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Ancient Book Of Jasher 43 – Joseph’s Brethren Grieve
And when the sons of Jacob had sold their brother Joseph to the Midianites, they hearts were smitten on account of him, and they repented of their acts, and they sought for him to bring him back, but could not find him.
And Reuben returned to the pit in which Joseph had been put, in order to lift him out, and restore him to his father, and Reuben stood by the pit, and he heard not a word and he called out Joseph! Joseph! and no one answered or uttered a word.
And Reuben said, Joseph has died through fright or some serpent has caused his death; and Reuben descended into the pit and he searched for Joseph and could not find him in the pit and he came out again,
And Reuben tore his garments and he said, The child is not there, and how shall I reconcile my father about him if he be dead? and he went to his brethren and found them grieving on account of Joseph and counseling together how to reconcile their father about him, and Reuben said unto his brethren I came to the pit and behold Joseph was not there, what then shall we say unto our father for my father will only seek the lad from me.
And his brethren answered him saying, Thus and thus we did, and our hearts afterward smote us on account of this act, and we now sit to seek a pretext how we shall reconcile our father to it.
And Reuben said unto them, What is this you have done to bring down the grey hairs of our father in sorrow to the grave? the thing is not good, that you have done.
And Reuben sat with them, and they all rose up and swore to each other not to tell this thing unto Jacob, and they all said, The man who will tell this to our father or his household, or who will report this to any of the children of the land we will all rise up against him and slay him with the sword.
And the sons of Jacob feared each other in this matter, from the youngest to the oldest, and no one spoke a word, and they concealed the thing in their hearts.
And they afterward sat down to determine and invent something to say unto their father Jacob concerning all these things.
And Issachar said unto them, Here is an advice for you if it seem good in your eyes to do this thing, take the coat which belongeth to Joseph and tear it, and kill a kid of the goats and dip it in its blood.
And send it to our father, and when he seeth it he will say an evil beast has devoured him, therefore tear ye his coat and behold his blood will be upon his coat, and by your doing this we shall be free of our father’s murmurings.
And Issachar’s advice pleased them, and they hearkened unto him and they did according to the word of Issachar which he had counselled them.
And they hastened and took Joseph’s coat and tore it, and they killed a kid of the goats and dipped the coat in the blood of the kid, and then trampled it in the dust, and they sent the coat to their father Jacob by the hand of Naphtali, and they commanded him to say these words:
We had gathered in the cattle and had come as far as the road to Shechem and farther, when we found this coat upon the road in the wilderness dipped in blood and in dust; now therefore know whether it be thy son’s coat or not.
And Naphtali went and he came unto his father and he gave him the coat, and he spoke unto him all the words which his brethren had commanded him.
And Jacob saw Joseph’s coat and he knew it and he fell upon his face to the ground, and became as still as a stone, and he afterward rose up and cried out with a loud and weeping voice and he said, It is the coat of my son Joseph!
And Jacob hastened and sent one of his servants to his sons, who went to them and found them coming along the road with the flock.
And the sons of Jacob came to their father about evening and behold their garments were torn and dust was upon their heads, and they found their father crying out and weeping with a loud voice.
And Jacob said unto his sons, Tell me truly what evil have you this day suddenly brought upon me? and they answered their father Jacob, saying, We were coming along this day after the flock had been gathered in, and we came as far as the city of Shechem by the road in the wilderness, and we found this coat filled with blood upon the ground, and we knew it and we sent unto thee if thou couldst know it.
And Jacob heard the words of his sons and he cried out with a loud voice, and he said, It is the coat of my son, an evil beast has devoured him; Joseph is rent in pieces, for I sent him this day to see whether it was well with you and well with the flocks and to bring me word again from you, and he went as I commanded him, and this has happened to him this day whilst I thought my son was with you.
And the sons of Jacob answered and said, He did not come to us, neither have we seen him from the time of our going out from thee until now.
And when Jacob heard their words he again cried out aloud, and he rose up and tore his garments, and he put sackcloth upon his loins, and he wept bitterly and he mourned and lifted up his voice in weeping and exclaimed and said these words,
Joseph my son, O my son Joseph, I sent thee this day after the welfare of thy brethren, and behold thou hast been torn in pieces; through my hand has this happened to my son.
It grieves me for thee Joseph my son, it grieves me for thee; how sweet wast thou to me during life, and now how exceedingly bitter is thy death to me.
O that I had died in thy stead Joseph my son, for it grieves me sadly for thee my son, O my son, my son. Joseph my son, where art thou, and where hast thou been drawn? arouse, arouse from thy place, and come and see my grief for thee, O my son Joseph.
Come now and number the tears gushing from my eyes down my cheeks and bring them up before the Lord, that his anger may turn from me.
O Joseph my son, how didst thou fall, by the hand of one by whom no one had fallen from the beginning of the world unto this day; for thou hast been put to death by the smiting of an enemy, inflicted with cruelty, but surely I know that this has happened to thee, on account of the multitude of my sins.
Arouse now and see how bitter is my trouble for thee my son, although I did not rear thee, nor fashion thee, nor give thee breath and soul, but it was God who formed thee and built thy bones and covered them with flesh, and breathed in thy nostrils the breath of life, and then he gave thee unto me.
Now truly God who gave thee unto me, he has taken thee from me and such then has befallen thee
And Jacob continued to speak like unto these words concerning Joseph, and he wept bitterly; he fell to the ground and became still.
And all the sons of Jacob seeing their father’s trouble, they repented of what they had done and they also wept bitterly.
And Judah rose up and lifted his father’s head from the ground, and placed it upon his lap, and he wiped his father’s tears from his cheeks, and Judah wept an exceeding great weeping, whilst his father’s head was reclining upon his lap, still as a stone.
And the sons of Jacob saw their father’s trouble, and they lifted up their voices and continued to weep and Jacob was yet lying upon the ground still as a stone.
And all his sons and his servants and his servant’s children rose up and stood round him to comfort him, and he refused to be comforted.
And the whole household of Jacob rose up and mourned a great mourning on account of Joseph and their father’s trouble, and the intelligence reached Isaac, the son of Abraham, the father of Jacob, and he wept bitterly on account of Joseph, he and all his household, and he went from the place where he dwelt in Hebron and his men with him, and he comforted Jacob his son, and he refused to be comforted.
And after this, Jacob rose up from the ground, and his tears were running down his cheeks, and he said unto his sons, Rise up and take your swords and your bows, and go forth into the field, and seek whether you can find my son’s body and bring it unto me that I may bury it.
Seek also, I pray you, among the beasts and hunt them, and that which shall come the first before you seize and bring it unto me, perhaps the Lord will this day pity my affliction and prepare before you that which did tear my son in pieces, and bring it unto me, and I will avenge the cause of my son.
And his sons did as their father had commanded them, and they rose up early in the morning, and each took his sword and his bow in his hand, and they went forth into the field to hunt the beasts.
And Jacob was still crying aloud and weeping and walking to and fro in the house, and smiting his hands together, saying Joseph my son, Joseph my son.
And the sons of Jacob went into the wilderness to seize the beasts, and behold a wolf came toward them, and they seized him, and brought him unto their father, and they said unto him, This is the first we have found, and we have brought him unto thee as thou didst command us, and thy son’s body we could not find.
And Jacob took the beast from the hands of his sons, and he cried out with a loud and weeping voice, holding the beast in his hand and he spoke with a bitter heart unto the beast, Why didst thou devour my son Joseph, and how didst thou have no fear of the God of the earth, or of my trouble for my son Joseph?
And thou didst devour my son for naught, because he committed no violence, and didst thereby render me culpable on his account, therefore God will require him that is persecuted.
And the Lord opened the mouth of the beast in order to comfort Jacob with its words, and it answered Jacob and spoke these words unto him,
As God liveth who created us in the earth, and as thy soul liveth, my lord, I did not see thy son, neither did I tear him to pieces, but from a distant land I also came to seek my son who went from me this day, and I know not whether he be living or dead.
And I came this day into the field to seek my son and your sons found me, and seized me and increased my grief, and have this day brought me before thee, and I have now spoken all my words to thee.
And now therefore, O son of man, I am in thy hands, and do unto me this day as it may seem good in thy sight, but by the life of God who created me, I did not see thy son, nor did I tear him to pieces, neither has the flesh of man entered my mouth all the days of my life.
And when Jacob heard the words of the beast he was greatly astonished, and sent forth the beast from his hand and she went her way.
And Jacob was still crying aloud and weeping for Joseph day after day, and he mourned for his son many days.