Joseph the Dreamer
Tells part 1 of the story of Joseph, of his special coat, and explores feelings of jealousy.
by The Revd Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To tell the story of Joseph and his special coat, and to explore feelings of jealousy.
Preparation and materials
- If possible, wear some brightly coloured clothes and have some alternatives to hold against yourself.
- Children might display designs for a multicoloured coat, or make one for storytelling by fastening strips of brightly coloured material to a suitable garment.
- The assembly might begin and end with music from 'Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'.
- Refer to your clothes. Do the children like the colours? What other colours might suit you? Do they like the colour of their school uniform? What clothes do they like to wear?
- Introduce the story of Joseph, which is found in the Bible (starting at Genesis 37). The first part of the story tells of the famous coat or robe that Joseph wore. It was richly decorated - a multicoloured coat. What might it have looked like? Allow some designs to be shown and model the multicoloured coat, if one has been made. Retain the garment, or design, for the storytelling.
Note: If appropriate (particularly for older children) you might like to say that some scholars now think that the coat was in fact white. The important thing about it was that it marked Joseph out as special.
- Suggest that it might be fun to pretend that you are Joseph, wearing your special coat. Invite everyone to listen as Joseph tells his story. (An alternative to this story, suitable for the very young, can be found in the Lion Storytellers Bible.)
(Pause dreamily for a few moments, then appear startled at being in company.)
O, hello! I'm sorry. I was dreaming. People sometimes call me 'the Dreamer'. Actually, my name's Joseph. I'm Jacob's son. I've got eleven brothers. I'm the youngest but one. Dad sometimes used to call me his favourite. I never really liked that, but I did dream of having a new coat. When you've got lots of older brothers you get all the hand-me-downs. I was always given the worn-out clothes my big brothers had grown out of. So when Dad gave me a new coat I was so excited I jumped up and down and hugged him. It had long sleeves and bright colours, and was like a dream come true. I was so proud.
The problem was my big brothers. They'd always picked on me. And when I told them about my dreams it got worse. One night I dreamed that it was harvest-time and all twelve of us each had a bundle of wheat. My brothers' bundles of wheat all bowed down to mine! Another time, I dreamed that eleven stars, and the sun and moon, all bowed down to me. It was all so strange. I just had to tell someone. My brothers thought I was boasting. They really hated me, and even Dad told me off.
Then, one day, when we were all together, out of sight of home, one of my brothers suddenly shouted 'Get him!' They grabbed hold of me, and although I kicked and struggled and shouted for help, they tore off my lovely coat, and pushed me down a deep hole. I was terrified! I could hear them discussing what to do, and whether they would kill me. Then I heard the sound of strangers' voices and one of my brothers said: 'We needn't kill him. Let's sell him. We'll make some money. He'll be taken to be a slave in Egypt. So much for his foolish dreams!'
Do you know how much I was sold for? Just 20 pieces of silver. They dragged me out of the hole and I was made to walk all the way to Egypt! And what's more, my brothers kept my best coat. They smeared it with blood and told Dad that I was dead. He believed them! People may call me 'the Dreamer', but I never dreamt that my own brothers could be so cruel. It was more like a nightmare!
- Invite the children to reflect why Joseph's brothers' treated him unfairly. How do the children feel when they see that someone else has been bought expensive trainers or designer clothing? Explain that the word jealousy is used to describe such feelings of anger, frustration and greed. The story of Joseph warns us that jealousy can cause great unhappiness and divide families. We have to learn to control our jealousy. Whatever we wear, each one of us is special to God - as special as Joseph was to his father, Jacob.
- End by saying that you'll come back to the story of Joseph another time, and then they'll find out what happens next.
Time for reflection
Ask everyone to think of their favourite clothes.
Thank you for our favourite clothes.
Thank you for the story of Joseph and his coat.
Help us not to be jealous but to treat one another with kindness and respect.
'Who put the colours in the rainbow?' (Come and Praise, 12)