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OF JoserH's SIGNAL CONTINENCY.
the night-time to the pit, resolved to save Joseph without the privity of his brethren; and when, upon his calling to him, he made no answer, he was afraid that they had destroyed him after he was gone; he accordingly complained to his brethren, but was pacified when they had told him what they had done.
When Joseph's brethren had done thus to him, they considered how they should escape the suspicions of their father.
Now they had taken away from Joseph the coat which he had on when he came to them, at the time they let him down into the pit; so they thought proper to tear that coat to pieces, and to dip it into goat's blood, and then to carry it, and shew it to their father, that he might believe he was destroyed by wild beasts; and when they had so done, they came to the old man, but this not till what had happened to his son had already come to his knowledge. Then they said that they had not seen Joseph, nor knew what mishap had befallen him, but that they had found his coat bloody, and torn to pieces, whence they had a suspicion that he had fallen among wild beasts, and so perished, if that were the coat he had on when he came from home. Jacob had before some better hopes that his son was only made a captive, but now he laid aside that notion, and considered this coat as a sufficient proof of his death, for he well remembered that this was the coat he had on when he sent him to his brethren. He therefore lamented the lad as now dead, and as if he had been the father of no more than one, without taking any comfort in the rest; and so he was also affected with his misfortune before he met with Joseph's brethren, when he also conjectured that Joseph was destroyed by wild beasts. He sat down also clothed in sackcloth,* and in heavy affliction, insomuch that he found no ease when his sons comforted him,t neither was his sorrow assuaged by length of time.
* Jacob is represented by Moses not only as being clothed in sackcloth, but as rending his clothes on this occasion. Rending the clothes was an eastern way of expressing either grief for calamity, or horror for sin. Reuben was the first we read of, who, to denote his exceeding sorrow, rent his clothes ; and as Jacob we find does the like, we may well suppose that it was an usual manner of expressing all grief and uneasiness of mind in those days; and, by putting on sackcloth (which Jacob is
chief cook to king Pharaoh, bought Joseph of the merchants. He had him in the greatest honour, taught him the learning that became a free man, and gave him leave to make use of a diet better than was allotted to slaves; he also entrusted the care of his house to him. Joseph, however, did not forget that virtue which he had before, upon such a change of his condition; but he demonstrated that wisdom was able to govern the uneasy passions of life, in such as have it in reality, and do not only put it on for a shew, under a present state of prosperity.
His master's wife soon fell in love with him both on account of his beauty of body, and his skilful management of affairs; and supposed that if she should make it known to him, she should easily persuade him to come to her bed : and that he would consider it as a piece of happy fortune that his mistress should intreat him; as regarding that state of slavery he was in, and not his moral character, which continued after his condition was changed. So she made known her illicit inclinations: however he rejected her intreaties, not thinking it agreeable to religion to yield so far to her, as to do what would tend to the injury of one who had purchased him, and vouchsafed him so great honours. He therefore exhorted her to govern that passion, and laid before her the impossibility of obtaining her desires, which he thought might be conquered, if she had no hope of succeeding, and he said that, as to himself, he would endure any thing whatever before he would be persuaded to it: for although it was the duty of a slave, as he was, to do nothing contrary to his mistress, he might well be excused in a case where the contradiction was to such sort of commands: but
here the first precedent of doing, but was afterwards commonly used upon all mournful occasions,) he seemed to signify, that since he had lost his beloved son, he looked upon himself as reduced to the meanest and lowest condition of life. Bibliotheca Bibl. and Howell's History. B.
† Gen. xxxvii. 35. | Gen. xxxix. 1.