14 Feb. Genesis 37:25-34

14 Feb. Joseph is sold into slavery

“While Joseph was in the well, the brothers sat down to eat. When they looked up, they saw a group of Ishmaelites travelling from Gilead to Egypt. Their camels were carrying spices, balm and myrrh.”

“Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What will we gain if we kill our brother and hide his death? Let’s sell him to these Ishmaelites. Then we will not be guilty of killing our own brother. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.’ And the other brothers agreed.”

“So when the Midianite traders came by, the brothers took Joseph out of the well and sold him to the Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of silver. And the Ishmaelites took him to Egypt.”

“When Reuben came back to the well and Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes to show he was sad. Then he went back to his brothers and said, ‘The boy is not there! What shall I do?’”

“The brothers killed a goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood. Then they brought the long-sleeved robe to their father and said, ‘We found this robe. Look it over carefully and see if it is your son’s robe.’”

“Jacob looked it over and said, ‘It is my son’s robe! Some savage animal has eaten him. My son Joseph has been torn to pieces!’ Then Jacob tore his clothes and put on rough cloth to show that he was sad, and he continued to be sad about his son for a long time.”

          (Genesis 37:25-34)



What sort of men were the twelve sons of Jacob who became the forefathers of the twelve tribes of Israel? We’re accustomed to thinking of Joseph’s brothers as a lovable bunch of rascals who indulged in the Old Testament version of ‘laddish’ behaviour. In reality, they were a gang of thugs who indulged in theft, kidnap, grievous bodily harm and attempted murder.

As soon as they spotted their seventeen-year-old brother who had been sent to visit them by their elderly father, they plotted to kill him. The plan was to break his neck by throwing him into a deep well, and then to deceive their father into thinking he had been killed by a wild animal.

Only Reuben was opposed to the murder. He planned to rescue Joseph and return him to his father. But while Reuben was away, Judah suggested that the brothers could make more money by selling Joseph as a slave to passing traders.

So after stealing his expensive multi-coloured coat and keeping him barely alive at the bottom of a dry well, Joseph was sold to a caravan of merchants going down to Egypt. The brothers then nearly destroyed their own father by telling him a bare-faced lie about his favourite son being torn to pieces by a ferocious animal.

The story then went from bad to worse. In a lesser known sequel, Joseph’s elder brother Judah disgraced himself further by having intercourse with his own widowed daughter-in-law, whom he mistook for a shrine prostitute (see Genesis 38:1-30). He then threatened to have her burnt alive for prostitution until she revealed that he, himself, was the father of the child she had conceived!

The photo shows an avenue of sphinxes lining the processional route from Karnak Temple to Luxor Temple in Egypt.

You can read more about Joseph’s captivity in Egypt @ The Bible Journey | Joseph becomes Vizier of Egypt

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