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Read Genesis 37
—Yitz’chak was still alive and lived another 12 years after Yosef’s disappearance.
—The blessing Yitz’chak pronounced over his twin sons was unfolding. Ya’akov lived in the Promised Land (Kena’an) and ‘Esav had left it.
—Avrahamic blessing was coming near to pass…for a time, the Hebrews would live as strangers in a foreign land, and be oppressed. [READ Genesis 15:13]
>< v.1-4 Long-sleeved robe Yosef was 17 years old. He tattled on his older brothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, to their father, Israel, for doing a poor job.
[These were Ya’akov’s concubines. The Hebrew word here reads ish’ishah…a subtle mention of a status change from concubines to legal wives. It is understood that both Rachel and Le’ah were deceased at this point, so the elevated status]
Ya’akov/Israel always favoured Rachel over all his wives, and his two sons with her, Yosef & Benyamin. Yosef was his most beloved son, whom he fashioned a k’tonet passim. This royal robe was a visual trigger of jealousy and envy amongst the brothers as it represented Israel’s blatant favouritism of Yosef, who would prance around as an anointed prince. The brothers were so filled with hate and envy that they could not even bring themselves to offer him the standard, civil greeting “Peace be with you.”
>< v.5-11 Dreams Yosef was the eleventh out of twelve brothers. He lived in a bubble of self-awareness that kept him from recognizing the reality of his brothers’ hatred toward him. When he had dreams that excited him he fuels the flame of his brothers’ anger by opening his big mouth and ignorantly boasts.
**Notice how God communicates with Yosef through dreams rather than direct, two-way communication as He did with the patriarchs.
< v.12-17 Checking on the flock Why did Israel call Yosef to check on his brothers pasturing in Sh’khem (50 miles north of Hevron)? Remember, just a few years prior to this, they had slaughtered all the men in Sh’khem on account of their sister, Dinah, being raped. The desire for vengeance in the Middle East has been a long-time reality. Perhaps this was the reason Israel wanted to check on the wellbeing of his sons and his flocks.
When Yosef reaches Sh’khem his brothers are nowhere to be found and is told by a man that they moved on to Dotan (15 miles north of Sh’Khem / 3 days journey from Hevron). Dotan was a lush, hilly land and a site well-travelled by merchants on their journeys to Egypt.
**HINT:: Do you see God’s Providence at work here?
>< v.18-22 A plot to kill the dreamer From the vantage point of the hilly lands of Dotan, the brothers see Yosef, the dreamer, approaching and we’re told that they already plotted to kill him. Now was their opportunity!
What reason did Re’uven give his brothers to not take his life and shed blood…instead throw him into the dry well in the wilds? What was Re’uven’s real intent?
>< v.23-28 A twist in the plot Yosef was stripped of his royal tunic, thrown into the empty well, and left to starve to death…while the brothers sit down to eat.
Y’hudah saw an opportunity to make some material gains by selling Yosef as a slave instead of just letting him die of starvation in the pit…also easing their own conscience of having Yosef’s blood on their hands.
**Both sons of Avraham: Yishma’el from Hagar / Midyan from K’turah. The term Yishma’elim likely had been used to refer to all the Semetic peoples living in the area of Arabia, and Midyanim was a more specific identification.
>< v.29-30 Re’uven worries Why was Re’uven so distraught when he found the empty well? He had the most to lose because of his father’s special preference toward Yosef, yet he tried to tried to intervene and come to Yosef’s rescue. Why? As the eldest, he would be held responsible by his father.
>< v.31-36 Blood-stained robe The brothers didn’t even have to tell their lie. Israel came to the conclusion on his own that a wild animal had torn Yosef to pieces and eaten him. Just as he had deceived his own father with a lie, Israel was now deceived by his own sons’ lie. Israel refuses to be consoled and says “No, I will go to SHEOL, to my son, mourning.”
“In Egypt, the Midyanim sold Yosef to Potifar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, a captain of the guard.”
Do you see God’s Divine Providence at work in Gen. 37?