(Gen 37:1 NASB) Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan.
(Gen 37:2 NASB) These are the records of the generations of Jacob. Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father.
Gen 37:2: The events of this chapter take place sometime before the death of Isaac when Jacob and his family were living somewhere near Hebron. According to the genealogies given, Isaac died at 180 which would have made Jacob 120 at that time. Joseph had been sold into slavery approximately 12 years before the death of Isaac.
The events in Scripture are not always recorded chronologically. Events in the life of Isaac were given, then events in the life of Jacob are given. That does not mean that certain events in the life of Jacob did not occur until the death of his father.
Joseph brought back a bad report of his brothers. We are not told what that bad report is of, but it helped divide the brothers.
The accounts of the life of Joseph have slightly more detail, drama, and suspense than that of the previous patriarchs.
(Gen 37:3 NASB) Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic.
(Gen 37:4 NASB) And his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.
Gen 37:4: The tunic of many colors has been translated as being a long sleeved coat or an ornamented coat. Regardless, the fancy threads inflamed the jealousy between the brothers.
Israel obviously favored Joseph and his brothers hated him for it. This preference for Joseph is apparently rooted in the love for his wife Rachel. Joseph is a constant reminder to him of the woman he loved more than any other.
(Gen 37:5 NASB) Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.
(Gen 37:6 NASB) And he said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had;
(Gen 37:7 NASB) for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.”
(Gen 37:8 NASB) Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
Gen 37:8: The meaning of this dream is obvious to his brothers. The question that comes to mind is “Why did Joseph tell his brothers of this dream?”
Many commentators say that there are only a small few characters in Scripture of which we have details that do not tell of any particular sin in that person. Joseph, Daniel, and Jonathan, son of Saul are the three normally mentioned. It would appear however, that Joseph had a sense of pride and egotism that his brothers hated. Elohim may have used this character flaw in Joseph to acheive His purpose as He used the sin of others in Scripture also.
(Gen 37:9 NASB) Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, “Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
Gen 37:9: This verse is often used as the key to interpreting the identity of the woman in Revelation 12 (Rev. 12:1-5). That makes sense because the sun, moon, and stars are indicative of Israel in this verse and the Messiah was born out of Israel. Many in conservative Christianity have stated that this passage in Genesis proves that the woman in Rev. 12 is Israel. However, they do not use this same method to identify other entities in prophecy. This same method of using events, descriptions, and peoples in Torah and Tanakh are the only way we can understand Scripture and especially prophecy.
But once again, Joseph had no reason to tell his brothers of this vision. He seems to have a sizable ego.
(Gen 37:10 NASB) And he related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?”
(Gen 37:11 NASB) And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.
Gen 37:11: Israel’s rebuke of Joseph was not enough to assuage the hatred of the brothers toward Joseph.
(Gen 37:12 NASB) Then his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock in Shechem.
(Gen 37:13 NASB) And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “I will go.”
(Gen 37:14 NASB) Then he said to him, “Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock; and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
Gen 37:14: Israel sends Joseph to check on his brothers that are pasturing the flocks. Perhaps he thinks that time together with his brothers will bring them all closer together.
(Gen 37:15 NASB) And a man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, “What are you looking for?”
(Gen 37:16 NASB) And he said, “I am looking for my brothers; please tell me where they are pasturing the flock.”
(Gen 37:17 NASB) Then the man said, “They have moved from here; for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.'” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.
Gen 37:17: The journey from Hebron to Shechem to Dothan was not a small one. It is over a sixty mile journey.
(Gen 37:18 NASB) When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death.
(Gen 37:19 NASB) And they said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer!
(Gen 37:20 NASB) “Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’ Then let us see what will become of his dreams!”
Gen 37:20: It doesn’t appear that the plot to kill Joseph was planned long beforehand at all. It is almost like they thought of it on a whim as he approached them
(Gen 37:21 NASB) But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, “Let us not take his life.”
(Gen 37:22 NASB) Reuben further said to them, “Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him”– that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father.
Gen 37:22: Reuben was apparently outnumbered ten to one. He saw the only chance to save his brother’s life is to plan a way for them to leave him to die. Then he can come back when no one is around and take Joseph back to Israel.
(Gen 37:23 NASB) So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him;
(Gen 37:24 NASB) and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.
(Gen 37:25 NASB) Then they sat down to eat a meal. And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing aromatic gum and balm and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to Egypt.
Gen 37:25: They stripped Joseph and threw him in the pit with no water. This group of young men then cruelly sat down to eat while their brother was naked in a pit without water. Keep in mind that he had just finished a sixty mile journey to reach them.
(Gen 37:26 NASB) And Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood?
(Gen 37:27 NASB) “Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him.
(Gen 37:28 NASB) Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.
Gen 37:28: This sounds cruel for someone to do to his brother. Keep in mind that this is the same group of young men who killed all the men at Shechem (and maybe other cities as well) when their sister disgraced them. They were very capable of evil and violence.
It appears that the terms Midianites and Ishmaelites are almost interchangable in this passage. It is likely they were Ishmaelites from Midian.
(Gen 37:29 NASB) Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his garments.
(Gen 37:30 NASB) And he returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is not there; as for me, where am I to go?”
(Gen 37:31 NASB) So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat, and dipped the tunic in the blood;
(Gen 37:32 NASB) and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, “We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son’s tunic or not.”
Gen 37:32: Reuben appears to be an innocent one in this whole ugly episode. While the sins of these sons of Israel are atrocious, their sins are what led to the 400 year captivity of the sons of Israel in Egypt. Elohim knew this long before it happened (Gen. 15:13).
(Gen 37:33 NASB) Then he examined it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!”
(Gen 37:34 NASB) So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
(Gen 37:35 NASB) Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, “Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.” So his father wept for him.
Gen 37:35: Ten of the sons of Israel intended evil upon their brother, but the one who will suffer the most is their father. They try to comfort him, but he will not allow himself to be comforted. He fully intends to mourn for his son the rest of his life.
Notice that the term “daughters” is plural in its usage. We do not know the number of the daughters of Israel, but he had more than only Dinah.
(Gen 37:36 NASB) Meanwhile, the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer, the captain of the bodyguard.
Gen 37:36: Joseph ended up in Egypt. The sons of Israel who sold him think he will spend the rest of his probably short life as a slave in Midian. This compounds the surprise when they find him as second in command in Egypt years later.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas