And now we continue to see God at work in Joseph’s life. (See last week’s blog – “Joseph, God-incidents”)
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. Gen. 37:17
The “bros” see the dreamer coming. It stirs up their bitterness once again. In fact, while they’re out here away from everybody, they hatch their evil plot.
“Come now. let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams.” Gen. 37:20
Did you hear the word, “kill?”
At least the oldest brother, Reuben, has some sense of decency and cares for his father, if not his brother Joseph. He tells his brothers;
“Let’s not take his life. Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Gen. 37:22
Reuben reasons that when the brothers are asleep, he will rescue Joseph and take him back to their father.
The brothers apparently agree to the plan. Thank you, brother Reuben! However, for Joseph, I’m not sure which would be worse, be killed quickly or left to starve to death in a hole in the ground. Either way, the brothers seem ruthless and uncaring.
So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the richly ornamented robe he was wearing—and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Gen. 37:23, 24
I can imagine that they taunt and tease him slowly, enjoying their advantage, while they release a steady flow of their pent-up jealousy and anger. We don’t hear Joseph’s frantic cries and pleas as he, no doubt, struggles to be released. But with several strong hands and restraining arms around him, he hasn’t a chance.
Callously, they sit down to eat a meal, ignoring his pleas for help from the pit of the dry cistern.
Our next God-incident is about to happen. A caravan of Ishmaelite traders comes down the road. Brother Judah has an idea.
“What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” Gen. 37:27
I always wish for voice inflection and facial expression to decipher statements like, “…after all he is our brother.” Was he being facetious or was there any genuine concern? Were the brothers thinking of Joseph or the money? Whatever their motives, they agree to the deal; Joseph is sold for 20 shekels of silver, and off he goes to Egypt.
Once again God intervenes. He prompts Reuben to delay a killing, provides a foreign caravan, and plants the selling idea in Judah’s head. All because God wants Joseph to get to Egypt. Joseph’s story is kind of the “bad news-good news” deal. While Joseph may be thankful to be out of the pit, the prospects of heading toward slavery can’t be a very welcoming thought. At least our hero is alive, but oh, the lessons he must learn ahead.
Have you ever felt like “this is the bottom of the pit”? It can’t get any worse. Then, sure enough, it gets even more frightening. The only way is up. That’s when the Lord really has our attention. Next week, some good news.
~ Joyce ~