La Bible de Prague/Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

A smiling sun and moon and 11 stars bow to Joseph, and his 11 brothers’ sheaves of wheat bend before his, in Joseph’s dreams, recorded in Genesis 37 and illuminated on this page from the medieval Wenzelbibel of Prague. His jealous brothers understood that Joseph—the second youngest and spoiled favorite of their father, Jacob—was dreaming of his supremacy over them. In their hatred, they tried to thwart what they considered as vainglorious dreams by selling him into slavery in Egypt. But the imagery in Joseph’s dreams is not as simple as they imagined. Does Joseph’s upright sheaf of wheat—suggestive of the olah, a sacrifice that was offered “up”—foreshadow the actions of Joseph’s brothers, who indirectly sacrifice Joseph when they sell him into slavery? Or do the sheaves represent the grain Joseph will store up in anticipation of a famine?