Week Two – Genesis 38: Joseph & his Brothers

“So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. They saw him afar off, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild beast has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”

But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; cast him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand upon him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand, to restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and cast him into a pit. The pit was empty, there was no water in it.

Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ish?maelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ish?maelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers heeded him. Then Mid?ianite traders passed by; and they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver; and they took Joseph to Egypt.

When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he rent his clothes and returned to his brothers, and said, “The lad is gone; and I, where shall I go?” Then they took Joseph’s robe, and killed a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood; and they sent the long robe with sleeves and brought it to their father, and said, “This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not.”

And he recognized it, and said, “It is my son’s robe; a wild beast has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” Then Jacob rent his garments, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. Meanwhile the Mid?ianites had sold him in Egypt to Pot?i-phar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.”

1) Joseph was given a gift from his father Jacob, a beautiful coat of ‘many colors.’ St. Andrew of Crete in his Canon of Repentance sees Joseph’s coat as a spiritual symbol. What might this symbol be?
2) What parallels exist in this story of Joseph’s betrayal and his being “lowered” into the pit and the betrayal and death of the Messiah?
3) While being betrayed into the hands of his brothers, tied, bound, and lowered into the pit, Joseph makes no cry for deliverance or mercy. What do you think is the reason for his silence?
4) The story of Joseph’s betrayal, enslavement, imprisonment, and justification in the book of Genesis points to one primary lesson about having faith in God. What might this lesson be?
5) How did Joseph treat his brothers many years later after coming to Egypt looking for food during the famine?