Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich

A humbling experience: Fearing for his life, Jacob, Joseph’s father, falls to the ground before his twin brother, Esau, after a 25-year separation. In this illustration from a medieval manuscript of the Jewish scholar Rashi’s Bible commentary, people’s faces were deliberately omitted, perhaps to comply with the second commandment. After offering Esau gifts of livestock, Jacob bows seven times before his brother, signifying his total submission, in an effort to atone for having stolen Esau’s birthright. Then Joseph and the rest of his family bow to Esau. Author Arnold Ages finds the key to Joseph’s dreams in this story. With his mother long dead and his brothers filled with hatred and jealousy, Joseph dreamed of what he wished would happen, that his family would bow before him, as they did before Esau, begging for his love and forgiveness.