So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him.
The dreams that Joseph told his family about apparently were the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Though the brothers already resented Joseph because he was the preferred child of their father (verse 4), Joseph’s dreams of rising to prominence over them resulted in deeper anger.
Unfortunately for Joseph, Jacob sent him out to check on his older brothers when their anger had reached a murderous level (verses 13-14). The brothers saw Joseph coming, and “they conspired against him to kill him” (verse 18).
The actions of the brothers against Joseph set in motion events that would literally change the course of history.
The brothers originally intended to murder Joseph as soon as he arrived. But those plans changed when Reuben, the firstborn of the family, intervened to save Joseph’s life. Reuben convinced the other nine brothers to cast Joseph into a pit and leave him to die on his own. Reuben’s intention was to return later and rescue Joseph (verse 22).
Reuben’s plan was working until a band of Midianites passed through the area. The other nine brothers realized that Joseph could be sold as a slave—giving them some money to divide among themselves. They also reasoned that their actions weren’t as bad if they didn’t actually kill Joseph themselves (verse 27). Unfortunately, human beings have a proclivity toward reasoning in a way that makes them feel better about their own sins (Proverbs 14:12).
All this occurred while Reuben was gone; and when he returned, he found Joseph gone. He had not been able to save Joseph (Genesis 37:29-30). He knew that, as the oldest brother, he was ultimately responsible for what went on there; and perhaps he foresaw the negative ramifications of this event.
Joseph, formerly the privileged son of Jacob, was now heading to Egypt as a slave. It’s hard to imagine the emotions Joseph must have felt—as he lost his freedom and his family in one day.
His life—and the history of his people—would never be the same.
The brothers’ actions were rooted in their anger and jealousy toward Joseph. Read our Aug. 1, 2013, Daily Bible Verse Blog post to learn about God’s advice to Cain (who dealt with a similar problem) that would have kept these unfortunate events from occurring.
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “The Brothers’ Sin Leads to Deception.”