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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 Koran Interpreted Translation by A.J. Arberry

12 JOSEPH (1 – 22)

The Qurʾan Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

12. Joseph (1 – 20)

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Alif Lam Ra

Those are the signs of the Manifest Book. We have sent it down as an Arabic Koran; haply you will understand.

We will relate to thee the fairest of stories in that We have revealed to thee this Koran, though before it thou wast one of the heedless.

When Joseph said to his father, ‘Father, I saw eleven stars, and the sun and the moon; I saw them bowing down before me.’ 5He said, ‘O my son, relate not thy vision to thy brothers, lest they devise against thee some guile. Surely Satan is to man a manifest enemy. So will thy Lord choose thee, and teach thee the interpretation of tales, and perfect His blessing upon thee and upon the House of Jacob, as He perfected it formerly on thy fathers Abraham and Isaac; surely thy Lord is All-knowing, All-wise.’ (In Joseph and his brethren were signs for those who ask questions.) When they said, ‘Surely Joseph and his brother are dearer to our father than we, though we are a band. Surely our father is in manifest error. Kill you Joseph, or cast him forth into some land, that your father's face may be free for you, and thereafter you may be a righteous people.’ 10One of them said, ‘No, kill not Joseph, but cast him into the bottom of the pit and some traveller will pick him out, if you do aught.’ They said, ‘Father, what ails thee, that thou trustest us not with Joseph? Surely we are his sincere well-wishers. Send him forth with us tomorrow, to frolic and play; surely we shall be watching over him.’ He said, ‘It grieves me that you should go with him, and I fear the wolf may eat him, while you are heedless of him.’ They said, ‘If the wolf eats him, and we a band, then are we losers!’ 15So when they went with him, and agreed to put him in the bottom of the well, and We revealed to him, ‘Thou shalt tell them of this their doing when they are unaware.’ And they came to their father in the evening, and they were weeping. They said, ‘Father, we went running races, and left Joseph behind with our things; so the wolf ate him. But thou wouldst never believe us, though we spoke truly.’ And they brought his shirt with false blood on it. He said, ‘No; but your spirits tempted you to do somewhat. But come, sweet patience! And God's succour is ever there to seek against that you describe.’ Then came travellers, and they sent one of them, a water-drawer, who let down his bucket. ‘Good news!’ he said. ‘Here is a young man.’ So they hid him as merchandise; but God knew what they were doing. 20Then they sold him for a paltry price, a handful of counted dirhams; for they set small store by him. He that bought him, being of Egypt, said to his wife, ‘Give him goodly lodging, and it may be that he will profit us, or we may take him for our own son.’ So We established Joseph in the land, and that We might teach him the interpretation of tales. God prevails in His purpose, but most men know not. And when he was fully grown, We gave him judgment and knowledge. Even so We recompense the good-doers.

A Meccan sura dealing primarily with the story of Joseph, but framed by a three-verse introduction about the Qurʾan and a ten-verse epilogue about the Meccans’ response, the punishment met by earlier disbelievers, and encouragement for the Prophet.

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

1Alif Lam Ra

These are the verses of the Scripture that makes things clear—2We have sent it down as an Arabic Qurʾan so that you [people] may understand.

3We tell you [Prophet] the best of stories in revealing this Qurʾan to you.a Many translators add ‘though’ (‘. . . to you, though before this . . .’), thinking that in is conditional, when in fact it is for emphasis here, as confirmed by the emphatic lam following it. Before thisb Cf. 11: 49 and 42: 52. you were one of those who knew nothing about them. 4Joseph said to his father, ‘Father, I dreamed of eleven stars and the sun and the moon: I saw them all bow down before me,’ 5and he replied, ‘My son, tell your brothers nothing of this dream, or they may plot to harm you—Satan is man's sworn enemy. 6This is about how your Lord will choose you, teach you to interpret dreams, and perfect His blessing on you and the House of Jacob, just as He perfected it earlier on your forefathers Abraham and Isaac: your Lord is all knowing and wise.’

7There are lessons in the story of Joseph and his brothers for all who seek them. 8The brothers said [to each other], ‘Although we are many, Joseph and his brother are dearer to our father than we are— our father is clearly in the wrong.’ 9[One of them said], ‘Kill Joseph or banish him to another land, and your father's attention will be free to turn to you. After that you can be righteous.’ 10[Another of them] said, ‘Do not kill Joseph, but, if you must, throw him into the hidden depths of a well where some caravan may pick him up.’

11They said to their father, ‘Why do you not trust us with Joseph? We wish him well. 12Send him with us tomorrow and he will enjoy himself and play—we will take good care of him.’ 13He replied, ‘The thought of you taking him away with you worries me: I am afraid a wolf may eat him when you are not paying attention.’ 14They said, ‘If a wolf were to eat him when there are so many of us, we would truly be losers!’

15Then they took him away with them, resolved upon throwing him into the hidden depths of a well—We inspired him, saying, ‘You will tell them of all this [at a time] when they do not realize [who you are]!’—16and at nightfall they returned to their father weeping. 17They said, ‘We went off racing one another, leaving Joseph behind with our things, and a wolf ate him. You will not believe us, though we are telling the truth!’ 18and they showed him his shirt, deceptively stained with blood. He cried, ‘No! Your souls have prompted you to do wrong! But it is best to be patient: from God alone I seek help to bear what you are saying.’

19Some travellers came by. They sent someone to draw water and he let down his bucket. ‘Good news!’ he exclaimed. ‘Here is a boy!’ They hid him like a piece of merchandise—God was well aware of what they did—20and then sold him for a small price, for a few pieces of silver: so little did they value him.

Notes:

a Many translators add ‘though’ (‘. . . to you, though before this . . .’), thinking that in is conditional, when in fact it is for emphasis here, as confirmed by the emphatic lam following it.

b Cf. 11: 49 and 42: 52.

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