Here’s the backstory for today’s story :
So, we left off last week with Abram trusting God’s promises. Somewhere along the line, Abram and Sarai became Abraham and Sarah. Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Issac, with two different women – one a slave, Hagar, the other his wife, Sarah. Abraham favored Issac, the sone of his wife, and sent Ishmael and Hagar away.
Isaac and his wife Rebekah also had two sons, Esau and Jacob, twins!. Isaac favored Esau and Rebekah favored Jacob. Jacob played some dirty tricks on the Isaac and Esau, before running for his life. (Rebekah played a big part in that too, by the way!)
Now, Jacob has 12 sons and one daughter (at least) with two wives and two slaves. Only one of these women did Jacob truly love, Rachel. One of those sons is Joseph, Rachel’s firstborn – and so Joseph was Jacob’s favorite.
Do you see a pattern here? Now for the ancient story …
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was born when Jacob was old. Jacob had made for him a long robe. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of his brothers, they hated him and couldn’t even talk nicely to him.
Joseph had a dream and told it to his brothers, which made them hate him even more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had. When we were binding stalks of grain in the field, my stalk got up and stood upright, while your stalks gathered around it and bowed down to my stalk.”
His brothers said to him, “Will you really be our king and rule over us?” So they hated him even more because of the dreams he told them.[time passes]
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan.
They saw Joseph in the distance before he got close to them, and they plotted to kill him. The brothers said to each other, “Here comes the big dreamer. Come on now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns, and we’ll say a wild animal devoured him. Then we will see what becomes of his dreams!”
When Reuben heard what they said, he saved him from them, telling them, “Let’s not take his life.” Reuben said to them, “Don’t spill his blood! Throw him into this desert cistern, but don’t lay a hand on him.” He intended to save Joseph from them and take him back to his father.
Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain if we kill our brother and hide his blood? Come on, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites. Let’s not harm him because he’s our brother; he’s family.” His brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern. They sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, and they brought Joseph to Egypt.
When Reuben returned to the cistern and found that Joseph wasn’t in it, he tore his clothes. Then he returned to his brothers and said, “The boy’s gone! And I—where can I go now?”
His brothers took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a male goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the long robe, brought it to their father, and said, “We found this. See if it’s your son’s robe or not.”
He recognized it and said, “It’s my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him. Joseph must have been torn to pieces!” Then Jacob tore his clothes, put a simple mourning cloth around his waist, and mourned for his son for many days. All of his sons and daughters got up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted, telling them, “I’ll go to my grave mourning for my son.” And Joseph’s father wept for him.[a lot of time passes]
When Joseph’s brothers realized that their father was now dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us, and wants to pay us back seriously for all of the terrible things we did to him?” So they approached Joseph and said, “Your father gave orders before he died, telling us, ‘This is what you should say to Joseph. “Please, forgive your brothers’ sins and misdeeds, for they did terrible things to you. Now, please forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God.”’” Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
His brothers wept[d] too, fell down in front of him, and said, “We’re here as your slaves.”
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I God? You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people, just as he’s doing today. Now, don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” So he put them at ease and spoke reassuringly to them.
You might want to read the whole story, chapters 37 – 50 to really understand what Joseph went through and how he and his family reunited …