THE OLD TESTAMENT
||The Beginning of Things
||The Great Flood
||Abraham—the Father of the Faithful
||Isaac, the Shepherd Prince
||Jacob, a Prince of God
||Joseph, the Castaway
||Joseph, a Servant, a Prisoner and a Saint
||Joseph, the Savior of His People
||The Cradle that was Rocked by a River
||Moses in Midian
||The Rod that Troubled Egypt
||Following the Cloud
||In the Borders of Canaan
||A Nation that was Born in a Day
||Samson, the Strong
||Samuel—the Child of the Temple
||The Making of a King
||The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem
||The Power of a Pebble
||Faithful unto Death
||David, the Outcast
||Every Inch a King
||The Building of the Golden House
||Elijah, the Great Heart of Israel
||The Little Chamber on the Wall
||A Little Maid of Israel
||The Two Boy Kings
||The Four Captive Children
||The Master of the Magicians
||The Story of Jonah
||Esther, the Queen
CHILD'S STORY OF THE BIBLE
THE BEGINNING OF THINGS.
Away back in the beginning of things God made the sky and the earth we
live upon. At first it was all dark, and the earth had no form, but
God was building a home for us, and his work went on through six long
days, until it was finished as we see it now.
On the first day God said, "Let there be light," and the black night
turned to gray, and light came. God called the light Day, and the
darkness Night, and the evening and the morning made the first day.
Then God divided the waters, so that there were clouds above and seas
below, and He called the clouds heaven. It was the second day.
Then the seas were gathered together by themselves, and the dry land
rose above them, and God saw that it was good. Then He called to the
grass, and the plants, and the trees to come out of the ground, and
they came bearing their seeds, and He called the third day good.
Then God called to the two great lights, the sun and the moon, to shine
clear in the sky, which had been first dark, and then gray, and they
rose and set to make day and night, and seasons and years, and the
stars came also, and it was the fourth day.
Then God called for all kinds of fishes that swim in the seas, and
rivers, and for all kinds of birds that fly in the air, and they came,
and it was the fifth day.
And then God called for the animals to live on the green earth, and the
cattle and the great beasts, and the creeping things came, and God
called them all good.
After this he made the first of the great family of Man. He made them
after His own likeness. He made their bodies from the earth, but their
souls He breathed into them, so that Man is a spirit, living in an
earthly body, and can understand about God and love Him. He blessed
them and told them to become many, and to rule over all the earth, with
its beasts and birds, and fishes, and it was the sixth day.
The Man's name was Adam, and the woman, who was made from a piece of
Adam's body nearest to his heart, was named Eve.
Then God's world was finished, and on the seventh day there was rest.
God was pleased with all that was made, and He made the seventh day
holy, by setting it apart from all the others. We keep the Sabbath, or
the Lord's day still, in which his children may rest and worship.
Adam and Eve were very happy, for they had never done anything wrong.
God gave them a beautiful wide garden, called Eden, full of flowers and
all kinds of fruit, and with a river flowing through it, and told Adam
to take care of the garden, and He sent all the animals and birds to
Adam to be named. God told him also that he might eat the fruit of all
the trees of the garden except one—the tree of knowledge of good and
evil—but if he ate of the fruit of that tree he should surely die, and
Adam and Eve loved God, and had no wish to disobey Him, for He was
But there was a creeping serpent in the garden, and the evil spirit
that puts wrong thoughts in our hearts spoke to Eve through the serpent.
"You shall not die," he said, "but you shall be wise like God if you
will eat of this fruit," and Eve ate of the fruit, and gave it to her
husband. Then they knew that they had sinned, and when they heard the
voice of God in the garden calling them, they hid among the trees, for
they were unhappy and afraid. When the Lord had asked Adam if he had
eaten of the fruit that was forbidden, Adam laid the sin upon Eve, who
gave it to him, and Eve said that the serpent had tempted her to eat of
the fruit. God knew that they must suffer for their sin, so He sent
them out of the garden to make a garden for themselves, and to work,
and suffer pain, as all who came after them have done to this day; but
He gave them a great promise, that among their children's children One
should be born who would be stronger than sin, and a Savior from it.
After this two little children were sent to comfort Adam and Eve—first
Cain, and then Abel. When they grew up Cain was a farmer, but Abel was
They had been taught to worship God by bringing the best of all they
had to Him, and so Cain brought fruit and grain to lay upon his altar,
but Abel brought a lamb.
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Driven from Eden
God looked into their hearts and saw that Abel wished to do right, but
Cain's heart was full of sin. Cain was angry because the Lord was
pleased with the worship of Abel, and while they talked in the field
Cain killed his brother. When the Lord said to Cain, "Where is thy
brother?" he answered, "I know not. Am I my brother's keeper?" And
the Lord sent him away from home, to wander from place to place over
the earth, and find no rest, but He promised that no one should hurt
Cain, or kill him as he had killed his brother, so he went away into
another land to live.
Adam lived many years after this and had other children, but at last he
died, when his children's children were beginning to spread over the
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THE GREAT FLOOD.
As the people of the earth grew to be many more and spread over the
plains and hills, they also grew very wicked. They forgot God, and all
the thoughts of their hearts were evil. Only Noah still worshipped God
and tried to do right.
The people had destroyed themselves, and so God said to Noah:
"The end of all flesh is come; make thee an ark of gopher wood."
He told Noah to make it of three stories, with a window in the top, and
a door in the side. It was to be a great floating house, more than
four hundred feet long and full of rooms, and it was to be covered with
tar within and without, so that the water should not creep in.
"I bring a flood of waters upon the earth," said the Lord, "and
everything that is in the earth shall die."
This was to be the house of Noah, with his wife, and his three sons and
their wives, during the great flood.
Does the house seem large for eight people? God had told Noah to make
room for a little family of every kind of bird and beast that lived,
and to gather food of all kinds for himself and for them.
The great flood
So Noah did all that the Lord had told him to do, and seven days before
the great storm he heard the Lord calling:
"Come thou and all thy house into the ark," and that very day, Noah
with his wife and his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japtheth, and their wives,
went into their great black house, and through the window in the top
came flying the little families of birds and insects, from the tiny
bees and humming birds, to the great eagles, and through the door on
the side came the families of animals, two by two, from the little mice
to the tall giraffes, and the elephants, and when all had come the Lord
shut them in.
It rained forty days and forty nights, and the waters rose higher and
higher, covering the hills, and creeping up the mountains, so that
every living thing died except Noah, and all that were with him in the
But after ten months the tops of the mountains were seen, and Noah sent
out a raven and a dove. The raven flew to and fro, but the dove came
back into the ark, because she found no place to rest her foot.
After seven days Noah sent her out again, and she returned with an
olive leaf in her bill, and then Noah knew that the waters were going
Dove returns with an olive leaf.
After seven days again he sent out his good little dove, and she did
not come back. So Noah was sure that the earth was getting dry, and
that God would soon tell him to go out of the ark.
And so he did. Think how glad the sheep and cows were to find fresh
grass, and the birds to fly to the green trees.
What a silent world it must have been, for there were none but Noah and
his family in all the earth. Noah did not forget how God had saved
them, and he made an altar of stone, and offered beasts and birds as a
sacrifice. When he looked up to the sky there was a beautiful rainbow.
It was God's promise that there should be no more floods upon the
earth. He still sends the rainbow to show us that He is taking care of
this world, and will always do so.
Perhaps the people who lived after this—for Noah's children's children
increased very fast—did not believe God's promise, for they began to
build a great tower, or temple, on the plain of Shinar; or perhaps they
had grown proud and wicked, and wanted a temple for the worship of
idols; but the Lord changed their speech, so that they could not
understand each other, and they were scattered over other countries;
and so each country began to have a language of its own.
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ABRAHAM—THE FATHER OF THE FAITHFUL.
The people who lived four thousand years ago were very much like
children who easily forget. They told their children about the great
flood, but nearly all forgot to tell them of the good God who is the
Father of us all, whom we should always love and obey. Yet there is
always one, if not more, who remembers God, and keeps his name alive in
Abram had tried to do right, though there was no Bible in the world
then, and no one better than himself to help him but God, and one day
He called Abram, and told him to go away from his father's house into
"A land that I will show thee," said the Lord, "and I will make of thee
a great nation."
He also made Abram a wonderful promise,—
"In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
He meant that sometime the Savior should be born among Abram's
children's children, and that He should be the Savior of all the
nations of the earth.
Abram did just what God told him to do. He took Sarai, his wife, and
Lot, his nephew, and some servants, and cows, and sheep, and camels,
and asses, and went into the land of Canaan. When they rested at night
Abram and Lot set some sticks in the ground, and covered them with
skins for a tent, and near by they made an altar, where Abram offered a
sacrifice, for that was the only way they could worship God when the
earth was young.
Abram went down into Egypt when there was a lack of food in Canaan, but
he came back to Bethel, where he made the altar before, and worshipped
He was very rich, for his cattle and sheep had grown into great herds
and flocks, though he had sold many in Egypt for silver, and gold, and
food. Abram and Lot moved often, for their flocks and herds soon ate
up the grass. Then they rolled up the tents, and loaded the camels and
asses, and went where the grass was thick and fresh.
They could easily live in tents, for the country was warm. But Abram's
herdsmen and Lot's herdsmen sometimes quarreled. And so Abram spoke
kindly to Lot, and told him to take his servants, and flocks, and
herds, and go where the pastures were good, and he would go the other
way. So they parted, and Lot went to the low plains of the Jordan, but
Abram went to the high plains of Mamre, in Hebron, and there he built
another altar to the Lord, who had given him all that country—to him
and to his children forever.
There were warlike people in Canaan, and once when they had carried off
Lot from Sodom, Abram took his servants and herdsmen and went out to
fight. He had more than three hundred men, and they took Lot away from
the enemy, and brought him back to Sodom. It was here that Abram met a
wonderful man, who was both a king and a priest. His name was
Melchisedek, and he brought Abram bread and wine, and blessed him there.
After this, God spoke to Abram one evening, and promised that he should
have a son, and then while Abram stood outside his tent, with the great
sky thick with stars above him, God promised him that his children's
children should grow to be as countless as the stars. That was hard to
believe, but Abram believed God always and everywhere.
Still no child came to Abram and Sarai, and Abram was almost a hundred
years old, but God spoke to him again, and told him that he should be
the father of many nations.
He told Abram that a little boy would be born to them, and his name
would be Isaac, and God changed Abram's name to Abraham, which means
"Father of many people," and Sarai's to Sarah, which means "Princess."
Abraham was sitting in his tent one hot day, when three men stood by
him. They were strangers, and Abraham asked them to rest beneath the
tree, and bathe their feet, while he brought them food. So Sarah made
cakes, and a tender calf was cooked, and these with butter, and milk,
were set before the men. But they were not men of this world; they
were angels, and they had come to tell Abraham and Sarah once more that
their little child was sure to come. Then the angels went away, but
one of them, who must have been the Lord Himself in an angel's form,
stopped to tell Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom and
Gomorrah, because the people who lived there were so very wicked, and
Abraham prayed Him to spare them if even ten good men could be found in
them, for he remembered that Lot lived in Sodom. But the Lord never
forgets. The two angels went to Sodom and stayed with Lot until
morning, when they took him and all his family outside the city, and
then the Lord said to him, "Escape for thy life—look not behind thee,
neither stay thou in all the plain."
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The three strangers
And the Lord hid them in the little town of Zoar, while a great rain of
fire fell upon the wicked cities of the plain, until they became a heap
of ashes. Only Lot's wife looked back to see the burning cities, and
she became a pillar of salt.
The next morning when Abraham looked from Hebron down toward the cities
of the plain, a great smoke was rising from them like the smoke of a
At last the Lord's promise to Abraham and Sarah came true. A little
son was born to them, and they called him Isaac. They were very happy,
for though Abraham was a hundred years old, no child had ever been sent
When he was about a year old they made a great feast for him, and all
brought gifts and good wishes, yet the little lad Ishmael, the son of
Hagar, Sarah's servant, mocked at Isaac. Sarah was angry, and told her
husband that Hagar and her boy must be sent away. So he sent them out
with only a bottle of water and a loaf of bread; for God had told
Abraham to do as Sarah wished him to do, and He would take care of
little Ishmael, and make him the father of another nation.
When the water was gone, and the sun grew very hot, poor Hagar laid her
child under a bush to die, for she was very lonely and sorrowful.
While she hid her eyes and wept, saying,
"Let me not see the death of the child," she heard a voice out of
heaven telling her not to be afraid.
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Hagar in the desert
"Arise, lift up the lad," said the voice, "for I will make him a great
And God opened her eyes to see a well of water near. Then she filled
the empty bottle, and gave the boy a drink, and God took good care of
them ever after, though they lived in a wilderness.
Ishmael grew up to be an archer, and became the father of the Arabs,
who still live in tents as Ishmael did.
But the Lord let a strange trial come to the little lad Isaac, also.
His father loved and obeyed God, but there were heathen people around
them, who worshipped idols, and sometimes killed their own children as
a sacrifice to these idols. Abraham brought the best of his lambs and
cattle to offer to the Lord; but one day the Lord told Abraham to take
his only son Isaac and offer him upon a mountain called Moriah as a
burnt sacrifice to God. Abraham had always obeyed God, and believed
his word, and now, though he could not understand, he rose up early in
the morning and took his young son, with two servants, and an ass
loaded with wood, to the place of which God had told him.
They were three days on the journey, but at last they came to the high
place, where the city of Jerusalem was afterward built, and to the very
rock upon which the temple was built long afterward, with its great
altar and Holy of Holies.
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On Mount Moriah
Abraham had left the young men at the foot of the mount, and went with
Isaac to the great rock on the top of the mount.
"My father," said Isaac, "where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"
"My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering," said
his father, still obeying God, and believing His word, that Isaac
should be the father of many nations.
Abraham made an altar of stones, and bound Isaac and laid him upon it,
but when his hand was lifted to offer up the boy, the Lord called to
him from heaven. "Lay not thine hand upon the lad," said the voice,
"for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld
thine only son from me."
Then Abraham turned and saw a ram with its twisted horns caught in the
bushes, and he offered it to the Lord instead of his son. How glad and
grateful Abraham must have been that morning, when he came down the
mountain, with Isaac walking beside him, to think that he had still
obeyed God when it was hard to do so.
Abraham was an old man when Sarah died. They had lived together a long
lifetime, and he mourned for her many days. He bought a field close by
the oak-shaded plain of Mamre in Hebron, and there in a rocky cave he
buried her. He was called a Prince of God by the Canaanites because he
lived a true, faithful life.
A few years after he also went to God, and his body was laid beside
Sarah's in the cave-tomb. Ishmael came up from the south country to
mourn with Isaac at the burial of their father, the Friend of God, and
Father of the faithful.
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ISAAC THE SHEPHERD PRINCE.
Before Abraham died, he thought much about his dear son Isaac, to whom
he was going to leave all that he had. The young man had no mother, no
sister, and soon he would have no father. So the old man called his
old and faithful servant, and told him to go on a journey into the land
of his fathers, and bring back with him a wife for his son Isaac.
The children of Nahor, Abraham's brother, lived there still, and
Abraham wished for his son Isaac a wife of his own people, who should
be both good and beautiful, and not like the heathen women of Canaan.
So the old servant listened to Abraham and promised to do all that he
He loaded ten camels with presents for his master's family away in
Syria, and Abraham said:
"The Lord shall send His angel before thee," and from his tent door he
saw the little caravan of camels and servants, as they set out across
the plain, toward the land beyond the river Jordan.
There was a desert to cross and many dangers to meet, but the old
servant believed in the God his master worshipped, and was not afraid.
When he came to Haran, he stopped outside the town by a well of water.
It was early evening, and the women were coming each with a water-jar
on her shoulder, to draw water.
The old man prayed that the Lord would show him which among these
daughters of the men of the city, was the one who was to be his young
Before his prayer was ended, Rebekah, of the family of Abraham's
brother Nahor, came bearing her pitcher on her shoulder. She looked
very kind and beautiful, and when she had filled her pitcher, the old
man asked her for a drink of water. Then she let down the pitcher upon
her hand saying:
"Drink, my lord," and asked if she should also give water to his
camels. While she was giving him a drink, the man showed her some
golden jewels that he had brought, and when he had asked her name, and
knew that God had sent her to him for his young master, he gave them to
her, and worshipped the Lord who had led him to the house of his
Then Rebekah ran in and told Laban, her brother, and the old servant of
Abraham had a warm welcome at the door of Nahor's house.
"Come in, thou blessed of the Lord," they said.
And after they had cared for the camels and the men, there was a
hurrying of servants to prepare a feast, but the old man would not
taste food until he had given the message of his master. Then the
father and brother of Rebekah, saw that the Lord had sent for her, and
"Let her be thy master's son's wife, as the Lord hath spoken."
And the old servant bowed his face to the ground worshipping the Lord
who had led him.
Then there was feasting and giving of costly gifts, and preparing to
take a long journey, for the old servant was in haste to get back to
his master, and Rebekah, who was willing to go, took her maid-servants
and rode away into a far country to be the wife of Isaac.
When Isaac was walking in his field at sunset, thinking and praying to
God, he looked up and saw that the camels were coming, and he hastened
to meet them. When the old servant told Rebekah that it was his young
master, she alighted from her camel, and covered herself with a long
veil as was the custom of the Syrian women. When the old servant had
told the story of his journey, he gave Rebekah to Isaac, and he took
her to the tent that had been his mother's, and she became his wife, so
that he was no longer lonely and sad.
Isaac lived to a very great age, and had two sons, Jacob and Esau. He
was a gentle, quiet man, fond of his family, his flocks, and herds, and
at the place where his father and mother were buried, he lived among
the fields and oak groves of Hebron until he died.
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JACOB, A PRINCE OF GOD.
Jacob and Esau were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah.
They did not look alike as twins often do, and they were very unlike in
all their ways. As they grew up, Esau loved the forests and wild
places. He made bows and arrows, and was a hunter, and brought home
wild birds and deer, for his father was very fond of such food. Jacob
helped his father with the flocks, and learned how to cook food from
his mother, who loved him more than she loved Esau.
One day Esau came home from hunting tired and hungry, and smelled the
delicious soup of red lentils that Jacob was making. He begged Jacob
to give him some, and Jacob, who wanted to be eldest, and have the
right to the blessing that fathers gave to the first-born in those
"Sell me this day thy birthright," and Esau gave him all his rights as
the first born, for a little food which he might have had as a free
Jacob wanted to be counted in the great promise that God had given to
Abraham, but Esau despised it.
Afterward, when Isaac was old and his eyes were dim, he called Esau,
and asked him to go out into the fields and shoot a deer, and cook the
venison that he loved, so that he might eat it and bless his first born
before he died.
Rebekah heard it, and told Jacob to bring kids from the flock, which
she cooked and served as venison. Then she dressed Jacob in the
clothes of Esau, and told him to say that it was Esau who had brought
the venison. Isaac said:
"The voice is the voice of Jacob," but he put his hands on him, and
believed it was Esau, and blessed him.
When Esau came home and brought venison to his father, Isaac said:
"Who art thou?" and when Esau said, "I am thy son, thy first-born,
Esau," the old man trembled, and told Esau the blessing had been given
Poor Esau cried out with grief, "Hast thou but one blessing?" "Bless
me, even me also, O my father."
And so Isaac blessed him, but he could not call back the blessing of
the first-born. The Lord knew that Jacob would grow to be a good man,
and love the things of God best, and that Esau would always love the
things of this world best, yet it was wrong of Jacob and Rebekah to
deceive, for we may not do evil that good may come.
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Isaac blessing Jacob
After this Esau hated his brother, and said he would kill him.
So Isaac called Jacob, and, blessing him again, sent him away into
Syria to the house of Laban, where Rebekah had lived, and where
Abraham's servant went to find her for his master's son.
One night, when he was not far on his way, he lay down to sleep, with a
stone for his pillow, on a hillside that looked toward his home, and he
dreamed a wonderful dream. He saw a ladder reaching from earth to
heaven, and a vision of angels who were going up and down upon it.
Above it stood the Lord, who spoke to Jacob, and gave to him the
promise that He had first given to Abraham, and told him that He would
go with him, and bring him again into his own land.
Jacob was afraid when he woke, for he had seen the heavens opened, and
had heard God's voice. He made an altar of the pillow of stone, and
called it Bethel—the House of God—and then he vowed that the Lord
should be his God, and he added,—
"Of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give a tenth unto thee."
When Jacob came to Haran, he saw the well from which his mother used to
draw water. There were three flocks of sheep lying by it, waiting for
all the flocks to gather in the cool of the day to be watered. Soon
Rachel, the daughter of Laban, came leading her father's flocks, and
one of the shepherds told Jacob whose daughter she was.
So Jacob rolled the stone from the well, and watered the flocks of
Laban, his mother's brother. Then he kissed Rachel, and told her that
he was Rebekah's son, and she ran and told her father.
There was great joy in Laban's house because Jacob had come, and after
he had stayed a month with them Laban asked him to stay and take care
of his flocks, and he would pay him for his work.
Since the day he had seen Rachel leading her father's flocks he had
chosen her in his heart to be his wife. So he said that he would work
for Laban seven years, if at the end of that time he would give him
Rachel for his wife. Laban was quite willing to do so, and the seven
years seemed to Jacob but a few days, for the love he had to Rachel.
But, according to the custom of that country, the younger daughter
could not be given in marriage before the elder, and so Laban gave his
daughter Leah also, and both Leah and Rachel became the wives of Jacob,
for Jacob lived in that far away time and country of the early world
when men were allowed to take more than one wife, and when each man was
both king and priest over his family and tribe, and worshipped God by
offering burnt sacrifices upon an altar.
After twenty years of work with Laban, in which he had earned many
flocks and herds for himself, Jacob took his wives and the little sons
God had sent him, and his flocks and herds, and started on a journey to
his old home. Isaac was still alive, and Jacob longed to see him. He
had lived long in Haran for fear of his brother Esau, and now he must
travel through Edom, Esau's country, on his way to his old home.
As he was on his way some of God's angels met him, and he was
strengthened. Still he feared Esau, and sent some of his men to tell
his brother that he was coming.
The men came back, saying that Esau, with four hundred men, was coming
to meet them.
Poor Jacob! He remembered the sin of his youth, when he had stolen the
blessing from Esau, and he was afraid, and prayed God to protect him.
He sent his servants again to meet Esau with great presents of flocks,
and herds, and camels, and after placing his wives and little ones in
the safest place, he sent all that he had over the brook Jabbok, and he
stayed on the other side to pray. It was as if he wrestled with a man
all night, and when the day began to break the man wished to go, but
"I will not let thee go except thou bless me."
So the man blessed him there, and call his name Israel; "for as a
prince," he said, "hast thou power with God and with men, and hast
Then Jacob knew that the Lord Himself, in the form of a man, had been
with him, and he had seen Him face to face.
And as the sun rose he passed over the brook. When he looked up he saw
Esau and his men coming, and when he had told his family to follow him,
he went straight before them, for he was no longer afraid to meet his
Jacob's prayer had been answered, and Esau ran to meet his brother, and
throwing his arms around him, wept on his shoulder. Then they talked
in a loving and brotherly way, and Esau returned to his home with the
presents Jacob had given him, and Jacob went on his way into Canaan
full of joy and thankfulness. He stopped a little while in a pleasant
place to rest his flocks and cattle, but he longed to see the place
where he first saw the angels of God, and heard the voice of the Lord
blessing him, so they journeyed on to Beth-el, and there built an altar
and worshipped God.
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Meeting of Jacob and Esau
Again the Lord spoke to Jacob at Beth-el, and called him Israel, and
After they left Beth-el, they came near to Bethlehem, where many
hundred years afterward the Lord Jesus was born, and there another
little son was born to Rachel, and there too God sent for her, and took
her to Himself, and there her grave was made.
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Jacob and Rachel
The little boy was named Benjamin, and was the youngest of Jacob's
twelve sons, who became the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel, and
the princes of a great nation.
Jacob was almost home. His great family, with all the flocks and
herds, had been long on the way, for they often spread their tents by
the brooks in the green valleys, that the cattle might rest and find
pasture, but at last the long caravan came slowly over the fields of
Mamre to Hebron, and Isaac, whom the Lord had kept alive to see his son
once more, was there in his tent waiting for him.
But soon after this he died, an hundred and eighty years old, and Esau
came, and the two brothers laid their father in the cave that Abraham
bought when Sarah died, and where he had buried Rebekah, and Jacob
became patriarch in place of his father.
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JOSEPH, THE CASTAWAY.
Of all the sons of Jacob, Joseph and Benjamin were the dearest to him,
because they were the sons of his beloved Rachel, who had died on the
journey from Syria into Canaan. They were also the youngest of all the
twelve sons. When Joseph was about seventeen years old, he sometimes
went with his elder brothers to keep his father's flocks in the fields.
He wore a long coat striped with bright colors, which his father had
given him, because he was a kind and obedient son, and could always be
Once he told his father of some wicked thing his brothers had done, and
they hated him for it, and could not speak pleasantly to him.
Joseph had many strange and beautiful thoughts when he looked across
the fields to the hills, and up into the starry sky at night. He also
had some strange dreams that he told to his brothers. He said that he
dreamed that they were binding sheaves in the field, and that his sheaf
stood up, while the sheaves of his brothers bowed down to it.
Again he dreamed that the sun, and the moon, and eleven stars bowed
down to him.
His father wondered that he should have such thoughts, and reproached
him saying, "Shall I and thy brethren indeed come and bow down
ourselves to thee to the earth?" and his brothers said,
"Shalt thou indeed rule over us?" and they hated him.
When they were many miles from home with the flocks their father sent
Joseph to see if all was well with them. It was a long journey, and
when they saw the boy coming they did not go to meet him, and speak
kindly to him, but they said,
"Behold this dreamer is cometh. Let us slay him, and cast him into
some pit, and we will say some evil beast hath devoured him, and we
shall see what will become of his dreams."
But Reuben, the eldest, said,
"Let us not kill him; but cast him into this pit," hoping to take him
out secretly, and send him to his father.
So when Joseph came near, they robbed him of his coat of many colors,
and cruelly cast him into a pit. After this they sat down to eat their
bread, and looking up they saw a caravan coming. It was a company of
Ishmaelites carrying costly spices down into Egypt to sell them.
Then Judah said,
"Why should we kill our brother? Let us sell him to these Ishmaelites."
Then there passed by some Midianite merchants, and who drew Joseph out
of the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver,
and he was carried down into Egypt.
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Joseph sold to the Ishmaelites
Reuben, when his brothers went back to their flocks, went to the pit to
try to save Joseph, but he was not there, and Reuben cried out,
"The child is not, and I, whither shall I go?"
The brothers who had been so cruel to Joseph brought his coat to their
father, all stained with blood. They had themselves dipped it in the
blood of a kid to deceive him, and he mourned long, and would not be
comforted, for the beloved child that he believed had been torn in
pieces by evil beasts.
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JOSEPH, A SERVANT, A PRISONER, AND A SAINT.
The king of Egypt, where Joseph was taken by the Ishmaelites, was
called Pharaoh, and he had a captain of the guard named Potiphar, who
bought Joseph for a house servant. Though he was the son of a Hebrew
prince, Joseph did his work faithfully and wisely as a servant, and was
soon made steward of the house, and was trusted with all that his
master had, and the Lord made all that he did to prosper; but the wife
of Potiphar was a wicked woman, who persuaded her husband that Joseph
was a bad man, and he was sent to prison.
Even there Joseph won the hearts of all, until the keeper of the prison
set him over the other prisoners, and trusted him as Potiphar had done.
It was the Lord in Joseph who helped him to win the love and trust of
those around him.
Pharaoh sent two of his servants to prison because they had displeased
One was his chief cook, and one was the chief butler, who always handed
the wine cup to the king, and Joseph had the care of them.
They each had a dream the same night, and were troubled because they
could not understand them. Joseph asked them to tell him the dreams,
for God knew what they meant.
So the chief butler told Joseph that he saw a vine having three
branches, and the branches budded and blossomed, and the blossoms
changed into ripe grapes, and he took the grapes and pressed them into
Pharaoh's cup, and handed the cup to the king.
Then Joseph said: "The three branches are three days. Within three
days the king will take you out of prison, and you shall hand the
king's cup to him as you used to do."
Joseph also asked the butler, to think of him when he was again in the
king's palace, and speak to the king to bring him out of prison,
because he had been stolen from his own land, and he had done nothing
wrong that he should be put in prison.
Then the chief cook told his dream. He said that he dreamed that he
carried three baskets on his head, one above another.
In the highest one was all kinds of cooked meats for Pharaoh, and the
birds flew down and ate from the basket.
"The three baskets are three days," said Joseph as he said to the
butler, but he told the cook that in three days he would be put to
death, and hanged on a tree, where the birds would eat his flesh.
All this came true, for Pharaoh's birthday came, and he brought out the
chief butler to serve at a birthday feast, but he hanged the chief
cook. Yet the chief butler forgot Joseph, and did not speak to the
king about him as he might have done.
At the end of two long years, Pharaoh dreamed a dream. He thought he
stood by the river of Egypt, and saw seven cows looking well kept and
fat, came up out of the river.
Behind them came seven other cows, looking thin and poorly fed, and the
thin and poorly fed cows ate up the well-kept and fat ones.
And Pharoah had a second dream. He thought he saw seven heads of wheat
growing on one stalk—and they were all full of grain. After them came
seven thin heads of wheat with no grain in them; and the seven bad
heads of wheat ate up the seven good ones.
In the morning Pharaoh was troubled about these dreams, and called for
his wise men who worked magic for him, and they could tell him nothing.
Then the chief butler standing near the king remembered Joseph, and
told Pharaoh of the young Hebrew who had told the meaning of his dream,
and that of the chief cook, and they had come to pass as he had said,
so Pharaoh sent for Joseph and said to him:
"I have heard that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it."
Joseph answered the king humbly and wisely:
"It is not in me," he said, "God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace."
When the king had told his dream Joseph said:
"The dream is one," and then he showed him that the seven fat cows, and
the seven full heads of wheat meant seven good years in the land of
Egypt, when the harvests would be great; and the seven lean cows, and
the seven empty heads of wheat, meant seven years of famine, when the
east winds should spoil the wheat, so there would be nothing to reap in
time of harvest and the people would want bread. He told the king that
he had better set a wise man over the land, who would attend to saving
the grain during the seven good years, so that the people would have
bread to eat in the seven years of famine.
The king was greatly pleased with Joseph, and told him that God had
taught him to interpret dreams, and had showed him things to come, and
there could be no wiser man found to be set over the land.
So he made Joseph a ruler over the whole land, and next to the king in
He put his own ring on his hand, and dressed him in the robes of a
prince, and gave him an Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife, so that
there was no one in all the land of Egypt so great as Joseph, except
He built storehouses in every city, and stored the grain, until it was
like the sand of the sea, and could not be measured.
In the years of plenty two sons were born to Joseph, Manasseh and
Ephraim, and then the seven years of dearth began to come. When the
people began to cry to the king for bread, he always said,—
"Go to Joseph; what he says to you do."
And Joseph and his helpers began to open the storehouses, and sell
wheat to the Egyptians, and to the people of all countries, for the
famine was in all lands.
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JOSEPH—THE SAVIOR OF HIS PEOPLE.
The famine reached even to the fruitful land of Canaan, and Jacob,
though rich in flocks and herds, began to need bread for his great
family. So he sent his ten sons down into Egypt to buy wheat, keeping
Benjamin, the youngest at home.
When they came before the governor they bowed down to him with their
faces to the ground. Joseph knew them, though he acted as if he did
not, and remembered his dream of his brother's sheaves bowing down to
his sheaf. At first, he spoke roughly to them, and called them
"spies." But they said that they were all one man's sons, and had come
to buy food.
Joseph still spoke roughly to them, not because he was angry, but
because he did not wish them to know him yet. His heart was full of
love for them, and he was soon going to show them great kindness; but
when they told him that they had left an old father and a young brother
at home, and one was dead, he still acted as if they did not tell the
He said that to prove themselves true men one of them should go home
and bring the youngest brother, and the others should be kept in prison
until they returned; and he put them all in prison.
After three days, he said one might stay while the others took the
wheat home to their families, but that they must surely come back and
bring the boy with them.
Then Reuben, who had tried to save Joseph from the pit long before,
told his brothers that all this trouble had come upon them for their
wickedness to their brother Joseph, and they said to each other in
their own language:
"We are verily guilty concerning our brother; when he besought us, we
would not hear, therefore is this distress come upon us."
Joseph understood everything they said though they did not know it, for
he had been talking to them through an interpreter, and they thought he
was an Egyptian. Now his heart was so full that he had to go out of
the room to weep. But he came back and chose Simeon to stay while the
others went to Canaan to bring back Benjamin.
They took the wheat that they had bought in bags, and went away; but
when they stopped at an inn to rest and feed their asses, one of the
brothers opened his bag, and found the money that he had paid for the
wheat in the top of his bag. Here was more trouble, and they were
When they came home to their father they told him all that had
happened, and as they opened the bags, each one found his money. Jacob
was deeply troubled; for Joseph was gone, and Simeon was gone, and now
they wanted to take Benjamin.
Reuben who had two sons said: "Slay my two sons if I bring him not to
But Jacob said Benjamin should not go down to Egypt. But the wheat was
gone in a short time, and they were likely to starve so great was the
famine, and at last Jacob said they must go to Egypt again for food.
Judah said they would go if Benjamin would go with them, but Jacob
would not listen to this. He asked them why they told the man that
they had a brother, and they replied, that the Governor had asked them
if their father was yet living and if they had another brother.
"Send the lad with me," said Judah, "if I bring him not unto thee, let
me bear the blame forever."
Then Jacob told them to take him and go, and also to take presents of
honey, and spices, and balm, and nuts, and double the money, so as to
return that which was put in their bags, and he blessed them, and sent
They went down into Egypt, and stood before Joseph again. When he saw
Benjamin with them he told the steward of his house to make ready a
fine dinner for them, and bring them to him at noon, and he did so.
Then the brothers were afraid that they were all to be put in prison,
and at the door of Joseph's house began to tell the steward how they
found the money when they opened their bags, and that they had brought
it back doubled; but the steward spoke kindly to them, and said that he
had placed their money, and that they need not fear, for God had given
it back to them.
Then he brought Simeon out, and they made ready to dine with the
Governor at noon, and to give him their presents.
When he came they bowed down to him and presented their gifts, and he
asked them if they were well, and if the old man of whom they spoke was
still alive, and they replied that he was. When he saw Benjamin, and
knew that he was truly his own brother, the son of Rachel, he said:
"God be gracious unto thee my son," and he went quickly to his own
chamber, lest he should weep before them.
When he came out to them again, and they sat down to dine, he placed
the sons of Jacob by themselves, and the Egyptians of his house by
themselves, and the brothers were placed according to their
ages—Reuben at the head and Benjamin last, and they wondered among
themselves at this. Joseph also sent portions from his own table to
his brothers, but the portion of Benjamin was five times greater than
that of the others.
The next morning their wheat was measured to them, and the asses were
loaded with it, and they went on their way, but Joseph had told the
steward to put the money of each man in the top of his bag, and in
Benjamin's to put his silver cup.
When they were a little away from the city, the steward overtook them,
and charged them with stealing his lord's silver cup.
The men were so sure that no one of them had stolen the silver cup,
that they said,
"Let him die with whom the cup is found, and the rest of us will be
So everybody's bag was opened from the oldest to the youngest, and the
cup was found in Benjamin's bag. Then they rent their clothes for
grief, and loaded the asses and went back to the city, and when they
came to Joseph's house, they fell on their faces before him, Joseph
tried to speak sternly and said:
"What deed is this you have done?"
"What shall we say unto my lord, or how shall we clear ourselves? We
are my lord's servants."
Then said Joseph:
"The man in whose hand the cup is found he shall be my servant, and as
for you, get you up in peace unto your father."
Then Judah came nearer to Joseph, and all his soul came forth into his
voice as he said:
"O, my lord, let thy servant speak a word in my lord's ears!"
Then he told the story of their coming down into Egypt, and of the old
father and young brother whom he had asked them about; of the love of
this father for the little one, for his mother, and his brother now
dead. He reminded Joseph that he had told them to bring the boy to
him, and that they had said, that if the boy should leave his father,
his father would die; but the governor had said "Except your youngest
brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more."
Then Judah told the story of the father's grief when he found that he
must let Benjamin go down into Egypt, that they might buy a little
food; how he spoke of his two sons, that were the sons of Rachel—that
one had been torn in pieces, and now if mischief should befall the
other, it would bring his gray hairs in sorrow to the grave. He asked
Joseph what he should do when he returned to his father without the
lad, seeing that his life was bound up in the lad's life, and Judah
begged him, as he had made himself surety for the lad, to take him to
be his slave, but to let Benjamin return to his father with his
"For how shall I go up to my father," said Judah, "and the lad be not
Then Joseph could bear it no longer. He told all the Egyptians to go
out of the room, and then weeping so that the Egyptians and the people
in the king's house heard, he made himself known to his brothers.
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Joseph makes himself known to his brothers
"I am Joseph, your brother," he said, "whom you sold into Egypt," and
he begged them to come near to him.
"Be not grieved nor angry with yourselves," he said, for he saw that
they were terrified, "for God sent me before you to save your lives by
a great deliverance. It was not you that sent me hither, but God, and
he hath made me a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt."
Then he told them to hasten and go to his father and tell him this, and
ask him to come down at once, with all his flocks and herds, and dwell
in Goshen, the best part of Egypt, for years of famine were yet to come.
Then Joseph took little Benjamin in his arms and wept over him, and
kissed him, and kissed all his brothers, and after that his brothers
talked with him. The king heard the story of Joseph's brothers and was
pleased. He told Joseph to send wagons for the wives and little ones
of his brothers, and to tell them to bring their father, and all their
cattle and sheep, and come to live in Goshen where they should have the
best of the land for their flocks and herds.
Joseph did as the king commanded, and also gave them food for the
journey, and a suit of clothing to each brother, but to little Benjamin
he gave five suits, and three hundred pieces of silver. He also loaded
twenty asses with the good things of Egypt as presents to his father,
so he sent them all on their journey saying:
"See that ye fall not out by the way."
When they came to Jacob in Hebron, they told him the wonderful story of
the finding of Joseph, and his heart was faint, for he did not believe
them; but when he had heard all Joseph's messages, and had seen the
gifts, and the wagons, he said:
"It is enough: Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before
So they began the long journey to Egypt, for it took a long time to
travel with a great family, and with thousands of cattle and sheep. At
Beersheba Jacob stopped and worshiped God, where his father had built
an altar years before; and God told him in the night that he need not
fear to go down into Egypt, for He would there make him a great nation,
and that He would bring him back again to his own land.
So Jacob with all his children and their little ones, and all his
flocks and herds came into Egypt. There were sixty-seven souls, and
when they had counted Joseph and his two sons, there were seventy.
Jacob sent Judah on before to see Joseph and ask the way to Goshen, so
that they might go directly there with the cattle and sheep. And when
Joseph knew that his father was coming, he went to meet him in Goshen,
and there he wept on his father's neck a long time, and Jacob said:
"Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet
After this Joseph presented five of his brothers to Pharaoh, and the
king spoke very kindly to them, and gave them the best of the land for
their flocks, and hired some of them to oversee his own shepherds.
Joseph brought his father in also and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
So the family of Jacob lived in peace, and were cared for by Joseph,
just as the Lord had promised Jacob, when in a dream he saw the angels
of God at Bethel, and heard above them the voice of the Lord blessing
him, and saying:
"Thou shalt spread abroad to the West, and to the East, and to the
North, and to the South, and in thee shall all the families of the
earth be blessed."
Joseph carried all Egypt through the years of famine, and saved seed
for the people to sow their fields in the seventh year so that they
"Thou hast saved our lives."
He afterwards visited his father, and Jacob made him promise that he
would bury him when he died in the tomb of Abraham and Isaac, his
father, in his own land.
When Jacob was near his end, Joseph brought his two little sons,
Ephraim and Manasseh, to his bedside, and the old man gave them his
blessing, laying his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, the youngest,
and his left hand on that of Manasseh the first born, even as Isaac had
given the birthright blessing to him instead of to Esau, and he said:
"The angel which redeemed me from all evil bless the lads."
Then he called all his sons together and told them what should befall
them in the last days. To each one he spoke as a prophet speaks who
has a vision of things to come, and he blessed them there. When he
spoke to Judah, he told him that kings and lawgivers should arise from
among his children until the Saviour of the world should come.
Jacob was an hundred and forty-seven years old when he died, and there
was great mourning for him.
Joseph had the body of his father embalmed, as the Egyptians had the
custom of doing, and after a long mourning in Egypt, Joseph and his
brothers and many Egyptians who were Joseph's friends, carried the body
of Jacob to Canaan, in a great procession, and buried him in the cave
of Machpelah, where his fathers were buried.
After they had returned to Egypt, the brothers of Joseph said:
"Perhaps now he will hate us, and bring upon us all the evil we did to
So they sent to him to ask his forgiveness for all that was past. Then
Joseph wept, for he had nothing but love in his heart toward his
brothers, and he wished them to trust him. He comforted them and spoke
kindly to them, saying:
"Fear not: ye meant evil unto me, but God meant it unto good. I will
nourish you and your little ones."
And so through all Joseph's life, and he lived one hundred and ten
years, he was a tender father to all his family, and a wise ruler of
the people, and he died after making his family promise to carry his
body back into Canaan to be buried with his fathers when they
themselves should go.
"For God will surely visit you," he said, "and bring you out of this
land into the land which he promised to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob."
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THE CRADLE THAT WAS ROCKED BY A RIVER.
After Joseph and all the sons of Jacob had grown old and had passed
away, their children's children grew in numbers until they became a
The Pharaoh whom Joseph had served also died, and the king who followed
him did not like the Hebrews. He feared them because they had grown to
be strong, so he set overseers to watch them, and make them work like
He treated them cruelly, and made them lift the great stones with which
they built the tombs of the kings and temples of the gods. He also
tried to kill all the little boys as soon as they were born, but the
Lord took care of them. Also, the king told his servants, that
wherever they found a baby boy among the Hebrews, to throw him into the
river Nile, but the little girls, they should save alive.
There was a man named Amrom, who, with his wife Jochebed, had a
beautiful little boy whom they tenderly loved. They hid him as long as
they could, and then when he was three months old and she could hide
him no longer, she made up her mind to give him into the care of God.
She made a little boat, or ark of stout rushes, that grew by the river.
She wove it closer than a basket, and then covered it with pitch that
the water might not enter, just as Noah covered the great ark before
Then she wrapped her baby carefully and laid him in the little boat,
and set it among the reeds at the edge of the river Nile. God and His
angels watched the cradle of the child, and the river gently rocked it.
Jochebed told the baby's sister to wait near by and see what might
happen to him, and this is what happened, or rather what God prepared
for the baby in the boat of rushes.
The king's daughter came down to bathe in the river, and as her maidens
walked up and down by the riverside, she called one of them to bring to
her the little ark that she saw rocking on the river among the reeds.
When she had opened it she saw a beautiful little child, and when it
cried her heart was touched, and she longed to keep it for her own.
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Pharaoh's daughter finding Moses
"This is one of the Hebrew's children," she said, and as the baby's
sister came near she asked the princess if she should go and get a
nurse from among the Hebrew women to bring it up for her, and the
princess said to her, "Go," and the maid went and called the child's
mother. The princess said: "Take this child away and nurse it for me,
and I will give thee thy wages."
And the mother took her baby joyfully though she hid her joy in her
heart, and carried him home to nurse and bring up for Pharoah's
And the child grew, and when he was old enough his mother took him to
the king's palace, and he became the son of the princess. She called
his name Moses, which means "drawn out," because she drew him out of
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MOSES IN MIDIAN.
Moses had teachers, and was taught all the learning of the Egyptians,
but his heart was with his own people. He was grieved when he saw
their burdens, and heard their cries when their taskmasters struck them.
Once, when he was a grown man, he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, and
he struck the Egyptian and killed him, for he thought he ought to
defend his people: and when he saw that the man was dead, he buried him
in the sand. In a day or two Moses tried to make peace between two
Hebrews who were fighting, and they answered him roughly, and one of
"Who made thee a ruler over us? wilt thou kill me, as thou didst the
Then Moses was afraid, and when the king heard of it, and tried to take
his life, Moses fled away out of Egypt, through a desert into Midian.
There he found a well and sat down by it to rest. While he sat there
the seven daughters of the priest of Midian came to draw water for
their father's flocks, and some rough shepherds came and drove them
away, but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flocks.
When their father knew that a noble stranger had been kind to his
daughters, he asked him to come into his house, and eat bread with him,
and stay as long as he would. So Moses stayed and Zipporah, one of the
seven sisters, became his wife.
But Moses did not forget his people. God was preparing him to lead
them out of bondage, and he learned many things, during the years that
he kept the sheep of his father-in-law in the wilderness.
One day he led his flocks across the desert to Mount Horeb or Sinai.
There he saw a bush all bright within as if it burned. He drew nearer
to see why the bush was not consumed, and heard the voice of the Lord
calling him. The Lord told him to come no nearer, and to put off his
shoes, for he stood on holy ground. Then the Lord told him that He was
the God of his fathers, and that He had heard the cry of his oppressed
people in Egypt.
"I know their sorrows," said the voice from the midst of the fire, "And
I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to
bring them up out of that land into a good land, and a large—unto a
land flowing with milk and honey."
Then the Lord said that Moses must go to the new Pharaoh, for the old
king was dead, and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt. Moses
was a very humble man, and he could not believe that Pharaoh would
listen to him or that the Hebrews would follow him, but the Lord said,
"Certainly I will be with thee."
And as a sign that it should be so, He said that after Moses had
brought his people out of Egypt, they should serve God in this mountain.
But Moses had many fears. He knew that he had been brought up as an
Egyptian, and he feared that his people would not listen to his words.
Then the Lord showed signs to Moses to help his faith.
He turned the rod in Moses' hand into a serpent, and then when he was
afraid of it, the Lord told him to take it in his hand and it became a
He also turned his hand white with leprosy, and then changed it again
to natural flesh, and told Moses, that these, and other signs he should
show in Egypt—to prove that he was sent of God.
But Moses felt himself to be so weak and faithless as a leader of his
people, that he still cried out that he was "slow of speech, and of a
slow tongue," and when the Lord said, "I will teach thee what thou
shalt say," he did not believe, but begged the Lord to send by whom he
would, only not by him.
Then the Lord said that Aaron, the brother of Moses could speak well,
and that he should go with him to Pharoah and to his people, and should
speak for him, but that the wisdom and power of God should be with
Moses, and that he should do wonders with the rod in his hand.
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