By S M Chen, posted 11-3-2016 by D Kovacs


One day we older brothers took our flocks of sheep to Shechem, thence to Dothan. It was when we were stopped there that we spied Joseph approaching from a distance. His colorful coat was easy to discern and identify. Several of my brothers conspired to kill him.

I remonstrated with them, telling them not to, but, rather, put him in a pit. That seemed to appease them. They were less hard-hearted than they wanted to appear, but more hard-hearted than I’d realized. Some of us had different mothers, which made for less closeness than perhaps otherwise. The natural sibling rivalry amongst boys did not spare our brood.

The fact that we brothers, all older, were not friendly, but hostile, surprised Joseph. He was not expecting that.

He struggled a bit as we tore the multicolored coat off him and threw him into the pit. He also wept not a little and begged for mercy, but there was none to be had. That tugged, albeit briefly, at my heart. I thought the scare would be good for Joseph. I intended to rescue him after a while, when the tide of anger amongst my brothers had abated.

One of my brothers (was it Simeon, or Levi, or maybe Judah? I don’t remember) mocked, “Had any more dreams lately? Do tell.”

Someone else said, “You’re not much without your multicolored coat, are you?” This as Joseph stood almost naked, clutching himself, in the pit below us.

And another, cursing: “Father’s not here to protect you. What are you going to do?”

Water, particularly in that dusty, arid land, is precious. Joseph’s cries of thirst went unheeded.

Then I left and my brothers had something to eat.

I don’t recall how long I was gone; we lacked timepieces, and looked to the heavens for signs of time’s passage – the sun by day and the stars by night.

By the time I returned, Joseph was gone. My brothers had sold him to some Midianites headed for Egypt for 20 pieces of silver. Laughing, they showed me the coins.

I was beside myself and tore my clothing. But what could I do? It was too late. We could not have caught up with the Midianites if we had wanted to. There is a fine line between thought and action. One need not cross it. But we did.

My brothers came up with a plan: they killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s coat in it. Upon our return home we showed my father the coat. He, thinking a wild beast had devoured Joseph, grieved mightily. Nothing could console him.

At one time I was tempted to tell him the truth, but that might have been even worse. That would have revealed how dark our hearts had been. Plus, all of us brothers had taken an oath of secrecy, which we intended to carry to the grave.

To be continued…

Sam Chen biopicS M Chen lives and writes in California.