Joseph is the youngest of Jacob’s eleven sons and the favorite child of his father’s as his mother, Rachel, was thought to be barren; thus inciting his brothers’ jealousy when Joseph grows conceited and arrogant when constantly pampered by his parents. When he receives a beautiful coat from his father, his brothers fear that he may become the clan’s leader upon their father’s death. One evening, Joseph dreams that the sheep his brothers are tending to are attacked by wolves. Later, a wolf pack attacks the flock and Joseph is nearly killed until Jacob saves him. Jacob becomes furious that Joseph was abandoned by his brothers, and amazed that Joseph’s dream came true. Judah, the eldest of the brothers and their leader, merely dismisses this. The next night, Joseph dreams that his brothers each carry sheaves of wheat that bow to Joseph’s gigantic sheaf, and that he is a brilliant star surrounded by ten smaller stars and the sun and the moon; and Jacob predicts that Joseph shall supersede his brothers. The latter retreat to a cave and determine to do away with Joseph. Joseph overhears this, and the brothers tear his cloak and hurl him into a pit until nightfall. When withdrawn, Joseph is sold to desert slave traders, and thence into Egypt, while his brothers tell their father that he was killed by wolves.
In Egypt, Joseph is made the servant of the Egyptian dignitary Potiphar, and gradually becomes his personal attendant after Joseph stops a shifty horse trader from cheating more money from Potiphar. Joseph befriends Asenath, the beautiful niece of Potiphar, and proves himself an asset to his master. Later, Potiphar’s wife Zuleika tries unsuccessfully to seduce Joseph; but tells Potiphar that Joseph attempted to rape her. Potiphar orders Joseph’s death; but when his wife intervenes, he realizes that Joseph is not guilty and therefore imprisons him instead. While imprisoned, Joseph interprets the dreams of the royal butler and baker who are also prisoners: that the butler will return to his position at the palace in three days, and the baker will be put to death. Joseph asks the butler to tell the Pharaoh about his talent and offer of help, to secure a release from prison. The butler promises to tell Pharaoh but forgets; but Asenath supplies food to Joseph regularly.
When the Pharaoh is haunted by dreams and is told by the butler that Joseph can interpret them, he sends Potiphar to retrieve Joseph, who interprets the pharaoh’s dreams as warnings of famine, and suggests that one-fifth of each year’s crops be kept for rationing. Impressed, the Pharaoh makes Joseph his minister, under the name ”Zaphnath-Paaneah”. In the following years, Joseph’s plan saves Egypt from starvation. Joseph marries Asenath and has two children with her. Eventually, his brothers arrive in Egypt to buy food, and do not recognize Joseph, who denies them their offers of purchase, accuses them of espionage, and has Simeon imprisoned. Questioned by Asenath, he reveals his past. The next day the brothers reappear with a young man named Benjamin, who is Joseph’s almost identical younger brother. Simeon is released and Joseph asks Benjamin about his family; to learn that his mother, Rachel, is dead, and his own death presumed. To exact revenge, Joseph invites the brothers to a feast and has his own golden chalice concealed in Benjamin’s bag while no one is looking; and upon its discovery, orders that Benjamin be enslaved. He is astonished when his older brothers offer themselves instead, as losing another son would surely kill their elderly father. Grief-stricken, Judah confesses having sold Joseph himself and it has haunted him and his brothers ever since. Touched by their honesty and genuine love for Benjamin, Joseph identifies himself to them, reconciles and invites them and their families to live with him at the palace. Shortly after, he is happily reunited with his father, and meets the wives and children of his brothers.