We move ahead in our scriptural account of the beginnings of the miracle nation. Israel and his family are in the promised land, dwelling in tents, for the time had not yet come for Israel to possess the land. Rachel, Jacob’s wife was pregnant with a second son.
The family had fled the city of Shechem, after Simeon and Levi committed an atrocity there, tricking the men of the town into circumcision, so that they could slay them, in revenge for the rape of their sister by the prince of the city.
Israel passed over into Bethel, where he had first encountered the LORD, then traveled towards Bethlehem. As the family drew near to Bethlehem, Rachel went into labor, and bore a son. But she was dying in childbirth, so she named the son “Ben Ami”, i.e. ‘Son of my sorrows’. But Israel re-named the boy “Ben Yamin”, i.e., ‘son of my right hand’.
At this point the book of Genesis turns our attention to Jacob and Rachel’s first son, Joseph.
These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.(Genesis 37:2-4)
Scripture never glamorizes bigamy, or concubinage. Jacob’s family was a mess of festering rivalries among wives, concubines and sons. Joseph was his father’s favorite son, and he made no bones about it. The rest of the children of Israel, to varying degrees, hated Joseph because he was the Father’s favorite.
And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.(Genesis 37:5-11)
Now these dreams that came to Joseph were the very Word of God . Therefore his brothers hated him because of the Word of God which came to him. Even Jacob was shocked and dismayed at the second dream, but later realized it to be the Word of God.
The brothers would all have to bow down some day to Joseph. Jacob and Leah also would bow down to Joseph along with the brothers. What could it possibly mean?
Then the Father, Israel, sends his beloved Son to check on the other brothers, the children of Israel, who were out in the fields with their flocks.
And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again. And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.(Genesis 37:18-24)
The brothers,(the children of Israel), conspired together to kill this troublesome brother, with his ‘dreams’. Reuven, the oldest was horrified at the thought, and sought a way to save Joseph’s life. He suggested they throw him into a pit.(He intended to rescue him later). So they tore off the hated coat, and threw their brother into the pit.
As the brothers sat around eating a meal, utterly oblivious to Joseph’s cries for help, a Midianite caravan happened along.
And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.(Genesis 37:26-28)
Judah suggested selling their brother to the Midianites, rather than killing him, so they lifted Joseph out of the pit, and exchanged him for silver. This is how Joseph ended up in Egypt.
About the time that the Caravan went away, Reuven came back, saw to his horror that the pit was now empty,and asked where Joseph was.
And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go? And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no.(Genesis 37:29-32)
This is one of the miraculous aspects of the miracle nation Israel, her history is also her future. The events recorded in Jewish history are also prophetic tellings of the future of the whole nation. So far we see:
- Joseph is a type of the Messiah…
- He is the beloved of His Father…
- He came to the children of Israel…
- They become offended by him became of the Word of God
- The leaders of the nation conspire to have him killed
- They throw him into a pit
- Brother Judah (Judas) sells him for silver pieces
- Jacob believes he is dead never to be seen again
- He is turned over to the Gentiles…
And there is more as we will see in the next chapter…