Light for the Last Days

Jealousy and its consequences


Which brings us to Joseph. Now, Joseph is Jacob’s favourite son, and he is the father’s favourite. He is the eldest son of his favourite wife, Rachel.

The story goes on to reveal that Joseph has a lot of advantages in life. He is good-looking, he’s intelligent, he’s honest and trustworthy, and he’s God-fearing. He is given the position of the first son even though he is the youngest.

He is given this privilege, he’s given this ‘coat of many colours’, the famous ‘technicolour dream coat’ or whatever it was, and the favouritism benefits him, but also causes his brothers to be jealous to the point of hating him, and even wanting to kill him.

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colours. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.

Genesis 37.3-4

Joseph doesn’t do himself much favour by telling on and passing bad reports about his brothers to his father. So, by the time we get to this part of the story, which sets of scene, we find that Joseph is pretty much a loner.

His mother has died, his brothers dislike him, and he’s a bit of an outsider and perhaps because he’s the one who develops a relationship with God.

He has a sense of ‘right and wrong’ and, in this passage we just read, God reveals to him his future in a dream. One day, his brothers are going to come and bow down to him, and his mother and father are going to come and bow down to him as well.

A stone is heavy and sand is weighty,
But a fool’s wrath is heavier than both of them.

Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent,
But who is able to stand before jealousy?

Open rebuke is better
Than love carefully concealed.

Proverbs 27.3-5

Was it wise of him to share that dream? Well, we could say, ‘perhaps not’. But that dream came from God and it was going to become the centre point of the story.

As a result of this in fact, his brothers hate him all the more and even want to kill him which we read in the next part of the story. So, going back to Genesis 37, we read in verse 12:

12 Then his brothers went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.”

So he said to him, “Here I am.”

14 Then he said to him, “Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me.” So he sent him out of the Valley of Hebron, and he went to Shechem.

15 Now a certain man found him, and there he was, wandering in the field. And the man asked him, saying, “What are you seeking?”

16 So he said, “I am seeking my brothers. Please tell me where they are feeding their flocks.

17 And the man said, “They have departed from here, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan.

18 Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. 19 Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming! 20 Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!”

21 But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, “Let us not kill him.” 22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him”—that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father.

23 So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colours that was on him. 24 Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it.

25 And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead with their camels, bearing spices, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry them down to Egypt. 26 So Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.” And his brothers listened. 28 Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

29 Then Reuben returned to the pit, and indeed Joseph was not in the pit; and he tore his clothes. 30 And he returned to his brothers and said, “The lad is no more; and I, where shall I go?”

31 So they took Joseph’s tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood. 32 Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said, “We have found this. Do you know whether it is your son’s tunic or not?”

33 And he recognized it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. 35 And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, “For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.

Genesis 37.12-35

We have this very tragic story. The Brothers concoct a story and decide to kill Joseph. Reuben tries to rescue him and he puts him in a pit instead of killing him, but he doesn’t manage to rescue him because, in the meantime, his brothers sell him to these Ishmaelite traders.

In this story, Reuben is the one who comes out best. It may be that Reuben has learned something from his previous mistake and is perhaps more repentant and wanting to do good rather than evil.

Judah, on the other hand, comes out perhaps the worst. Was he being merciful or mercenary when he says he’s going to sell Joseph to the caravan of Ishmaelites? If he’d just left him in the pit, someone might come and rescued him and he would have escaped and told Jacob.

What would have happened if they’d killed him themselves? They would have had blood guilt on their hands, just as Cain did. So they sold him to the Egyptians and he’s out of the way, and they’re not responsible for his death.

They sold Joseph for 20 shekels of silver, the price of dedication for a young man or a boy. And we think of Yeshua being sold for 30 pieces of silver.

Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When a man consecrates by a vow certain persons to the Lord, according to your valuation, if your valuation is of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old, then your valuation shall be fifty shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary. If it is a female, then your valuation shall be thirty shekels; and if from five years old up to twenty years old, then your valuation for a male shall be twenty shekels, and for a female ten shekels; and if from a month old up to five years old, then your valuation for a male shall be five shekels of silver, and for a female your valuation shall be three shekels of silver; and if from sixty years old and above, if it is a male, then your valuation shall be fifteen shekels, and for a female ten shekels.

‘But if he is too poor to pay your valuation, then he shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall set a value for him; according to the ability of him who vowed, the priest shall value him.

Leviticus 27.1-8

Tony Pearce

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