صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

that he had on a former occasion reported some reprehensible conduct to their father; when they thought of his superior endowments and aspiring dreams, they saw the moment they had waited for, and proposed to put him to death, and deceive his father by some plausible tale.

Reuben, the eldest son of Leah, was not of the council, but overheard the shocking plan. Moved by compassion for his aged parent, he contrived to save the life of the helpless youth, by persuading his brothers rather to confine, and leave him to perish in the field, than stain their hands with his blood. To get him out of their way at any rate, was their object; after stripping him, therefore, of his clothes, regardless of his tears and entreaties, they cast him into a pit, and sat down unfeelingly to their accustomed meal.


Whilst they were yet eating and drinking, a caravan of Ishmaelitish merchants, carrying balm and spices to Egypt, appeared in sight. They dealt also in slaves, and now the avarice of these unnatural men, most happily suggested the sale of Joseph, rather than the unprofitable guilt of putting him to death. Accordingly they disposed of him to the traders, for twenty pieces of silver. ben, his advocate, had been absent during this last transaction. Returning to the pit, to conduct him in safety to his father, and not finding him, he ran in great consternation to his brothers, lamenting the sad accident! Instead of openly defending him against their violence, he had weakly condescended to preserve him by a stratagem, and now that he was lost, how should he return to his father! What could he now do? He could only unite with the more guilty, in devising a plan to conceal the whole. They killed a kid, and staining the coat of Joseph, they

carried it with affected simplicity to their father, and asked if he could certainly identify it!

The fond father knew at once the coat of his darling child, his own distinctive gift, and the conclusion was inevitable: "an evil beast hath destroyed my son, I will go mourning to my grave!" And absorbed in grief, he wrapped himself in the mourning garb of sackcloth, nor could the efforts of his children or his friends, alleviate his sorrow,

CATHERINE. How must envy have hardened their hearts, when they could be insensible to the tears of their aged sire!

MRS. M. Let this affecting example, my children, be a beacon to warn you against the least approach of such a baneful passion. These deluded men were gratified with the present success of their barbarous scheme; but they reflected not on the anguish they were preparing for themselves. (B. C. 1729.)

Meanwhile, their unoffending brother was carried by the traders into Egypt. His engaging countenance would readily procure a purchaser, and he became the property of Potiphar, an officer in the king's guard. Potiphar was a discerning man: under every disadvantage he discovered the extraordinary talents of Joseph, and though but a youth, a stranger, and a slave, to his management he committed all his affairs. Ten years he continued in this subordinate situation, conducting himself with unvarying prudence, and enjoying the utmost confidence of his mas ter. All the house of Potiphar was blest for the sake of his Hebrew servant-the verification of whose auspicious vision seemed already to dawn, when a cloud intervened, and obscured for a time his ascending glory. While Po

tiphar saw, himself, no fault in Joseph, he suffered his exteem to be suddenly subverted by the misrepresentations of an abandoned wife, and degrading him from all his employments, he cast him into the prison of the guard house! Here too, he obtained the reverence that his virtues deserved. The keeper was probably acquainted with the true character of the slandered Hebrew, and had seen the smile of Providence illuming his captivity. Assured, therefore, of his fidelity, he gave him the charge of his fellow prisoners..

Among others, two officers of Pharaoh, his chief baker, and chief butler, who had offended their master, were consigned to his care. These men were observed by Joseph one morning, when he visited them, to appear remarkably dejected. He inquired the reason, and was told, that they had respectively been disturbed by foreboding dreams, and there was "no one in the prison to interpret them." He requested them to tell him their dreams, and piously intimated that God, who alone had the power, would impart the design! The dreams were related, and the unhappy. baker was informed, that "in three days, the king would. hang him on a tree," but to the more fortunate butler, he predicted his restoration to his office; and he made use of the opportunity to bring his own cause before the king; beseeching his fellow-prisoner to remember him when he should again deliver the cup to Pharaoh. "For indeed," said he, "I was stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here have I done nothing to deserve a dungeon.”

Elated by such reviving hopes as the young prophet had infused, the measured days passed not on so rapidly with the expectant of royal favours, as they did in the sad reckoning of the sentenced criminal, who dreaded the arrival of the appointed hour! It came however. It was the birth-day

of Pharaoh, and the last of the poor baker's existence : for on that day he was hanged, while, in strict consonance also, with the prediction, the cup bearer was reinstated ;* but the enlightened messenger, the virtuous, yet reviled servant of Potiphar, was forgotten!

CHARLES. Oh barbarous ! could the butler be so very ungrateful?

MRS. M. He was unkind and even unjust, rather than ungrateful. The prophet was in no wise the author or even the instrument of his deliverance. He had indeed relieved him from oppressive apprehensions; for in a despotic government like that of Egypt, where the will of the monarch is the only rule, no man can estimate the measure of his punishment, however light his offence. But he had seen the wisdom and virtue of Joseph in the prison, and knowing that he was the victim of injustice, it was his duty to advocate his cause when he was himself restored to favour.

Two years afterwards the monarch himself was thrown into great consternation by a singular dream, and his magicians and soothsayers were summoned in vain, to declare the mystery. No plausible conjecture occurred to their minds; all was doubt and anxiety, and now the careless butler remembered Joseph and reproached himself. He hastened to his master, and informed him, that he would find in the royal prison a young Hebrew, a servant to the captain, who could interpret dreams; and confessing his own guilty negligence, he related the occurrences that had : displayed the inspiration of Joseph. These were joyful tidings to the humbled king, and Joseph was brought out as quickly as he could change his garments and fit himself to appear in the royal presence. "I have dreamed a dream," said Pharaoh, “and I have heard that thou canst interpret it."

With the same humility with which he had answered his fellow-prisoners on a similar occasion, assuming nothing to himself, Joseph replied, " God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace."

"In my dream," resumed the king, "I saw seven fat cattle come up out of the river, and feed in a meadow, and seven others, so poor, so ill-favoured as I never saw in all the land of Egypt, came after them, and devoured the fat cattle. And again I saw seven ears of corn come up on 1 one stalk, full and good; and other seven, withered, thin, and blasted by the east wind, sprung up after them and devoured the seven good ears-and the magicians are not able to declare the meaning."

FANNY. If dreams were once so full of meaning, why do we wholly disregard them now?

MRS. M. Because we have now an ample revelation, containing all that is necessary for us to know of the future, and all that we require to direct us for the present. Before that was promulgated, various means were used to instruct mankind. Amongst these were dreams; which though superstitiously observed by the orientalists, who were much addicted to emblems and signs, were often made subservient to the decrees of Providence. Pharaoh, on this occasion, was happily submissive to the divine suggestion; and listened attentively whilst Joseph expounded the mysterious vision.

"God," said he, "hath showed Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great plenty shall bless the whole land of Egypt; and afterwards seven years of famine shall so consume it, that the abundance shall be forgotten. And because these things shall surely come to pass, let the king avail himself of this gracious communication, and

« السابقةمتابعة »