Jesse Tree Day 9: The Betrayal and Triumph of Joseph of Egypt

Hello and welcome to our Illustrated Jesse Tree, which is our Advent devotional! Today is all about the story of Joseph of Egypt, who you might know as the Old Testament figure who had a coat of many colors. Now, this is my favorite Old Testament story, but also it’s very, very long. So I tried to put it together as well as I could, and I included both the betrayal part, where his brothers betray him, and the triumphant part, where he is able to meet his brothers after they betrayed him… except now that he is in power, and they are not. Just know that there’s a lot that happens in between these two stories! And if you have time, maybe you should grab a bible and read all the bible text in between those stories, because it’s amazing. I love it.

Also, one more note… this particular bible translation is from the Douay Rheims bible, which does not use the Anglicized names, but rather the Latin names. For instance, Judah is written as Juda, Potiphar is written as Putiphar, and Pharaoh is written as Pharo. This is the actual text from the bible! And it’s because this text was translated from the Latin Vulgate.

And, with no more further ado… I hope you enjoy!


The Betrayal of Joseph

A Reading from the Book of Genesis (Genesis 37:3-36)

Now Israel loved Joseph above all his sons, because he had him in his old age: and he made him a coat of divers colours.

And his brethren seeing that he was loved by his father, more than all his sons, hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

Joseph of Egypt, by Master of the Griselda Legend, c. 1490-95. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., United States.
Master of the Griselda Legend (Italian, active early 1490s ), Joseph of Egypt, c. 1490/1495, oil on panel transferred to canvas, Samuel H. Kress Collection

Now it fell out also that he told his brethren a dream, that he had dreamed: which occasioned them to hate him the more.

Joseph Telling His Dreams, by Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1633. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Joseph Telling His Dreams, by Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1633. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

And he said to them: Hear my dream which I dreamed.

I thought we were binding sheaves in the field: and my sheaf arose as it were, and stood, and your sheaves standing about, bowed down before my sheaf.

His brethren answered: Shalt thou be our king? or shall we be subject to thy dominion? Therefore this matter of his dreams and words ministered nourishment to their envy and hatred.

He dreamed also another dream, which he told his brethren, saying: I saw in a dream, as it were the sun, and the moon, and eleven stars worshipping me.

Joseph Explaining His Dream to His Brothers, by Antonio Tempesta, c. 1600. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, United States.
Joseph Explaining His Dream to His Brothers, by Antonio Tempesta, c. 1600. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, United States.

And when he had told this to his father and brethren, his father rebuked him, and said: What meaneth this dream that thou hast dreamed? shall I and thy mother, and thy brethren worship thee upon the earth?

His brethren therefore envied him: but his father considered the thing with himself.

And when his brethren abode in Sichem feeding their father’s flocks,

Israel said to him: Thy brethren feed the sheep in Sichem: come, I will send thee to them. And when he answered:

I am ready: he said to him: Go, and see if all things be well with thy brethren, and the cattle: and bring me word again what is doing. So being sent from the vale of Hebron, he came to Sichem:

And a man found him there wandering in the field, and asked what he sought.

But he answered: I seek my brethren; tell me where they feed the flocks.

And the man said to him: They are departed from this place: for I heard them say: Let us go to Dothain. And Joseph went forward after his brethren, and found them in Dothain.

And when they saw him afar off, before he came nigh them, they thought to kill him.

Joseph and his Brethren, by Antonio del Castillo y Saavedra, c. 1655. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
Joseph and his Brethren, by Antonio del Castillo y Saavedra, c. 1655. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

And said one to another: Behold the dreamer cometh.

Come, let us kill him, and cast him into some old pit: and we will say: Some evil beast hath devoured him: and then it shall appear what his dreams avail him:

And Ruben hearing this, endeavoured to deliver him out of their hands, and said:

Do not take away his life, nor shed his blood: but cast him into this pit, that is in the wilderness, and keep your hands harmless: now he said this, being desirous to deliver him out of their hands and to restore him to his father.

And as soon as he came to his brethren, they forthwith stript him of his outside coat, that was of divers colours:

And cast him into an old pit, where there was no water.

Joseph Thrown into the Well by His Brothers, by Johann Heiss, c. 17th century. Private collection.
Joseph Thrown into the Well by His Brothers, by Johann Heiss, c. 17th century. Private collection.

And sitting down to eat bread, they saw some Ismaelites on their way coming from Galaad, with their camels, carrying spices, and balm, and myrrh to Egypt.

Joseph Sold By His Brothers, by Adriaen van Nieulandt the Younger, c. 1658. Private collection.
Joseph Sold By His Brothers, by Adriaen van Nieulandt the Younger, c. 1658. Private collection.

And Juda said to his brethren: What will it profit us to kill our brother, and conceal his blood?

It is better that he be sold to the Ismaelites, and that our hands be not defiled: for he is our brother and our flesh. His brethren agreed to his words.

Joseph Sold Into Slavery by His Brothers, by Damiano Mascagni, c. 1602. Private collection.
Joseph Sold Into Slavery by His Brothers, by Damiano Mascagni, c. 1602. Private collection.

And when the Madianite merchants passed by, they drew him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ismaelites, for twenty pieces of silver: and they led him into Egypt.

Joseph Sold by His Brothers, by Antonio del Castillo y Saavedra, c. 1655-60. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
Joseph Sold by His Brothers, by Antonio del Castillo y Saavedra, c. 1655-60. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

And Ruben, returning to the pit, found not the boy:

And rending his garments he went to his brethren, and said: The boy doth not appear and whither shall I go?

And they took his coat, and dipped it in the blood of a kid, which they had killed:

Sending some to carry it to their father, and to say: This we have found: see whether it be thy son’s coat, or not.

Joseph’s Coat Brought to Jacob, by Domenico Fiasella, c. 1640. El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, United States.
Joseph’s Coat Brought to Jacob, by Domenico Fiasella, c. 1640. El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, United States.

And the father acknowledging it, said: It is my son’s coat, an evil wild beast hath eaten him, a beast hath devoured Joseph.

Jacob Shown Joseph’s Bloody Coat, by Circle of Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1650s. Leiden Collection, New York, New York, United States.
Jacob Shown Joseph’s Bloody Coat, by Circle of Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1650s. Leiden Collection, New York, New York, United States.

And all his children being gathered together to comfort their father in his sorrow, he would not receive comfort, but said: I will go down to my son into hell, mourning. And whilst he continued weeping,

The Madianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Putiphar, an eunuch of Pharao, captain of the soldiers.

Joseph is Sold to Potiphar, by Pontormo, c. 1515. National Gallery, London, United Kingdom.
Joseph is Sold to Potiphar, by Pontormo, c. 1515. National Gallery, London, United Kingdom.

The Triumph of Joseph

A Reading from the Book of Genesis (Genesis 45:1-15)

Joseph could no longer refrain himself before many that stood by: whereupon he commanded that all should go out, and no stranger be present at their knowing one another.

2 And he lifted up his voice with weeping, which the Egyptians and all the house of Pharao heard.

And he said to his brethren: I am Joseph: is my father yet living? His brethren could not answer him, being struck with exceeding great fear.

Joseph, Overseer of Pharaoh’s Granaries, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, c. 1874. Dahesh Museum of Art, New York, New York, United States.
Joseph, Overseer of Pharaoh’s Granaries, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, c. 1874. Dahesh Museum of Art, New York, New York, United States.

And he said mildly to them: Come nearer to me. And when they were come near him, he said: I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.

Joseph Pardons His Brothers, by Bacchiacca, c. 1515. National Gallery, London, United Kingdom.
Joseph Pardons His Brothers, by Bacchiacca, c. 1515. National Gallery, London, United Kingdom.

Be not afraid, and let it not seem to you a hard case that you sold me into these countries: for God sent me before you into Egypt for your preservation.

For it is two years since the famine began to be upon the land, and five years more remain, wherein there can be neither ploughing nor reaping.

Joseph and His Brothers, by Abraham Bloemaert, c. 1595-1600. Central Museum, Ultrecht, Netherlands.
Joseph and His Brothers, by Abraham Bloemaert, c. 1595-1600. Central Museum, Ultrecht, Netherlands.

And God sent me before, that you may be preserved upon the earth, and may have food to live.

Not by your counsel was I sent hither, but by the will of God: who hath made me as it were a father to Pharao, and lord of his whole house, and governor in all the land of Egypt.

Make haste, and go ye up to my father, and say to him: Thus saith thy son Joseph: God hath made me lord of the whole land of Egypt: come down to me, linger not.

And thou shalt dwell in the land of Gessen: and thou shalt be near me, thou and thy sons, and thy sons’ sons, thy sheep, and thy herds, and all things that thou hast.

Joseph Recognized by his Brothers, by Giovanni Battista Gaulli, c. 17th century. Musée Fesch, Ajaccio, France.
Joseph Recognized by his Brothers, by Giovanni Battista Gaulli, c. 17th century. Musée Fesch, Ajaccio, France.

And there I will feed thee, (for there are yet five years of famine remaining,) lest both thou perish, and thy house, and all things that thou hast.

Behold, your eyes, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my mouth that speaketh to you.

You shall tell my father of all my glory, and all things that you have seen in Egypt: make haste and bring him to me.

And falling upon the neck of his brother Benjamin, he embraced him and wept: and Benjamin in like manner wept also on his neck.

And Joseph kissed all his brethren, and wept upon every one of them: after which they were emboldened to speak to him.

Joseph Revealing Himself to His Brothers, by Peter von Cornelius, c. 1816-17. Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany.
Joseph Revealing Himself to His Brothers, by Peter von Cornelius, c. 1816-17. Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany.

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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