Joseph and his brothers

Cultural Dictionary

Joseph and his brothers definition


The sons of Jacob. According to the Book of Genesis, Joseph was Jacob's favorite son. To show his love for Joseph, Jacob gave him a coat of many colors, a splendid garment that aroused the jealousy of Joseph's brothers, who began to plot against him. The brothers sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt and pretended that he had been killed by a wild beast. Years later, the Egyptian pharaoh called on Joseph to interpret his troubling dreams. The pharaoh rewarded Joseph's skill in interpreting his dreams by making him second in command over the kingdom. Later, when the land of the Hebrews was beset by famine, Jacob was forced to send Joseph's brothers into Egypt to buy grain. The official with whom they had to deal turned out to be Joseph himself. When he discovered that his brothers were truly sorry for their treachery, he forgave them.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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