Joseph was indeed the favorite son, and the boy had an attitude to go with it! Not only did Joseph lack self-awareness of how much his brother’s loathed him, but with his every action and words he spoke, he just seemed to make matters worse for himself.
Joseph did have some unusual gifts, besides the gift from Dad of the coat of many colors.
For instance, Joseph had many God-given gifts, one of which was the ability to have and interpret prophetic dreams.
Unfortunately, with his lack of tact and poor judgement, Joseph shared his prophetic dreams with his brothers. What was wrong with sharing? Well sometimes, people don’t like to hear what another person dreams, especially if they are subject to being the person who is dominated in the dream.
As we shall see, this sharing of his dreams on Joseph’s part, led to even more resentment and hatred of Joseph by his brothers.
Pearl: It seems that it is a common phycological principle that people in general don’t always enjoy hearing about themselves in other people’s dreams, especially if the dream reflects negatively on them.
In other words, Joseph just seemed to fuel the fire of resentment among his brothers continually without even trying, especially when he shared his dreams with them. Sharing his dreams with his brothers only served to dig his pit even deeper.
Literally, dig his pit deeper.
The first dream Joseph had indicated that his brothers would bow down to him in the future, and that he would also rule over them. Joseph told his brothers the following about his dream,
“Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field and behold,
my sheaf arose and stood upright.
And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” (Genesis 37:7)
Astounded, Joseph’s brothers came right out and asked Joseph,
“Are you indeed to reign over us?” (Genesis 37:8)
Joseph’s brothers grew to hate him even more for his dreams, and for his words.
The second dream, as if the first was not enough, was that the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him (Genesis 37:9).
This dream therefore symbolically portrayed that his parents, as well as all of his brothers would all bow to the ground before him at some future time.
The dreams infuriated Joseph’s brothers, and most likely pushed them over-the-edge from the anger that was already brewing from the realization that he was the favorite son of Jacob.
Jacob rebuked his son, but kept the dream in mind.
Family relationships had turned from jealousy to hostility among the siblings at this point.
Joseph in his self-centeredness still seemed to be unaware of how he is bringing this on himself by his tactless words and poor judgement.
Scene 3: The Trip to Egypt ~ Not Something Joseph Planned
Playlist: “Even If’ by MercyMe
It came to pass one day that Jacob needed better pasture for his sheep and goats. In search of greener grass, Jacob had sent Joseph’s older brothers to Shechem, which was about 30 miles north of where they were living in Hebron.
Sometime later, Jacob, who stayed home in Hebron with his two youngest sons, Joseph and Benjamin, wanted to know how things were going with the flocks in the new location.
Jacob decided to send Joseph on a road trip to find his brothers, check on them, and report to him on how things were going in the new location.
Joseph was happy to oblige. He happily donned his fancy, sleeved robe, and headed out the door to Shechem. In a position of authority, the young Joseph was once again sent to check on his older brothers with the charge from Dad to report on the state of affairs on how the brothers were doing.
After traveling north from Hebron about forty miles, Joseph finally after several days, came to Shechem. Looking high and low among the fields for his brothers tending his father’s flocks, he could not locate any of them. A stranger found Joseph wandering through the fields and asked him what or who he was looking for. Joseph answered the man and the stranger informed him that,
“They have gone away for I heard them say, let us go to Dothan.” (Genesis 37:17)
Heading another 15 to 20 miles northwest, Joseph continued to seek his brothers and their flocks.
Wandering up the road to Dothan, Joseph’s brothers spied him from a distance as he approached. Laughing they said to one another,
“Here comes this dreamer.
Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits.
Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.”
Reuben, the eldest son, however, was not on board with this idea. Hearing his brothers, Reuben said,
“Let us not take his life. Shed no blood, throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him.”
Pearl: Reuben was actually conspiring to rescue Joseph from the plot of his brothers, return him to their father, and take the credit for saving Joseph’s life. All would be good, Reuben thought, as the eldest son he would look like a hero and gain favor with his father for saving Joseph, his father’s favorite son. Reuben thought that maybe he had a chance on the Paternal Blessing if this plan worked out!
Arriving on the scene tired and frustrated from his travels, Joseph had no idea what was going to transpire next. His brothers immediately stripped him of his robe that he was wearing (the robe of many colors that was his treasured gift from his father), and maliciously threw Joseph into a deep, empty pit.
After doing so, the brothers selfishly sat down to eat their midday meal. Ignoring Joseph’s screams from the deep in the pit, the brothers ate their fill of roasted lamb.
Summary of Events Up to this Point
The following series of events unfolded after Joseph left to check on his older siblings.
A series of detailed event had to have just ‘ happened’ to unfold as follows: (I have numbered them for emphasis of how they just had to happen, in just the right sequence)
- Joseph left home in Hebron to go to Shechem at the request of his father to check on his brothers.
- Upon arriving in Shechem, Joseph, unable to find his brothers, wandered around for a while searching the fields.
- An un-named stranger just happened to see Joseph wandering through the fields, and asked him who he was looking for.
- The stranger just happened to know where the brothers went, as he overheard them say they were headed to Dothan.
- Joseph then headed north, another twenty-some miles to Dothan.
- The brothers just happened to see Joseph off in the distance coming up the road toDothan (Joseph was sporting his expensive robe, so when the brothers saw him their anger fueled once again).
- The brothers referred to Joseph as “the Dreamer,” and began to immediately plot his demise prior to his arrival.
- The brothers conspire against Joseph, saying “Here comes the dreamer, let’s kill him and throw him in a pit. Then we will say that a fierce animal devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” They are out in the middle of nowhere, and they know that no one will see their sinful act (Genesis 37:19-20).
- Reuben happened to say that rather than kill Joseph to just throw him in a pit.
- Joseph’s life just happened to be spared (but actually, it wasn’t an act of mercy).
a. Reuben had in mind to “rescue” Joseph from the pit, take him back to Dad and finally earn the favor he deserves as the oldest son.
- Reuben then happened to leave for a while for some reason.
- The brothers just happened to find a deep empty pit.
- The pit wasn’t filled with water
- Joseph didn’t drown right there and then. This pit was empty, unlike most pits to befound in the area.
- Joseph survived the encounter in the pit, in spite of extreme hardship and danger to hislife.
When Joseph arrived at Dothan, his older brothers viscously stripped him of his robe of many colors, beat him and threw him down into the empty pit.
Then in their callousness for their younger brother’s well-being, the ten older brothers sat back and enjoyed a meal together!
They heard Joseph’s loud screams of fear and agony emanating from the pit as they enjoyed their lunch of lamb kabobs.
The scene continues
As Joseph’s brothers were dining ignoring their younger brother’s screams for mercy, a caravan of camels approached.
The brothers recognized the men as Ishmaelite raiders headed from Gilead south to Egypt. Their camels were loaded with expensive commodities they had stolen along the way such as gum, balm, and myrrh. The men were on their way to Egypt where they planned to sell the precious items for a considerable price.
Thinking how the brothers might profit through these raiders, Judah came up with an idea which he shared with his brothers as they ate,
“What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood. Come let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for hi is our brother, our own flesh. (Genesis 37:26-27)
Listening to Judah’s plan, the brothers agreed this would indeed be profitable for them. As the raiders rode closer on their camels, the brothers hurried to the pit. At first Joseph was relieved and grateful as they lifted him from his deep prison to the land above.
To Joseph’s dismay, he observed as his brothers dealt with the caravan of men. They seemed to be bargaining about the price of something. Sitting down away from the crowd, Joseph rested and nursed his bumps and bruises that had occurred from being thrown into the deep pit.
Apprehensively, Joseph then watched as a band of the rough looking traders came towards him. Dragging Joseph off to their caravan of camels kicking and screaming, Joseph turned to see his brothers huddled together counting silver coins.
“And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.”
Summary Pearl: What just happened?
16. A caravan of Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt just happened to pass by at that very moment that the brothers had Joseph in the pit.
- These men were traders coming from Gilead, with camels bearing goods to sell once they arrive at their destination in Egypt.
- They happened to be descendants of Ishmael.
17. Judah just happened to suggest that the brothers could all profit by selling Joseph to
the traders, rather than kill him.
a. They might as well make some money and benefit from this whole ordeal!
b. The traders were interested, as there was a large slave trade in Egypt.
18. The older brothers sold their younger brother to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of
a. The going price of a slave sold in Egypt ranged from 15-30 shekels. Not much
room for profit on the part of the Ishmaelites!
- The Ishmaelites then loaded Joseph on a camel and headed to Egypt, where Josephwas to be sold as a slave.
- Rueben just happened to be gone, doing an errand or something.a. He would have most likely have stopped the sale.
b. Rueben had planned to bring Joseph back to their father, which would havemade him out as the ‘hero’ who had rescued Joseph from the pit.
c. Rueben would have earned the status of being the favored son of Jacob andwould have been guaranteed the Paternal blessing.
The total list of twenty details just had to have happened at just the right time, and in the just
the right order for Joseph to suddenly be on his way to Egypt.
God is definitely in the details and working undercover. As we will see this is all part of His
Joseph is a now prisoner of the Ishmaelites, and headed to Egypt strapped to a camel.
His hands were bound so he could not escape, and no doubt, he was emotionally devasted and physically suffering from the horrific trauma, his brothers had inflicted upon him.
The dust had barely settled from the hooves of the camels in the departing caravan, when the oldest brother, Reuben returned to the scene of the pit.
Frantic, Reuben is scared for his own well being and standing with his father when he finds that Joseph is not in the pit and has been sold to the Ishmaelites.
He dreaded how his father would react when he found out that Joseph was missing. Since Reuben was the oldest, he would get the blame for the loss of his younger brother.
In the grand attempt to cover up for his folly as the one in-charge, Rueben suggested that the brothers fake Joseph’s death. They then could report to their father that he had been killed by a crazed, wild animal.
With a scheme designed to cruelly deceive their father, the brothers returned home with Joseph’s beautiful robe of many colors covered with the blood of a slain goat. Joseph’s coat was now a coat of one color, that being scarlet-red blood.
Jacob, seeing the bloodied robe thinks Joseph is dead, and deeply mourns for his beloved son. He is beyond comfort from anyone, as he believes that his beloved, favorite son is dead.
Jacob, the “deceiver” had just been deceived by his own sons.
Finally, finally yet importantly, the last detail that had to happen. This detail is of utmost significance, being,
21. Joseph was sold in Egypt as a slave to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.
Interested in reading the Book?
Other Books by Dr. Jana Jones McDowell
About the Author
Jana Jones McDowell DVM, DAVCA, DAVECC has spent a lifetime practicing Veterinary Medicine and former Professor at a College of Veterinary Medicine.
A Christian, Dr. Jones began her research into Biblical studies a number of years ago, focusing on “context.”
Her research revolves around the “context,” with the study and application of the Judaica Books of the Prophets and the Hagiographa (A new English translation of the Hebrew Masoretic text and commentaries by Rashi and other Rabbinical scholars), and the books of the Midrash Rabbah. The basis of this was the exegesis of the Hebrew bible with application to the origins of Christianity.
Dr. Jones-McDowell continues her research of the Jewish roots of Christianity as a student of the Israel Bible Center.
Dr. Jones-McDowell and her husband, reside in the southwest with their horses, Bengal cat named Ravi and their border collie, Sarah.