Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Selling Their Brother Out

Jacob’s favoritism toward Jacob caused serious resentment by his brothers.   The favoritism also resulted in Joseph’s feeling superior and becoming a tattletale.  When Jacob sent him out to check on his brothers, they expected him to try to get them into trouble.  Genesis 37:18-20 describes their response.  “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.” 

For years, Jacob had tried to cheat Laban, and when they had murdered the people of Shechem, he was not concerned about the murders, but only about what people would think.  Effectively, he had taught them that the only thing that mattered was that you did not get caught.  The brothers concluded that Murdering Joseph would be okay as long as Jacob never found out what they had done.   Jacob never thought about what he was teaching his children by his actions. 

Reuben, the eldest had grown up with the constant bickering between Jacob’s wives, often finding himself in the middle of the fights, and probably blaming himself for them.  Whatever happens, he expected to get the blame, but he knew how cruel his brothers could be.  Genesis 37:21-22 tells us he tried to prevent the murder, but didn’t dare confront his brothers directly,  “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. “  He told them that if they just left Joseph in a pit he would starve but that they could honestly say they had not killed him.  He didn’t tell them he planned to later rescue Joseph and send home. 

The brothers agreed follow Reuben’s suggestion, but they still wanted to get rid of Joseph, as we see in Genesis 37:23- 28.  “And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped 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.  And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.

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.”  They then set down to eat, ignoring the fact that their own brother was trapped in a pit and was to die there.  When they spotted a bunch of traders passing by, they decided to sell joseph as a slave and make a little profit while getting rid of him. 

Reuben had remained with the herds while the others ate.  Later he returned to the pit with the intent of freeing Joseph, as Genesis 37:29-30 describes.  “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?”  As the eldest, he expected he would be blamed.  His brothers did not tell him they had sold Joseph or share the money with him.   For years, he would feel guilty for not having saved Joseph.

Believing Joseph was dead, he went along with their efforts to cover up the crime, as described in Genesis 37:31-34.  “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.

And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.  And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.” 

By letting Jacob identify the clothing and come to his own conclusions, the brothers were able to divert suspicion from themselves.   To further allay suspicion, they made a big show of mourning for Joseph according to Genesis 37:35-36.  “And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.  And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard.”   Reuben was the only one who wasn’t faking his sorrow because he didn’t know what had happened.   The others only pretended to care how their father felt.     

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