Sketched X Day 5 Injustice Upon Injustice: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

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The Questions

1) Why did Joseph’s brothers hate that he was a “dream expert”? (verse 19)

2) Why would the brothers consider selling Joseph rather than killing him? (verse 27)

3) Why would Jacob refuse to be comforted? (verse 35)

Genesis 37:12-36

12 His brothers had gone to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem. 13 Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers, you know, are pasturing the flocks at Shechem. Get ready. I’m sending you to them.”

“I’m ready,” Joseph replied.

14 Then Israel said to him, “Go and see how your brothers and the flocks are doing, and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the Hebron Valley, and he went to Shechem.

15 A man found him there, wandering in the field, and asked him, “What are you looking for?”

16 “I’m looking for my brothers,” Joseph said. “Can you tell me where they are pasturing their flocks?”

17 “They’ve moved on from here,” the man said. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph set out after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

18 They saw him in the distance, and before he had reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Oh, look, here comes that dream expert! 20 So now, come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the pits. We can say that a vicious animal ate him. Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”

21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from them. He said, “Let’s not take his life.” 22 Reuben also said to them, “Don’t shed blood. Throw him into this pit in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him”—intending to rescue him from them and return him to his father.

23 When Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped off Joseph’s robe, the long-sleeved robe that he had on. 24 Then they took him and threw him into the pit. The pit was empty, without water.

25 They sat down to eat a meal, and when they looked up, there was a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were carrying aromatic gum, balsam, and resin, going down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come on, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay a hand on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh,” and his brothers agreed. 28 When Midianite traders passed by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took Joseph to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone! What am I going to do?” 31 So they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a male goat, and dipped the robe in its blood. 32 They sent the long-sleeved robe to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it. Is it your son’s robe or not?”

33 His father recognized it. “It is my son’s robe,” he said. “A vicious animal has devoured him. Joseph has been torn to pieces!” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth around his waist, and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said. “I will go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” And his father wept for him.

36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and the captain of the guards.

Original Intent

1) Why did Joseph’s brothers hate that he was a “dream expert”? (verse 19)
Joseph’s brothers plotted to kill him, saying, “Oh, look, here comes that dream expert! So now, come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the pits. We can say that a vicious animal ate him. Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!” (verses 19-20) They were jealous of their father’s favoritism toward Joseph. (Genesis 37:4) Joseph was a son of Jacob’s old age, born to his favorite wife, Rachel. Jacob gifted him a coat of many colors signifying his favor and affection. (Genesis 37:3) Joseph angered his brothers by describing his dreams from God, especially the ones that prophesied they would bow down to him. (Genesis 37:5-10) Matthew Henry notes that Joseph’s brothers “rightly interpreted the dream, though they abhorred the interpretation of it. While they committed crimes in order to defeat it, they were themselves the instruments of accomplishing it.” The brothers tried to derail Joseph’s dreams because they couldn’t see that God was preparing Joseph to save the lives of His people. They only saw Joseph as their annoying, spoiled, arrogant baby brother. They thought their actions put Joseph in his place, but God used their betrayal to further his plans for Joseph’s destiny. (Genesis 50:20) God graciously uses our own difficult times to fulfill His purposes in our lives. Ruth Chou Simons reminds, “Joseph fixed his eyes on the ultimate purpose of his affliction: to know the Lord’s faithfulness to accomplish His will in and through a life dependent on Him.” When we rely on God to perform His will through us, like Joseph, the haters and naysayers cannot kill the dreams and plans of the Lord.

2) Why would the brothers consider selling Joseph rather than killing him? (verse 27)
When Joseph’s brothers saw an opportunity to get rid of their brother, their minds raced quickly from how to kill him to how to explain his absence to their father. (Genesis 37:27) Their hatred took them from plotting murder to abuse and abandonment and finally to betrayal. Although they initially wanted to kill their brother, they reasoned that selling Joseph into slavery was better than killing their own flesh and blood. They callously plotted to sell Joseph to a caravan of merchants they saw in the distance while they sat around eating a meal together rather than murder him. All the while, Joseph languished in a pit, begging for mercy. They convinced themselves they were doing their brother a favor by letting him live instead of killing him or leaving him for dead. They were avoiding the guilt of murdering their brother while still benefitting from his absence in their lives. They allowed their hate and jealousy to rationalize their ungodly behavior. (Jeremiah 17:9) When they unknowingly encountered Joseph decades later and ran into trouble, they lamented by saying, “We are being punished for what we did to our brother. We saw his deep distress when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen. That is why this trouble has come to us.” (Genesis 42:21) Joseph’s brothers regretted their cruelty and eventually rejoiced that God used their evil plans for His purposes. (Genesis 45:8) Samuel Emadi suggests Joseph’s story shows us that “God can pull off the impossible even through a seemingly insignificant Jew rejected by his own brothers.” Thankfully, God also promises to do the same for us regardless of the rejection or persecution we face. He is faithful to complete the good work He begins in our lives! (Philippians 1:6)

3) Why would Jacob refuse to be comforted? (verse 35)
When Jacob’s oldest sons convinced him his beloved son, Joseph, had been killed by a wild animal, Jacob refused to be comforted, saying he would go down to Sheol to his son. (Genesis 37:35) Jacob meant, according to author Matthew Poole, “I will kill myself with grief, or I will never leave mourning till I die.” Jacob couldn’t accept that his favorite son had come to such a horrific end. Had he understood how much his older sons hated Joseph, he would never have sent him among them unprotected. His favoritism blinded him so much (Genesis 37:3) he couldn’t comprehend that others couldn’t see the obvious excellence of Joseph. (Genesis 37:11) Jacob unwittingly fostered a sense of jealousy and inferiority in his older sons by taking unmitigated delight in Joseph and his talents. He should have known better, for much the same situation played out in his own father’s family with his brother Esau, favored son of their father. Jacob had been the favorite of his mother and it nearly cost him his life. (Genesis 27) Dane Ortlund notes, “Jacob, having deceived his father Isaac with a slaughtered goat and the garments of his father’s favorite son, Esau, is himself deceived by his own sons with a slaughtered goat and the garments of his own favorite son, Joseph.” It is little wonder that Jacob could not be comforted by those who deceived him and refused to lessen his pain by telling him the truth of Joseph’s whereabouts. As David Guzik points out, “Pretended comfort from those who both did the crime and covered it up was of no help to Jacob.” Without true comforters, Jacob mourned inconsolably for the loss of his cherished son of promise.

Everyday Application

1) Why did Joseph’s brothers hate that he was a “dream expert”? (verse 19)
Have you known someone who was “so perfect” you couldn’t stand them? For me, it was my friend Missy in grade school. She was nice, pretty, and smart, with long, golden hair. She never did an unkind thing to anyone, yet I couldn’t abide how wonderful she was. I was jealous of her abilities and how much everyone loved her. It made me unreasonably gleeful when she eventually faced hardship. My parents were shocked at my hatefulness and quickly set me straight, reminding me she had problems like everyone else, and that celebrating her accomplishments in no way diminished mine. I was soon able to release my jealousy and view Missy as a real person with strengths and weaknesses. The Old Testament story of Joseph recounts a tale of ugly jealousy brought on by Jacob favoring his younger son, Joseph, over his older sons. When Joseph described the dreams God gave him, their jealousy made them hate the young “dream expert(Genesis 37:19) rather than listen to him or try to mentor him to discover God’s plan for him and them. Instead of helping Joseph pursue God’s purposes, they tried to thwart God’s design by silencing Joseph once and for all. God cannot be thwarted; what the brothers intended for evil, God used for good. (Romans 8:28) Samuel Emadi asserts, “Through Joseph, God [was] reversing the curse—unraveling violence through forgiveness, unrighteousness through righteousness, and hunger through wisdom.” God helped Joseph persevere, grow, and thrive in troubled times, using the challenges Joseph faced to perfect His Divine plans.

2) Why would the brothers consider selling Joseph rather than killing him? (verse 27)
It is easy to justify actions that displease God. Once I comforted myself with the thought, “What I did wouldn’t even earn a PG movie rating.” I have reassured myself by thinking, “Everyone else did worse than me.” I focus on how much worse I could have done rather than on the sin I actually committed to relieve my guilt of disobeying God. Joseph’s brothers also justified their actions when they mistreated him because of their jealousy. After planning his murder, they changed course and decided to sell him into slavery “and not lay a hand on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” (Genesis 37:27) After plotting to kill Joseph, selling him into slavery seemed almost benevolent. They could avoid having blood on their hands and Joseph lived, albeit as a slave in a foreign land. Still, it wasn’t murder, so they convinced themselves it was a good plan. They were focused on their own selfish ambition (Philippians 2:3) and not God’s plans for Joseph. To God, it is sin to know what is right to do and yet not do it. (James 4:17) While we examine the degrees of our sin, God is concerned with our disobedience and the fact that every sin separates us from Him. (Isaiah 59:2) Rather than rationalize our sin, God wants us to confess our sin to receive His forgiveness as He cleanses us from unrighteousness; a feat that’s impossible on our own! (1 John 1:9) Justifying sin to myself and others eventually results in regret and sends me down a slippery slope of more sin and disobedience. Confessing my sin to God and allowing Him to cleanse and change me produces real peace (Romans 5:1); a gift that no amount of rationalization offers.

3) Why would Jacob refuse to be comforted? (verse 35)
The Search is a movie depicting a post-WWII tale of a mother separated from her young son during their time at Auschwitz. At war’s end, she desperately tries to find her boy but constantly runs into road blocks. She is told there is no hope and that she must face the reality they may never meet again, but she refuses to give up. Everywhere she turns she finds sympathetic people trying to comfort her, but she has no time for them. She volunteers at various reunification camps around the country, hoping to find her son and help others find their children in the meantime. I thought of this movie and the fierce love and determination of a grieving parent when I read these verses in Genesis. When Jacob was led to believe that his favorite son, Joseph, was dead, he refused to be comforted (Genesis 37:35) though all his sons and daughters gathered to console him (as depicted in the painting Jacob Mourns His Son Joseph). As soon as Reuben discovered Joseph had been sold into slavery, he despaired, knowing that his father would be distraught. (Genesis 37:29) Jacob wouldn’t grieve his loss and move on, he would mourn the loss of his favorite son by his beloved wife, Rachel, until the day he died. Even 20 years later, when the older brothers planned to take Joseph’s brother, Benjamin, to Egypt with them, Jacob still mourned the loss of Joseph and feared losing Benjamin. (Genesis 42:38) When he later learned that Joseph was alive and he traveled to see him, he proclaimed, ““I’m ready to die now because I have seen your face and you are still alive!” (Genesis 46:30) Jacob could finally stop mourning his son and rejoice that God fulfilled the dreams He gave to Joseph so many years before.

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

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Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

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