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by his being the son of his most beloved wife, and the son of his old age, but also by the beauty of his person, the sprightliness of his genius, and the gentleness of his manners and disposition. These endearing circumstances had distinguished him from his brothers, by some peculiar marks of his father's favour and indulgence. His brethren, therefore, moved with envy by so excusable a partiality in an aged parent, and also by certain dreams which Joseph had related to them, in which God had revealed to him both his own future greatness and their subjection to him, entered into a most unnatural conspiracy to take away his life.
his life. And long it was not before an opportunity offered itself of executing their hellish purpose: for whilst they were feeding their father's flock in Shechem, Israel, with a fond anxiety for their welfare, called Joseph, and said unto him, “ Go, I pray “ thee; see whether it be well with thy “ brethren, and well with their flocks, " and bring me word again;" little suspecting into what hands he had delivered him,-- far more merciless than the, rapa1
cious wolf or the devouring vulture. For no sooner did they see him approaching, but they said one to another, “ Behold, 66 this dreamer cometh: come now, there
fore, and let us slay him, and cast him “ into some pit.” But the risings of nature in two of his brothers prevented the others from carrying their horrid barbarity to its full extent: Reuben, by a well-meant stratagem, snatching him out of the jaws of an immediate death by their hands; and Judah, delivering him from a lingering and painful one, by prevailing on them to take him out of the pit into which they had cast him, and to sell him for a slave to some merchants, who were then passing by on their way to Egypt; by whom he was again sold to Potiphar, the Captain of Pharaoh's guard. Potiphar was soon so much charmed with the fidelity and prudence of his young slave, that he presently advanced him to be the overseer of his house, and trusted him so unreservedly, that, as it is very emphatically expressed, “ he knew not
ought he had, save the bread which he 66 did eat,"
Joseph Joseph did not long enjoy this respite from his late misfortunes, before a new one overtook him; arising too from the same cause from which the former sprang, -his beauty and his virtue. The goodliness of his person so inflamed the eyes and mind of his mistress, that throwing aside the modesty of her sex, she openly solicits him to dishonour his master's bed. The answer he returned her
this occasion deserves to be particularly recorded:-- Behold, says he, my master “ wotteth not what is with me in the
house, and hath committed all that he “ hath to my hand : there is none greater s in this house than I; neither hath he :
kept back any thing from me, but thee, 66 because thou art his wife: How then co
can I do this great wickedness, and sin 44
This was an answer, which might have drawo a blush of shame and self-reproach into the cheek of female modesty ; but it had no other effect
this abandoned woman than, as has too often been observed in such cases, to change her disap
pointed lust into the keenest malice. She had found herself too weak to rob him of his virtue, and therefore resolved to rob him of his liberty, and, perhaps, of his life too; and for this purpose procures his imprisonment by laying a charge against him, which was just the reverse of truth. After a long confinement, the fame of his extraordinary and supernatural wisdomí at length reached the cars of Pharaoh, who not only delivered him from prison, but also advanced him to be his Prime Minister, and the absolute dispenser of all his favours, observing him to possess many virtues deserving of so high a trust.
During this his unlooked-for elevation of fortune, the sons of Jacob were sent by their father, in a time of famine, to buy corn in Egypt; who, as all others that came upon the same errand, were of course introduced into the presence of Joseph, The difference of habit, the alteration which age had made in his countenance and stature, the place where they found him, and above all his present exaltation, would naturally contribute as much to conceal Joseph from the knowledge of his brethren, as the sameness of their dress, their language, their number, their air and persons, would make them known to him, who had not left them till they were all at their full growth. But, in order to bring them to a just sense of their cruelty to him, and to extort from them a true account of the condition of their aged father and little brother, whom they had left behind, he suppresses, for the present, the struggles of nature and the yearnings of his bowels, speaks roughly to them, accuses them of being spies, puts them in ward for three days, and then dismisses them with an order to bring Benjamin to him; at the same time taking Simeon from them, and binding him before their eyes, as an hostage for their performance of what he required of them; concluding perhaps with great probability, that his father's fondness had been no less fatal to Benjamin, than it had like to have been to himself, by equally exposing him to the envy and cruelty of his brethren. Very natural and affecting is the reflection,