The Life of Joseph - Lesson 6
Genesis 37:3,4, 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 colours. 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.
Jacob intended for Joseph to be the chief of the family as first born of Rachel.
The coat singled out Joseph as the one son that had been designated to rule the family and to whom the larger part of the wealth would be given.
It was a coat with long sleeves extending down to the ankles and it indicated authority and stature.
It was a garment suited to supervision.
So by this garment Jacob proclaimed that Joseph was his chosen son.
That coat was as if Jacob had said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
But by this distinction Joseph was identified by his brothers as in the camp of the enemy and one to be hated.
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.
They hated him because of their father's love.
It was not anything in Joseph that they hated, but their hatred was based upon their father's love.
They hated him so that when they talked to him they were not able to talk to him in any way peaceably.
Their hatred would not allow them to treat Joseph in any civil manner.
Their hatred was so pervasive that in all their dealings with him no salutation of "Peace be unto thee" would leave their lips.
We are here given a glimpse of Christ as we observe Joseph who was loved by the father but hated without a cause by his brothers.
John 15:25, But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
So Joseph, as was Christ, was the instrument that revealed the father's love and revealed the brother's hatred.
And as Jesus Christ was either loved or hated so to was Joseph loved or hated.
Genesis 37:5-11, 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,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.
Joseph dreamt two dreams which do not need an interpreter of dreams to interpret.
Unlike the dreams of Pharaoh later in this passage, God intends for these dreams to explain themselves.
So Joseph's brother's and his father immediately knew what the dreams meant and they did not like what appeared as pride on the part of Joseph and the demeaning position in which the dreams placed them.
Joseph's first dream concerned the harvest field and symbolized the world's resources/ and wealth.
All the brothers were participating in the harvest, but the dream showed that Joseph would outdo them all as to his position and power on the earth. It was a dream of the control that Joseph would have over the resources of the world and over his brothers.
It was obvious that the brothers rejected Joseph now but this dream revealed that in time his brothers would be forced to acknowledge him.
The second dream involved celestial images, the sun, the moon, and stars bowing down to Joseph.
This was also a dream of position and power.
By including the number 11 in this dream it is obvious that the 11 brothers were meant and this shows the sun and the moon were part of the family symbolizing Jacob and Leah.
The first dream was disturbing enough because it included his brothers bowing to Joseph but this second dream was more disturbing because it including the 11 brothers plus Jacob and Leah.
With Joseph's brothers so open in their hatred you wonder why Joseph told the second dream to them.
Perhaps it was told with some arrogance in an attempt by Joseph to use the dreams to get back at his hateful brothers.
Notice that they hated him not only for his dreams but for his words.
First dream: 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.
Were the words used to explain the dream, imprudent?
Second dream: 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.
Jacob rebuked Joseph but later he came to observe the saying.
Jacob knew of dreams and how God used them to communicate to his chosen vessels.
But how these dreams foretell of Christ.
Although Jesus Christ is hated by the sons of Israel today there is coming a day when Jesus will be exalted and every knee will bow to him of things in heaven, and things on earth and things under the earth.
Then all the resources and all the rulers of the planet will be his to command.
Israel too, will own Jesus Christ as Lord, just as Joseph's brethren finally owned their hated brother.
God used the telling of the dreams regardless of whether or not Joseph's motives were pure or impure.
The telling of the dreams added to what drove the brothers to what they were to do with Joseph but it was simply what was required in order to fulfill the dreams whose message was so deeply hated.
Genesis 37:12-14, And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem. And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. - And he said to him, Here am I. And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
We have seen that Shechem was about 50 to 60 miles from Hebron, the home camp of Jacob and his family.
We know from later passages that Joseph was placed in a pit that was mentioned as a dry pit.
Here we find Joseph's brethren have taken the flock to Shechem, a region of a fertile plain.
It appears that there is a drought and that good pasture land is scarce, therefore we find Jacob s sons a long distance from home.
Jacob is concerned about both his sons and his flocks for most likely they have been gone a considerable time.
This was the place of Dinah's defilement at the hands of Shechem, the son of Hamor.
This was the place where Simeon and Levi killed all the men of Shechem.
This was the place where Jacob: said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.
Perhaps 4 or 5 years had passed since this incident but with the drought and this history to consider Jacob was properly concerned about his sons and his flocks.
He was concerned enough to appoint Joseph to be the overseer in spite of the hatred his sons had for Joseph, the obvious jealousy of the coat that announced his superiority, and the dreams of Joseph which had caused such discord.
But Joseph is willing to go to his brothers.
He says in complete obedience, Here am I.
In spite of the difficulties about distance and dangers, Joseph was interested in pleasing his father.
He knew he was hated but perhaps the difficulties that his brothers were facing would cause them to welcome a messenger from home, even if it were Joseph.
Perhaps Jacob said, Surely they will reverence my son.
But as Christ was sent from the father Joseph came unto his own and his own received him not.
Gen 37:15-17, And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou? And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks. And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.
Joseph came to Shechem where he expected to find his brothers but they were not there.
Scripture records that a certain man came upon Joseph as he wandered in the field looking for his brothers and the flock.
Providentially this man had overheard his brothers say that they were going to Dothan about12 miles further north.
Dothan lay on an overland route between northern Gilead and the sea road to Egypt.
Most likely Dothan was closer to the way of caravans going north and south than was Shechem and God's plans for Joseph depended upon a caravan of merchantmen heading to Egypt.
It was also away from an area where Jacob and his sons were known.
Jacob owned property in Shechem and most likely they had lived there some years before the killing of the men of Shechem took place.
Dothan was probably a place where the cowardly deed of selling Joseph could take place without others report1ng this to Jacob.
In other words God providentially provided for Joseph to be sold as a slave from Dothan so the deception practiced by the brothers would be successful.
All was in place in Dothan for God's covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to take the next step.
The extra effort by Joseph to not stop short of his mission and return to Jacob but instead to go further to Dothan reveals Joseph's desire to obey his father in the spirit of his commission instead of merely obeying to the letter.
Many sons in the predicament of Joseph would have been glad to have returned to Jacob with the excuse that the brothers were not in Shechem where they should have been.
But Joseph knows his father's heart.
He remembers his father's word: Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again.
Jacob was expecting Joseph to do just that and he patiently waited at home for the word of Joseph.
And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.
Genesis 37:18-20, 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. Corne 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.
Joseph's brothers would not wait to learn what Joseph had to say.
They were not interested of the news from home.
They were not about to give him a hearing.
We shall see what will become of his dreams!
Apparently the two dreams of Joseph had made a lasting impression upon his brothers.
Do anything to stop the dreams from coming true!
Even slay your own brother!
Here was Joseph, just 17 years old, unarmed, guileless, clothed in the robe of authority granted by their common father.
Not thinking that Joseph had just made a long 70 to 80 mile trip to see to their welfare.
There is no way that we will have this man to rule over us!
As the Jews did with Jesus Christ so did the brothers of Joseph.
They conspired and plotted against him, and betrayed him and they sold their own brother.
And all this was covered up with a lie.
Jesus Christ too was sold for the price of a slave and handed over to the Gentiles, and his final disappearance, His empty tomb, dismissed by the Jews with a lie.
He came unto his own and his own received him not!
Genesis 37:21, 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.
Reuben was not part of the conspiracy and when he came and found what his brothers had planned he took Joseph from them most likely by some force.
As the elder brother) instead of putting a stop to this evil he plays for time.
Instead of exerting authority over his brothers he intends to use some trickery to free Joseph.
Divert his brothers from shedding Joseph's blood and convince them that no one will find him in this pit that is in the wilderness.
Let the pit do the work without shedding his blood.
Let his death be as though it were accidental he pleads.
Do this and Reuben will somehow rescue Joseph and return him to his father Jacob.
But this effort on Reuben's part does indicate a desire not to further hurt his father.
Perhaps his past sins prick his heart causing him to refuse to inflict another hurt to his father.
So the suggestion of Reuben pleases the brothers and is promptly acted upon.
Genesis 37:23,24, And it carne to pass, when Joseph was come unto brethren, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat 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.