Joseph and His Brothers
by Rosemarie Adcock
"Joseph and His Brothers" received the 3rd place award at the Professional Artist Exhibition of the 2018 Illinois State Fair.
This painting by Rosemarie Adcock depicts the very moment Joseph revealed himself to his brothers who had sold him into slavery. As a boy, Joseph was favored by his father Jacob in such a way that his brothers hated him. When he had dreams that his parents and brothers would all bow down to him someday, the brothers had enough. Given an opportunity, they threw Joseph into a pit and sold him to slave traders who were on their way to Egypt. The brothers then took Joseph’s torn robe to their father to convince him Joseph was killed by a wild animal.
Years passed, and Pharaoh, king of Egypt, had 2 identical dreams, that only Joseph was able to interpret. The first dream involved ears of corn both healthy and withered; the second dream involved cows, one healthy, one starving and ugly. Joseph interpreted both dreams, saying that God was warning 7 years of great abundance would come to Egypt, followed by 7 years of the worst famine they ever knew, and instructed Pharaoh how to prepare. Pharaoh, seeing that God had blessed Joseph with great wisdom, appointed him as the ruler second in power, in order that the people might survive the great famine.
As the famine spread, Joseph’s brothers eventually travelled to Egypt for food so they wouldn’t starve. Immediately, Joseph recognized them, and tried to keep his young brother Benjamin in Egypt by accusing him of stealing a valuable cup. The despondent brothers begged Joseph to release Benjamin, but at this point Joseph couldn’t bear to hide his identity any longer, and revealed who he was to his shocked and terrified brothers.
He said to them, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good," because he believed in the sovereignty of God over all the affairs of mankind.
A few secret finds: If you look closely at the eye of the cow, you can see the artist's reflection when the cow's picture was photographed. (Many thanks to Jack Stevens for making his farm available!)
Every figure in the painting has emblems identifying each person according to the prophecy their father Jacob spoke over each of the 12 sons just before he died:
Reuben, uncontrolled like water
Simeon and Levi, with swords of violence
Judah, called a lion
Zebulun, a haven for ships
Issachar, a strong donkey.
Dan, a horned snake that bites a horse, so the rider falls backward
Gad, who raids at the heels of raiders
Asher, whose food shall be rich, portrayed here with jewels like grapes
Naphtali, like a doe let loose
Joseph, who was harassed and bitterly attacked by archers
And finally, Benjamin, the youngest, a ravenous wolf, shown with the cup.
The entire family eventually traveled to Egypt where they stayed until the great Exodus under Moses.