Why Joseph? Will the covenant go through him? The twelve sons have not yet been shown who will carry on the promised seed. Joseph is being set up here as a type... a picture of the suffering Messiah who is to come. And indeed, he will be the one to physically save the line of Israel in what comes next. Without the story of Joseph, Israel perishes.
At age 17, we see that little Joe is out in the fields with his half brothers, the sons of Zilpah and Bilhah. It seems that Leah's sons were somewhere else at this point.
So Joseph is hanging out with Gad, Asher, Dan, and Naphtali. The Hebrew term suggests that Joseph is the senior shepherd. We don't know exactly what those older brothers were doing, but Joey brings a bad report to his father about them.
I'm sure they did not appreciate the little tattletale.
Not only that, but verse 3 tells us that Israel loves Joseph more than the others because he is the child of his old age. (Notice that Jacob is called by the covenant name Israel here. And hey! What about Benjamin?)
Joseph is also given a fancy schmancy tunic by his dad. This tunic is highly symbolic - it is a sign of a father's great favor. (The favoritism is getting thick in here!)
In Joseph’s day, everyone had a coat. These coats or cloaks were used to keep warm, carry belongings and even to serve as security for a loan. Most are reported to have been very plain, about knee length, and with shorter sleeves - they were merely functional. In contrast, the coat Jacob gave his son was colorful, ankle length, long-sleeved, and probably more in keeping with what royalty wore - it was beautiful.
By verse 4, we see how much his brothers already despise him. So you can imagine their reaction to what follows next.
Beginning in verse 5,
Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.”
And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
It gets worse, at least from the brothers' perspective:
Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”
So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
|The sale of Joseph by his brothers|
- Joseph is highly favored of his father
- Joseph is given a special mantle, or tunic, by his father
- Joseph is envied and then hated by his brothers
- The brothers didn't like what Joseph has to say
- Joseph is sent by his father, for a special purpose, to his brothers
- Joseph is willing to be his father's servant
- Joseph traipses all over the country seeking his brothers
- Joseph is rejected by his brothers
- The brothers plot to kill him
- His brothers strip him of his tunic
- Joseph's brothers argue over what to do with him
- Joseph is placed into the ground by his brothers
- Joseph is sold for silver, arranged by Judah (Judas)
- The brothers turn him over to foreigners
- Joseph's demise is filled with deception
- The account is peppered with symbols of death
- Substitutionary blood is shed
- Joseph's father mourns in deep agony
- Joseph is sent to the country of Egypt, a biblical metaphor for sin
- Joseph goes to Egypt to escape death (Ironically, Yeshua's father brought his family to Egypt because of a dream)
Click here to see what I mean.