Home > Bible Journal > January 27th, Genesis 37-39: Joseph’s dreams

January 27th, Genesis 37-39: Joseph’s dreams

February 22, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Parents don’t like to admit this, but they often do have a favorite from among their children. Now in public the usual motto is something like “Oh, I can’t choose between any of my favorites” or “Haha, they’re all my favorites.” But if yo asked the siblings themselves, they could tell you who the favorite is.

As for me, between me and my elder sister, I was clearly the favorite. Traditional Asian families value sons more than daughters, as it’s said that while “a daughter is as precious as jade, a son is worth his weight in gold.” Looking back, I can understand my sister’s frustration with me at times as I got away with things she never could.

Genesis 37 tells us that after Isaac’s death, Jacob stayed on in the land of Canaan with his family.

Joseph, who was now seventeen (a brash, reckless age for guys), was tending the flocks with his brothers and brought their father a bad report about them. Furthermore, Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons and made a richly ornamented robe for his favorite son. [Ed note: Back then, your clothes indicated your wealth, much like the car you drive denotes your status today. So basically Israel bought the other brothers economy cars while buying Joseph a Lexus.] When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

Joseph had a dream. He and his brothers were binding grain out in the fields when suddenly Joseph’s sheaf rose upright, while his brothers’ sheaves gathered around his and bowed down to it. His brothers resented him more because of the implication that Joseph was to reign over them somehow.

Then Joseph had another dream, this time telling his father and brothers. This time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to Joseph. His father rebuked him, but kept wondering about the dream. His brothers, on the other hand, grew even more jealous and outraged.

Now, his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, and Israel sent his son Joseph to check on his brothers. Joseph arrived at Shechem, wandering the fields until a man found him. The man told him that his brothers had moved on, and overheard his brother talking about heading to Dothan.

So Joseph found his brothers near Dothan, but he did not know that his brothers were plotting to kill him. His brothers wanted to throw the dreamer into a cistern and claim a ferocious animal devoured him. But Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, convinced his brothers simply to throw him into the cistern but not lay a hand on him. Reuben said this to rescue him from his brothers and take him back to their father.

When Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his fine robe and threw him into the empty cistern. As they sat down to eat their meal, a caravan of Ishmaeiites from Gilead came by. Their camels were loaded with spices and goods on their way to Egypt.

Judah said to his brothers that they stood to gain nothing by killing Joseph. Instead, selling him could at least get them some money. So when the Midianite merchants came by, they sold Joseph for twenty shekels of silver.

When Reuben returned to the cistern but did not find Joseph, he tores his clothes. [Ed note: Remember from the Book of Job that tearing your clothes is the utmost sign of grief or anger.] His brothers slaughtered a goat and dipped Joseph’s coat in its blood. They took it back to their father and asked him to examine it.

Jacob recognized it and tore his clothes. [Ed note: Where’s CSI Canaan when you need them?]

Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, the captain of the Pharaoh’s guard.

Genesis 38 recounts Judah’s sexual escapades, even laying with his daughter-in-law Tamar. She bore her father-in-law twin boys, Perez who “burst out” and Zerah who wore a “scarlet” string to differentiate between the brothers.

Genesis 39 catches up with Joseph, who had effectively become in charge of his master’s household. Potiphar entrusted him everything he had, and the only thing Potiphar had to worry about was the food he ate.

Now Joseph was a well-built and handsome guy. Combined with his impeccable work attitude, he attracted the attention of Potiphar’s wife. He constantly refused her various seductions.

Then one day, when he went inside to tend to some matters but none of the household servants were inside, Potiphar’s wife grabbed him by the cloak. He left the cloak in her hand and ran outside. When she saw that he had left his cloak, she made up a story that Joseph tried to take advantage of her but fled when she started screaming.

When Potiphar heard the story from his wife, he burned with anger and put him in prison, where the king’s prisoners were confined. But the Lord was with Joseph in prison, for soon the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners.

Genesis 39:23 says:
23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Questions: Were you the favorite child in your family? Did you ever pull pranks on your siblings out of jealousy?

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