THE WONDER BOOK OF BIBLE STORIES
EDITED AND ARRANGED BY LOGAN MARSHALL
THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY, PUBLISHERS PHILADELPHIA CHICAGO
TORONTO—THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY, LIMITED Copyright, 1925, by THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO.
Copyright, 1925, in the Philippine Islands.
Copyright, 1904, by THE J.C.W. CO.
PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. AT THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS
THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY, PROPRIETORS, PHILADELPHIA
PAGE INTRODUCTION 1
THE STORY OF ADAM AND EVE 3
THE STORY OF NOAH AND THE ARK 7
THE STORY OF HAGAR AND ISHMAEL 16
THE STORY OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC 22
THE STORY OF JACOB 28
THE SALE OF A BIRTHRIGHT 29
THE STORY OF THE LADDER THAT REACHED TO HEAVEN 37
THE STORY OF JOSEPH
THE COAT OF MANY COLORS 42
THE DREAMS OF A KING 49
THE STORY OF THE MONEY IN THE SACKS 58
THE MYSTERY OF THE LOST BROTHER 65
THE STORY OF MOSES, THE CHILD WHO WAS FOUND IN THE RIVER 73
THE STORY OF THE GRAPES FROM CANAAN 82
THE STORY OF GIDEON AND HIS THREE HUNDRED SOLDIERS 88
THE STORY OF SAMSON, THE STRONG MAN 98
THE STORY OF RUTH, THE GLEANER 111
THE STORY OF DAVID
THE SHEPHERD BOY 117
THE STORY OF THE FIGHT WITH THE GIANT 125
THE STORY OF THE CAVE OF ADULLAM 131
THE STORY OF SOLOMON AND HIS TEMPLE 133
THE STORY OF ELIJAH, THE PROPHET 138
THE STORY OF JONAH AND THE WHALE 142
THE STORY OF THE FIERY FURNACE 147
THE STORY OF DANIEL IN THE LION'S DEN 155
THE STORY OF THE ANGEL BY THE ALTAR 160
THE STORY OF JESUS
THE BABE OF BETHLEHEM 167
THE STORY OF THE STAR AND THE WISE MEN 172
THE STORY OF THE CHILD IN THE TEMPLE 179
THE STORY OF THE WATER THAT WAS TURNED INTO WINE 184
THE STORY OF THE STRANGER AT THE WELL 189
THE STORY OF THE FISHERMEN 195
THE STORY OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT 199
THE STORY OF THE MIRACLE WORKER 206
THE GOOD SHEPHERD AND THE GOOD SAMARITAN 215
THE STORY OF THE PALM BRANCHES 221
THE STORY OF THE BETRAYAL 228
THE STORY OF THE EMPTY TOMB 235
THE STORY OF THE MAN AT THE BEAUTIFUL GATE 243
THE STORY OF STEPHEN, THE FIRST MARTYR 249
PAGE The Finding of Moses i
Title Plate ii
They were driven forth by an angel 3
Cain and Abel 5
The water rose higher and higher 12
So Noah opened the door of the ark 14
In some way she lost the road 19
Learned to shoot with the bow and arrow 20
For two days they walked 24
"God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering" 25
"Sell me your birthright" 29
"Now, my son, do what I tell you" 32
"May nations bow down to you" 34
Angels were upon the stairs 38
Jacob went onward in his long journey 40
Back to the Land of Canaan 43
Walking northward over the mountains 45
For twenty pieces of silver they sold Joseph 47
"The two dreams have the same meaning" 56
"What wicked thing is this that you have done?" 70
They made the Israelites work hard 75
She placed her baby in the ark 76
Moses became a shepherd in the wilderness of Midian 79
God fed them day by day with manna 81
A cluster of grapes so large that two men carried it 83
The angel touched the offering with his staff 89
The men blew their trumpets with a mighty noise 95
He carried off the gates of the city 105
He bowed forward with all his might and pulled the pillars with him 109
Ruth went out into the fields to glean the grain 114
Then Samuel poured oil on David's head 122
The giant looked down on the youth and despised him 128
David drew out the giant's own sword 129
Solomon on his throne 136
Supposed form of Solomon's Temple 137
Ship in Solomon's time 137
Denounced Ahab and Jezebel 139
Made king when he was only seven years old 140
"This is the arrow of victory" 141
To shade Jonah from the sun 145
Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage 150
An angel befriended them 152
Thrown into the den of lions 157
Daniel's Answer to the King 158
"Do not be afraid, Zacharias" 162
They were filled with fear 169
The baby in the manger 170
The Shepherds in the Field 171
The wise men went their way 173
He took his wife and baby and went down to Egypt 176
Sitting in a company of the doctors of the law 181
"Fill the jars with water" 185
"Take these things away" 187
The net caught so many fishes they could not pull it up 196
"I came not to call those who think themselves to be good" 201
Then, on the mountain, he preached 203
"Speak the word and my servant shall be cured" 207
The children loved to gather around him 210
Then he lifted him up 219
Came to Bethany where his friends Martha and Mary lived 221
She wiped his feet with her hair 223
They threw their garments upon the ground for Jesus to ride upon 225
The great city was deaf to his pleadings 227
Peter Denies Christ 232
He heard their complaints 235
The Bible is one of the two or three oldest books in the world, but unlike most of the ancient books, it is found not only in great libraries, but in almost every home of the civilized world; and it is not only studied by learned scholars, but read by the common people; and its many stories grasp and hold the attention of little children. Happy is that child who has heard, over and over again, the Bible stories until they have become fixed in his mind and memory, to become the foundations of a noble life.
It is with the desire of aiding parents and teachers in telling these stories, and aiding children to understand them, also in the hope that they may be read in many schools, that a few among the many interesting stories in the Bible have been chosen, brought together and as far as necessary simplified to meet the minds of the young.
[Signature: Jesse Lyman Hurlbut]
THE STORY OF ADAM AND EVE
The first man's name was Adam and his wife he called Eve. They lived in a beautiful Garden away in the East Country which was called Eden, filled with beautiful trees and flowers of all kinds. But they did not live in Eden long for they did not obey God's command, but ate the fruit of a tree which had been forbidden them. They were driven forth by an angel and had to give up their beautiful home.
So Adam and his wife went out into the world to live and to work. For a time they were all alone, but after a while God gave them a little child of their own, the first baby that ever came into the world. Eve named him Cain; and after a time another baby came, whom she named Abel.
When the two boys grew up, they worked, as their father worked before them. Cain, the older brother, chose to work in the fields, and to raise grain and fruits. Abel, the younger brother, had a flock of sheep and became a shepherd.
While Adam and Eve were living in the Garden of Eden, they could talk with God and hear God's voice speaking to them. But now that they were out in the world, they could no longer talk with God freely, as before. So when they came to God, they built an altar of stones heaped up, and upon it, they laid something as a gift to God, and burned it, to show that it was not their own, but was given to God, whom they could not see. Then before the altar they made their prayer to God, and asked God to forgive their sins, all that they had done was wrong; and prayed God to bless them and do good to them.
Each of these brothers, Cain and Abel, offered upon the altar to God his own gift. Cain brought the fruits and the grain which he had grown; and Abel brought a sheep from his flock, and killed it and burned it upon the altar. For some reason God was pleased with Abel and his offering, but was not pleased with Cain and his offering. Perhaps God wished Cain to offer something that had life, as Abel offered; perhaps Cain's heart was not right when he came before God.
And God showed that He was not pleased with Cain; and Cain, instead of being sorry for his sin, and asking God to forgive him, was very angry with God, and angry also toward his brother Abel. When they were out in the field together Cain struck his brother Abel and killed him. So the first baby in the world grew up to be the murderer of his own brother.
And the Lord said to Cain, "Where is Abel, your brother?"
And Cain answered, "I do not know; why should I take care of my brother?"
Then the Lord said to Cain, "What is this that you have done? Your brother's blood is like a voice crying to me from the ground. Do you see how the ground has opened, like a mouth, to drink your brother's blood? As long as you live, you shall be under God's curse for the murder of your brother. You shall wander over the earth, and shall never find a home, because you have done this wicked deed."
And Cain said to the Lord, "My punishment is greater than I can bear. Thou hast driven me out from among men; and thou hast hid thy face from me. If any man finds me he will kill me, because I shall be alone, and no one will be my friend."
And God said to Cain, "If any one harms Cain, he shall be punished for it." And the Lord God placed a mark on Cain, so that whoever met him should know him and should know also that God had forbidden any man to harm him. Then Cain and his wife went away from Adam's home to live in a place by themselves, and there they had children. And Cain's family built a city in that land; and Cain named the city after his first child, whom he had called Enoch.
THE STORY OF NOAH AND THE ARK
After Abel was slain, and his brother Cain had gone into another land, again God gave a child to Adam and Eve. This child they named Seth; and other sons and daughters were given to them; for Adam and Eve lived many years. But at last they died, as God had said they must die, because they had eaten of the tree that God had forbidden them to eat.
By the time that Adam died, there were many people on the earth; for the children of Adam and Eve had many other children; and when these grew up they had other children; and these had children also. These men and women and children lived in tents. They owned sheep and cattle, and they moved about with them, wherever they could find pasture. The children played around the tent doors, and sat beside the camp-fires in the evenings, where they all sang together, and the older people told them stories. And after a time this land where Adam's sons lived began to be full of people.
It is sad to tell that as time went on more and more of these people became wicked, and fewer and fewer of them grew up to become good men and women. All the people lived near together, and few went away to other lands; so it came to pass that even the children of good men and women learned to be bad, like the people around them, and no longer did what was right and good.
And as God looked down on the world that he had made, he saw how wicked the men in it had become, and that every thought and every act of man was evil and only evil continually.
But while most of the people in the world were very wicked, there were some good people also, though they were very few. The best of all the men who lived at that time was a man whose name was Enoch. He was not the son of Cain, but another Enoch, who came from the family of Seth, the son of Adam, who was born after the death of Abel. While so many around Enoch were doing evil, this man did only what was right. He walked with God and God walked with him, and talked with him. And at last, when Enoch was a very old man and weary with life, God took him away from earth to heaven. He did not die, as all the people have since Adam disobeyed God, but "he was not, for God took him." This means that Enoch was taken up from earth without dying.
All the people in the time of Enoch were not shepherds. Some of them had learned how to make rude bows and arrows and axes and plows. And after a long time they melted iron, and they made knives and swords and dishes to use in their homes. They sowed grain in the fields and reaped harvests, and they planted vines and fruit trees. But God looked down on the earth and said:
"I will take away all men from the earth that I have made; because the men of the world are evil, and do evil continually."
But even in those bad times God saw one good man. His name was Noah. Noah tried to do right in the sight of God. As Enoch had walked with God, so Noah walked with God, and talked with him. And Noah had three sons; their names were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth.
God said to Noah, "The time has come when all the men and women on the earth are to be destroyed. Every one must die, because they are all wicked. But you and your family shall be saved, because you alone are trying to do right."
Then God told Noah how he might save his life and the lives of his sons. He was to build a very large boat, as large as the largest ships that are made in our time; very long, and very wide and very deep; with a roof over it; and made like a long, wide house in three stories; but so built that it would float on the water. Such a ship as this was called "an ark." God told Noah to build this ark, and to have it ready for the time when he would need it.
"For," said God to Noah, "I am going to bring a great flood of water on the earth to cover all the land and to drown all the people on the earth. And as the animals on the earth will be drowned with the people, you must make the ark large enough to hold a pair of each kind of animals and several pairs of some animals that are needed by men, like sheep and goats and oxen; so that there will be animals as well as men to live upon the earth after the flood has passed away. And you must take in the ark food for yourself and your family, and for all the animals with you; enough food to last for a year, while the flood shall stay on the earth."
And Noah did what God told him to do, although it must have seemed very strange to all the people around, to build this great ark where there was no water for it to sail upon. And it was a long time, because this ship was so big, that Noah and his sons were at work building the ark, which God had told them to build, while the wicked people around wondered, and no doubt laughed at Noah for building a great ship where there was no sea.
At last the ark was finished, and stood like a great house on the land. There was a door on one side, and a window on the roof, to let in the light. Then God said to Noah:
"Come into the ark, you and your wife, and your three sons, and their wives with them; for the flood of waters will come very soon. And take with you animals of all kinds, and birds, and things that creep; seven pairs of these that will be needed by men, and one pair of all the rest, so that all kinds of animals may be kept alive upon the earth."
So Noah and his wife, and his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, with their wives, went into the ark. And God brought to the door of the ark the animals, and the birds, and the creeping things of all kinds; and they went into the ark. And Noah and his sons put them in their places, and brought in food enough to feed them all for many days. And then the door of the ark was shut and no more people and no more animals could come in.
In a few days the rain began to fall, as it had never rained before. It seemed as though the heavens were opened to pour great floods upon the earth. The streams filled, and the rivers rose higher and higher, and the ark began to float on the water. The people left their houses and ran up to the hills; but soon the hills were covered, and all the people on them were drowned.
Some had climbed up to the tops of higher mountains, but the water rose higher and higher, until even the mountains were covered and all the people, wicked as they had been, were drowned in the great sea that now rolled over all the earth where man had lived. And all the animals, the tame animals, cattle, and sheep, and oxen, were drowned; and the wild animals, lions, and tigers, and all the rest were drowned also. Even the birds were drowned, for their nests in the trees were swept away, and there was no place where they could fly from the terrible storm. For forty days and nights the rain kept on, until there was no breath of life remaining outside of the ark.
After forty days the rain stopped, but the water stayed upon the earth for more than six months, and the ark with all that were in it floated over the great sea that covered the land. Then God sent a wind to blow over the waters, and to dry them up; so by degrees the waters grew less and less. First mountains rose above the waters, then the hills rose up, and finally the ark ceased to float and lay aground on a mountain which is called Mount Ararat.
But Noah could not see what had happened on the earth, because the door was shut, and the only window was up in the roof. But he felt that the ark was no longer moving, and he knew that the water must have gone down. So, after waiting for a time, Noah opened a window, and let loose a bird called a raven. Now the raven has strong wings; and this raven flew round and round until the waters had gone down, and it could find a place to rest, and it did not come back to the ark.
After Noah had waited for it awhile, he sent out a dove; but the dove could not find any place to rest, so it flew back to the ark, and Noah took it into the ark again. Then Noah waited a week longer, and afterward he sent out the dove again. And at the evening, the dove came back to the ark, which was its home; and in its bill was a fresh leaf which it had picked off from an olive tree.
So Noah knew that the water had gone down enough to let the trees grow again. He waited another week, and sent out the dove again; but this time the dove flew away and never came back. And Noah knew that the earth was becoming dry again. So he took off a part of the roof, and looked out, and saw that there was dry land all around the ark, and the waters were no longer everywhere.
Noah had now lived in the ark a little more than a year, and he was glad to see the green land and the trees once more. And God said to Noah:
"Come out of the ark, with your wife, and your sons, and their wives, and all the living things that are with you in the ark."
So Noah opened the door of the ark, and with his family came out, and stood once more on the ground. And the animals, and birds, and creeping things in the ark, came out also, and began again to bring life to the earth.
The first thing that Noah did when he came out of the ark, was to give thanks to God for saving all his family when the rest of the people on the earth were destroyed. He built an altar, and laid upon it an offering to the Lord, and gave himself and his family to God and promised to do God's will.
And God was pleased with Noah's offering, and God said:
"I will not again destroy the earth on account of men, no matter how bad they may be. From this time no flood shall again cover the earth; but the seasons of spring and summer and fall and winter, shall remain without change. I give to you the earth; you shall be the rulers of the ground and of every living thing upon it."
Then God caused a rainbow to appear in the sky, and he told Noah and his sons that whenever they or the people after them should see the rainbow, they should remember that God had placed it in the sky and over the clouds as a sign of his promise, that he would always remember the earth, and the people upon it, and would never again send a flood to destroy man from the earth.
So as often as we see the beautiful rainbow, we are to remember that it is the sign of God's promise to the world.
THE STORY OF HAGAR AND ISHMAEL
After the great flood the family of Noah and those who came after him grew in number, until, as the years went on, the earth began to be full of people once more. But there was one great difference between the people who had lived before the flood and those who lived after it. Before the flood, all the people stayed close together, so that very many lived in one land, and no one lived in other lands. After the flood families began to move from one place to another, seeking for themselves new homes. Some went one way, and some another, so that as the number of people grew, they covered much more of the earth than those who had lived before the flood.
Part of the people went up to the north and built a city called Nineveh, which became the ruling city of a great land called Assyria, whose people were called Assyrians.
Another company went away to the west and settled by the great river Nile, and founded the land of Egypt, with its strange temples and pyramids, its sphinx and its monuments.
Another company wandered northwest until they came to the shore of the great sea which they called the Mediterranean Sea. There they founded the cities of Sidon and Tyre, where the people were sailors, sailing to countries far away, and bringing home many things from other lands to sell to the people of Babylon, and Assyria, and Egypt, and other countries.
Among the many cities which the people built were two called Sodom and Gomorrah. The people in these cities were very wicked and were nearly all destroyed. One good man named Lot and his family escaped. There was another good man named Abraham who did not live in these cities. He tried to do God's will and was promised a son to bring joy into his family.
After Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, Abraham moved his tent and his camp away from that part of the land, and went to live near a place called Gerar, in the southwest, not far from the Great Sea. And there at last, the child whom God had promised to Abraham and Sarah, his wife, was born, when Abraham, his father, was a very old man.
They named this child Isaac, as the angel had told them he should be named. And Abraham and Sarah were so happy to have a little boy, that after a time they gave a great feast and invited all the people to come and rejoice with them, and all in honor of the little Isaac.
Now Sarah had a maid named Hagar, an Egyptian woman, who ran away from her mistress, and saw an angel by a well, and afterward came back to Sarah. She, too, had a child and his name was Ishmael. So now there were two boys in Abraham's tent, the older boy, Ishmael, the son of Hagar, and the younger boy, Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah.
Ishmael did not like the little Isaac, and did not treat him kindly. This made his mother Sarah very angry, and she said to her husband:
"I do not wish to have this boy Ishmael growing up with my son Isaac. Send away Hagar and her boy, for they are a trouble to me."
And Abraham felt very sorry to have trouble come between Sarah and Hagar, and between Isaac and Ishmael; for Abraham was a kind and good man, and he was friendly to them all.
But the Lord said to Abraham, "Do not be troubled about Ishmael and his mother. Do as Sarah has asked you to do, and send them away. It is best that Isaac should be left alone in your tent, for he is to receive everything that is yours. I the Lord will take care of Ishmael, and will make a great people of his descendants, those who shall come from him."
So the next morning Abraham sent Hagar and her boy away, expecting them to go back to the land of Egypt, from which Hagar had come. He gave them some food for the journey, and a bottle of water to drink by the way. The bottles in that country are not like ours, made of glass. They are made from the skin of a goat. One of these skin-bottles Abraham filled with water and gave to Hagar.
And Hagar went away from Abraham's tent, leading her little boy. But in some way she lost the road, and wandered over the desert, not knowing where she was, until all the water in the bottle was used up; and her poor boy in the hot sun and the burning sand had nothing to drink. She thought that he would die of his terrible thirst; and she laid him down under a little bush; and then she went away, for she said to herself:
"I cannot bear to look at my poor boy suffering and dying for want of water."
And just at that moment, while Hagar was crying, and her boy was moaning with thirst, she heard a voice saying to her:
"Hagar, what is your trouble? Do not be afraid. God has heard your cry and the cry of your child. God will take care of you both, and will make of your boy a great nation of people."
It was the voice of an angel from heaven; and then Hagar looked, and there, close at hand, was a spring of water in the desert. How glad Hagar was as she filled the bottle with water and took it to her suffering boy under the bush!
After this Hagar did not go down to Egypt. She found a place where she lived and brought up her son in the wilderness, far from other people. And Ishmael grew up in the desert and learned to shoot with the bow and arrow. He became a wild man, and his children after him grew up to be wild men also. They were the Arabians of the desert, who even to this day have never been ruled by any other people, but wander through the desert, and live as they please. So Ishmael came to be the father of many people, and his descendants, the wild Arabians of the desert, are living unto this day in that land.
THE STORY OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC
You remember that in those times of which we are telling, when men worshipped God, they built an altar of earth or of stone, and laid an offering upon it as a gift to God. The offering was generally a sheep, or a goat, or a young ox—some animal that was used for food. Such an offering was called "a sacrifice."
But the people who worshipped idols often did what seems to us strange and very terrible. They thought that it would please their gods if they would offer as a sacrifice the most precious living things that were their own; and they would take their own little children and kill them upon their altars as offerings to the gods of wood and stone, that were no real gods, but only images.
God wished to show Abraham and all his descendants, those who should come after him, that he was not pleased with such offerings as those of living people, killed on the altars. And God took a way to teach Abraham, so that he and his children after him would never forget it. Then at the same time he wished to see how faithful and obedient Abraham would be to his commands; how fully Abraham would trust in God, or, as we would say, how great was Abraham's faith in God.
So God gave to Abraham a command which he did not mean to have obeyed, though this he did not tell to Abraham. He said:
"Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love so greatly, and go to the land of Moriah, and there on a mountain that I will show you, offer him for a burnt-offering to me."
Though this command filled Abraham's heart with pain, yet he would not be as surprised to receive it as a father would in our day; for such offerings were very common among all those people in the land where Abraham lived. Abraham never for one moment doubted or disobeyed God's word. He knew that Isaac was the child whom God had promised, and that God had promised, too, that Isaac should have children, and that those coming from Isaac should be a great nation. He did not see how God could keep his promise with regard to Isaac, if Isaac should be killed as an offering; unless indeed God should raise him up from the dead afterward.
But Abraham undertook at once to obey. God's command. He took two young men with him and an ass laden with wood for the fire; and he went toward the mountain in the north, Isaac, his son, walking by his side. For two days they walked, sleeping under the trees at night in the open country. And on the third day Abraham saw the mountain far away. And as they drew near to the mountain Abraham said to the young men:
"Stay here with the ass, while I go up yonder mountain with Isaac to worship; and when we have worshipped, we will come back to you." For Abraham believed that in some way God would bring back Isaac to life. He took the wood from the ass and placed it on Isaac, and they two walked up the mountain together. As they were walking, Isaac said:
"Father, here is the wood, but where is the lamb for the offering?"
And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide himself a Lamb for a burnt offering."
And they came to the place on the top of the mountain. There Abraham built an altar of stones and earth heaped up; and on it he placed the wood. Then he tied the hands and the feet of Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on the wood. And Abraham lifted up his hand, holding a knife to kill his son. Another moment longer and Isaac would be slain by his own father's hand.
But just at that moment the angel of the Lord out of heaven called to Abraham, and said:
And Abraham answered, "Here I am, Lord." Then the angel of the Lord said:
"Do not lay your hand upon your son. Do no harm to him. Now I know that you love God more than you love your only son, and that you are obedient to God, since you are ready to give up your son, your only son, to God."
What a relief and a joy these words from heaven brought to the heart of Abraham! How glad he was to know that it was not God's will for him to kill his son! Then Abraham looked around, and there in the thicket was a ram caught by his horns. And Abraham took the ram and offered him up for a burnt-offering in place of his son. So Abraham's words came true when he said that God would provide for himself a lamb.
The place where this altar was built Abraham named Jehovah-jireh, words in the language that Abraham spoke meaning, "The Lord will provide."
This offering, which seems so strange, did much good. It showed to Abraham, and to Isaac also, that Isaac belonged to God, for to God he had been offered; and in Isaac all those who should come from him, his descendants, had been given to God. Then it showed to Abraham and to all the people after him, that God did not wish children or men killed as offerings for worship; and while all the people around offered such sacrifices, the Israelites, who came from Abraham and from Isaac, never offered them, but offered oxen and sheep and goats instead.
These gifts, which cost so much toil, they felt must be pleasing to God, because they expressed their thankfulness to him. But they were glad to be taught that God does not desire men's lives to be taken, but loves our living gifts of love and kindness.
THE STORY OF JACOB
After Abraham died, his son Isaac lived in the land of Canaan. Like his father, Isaac had his home in a tent; around him were the tents of his people, and many flocks of sheep and herds of cattle feeding wherever they could find grass to eat and water to drink.
Isaac and his wife Rebekah had two children. The older was named Esau and the younger Jacob.
Esau was a man of the woods and very fond of hunting; and he was rough and covered with hair.
Jacob was quiet and thoughtful, staying at home, dwelling in a tent, and caring for the flocks of his father.
Isaac loved Esau more than Jacob, because Esau brought to his father that which he had killed in his hunting; but Rebekah liked Jacob, because she saw that he was wise and careful in his work.
Among the people in those lands, when a man dies, his older son receives twice as much as the younger of what the father has owned. This was called his "birthright," for it was his right as the oldest born. So Esau, as the older, had a "birthright" to more of Isaac's possessions than Jacob. And besides this, there was the privilege of the promise of God that the family of Isaac should receive great blessings.
THE SALE OF A BIRTHRIGHT
Now Esau, when he grew up, did not care for his birthright or the blessing which God had promised. But Jacob, who was a wise man, wished greatly to have the birthright which would come to Esau when his father died. Once, when Esau came home, hungry and tired from hunting in the fields, he saw that Jacob had a bowl of something that he had just cooked for dinner. And Esau said:
"Give me some of that red stuff in the dish. Will you not give me some? I am hungry."
And Jacob answered, "I will give it to you, if you will first of all sell to me your birthright."
And Esau said, "What is the use of the birthright to me now, when I am almost starving to death? You can have my birthright if you will give me something to eat."
Then Esau made Jacob a solemn promise to give to Jacob his birthright, all for a bowl of food. It was not right for Jacob to deal so selfishly with his brother; but it was very wrong in Esau to care so little for his birthright and God's blessing.
Some time after this, when Esau was forty years old, he married two wives. Though this would be very wicked in our times, it was not supposed to be wrong then; for even good men then had more than one wife. But Esau's two wives were women from the people of Canaan, who worshipped idols, and not the true God. And they taught their children also to pray to idols; so that those who came from Esau, the people who were his descendants, lost all knowledge of God, and became very wicked. But this was long after that time.
Isaac and Rebekah were very sorry to have their son Esau marry women who prayed to idols and not to God; but still Isaac loved his active son Esau more than his quiet son Jacob. But Rebekah loved Jacob more than Esau.
Isaac became at last very old and feeble, and so blind that he could see scarcely anything. One day he said to Esau:
"My son, I am very old, and do not know how soon I must die. But before I die, I wish to give to you, as my older son, God's blessing upon you, and your children, and your descendants. Go out into the fields, and with your bow and arrows shoot some animal that is good for food, and make for me a dish of cooked meat such as you know I love; and after I have eaten it I will give you the blessing."
Now Esau ought to have told his father that the blessing did not belong to him, for he had sold it to his brother Jacob. But he did not tell his father. He went out into the fields hunting, to find the kind of meat which his father liked the most.
Now Rebekah was listening, and heard all that Isaac had said to Esau. She knew that it would be better for Jacob to have the blessing than for Esau; and she loved Jacob more than Esau. So she called to Jacob and told him what Isaac had said to Esau, and she said:
"Now, my son, do what I tell you, and you will get the blessing instead of your brother. Go to the flocks and bring to me two little kids from the goats, and I will cook them just like the meat which Esau cooks for your father. And you will bring it to your father, and he will think that you are Esau, and will give you the blessing; and it really belongs to you."
But Jacob said, "You know that Esau and I are not alike. His neck and arms are covered with hairs, while mine are smooth. My father will feel of me, and he will find that I am not Esau; and then, instead of giving me a blessing, I am afraid that he will curse me."
But Rebekah answered her son, "Never mind; you do as I have told you, and I will take care of you. If any harm comes it will come to me; so do not be afraid, but go and bring the meat."
Then Jacob went and brought a pair of little kids from the flocks, and from them his mother made a dish of food, so that it would be to the taste just as Isaac liked it. Then Rebekah found some of Esau's clothes, and dressed Jacob in them; and she placed on his neck and hands some of the skins of the kids, so that his neck and his hands would feel rough and hairy to the touch.
Then Jacob came into his father's tent, bringing the dinner, and speaking as much like Esau as he could, he said:
"Here I am, my father."
And Isaac said, "Who are you, my son?"
And Jacob answered, "I am Esau, your oldest son; I have done as you bade me; now sit up and eat the dinner that I have made, and then give me your blessing as you promised me."
And Isaac said, "How is it that you found it so quickly?"
Jacob answered, "Because the Lord your God showed me where to go and gave me good success."
Isaac did not feel certain that it was his son Esau, and he said, "Come near and let me feel you, so that I may know that you are really my son Esau."
And Jacob went up close to Isaac's bed, and Isaac felt of his face, and his neck, and his hands, and he said:
"The voice sounds like Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau. Are you really my son Esau?"
And Jacob told a lie to his father, and said, "I am."
Then the old man ate the food that Jacob had brought to him; and he kissed Jacob, believing him to be Esau; and he gave him the blessing, saying to him:
"May God give you the dew of heaven, and the richness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. May nations bow down to you and peoples become your servants. May you be the master over your brother, and may your family and descendants that shall come from you rule over his family and his descendants. Blessed be those that bless you, and cursed be those that curse you."
Just as soon as Jacob had received the blessing he rose up and hastened away. He had scarcely gone out, when Esau came in from hunting, with the dish of food that he had cooked. And he said:
"Let my father sit up and eat the food that I have brought, and give me the blessing."
And Isaac said, "Why, who are you?"
Esau answered, "I am your son; your oldest son, Esau."
And Isaac trembled, and said, "Who then is the one that came in and brought to me food? and I have eaten his food and have blessed him; yes, and he shall be blessed."
When Esau heard this, he knew that he had been cheated; and he cried aloud, with a bitter cry, "O, my father, my brother has taken away my blessing, just as he took away my birthright! But cannot you give me another blessing, too? Have you given everything to my brother?"
And Isaac told him all that he had said to Jacob, making him the ruler over his brother.
But Esau begged for another blessing; and Isaac said:
"My son, your dwelling shall be of the riches of the earth and of the dew of heaven. You shall live by your sword and your descendants shall serve his descendants. But in time to come they shall break loose and shall shake off the yoke of your brother's rule and shall be free."
All this came to pass many years afterward. The people who came from Esau lived in a land called Edom, on the south of the land of Israel, where Jacob's descendants lived. And after a time the Israelites became rulers over the Edomites; and later still, the Edomites made themselves free from the Israelites. But all this took place hundreds of years afterward.
It was better that Jacob's descendants, those who came after him, should have the blessing, than that Esau's people should have it; for Jacob's people worshipped God, and Esau's people walked in the way of the idols and became wicked.
THE STORY OF THE LADDER THAT REACHED TO HEAVEN
After Esau found that he had lost his birthright and his blessing, he was very angry against his brother Jacob; and he said to himself, and told others:
"My father Isaac is very old and cannot live long. As soon as he is dead, then I shall kill Jacob for having robbed me of my right."
When Rebekah heard this, she said to Jacob, "Before it is too late, do you go away from home and get out of Esau's sight. Perhaps when Esau sees you no longer, he will forget his anger, and then you can come home again. Go and visit my brother Laban, your uncle, in Haran, and stay with him for a little while."
We must remember that Rebekah came from the family of Nahor, Abraham's younger brother, who lived in Haran, a long distance to the northeast of Canaan, and that Laban was Rebekah's brother.
So Jacob went out of Beersheba, on the border of the desert, and walked alone, carrying his staff in his hand. One evening, just about sunset, he came to a place among the mountains, more than sixty miles distant from his home. And as he had no bed to lie down upon, he took a stone and rested his head upon it for a pillow, and lay down to sleep.
And on that night Jacob had a wonderful dream. In his dream he saw stairs leading from the earth where he lay up to heaven; and angels were going up and coming down upon the stairs. And above the stairs, he saw the Lord God standing. And God said to Jacob:
"I am the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac your father; and I will be your God, too. The land where you are lying all alone, shall belong to you and to your children after you; and your children shall spread abroad over the lands, east and west, and north and south, like the dust of the earth; and in your family all the world shall receive a blessing. And I am with you in your journey, and I will keep you where you are going, and will bring you back to this land. I will never leave you, and I will surely keep my promise to you."
And in the morning Jacob awakened from his sleep, and he said:
"Surely, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it! I thought that I was all alone, but God has been with me. This place is the house of God; it is the gate of heaven!"
And Jacob took the stone on which his head had rested, and he set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on it as an offering to God. And Jacob named that place Bethel, which in the language that Jacob spoke means "The House of God."
And Jacob made a promise to God at that time, and said:
"If God really will go with me and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and will bring me to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God: and this stone shall be the house of God, and of all that God gives me I will give back to God one-tenth as an offering."
Then Jacob went onward in his long journey. He walked across the river Jordan in a shallow place, feeling his way with his staff; he climbed mountains and journeyed beside the great desert on the east, and at last came to the city of Haran. Beside the city was the well, where Abraham's servant had met Jacob's mother, Rebekah; and there, after Jacob had waited for a time, he saw a young woman coming with her sheep to give them water.
Then Jacob took off the flat stone that was over the mouth of the well, and drew water and gave it to the sheep. And when he found that this young woman was his own cousin Rachel, the daughter of Laban, he was so glad that he wept for joy. And at that moment he began to love Rachel, and longed to have her for his wife.
Rachel's father, Laban, who was Jacob's uncle, gave a welcome to Jacob, and took him into his home.
And Jacob asked Laban if he would give his daughter, Rachel, to him as his wife; and Jacob said, "If you give me Rachel, I will work for you seven years."
And Laban said, "It is better that you should have her, than that a stranger should marry her."
So Jacob lived seven years in Laban's house, caring for his sheep and oxen and camels; but his love for Rachel made the time seem short.
At last the day came for the marriage; and they brought in the bride, who, after the manner of that land, was covered with a thick veil, so that her face could not be seen. And she was married to Jacob, and when Jacob lifted up her veil he found that he had married, not Rachel, but her older sister, Leah, who was not beautiful, and whom Jacob did not love at all.
Jacob was very angry that he had been deceived,—though that was just the way in which Jacob himself had deceived his father and cheated his brother Esau. But his uncle Laban said:
"In our land we never allow the younger daughter to be married before the older daughter. Keep Leah for your wife, and work for me seven years longer, and you shall have Rachel also."
For in those times, as we have seen, men often had two wives, or even more than two. So Jacob stayed seven years more, fourteen years in all, before he received Rachel as his wife.
While Jacob was living at Haran, eleven sons were born to him. But only one of these was the child of Rachel, whom Jacob loved. This son was Joseph, who was dearer to Jacob than any other of his children, partly because he was the youngest, and because he was the child of his beloved Rachel.
THE STORY OF JOSEPH AND HIS COAT OF MANY COLORS
After Jacob came back to the land of Canaan with his eleven sons, another son was born to him, the second child of his wife Rachel, whom Jacob loved so well. But soon after the baby came, his mother Rachel died, and Jacob was filled with sorrow. Even to this day you can see the place where Rachel was buried, on the road between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Jacob named the child whom Rachel left, Benjamin; and now Jacob had twelve sons. Most of them were grown-up men; but Joseph was a boy seventeen years old, and his brother Benjamin was almost a baby.
Of all his children, Jacob loved Joseph the best, because he was Rachel's child; because he was so much younger than most of his brothers; and because he was good, and faithful, and thoughtful. Jacob gave to Joseph a robe or coat of bright colors, made somewhat like a long cloak with wide sleeves. This was a special mark of Jacob's favor to Joseph, and it made his older brothers envious of him.
Then, too, Joseph did what was right, while his older brothers often did very wrong acts, of which Joseph sometimes told their father; and this made them very angry at Joseph. But they hated him still more because of two strange dreams he had, and of which he told them. He said one day: "Listen to this dream that I have dreamed. I dreamed that we were out in the field binding sheaves, when suddenly my sheaf stood up, and all your sheaves came around it and bowed down to my sheaf!"
And they said scornfully, "Do you suppose that the dream means that you will some time rule over us, and that we shall bow down to you?"
Then, a few days after, Joseph said, "I have dreamed again. This time, I saw in my dream the sun, and the moon, and eleven stars, all come and bow to me!"
And his father said to him, "I do not like you to dream such dreams. Shall I, and your mother, and your brothers, come and bow down before you as if you were a king?"
His brothers hated Joseph, and would not speak kindly to him; but his father thought much of what Joseph had said.
At one time, Joseph's ten brothers were taking care of the flock in the fields near Shechem, which was nearly fifty miles from Hebron, where Jacob's tents were spread. And Jacob wished to send a message to his sons, and he called Joseph, and said to him:
"Your brothers are near Shechem with the flock. I wish that you would go to them, and take a message, and find if they are well, and if the flocks are doing well; and bring me word from them."
That was quite an errand, for a boy to go alone over the country, and find his way, for fifty miles, and then walk home again. But Joseph was a boy who could take care of himself, and could be trusted; so he went forth on his journey, walking northward over the mountains, past Bethlehem, and Jerusalem, and Bethel—though we are not sure those cities were then built, except Jerusalem, which was already a strong city.
When Joseph reached Shechem, he could not find his brothers, for they had taken their flocks to another place. A man met Joseph wandering in the field, and asked him, "Whom are you seeking?"
Joseph said, "I am looking for my brothers; the sons of Jacob. Can you tell me where I will find them?"
And the man said, "They are at Dothan; for I heard them say that they were going there."
Then Joseph walked over the hills to Dothan, which was fifteen miles further. And his brothers saw him afar off coming toward them. They knew him by his bright garment; and one said to another: "Look, that dreamer is coming! Come, let us kill him, and throw his body into a pit, and tell his father that some wild beast has eaten him; and then we will see what becomes of his dreams."
One of his brothers, whose name was Reuben, felt more kindly toward Joseph than the others. He said:
"Let us not kill him, but let us throw him into this pit, in the wilderness, and leave him there to die."
But Reuben intended, after they had gone away, to lift Joseph out of the pit, and take him home to his father. The brothers did as Reuben told them; they threw Joseph into the pit, which was empty. He cried, and begged them to save him; but they would not. They calmly sat down to eat their dinner on the grass, while their brother was calling to them from the pit.
After the dinner, Reuben chanced to go to another part of the field; so that he was not at hand when a company of men passed by with their camels, going from Gilead, on the east of the river Jordan, to Egypt, to sell spices and fragrant gum from trees to the Egyptians.
Then Judah, another of Joseph's brothers, said, "What good will it do us to kill our brother? Would it not be better for us to sell him to these men, and let them carry him away? After all, he is our brother, and we would better not kill him."
His brothers agreed with him; so they stopped the men who were passing, and drew up Joseph from the pit, and for twenty pieces of silver they sold Joseph to these men; and they took him away with them down to Egypt.
After a while, Reuben came to the pit, where they had left Joseph, and looked into it; but Joseph was not there. Then Reuben was in great trouble; and he came back to his brothers, saying: "The boy is not there! What shall I do!"
Then his brothers told Reuben what they had done; and they all agreed together to deceive their father. They killed one of the goats, and dipped Joseph's coat in its blood; and they brought it to their father, and they said to him: "We found this coat out in the wilderness. Look at it, father, and tell us if you think it was the coat of your son."
And Jacob knew it at once. He said: "It is my son's coat. Some wild beast has eaten him. There is no doubt that Joseph has been torn in pieces!"
And Jacob's heart was broken over the loss of Joseph, all the more because he had sent Joseph alone on the journey through the wilderness. They tried to comfort him, but he would not be comforted. He said: "I will go down to the grave mourning for my poor lost son."
So the old man sorrowed for his son Joseph; and all the time his wicked brothers knew that Joseph was not dead; but they would not tell their father the dreadful deed they had done to their brother, in selling him as a slave.
THE DREAMS OF A KING
The men who bought Joseph from his brothers were called Ishmaelites, because they belonged to the family of Ishmael, who, you remember, was the son of Hagar, the servant of Sarah. These men carried Joseph southward over the plain which lies beside the great sea on the west of Canaan; and after many days they brought Joseph to Egypt. How strange it must have seemed to the boy who had lived in tents to see the great river Nile, and the cities thronged with people, and the temples, and the mighty pyramids!
The Ishmaelites sold Joseph as a slave to a man named Potiphar, who was an officer in the army of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Joseph was a beautiful boy, and cheerful and willing in his spirit, and able in all that he undertook; so that his master Potiphar became very friendly to him, and after a time, he placed Joseph in charge of his house, and everything in it. For some years Joseph continued in the house of Potiphar, a slave in name, but in reality the master of all his affairs, and ruler over his fellow-servants.
But Potiphar's wife, who at first was very friendly to Joseph, afterward became his enemy, because Joseph would not do wrong to please her. She told her husband falsely, that Joseph had done a wicked deed. Her husband believed her, and was very angry at Joseph, and put him in the prison with those who had been sent to that place for breaking the laws of the land. How hard it was for Joseph to be charged with a crime, when he had done no wrong, and to be thrust into a dark prison among wicked people!
But Joseph had faith in God, that at some time all would come out right; and in the prison he was cheerful, and kind, and helpful, as he had always been. The keeper of the prison saw that Joseph was not like the other men around him, and he was kind to Joseph. In a very little while, Joseph was placed in charge of all his fellow-prisoners, and took care of them, just as he had taken care of everything in Potiphar's house. The keeper of the prison scarcely looked into the prison at all; for he had confidence in Joseph, that he would be faithful and wise in doing the work given to him. Joseph did right, and served God, and God blessed Joseph in everything.
While Joseph was in the prison, two men were sent there by the king of Egypt, because he was displeased with them. One was the king's chief butler, who served the king with wine; the other was the chief baker, who served him with bread. These two men were under Joseph's care; and Joseph waited on them, for they were men of rank.
One morning, when Joseph came into the room where the butler and the baker were kept, he found them looking quite sad. Joseph said to them:
"Why do you look so sad today?" Joseph was cheerful and happy in his spirit; and he wished others to be happy also, even in prison.
And one of them said, "Each one of us dreamed last night a very strange dream, and there is no one to tell us what our dreams mean."
For in those times, before God gave the Bible to men, he often spoke to men in dreams; and there were wise men who could sometimes tell what the dreams meant.
"Tell me," said Joseph, "what your dreams are. Perhaps my God will help me to understand them."
Then the chief butler told his dream. He said, "In my dream I saw a grape-vine with three branches; and as I looked, the branches shot out buds; and the buds became blossoms; and the blossoms turned into clusters of ripe grapes. And I picked the grapes, and squeezed their juice into king Pharaoh's cup, and it became wine; and I gave it to king Pharaoh to drink, just as I used to do when I was beside his table."
Then Joseph said, "This is what your dream means. The three branches mean three days. In three days, king Pharaoh shall call you out of prison and shall put you back in your place; and you shall stand at his table, and shall give him his wine, as you have given it before. But when you go out of prison, please to remember me, and try to find some way to get me, too, out of this prison. For I was stolen out of the land of Canaan, and sold as a slave; and I have done nothing wrong to deserve being put in this prison. Do speak to the king for me, that I may be set free."
Of course, the chief butler felt very happy to hear that his dream had so pleasant a meaning. And the chief baker spoke, hoping to have an answer as good:
"In my dream," said the baker, "there were three baskets of white bread on my head, one above another, and on the topmost basket were all kinds of roasted meat and food for Pharaoh; and the birds came, and ate the food from the baskets on my head."
And Joseph said to the baker:
"This is the meaning of your dream, and I am sorry to tell it to you. The three baskets are three days. In three days, by order of the king you shall be lifted up, and hanged upon a tree; and the birds shall eat your flesh from your bones as you are hanging in the air."
And it came to pass just as Joseph had said. Three days after that, king Pharaoh sent his officers to the prison. They came and took out both the chief butler and the chief baker. The baker they hung up by his neck to die, and left his body for the birds to pick in pieces. The chief butler they brought back to his old place, where he waited at the king's table, and handed him his wine to drink.
You would have supposed that the butler would remember Joseph, who had given him the promise of freedom, and had shown such wisdom. But in his gladness, he forgot all about Joseph. And two full years passed by, while Joseph was still in prison, until he was a man thirty years old.
But one night, king Pharaoh himself dreamed a dream—in fact, two dreams in one. And in the morning he sent for all the wise men of Egypt, and told to them his dreams; but there was not a man who could give the meaning of them. And the king was troubled, for he felt that the dreams had some meaning which it was important for him to know.
Then suddenly the chief butler who was by the king's table remembered his own dream in the prison two years before, and remembered, too, the young man who had told its meaning so exactly. And he said:
"I do remember my faults this day. Two years ago king Pharaoh was angry with his servants, with me and the chief baker; and he sent us to the prison. While we were in the prison, one night each of us dreamed a dream; and the next day a young man in the prison, a Hebrew from the land of Canaan, told us what our dreams meant; and in three days they came true, just as the young Hebrew had said. I think that if this young man is in the prison still, he could tell the king the meaning of his dreams."
You notice that the butler spoke of Joseph as "a Hebrew." The people of Israel, to whom Joseph belonged, were called Hebrews as well as Israelites. The word Hebrew means, "One who crossed over," and it was given to the Israelites because Abraham, their father, had come from a land on the other side of the great river Euphrates, and had crossed over the river on his way to Canaan.
Then king Pharaoh sent in haste to the prison for Joseph; and Joseph was taken out, and he was dressed in new garments, and was led in to Pharaoh in the palace. And Pharaoh said:
"I have dreamed a dream; and there is no one who can tell what it means. And I have been told that you have power to understand dreams and what they mean."
And Joseph answered Pharaoh:
"The power is not in me; but God will give Pharaoh a good answer. What is the dream that the king has dreamed?"
"In my first dream," said Pharaoh, "I was standing by the river: and I saw seven fat and handsome cows come up from the river to feed in the grass. And while they were feeding, seven other cows followed them up from the river, very thin, and poor, and lean—such miserable creatures as I had never seen before. And the seven lean cows ate up the seven fat cows; and after they had eaten them up, they were as lean and miserable as before. Then I awoke.
"And I fell asleep again, and dreamed again. In my second dream, I saw seven heads of grain growing up on one stalk, large, and strong, and good. And then seven heads came up after them, that were thin, and poor, and withered. And the seven thin heads swallowed up the seven good heads; and afterward were as poor and withered as before.
"And I told these two dreams to all the wise men, and there is no one who can explain them. Can you tell me what these dreams mean?"
And Joseph said to the king:
"The two dreams have the same meaning. God has been showing to king Pharaoh what he will do in this land. The seven good cows mean seven years, and the seven good heads of grain mean the same seven years. The seven lean cows and the seven thin heads of grain also mean seven years. The good cows and the good grain mean seven years of plenty, and the seven thin cows and thin heads of grain mean seven poor years. There are coming upon the land of Egypt seven years of such plenty as have never been seen; when the fields shall bring greater crops than ever before; and after those years shall come seven years when the fields shall bring no crops at all. And then for seven years there shall be such need, that the years of plenty will be forgotten, for the people will have nothing to eat."
"Now, let king Pharaoh find some man who is able and wise, and let him set this man to rule over the land. And during the seven years of plenty, let a part of the crops be put away for the years of need. If this shall be done, then when the years of need come, there will be plenty of food for all the people, and no one will suffer, for all will have enough."
And king Pharaoh said to Joseph: "Since God has shown you all this, there is no other man as wise as you. I will appoint you to do this work, and to rule over the land of Egypt. All the people shall be under you; only on the throne of Egypt I will be above you."
And Pharaoh took from his own hand the ring which held his seal, and put on Joseph's hand, so that he could sign for the king, and seal in the king's place. And he dressed Joseph in robes of fine linen, and put around his neck a gold chain. And he made Joseph ride in a chariot which was next in rank to his own. And they cried out before Joseph, "Bow the knee." And thus Joseph was ruler over all the land of Egypt.
THE STORY OF THE MONEY IN THE SACKS
When Joseph was made ruler over the land of Egypt, he did just as he had always done. It was not Joseph's way to sit down, to rest and enjoy himself, and make others wait on him. He found his work at once, and began to do it faithfully and thoroughly. He went out over all the land of Egypt, and saw how rich and abundant were the fields of grain, giving much more than the people could use for their own needs. He told the people not to waste it, but to save it for the coming time of need.
And he called upon the people to give him for the king one bushel of grain out of every five, to be stored up. The people brought their grain, after taking for themselves as much as they needed, and Joseph stored it up in great storehouses in the cities; so much at last that no one could keep account of it.
The king of Egypt gave a wife to Joseph from the noble young women of his kingdom. Her name was Asenath; and to Joseph and his wife God gave two sons. The oldest son he named Manasseh, a word which means "Making to Forget."
"For," said Joseph, "God has made me to forget all my troubles and my toil as a slave."
The second son he named Ephraim, a word that means "Fruitful." "Because," said Joseph, "God has not only made the land fruitful; but he has made me fruitful in the land of my troubles."
The seven years of plenty soon passed by, and then came the years of need. In all the lands around people were hungry, and there was no food for them to eat; but in the land of Egypt everybody had enough. Most of the people soon used up the grain that they had saved; many had saved none at all, and they all cried to the king to help them.
"Go to Joseph!" said king Pharaoh, "and do whatever he tells you to do."
Then the people came to Joseph, and Joseph opened the storehouses, and sold to the people all the grain that they wished to buy. And not only the people of Egypt came to buy grain, but people of all the lands around as well, for there was great need and famine everywhere. And the need was as great in the land of Canaan, where Jacob lived, as in other lands. Jacob was rich in flocks and cattle, and gold and silver, but his fields gave no grain, and there was danger that his family and his people would starve. And Jacob—who was now called Israel also—heard that there was food in Egypt and he said to his sons: "Why do you look at each other, asking what to do to find food? I have been told that there is grain in Egypt. Go down to that land, and take money with you, and bring grain, so that we may have bread, and may live."
Then the ten older brothers of Joseph went down to the land of Egypt. They rode upon asses, for horses were not much used in those times, and they brought money with them. But Jacob would not let Benjamin, Joseph's younger brother, go with them, for he was all the more dear to his father, now that Joseph was no longer with him; and Jacob feared that harm might come to him.
Then Joseph's brothers came to Joseph to buy food. They did not know him, grown up to be a man, dressed as a prince, and seated on a throne. Joseph was now nearly forty years old, and it had been almost twenty-three years since they had sold him. But Joseph knew them all, as soon as he saw them. He wished to be sharp and stern with them, not because he hated them; but because he wished to see what their spirit was, and whether they were as selfish, and cruel, and wicked as they had been in other days.
They came before him, and bowed, with their faces to the ground. Then, no doubt, Joseph thought of the dream that had come to him while he was a boy, of his brothers' sheaves bending down around his sheaf. He spoke to them as a stranger, as if he did not understand their language, and he had their words explained to him in the language of Egypt.
"Who are you? And from what place do you come?" said Joseph, in a harsh, stern manner.
They answered him very meekly: "We have come from the land of Canaan to buy food."
"No," said Joseph, "I know what you have come for. You have come as spies, to see how helpless the land is, so that you can bring an army against us, and make war on us."
"No, no," said Joseph's ten brothers. "We are no spies. We are the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan; and we have come for food, because we have none at home."
"You say that you are the sons of one man, who is your father? Is he living? Have you any more brothers? Tell me all about yourselves."
And they said: "Our father is an old man in Canaan. We did have a younger brother, but he was lost; and we have one brother still, who is the youngest of all, but his father could not spare him to come with us."
"No," said Joseph. "You are not good, honest men. You are spies. I shall put you all in prison, except one of you; and he shall go and bring that youngest brother of yours; and when I see him, then I will believe that you tell the truth."
So Joseph put all the ten men in prison, and kept them under guard for three days; then he sent for them again. They did not know that he could understand their language, and they said to each other, while Joseph heard, but pretended not to hear: "This has come upon us because of the wrong that we did to our brother Joseph, more than twenty years ago. We heard him cry, and plead with us, when we threw him into the pit, and we would not have mercy on him. God is giving us only what we have deserved."
And Reuben, who had tried to save Joseph, said: "Did I not tell you not to harm the boy? and you would not listen to me. God is bringing our brother's blood upon us all."
When Joseph heard this, his heart was touched, for he saw that his brothers were really sorry for the wrong that they had done to him. He turned away from them, so that they could not see his face, and he wept. Then he turned again to them and spoke roughly as before, and said:
"This I will do, for I serve God. I will let you all go home, except one man. One of you I will shut up in prison; but the rest of you can go home and take food for your people. And you must come back and bring your youngest brother with you, and I shall know then that you have spoken the truth."
Then Joseph gave orders, and his servants seized one of his brothers, whose name was Simeon, and bound him in their sight and took him away to prison. And he ordered his servants to fill the men's sacks with grain, and to put every man's money back into the sack before it was tied up, so that they would find the money as soon as they opened the sack. Then the men loaded their asses with the sacks of grain, and started to go home, leaving their brother Simeon a prisoner.
When they stopped on the way to feed their asses, one of the brothers opened his sack, and there he found his money lying on the top of the grain. He called out to his brothers: "See, here is my money given again to me!" And they were frightened, but they did not dare to go back to Egypt and meet the stern ruler of the land. They went home and told their old father all that had happened to them, and how their brother Simeon was in prison, and must stay there until they should return, bringing Benjamin with them.
When they opened their sacks of grain, there in the mouth of each sack was the money that they had given; and they were filled with fear. Then they spoke of going again to Egypt and taking Benjamin, but Jacob said to them:
"You are taking my sons away from me. Joseph is gone, and Simeon is gone, and now you would take Benjamin away. All these things are against me!" Reuben said: "Here are my own two boys. You may kill them, if you wish, in case I do not bring Benjamin back to you." But Jacob said: "My youngest son shall not go with you. His brother is dead, and he alone is left to me. If harm should come to him, it would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave."
THE MYSTERY OF THE LOST BROTHER
The food which Jacob's sons had brought from Egypt did not last long, for Jacob's family was large. Most of his sons were married and had children of their own; so that the children and grandchildren were sixty-six, besides the servants who waited on them, and the men who cared for Jacob's flocks. So around the tent of Jacob was quite a camp of other tents and an army of people.
When the food that had come from Egypt was nearly eaten up, Jacob said to his sons:
"Go down to Egypt again, and buy some food for us."
And Judah, Jacob's son, the man who years before had urged his brothers to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites, said to his father: "It is of no use for us to go to Egypt, unless we take Benjamin with us. The man who rules in that land said to us, 'You shall not see my face, unless your youngest brother be with you'."
And Israel said, "Why did you tell the man that you had a brother? You did me great harm when you told him."
"Why," said Jacob's sons, "we could not help telling him. The man asked us all about our family, 'Is your father yet living? Have you any more brothers?' And we had to tell him, his questions were so close. How should we know that he would say, 'Bring your brother here, for me to see him'?"
And Judah said, "Send Benjamin with me, and I will take care of him. I promise you that I will bring him safely home. If he does not come back, let me bear the blame forever. He must go, or we shall die for want of food; and we might have gone down to Egypt and come home again, if we had not been kept back."
And Jacob said, "If he must go, then he must. But take a present to the man, some of the choicest fruits of the land, some spices, and perfumes, and nuts, and almonds. And take twice as much money, besides the money that was in your sacks. Perhaps that was a mistake, when the money was given back to you. And take your brother Benjamin, and may the Lord God make the man kind to you, so that he will set Simeon free, and let you bring Benjamin back. But if it is God's will that I lose my children, I cannot help it."
So ten brothers of Joseph went down a second time to Egypt, Benjamin going in place of Simeon. They came to Joseph's office, the place where he sold grain to the people; and they stood before their brother, and bowed as before. Joseph saw that Benjamin was with them, and he said to his steward, the man who was over his house:
"Make ready a dinner, for all these men shall dine with me today."
When Joseph's brothers found that they were taken into Joseph's house, they were filled with fear. They said to each other:
"We have been taken here on account of the money in our sacks. They will say that we have stolen it, and then they will sell us all for slaves."
But Joseph's steward, the man who was over his house, treated the men kindly; and when they spoke of the money in their sacks, he would not take it again, saying:
"Never fear; your God must have sent you this as a gift. I had your money."
The stewards received the men into Joseph's house, and washed their feet, according to the custom of the land. And at noon, Joseph came in to meet them. They brought him the present from their father, and again they bowed before him, with their faces on the ground.
And Joseph asked them if they were well, and said: "Is your father still living, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he well?"
And they said, "Our father is well and he is living." And again they bowed to Joseph.
And Joseph looked at his younger brother Benjamin, the child of his own mother Rachel, and said:
"Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious unto you, my son."
And Joseph's heart was so full that he could not keep back the tears. He went in haste to his own room, and wept there. Then he washed his face, and came out again, and ordered the table to be set for dinner. They set Joseph's table for himself, as the ruler, and another table for his Egyptian officers, and another for the eleven men from Canaan; for Joseph had brought Simeon out of the prison, and had given him a place with his brothers.
Joseph himself arranged the order of the seats for his brothers, the oldest at the head, and all in order of age down to the youngest. The men wondered at this, and could not see how the ruler of Egypt could know the order of their ages. And Joseph sent dishes from his table to his brothers, and he gave to Benjamin five times as much as to the others. Perhaps he wished to see whether they were as jealous of Benjamin as in other days they had been toward him.
After dinner, Joseph said to his steward: "Fill the men's sacks with grain, as much as they can carry, and put each man's money in his sack. And put my silver cup in the sack of the youngest, with his money."
The steward did as Joseph had said; and early in the morning the brothers started to go home. A little while afterward, Joseph said to his steward:
"Hasten, follow after the men from Canaan, and say, 'Why have you wronged me, after I had treated you kindly? You have stolen my master's silver cup, out of which he drinks'."
The steward followed the men, and overtook them, and charged them with stealing. And they said to him:
"Why should you talk to us in this manner? We have stolen nothing. Why, we brought back to you the money that we found in our sacks; and is it likely that we would steal from your lord his silver or gold? You may search us, and if you find your master's cup on any of us, let him die, and the rest of us may be sold as slaves."
Then they took down the sacks from the asses, and opened them; and in each man's sack was his money, for the second time. And when they came to Benjamin's sack, there was the ruler's silver cup! Then, in the greatest sorrow, they tied up their bags again, and laid them on the asses, and came back to Joseph's palace.
And Joseph said to them:
"What wicked thing is this that you have done? Did you not know that I would surely find out your deeds?"
Then Judah said, "O, my lord, what can we say? God has punished us for our sins; and now we must all be slaves, both we that are older, and the younger in whose sack the cup was found."
"No," said Joseph. "Only one of you is guilty; the one who has taken away my cup. I will hold him as a slave, and the rest of you can go home to your father."
Joseph wished to see whether his brothers were still selfish, and were willing to let Benjamin suffer, if they could escape.
Then Judah, the very man who had urged his brothers to sell Joseph as a slave, came forward, and fell at Joseph's feet, and pleaded with him to let Benjamin go. He told again the whole story, how Benjamin was the one whom his father loved the most of all his children, now that his brother was lost. He said:
"I promised to bear the blame, if this boy was not brought home in safety. If he does not go back it will kill my poor old father, who has seen much trouble. Now let my youngest brother go home to his father, and I will stay here as a slave in his place!"
Joseph knew now, what he had longed to know, that his brothers were no longer cruel nor selfish, but one of them was willing to suffer, so that his brother might be spared. And Joseph could not any longer keep his secret, for his heart longed after his brothers; and he was ready to weep again, with tears of love and joy. He sent all of his Egyptian servants out of the room, so that he might be alone with his brothers, and then he said:
"Come near to me; I wish to speak with you." And they came near, wondering. Then Joseph said:
"I am Joseph; is my father really alive?"
How frightened his brothers were, as they heard these words spoken in their own language by the ruler of Egypt and for the first time knew that this stern man, who had their lives in his hand, was their own brother whom they had wronged! Then Joseph said again:
"I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But do not feel troubled because of what you did. For God sent me before you to save your lives. There have been already two years of need and famine, and there are to be five years more, when there shall neither be plowing of the fields nor harvest. It was not you who sent me here, but God; and he sent me to save your lives. God has made me like a father to Pharaoh and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Now I wish you to go home, and to bring down to me my father and all his family."
Then Joseph placed his arms around Benjamin's neck, and kissed him, and wept upon him. And Benjamin wept on his neck. And Joseph kissed all his brothers, to show them that he had fully forgiven them; and after that his brothers began to lose their fear of Joseph and talked with him more freely.
Afterward Joseph sent his brothers home with good news, and rich gifts, and abundant food. He sent also wagons in which Jacob and his sons' wives and the little ones of their families might ride from Canaan down to Egypt. And Joseph's brothers went home happier than they had been for many years.
THE STORY OF MOSES, THE CHILD WHO WAS FOUND IN THE RIVER
The children of Israel stayed in the land of Egypt much longer than they had expected to stay. They were in that land about four hundred years. And the going down to Egypt proved a great blessing to them. It saved their lives during the years of famine and need. After the years of need were over, they found the soil in the land of Goshen, that part of Egypt where they were living, very rich, so that they could gather three or four crops every year.
Then, too, the sons of Israel, before they came to Egypt, had begun to marry the women in the land of Canaan who worshipped idols, and not the Lord. If they had stayed there, their children would have grown up like the people around them and soon would have lost all knowledge of God.
But in Goshen they lived alone and apart from the people of Egypt. They worshipped the Lord God, and were kept away from the idols of Egypt. And in that land, as the years went on, from being seventy people, they grew in number until they became a great multitude. Each of the twelve sons of Jacob was the father of a tribe, and Joseph was the father of two tribes, named after his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
As long as Joseph lived, and for some time after, the people of Israel were treated kindly by the Egyptians, out of their love for Joseph, who had saved Egypt from suffering by famine. But after a long time another king began to rule over Egypt, who cared nothing for Joseph or Joseph's people. He saw that the Israelites (as the children of Israel were called) were very many, and he feared that they would soon become greater in number and in power than the Egyptians.
He said to his people: "Let us rule these Israelites more strictly. They are growing too strong."
Then they set harsh rules over the Israelites, and laid heavy burdens on them. They made the Israelites work hard for the Egyptians, and build cities for them, and give to the Egyptians a large part of the crops from their fields. They set them at work in making brick and in building storehouses. They were so afraid that the Israelites would grow in number that they gave orders to kill all the little boys that were born to the Israelites; though their little girls might be allowed to live.
But in the face of all this hate, and wrong, and cruelty, the people of Israel were growing in number, and becoming greater and greater.
At this time, when the wrongs of the Israelites were the greatest, and when their little children were being killed, one little boy was born.
He was such a lovely child that his mother kept him hid, so that the enemies did not find him. When she could no longer hide him, she formed a plan to save his life; believing that God would help her and save her beautiful little boy.
She made a little box like a boat and covered it with something that would not let the water into it. Such a boat as this covered over was called "an ark." She knew that at certain times the daughter of king Pharaoh—all the kings of Egypt were called Pharaoh, for Pharaoh means a king—would come down to the river for a bath. She placed her baby boy in the ark, and let it float down the river where the princess, Pharaoh's daughter, would see it. And she sent her own daughter, a little girl named Miriam, twelve years old, to watch close at hand. How anxious the mother and the sister were as they saw the little ark floating away from them on the river!
Pharaoh's daughter, with her maids, came down to the river, and they saw the ark floating on the water, among the reeds. She sent one of her maids to bring it to her so that she might see what was in the curious box. They opened it, and there was a beautiful little baby, who began to cry to be taken up.
The princess felt kind toward the little one, and loved it at once. She said: "This is one of the Hebrews' children." You have heard how the children of Israel came to be called Hebrews. Pharaoh's daughter thought that it would be cruel to let such a lovely baby as this die out on the water. And just then a little girl came running up to her, as if by accident, and she looked at the baby also, and she said: "Shall I go and find some woman of the Hebrews to be a nurse to the child for you and take care of it?"
"Yes," said the princess. "Go and find a nurse for me."
The little girl—who was Miriam, the baby's sister—ran as quickly as she could and brought the baby's own mother to the princess. Miriam showed in this act that she was a wise and thoughtful little girl. The princess said to the little baby's mother: "Take this child to your home and nurse it for me, and I will pay you wages for it."
How glad the Hebrew mother was to take her child home! No one could harm her boy now, for he was protected by the princess of Egypt, the daughter of the king.
When the child was large enough to leave his mother Pharaoh's daughter took him into her own house in the palace. She named him "Moses," a word that means "drawn out," because he was drawn out of the water.
So Moses, the Hebrew boy, lived in the palace among the nobles of the land, as the son of the princess. There he learned much more than he could have learned among his own people; for there were very wise teachers. Moses gained all the knowledge that the Egyptians had to give. There in the court of the cruel king who had made slaves of the Israelites, God's people, was growing up our Israelite boy who should at some time set his people free!
Although Moses grew up among the Egyptians, and gained their learning, he loved his own people. They were poor and were hated, and were slaves, but he loved them, because they were the people who served the Lord God, while the Egyptians worshipped idols and animals. Strange it was that so wise a people as these should bow down and pray to an ox, or to a cat, or to a snake, as did the Egyptians.
When Moses became a man, he went among his own people, leaving the riches and ease that he might have enjoyed among the Egyptians. He felt a call from God to lift up the Israelites and set them free. But at that time he found that he could do nothing to help them. They would not let him lead them, and as the king of Egypt had now become his enemy, Moses went away from Egypt into a country in Arabia, called Midian.
He was sitting by a well, in that land, tired from his long journey, when he saw some young women come to draw water for their flocks of sheep. But some rough men came, and drove the women away, and took the water for their own flocks. Moses saw it, and helped the women and drew the water for them.
These young women were sisters, the daughters of a man named Jethro, who was a priest in the land of Midian. He asked Moses to live with him, and to help him in the care of his flocks. Moses stayed with Jethro and married one of his daughters. So from being a prince in the king's palace in Egypt, Moses became a shepherd in the wilderness of Midian.
But Moses did not remain a shepherd. While he was tending his sheep God appeared to him in a burning bush and told him that he should return to Egypt and become the leader of his people. The Lord told him that the wicked Egyptians would be punished for the ill-treatment they were giving the Israelites. In your Bible you will find in the book of Exodus how God wonderfully fulfilled his promise. The Egyptians were punished by many plagues, and finally allowed the Israelites to go. They crossed the Red Sea in a wonderful way, and traveled for a long time through a wilderness, where God fed them day by day with manna from heaven. God also gave them rules as a guide for their daily living; these rules we call the Ten Commandments; yet they forgot the Lord so far as to make images and worship them.
THE STORY OF THE GRAPES FROM CANAAN
The Israelites stayed in their camp before Mount Sinai almost a year, while they were building the Tabernacle and learning God's laws given through Moses. At last the cloud over the Tabernacle rose up, and the people knew that this was the sign for them to move. They took down the Tabernacle and their own tents, and journeyed toward the land of Canaan for many days.
At last they came to a place just on the border between the desert and Canaan, called Kadesh, or Kadesh-barnea. Here they stopped to rest, for there were many springs of water and some grass for their cattle. While they were waiting at Kadesh-barnea and were expecting soon to march into the land which was to be their home, God told Moses to send onward some men who should walk through the land and look at it, and then come back and tell what they had found; what kind of a land it was, and what fruits grew in it, and what people were living in it. The Israelites could more easily win the land if these men, after walking through it, could act as their guides and point out the best places in it and the best plans of making war upon it.
So Moses chose out some men of high rank among the people, one ruler from each tribe, twelve men in all. One of these was Joshua, who was the helper of Moses in caring for the people, and another was Caleb, who belonged to the tribe of Judah. These twelve men went out and walked over the mountains of Canaan and looked at the cities and saw the fields. In one place, just before they came back to the camp, they cut down a cluster of ripe grapes which was so large that two men carried it between them, hanging from a staff. They named the place where they found this bunch of grapes Eshcol, a word which means "a cluster." These twelve men were called "spies," because they went "to spy out the land"; and after forty days they came back to the camp, and this was what they said:
"We walked all over the land and found it a rich land. There is grass for all our flocks, and fields where we can raise grain, and trees bearing fruits, and streams running down the sides of the hills. But we found that the people who live there are very strong and are men of war. They have cities with walls that reach almost up to the sky; and some of the men are giants, so tall that we felt that we were like grasshoppers beside them."
One of the spies, who was Caleb, said, "All that is true, yet we need not be afraid to go up and take the land. It is a good land, well worth fighting for; God is on our side, and he will help us to overcome those people."
But all the other spies, except Joshua, said, "No, there is no use in trying to make war upon such strong people. We can never take those walled cities, and we dare not fight those tall giants."
And the people, who had journeyed all the way through the wilderness to find this very land, were so frightened by the words of the ten spies that now, on the very border of Canaan, they dared not enter it. They forgot that God had led them out of Egypt, that he had kept them in the dangers of the desert, that he had given them water out of the rock, and bread from the sky, and his law from the mountain.
All that night, after the spies had brought back their report, the people were so frightened that they could not sleep. They cried out against Moses, and blamed him for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. They forgot all their troubles in Egypt, their toil and their slavery, and resolved to go back to that land. They said:
"Let us choose a ruler in place of Moses, who has brought us into all these evils, and let us turn back to the land of Egypt!"
But Caleb and Joshua, two of the spies, said, "Why should we fear? The land of Canaan is a good land; it is rich with milk and honey. If God is our friend and is with us, we can easily conquer the people who live there. Above all things, let us not rebel against the Lord, or disobey him, and make him our enemy."
But the people were so angry with Caleb and Joshua that they were ready to stone them and kill them. Then suddenly the people saw a strange sight. The glory of the Lord, which stayed in the Holy of Holies, the inner room of the Tabernacle, now flashed out, and shone from the door of the Tabernacle.
And the Lord, out of this glory, spoke to Moses, and said, "How long will this people disobey me and despise me? They shall not go into the good land that I have promised them. Not one of them shall enter in, except Caleb and Joshua, who have been faithful to me. All the people who are twenty years old and over it shall die in the desert; but their little children shall grow up in the wilderness, and when they become men they shall enter in and own the land that I promised to their fathers. You people are not worthy of the land that I have been keeping for you. Now turn back into the desert and stay there until you die. After you are dead, Joshua shall lead your children into the land of Canaan. And because Caleb showed another spirit and was true to me, and followed my will fully, Caleb shall live to go into the land, and shall have his choice of a home there. To-morrow, turn back into the desert by the way of the Red Sea."