Joseph and his Technicolor Coat

We left of with Jacob dying in chapter 35 of Genesis. Chapter 36 is simply the decedents of Esau, Jacob’s brother who was cheated and cast aside. Then chapter 37 starts by flash back! That’s right, we go back in time to a story about Jacob’s kid while Jacob is still alive.

And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.

Genesis 37:1 (KJV)

Wait, what? Jacobs father, Abraham was a stranger in Canaan? God gave him Canaan. He was the one who circumcised everyone; are you telling me that didn’t get around? He was the man who lied to two different kings about his sister/wife and incurred their anger. He was said to have had great military victories and was known and admired to the local kings. He was also extremely wealthy…yet he was a stranger?

Anyway, Jacob’s favorite son was Joseph. As we will learn later, his second favorite was Benjamin; both Benjamin and Jacob were the children born by Rachael, the favorite wife. He was given a gift (from his father) of a ketonet passim. You know this as a coat of many colors, but the actual meaning is obscure. As best as anyone can tell, it is a stripped robe. At least one source has pointed out the only other mention of this phrase in the old testament is in reference to clothing worn by a princess. This led to speculating that Joseph was trans. Quite a stretch, but it would help explain the irrational, sociopathic hatred his brothers had for him. Regardless, Joseph fueled this fire by sharing a few dreams he had which implied this family would all be beneath him.

Later on, Joseph was sent to check on his brothers. At first, his brothers were going to kill him. Ruben, the eldest, recommended they throw him in a pit and just let him die of thirst so they wouldn’t have literal blood on their hands.

Side Bar:

Remember the one liner about Ruben having sex with his step-mom’s slave/dad’s girlfriend? In Jewish tradition, Jacob gave Ruben’s inheritance to Joseph over that kerfuffle, so it is fascinating to see Ruben “protecting” his brother here. Not to mention that two of the brothers orchestrated genocide to avenge a slight against their sister.

While Ruben was away, this happened.

And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.

And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?

Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.

Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.

Genesis 37:25-28 (KJV)

Ruben was pissed when he came back, but figured at least he was still alive, right? They brought Jacob the coat, torn and covered in goat’s blood. Jacob, believing his son dead, went into mourning.

Meanwhile, Joseph is sold to the head of Pharaoh’s guard. This guy puts him in charge of everything! That’s what slaves are for, right?

And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.

Genesis 39:5 (KJV)

So, everything is looking up for Joseph, except for being betrayed by his brothers…and the whole slavery thing. Then this dude’s wife is all like, “how you doin’?”

And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.

Genesis 39:7 (KJV)

Joseph says no, on account of how good his is and not BECAUSE IS A TRANS WOMAN LIVING A LIE. Long story short, she is mad and frames him for attempted rape and winds up in prison. The warden loves him and puts him in charge of everything! That’s what prisoners are for, right?

And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.

The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.

Genesis 39:22-23 (KJV)

So, the warden literally puts a prisoner in charge, then doesn’t even check up on him because the prison is so prosperous. How is that? A prison turning a profit? What is this, America? Anyway, two dudes who worked directly for the Pharaoh were thrown in prison; his butler and his baker. They were there “a season” before they both had dreams. Joseph interpreted their dreams to mean in three days the butler would be back to work, and the baker would be hung. Joseph asked the butler to put in a good word once he’s back to work. Three days later, it came true! Now the butler tells the Pharaoh about this cool guy he met in prison and the Pharaoh comes and lets him go! Just kidding, the butler forgets he ever met Joe.

TWO YEARS PASS, and the Pharaoh has a dream that none of his people can interpret. The butler suddenly remembers Joe and tells the Pharaoh he should ask him about his dreams. Cut to the end, and the dreams predict seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine. You guessed it, Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of the entire country, second only to himself.

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:

Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41:394 (KJV)

Joe gets a new wife, and has a couple of kids as well (which may cast some doubt on the trans thing…maybe). As the famine begins, he is personally overseas the selling of grains to starving people. Sure enough, look who comes calling.

And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.

And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.

But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.

Genesis 42:2-4 (KJV)

Jacob sends all his sons to buy grain, except Benjamin, who is his new favorite. I don’t think Jacob was a very good dad. When the kids all arrive in Egypt, Joe puts on a mask and speaks through an interpreter, to hide himself. He accuses them of being spies, which they deny and say they are ten sons out of twelve just trying to get food. One brother is dead and the other is home with Dad. Joe puts them in jail for three days, then tells them he will hold on hostage and the others will go fetch his remaining brother to prove their story.

But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.

And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.

And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.

Genesis 42:20-22 (KJV)

Simon is tied up in front of the others, and the free brothers are given bags of grain, PLUS Joseph hid the money that was paid in the sacks of grain. On the way home, one of them finds the money and shits himself. “What is this that God hath done unto us?” he says, as they contemplate what will happen when Joe finds out they didn’t pay for the grain. The make it home and tell Jacob what’s going on.

And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.

And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

Genesis 42: 37-38 (KJV)

Reuben swears on the life of his sons that he will recover Simon if his father allows them to take Benjamin with them. Jacob is so upset they lost his favorite (Joseph) that he doesn’t dare risk Benjamin. It’s just Simon they’ve imprisoned. Eventually, they run out of the food they bought. Jacob asks his kids to go back to buy more. They remind him of the demands of the mysterious figure in Egypt. Jacob then whines…

And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?

And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down?

Genesis 43:6-7 (KJV)

Judah convinces him to allow them to return. This time they will take double the money (remember they don’t know why the money had been returned) and bring gifts to appease the Egyptian. Joseph invites them to eat and relax in his home (which make his brothers ever so nervous), but then fills their sacks with food…and their money again…and Joseph’s personal silver cup. Once again the boys leave, but his time Joe sends his troops out to catch them. They are searched and the cup is found, so they are arrested and returned to Egypt. As punishment, the one holding the cup was to remain as a slave. It was the second favorite son, Benjamin.

True to his word, Judah offered to remain a slave in place of his brother. Joe can no longer contain himself and reveals his identity. His brothers are now even more terrified, on account that they assumed he’d be sore about them selling Joseph into slavery, but Joe tells them everything is A-okay.

And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.

Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.

And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 45:4-8 (KJV)

See? It’s all part of God’s plan. Rather than prevent a famine, God simply made Joesph’s brothers sell him into slavery, make the wife of the first slave owner accuse him of rape, get Joesph thrown in prison, had two of Pharoah’s men end up in prison too, killing one of them, then cause a massive famine that drove huge amounts of the population to starvation and ruin, all while enriching, not God’s chosen people, but the Egyptians. A perfect plan!

Then Joe sends everyone back with lots of money and goods. He tells them to get their whole family and come back and live in Egypt. Don’t pack much, since they’ll get all new Egypt stuff, not that crap they have.

Part of God’s plan was to take Jacob, aka Israel, out of the promised land and bring him into Egypt.

Everyone comes to Egypt, and Joseph stops them at the door.

And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?

That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Genesis 46:33-34 (KJV)

Yeah, you moving to Egypt…but not the good part, because you are filthy animals. GOD’S PLAN INVOLVED MOVING JACOB’S FAMILY FROM THE PROMISED LAND INTO A JEWISH GHETTO IN EGYPT.

So the famine continues, and everyone runs out of money. So Joesph tells them to give all of their cattle. Then they run out of cattle, so Joe tells them to give up their land. Then they run out of land, and Joe (essentially) enslaves them to the Pharoah. All part of God’s perfect plan?


The historical Egypt about this time frame had Pharaoh Amenemhat III faced with a rapidly growing population and a fixed food supply. He finished an irrigation project his father started and dramatically increased the food production (and economic power) of his kingdom. Soon after, many Semitic tribes moved into North Eastern Africa and provided labor to the Egyptian kings, becoming the Hyksos people. So, Egypt did have a famine followed by feast (not the other way around), and people from Canaan did move into the region, but they worshiped Hadad, or Ba’al, not Yahweh. More on that topic in a future article.

SO that is the famous story about Joseph and his coat of many colors. Not quite like you remember, huh. That doesn’t do it for this cast of riffraff yet, as Jacob still has to get dementia and die, plus we need to give a Breakfast Club close to the family, and tell you what becomes of all these damn kids!

For more Joseph Stories, click here

Cartoon Images provided by Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

About Surferjeff

Jeff is a writer and photographer who empties his head on this blog. Reader beware!

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