When we first meet Joseph, his brothers already hate him. Why? Because he is his father’s favorite. Joseph, 17, is “a son of old age to him.” In other words, he is the baby. Jacob loves Joseph so much that he gives him and him alone a fancy coat of many colors.
Jacob’s other sons come to their father and gossip falsely about him. They hate him and “could not speak to him in peace.”
To make matters worse, Joseph tells the brothers two dreams that he has had. In the first dream all the brothers are binding up bundles of wheat and Joseph’s wheat stands up, while all the other wheat bundles bow down to it. Then Joseph tells them another dream. The sun and the moon and eleven stars bow down to Joseph! Joseph’s father, Jacob, understands this dream right away and hits the ceiling. “What kind of dream Is this that you have dreamt? Shall I and your mom and all your brothers bow down to you?”
Now Joseph’s brothers go to tend their father’s sheep in Shekhem. Jacob sends Joseph to “look into the well-being (or “shalom”) of his brothers.
But Joseph’s brothers see him from far away and decide to kill him.
Reuben says “Whoa, guys! Don’t kill him. Throw him in a pit instead.”
OK. They strip Joseph’s coat of many colors and throw him into the pit!
So they’re sitting around eating bread, when they look up and see some Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Now Judah says “Look. Let’s not kill Joseph. Let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites. After all, he IS our brother. So they sell him as a slave.
Reuben returns to the pit. He is really upset, but by this time he can’t do anything.
The brothers take Joseph’s coat and kill a hairy goat and dip Joseph’s coat in the hairy goat’s blood. Then they bring the coat to Jacob to identify and Jacob recognizes it.
All his sons and daughters arise to comfort him, but Jacob refuses to be comforted.
Food for Thought
Why does Joseph tell his dreams to his brothers?