Giuseppe l’Ebreo

Giuseppe L'Ebreo

‘Do you know the story of Giuseppe l'Ebreo?'

‘Not by that name. Tell it me, and I'll tell you if I've heard it before.'

‘There was once a moglie e marito  who had seven sons.'

‘Oh, do you mean the Machabees?'

‘No. I don't think they were called Machabees—I don't know. But the youngest of the seven was called Joseph, and he was his father's Benjamin, and that made the others jealous of him. They used to go out in the Campagna together to feed the flocks, for in those days all were shepherds; and when the others had Joseph out there all alone they said, “Let us kill him;” and they were going to kill him; but one said, “No, we must not kill him: we will put him down a well;” and so they did.

‘The next day it happened that a great king went by hunting, and as his dogs passed the well where Joseph was they scented human blood and made a great barking, and the king said, “See what the dogs have found.” So they took the stone from the mouth of the well and let a cord down, and behold a beautiful boy came up—for Joseph was a beautiful boy—and he pleased the king, and he took him home and kept him as a precious jewel, he was so fair. So handsome was he, that the Queen fell in love with him; and when he wouldn't listen to her she accused him of having insulted her, and had him put into prison.

‘After that the King had a strange dream: he saw three lean cows and three fat cows; and he saw the three lean cows eat up the three fat cows; and he sent for all the theologians  in the country, and none of them could tell what the dream meant; but Joseph said, “I can tell what the dream means.”... The rest as in the Bible.'

[Dr. Dasent gives one Norse story of a stepmother, with a stepson and daughter, which begins like the one of which I have given an abstract, but runs off into quite different incidents.]