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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

12. Joseph (1 – 20)

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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