As Pharaoh the King had expressly decreed, preparations were speedily made to leave for ever the Vale of Hebron—now parched dry as bone with the long drought—in which they had dwelt peacefully so many years. They gathered together all that remained of their flocks and herds, and loaded their beasts of burden with their tents, their clothes and all the goods they had gotten in the land of Canaan.

On the day appointed, before even break of dawn, their little ones were up and ready; wild with delight and expectation. They mounted up into the Egyptian wagons—and the mothers with their babies. They marvelled at the horses of Pharaoh with their caparisons of gilded leather. The sun rose; the dew-mists thinned away. The cry of the drivers sounded, and the crack of whip. The horses strained at their traces. With the bright clothes of the children in the wagons, and their smiling faces, it was as though great heaps of nodding flowers were in motion, as in the first of morning the happy multitude began to set forward. The fresh windless air rang with their talk and laughter, with the bleating of sheep, the lowing of cattle and their sheep-dogs’ barking; and a great dust rose into the sky, beaten up by hoof and wheel, and gently descended again after they had gone by.

And so they came to Beersheba, the southernmost city of Canaan, which few among them were to see again. There they pitched camp, and rested, and there Jacob offered sacrifices to the Lord and poured out his heart in thankfulness for his great mercy. It was the place where he was born.

That night as he lay asleep there came to him a vision; and in dream he heard a voice calling him: ‘Jacob! Jacob!’ And he knew in his dream that it was the voice of God.

He answered: ‘Lord, here am I.’

And the voice said:

‘I am thy God and the God of thy fathers, and I will never forsake thee whithersoever thou goest. Fear not to go down into Egypt. There I will make of thee and of thy sons a great nation. And thy children’s children shall return and possess this Canaan that thou lovest. Here thou thyself shalt find thy last resting- place, and thy son Joseph shall lay his hand upon thine eyes and give thee peace in thy long sleep.’

And Jacob awoke from his dream, and was comforted.

The next day Judah was sent on ahead of the cavalcade to inquire of Joseph where they should pitch their tents when, their journey over, they had come down by the sea coast into Egypt. And, as Pharaoh had ordained, they went up into the land of Goshen which lay a little northward, between the Lake of the Crocodiles and the great river. It was a region richer in good pasturage than any other in Egypt. As soon as word was brought of their safe arrival, Joseph made ready his chariot, and with his officers and his bodyguard, he rode out in state to welcome his father and to show him honour.

It was evening when he drew near. He alighted from his chariot and approached on foot, and presented himself to his father in the entering-in of his tent where he stood waiting to receive him. Jacob was now bent and feeble with age, but his face lit with rapture at sight of Joseph, as in the radiance of the declining sun, he bowed himself low before his father. Jacob put his arms about Joseph’s neck and embraced him. And he wept upon his shoulder, and there was a long silence between them. Then he tenderly drew back Joseph’s face and gazed into it in joy and love, and he said: ‘My son, my son! Life hath nothing more to give me; now let me die; for I have seen thy face again and know that thou art still in the land of the living.’

They talked together for many hours alone. Then Joseph bade his father farewell for a season, though they were soon to meet again, and he returned to his own house. He took with him five of his brothers, and presented them to Pharaoh, each of them by name. They bowed themselves and made obeisance, and Pharaoh conversed with them by means of an interpreter, questioning them concerning the condition of the country of Canaan from which they had come, and their lives and their occupations.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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