Joseph Is Sold
12One day when Joseph's brothers had taken the sheep to a pasture near Shechem, 13his father Jacob said to him, “I want you to go to your brothers. They are with the sheep near Shechem.”
“Yes, sir,” Joseph answered.
14His father said, “Go and find out how your brothers and the sheep are doing. Then come back and let me know.” So he sent him from Hebron Valley.
Joseph was near Shechem 15and wandering through the fields, when a man asked, “What are you looking for?”
16Joseph answered, “I'm looking for my brothers who are watching the sheep. Can you tell me where they are?”
17“They're not here anymore,” the man replied. “I overheard them say they were going to Dothan.”
Joseph left and found his brothers in Dothan. 18But before he got there, they saw him coming and made plans to kill him. 19They said to one another, “Look, here comes the hero of those dreams! 20Let's kill him and throw him into a pit and say that some wild animal ate him. Then we'll see what happens to those dreams.”
21Reuben heard this and tried to protect Joseph from them. “Let's not kill him,” he said. 22“Don't murder him or even harm him. Just throw him into a well out here in the desert.” Reuben planned to rescue Joseph later and take him back to his father.
23When Joseph came to his brothers, they pulled off his fancy coat 24and threw him into a dry well.
25As Joseph's brothers sat down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with all kinds of spices that they were taking to Egypt. 26So Judah said, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and hide his body? 27Let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not harm him. After all, he is our brother.” And the others agreed.
28 When the Midianite merchants came by, Joseph's brothers took him out of the well, and for 20 pieces of silver they sold him to the Ishmaelites who took him to Egypt.
29When Reuben returned to the well and did not find Joseph there, he tore his clothes in sorrow. 30Then he went back to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone! What am I going to do?”
31Joseph's brothers killed a goat and dipped Joseph's fancy coat in its blood. 32After this, they took the coat to their father and said, “We found this! Look at it carefully and see if it belongs to your son.”
33Jacob knew it was Joseph's coat and said, “It's my son's coat! Joseph has been torn to pieces and eaten by some wild animal.”
34Jacob mourned for Joseph a long time, and to show his sorrow he tore his clothes and wore sackcloth. 35All of Jacob's children came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will go to my grave, mourning for my son.” So Jacob kept on grieving.
36Meanwhile, the Midianites had sold Joseph in Egypt to a man named Potiphar, who was the king's official in charge of the palace guard.
Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize our own jealousy because we can justify our feelings. But if we’re not careful, our anger can make our hearts become desensitized and cold. Perhaps that is what happened to Joseph’s ten brothers.
Joseph’s overzealous qualities were a positive force when it meant being obedient to his father Jacob. When Jacob told him to go and find his brothers and report back to him, little did Joseph know that he would be walking one hundred and fifty miles right into a cruel trap. His brothers had been waiting and plotting to kill him: “They said to one another, ‘Look, here comes the hero of those dreams! Let’s kill him and throw him into a pit and say that some wild animal ate him. Then we’ll see what happens to those dreams’” (vv 19-20). That’s what they did. They stripped Joseph of his richly ornamented robe and threw him into a pit.
Only hardened hearts can throw a brother into a pit and then stop and eat a meal. Perhaps it was years of anger and now feelings of victory that deafened the cries for help and mercy coming from the bottom of the empty cistern. To finish their malicious deed, they sold their brother Joseph into slavery, plotted a fake death and deceived their father. I wonder if their sinful actions haunted them as they watched their aging father tear his clothes in inconsolable grief at the news of Joseph.
Unbridled jealousy eventually leads to sin. Vicious words and actions on our part can land others in a pit of despair and isolation. But God is always near and can forgive our sin and change our hearts. Sometimes what spells disaster, may become the instrument for salvation and reconciliation. Stay tuned!
Dear Father God,
This story clearly shows how unchecked jealousy can deceive us and propel us into regrettable sinful acts. Heavenly Father, please help me to recognize when there is sin in my heart so that I do not become a “pit dweller”. Show me how to live an honest, fulfilling life. Thank you. Amen.