Saturday, 7 April 2007

The Story of Joseph

Hold your hats, everyone, because this is Antonia's first recorded narration, the story of Joseph. I must say that of all the little experiments we have done with homeschool methods, this is the one that has impressed me the most.

If you happened on this page looking for the biblical story of Joseph, what you will find below is a very young child's retelling of the story, so it differs from the orthodox version in a few small respects. For example, she clearly didn't understand all the agricultural references and made substitutions of her own. The technique of narration doesn't call for me to correct that, but to note the gap, and look for opportunities to fill it. You can find out more about using narration in homeschools here. The 'original' for this narration is here, The Wonder Book of Bible Stories.

I was very interested in Antonia's reconstruction of all the conversational passages, which follow the storyline accurately, but are otherwise mostly entirely reinvented. She can obviously keep track of what a large number of characters do and don't know, and how information gets transferred from one to the other (see Pharoah explaining to Joseph why he is no longer in prison). On the other hand, these transactions between her characters seem to need to be guaranteed with large amounts of conversation. I also still think her understanding of cause and effect is a little shaky. I get the impression that if I asked, for example, why the brothers killed a sheep in the first part of the story, she wouldn't be able to answer, or at the very least, I would have to nudge her into making all the connections.

The story of Joseph, by Antonia

Joseph and the wonderful coat.

Once there was a boy called Joseph. Joseph's brothers hated him so much because he told them, "we were getting some bread, and my bit of bread stood up, and yours bent down to me". And then another time, he told them, "the sun, and the moon and eleven stars were all bowing down me", and his father told him to stop doing such dreams. But he thought anyway that he liked Joseph. Joseph's brothers were on a mountain, and his father told him to go and look for them. So he did. But when he came to where he thought they were, they were gone, so he asked an old man if he knew where his brothers went. The old man said they were not there, but at another place, which he told him about. So Joseph went there, and his brothers saw him coming towards them, so they let him come up, Then one of them had an idea to make him dead, but the other said, "no, lets not". Then, the brothers put Joseph into a deep, deep hole and he was struggling and wriggling. And then one brother saw some men going to Egypt and said, "let's sell him to those men". The men gave the brothers some gold and then took Joseph away with them. Then the brothers killed one of the sheep and said to the father, "isn't this your sons coat?". And the father said, "Yes, my son has been eaten by a wild animal", and then he cried for a very, very, very long time.

The dreams of a king

When they sold him, the merchants took him with them, and then they took him to Egypt. When they got to Egypt somebody became in love with Joseph. He was sent out to prison because he didn't marry the one that was in love with him. In prison, he met two men and they were looking awfully sad, and he said, "what's wrong?" And they said, "we had some dreams this night, and nobody has been able to explain them to us". "Maybe I can tell them", said Joseph, so he did, and he told one man something that was great, and one something that was bad. He told them that one would be put in his job again giving wine to the king, and one would be hung up for the birds to eat. It was true. The king also had a dream that night, actually two dreams, and then he told them to all the men. But, one of them remembered a man that told him what his dreams were. So he told the King, "I think I know somebody that will tell your dreams, that told us what our dreams meant". Then the king told some people to unlock Joseph. They unlocked him and then the King said, "do you know what my dreams can tell me? Because somebody had told me that you had the power to know what dreams mean". "That's not me that guesses, that's God", said Joseph. In one dream he had some cows and some other cows, and the other cows got out of the lake and ate the fat cows, and then he told him his other dream. There was seven fat faces and seven thin faces and the thin faces ate the fat faces and that's how it was. They mean the same thing, there's seven good years, and seven poor years. Seven good years they'll have to pick some things to eat, and in the seven bad years they'll have to eat that food. And then the King said, "I'll make you ruler of Egypt, but I'll be the one that's above you".

The story of the money in the sacks

Joseph became ruler of Egypt and he got on with his job, he went around Egypt and told people to give grains to him for the King. So then Joseph got married to a person and then there were the good days, and then the bad days. When his brothers came for food, there weren't any horses, so they rode on something else, and when they got to Egypt they didn't recognise Joseph. And then Joseph talked like he was a stranger. He said, "no, you're spies". But the ten brothers said, "no, we came here to buy some food". "Where do you come from?" "The land of Canaan", they said. "How old is your father?", Joseph said. "Our father is old". And Joseph said again, "do you have another brother"? And they said, "yes but he's lost, and there is one little one at home". "I'll put you all in prison, but one of you, and the one of you will have to get the brother, then I'll believe you".

When he heard that they were very sorry for putting him in the hole, he spoke in the same voice and said, "I will let you all go back, but one of you. And you can get yourselves something to eat, but I won't let one of you go". Then when they were going back to Joseph's father, one of them opened his bag and saw the money right on the top of the grain. Then they told all that happened to Joseph's father, and that they dared never go back to the ruler of Egypt again, but to go and get the one who stayed in prison. When they told Jacob all about it, they said, "we need Benjamin". "You're not going to have Benjamin are you?", said Joseph's father. "But we need him. The ruler of Egypt says we can't go without him. You can kill these two brothers if you give us Benjamin". But Jacob said no.

The mystery of the lost brother.

Well, then Jacob said, "if you have to, you have to, take Benjamin with you and give some spicy sauce and perfume to the ruler of Egypt". The ten brothers said, "we promise we'll take great care of Benjamin". So then they went to Egypt again, and then bowed respectfully like before and then he took them into his house and the ten brothers thought: they're doing this because they think we stole the money. But he treated them kindly and then his servants washed their feet. Next morning, he opened the door to come and see them, and they bowed the same way respectfully with their eyes on the ground. Joseph had some tears and he wiped them off in his bedroom, then he washed his face, and then he told his men to set the table and they gave them some seats and especially a good seat for Benjamin, so they ate. Then Joseph told his men to put his silver cup inside Benjamin's sack and the money. And when they were gone he told them, "follow those men, they have stolen my golden cup that I drink in". And the servant did, and he told them, "why have you stolen the golden cup of the ruler of Egypt". "We didnt' steal anything", they said, "just look in our bags, you can kill one of us that stole it". He looked in every bag, but when he looked in Benjamin's, there was the cup. So they came back to Joseph's palace. Joseph said crossly, "why did you get my cup?". "We're quite sorry". He said, "I'll take one of you for a servant, the one that got my cup". "But my father needs Benjamin". "So then, who stole the cup", Joseph said. "Benjamin did". "So then your father can't see him". "But if not he'll die of sadness. If one of us can bring Benjamin back, one of us will stay to be the slave".

Joseph thought that they wanted to be much nicer. He said, "I am Joseph, the one that you put in the hole", and after he said those words, they were frightened. And then Joseph said in a much nicer voice, "go get my father, so that we can live in Egypt". So they went home much happier than ever and they got some little wagons so that his brothers and little ones could go to Egypt. Jacob and all his family went to Egypt and lived happily ever after.

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