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Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

12. Joseph (58 – 82)

58Joseph's brothers came and presented themselves before him. He recognized them—though they did not recognize him—59and once he had given them their provisions, he said, ‘Bring me the brother [you left with] your father!a Or a paternal half-brother (Benjamin). Have you not seen me giving generous measure and being the best of hosts? 60You will have no more corn from me if you do not bring him to me, and you will not be permitted to approach me.’ 61They said, ‘We shall do all we can to persuade his father to send him with us, indeed we shall.’ 62Joseph said to his servants, ‘Put their [traded] goods back into their saddlebags, so that they may recognize them when they go back to their family, and [be eager to] return.’

63When they returned to their father, they said, ‘Father, we have been denied any more corn, but send our brother back with us and we shall be given another measure. We shall guard him carefully.’ 64He said, ‘Am I to entrust him to you as I did his brother before? God is the best guardian and the Most Merciful of the merciful.’ 65Then, when they opened their packs, they discovered that their goods had been returned to them and they said, ‘Father! We need no more [goods to barter]:b This understanding of the phrase ma nabghi is supported by Razi. look, our goods have been returned to us. We shall get corn for our household; we shall keep our brother safe; we shall be entitled to another camel-load of grain—an extra measure so easily achieved!’ 66He said, ‘I will never send him with you, not unless you swear by God that you will bring him back to me if that is humanly possible.’c Literally ‘unless you are totally surrounded’. Razi suggests by death or the enemy. Then, when they had given him their pledge, he said, ‘Our words are entrusted to God.’ 67He said, ‘My sons, do not enter all by one gate—use different gates. But I cannot help you against the will of God: all power is in God's hands. I trust in Him; let everyone put their trust in Him,’ 68and, when they entered as their father had told them, it did not help them against the will of God, it merely satisfied a wish of Jacob's. He knew well what We had taught him, though most people do not.

69Then, when they presented themselves before Joseph, he drew his brother aparta Literally ‘accommodated him’ or ‘took him as a guest’. Some interpret this as suggesting that the brothers were offered lodgings in pairs and Benjamin, as the odd one out, was given lodging with Joseph; another suggestion is that the two full brothers dined together: either way the sense is that Joseph drew Benjamin apart from the others. and said, ‘I am your brother, so do not be saddened by their past actions,’ 70and, once he had given them their provisions, he placed the drinking-cup in his brother's pack. A man called out, ‘People of the caravan! You are thieves!’ 71and they turned and said, ‘What have you lost?’ 72They replied, ‘The king's drinking-cup is missing,’ and, ‘Whoever returns it will get a camel-load [of grain],’ and, ‘I give you my word.’ 73They said, ‘By God! You must know that we did not come to make mischief in your land: we are no thieves.’ 74They asked them, ‘And if we find that you are lying, what penalty shall we apply to you?’ 75and they answered, ‘The penalty will be [the enslavement of] the person in whose bag the cup is found: this is how we punish wrongdoers.’ 76[Joseph] began by searching their bags, then his brother's, and he pulled it out from his brother's bag.

77[His brothers] said, ‘If he is a thief then his brother was a thief before him,’ but Joseph kept his secrets and did not reveal anything to them. He said, ‘You are in a far worse situation. God knows best the truth of what you claim.’ 78They said, ‘Mighty governor, he has an elderly father. Take one of us in his place. We can see that you are a very good man.’ 79He replied, ‘God forbid that we should take anyone other than the person on whom we found our property: that would be unjust of us.’ 80When they lost hope of [persuading] him, they withdrew to confer with each other: the eldest of them said, ‘Do you not remember that your father took a solemn pledge from you in the name of God and before that you failed in your duty with regard to Joseph? I will not leave this land until my father gives me leave or God decides for me—He is the best decider—81so go back to your father and say, “Your son stole. We can only tell you what we saw. How could we guard against the unforeseen? 82Ask in the town where we have been; ask the people of the caravan we travelled with: we are telling the truth.” ’

Notes:

a Or a paternal half-brother (Benjamin).

b This understanding of the phrase ma nabghi is supported by Razi.

c Literally ‘unless you are totally surrounded’. Razi suggests by death or the enemy.

a Literally ‘accommodated him’ or ‘took him as a guest’. Some interpret this as suggesting that the brothers were offered lodgings in pairs and Benjamin, as the odd one out, was given lodging with Joseph; another suggestion is that the two full brothers dined together: either way the sense is that Joseph drew Benjamin apart from the others.

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