Book of Jasher 44

Book of Jasher 44

Chapter 44


And the sons of Ishmael who had
bought Joseph from the Midianites, who had bought him from his brethren, went
to Egypt with Joseph, and they came upon the borders of Egypt, and when they came
near unto Egypt, they met four men of the sons of Medan the son of Abraham, who
had gone forth from the land of Egypt on their journey.

And the Ishmaelites said unto them,
Do you desire to purchase this slave from us? and they said, Deliver him over to
us, and they delivered Joseph over to them, and they beheld him, that he was a
very comely youth and they purchased him for twenty shekels.

And the Ishmaelites continued their
journey to Egypt and the Medanim also returned that day to Egypt, and the Medanim
said to each other, Behold we have heard that Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh,
captain of the guard, seeketh a good servant who shall stand before him to
attend him, and to make him overseer over his house and all belonging to him.

Now therefore come let us sell him to
him for what we may desire, if he be able to give unto us that which we shall
require for him.

And these Medanim went and came to
the house of Potiphar, and said unto him, We have heard that thou seekest a
good servant to attend thee, behold we have a servant that will please thee, if
thou canst give unto us that which we may desire, and we will sell him unto

And Potiphar said, Bring him before
me, and I will see him, and if he please me I will give unto you that which you
may require for him.

And the Medanim went and brought
Joseph and placed him before Potiphar, and he saw him, and he pleased him
exceedingly, and Potiphar said unto them, Tell me what you require for this

And they said, Four hundred pieces of
silver we desire for him, and Potiphar said, I will give it you if you bring me
the record of his sale to you, and will tell me his history, for perhaps he may
be stolen, for this youth is neither a slave, nor the son of a slave, but I
observe in him the appearance of a goodly and handsome person.

And the Medanim went and brought unto
him the Ishmaelites who had sold him to them, and they told him, saying, He is
a slave and we sold him to them.

And Potiphar heard the words of the
Ishmaelites in his giving the silver unto the Medanim, and the Medanim took the
silver and went on their journey, and the Ishmaelites also returned home.

And Potiphar took Joseph and brought
him to his house that he might serve him, and Joseph found favor in the sight
of Potiphar, and he placed confidence in him, and made him overseer over his
house, and all that belonged to him he delivered over into his hand.

And the Lord was with Joseph and he
became a prosperous man, and the Lord blessed the house of Potiphar for the
sake of Joseph.

And Potiphar left all that he had in
the hand of Joseph, and Joseph was one that caused things to come in and go
out, and everything was regulated by his wish in the house of Potiphar.

And Joseph was eighteen years old, a
youth with beautiful eyes and of comely appearance, and like unto him was not
in the whole
land of Egypt.

At that time whilst he was in his
master’s house, going in and out of the house and attending his master,
Zelicah, his master’s wife, lifted up her eyes toward Joseph and she looked at
him, and behold he was a youth comely and well favored.

And she coveted his beauty in her
heart, and her soul was fixed upon Joseph, and she enticed him day after day,
and Zelicah persuaded Joseph daily, but Joseph did not lift up his eyes to
behold his master’s wife.

And Zelicah said unto him, How goodly
are thy appearance and form, truly I have looked at all the slaves, and have
not seen so beautiful a slave as thou art; and Joseph said unto her, Surely he
who created me in my mother’s womb created all mankind.

And she said unto him, How beautiful
are thine eyes, with which thou hast dazzled all the inhabitants of
Egypt, men and
women; and he said unto her, How beautiful they are whilst we are alive, but
shouldst thou behold them in the grave, surely thou wouldst move away from

And she said unto him, How beautiful
and pleasing are all thy words; take now, I pray thee, the harp which is in the
house, and play with thy hands and let us hear thy words.

And he said unto her, How beautiful
and pleasing are my words when I speak the praise of my God and his glory; and
she said unto him, How very beautiful is the hair of thy head, behold the
golden comb which is in the house, take it I pray thee, and curl the hair of
thy head.

And he said unto her, How long wilt
thou speak these words? cease to utter these words to me, and rise and attend
to thy domestic affairs.

And she said unto him, There is no
one in my house, and there is nothing to attend to but to thy words and to thy
wish; yet notwithstanding all this, she could not bring Joseph unto her,
neither did he place his eye upon her, but directed his eyes below to the

And Zelicah desired Joseph in her
heart, that he should lie with her, and at the time that Joseph was sitting in
the house doing his work, Zelicah came and sat before him, and she enticed him
daily with her discourse to lie with her, or ever to look at her, but Joseph
would not hearken to her.

And she said unto him, If thou wilt
not do according to my words, I will chastise thee with the punishment of
death, and put an iron yoke upon thee.

And Joseph said unto her, Surely God
who created man looseth the fetters of prisoners, and it is he who will deliver
me from thy prison and from thy judgment.

And when she could not prevail over him,
to persuade him, and her soul being still fixed upon him, her desire threw her
into a grievous sickness.

And all the women of Egypt came to
visit her, and they said unto her, Why art thou in this declining state? thou
that lackest nothing; surely thy husband is a great and esteemed prince in the
sight of the king, shouldst thou lack anything of what thy heart desireth?

And Zelicah answered them, saying,
This day it shall be made known to you, whence this disorder springs in which
you see me, and she commanded her maid servants to prepare food for all the
women, and she made a banquet for them, and all the women ate in the house of

And she gave them knives to peel the
citrons to eat them, and she commanded that they should dress Joseph in costly
garments, and that he should appear before them, and Joseph came before their
eyes and all the women looked on Joseph, and could not take their eyes from off
him, and they all cut their hands with the knives that they had in their hands,
and all the citrons that were in their hands were filled with blood.

And they knew not what they had done
but they continued to look at the beauty of Joseph, and did not turn their
eyelids from him.

And Zelicah saw what they had done,
and she said unto them, What is this work that you have done? behold I gave you
citrons to eat and you have all cut your hands.

And all the women saw their hands,
and behold they were full of blood, and their blood flowed down upon their
garments, and they said unto her, this slave in your house has overcome us, and
we could not turn our eyelids from him on account of his beauty.

And she said unto them, Surely this
happened to you in the moment that you looked at him, and you could not contain
yourselves from him; how then can I refrain when he is constantly in my house,
and I see him day after day going in and out of my house? how then can I keep
from declining or even from perishing on account of this?

And they said unto her, the words are
true, for who can see this beautiful form in the house and refrain from him,
and is he not thy slave and attendant in thy house, and why dost thou not tell
him that which is in thy heart, and sufferest thy soul to perish through this

And she said unto them, I am daily
endeavoring to persuade him, and he will not consent to my wishes, and I
promised him everything that is good, and yet I could meet with no return from
him; I am therefore in a declining state as you see.

And Zelicah became very ill on
account of her desire toward Joseph, and she was desperately lovesick on
account of him, and all the people of the house of Zelicah and her husband knew
nothing of this matter, that Zelicah was ill on account of her love to Joseph.

And all the people of her house asked
her, saying, Why art thou ill and declining, and lackest nothing? and she said
unto them, I know not this thing which is daily increasing upon me.

And all the women and her friends
came daily to see her, and they spoke with her, and she said unto them, This
can only be through the love of Joseph; and they said unto her, Entice him and
seize him secretly, perhaps he may hearken to thee, and put off this death from

And Zelicah became worse from her
love to Joseph, and she continued to decline, till she had scarce strength to

And on a certain day Joseph was doing
his master’s work in the house, and Zelicah came secretly and fell suddenly
upon him, and Joseph rose up against her, and he was more powerful than she,
and he brought her down to the ground.

And Zelicah wept on account of the desire
of her heart toward him, and she supplicated him with weeping, and her tears
flowed down her cheeks, and she spoke unto him in a voice of supplication and
in bitterness of soul, saying,

Hast thou ever heard, seen or known
of so beautiful a woman as I am, or better than myself, who speak daily unto
thee, fall into a decline through love for thee, confer all this honor upon
thee, and still thou wilt not hearken to my voice?

And if it be through fear of thy
master lest he punish thee, as the king liveth no harm shall come to thee from
thy master through this thing; now, therefore pray listen to me, and consent
for the sake of the honor which I have conferred upon thee, and put off this
death from me, and why should I die for thy sake? and she ceased to speak.

And Joseph answered her, saying,
Refrain from me, and leave this matter to my master; behold my master knoweth
not what there is with me in the house, for all that belongeth to him he has
delivered into my hand, and how shall I do these things in my master’s house?

For he hath also greatly honored me
in his house, and he hath also made me overseer over his house, and he hath
exalted me, and there is no one greater in this house than I am, and my master
hath refrained nothing from me, excepting thee who art his wife, how then canst
thou speak these words unto me, and how can I do this great evil and sin to God
and to thy husband?

Now therefore refrain from me, and
speak no more such words as these, for I will not hearken to thy words. But
Zelicah would not hearken to Joseph when he spoke these words unto her, but she
daily enticed him to listen to her.

And it was after this that the brook
of Egypt was filled above all its sides, and all the inhabitants of Egypt went
forth, and also the king and princes went forth with timbrels and dances, for
it was a great rejoicing in Egypt, and a holiday at the time of the inundation
of the sea Sihor, and they went there to rejoice all the day.

And when the Egyptians went out to
the river to rejoice, as was their custom, all the people of the house of
Potiphar went with them, but Zelicah would not go with them, for she said, I am
indisposed, and she remained alone in the house, and no other person was with
her in the house.

And she rose up and ascended to her
temple in the house, and dressed herself in princely garments, and she placed
upon her head precious stones of onyx stones, inlaid with silver and gold, and
she beautified her face and skin with all sorts of women’s purifying liquids,
and she perfumed the temple and the house with cassia and frankincense, and she
spread myrrh and aloes, and she afterward sat in the entrance of the temple, in
the passage of the house, through which Joseph passed to do his work, and
behold Joseph came from the field, and entered the house to do his master’s

And he came to the place through
which he had to pass, and he saw all the work of Zelicah, and he turned back.

And Zelicah saw Joseph turning back
from her, and she called out to him, saying What aileth thee Joseph? come to
thy work, and behold I will make room for thee until thou shalt have passed to
thy seat.

And Joseph returned and came to the
house, and passed from thence to the place of his seat, and he sat down to do
his master’s work as usual and behold Zelicah came to him and stood before him
in princely garments, and the scent from her clothes was spread to a distance.

And she hastened and caught hold of
Joseph and his garments, and she said unto him, As the king liveth if thou wilt
not perform my request thou shalt die this day, and she hastened and stretched
forth her other hand and drew a sword from beneath her garments, and she placed
it upon Joseph’s neck, and she said, Rise and perform my request, and if not
thou diest this day.

And Joseph was afraid of her at her
doing this thing, and he rose up to flee from her, and she seized the front of
his garments, and in the terror of his flight the garment which Zelicah seized
was torn, and Joseph left the garment in the hand of Zelicah, and he fled and
got out, for he was in fear.

And when Zelicah saw that Joseph’s
garment was torn, and that he had left it in her hand, and had fled, she was
afraid of her life, lest the report should spread concerning her, and she rose
up and acted with cunning, and put off the garments in which she was dressed,
and she put on her other garments.

And she took Joseph’s garment, and
she laid it beside her, and she went and seated herself in the place where she
had sat in her illness, before the people of her house had gone out to the
river, and she called a young lad who was then in the house, and she ordered
him to call the people of the house to her.

And when she saw them she said unto
them with a loud voice and lamentation, See what a Hebrew your master has
brought to me in the house, for he came this day to lie with me.

For when you had gone out he came to
the house, and seeing that there was no person in the house, he came unto me,
and caught hold of me, with intent to lie with me.

And I seized his garments and tore
them and called out against him with a loud voice, and when I had lifted up my
voice he was afraid of his life and left his garment before me, and fled.

And the people of her house spoke
nothing, but their wrath was very much kindled against Joseph, and they went to
his master and told him the words of his wile.

And Potiphar came home enraged, and
his wife cried out to him, saying, What is this thing that thou hast done unto
me in bringing a He. brew servant into my house, for he came unto me this day
to sport with me; thus did he do unto me this day.

And Potiphar heard the words of his
wife, and he ordered Joseph to be punished with severe stripes, and they did so
to him.

And whilst they were smiting him,
Joseph called out with a loud voice, and he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and
he said, O Lord God, thou knowest that I am innocent of all these things, and
why shall I die this day through falsehood, by the hand of these uncircumcised
wicked men, whom thou knowest?

And whilst Potiphar’s men were
beating Joseph, he continued to cry out and weep, and there was a child there
eleven months old, and the Lord opened the mouth of the child, and he spake
these words before Potiphar’s men, who were smiting Joseph, saying,

What do you want of this man, and why
do you do this evil unto him? my mother speaketh falsely and uttereth lies;
thus was the transaction.

And the child told them accurately
all that happened, and all the words of Zelicah to Joseph day after day did he
declare unto them.

And all the men heard the words of
the child and they wondered greatly at the child’s words, and the child ceased
to speak and became still.

And Potiphar was very much ashamed at
the words of his son, and he commanded his men not to beat Joseph any more, and
the men ceased beating Joseph.

And Potiphar took Joseph and ordered
him to be brought to justice before the priests, who were judges belonging to
the king, in order to judge him concerning this affair.

And Potiphar and Joseph came before
the priests who were the king’s judges, and he said unto them, Decide I pray
you, what judgment is due to a servant, for thus has he done.

And the priests said unto Joseph, Why
didst thou do this thing to thy master? and Joseph answered them, saying, Not
so my lords, thus was the matter; and Potiphar said unto Joseph, Surely I
entrusted in thy hands all that belonged to me, and I withheld nothing from
thee but my wife, and how couldst thou do this evil?

And Joseph answered saying, Not so my
lord, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, my lord, the word which thou
didst hear from thy wife is untrue, for thus was the affair this day.

A year has elapsed to me since I have
been in thy house; hast thou seen any iniquity in me, or any thing which might
cause thee to demand my life?

And the priests said unto Potiphar,
Send, we pray thee, and let them bring before us Joseph’s torn garment, and let
us see the tear in it, and if it shall be that the tear is in front of the
garment, then his face must have been opposite to her and she must have caught
hold of him, to come to her, and with deceit did thy wife do all that she has

And they brought Joseph’s garment
before the priests who were judges, and they saw and behold the tear was in
front of Joseph, and all the judging priests knew that she had pressed him, and
they said, The judgment of death is not due to this slave for he has done
nothing, but his judgment is, that he be placed in the prison house on account
of the report, which through him has gone forth against thy wife.

And Potiphar heard their words, and
he placed him in the prison house, the place where the king’s prisoners are
confined, and Joseph was in the house of confinement twelve years.

And notwithstanding this, his
master’s wife did not turn from him, and she did not cease from speaking to him
day after day to hearken to her, and at the end of three months Zelicah
continued going to Joseph to the house of confinement day by day, and she
enticed him to hearken to her, and Zelicah said unto Joseph, How long wilt thou
remain in this house? but hearken now to my voice, and I will bring thee out of
this house.

And Joseph answered her, saying, It
is better for me to remain in this house than to hearken to thy words, to sin
against God; and she said unto him, If thou wilt not perform my wish, I will
pluck out thine eyes, add fetters to thy feet, and will deliver thee into the
hands of them whom thou didst not know before.

And Joseph answered her and said,
Behold the God of the whole earth is able to deliver me from all that thou canst
do unto me, for he openeth the eyes of the blind, and looseth those that are
bound, and preserveth all strangers who are unacquainted with the land.

And when Zelicah was unable to persuade
Joseph to hearken to her, she left off going to entice him; and Joseph was
still confined in the house of confinement. And Jacob the father of Joseph, and
all his brethren who were in the land of Canaan still mourned and wept in those
days on account of Joseph, for Jacob refused to be comforted for his son
Joseph, and Jacob cried aloud, and wept and mourned all those days.

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