This chapter is about Joseph’s dreams & Joseph being sold by his brothers. Yes, you read that right. He gets sold as a slave, by his brothers. All over jealousy. And it started over his dream. The dream is about Joseph being over his brothers, in a leadership-type of way. It’s a great read! I’ve used this as an example in my life with my daughter. (She gets jealous over her younger brother & sister. Luckily, she gets it. And that makes me one happy mama bear! But I digress.)
Jacob/Israel lived in Canaan, where his dad had lived. “This is the account of Jacob.” Joseph (this is the same Joseph with the technicolor coat/robe of many colors), whose 17, was tending to the flocks with his brothers (the sons of Bilhah & Zilpah, his dad’s wives). Joseph brought home a bad report about them, the brothers.
Now Israel/Jacob loved Joseph more than his other sons, because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. Israel/Jacob gave him the robe/coat of many colors. When his brothers saw that Jacob/Israel loved him more than any of them, they hated (yes, hated!) him & couldn’t say anything nice to him.
Joseph then has a dream. When he tells his brothers his dream, they hated him even more. (This was Joseph’s downfall. He should’ve either kept it to himself. But again, I digress!) Joseph told his brothers, “Let me tell you about this dream I had. We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field. When suddenly my sheaf rose & stood straight up. While your sheaves gathered around mine & bowed down to it.”
His brothers say, “Are you gonna rule over us?!” They hated him EVEN MORE because of this dream & Joseph telling them about it! Then Joseph had another dream. He told his brothers about this 2nd dream too. (Idiot!) Joseph says, “Look guys, I had another dream! This time the sun & moon, plus 11 stars were bowing to me.”
Joseph told Jacob/Israel as well as his brothers, his dad rebuked him. Saying, “What the hell is this dream? Will your mom & I, your brothers actually come & bow down before you?” His brothers were jealous of him. But his dad kept the matter in mind. (This makes me think that Jacob/Israel is a little slow. If he kept this in mind, then why didn’t he think that his other sons had something to do with what comes next!!!)
Now Joseph’s brothers had gone to graze their dad’s flocks near Shechem (the city). Israel/Jacob told Joseph to go see how his brothers & the flocks were doing, & report back. Then Israel/Jacob sent Joseph off from the Valley of Hebron. When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a random man found him wandering around & asked him what he was looking for. Joseph answered by telling the man that he was looking at for his brothers. The man told him that they moved on to Dothan.
So Joseph went after his brothers & found them near Dothan. The brothers seen Joseph coming in the distance. Before Joseph reached the brothers, they plotted to kill him. Reuben tried to rescue him from their hands, he threw out the idea of throwing Joseph into a cistern instead of killing him. He did this so he could rescue him later.
So when Joseph got to the brothers, they stripped him of his coat of many colors. They took him & put into the cistern. But the cistern had no water in it. As they sat down to eat, they looked up & saw some Ishmaelites (I wonder if this is an early term for Muslims.) coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm, & myrrh (I wonder if this is apart of the Silk/Spice Road…). They were on their way to take these items to Egypt.
Judah says to his brothers, “Let’s sell our brother to the Ishmaelites. Let’s not kill him. After all, he’s our flesh & blood.” His brothers agreed. So when the Midianite (or the Ishmaelite) merchants came by, Joseph’s brothers took him out of the cistern. They sold him for 20 shekels (about 8 ounces) of silver to the Ishmaelites. The Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt.
When Reuben got back to the cistern (I guess somehow Reuben wasn’t with his other brothers when Joseph was sold.), he saw that Joseph was there. He tore his clothes. Reuben went back to the brothers & said to them, “Joseph’s not there! Where can I turn now?” (This is what makes me think that Reuben wasn’t with the brothers when Joseph was sold. Because he would’ve known that Joseph wasn’t in the cistern.)
They then got Joseph’s robe/coat/technicolor jacket, killed a goat, & dipped the robe in the blood. They took the robe back to Jacob/Israel, asking him to ID the robe as Joseph’s. Jacob/Israel IDs the robe, thinking some ferocious animal had got ahold of him. Then Jacob/Israel tore his clothes, put on a sackcloth & mourned for his son for many days. All of his kids came to comfort him, but Jacob/Israel refused to be comforted. Telling them, “In mourning will I go down to Sheol (the Jewish equivalent of the afterlife, where the soul goes after death.) to my son.” So Jacob/Israel wept for Joseph.
Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar (who we’ll talk about later.). Potiphar was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.