Episode 19 – Joseph – A New Life in Egypt

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – Old Testament

Based on Genesis chapters 39 & 40

Joseph – A New Life in Egypt

Hated by my brothers and sold by them to slave traders making their way down to Egypt, my life was never to be the same again. No longer was I the dearly loved son of my father Isaac, but the lowest slave in the household of Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s servants. But the Lord had not left me, and whatever I put my hand to, God blessed. In fact, His blessing was so great upon me that Potiphar realised the Lord was with me and put me in charge of more and more of his estate. Potiphar became fond of me, and after a while he put me in charge of his entire household. And from the day I was put in charge, the Lord blessed Potiphar in every way. He had no worries of any kind except to decide what food he would have put on the table.

But it was also at this time that the wife of Potiphar started to take notice of me. She would come to me when her husband was not around and ask me to embrace her and kiss her! But I would not do such an evil thing! ‘Look,’ I said to her. ‘My master has put me in charge of his entire estate; he has not held anything back from me except you, for you are his wife. So how could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a terrible sin against God!’ But she would not listen to me.

Day after day she pestered me, ‘Oh come on Joseph, just a little kiss and cuddle, no one will know.’ But I refused and as much as I could I avoided her.

However, the day came when I thought I was alone in the house doing my daily chores, when Potiphar’s wife sneaked up behind me and grabbed hold of me shirt. ‘Come on Joseph, kiss me now,’ she insisted. ‘I’m not going to let you go this time.’

She had trapped me, but as quickly as I could, I ducked out of my shirt, leaving it in her hands, and ran out of the house. But this was too much for Potiphar’s wife; she could not take being rejected by me time and time again. Seeing that she still had my shirt, she started to scream and scream until all the men came running to find out what had happened. When the men arrived, she sobbed out her lies. ‘Joseph tried to hurt me. But when I screamed he stopped and ran away. Look I have his shirt as proof!’

When her husband came home later that night, his wife told him the same lies she had told all the other men. Potiphar was furious and threw me into prison.

What had happened to me? The Lord had been blessing me, even though I had been sold by my brothers as a slave. But now, because of this woman’s evil lies I was thrown into prison – with no hope of ever being set free again. (PAUSE)

But even in prison, the Lord God had not left me. What ever I did, He blessed! Until the day came when the jailer put me in charge of the running of the whole prison. The chief jailer did not need to trouble himself about anything because the Lord blessed everything I did. (PAUSE)

Some time later, Pharaoh sent two new prisoners to the jail. One was the cupbearer to King Pharaoh, who tasted the wine before giving it to Pharaoh, to make sure it had not been poisoned. The other was the chief baker. (P) I was put in charge of these new prisoners. One morning when I went to see to their needs I noticed a worried look on their faces. ‘What’s the matter?’ I asked, ‘Why do you both look so anxious?’

‘We both had dreams last night,’ they said. ‘And we know they have meanings, but there isn’t anyone here to explain them to us.’

‘Explaining dreams is God’s business,’ I replied. ‘But even so, tell me what you dreamed.’

The chief cupbearer spoke first. ‘Last night I dreamed I saw a grape vine with three branches on it. And as I watched, the branches budded, then blossomed, and then bunches of grapes appeared. I was holding Pharaoh’s cup in my hand, and I walked over to the grapes and squeezed the juice from them into Pharaoh’s cup. Then I took the cup to Pharaoh and gave it to him.’

‘I know what that dream means,’ I told him. ‘The three branches means three days. In three days time Pharaoh will call you out of prison and restore you to your position as chief cupbearer. But please, when you are restored, mention me to Pharaoh, because I was kidnapped from my home land, and now I’m in jail and I haven’t done anything wrong!’

The chief baker had been listening to our conversation, and because I had given a good explanation of the cupbearer’s dream, he decided to tell me his dream. ‘In my dream,’ he started, ‘I was holding three baskets full of bakery products on my head. The top basket had all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but then the birds came along and started to eat them.’

When I heard his dream, my heart fell. But I could not hold back the explanation. ‘In your dream, the three baskets also mean three days. But in three days, Pharaoh will cut off you head and leave your body to be eaten by the birds.’ (PAUSE)

Three days later, Pharaoh had a birthday party. And during the celebrations, just as I had explained, he restored the cupbearer and had the chief baker killed. (P) However, the cupbearer completely forgot about me, not giving me a second thought.

And so, for the next two years I continued to wait in jail.

Episode 12 – A bride for Isaac

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – Old Testament

Based on Genesis chapter 24

A Bride for Isaac

‘I am the servant of Abraham. And I am going to tell you how the God of Abraham blessed me when my master asked me to deal with a matter of great importance.’

‘When he spoke to me about this matter, Abraham was already a very old man. His dear wife Sarah had died. And his son Isaac, who was now in charge of the household, was missing his mother greatly. Isaac needed a wife!’

‘One day I was called to Abraham’s tent. My master had a look of concern on his face, and I could tell at once that the matter he wished to discuss with me was of the utmost importance.’

‘Thank you for coming’, he said. ‘You’re the most senior and important servant in my entire household. And so, I must ask you to do a very important thing for my family. (P) As you know, many years ago now, the Lord God told Sarah and me to leave Haran and come and live in this beautiful land of Canaan. The Lord promised that one day He’ll give this land to my descendants. But I’m concerned that in his loneliness, my son Isaac might think about marrying one of the girls from this country, a Canaanite. And that wouldn’t please God because they don’t know Him or worship Him. (P) So I want you to make me a solemn promise – one that you can’t break – I want you to swear by the Lord God of all heaven and earth that you will not let my son marry one of these local girls. Instead, I want you to go to the land that I came from, to my own relatives, and find a wife for Isaac from amongst them.’

 ‘I was horrified that he should ask such a thing of me and I replied, ‘But what if, when I have travelled such a distance, I cannot find a young woman who will return with me to live here? Could I then take Isaac to live amongst your own relatives in that place?’’

‘Abraham shook his head fiercely.’

‘No! Under no circumstances are you to ever let Isaac return to the place I left. God told me to leave – to come to this land. And it’s this land that He’s promised to my offspring.’ Then his face brightened up a little. ‘ Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘For God’ll send an angel ahead of you, and when you get there he’ll make sure that you find the right young woman for Isaac’. (P) Then he thought for a moment. ‘But – if she isn’t willing to come back with you, I’ll set you free from your solemn promise.’

‘My master was so sure of what His God would do. He seemed to believe that – already the Lord God was working things out to make sure His promises to my master would all come true. (P) I wish I could say that I had the same confidence he had. (P) In fact, if it had not been that my master would free me from my solemn promise if a woman would not come home with me, I do not know if I would have made the promise at all.’

‘But, as he had allowed me to be set free if the woman wouldn’t come, I made the solemn promise. – Then at once, I loaded 10 of my master’s camels with the best of everything he owned and started on my journey, travelling 400 miles to the north.’ (PAUSE)

‘It was early evening many days later when we came to the small town not too far from the city Abraham had originally come from. I made the camels kneel down beside a spring just at the time when the young women came out to collect water.’

‘But now what was I to do? I had travelled all this way (PAUSE) all I could do was ask the God of my master Abraham to make my journey successful, and so I prayed.’

‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham. Please show kindness to my master by giving me success and letting me achieve all I have set out to do. As I stand here beside this spring of water, and as the young women of the village come to fetch water – this is my request of You. I will ask one of these young women for a drink. If she agrees, and then offers to give water to my camels as well, then let her be the one who is to be a wife for Isaac. This is how I will know that you have shown Your kindness to my master.’

‘Even as I prayed, a beautiful young woman named Rebekah arrived with her water jar. After she had filled her jar with water, I ran over to her and asked, ‘Please may I have a drink?’’

‘‘Of course you can, sir,’ she replied. And took the jug from her shoulder to give me a drink. And then, when I had finished my drink, she turned to me and said, ‘Now I’ll get some water for your camels, until they’ve all had enough.’’

‘Could this be the one I had travelled so far to find? I watched in silence wondering if this was the woman the Lord intended me to meet. I watched as Rebekah emptied the rest of the jug of water into the watering trough for the camels and then ran back and forth from the spring to fill the trough until the camels had drunk all they wanted! (P) When the camels had finished drinking, I gave Rebekah a beautiful ring for her nose and two fine gold bracelets for her wrists.’

‘Then, hardly daring to ask, I said, ‘Who is your father? And would he have room to put me up for the night?’

‘She replied, ‘My father is Bethuel, son of Nahor. And yes, we have food for your camels and a room for you to stay as our guest.’ (P) Nahor! Nahor was Abraham’s brother! After all this travelling, the Lord God had led me right to my master’s own relatives! I fell down to the ground and worshipped God. ‘All praise to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, for He has been kind and faithful to Abraham and led me straight to my master’s own relatives.’’

‘After that I stayed by the spring while Rebekah ran to her home and told them all that had happened. And when her brother, Laban, saw the ring and the bracelets he rushed out to invite me to stay with them.’

‘I was so excited, after all I had gone through – to come to the home of a relative of my master Abraham. But I had still not told them of my purpose in coming this great distance. So when it was time for a meal, I could not eat until I had told them all – why I had come.’

‘I am the servant of Abraham,’ I started. ‘The Lord God has blessed my master with great wealth, servants, cattle, camels and donkeys. And when my master’s wife Sarah was in her old age, she gave my master a son, and Abraham has given everything he owns to his son. Now, my master made me swear a solemn promise that I would not let Isaac, his son, marry one of the girls living in Canaan because they do not worship God. Instead, he told me to travel to his own relatives in the land he came from to find a young woman to be Isaac’s wife.’

‘I was fearful to make that promise. ‘What if I cannot find such a woman,’ I asked. But Abraham replied, ‘You will find her – because the Lord – in whose presence I have walked will send an angel with you to give you success.’ But he also told me that if the woman refused to come with me, I would be freed from my promise.’

‘This very afternoon as I came to the spring, I prayed this prayer. ‘O Lord of my master Abraham, if you are planning to make my mission a success, then please guide me in a special way. Here I am standing beside a spring. I will ask a young woman for a drink, as she comes to collect water. If she agrees, and then offers to water my camels as well, then I will know that she is the one You have chosen as a wife for my master’s son.’

‘Before I had even finished my prayer, Rebekah came and did just as I had prayed. And so I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord. I praised Him because He had led me to find a wife from the family of me master’s own relatives.’

‘So now, I need to know, will you show real kindness to my master Abraham and let Rebekah come back with me?’ (PAUSE)

‘Then Laban, Rebekah’s brother, and Bethuel her father replied, ‘The Lord’s obviously brought you here, so what else can we say? Take Rebekah with you and let her become the wife of your master’s son, just as the Lord has directed.’

‘Once again I worshipped the Lord and bowed to the ground. Then I gave beautiful gifts to Rebekah and valuable presents to her mother and brother. And only then did I eat my food and rest for the night.’(PAUSE)

‘Early the next morning I awoke and prepared to leave. I asked the family’s permission to be on my way as soon as possible. But they replied, ‘We were hoping that Rebekah could stay with us ten more days!’ Ten days! I did not want to wait at all, I wanted to get back to show my master how good the Lord had been to him, and so I asked. ‘Please, don’t hold me back. The Lord has blessed my journey with success and I want to go back and report to my master.’

‘Well,’ they replied. ‘We’ll have to see what Rebekah has to say about it.’ So they called Rebekah over. ‘Are you willing to go with this man now?’ they asked her.’

‘Yes I’m willing to go,’ she replied.

‘And so they said their goodbyes to each other. (P) It was to be the last time they saw each other in this world. And Rebekah, along with her maid who had looked after her as a young child, came with me. As she left, Rebekah’s family blessed her saying…’

‘Sister, may you become the mother of many millions! May your descendants overcome all their enemies.’ (PAUSE)

‘Isaac was in the south of Canaan when we came home. It is a dry, dusty and open landscape. He saw us coming from a long way off and started towards us to welcome us.’

‘Rebekah saw Isaac coming towards us. She got down from her camel and asked me who it was that was coming to meet us?

I smiled, ‘It is my master – Isaac.’ Quickly, as was the custom during that time, Rebekah covered her face with a veil. And when we arrived, I told Isaac about all the Lord had done for me on my long journey north.’ (PAUSE)

‘And so Isaac took Rebekah as his wife, and loved her very much. And she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.’