of his old age, it was far from right to hate the son for the fault of the father. If they supposed the dreams which their brother told were not divinely dictated, but were either the fruits of vain imaginastions, or only contrived up in order to deceive, they might have saved themselves any trouble by being content to wait with patience until time should shew the folly of all such vain attempts or imaginations. But their hearts were not right; they therefore took the wrong way, the broad road that leads to destruction.
Full of burning, envy and indignation these brethren left the family circle, the sacred tent of venerable Israel, in the vale of Hebron, and went to feed their father's flock at Shechem.
Notwithstanding Jacob felt a partiality for Joseph, he was by no means unmindful of his other children. He felt a solicitous concern for the welfare of his absent sons, and proposed to Joseph that he should go to Shechem to enquire for his brethren's health and prosperity. The tender unsuspicious youth was as ready to obey as the father was to command. Without the least hesitation or suspicion he sat off on this errand of love. Little did the venerable patriarch think what treatment awaited the darling of his heart ; little did he then think of the sorrows which were to overwhelm his soul. Little did the tender child anticipate the cruel sufferings which were to reward his filial obedience and fraternal affection. Little did he think, when he parted with his father in the lovely vale of Hebron, that he should see him no more till he should embrace him in a strange land, where he should be a father to his father, and the lord and support of his brethren.
When he came to Shechem he was informed that his brethren had removed to Dothan where he immediately repaired and found them. But here in room of meeting the friendly eye and the affectionate smile, and being kindly welcomed to peaceful tents of humble shepherds, he beholds the eye of anger kindled with envy, the clouded brow of wrath foreboding an awful storm, the dread image of hate' drawn in each visage. In vain does he turn his innocent eye from one to another in search of a kind protector. He is violently seized ,striped of his coat of many colours and cast into a pit that was in the wilderness. This done, these-unnatural brethren sat down to eat bread.
Here we may observe the wisdom and goodness of God in making use of one sinful passion to control another so as to cause the wrath of man to praise him, and to restrain the remainder. Divine providence so ordered, that at this hour the traveling merchants from Gilead arrived at this place, which suggested the idea of selling Joseph. These murderous brethren had formed the deterınination, in the first place, to take his life outright; but Reuben wishing to deliver him out of their hands, proposed to cast him into the pit, where their determination was to let him die. But now avarice gains so much on anger, as by promising to rid thern forever of their fear of becoming at all dependent on Joseph, that they consent to sell him for twenty pieces of silver. To attempt to describe the feelings of Joseph on this trying occasion would be in vain. Poor solitary youth, not an earthly friend in the wide world that could extend to him the arm of deliverance, or even speak one consoling word. « Separated from his brethren,” he now moves along with his unfeeling masters, but with what reluctant steps. No doubt he cast a lingering eye of compassion on his persecutors, and how hard was the thought that he should see them no more. With what painful reflections did his thoughts return to the parental tent in the lovely vale of Hebron, how did his bosom swell with grief when the pangs of everlasting adieu to the sacred circle of home, country and liberty pierced his tortured soul ? But with his brethren were very different reftections. They had fortunately sold their fears for twenty pieces of silver. As the object of their envy receded from their sight, they sought repose in a refuge of lies and deceit. They now felt secure from the humiliating thought of ever bowing down to their brother or of seeing their father's fondness exercised over the child of his old age. They now rend the coat of many colours,dip it in blood and carry it to their father. He knows the garment, and ex. claims; “it is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him ; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.” He mourns the untimely death of his son, determined to refuse all comfort, and to go down to the grave, to his son mourning.
Let us now notice the remarkable instances of the wisdom and goodness of God manifested in all this sinful, disastrous conduct of the cruel sons of Israel, and in the partiality of the over fond father.
According to rational calculation, we may suppose, that if the father of this family had preserved an impartial regard for his children, it would have been the means of lengthening its tranquility. If Joseph had not dreamed and told the dreams which served to kindle the fire of envy in his brethren's hearts, it seems reasonable to suppose that they might all have lived harmoniously and in peace. But how evident it is that God overruled all these circumstances and events for the good of all concerned. How evident it is that the divine wisdom had the directing of all these affairs. Joseph is now safe in Egypt the country of his future glory, excellency and usefulness, but a bond slave, a menial servant. Who could believe that this degraded condition lay on his road to fame ? But now consider him accused by his mistress of an infamous crime, consider him cast into prison. Here again the criminality and deceit of his accusor is all controled by heaven for the honor of God, the good of millions, the exaultation of the innocent sufferer and the celebration of ages.
Into the same prison where Joseph was bound, the king cast his chief butler and chief baker, whose dreams Joseph interpreted agreeably to the final verdict of his majesty. But the chief butler, contrary to the request of injured Joseph, was so elated with being again restored to favor and office, that he forgot the young prisoner who for two full years more lay in the prison, until the dreams of Pharoah brought him to the butler's recollection. It was about fourteen years from the time Joseph left the sweet and tranquil habitation of his beloved father to the time he was brought out of prison in Egypt, to stand before his majesty the king, to interpret those remarkable dreams by which he was warned of seven years of great plenty, which should be followed with seven more of famine. The wisdom which appeared in this long afflieted Hebrew brought him into favor with Pharoah, who appointed him to be over his own house and to rule his people according to his will.
During the seven years of plenty Joseph used such prudence and economy as to lay up vast quantities of corn in store against the long and severe famine which he foresaw would visit the land.
When the dearth came it was not confined to Egypt, but extended over all the face of the earth, so that all countries were dependent on Egypt for bread. The famine was sore in the land of Canaan, and pale hunger began to threaten the extensive household of Jacob and his suns. Jacob therefore said to his sons; “ Why do you look one upon another ? 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.” They came into Egypt and into the presence of Joseph; but he was so altered in the space of about twenty one years, or perhaps more, and as they had no thought of seeing him at all, and especially no expectation of finding him the lord of all the land of Egypt, they