King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 37

Joseph is loved of Jacob, but hated by his brethren. (1-4) Joseph’s dreams. (5-11) Jacob sends Joseph to visit his brethren, They conspire his death. (12-22) Joseph’s brethren sell him. (23-10) Jacob deceived, Joseph sold to Potiphar. (31-36)

Genesis 37 Audio:

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Joseph is loved of Jacob, but hated by his brethren

1 And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.

2 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.

4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

Joseph’s dreams

5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.

8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

Jacob sends Joseph to visit his brethren, They conspire his death

12 And his brethren went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem.

13 And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.

14 And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

15 And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?

16 And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.

17 And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.

18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.

19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.

20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

21 And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.

22 And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.

Joseph’s brethren sell him

23 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;

24 And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.

25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.

26 And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?

27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.

28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.

29 And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.

30 And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?

Jacob deceived, Joseph sold to Potiphar

31 And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood;

32 And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no.

33 And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.

34 And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.

35 And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.

36 And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Sojourned at Hebron and the environs. H.

Ver. 2. Generations. This connects his history with C. xxxv. What happened to Jacob and his sons, and particularly to Joseph, forms the subject of the remaining part of Genesis. H. — Old; complete, or beginning “his 17th year,” as the Heb. Chal. and Sept. have it. “He was the son or boy of”—so many years always means the current year unfinished. Bochart 1. R. xiii. 1. — The sons. Perhaps these were not so much enraged against Joseph, till he told his father of their scandalous behaviour, in order that he might put a stop to it. — He accused. Some editions of the Sept. read, “they accused him,” &c.; but all others confirm the Vulgate and Hebrew. C. — Crime: perhaps of sodomy, or bestiality (S. Tho.); or of abusive language to Joseph himself. C.

Ver. 3. Old age, and therefore expected to have no more children; but he loved him still more, on account of his innocent and sweet behaviour (M.): in which sense the Sam. Chal. &c. have, “because he was a wise and prudent boy.” — Colours. The nations of the East delight in gaudy attire, “hanging down to the heels” as the original passim is sometimes expressed, talaris & polymita, v. 3. C.

Ver. 4. Could not, through envy, which caused them to notice every little distinction shewn to Joseph. They perceived he was the most beloved. His accusing them, and insinuating by his mysterious dreams that he would be their lord, heightened their rage. H.

Ver. 5. A dream. These dreams of Joseph were prophetical, and sent from God, as were also those which he interpreted, Gen. xl. and xli.; otherwise, generally speaking, the observing of dreams is condemned in the Scripture, as superstitious and sinful. See Deut. xviii. 10. and Eccle. xxxiv. 2. 3.

Ver. 7. Sheaf. Joseph probably knew not what this portended, as the prophets were sometimes ignorant of the real purport of their visions. C. — But it admirably foreshewed the famine, which would bring his brethren to adore him in Egypt. M.

Ver. 9. The sun. This second dream confirmed the truth of the former. Joseph relates it with simplicity, not suspecting the ill will of his brethren: but his father easily perceives what effect the narration would have, and desires him to be more cautious. He even points out the apparent incoherence of the dream, as Rachel, who seemed intended by the moon, was already dead; unless this dream happened before that event. S. Aug. (q. 123) observes, this was never literally verified in Joseph, but it was in Jesus Christ, whom he prefigured. C. — Some think that Bala, the nurse of Joseph, was intended by the moon. T.

Ver. 10. Worship. This word is not used here to signify divine worship, but an inferior veneration, expressed by the bowing of the body, and that, according to the manner of the eastern nations, down to the ground.

Ver. 11. With himself: not doubting but it was prophetical. Thus acted the B. Virgin. C.

Ver. 13. In Sichem. About ninety miles off. The town had not probably been as yet rebuilt. Jacob had a field there, and the country was free for any one to feed their flocks. It was customary to drive them to a distance. C.

Ver. 14. Bring me. He was afraid of letting him remain with them, and retained him mostly at home for company, and to protect him from danger.

Ver. 16. My brethren. The man was acquainted with Jacob’s family, as he had dwelt in those parts for a long time. H.

Ver. 17. Dothain: twelve miles to the north of Samaria. Euseb.

Ver. 19. The dreamer. Heb. Bahal hachalomoth, “the lord of dreams,” or the visionary lord (C.); or one who feigns dreams: so the Jews say of our Saviour, this seducer. H.

Ver. 20. Pit: walled around to contain water: Heb. Bur. Bar means a well that has no walls. M. — Shall appear. They resolve to tell a lie, and easily believe that Joseph had been as bad as themselves in telling one first. If they had believed the dreams were from God, they would hardly have supposed that they could prevent them from having their effect. H.

Ver. 22. His father. Ruben wished to regain his father’s favour. C. xxxv. 22.

Ver. 25. To eat bread. How could they do this while their innocent brother was praying and lamenting! C. xlii. 21. H. — Some: a caravan of merchants. D. — Balm, or rosin; “That of Syria resembles attic honey.” Plin. — Myrrh, (stacten); Heb. Lot: “drops of myrrh or laudanum, or of the Lotus tree.” C.

Ver. 28. Of silver. Some have read, thirty pieces of gold or silver. S. Amb. c. 3. — The price was trifling: twenty sicles would be about £2 5s. 7½d. English. The Madianites and Ismaelites jointly purchased Joseph. H.

Ver. 29. Ruben, who, in the mean time had been absent while his brethren hearkened to the proposal of Juda only, and therefore consented to this evil. H.

Ver. 30. I go to seek for him. His brethren inform him of what they had done, and he consents to keep it a secret from his father. M.

Ver. 33. A beast. So he might reasonably conclude from the blood, and from the insinuations of the messengers sent by his ten sons, (H.) whom he would not suspect of so heinous a crime. Wild beasts infested that country. M.

Ver. 34. Sack-cloth, or hair-cloth, cilicio. These garments were made very close, like a sack, of the hair taken from the goats of Cilicia, which grew long, rough, and of a dark colour. The poorest people used them: Usum in Castrorum & miseris velamina nautis, (Virg. Geor. 3.); and the Ascetics, or monks, afterwards chose them for the sake of mortification and humility. C. — Jacob was the first, mentioned in Scripture, who put them on, and the Israelites imitated him in their mourning. — Long time; twenty-three years, till he heard of his son being still alive. M.

Ver. 35. Into hell; that is, into limbo, the place where the souls of the just were received before the death of our Redeemer. For allowing that the word hell sometimes is taken for the grave, it cannot be so taken in this place; since Jacob did not believe his son to be in the grave, (whom he supposed to be devoured by a wild beast) and therefore could not mean to go down to him thither: but certainly meant the place of rest, where he believed his soul to be. Ch. — Soal, or sheol, to crave, denotes the receptacle of the dead, (Leigh) or a lower region; the grave for the body; limbo, or hell, when speaking of the soul. See Delrio, Adag. in 2 Kings, p. 209. H. — Protestants here translate it, “the grave,” being unwilling to admit a third place in the other world for the soul. See the contrary in S. Aug. ep. 99. ad Evod. de C. D. xx. 15. W.

Ver. 36. An eunuch. This word sometimes signifies a chamberlain, courtier, or officer of the king: and so it is taken in this place. Ch. — Soldiers, cooks, or butchers. Hebrew tabachim, executioners, mactantium. He might also be chief sacrificer, governor of the prisons, &c. all these employments were anciently very honourable. Dan. ii. 14. The providence of God never shines more brightly in any part of the Scripture, than in this history of Joseph, except in that of Jesus Christ, of whom Joseph was a beautiful figure. He was born when his father was grown old, as Jesus was in the last age of the world; he was a son increasing, as Jesus waxed in age and grace before God and men; both were beloved by their father, both comely, &c. C.