And Joseph is taken down to Egypt.
Reuben returns try to rescue Joseph but it’s too late and the brothers then add sin to sin by arranging this deception by which Joseph’s coat is dipped in blood to give the appearance that Joseph has been torn apart by wild beasts.
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 colours, 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?”Genesis 37.26-31
They don’t actually say this is what happens, but they leave Jacob to come to that conclusion. Think about what they’re doing. They’re working towards lying and murdering, two characteristics of the evil one which Jesus spoke about in the New Testament.
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.John 8.42-45
And it says then that Jacob tears his clothes in mourning and refuses to be comforted. His favourite son has now been killed, his favourite wife, Rachel has died. Jacob is in deep mourning and refuses to be comforted. It says,
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.
36 Now the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard.Genesis 37.35-36
Just think about that for a moment. Benjamin didn’t know what had happened, the daughter, Dinah, didn’t know what had happened, both could offer some legitimate comfort to Jacob. Could the other brothers offer any legitimate comfort? No way! They knew what had happened. They were lying and they were deceiving, and they were responsible for what had happened. So, their words of comfort were empty, their hypocrisy was patent.
“Comfort נַחֲמוּ [naḥămû], yes, comfort My people!”
Says your God.
2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness:Isaiah 40.1-3
“Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
And think about this also, for the next several years, in fact for 20 years, all together, they would be knowing in their hearts that they had done this to their brother, and that they had lied to their father about it, and therefore, they were under this terrible burden of guilt for that length of time. Imagine how that must have felt. A cover up.
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.2 Thessalonians 2.9-12
What if someone one of them spilled the beans and actually let out what had really happened so there’d be bad relationships not just between them and their father but also between each other?
You can see just how this was a sin which was weighing upon their consciences and would be a burden which they would have to carry for the next 20 years as I said, before they met with Joseph, and it would cause a great cloud of guilt and grief to fall on the family.
The principle is of course that sin separates us separates us from God, separates us from one another. Psalm 32 says,
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent, my bones grew oldPsalm 32.1-5
Through my groaning all the day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
All those years when they were not acknowledging their transgression, the sin must have been very heavy upon them, and God had a programme to arrange this circumstances in which that barrier could be removed, through repentance and reconciliation.