The dreams of Joseph is a known episode from the bible (Genesis 37 9): "Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”" (The quote is from NKJV but you can see many other translations here")
An interesting question, from an astronomer point of view is just which eleven stars Joseph saw in his dream (If you are a soccer/football fan you can probably think of your favorite team). I didn't find much reference or an answer so I will suggest my own interpretation to the text.
The first thought is that Joseph saw the planets but at that time in the ancient world only 5 planets (beside the sun and moon) were known which left us with six unidentified stars. Another option is to choose the brightest stars in the sky (Seen from latitude 32 North), However what is the meaning of a bowing star, and the brightest stars are not seen at the same time or even at the same season, and it seems just to be random stars.
Lets consider the action of "bowing". Bowing is a gesture in which one falls down and then rise up again, and this reminds me a setting or rising star. A setting star performs the bowing and the rising star gets up from that same bowing.
So I suggest that Joseph saw 11 stars setting or rising, together with the sun and the moon. The number 12 is a famous one. There are 12 months in the calendar and there are the twelve tribes (Sons of Jacob) and there are the 12 constellations which represent the different months. Let us assume that each star is actually the brightest star in one of the Zodiac's constellation (or the complete constellation) so Joseph saw all 11 constellations. This is possible every night if you observe from sunset to sunrise.
Joseph's dream spanned over an entire night. Immediately after sunset Joseph saw the little moon crescent sets as well and than saw some constellations set and some rise. The old Jewish scholars also paired between each tribe and a month/constellation so which constellation Joseph didn't see? His own constellation of course which is either Aquarius or Pisces (according to different Jewish traditions).
Notice that the moon sets immediately after the Sun (and before the stars) so the time was a new Lunar month which is the beginning of a new month in the Hebrew calendar. Taking that information a leap forward and calculating the age of Joseph (17 at that time) from the creation we find that the dream happened in the beginning of the 11 or 12 Lunar month of year 2216 from Adam which in converting to our Gregorian calendar will be circa January or February 1544 BC (The conversion formulas are not accurate to give a specific day)
|Joseph dream - Unknown artist from Henry Davenport Northrop book 1894|
For some reason this well known picture of Vincent Van -Goch "Starry Night" reminds me of Joseph dream.
|Starry night - Van Goch 1889 - (MOMA New-York)|
A huge moon and 11 stars and maybe the tree seems a bit like a bonfire which resemble the sun...
The painting gave inspiration to Don McLean with his version of "Starry Night" in the song "Vincent"