Joseph is one of my most favorite stories in the Bible so I look forward to reading it with new eyes. It starts off with “Joseph, who was 17, has a dream.”
Joseph was Jacob (Israel’s) favorite son because “he made him a robe of many colors.” I never caught that Jacob also had a robe of many colors. In some early translations, the robe could jut be one with long sleeves and not of many colors. How different would that play have looked if it was just long sleeves?
Joseph had arguments with his brothers all the time and they “could not speak peacefully to him.” After sharing the dream he had of being exalted, Joseph’s brothers hated him even more (37:5), as I probably would have too.
Joseph had a dream that his brothers (and family) were going to bow down to him. It is funny that Joseph is able to interpret dreams as a way to gain some freedom and he doesn’t realize how his family would react to the dream he initially has. Verse 11 points out that “his brothers were jealous of him” but it is important to me that “his father kept the saying in mind.” Jacob held onto this nugget of truth.
Jacob then sent Joseph to help his brothers pasture the flock but they weren’t where he told them they would be (37:12-17). A man had to point the way to them in Dothan. In 37:18, the Bible says that his brothers “conspired against him to kill him.” Reuben is the one who actually spared his life and told the brothers to throw Joseph into a pit – so that he could later come and save them.
So they threw him into a pit with no water. Then they set out to eat lunch. Nothing brings out an appetite like betraying your brother, I guess. They felt no remorse so they just went on with their lives. While eating, they “saw a caravan of Ishmaelites [Esau’s descendants] coming from Gilead…on their way to…Egypt” (37:24-25).
His brother Judah was the one who suggested that they sell him as a slave (37:26-28). But it is interesting to read that Reuben wasn’t with his brothers when they sold Joseph into slavery. Reuben tore his clothes when he found out, which is a sign of intense agony. Jacob did the same in v. 34. When Jacob found out, he mourned for days over the fact, to him, that Joseph was eaten by a fierce animal. But the Bible, in v. 36, says that Joseph was sold to Potiphar, an officer of Pharoah, the captain of the garden.
Joseph’s story is one of great tragedy but also a story of one rising from the ashes that life may throw his way. We are all still a work in progress and God is not finished with us so go forth and live in the divine blessing that God wants to give His children.
But let’s trust in His Son for life and hold onto him as the source of that life that brings ultimate joy and fulfillment.