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Antiquities of the Jews, Vol 1, The



BOOK II. Containing The Interval Of Two Hundred And Twenty Years.—From The Death Of Isaac To The Exodus Out Of Egypt.

CHAPTER 1. How Esau And Jacob, Isaac's Sons Divided Their Habitation; And Esau Possessed Idumea And Jacob Canaan.

1. After the death of Isaac, his sons divided their habitations respectively; nor did they retain what they had before; but Esau departed from the city of Hebron, and left it to his brother, and dwelt in Seir, and ruled over Idumea. He called the country by that name from himself, for he was named Adom; which appellation he got on the following occasion:—One day returning from the toil of hunting very hungry, [it was when he was a child in age,] he lighted on his brother when he was getting ready lentile-pottage for his dinner, which was of a very red color; on which account he the more earnestly longed for it, and desired him to give him some of it to eat: but he made advantage of his brother's hunger, and forced him to resign up to him his birthright; and he, being pinched with famine, resigned it up to him, under an oath. Whence it came, that, on account of the redness of this pottage, he was, in way of jest, by his contemporaries, called Adom, for the Hebrews call what is red Adom; and this was the name given to the country; but the Greeks gave it a more agreeable pronunciation, and named it Idumea.

2. He became the father of five sons; of whom Jaus, and Jalomus, and Coreus, were by one wife, whose name was Alibama; but of the rest, Aliphaz was born to him by Ada, and Raguel by Basemmath: and these were the sons of Esau. Aliphaz had five legitimate sons; Theman, Omer, Saphus, Gotham, and Kanaz; for Amalek was not legitimate, but by a concubine, whose name was Thamna. These dwelt in that part of Idumea which is called Gebalitis, and that denominated from Amalek, Amalekitis; for Idumea was a large country, and did then preserve the name of the whole, while in its several parts it kept the names of its peculiar inhabitants.

CHAPTER 2. How Joseph, The Youngest Of Jacob's Sons, Was Envied By His Brethren, When Certain Dreams Had Foreshown His Future Happiness.

1. It happened that Jacob came to so great happiness as rarely any other person had arrived at. He was richer than the rest of the inhabitants of that country; and was at once envied and admired for such virtuous sons, for they were deficient in nothing, but were of great souls, both for laboring with their hands and enduring of toil; and shrewd also in understanding. And God exercised such a providence over him, and such a care of his happiness, as to bring him the greatest blessings, even out of what appeared to be the most sorrowful condition; and to make him the cause of our forefathers' departure out of Egypt, him and his posterity. The occasion was this:—When Jacob had his son Joseph born to him by Rachel, his father loved him above the rest of his sons, both because of the beauty of his body, and the virtues of his mind, for he excelled the rest in prudence. This affection of his father excited the envy and the hatred of his brethren; as did also his dreams which he saw, and related to his father, and to them, which foretold his future happiness, it being usual with mankind to envy their very nearest relations such their prosperity. Now the visions which Joseph saw in his sleep were these:—

2. When they were in the middle of harvest, and Joseph was sent by his father, with his brethren, to gather the fruits of the earth, he saw a vision in a dream, but greatly exceeding the customary appearances that come when we are asleep; which, when he was got up, he told his brethren, that they might judge what it portended. He said, he saw the last night, that his wheat-sheaf stood still in the place where he set it, but that their sheaves ran to bow down to it, as servants bow down to their masters. But as soon as they perceived the vision foretold that he should obtain power and great wealth, and that his power should be in opposition to them, they gave no interpretation of it to Joseph, as if the dream were not by them understood: but they prayed that no part of what they suspected to be its meaning might come to pass; and they bare a still greater hatred to him on that account.

3. But God, in opposition to their envy, sent a second vision to Joseph, which was much more wonderful than the former; for it seemed to him that the sun took with him the moon, and the rest of the stars, and came down to the earth, and bowed down to him. He told the vision to his father, and that, as suspecting nothing of ill-will from his brethren, when they were there also, and desired him to interpret what it should signify. Now Jacob was pleased with the dream: for, considering the prediction in his mind, and shrewdly and wisely guessing at its meaning, he rejoiced at the great things thereby signified, because it declared the future happiness of his son; and that, by the blessing of God, the time would come when he should be honored, and thought worthy of worship by his parents and brethren, as guessing that the moon and sun were like his mother and father; the former, as she that gave increase and nourishment to all things; and the latter, he that gave form and other powers to them; and that the stars were like his brethren, since they were eleven in number, as were the stars that receive their power from the sun and moon.

4. And thus did Jacob make a judgment of this vision, and that a shrewd one also. But these interpretations caused very great grief to Joseph's brethren; and they were affected to him hereupon as if he were a certain stranger, that was to those good things which were signified by the dreams and not as one that was a brother, with whom it was probable they should be joint-partakers; and as they had been partners in the same parentage, so should they be of the same happiness. They also resolved to kill the lad; and having fully ratified that intention of theirs, as soon as their collection of the fruits was over, they went to Shechem, which is a country good for feeding of cattle, and for pasturage; there they fed their flocks, without acquainting their father with their removal thither; whereupon he had melancholy suspicions about them, as being ignorant of his sons' condition, and receiving no messenger from the flocks that could inform him of the true state they were in; so, because he was in great fear about them, he sent Joseph to the flocks, to learn the circumstances his brethren were in, and to bring him word how they did.

CHAPTER 3. How Joseph Was Thus Sold By His Brethren Into Egypt, By Reason Of Their Hatred To Him; And How He There Grew Famous And Illustrious And Had His Brethren Under His Power.

1. Now these brethren rejoiced as soon as they saw their brother coming to them, not indeed as at the presence of a near relation, or as at the presence of one sent by their father, but as at the presence of an enemy, and one that by Divine Providence was delivered into their hands; and they already resolved to kill him, and not let slip the opportunity that lay before them. But when Reubel, the eldest of them, saw them thus disposed, and that they had agreed together to execute their purpose, he tried to restrain them, showing them the heinous enterprise they were going about, and the horrid nature of it; that this action would appear wicked in the sight of God, and impious before men, even though they should kill one not related to them; but much more flagitious and detestable to appear to have slain their own brother, by which act the father must be treated unjustly in the son's slaughter, and the mother 1 also be in perplexity while she laments that her son is taken away from her, and this not in a natural way neither. So he entreated them to have a regard to their own consciences, and wisely to consider what mischief would betide them upon the death of so good a child, and their youngest brother; that they would also fear God, who was already both a spectator and a witness of the designs they had against their brother; that he would love them if they abstained from this act, and yielded to repentance and amendment; but in case they proceeded to do the fact, all sorts of punishments would overtake them from God for this murder of their brother, since they polluted his providence, which was every where present, and which did not overlook what was done, either in deserts or in cities; for wheresoever a man is, there ought he to suppose that God is also. He told them further, that their consciences would be their enemies, if they attempted to go through so wicked an enterprise, which they can never avoid, whether it be a good conscience; or whether it be such a one as they will have within them when once they have killed their brother. He also added this besides to what he had before said, that it was not a righteous thing to kill a brother, though he had injured them; that it is a good thing to forget the actions of such near friends, even in things wherein they might seem to have offended; but that they were going to kill Joseph, who had been guilty of nothing that was ill towards them, in whose case the infirmity of his small age should rather procure him mercy, and move them to unite together in the care of his preservation. That the cause of killing him made the act itself much worse, while they determined to take him off out of envy at his future prosperity, an equal share of which they would naturally partake while he enjoyed it, since they were to him not strangers, but the nearest relations, for they might reckon upon what God bestowed upon Joseph as their own; and that it was fit for them to believe, that the anger of God would for this cause be more severe upon them, if they slew him who was judged by God to be worthy of that prosperity which was to be hoped for; and while, by murdering him, they made it impossible for God to bestow it upon him.

2. Reubel said these and many other things, and used entreaties to them, and thereby endeavored to divert them from the murder of their brother. But when he saw that his discourse had not mollified them at all, and that they made haste to do the fact, he advised them to alleviate the wickedness they were going about, in the manner of taking Joseph off; for as he had exhorted them first, when they were going to revenge themselves, to be dissuaded from doing it; so, since the sentence for killing their brother had prevailed, he said that they would not, however, be so grossly guilty, if they would be persuaded to follow his present advice, which would include what they were so eager about, but was not so very bad, but, in the distress they were in, of a lighter nature. He begged of them, therefore, not to kill their brother with their own hands, but to cast him into the pit that was hard by, and so to let him die; by which they would gain so much, that they would not defile their own hands with his blood. To this the young men readily agreed; so Reubel took the lad and tied him to a cord, and let him down gently into the pit, for it had no water at all in it; who, when he had done this, went his way to seek for such pasturage as was fit for feeding his flocks.

3. But Judas, being one of Jacob's sons also, seeing some Arabians, of the posterity of Ismael, carrying spices and Syrian wares out of the land of Gilead to the Egyptians, after Rubel was gone, advised his brethren to draw Joseph out of the pit, and sell him to the Arabians; for if he should die among strangers a great way off, they should be freed from this barbarous action. This, therefore, was resolved on; so they drew Joseph up out of the pit, and sold him to the merchants for twenty pounds 2 He was now seventeen years old. But Reubel, coming in the night-time to the pit, resolved to save Joseph, without the privity of his brethren; and when, upon his calling to him, he made no answer, he was afraid that they had destroyed him after he was gone; of which he complained to his brethren; but when they had told him what they had done, Reubel left off his mourning.

4. When Joseph's brethren had done thus to him, they considered what they should do to escape the suspicions of their father. Now they had taken away from Joseph the coat which he had on when he came to them at the time they let him down into the pit; so they thought proper to tear that coat to pieces, and to dip it into goats' blood, and then to carry it and show it to their father, that he might believe he was destroyed by wild beasts. And when they had so done, they came to the old man, but this not till what had happened to his son had already come to his knowledge. Then they said that they had not seen Joseph, nor knew what mishap had befallen him; but that they had found his coat bloody and torn to pieces, whence they had a suspicion that he had fallen among wild beasts, and so perished, if that was the coat he had on when he came from home. Now Jacob had before some better hopes that his son was only made a captive; but now he laid aside that notion, and supposed that this coat was an evident argument that he was dead, for he well remembered that this was the coat he had on when he sent him to his brethren; so he hereafter lamented the lad as now dead, and as if he had been the father of no more than one, without taking any comfort in the rest; and so he was also affected with his misfortune before he met with Joseph's brethren, when he also conjectured that Joseph was destroyed by wild beasts. He sat down also clothed in sackcloth and in heavy affliction, insomuch that he found no ease when his sons comforted him, neither did his pains remit by length of time.


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