The Story of Joseph - Lesson 7
Genesis 37:18-20, And when they saw him afar off, even before he carne near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
Joseph's brothers would not wait to learn what Joseph had to say.
They were not interested of the news from home.
They were not about to give him a hearing.
We shall see what will become of his dreams!
Apparently the two dreams of Joseph had made a lasting impression
upon his brothers.
Do anything to stop the dreams from coming true!
Even slay your own brother!
Here was Joseph, just 17 years old, unarmed, guileless, clothed in the robe of authority granted by their common father.
Not thinking that Joseph had just made a long 70 to 80 mile trip to see to their welfare.
There is no way that we will have this man to rule over us!
As the Jews did with Jesus Christ so did the brothers of Joseph.
They conspired and plotted against him, and betrayed him and they sold their own brother.
And all this was covered up with a lie.
Jesus Christ too was sold for the price of a slave and handed over to the Gentiles, and his final disappearance, His empty tomb, dismissed by the Jews with a lie.
He came unto his own and his own received him not!
Genesis 37:21, And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.
The character of Reubenis fully expressed by Jacob as he lay on his death bed in:
Genesis 49:3,4, Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.
Scripture tells us that a double minded manis unstable in all his ways.
It can also be said that an unstable man is double minded.
Jacob said that Reuben was unstable, so Reuben is double minded.
This double mindedness is revealed in how he handled this situation between his brothers and Joseph.
And when the brothers, not including Reuben saw Joseph afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.
No doubt Joseph had been a continual topic of conversation between the brothers while they rested from their shepherding duties in the fields near Shechem and Dothan.
Discussing his dreams of superiority and Jacob's favoritism of Joseph and that confounded coat that Joseph wore reminding them every minute of that favoritism, intensified their hatred every passing day.
No doubt Reuben was part of the problem.
As the eldest son he should have put a stop to this evil talk for evil talk most likely leads to evil deeds.
Knowing Reuben as a double minded man he most likely joined in the talk and even encouraged it to continue and intensify.
But when Reuben learned where this evil talk was leading he took Joseph from them, most likely by some force.
But Reuben was a weak man and was not about to offend his brothers.
He did not dare to stand up for him in the face of the sneers and hostility of them.
He cared little about offending Joseph.
Principal: Obedient servants who faithfully keep their charge may suffer persecution from those who are disobedient.
As the elder brother, instead of putting a stop to this evil, he plays for time.
Instead of exerting authority over his brothers he intends to use some cunning scheme to free Joseph while pretending to satisfy his brother s evil intents.
Reuben tries compromise.
Reuben's intention is to divert his brothers from shedding Joseph's blood and to convince them that no one will find him in this pit that is in the wilderness.
Let the pit do the work without shedding his blood, he indicates.
Let his death be as though it were accidental he pleads.
Do this and Reuben will somehow rescue Joseph and return him to his father Jacob.
But this effort on Reuben's part does indicate a desire not to further hurt his father.
Perhaps his past sins prick his heart causing him to refuse to inflict another hurt to his father.
Perhaps Reuben was hoping to regain favor with his father.
But this desire to regain favor with his father did not extend to direct confrontation with his brothers.
He measured the cost of doing right and and it was too great.
We will hear from them later and especially Reuben about this incident in a much more penitent way:
Gen 42:21,22, And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.
But much has to take place in the life of Joseph and his brothers before we are to hear such repentant words
So the suggestion of Reuben pleases the brothers and is promptly acted upon.
Genesis 37:23,24, And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto brethren, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
Off with this condemning coat.
We will not have this man to rule over us, so rid ourselves of this symbol of this rule!
And they took him and cast him into a pit.
Most likely this was a cistern built to contain water.
If so it had a narrow mouth and was very deep sometimes as much as one hundred feet across at the bottom.
In Jeremiah's day these pits were used as a dungeon.
Jerimiah 38:6, Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeonthere was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.
So as Jeremiah felt the mire on his feet so did Joseph feel the mire along with the hatred of his brothers.
We can glance ahead at Joseph's treatment of Simeon when the brothers came to Egypt in search of food and perhaps get a glimpse of who was possibly most active in Joseph's imprisonment in the pit.
For in Genesis 42:24, we read that Joseph .... turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.
For Simeon had a history of very violent behavior.
Simeon, the second born of Leah had led in the murder of the Shechemites along with Levi.
Murder was no stranger to Simeon and Levi.
Jacob in his dying blessing called them instruments of cruelty.
And as innocent Joseph stood crying for release from the pit his merciless brothers sit down to eat as we read in:
Genesis 37:25-28, And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
Perhaps Judah, as he eats his bread has a pang of conscience.
He is concerned about the shedding of blood for the shedding of blood was thought to be a crying out to heaven for justice to be done.
Most likely the others also had pangs of conscience but they were not as clever at compromise as was Judah.
None of these brothers is going to oppose the others but perhaps compromise will solve this problem.
The arrival of a company of Ishmeelites composed of descendants of Ishmael and Midian, sons of Abraham, quickens Judah's mind to a way out.
He realizes that allowing Joseph to die in the pit is not a comfortable thing to do.
It is too drastic.
Let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh.
Judah realizes that they can soothe their conscience and at the same time make some money off the sale of their brother.
Little did they know that the caravan of Ishmeelites was providential.
God uses the wrath of men to praise him and he had this caravan come in good time to rescue Joseph from the pit and separate him from this corrupt family in order to bring this family to himselff.
Judah probably reasons that all they really want to do is to rid themselves of this one whose presence has become intolerable.
Judah and the brothers cannot handle the deliberate act of letting Joseph die in the pit but they can tolerate selling him into slavery.
How the mind of man justifies itself.
It is not right to leave him in this pit, but it is alright to sell him into slavery.
Genesis 37:29,30, And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?
This passage indicates that Joseph's brothers took advantage of Reuben's absence to sell Joseph because of Reuben's interference.
His first reaction is to express his grief by tearing his inner garment, the tunic, at the neck and rending it downwards a few inches.
Apparently the pit was some distance from the brothers for we see that Reuben returned to his brothers with cries of grief and great distress.
Did the brothers match his grief?
No, no doubt the brothers told Reuben the details of the sale and that Joseph was out of their lives and they even made 20 pieces of silver on the deal.
But Reuben's grief is real in that he realizes that he will again bring suffering to his father Jacob.
He asks whither shall I go, knowing that there is no place of comfort.
He knows that there is nowhere to flee from this great sin and its effects.
There is only one thing to do and this thing is typical of the family heritage.
The theme of deception once again appears in the family.
Jacob deceived Isaac by using goats fur and now his sons will deceive him by using goats blood.