-Jacob’s generations now begin their life in Canaan where his father had lived. In fact he spent some years with his father and brother Esau in fairly close proximity.
-The story now focuses on Joseph in his seventeenth year of life. He rats out his brothers bringing a bad report to his father of them provoking them to despise him and hate him. These feelings are certainly exacerbated by the fact that Israel loved Joseph more than the rest of his sons. *Application* Favoritism will breed problems in any situation. God is impartial (2 Chronicles 19:7, Job 34:19, Acts 10:34, Rom. 2:11, Gal. 2:6, Eph. 6:9, Col. 3:25, 1 Pet. 1:17). We need to love well and equally.
-The sibling rivalry got to the point where they could not speak on friendly terms with Joseph on friendly terms. He had been given a multi-colored tunic (full length robe) by his father as a sign of his favored position. The Scripture relates that Israel loved Joseph because he was a boy of his old age, and one can easily read between the lines here to note that Joseph was his first son of his favored wife Rachel. The LORD uses this all for His good pleasure in the salvation of the Abrahamic line, but certainly we can see some major problems within the family here at this point.
-Joseph is given the ability of prophecy and interpretation of dreams. He has his first recorded dream here in this chapter and relates it to his brothers regarding shaves in a field with his rising above his brothers and standing erect. His brothers hated him even more for his supposed arrogance. Joseph has yet another dream where the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to him. Even his father rebuked him for this dream, yet he kept this saying in his mind.
-The time came when Joseph was called upon to go check on his brothers who were out tending the flock in what was supposed to be Shechem. Shechem was probably a good 5 day journey through the hill country to the north. When Joseph could not find them there he got word that they had gone even further north to Dothan, so Joseph went there.
-As the brothers saw him coming in all his glory of the colored tunic they made snide comments about him being a dreamer and plotted to kill him. They were going to lie about his death to his father telling him a wild beast devoured him. Deceptions persist in this family as a sin pattern.
-Reuben is used of God to save Joseph at this crucial point. He tells them to shed no blood and just throw him into a pit. He had designs on rescuing him later and restoring him to his father. This could have been good will and genuine concern, but it may have been motivated by selfish desires. It could have been that he was thinking of his future blessing and knew that he would be held responsible for younger brother’s well being ultimately. I believe it was more than likely his good will that prevailed and saved his brother. *Application* Here is another instance in Scripture that is intriguing as to the sovereignty of God in free will matters. Joseph gives us some insight into this later on in Genesis 50:20. What is meant for evil actually can be God at work in order to bring a desired result in the whole economy of things. Never forget this is tough situations! Rest in Christ and let His plan develop.
-Judah has the idea of selling their boisterous and annoying brother as a slave as some Ishmaelite traders come by. Dothan was apparently on a very busy trade route during this time. The Ishmaelites do not get to purchase Joseph, but soon some Midianite traders come by. The brothers, unbeknownst to Reuben, sell him as a slave to these Midianites who were going to Egypt on business for twenty shekels of silver. Reuben is distraught with finding out about his brother’s disappearance and they devise a lie that indeed a wild animal devoured him by revealing his bloody colored tunic from goat’s blood.
-At the sight of this tunic and the news of the lying brothers, Jacob is distraught tearing his clothes and putting on sackcloth and mourned for many days. Again Jacob pays consequences for his deceptions as a young man by having to endure the pain of others deceiving him later in his life. Jacob encounters grief in a powerful way here needlessly. *Application* Sin always has consequences further and deeper than we can ever imagine.
-Interesting textual note- Israel is again referred to as Jacob denoting how deception is interwoven to the saga.
-Joseph now is in custody as a slave facing a month long or so trip south through the desert into Egypt. He was probably chained and walked the whole way. His charmed life certainly appeared to be over and his brothers could have never expected to see him again. He would be treated like baggage and sold as a piece of merchandise, but God was in total control of his life. He is sold to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer, the captain of the bodyguard in the most advanced civilization of the region and probably the world. He would observe the great pyramids, live in beautifully constructed homes, and deal with sophisticated people. He would have to learn a new language and probably was keenly aware of their spiritual blindness in this polytheistic culture.
Verse to memorize: Genesis 37:4-5