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appoint a suitable person to lay up corn in the plentiful years, to keep the people alive during the famine that shall follow."
“ Can we find,” exclaimed the delighted king, “ such an one as this, in whom is the spirit of God? He to whom such high knowledge is imparted, is the most wise and post proper to be set over the kingdom.” Then taking a ring from his own hand, and putting it on that of Joseph “ Thou,” continued he, “ art ruler of all my people--only in the throne will I be greater than thou.” Then turning to his servants, he commanded them to array Joseph in sumptuous apparel, to seat him in the second chariot in the kingdom-and proclaim before him, “ Bow the knee !" And yet further to promote his honour and happiness, he gave him in marriage an Egyptian lady-Asenath the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. (B. C. 1715.)
FANNY. Then these people worshipped idols, though they acknowledged the God of Joseph !
Mrs. M. Believing in a plurality, they thought them not incompatible. Here, you see, they admitted the power and knowledge of one Supreme-yet we know that they were addicted to the basest idolatries.
Elevated now to the second dignity in the empire, and invested with powers to execute his benevolent purposes, Joseph went throughout the provinces of the empire, preparing store-houses, to lay up the surplus food of the plenteous years. They came, according to his foresight, and the earth produced her fruits inimmeasureable abundance, and in every city the corn of its district was carefully stored.
The seven years of famine also arrived, and the perishing multitudes cried to Pharaoh for bread. To Joseph
every thing was committed, and he opened his stores and supplied them according to his discretion, and the treasury of Pharaoh was filled with gold.
But the famine was not confined to Egypt ; the adjacent countries were equally afflicted; and when they heard that the Egyptians had provided against the general scarcity, they crowded thither for food.
(B. C. 1717.) Amongst those that presented themselves on this momentous occasion, came ten of the sons of Jacob, and prostrated themselves to the ground before the governor of Egypt-little imagining that he whom they now reverenced was their banished brother!
CATHERINE. How could they possibly have forgotten him? One would think that remorse alone would have kept him alive in their memories.
Mrs. M. They had not forgotten him—their cruelty tơ him had penetrated their minds, as' we shall presently see: but now they were occupied with more immediate cares.Besides, his person was altered with the progress of his years. To the bloom of his beauty was added the maturity of manhood ; nor had they thought of looking for him amidst the splendour of a court, and invested with the power of a sovereign. But he recollected them, and now saw the accomplishment of his prophetic dreams. Thrown' thus into his power, and petitioning for bread for themselves and their families, his gentle nature forbade retribution. He thought of his aged father he thought of Benjamin, his younger brother-and, to conceal the yearnings of his heart, he charged them abruptly with coming to see the poverty of the country! They disclaimed the ignoble pur
“They were," they said, “ twelve brethren, the sons of one man-that the youngest remained at home with:
his father, and another was not ;* and to buy corn for their families alone were they come.” He affected to question their integrity, and, threatening to punish them as spies, he threw them into prison. Coming to them after a few days, he proposed that they should prove the truth of their statement, by bringing their youngest brother into Egypt; but he would keep one of their number in the prison, an hostage
for their return. Overpowered by these painful circumstances, appealing to their awakened consciences, they broke out into lamentations, and bitterly reproached themselves, even in the presence of Joseph, thinking he did not understand them, for he had hitherto employed an interpreter. “Verily we are guilty concerning our brother; for we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us."
“ Did I not say to you,” cried Reuben, “ Do not sin against the child, and ye would not hear ; therefore, now his blood is required!"
These mutual upbraidings shook the fortitude of Joseph; his heart relented, and he turned from them to conceal his tears.
But still forcing his gentle nature to keep up the suspicion he had assumed, he continued to treat them as spies. “ Prove yourselves true men," said he, as soon as he could command his voice to speak, “by bringing your youngest brother to me"-then singling out Simeon, and binding him before their eyes, he dismissed the remaining nine, directing his servants to proride them amply with every thing mary for their journey.
This em of exprraioa was probably used to aroid the direct vrtiva e Jaspd's deatà, which they could not certainly affirm.,
Leaving Simeon, therefore, to reflect on the retributive justice of providence, which had thus imprisoned him in the very country to which he had sent his pleading captive brother--they were obliged to return home. Greatly distressed by this cruel act of the governor, and dreading to meet their abused parent, they were still more perplexed, when, on the evening of the first day's journey, one of them, on opening his sack to get provender for their asses, discovered the same bundle of money which he had given to the steward of Egypt for corn! Fearful that divine vengeance had now indeed overtaken them, they said one to another, “What is this that God has done to us?” But how aggravated were their terrors, when, arriving at home, and in the presence of their father, they emptied their sacks, each man found his parcel of money secretly returned. Compelled to account for the absence of Simeon, they were obliged to relate all that had befallen them; and to add the cruel injunction of the viceroy, that Benjamin should come to verify their story, and deliver Simeon. Me,”
” cried the afflicted parent, ye have bereaved of my children. Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away; all these things are against me.”
“Slay my two sons," replied Reuben, confident of the probity of the Egyptian prince, notwithstanding the problematical detention of Simeon, “ if I bring him not to thee; deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again." But entreaty was vain-Benjamin, the only remaining child of his lamented Rachel, he would not hazard on so long a journey. My son,” said he, “ shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone. If mischief befall him by the way, then ye shall bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave."
CATHERINE. Poor old man! I never read his pathetic lamentation without tears. Still I cannot help blaming him for refusing to send Benjamin to release Simeon, who ought to have been equally dear to him.
Mrs. M. I am no apologist for parents who make unreasonable discriminations amongst their children; indeed they are seldom observed, where all the children of a family
а are equally dutiful. In this case we may allow something to the enfeebling effects of old age and peculiar circumstances. Necessity, however, soon wrung from Israel a reluctant consent. Their provision was exhausted, and he was obliged to call upon his sons :-" Go again, buy us a little food." Judah, less tender than Reuben, declared they would not go without Benjamin; for the governor, said he, did solemnly protest that we should not see his face without our youngest brother.” Pressed now on every side, the suffering father exclaimed, “ Why dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man ye had yet a brother?” They answered, that he had questioned them so closely, that they could not conceal it; nor had they any motive for endeavouring to do so, for they could not imagine that he would say, “ bring your brother down.” And they continued to urge him by every consideration of tenderness for them and their little ones, of duty to himself, and the impolicy of a longer delay, to commit Benjamin to their care,--pledging themselves with affectionate solemnity for his safety. “Go then," cried the distracted patriarch, “if it must be so, take of the best fruits in the land a present to the man,
and double money
in your hand, and the money that was returned in the mouths of your sacks, carry it again in your hands; peradventure it was an over-sight. Take also your brother, and God Almighty give you mercy before the man,