One time the brothers were far from home with the flocks, and the father, being anxious for them and longing to know how they fared, sent Joseph, the beloved son, with many provisions, to the place where his brothers were. The lad started on his journey with a light and merry heart, for all the world looked bright to him. He wore the beautiful coat of many colors, and the people often stopped to look at the lad, with his comely face and beautiful coat.
As he approached the place where his brothers were they saw him when he was yet some distance away, but the anger and jealousy arose in their hearts, and they said: "Ah! Here comes the best beloved son. Let us do away with him. Then the love which our father gives to him may be bestowed upon us." So, as the lad drew nearer, they planned how they might destroy him. But one, the oldest brother, loved Joseph, and tried to save him from the hands of his evil brothers. So when they said, "Let us destroy him," Reuben, the eldest, said: "Nay, but let us cast him into a pit near by," thinking he would save him when the other brothers left.
So when Joseph drew near they seized him, stripped him of his coat of many colors, and cast him into a pit, and left him there alone.
Then they said: "Let us make a feast. See, our father hath sent us many things." And they sat down and made a feast with the things which their brother Joseph had brought to them.
As they were eating they looked up, and, coming down the roadway, they saw a large company of merchantmen passing on their way to Egypt. Then an evil plan came to the mind of one brother, and he said: "It is going to bring us no gain to keep Joseph in the pit. Let us sell him to those men and gain money for ourselves." The brothers agreed, and Joseph, the beloved son, was sold into Egypt for twenty pieces of silver.
When the brothers went home they took the coat of many colors to the old father, and said: "Is not this thy son's coat which we found? An evil beast hath surely destroyed him." And the old father wept for Joseph, his son, and would not be comforted.
The great caravan moved toward Egypt, and there the boy was sold again into the hands of a very rich man, in whose sight he found great favor, and who placed him in a position of honor in his own household. And Joseph grew in comeliness and beauty, for his heart was pure and the Lord was his friend and helper, prospering him in all that he did. He grew in favor with his master, who in turn made him ruler over all his house.
But Joseph had an enemy in the house, one who was jealous of his great honor and position, and she tried in every way to do Joseph harm. One day she falsely told the master of the house that Joseph had done a very evil thing. The master, being exceedingly angry, and thinking Joseph had betrayed his trust, stripped him of his fine garments and cast him into prison.
But the Lord was still with Joseph in his great trouble, so that he found favor with the keeper of the prison, who treated him most kindly, and Joseph sought in many ways to relieve the suffering and sorrow of those in the prison with him.
One day he helped two of the king's servants by telling them the meaning of two strange dreams they had, for dreams in those olden days were often sent to people by God to warn them, or prepare them for something which would happen, and God gave to Joseph the wisdom to understand the meaning and interpretation of those dreams. Thus, when the two servants were troubled because of their dreams, Joseph told them the meaning. One servant was released from the prison, and as he left, Joseph asked that he might remember him when he came before the king, that he, too, might be released. But the servant, when he was free, forgot the one who had helped him when in trouble.
Two years passed away, and Joseph remained in prison, but he still trusted in his God.
One night Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, was much troubled by his strange dreams. He called together all of his wise men and magicians, to know the interpretation of them, but none could tell the meaning. The king's trouble became known to his servants, and suddenly the one who had been in prison remembered Joseph, the man who had interpreted his own dream. He quickly told the king, who ordered Joseph to be brought immediately before him.
When Joseph stood before Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, he humbly bowed his head, and said: "The wisdom is not mine, but God in heaven shall tell thee the interpretation of thy dreams." And Joseph spoke to the king as God gave him wisdom, and told him the meaning of his dreams. And this was the meaning:
There should be seven years of plenty in the land of Egypt, and after that, seven years of famine throughout the land.
Then Joseph said: "Let Pharaoh, the king, choose a man, wise and discreet, who will sow and gather the harvest for the seven years of plenty, to fill the barns and storehouses with grain, so that when the seven years of famine come there will be grain enough and to spare in the land of Egypt."
As Pharaoh, the king, looked upon Joseph and heard him speak, he loved him, and said: "In all Egypt there is no man so wise as thou. Gather the harvest, to fill the barns and storehouses, in the seven years of plenty. I will make thee ruler over all Egypt. Thou shalt dwell with me and all men shall obey thee."
And Pharaoh took off the ring from his own hand and put it upon Joseph's hand, and dressed him in beautiful garments, and put a gold chain about his neck. And Joseph rode in the chariot next to the king of Egypt, and as they rode through the streets all the people bowed before Joseph and knew him as their ruler, and loved him.
Then Joseph went throughout all Egypt and commanded the people to build great storehouses and barns, and to gather in the corn and grain, and fill them full, against the seven years of famine which were to come. When the seven years of plenty were passed, and the famine was over all the land, there was grain and to spare in all Egypt, because Joseph had gathered the storehouses full.
When the people from other countries heard this they came to Egypt to buy bread, and the king sent them to Joseph. And Joseph opened the great storehouses, and sold grain to all who came. And the Lord was with Joseph and prospered him in all that he did.
Now, Jacob, with his eleven sons, Joseph's brothers, still lived in the land of Canaan, and the famine was over all the land, so that there was no bread in the house to eat.
Then Jacob, the father, called his sons to him and said: "I have heard that there is corn in Egypt. Go down there and buy for us, that we may live and not die."
So Joseph's brothers came to Egypt to buy grain, and Joseph was ruler over all Egypt, and sold grain to all who came. His brothers came before him and bowed their faces to the ground as they asked for food, for the famine was sore in their land. Now, Joseph knew his brothers when he saw them, but they knew not the little lad they had sold into the land of Egypt for twenty pieces of silver.
Joseph did not make himself known to his brothers, but asked them about their country and their homes, if they had a father and other brothers; and when they spoke of the old father, Jacob, and the youngest brother, Benjamin, who had stayed with the old father, Joseph longed to tell them that he was the brother whom the father had mourned as lost; but he waited, and treated his brothers as strangers, for they knew him not. Then he sent them home with their sacks full of grain, and took no money for it. But when they returned the second time to Egypt, Joseph's heart yearned for them, and for his old father and youngest brother. When they were alone, he stood before his brothers, and, looking at them, said: "Do you not know me? I am your brother, Joseph, the little lad whom you sold into Egypt."
But when his brothers heard this they were much afraid, and drew away from him, for they thought, now that he was ruler over all Egypt, he would surely punish them for their evil treatment of him. But Joseph said: "Come near me and do not be afraid, nor grieve that you sold me into Egypt, for God has been with me and kept me, and made me ruler, so that I have been able to save many people from the famine."
Then the brothers drew near, and Joseph wept with them, for he loved them. Then he said: "Go back and bring my father, Jacob, and my youngest brother, Benjamin, that we may live together once more."
And Joseph went to meet his father in a chariot, and brought him before Pharaoh, and the king was much pleased, for he loved Joseph and all his household.
Then Joseph gave to his father and brothers houses and lands, so that they all lived together in peace in the land of Egypt.
And the Lord was with Joseph and prospered him all the days of his life.
THE COURTESY OF THE SPARTAN BOY
There were, hundreds of years ago, two very large and grand cities, which strove to excel each other. The one city was Sparta, the other was Athens. These cities were not like our cities of today. They had beautiful, broad streets, but no street cars. They had magnificent buildings, but no electric lights. They did have schools, but they were unlike our schools. The boys in both Athens and Sparta were taken away to school when they were six years of age.
In Athens the boys were taught that they must become very strong and manly. They had running, jumping, leaping, swimming, and racing exercises, to give them rigid muscles and strong, healthy bodies. Occasionally they were allowed to visit at their homes for a day or two. The boys were also taught to sing and to read.
The Spartan boy was taught that he must become very strong and self-reliant. His schoolroom was very plain and bare. He was never allowed to go home to visit. He had to wear, in both summer and winter, the same plain, loose clothing. He slept out of doors in the summer-time, under the trees. In the wintertime he slept in a very open building, on a bed of reeds and rushes, which he had to gather from the river in the long, heated summer days for his winter bed. He had no bedclothing except the down which the wild ducks had shed, and which he had gathered in the forests. He learned to read, write, and to sing. He learned to run, to leap, to swim, and to throw the javelin.
One time the boys from both Athens and Sparta were to meet in a great amphitheater to hear a very wise and learned old man speak. The boys had all gathered, and with them many other people. The amphitheater was full. Not a vacant seat was left, and the people were patiently waiting for the old man to appear. At last he came. He came in so quietly that he was not noticed, except by two boys, one on each side of the aisle. One was a Spartan boy and one was an Athenian. The Athenian boy and Spartan boy both rose immediately. The Athenian boy sat down, but the Spartan boy still stood. He insisted that the old man take his seat, but the old man gently refused, and passed on up the aisle to the place from which he was to address the people. Then the Spartan boy sat down. The old man recognized this act of courtesy, and, while talking to the boys, said that the Athenian boy knew what to do, but did not do it. The Spartan boy had the courage to do it.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.