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Genesis 37:2b11, 1720, 28 comment (0)

April 3, 2008

By Jay T. Robertson

Related Scripture: Genesis 37:2b11, 1720, 28

Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Genesis 37:2b–11, 17–20, 28

The Joseph story records the gestation of the nation of Israel as it chronicles the migration of Jacob’s small clan to Egypt, where it would grow to full term in the womb of the Nile. Four hundred years later, Israel would burst forth from Egypt, fulfilling God’s promise to Abram (Gen. 15:13–14). The story of Joseph encourages us, as we see the providence of God working through the everyday events of life. As the story begins, God providentially brings about Joseph’s rejection so that Joseph himself might be ultimately used to save his people from death. 

Seek to Do Right (2b–4)
Joseph brought his father an evil report about four of his brothers. The word “report” is used in the rest of Scripture to refer to an untrue report. His report was basically true, but not perfectly. The teenaged Joseph was a tattler. Joseph’s action greatly angered the four brothers. And when the rest of the older brothers heard what baby brother had done, they began to smolder with resentment.

Jacob loved Joseph more than his other sons. This was nothing new. Isaac loved Esau more than Jacob, and Rebekah loved Jacob more than Esau. Jacob loved Rachel and her children more than Leah and her children. Favoritism had become a generational sin in the family. Jacob should have known better. The lifelong hurt inflicted by his own father’s favoritism should have prompted him to avoid favoritism among his own children.

To prove his love for Joseph, he gave him a robe of many colors. This robe probably set Joseph apart as the one who would receive the double portion of the inheritance. Joseph was the first son of Rachel, whom Jacob had chosen to marry before Laban deceived him. Joseph’s appearance in the robe ignited his brothers’ hatred. Joseph’s lordly attire only added more fuel to the fire of his brothers’ hatred for him. They loathed his presence.

Seek to Communicate Wisely (5–11)
Not even the slowest thinker among the bunch could have missed the point of Joseph’s dream. The intensity of the dream, in addition to his naiveté and self-centeredness, impelled Joseph to share it spontaneously. The dream was real, after all, not a fabrication. The dream foreshadowed the saving climax of the Joseph narrative when, because he had become ruler of Egypt, his brothers bowed down to him (Gen. 42:6). His brothers responded by hating him even more.

Joseph had a second dream. All dreams in the Joseph narrative come in pairs because the pairing of dreams means certainty of fulfillment (Gen. 41:32). This second dream sealed the deal. God would bring to pass the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams. This certitude may be the reason Joseph had the audacity to share the dream with his family. The second dream expanded on the first dream by including his father and mother (Leah, his adoptive mother, since Rachel had died) bowing before him. Joseph saw them all bow to him, from Reuben to Benjamin to his father and mother. Jacob rebuked Joseph but he did not hate him as did his sons. But the brothers’ silence was ominous. Joseph’s future was sealed. There was no reversing his rejection. The hand of God is everywhere in this narrative as it orchestrates the creation of a preserver of his people. The hidden hand of God has its way amidst the morass of human sin.

Seek to Perform Duties (17–20, 28)

Jacob dispatched Joseph to check on his brothers as they attended his flocks, and Joseph obediently went looking for his brothers. They saw him while he was a great distance away. His robe of many colors made him stand out. Their eyes observed him with bleary-eyed hatred. They planned to murder their brother. Reuben commanded his brothers not to kill Joseph, but rather throw him into a pit. The text indicates that the nine brothers brutally assaulted Joseph. Then they threw the bruised, bleeding and naked Joseph down on the rocky floor of an empty cistern. The hand of Providence once again intervened as Midianite traders appeared and the brothers sold Joseph to them for 20 pieces of silver. The Midianites carried the future savior of his people down into Egypt.     

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