Joseph Telling His Dreams

Joseph Telling His Dreams
Circa 1638
11.4x 8.3 cm
A good impression of the third (final) state
Hind, Arthur M., A Catalogue of Rembrandt’s Etchings Chronologically Arranged and Completely Illustrated, Methuen and Co., Ltd., London 1923, no.160 F.W.H. Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings, and Woodcuts, ca. 1450-1700, M. Hertzberger, Amsterdam 1949, no.37 G. Bioerklund & O. Barnard, Rembrandt’s Etchings, True and False, Stockholm, New York, 1955, 38-E Adam von Bartsch, The Illustrated Bartsch, New York 1978-, no. 37

In the biblical story from the Book of Genesis, Joseph, the 11th and favourite son of Jacob and Rachel, recounts his dreams to his parents and siblings.
In this print Rembrandt depicts the teenage Joseph at his mother’s bedside with his father, some of his brothers and one sister gathered around him.
In the first dream, Joseph and his brothers are binding sheaves of grain, when suddenly his brothers’ sheaves bow down to Joseph’s. In a second dream, the sun (representing Jacob), the moon (representing his mother, Rachel), and 11 stars (representing Joseph’s brothers) bow down to Joseph.
While his father Jacob silently feels that these dreams might be a sign of things to come, his brothers react with jealousy. They imprison Joseph in a dry well and later sell him into slavery in Egypt, where he eventually becomes a high-ranking official to the pharaoh, thus fulfilling his prophecy.