Context: Israel has many sons by his wives, Bilhah and Zilpah, but he loves best his son Joseph, because Joseph is the child of his old age. When the other sons see that their father loves Joseph the best, they hate the boy and speak evil of him. Joseph tells his brothers of dreams he has, and these dreams increase their hatred. He tells them that in one dream their sheaves of grain make obeisance to his sheaf and that in another dream "the sun and moon and the eleven stars" make obeisance to him. Later Israel's other sons take their father's flocks to graze in Shechem. While they are away, Israel sends Joseph to ascertain their well-being. Joseph finds they have left Shechem and wandered on with the flocks to Dothan, and he follows them there. When Joseph arrives in their midst, the brothers conspire against him. Lest Joseph be killed, Reuben suggests to the others that Joseph be stripped of the coat their father has given him and be placed in a pit, for Reuben hopes that he may rescue Joseph and return him to their father. But while Reuben is away, the other brothers follow Judah's suggestion to sell Joseph into slavery. To hide their deed they dip Joseph's coat in a kid's blood and send it to Israel, who then believes that a wild beast has killed the boy:
And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him:
And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
. . .
And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood;
And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father. . . .
And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.