About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Verse 1 tells us that
Jacob lived in the land where his father lived, and that was the land
Chapter 37 begins a new
phase in the book of Genesis. We
now turn from Jacob and zero in on Joseph.
Joseph was the first son born to Jacob's wife Rachel, the wife he
loved the most. Rachel had
one other son and his name was Benjamin.
In verse 2 we see that at
this point in time, Joseph was a young man at the age of 17.
The Hebrew word that is translated as "young" here
suggests not only young as we would know it, but young in the sense of
being an "apprentice".
In verse 2 we see that
Joseph was working with some of his brothers in the field attending to
the flocks. This is probably
what he was apprenticing in. The
brothers that are specifically mentioned here are those born from both
Leah and Rachel's maid-servants.
It says in verse 2 that
Joseph brought a bad report from the field to his father Jacob.
Many scholars believe that Joseph was simply being a "tattle
tale" here, and might have been that type of person since he was
young, and since his father Jacob loved him more than the other sons, as
seen in verse 3. He might
well have been spoiled.
You will remember that
Jacob's father Isaac loved Esau, Jacob's brother, more than Jacob.
We know from previous chapters that Jacob and his mother Rebekah
did not like that. You might think that Jacob would have learned
something from that, and not played favorites like his father and
mother, but I guess he didn't learn.
The reason why Jacob
loved Joseph more than his other sons was because he was the first of
two boys born to his favorite wife Rachel.
It only makes sense that Jacob would have a fondness then for
We also see in verse 3
that because Jacob loved Joseph the best, he made a special coat for
him. Now most of us learned
in Sunday School that this was "a coat of many colors", but
this isn't necessarily the case.
The Hebrew word translated here has debatable origins.
Many scholars see this as a coat of many colors but there are
just as many, if not more, that believe this coat to be a "long
sleeved" coat, also known as a tunic.
Whatever the case, this is a special coat.
It is not special in the way it was made, it was special because
Jacob gave it to Joseph and not to anyone else.
The coat is merely a symbol of Jacob's favoritism, something that
Joseph's brother's despised.
There is a lot of
apparent symbolism in the story of Joseph.
Many people see it as prophetic of the life of Jesus.
This coat is one example of the symbolism.
It was a special coat. Jesus
too had a special coat.
Verse 5 might even
suggest that the giving of this coat was the straw the broke the camels
back with the brothers. They
came to hate Joseph. They
could not even speak a kind word to him.
Jacob's twelve sons were quite a lot of rough and tough
characters, and these are the father's of Israel. These are the
leaders of what would become
to be known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
It is quite clear that the Bible does not hide the sins of those
God has chosen. The Bible is
very transparent, and we should be too.
The church these days often covers things over to make themselves
look good. God certainly
didn't do that in the pages of the Bible.
Here in 2010 there are
major scandals in the Catholic church over child sex abuse.
Many in the Catholic church say that the church should not
address these issues. They
say that Jesus wouldn't expose these things for the sake of the dignity
of the church. That is
wrong. Jesus exposed the sin
of the Pharisees, and He would expose the sin of the Catholic church
Joseph had a couple of
dreams. In verse 5 we see
the introduction of the first dream, and as the text states, the
brothers hated Joseph even more after he told them the dream.
I think Joseph wasn't really being arrogant in the telling of
these dreams. I think he was
simply na´ve. He just
didn't think of the implications of him telling the dreams to his
brothers that already hated him. I
could be wrong on this point. One
can't really be sure. Joseph
would have known that his brothers hated him.
He knew he was daddy's boy. Maybe he was just rubbing it in a
In verses 6 and 7 we can
certainly see why the brothers got furious with Joseph.
He told them the dream. They
were all gathering grain to be harvested, binding the grain into
sheaves. Joseph's sheaf
suddenly grew tall and the other sheaves surrounded Joseph's sheaf and
bowed down to it. The dream
clearly suggest that Joseph is superior to his brothers.
This dream, as well as
the next dream is clearly prophetic.
I'm not sure how Joseph viewed the dream, that is, if he really
understood its prophetic nature. If
he did, then he might well have felt compelled to share the dream.
Besides that, he may have had a number of motivations to sharing
the dream. As I say later,
he might simply be na´ve, or else a little spiteful.
We see in verse 8 that
the brothers hated Joseph more than ever.
They asked, and I'm sure in a very sarcastic way, "will you
rule over us?" The
question wasn't meant to be answered.
The brothers were simply saying that there was no way Joseph
would rule over them. He was
the eleventh in the line of twelve brothers.
He certainly would not get the birthright, the blessing that
would make him the head of the family once Jacob died.
Verse 9 tells us of the
second dream that he had, and that he told his brothers once again.
I guess he didn't learn any lesson from the first dream.
He must have known that his brothers would be even more angry
after this dream.
In Joseph's dream there
was the sun, moon and eleven stars.
They all bowed down to him. Once
again, this did represent Joseph being in a place of authority over his
brothers. The eleven stars
represent his eleven brothers. As
yet, I'm not sure one hundred percent what the sun and the moon
represent. My guess is that
the sun and moon represent Jacob and Rachel because of what is said in
This dream is very
interesting for prophetic reasons.
In Revelation 12:1 we see the same symbolism.
There is a woman clothed in the sun and a moon and twelve stars.
The obvious question is, "who is this woman".
Some say she is the church. That
can't be because the woman gives birth to a man child.
The church has never given birth to a man child, but
We will see later that
this dream did come true.
In verse 10 we see that
Joseph told his father and his father seemed just as upset as the
brothers, even though he loved Joseph.
He said, "will I, your mother and your brothers bow down to
the eleven stars clearly represent the eleven brothers, I would suggest
that the sun and moon represent Jacob and Rachel.
I think it is clear that this is how Jacob interpreted the dream
from what he said. He
included himself and Rachel, his wife as bowing down before Joseph,
along with the eleven brothers. Yet
when it comes to the sun and moon in Revelation 12, I've yet to be
convinced to what that means. There
might not actually be a specific interpretation for each of the sun,
moon and stars. All three
put together might simply represent Israel.
Verse 11 states that the
brothers were jealous of Joseph. Everyone
knew that Jacob loved Joseph the best, and even though Jacob reacted
negatively to this dream, we don't know if the brothers knew that.
Verse 11 says that Jacob "kept the matter in his mind,"
much like Mary did when she knew that Jesus was the son of God.
She pondered those things in her heart.
This tells me that even though Jacob was upset with Joseph, he
might well have thought that there was something to these two dreams.
In verses 12 and 13 we
see the eleven brothers grazing Jacob's flocks near Shechem.
Once again, we see Jacob living near Shechem, when all along God
wanted him in Bethel.
Jacob, who is called
In verse 14 Jacob tells
Joseph to go and see how the brothers are doing and then come back and
report to him what is happening. This
seems to be down Joseph's alley, so to speak.
He liked being a "tattle tale", or so some think.
Reporting back on his brothers might be something he'd like to
do, but something his brothers didn't like him doing.
We see the
From verses 15 to 17 we
see Joseph go to the field where his brothers were supposed to be.
They weren't there. A
man told Joseph that they had moved on, and so Joseph eventually found
them grazing the flocks in another field.
In verse 19 the brothers
see Joseph coming. They
said, "here comes that dreamer"
Once again, this was very sarcastic.
Sarcastic is really an understatement.
In verse twenty they decide to kill Joseph.
So you can see that they're more than sarcastic.
The plan was to kill him, throw him into a dry pit, and say a
wild animal devoured him.
In verses 21 and 22 we
see that Rueben, the oldest of the brothers.
He was born from Leah. He suggested that they should just throw
him into the pit alive and not kill him.
When no one was around, Rueben would rescue Joseph and take him
back to his father. It would
appear since Rueben was the oldest son, he felt responsible for Joseph.
By throwing Joseph into
the pit, the brothers would just leave him there to die.
They would not have to actually kill him with their own hands.
This idea seemed good to the other ten brothers. It's
a passive form of killing, not really an active form of killing, which
might be a bit easier on the conscience.
In verses 23 and 24 the
brothers take Joseph. They
take his special coat off and throw him into the pit, that we learn has
no water in it. So Joseph
could not drown. This pit
was actually a dry well.
While the brothers were
in eating in verse 25 a caravan of Ishmaelites came by loaded down with
all sorts of goods that they were gong to sell in Egypt. You might remember that
the Ishmaelites are descendents of Ishmael,
Isaac's half brother.
In verses 27 and 28
At this point I should
point out that many scholars see the resemblance between this event and
the life of Jesus close to his death.
This whole event is seen as prophetic by many people, and I can
certainly see how people see this.
It is also interesting
the Joseph was sold into the hands of relatives, although relatives that
were at odds with Israel. Jesus was sold into the
hands of His people, the Jews, as well.
In verse 28 we see the
term "Midianites" in relation to the caravan of men that
previously was called "Ishmaelites", and are also called
"Ishmaelites" in the last part of this verse.
The question is thus asked, who were these men?
Were they Ishmaelites or Midianites?
They were probably both. Remember,
Ishmael was born from Hagar, Abraham's concubine.
Midian was born to Abraham's concubine Keturah. (Gen.25:2)
Keturah and her children were sent away by Abraham.
They eventually ended up to the east of the
Joseph's brothers sold
him to these men for twenty shekels of silver.
This was the going rate for a young slave.
A shekel is a weight of measure.
It is not a coin. So
they would have weighed out twenty shekels of silver, or else they just
knew how much twenty shekels were.
The caravan was going to
In verse 29 we see that
Rueben tore his clothes when he returned to the pit to see Joseph
missing. Why he left, we
don't know. The ripping of
clothes is a custom that shows disgust and anger.
So in verse 30 he asked his brothers where Joseph was.
Again, I think Rueben feels responsible for Joseph since he is
the oldest son. He
might have resented Joseph, but this resentment was balanced with
responsibility. Some people
suggest that since he lost his birthright because he slept with his
father's concubine, he wanted Joseph to receive the birthright and be
the head of the family. We
don't know this for sure. It's
At this point the
brothers had to devise a plan to present to their father.
Joseph would not return home so they had to come up with a good
reason. In verses 31 and 32
the brothers kill a goat, dipped Joseph's coat in the blood, to give to
their father. They asked
Jacob if this was Joseph's coat. Of
course, they knew it was Joseph's coat.
Again, some see the shedding of blood here as symbolic of the
shedding of blood by Jesus.
In verse 33 Jacob
recognizes the coat right away and assumed that Joseph was attacked and
killed by a wild animal. This
is just the response that the brothers wanted to hear from their father.
So once again, we see how
the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel
behaved. They weren't a
godly group of men, but these were the men that God had chosen and had
promised Abraham to be a great nation.
In verse 34 we see the
Jewish custom. Jacob tore
his clothes as did Rueben a few verses earlier.
He also covered himself with
sackcloth and mourned greatly, which was yet another custom.
In verse 35 Jacob's sons
and daughters try to comfort him and make him feel better, but he
refused. He told them,
"in mourning will I go
down to the grave to my son."
Jacob was saying that he would now mourn and be in sorrow to the
day he dies.
"grave" here is the Hebrew word "Sheol".
"Sheol" was understood in Hebrew culture to be the
place of the departed dead. In
many places throughout Genesis we've seen people die, and the text
usually says that the one who dies is gathered with his people.
That means they go to Sheol to be with their loved ones.
This is what Jacob is saying.
He will be in mourning until he dies, goes to Sheol to see Joseph
once again, and at that point, he will stop mourning.
"Hades" is the New Testament Greek word for the Hebrew word
was a place where both the righteous and unrighteous would go to after
death. The New Testament
suggests the Jesus went to "Sheol" or "Hades" to
release the righteous dead after His death.
Hebrew culture did not
separate the soul from the body. The
soul was the total sum of all that made a person.
As in creation, man was a living soul. Man
did not possess a soul. He
was a soul. For this reason
Hebrew tradition states that when a person died all of who he was sent
to "Sheol". The
dead therefore would be seen in "Sheol" with a body.
Verse 36 tells us the
fate of Joseph. Once the