Genesis 34-37

Genesis 34: Dinah Defiled 


In this chapter, you will not read or hear the name of God. His Name ended chapter 33- it starts chapter 35. But in this chapter there is no mention of His Name. We do not see Jacob or anyone calling upon the name of the Lord.
How can any of us expect to respond to a crisis correctly if we do not first turn to the Lord?
In verse 1, we see young Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter visiting the Shechemite women.  Obviously Dinah wanted and needed some female companionship her own age- she needed some girl friends. But she was soon to find herself running around with the wrong crowd.
There is a time in a young person’s life where their peers quickly become the most important opinion makers in their lives. That is what peer pressure is all about.
Dinah began to compromise her beliefs and what her parents had taught her in order to be accepted by her new  friends.  Sound familiar?
In verse 2- we read about Shechem. Shechem, the son of Hamor, heir apparent to the wealth and power of all that belonged to his father. He appears to be the typical spoiled rich son. More than likely, handsome & a charmer- he was used to having his way with young women in the godless, pagan society he lived in. In a few words, we are told the story- he saw- he wanted – he took. The NIV states ‘ he violated her.’ KJV says ‘ he defiled her.’ Was it a crime of rape- or seduction of an innocent young girl?  Probably a combination- but a violation and defiling of an innocent young woman that resulted in  the taking of her virginity.
Verse 3 tells us Shechem falls in love with her. In fact, from this point in the story until verse 26, Dinah is actually living in his home. Shechem speaks tenderly to her and  tells his father he wants to marry her. In fact, ever, the spoiled brat that he tells his father-“ get this girl as my wife.” (Verse 4)
Vs. 5; Jacob hears about Dinah’s defilement. He seems to be paralyzed by the news. He does not consult  the Lord. He does not tell his sons. He keeps quiet until his sons return from the fields. Jacob seems to always want to put off confrontation, doesn’t he?  This is a family crisis- but Jacob does not call on the Lord, he does not bring in his sons to tell them what has happened.
Vs. 6: Hamor went out to talk with Jacob.
Vs. 7:  Good news travels slow- bad news travels fast. Jacob’s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what happened. They were filled with grief and fury because of this disgraceful thing.
Vs. 8-10: Notice  Hamor offers no apology for his son’s behavior. He looks at the whole affair as a perfect business opportunity. Intermarry with us and we will both prosper from this union. You do understand this proposal to intermarry is the work of the enemy, the devil, who wants to wipe out the budding Jewish nation via intermarriage with heathens- thus polluting the patriarchal line in a single generation.
This offer is made to Jacob.

However, before Jacob responds, young Shechem jumps in and says to Jacob and his brothers:  “ Let me find favor in your eyes and I will give you whatever you ask. Make a price for the bride and I will give you whatever you ask.” ( Vs. 12-13)
We are about to see the sons of Jacob have learned well from their father, Jacob and their grandfather Laban, the art of deceit.
Jacob’s son take over the negotiations at this point.

From this point on we will see:

  • What the results of running with the wrong crowd can do.
  • What happens when you are out of touch with God
  • How vengeance and judgment belong to the Lord.
  • How destructive an emotion hatred is

These brothers, perhaps with Simeon and Levi taking over the negotiations, then reply deceitfully to Shechem.

In verses 13-17: they lay out the “payment” they expect from Shechem and the men of the town. Using their faith, their religion to deceive , they tell Shechem, that he and all the men must be circumcised for religious purposes. All through history, we have seen mankind use religion as a basis for all types of cruelty, wars, and deceitfulness.  Christians are not immune to this behavior and many actions and words spoken and done in the name of Our Lord have nothing at all to do with what Jesus has taught us.
Shechem and his father, Hamor, go back and convince the men of Shechem- this a good thing for them. So they all submit to circumcision.
Verse25-29 describe the horrendous events that follow:  On the third day after being circumcised, the men of Shechem were in great pain and helpless to defend themselves. At this point, Simeon and Levi took their swords and killed every man in the village. They rescued their sister Dinah from Shechem’s house. Then they proceeded to loot the dead bodies and village, taking women and children captive and seizing their flocks.
Verse30:  Jacob looking at the actions of his sons, whom he seems to have no authority over- Jacob is scared to death over what he now fears will be sure retribution by the people living in the land. His sons, showing no sorrow- remark- should he have treated our sister like a prostitute.
What a dysfunctional, un-disciplined family. What a heart ache they are to Jacob and his  wives.
Some questions and comments I have in regard to this awful account:
Did Jacob leave the room when his sons began to negotiate with Hamor and Shechem?
Where were the older brothers- Reuben and Judah?
Dinah was living in Shechem’s house- did she want to or not?
Had these sons resorted to violence before to solve a problem?
One thing we can observe: Jacob did not take control of the situation.
Jacob is the one who decided without consulting God to live close to Shechem, ( the world) and do business with Hamor and his sons.
Jacob had allowed Dinah to make unsupervised visits to Shechem.

Jacob seemed to be lax in discipline.

His  sons seemed to be beyond his control.

Where is the man who had such perseverance he wrestled  with God all night and refused to give up?
Can you imagine how disappointed  Jacob was with his sons?

But can you also imagine as Jacob thought  it through and replayed in his mind how all of this came about- how disappointed with himself he was?
Ever been disappointed with your actions or in some cases- you lack of action?

Ever replay a certain scene from your past- where you wish you could go back and make the right decisions instead of  some of the ones you did?
Do I wish I had never taken the first drink of alcohol?  Yes and no. See some learn from examples of others- some are the examples. I just happened to be both.
Alcohol controlled my life for almost 14 years. However- I would not be what I am today and who I am if I had not chosen that path.
I would not know God as the God of Hope and the God of Comfort had I not become so hopeless and in need of comfort.
Here is what I have learned from my mistakes and from the Word of God and its stories of others who have made mistakes and suffered:
*We all have troubles. Life is hard and it is harder for some than others.
*God comforts us in times of trouble.  “ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of All Comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  ( 2 Cor. 1:3-4)  Those words were written by the Apostle Paul. Can you imagine how the Apostle Paul must have looked back at some the decisions he made, and actions he took to persecute Christians? He was responsible for their imprisonment, their punishment and in some cases their death.
*God  does not shield us from trouble and suffering because it has a purpose- to conform us to the image of His Son and teach us some lessons we will never forget.
*This also prepares us to comfort others with the comfort we have received. You see the verse in I Cor. 10:13 states there is no temptation or test that has come to me that is not common to man. This tells me others have suffered the same as I have suffered and you have suffered. Even the Lord Jesus suffered and was tempted and tested as we are- but without sin. God does not intend for us to have suffered for nothing- there are lessons to be learned and comfort and hope to be shared.
*Troubles, disappointments, heartaches, broken hearts and hope deferred have made us weary – bone tired and life is a struggle some days just to get out of bed. Can you imagine how Jacob must have felt?  Listen to what the Lord  said to those of us who are weary and heavy laden:  “ Come unto me, ALL you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ( Matt 11:28-30)

  • When you are traveling on a long trip by car- you often stop at a place called a Rest Stop. That is what the church should be- a Rest Stop. A place of restoration and refreshing. A comfort station.
  • Worship is an activity and a choice. The wrong  view is that we, the worshippers, are the audience, the ministers are the entertainment and the performers and God is their prompter. True worship is as follows: God is the audience, we are the  performers and the ministers are the prompters.


Guess where Jacob will head next?  To a place of worship and restoration- Bethel.

We will also discover that Jacob had knowingly tolerated idols in his household.

Give the enemy a foothold  and he will build a stronghold.

Had Jacob become over confident after having seen how God prepared the heart of Esau to favorably receive him?

Had Jacob become prideful in his spiritual maturity? Remember pride goeth before a fall.
God’s Grace, His Wonderful Amazing Grace is likened unto a perpetual source, a spring of water. Think of the Mississippi River- it just keeps on flowing.
For this grace to flow through us, we must first desire God’s grace, and we must present ourselves in order to receive. Paul writes: “Therefore I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, as holy and pleasing to God, for this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed by the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ( Romans 12:1-2)
We must decide to spend time with God in His Word and prayer.  Only then we will be alert to the deception of sin. Set our minds on things above not on the things of the world and the things of the world will grow strangely dim in the light of His wonder and grace.
Have you ever noticed any inconsistency in your behavior based on the people you are around?
That is being conformed to the pattern of the world.

This is exactly what happened to Dinah, to Jacob and his sons.

It happened so gradually- they did not realize the small decisions and compromises they made daily plus the absence of real worship and time with God brought them to this Godless chapter in their lives.
May we learn from this example.


Genesis 35:  Jacob Returns to Bethel


Verse 1 of this chapter starts out with God speaking to Jacob. It makes me wonder had Jacob been calling on the Lord since the slaughter of the men of Shechem by his sons. Surely given the circumstances of what had happened in Schechem, Jacob was desperate to hear from the Lord. He feared for his life and his family after what had occurred.
If you recall during the crisis of Dinah in Shechem, we did not see or hear of Jacob calling upon the Lord. His worship and time with the Lord seems to have been sporadic ever since his peaceful reunion with Esau following a night of wrestling with the Lord.
But as we are cautioned – our enemy goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Have you ever watched a cat sneak up on a bird? How quietly- sometimes stopping completely – they creep toward the object of their hunt. Jacob and his family were the enemy’s target. Just as we believers are the object of the enemy’s hunt.
When we neglect personal devotion time with the Lord in reading His word and prayer- we open the door for the enemy to slither in. Jacob had allowed some seemingly small things to happen that turned into a crisis. Unsupervised  visits by Dinah to the village of Shechem where she began a compromised relationship with the girls of the village. Lack of discipline among his sons and lack of devotional time with the Lord will add up to a crisis. A big fat mess!
We also see that during the crisis- we did not see Jacob calling upon the Lord, no altar time. Sometimes we allow things to creep into our lives and our homes thinking they are no big thing. We become lax in our worship of the Lord, devotional time, confession of sin and prayer. Then it should come as no surprise the Lord allows a crisis to wake us up.
If you have not learned this yet- take heed.  Personal devotion time is the source of personal spiritual growth. You cannot grow spiritually without  personal devotion time. As Jesus told Martha is Luke 10 regarding Mary’s choice to sit at his feet rather than help her in the kitchen.  Jesus told Martha- ‘ you are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.
Both Martha and Mary loved Jesus and desired to serve Him. What Jesus said to Martha was she was so busy doing things for Jesus, she was actually neglecting Jesus.
There is another truth here we must not miss.. if you want to avoid worrying about so many things, the one thing that is needed is to spend time at the feet of Jesus hearing His Word. ( Turn your eyes upon Jesus…)
It appears that Jacob had since he was a youth been interested in spiritual things- in particular the blessing of Abraham. Jacob coveted  the spiritual blessings- the promises, the protection, the land were always important to him. Sometimes- the blessings of God become more important than God Himself.
Remember what Hebrews 11:6 tells us: “ For without faith it is impossible to please  God and those who come to Him must believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  Notice the last phrase- ‘those who diligently seek Him- God Himself not the rewards and blessings of God. The child who runs to meet her father returning from a trip- hugs him and immediately ask – what did you bring me? Is not the father’s return- present enough?   This is what started the conversation between God and Satan in the book of Job. Satan held that Job was blameless and upright and reverenced God and shunned evil because God was so good to Job. God had built a hedge around Job and blessed him bountifully with flocks and herds and family. In other words, Satan says Job’s devotion to You, God, is self serving. Job is serving you because You, God reward him so richly.  In fact, Satan says- you have put a hedge of protection around him and his household.
Is it wrong to desire the blessings of God? No. But we must be sure we do not want the blessings more than we want God Himself. How must the father fill- if when he brings no gift- the child is no longer eager to be with him? How must our Heavenly Father fill when we only spend time with Him, call on Him, pray to Him- when we need something from Him?
Thus Jacob finds himself once again in a dilemma and in need of God’s direction. God says to Jacob: Go up to Bethel, and settle there ( dwell there) and build an altar there to God who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.’
Let me remind you of the Bethel experience over two decades ago. Jacob has a dream at Bethel in which he saw a ladder resting on earth with its top reaching into heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it. There above it stood  the Lord who told Jacob- I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. I am with you and will watch over you and wherever you go I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.
Jacob’s response to this dream is Jacob’s vow. Jacob vowed: “ If God will be with me, and will watch over me on this journey and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house and of that you give me I will give you a tenth.”
Surely Jacob is reminded of this dream and his vow as he prepares to go back to Bethel. Bethel means the ‘House of God.’.
Jacob takes control of his family- finally. He tells his household and all( servants) with them to prepare to go to the House of God.

  1. Get rid of the foreign gods and idols.
  2. Purify yourselves.
  3. Change your clothes- your garments.


When spiritual awakening comes, when revival occurs we are to put away our idols. Remember an idol is anything that comes between you and the Lord- He must be first. These are the things of the world that have crept into our lives, seemingly small things that did not seem to matter. But they have taken hold  in our lives and we have become compromised. Burying them speaks of a funeral and the death of the old nature.
Notice what Jacob says as his attention is now turned not to the blessings of God but to God Himself. “ I will build an altar to God who answered me in the day of my distress who has been with me wherever I have gone.” *Jacob realizes the presence of God in his life is more important than the presents or gifts of God in his life.*
Second purify yourselves. Cleansing that comes from confession that goes with putting away the idols- the sins that so easily beset us and keep us from running the race. The things that Paul said to the Galatians ‘ you were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?’ I John 1: 9 tells us if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all  unrighteousness.
Then Jacob instructs them to change their garments. Putting off the old and putting on the new. We are clothed in the righteousness of God. Not our self righteousness which is described as filthy rags.
But do not miss this- they are moving. Sometimes we just have to move away. When I got saved and began the process of getting and staying sober there came a time early in the process where I realized that staying in the optical business  which I loved, and traveling and being gone over night was not the best thing for me to do. I had to leave that job- I had to move on. I would not return to the optical industry until I had three years of sobriety and  more spiritual maturity.
I was learning in the walk with the Lord that He wanted to teach me the wise thing to do. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is something He gives liberally to those who ask and do not doubt.
Here is what God has taught me and we see He is teaching Jacob about wise decisions. You see Jacob and us have something in common- we have done some really dumb things. Most of the dumb things  we have done could have been avoided if we had asked for and sought the wisdom of God that He promises to provide. Here is the best question you can ask?  What is the WISE THING TO DO-  for we are told by the Word of God – ‘ be careful how you walk(live) not as unwise men- but as wise. We are told if any man lacks wisdom he should ask God who gives liberally( generously) to all without fault and it will be given to him. But when you asks you must believe and not  doubt. Are you ready for this simple solution? The best and wisest question to ask:  What is the wise thing to do, Lord.? Then ask this question in the context of three situations:


  • What is the wise thing to do in light of my past experience?
  • What is the wise thing  to do in light of my present circumstances
  • What is the wise thing to do in light of my future goals?


Satan actually teaches us a great spiritual truth in the Book of Job. Satan and all his demons could see the spiritual hedge of God’s protection around Job. Job had a hedge of protection around him and  Satan could not take it down.  The enemy can tempt you to come outside the hedge of protection by sin but the enemy cannot take the hedge down. And did not God promise Jacob He would protect him?  And furthermore are not the spiritual promises of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob applicable to us who are in Christ? You want to walk outside the hedge of protection by disobeying God? You can- but you will reap the circumstance.s
So here in this story we see God protect Jacob and his family by causing a supernatural fear of God that fell upon the towns all around  them so that no one pursued them.
Jacob has a time of revival and renewal and God re-affirms His promises to Jacob and re-affirms his new name, Israel.
This does not mean adversity and trouble will not find  its way into our lives. Jesus told us we would have trouble. We are in a battle. Adversity comes to the righteous. In fact the attacks of the enemy can come on the heels of revival and spiritual awakening.  It  is interesting to note in today’s story that the idols were not the only things that got buried.
There will be three funerals: Deborah, Jacob’s childhood nanny; Jacob’s beloved wife, Rachel will die in childbirth; and Isaac, his father will die.
Surely Deborah was an old woman and we are told that Isaac was 180 years and full of years—but Rachel was of child bearing age. It is one thing to lose a loved one who has lived a long and full life but it is entirely different to lose your spouse, especially early in his or her life.
Just as a side note- many will consider the one exception to abortion as when the mother’s life is in danger. But let us be reminded of who this child was- Benjamin. Do you know who is a direct descendant of Benjamin?  The Apostle Paul. Let us leave the matters of life and death in the hands of the God.
That will not be the only sorrow- as Reuben, his oldest son will sleep with Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine.

After this chapter we will see the focus turn to Joseph. So as we  leave this chapter in Jacob’s life, now called Israel, we see him as a sadder but wiser man.
Let me return to the matter of wisdom.

The verses from Ephesians 5:15-16 are our warning for today and all our tomorrows:
“ Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time because the days are evil.”
Making the most of your time means redeeming the time. Time lost is never regained. Add up enough misappropriated time and you will come up with a misappropriated life.
The important areas of life require small deposits all along the way.

Relationships are built on small consistent deposits of time.

Your check book and your calendar reveal what you have spent your time and money on.

Your time is your life. What is the wise thing to do?
Jesus told Martha she was troubled about “ many things. But ONE THING is needed. And Mary had chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.” What one thing had Mary chosen? She had chosen to sit at the feet of  Jesus and hear His Word. You and I can choose to sit at His feet and hear His Word every morning when we wake and all through the day. “ Turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full into His Wonderful Face and the things of the world will grow strangely dim in the light of  His Wonder and Grace!”  The things of the world not only vie for our attention- they take away time from the Lord Jesus. Our Heavenly Father knows what we have need of even before we ask- He knows the ‘things’ we need; but His priority- the One Thing needed is to spend time with Him- to seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness.
This is another thing we all have in common with Jacob- or at least most of us do. We are slow learners.
That is why we need teachers, mentors or coaches.

Isn’t it interesting that the greatest athletes- the ones who become that small group who can compete professionally realize they can never reach or maintain their peak apart from outside input. In other words, they have a coach. They need the wisdom of experience, another set of eyes to help them and judge their performance realistically.
So let me say this- do not make decisions especially big ones without outside input. A wise counselor.
“ The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” ( Prov. 12:15)
Asking for help is not a reflection of your lack of wisdom- asking for help is evidence of your wisdom.
Wise men sought Jesus- wise men still do.


Genesis 37: The Story of Joseph Begins 


What we are about to observe in this last section of Genesis is two fold: Joseph must be prepared for his role of leadership and this will involve a 13 year journey whose hardships will humble Joseph and clear the path for fellowship with his brothers. These brothers will also have to deal with and come to an understanding of their sins in order to clear their consciences and prepare them to be the leader of Israel’s tribes.
Let us consider the circumstances in which Joseph at age 17 finds himself living.

His father, Jacob has 12 sons from 4 wives. Four of the sons are from the maid servants of Rachel and Leah- Dan& Naphtali( Bilah); Gad and Asher (Zilpah): six sons from Leah- Rueben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon; and two sons from Rachel- Joseph & Benjamin.  One daughter- Dinah with Leah.
The family was in total disarray. As dysfunctional a family as you will ever see. There was Jacob’s dealings with Esau, his 20 years with Laban, his favoritism for Rachel and Joseph. On top of that was the massacre at Shechem and the death of Rachel and his father Isaac.
Joseph was his favorite because he was the son he had with Rachel. But I believe the descriptions given of Rachel and Joseph tell us that Joseph looked like his mother. He  got her good looks and his father’s business savvy and work habits. Rachel was described as lovely in form and beautiful. Joseph was described as well-built and handsome. Every time Jacob looked at Joseph- he saw his beloved Rachel.
Our story of Joseph begins with Joseph, a young man of seventeen tending the flocks with the four sons of the two handmaidens.  I believe those 4 ( Dan, Naphtali, Gad & Asher) formed a natural team. They were bonded together due to their second class citizenship in the family.
We will see that all the brothers were jealous of  Joseph.

We will observe that Joseph is a picture or foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus.

We do not want to over do this symbolism.

The Holy Spirit’s goal in the life of any believer is conform them to the image of Christ.

From this perspective we see Joseph as an example of how the world will attempt to conform Joseph – just as it attempts to conform us. Paul writes in Romans 12- ‘ be not conformed by the world –but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’
These four sons of the two handmaidens and Joseph were close to each other in age. So let us consider them as 5 teenagers. Joseph is the outsider trying to get along as best he can with his brothers. He is viewed by these four as privileged and the favored son of Jacob.
As we look at these four sons- their names help us understand what they were like. For their names reveal their character and personality traits.

Dan- his name means judge. He had a clever way of making judgments on others. His cutting sarcasm could wound easily. (Dan came up with unflattering nick names, probably the one who first called Joseph- ‘the dreamer’.)

Naphtali’s name means a “hind let loose.” Naphtali was wild, hated restrictions and scorned law and order. (A rebel.)

Gad’s name means ‘troop.’ He liked being part of a gang, bullying people.

Asher’s name infers he liked life’s luxuries, extravagance, life’s riches and pleasures. (Loved $)
Into this group, a natural team, resentful of Joseph’s favored position with their father Jacob- Joseph did not stand a chance. He was alone and unwanted.
If  Joseph wanted to get along with these half-brothers, he would have to go along with them in their actions. Joseph was tempted to conform. Do this and he would be accepted by his half-brothers.
Ever been tempted to conform? Of course we have. Ever noticed your self- holding back saying what should be said for fear you will be criticized? We want to be accepted, especially at this age- those teen age years.  They can be very cruel years- the teen years. The desire to be popular, successful, accepted and one of the group is a very strong temptation to conform.
We have all known and encountered the clever, critical Dan’s with their biting sarcasm.

We have dealt with  the Gads of this world- the bully in phys ed – who took your lunch money. Or caused you to cry on the play ground.
The Lord Jesus was the beloved of His Father and He sent him unto His own- but they received Him not- they rejected Him and despised Him. Even his own brothers were puzzled and somewhat embarrassed by their brother Jesus and believed not in Him.
After spending time with his half-brothers out in the field, tending the flocks Joseph returns with a bad report.   Was Joseph a tattle- tale? What would we have him do? Lie by not telling the truth. Here was the second temptation – the first temptation was to conform. The second temptation was to conceal the truth.  Do you realize that a West Point Cadet takes an honor oath, that he will not only cheat or lie, but will never look the other way when he sees another cheat.
That is what character is about. It is about standing firm in the face of pressure to give in. We must remember that Jesus told us we must be holy as His Father in heaven is holy. I do not want this to sound wrong- but we must practice holiness. We must pursue holiness. We must rehearse in advance our reasons for standing firm. This is what God was teaching Joseph in the fields tending flocks with his brothers.
When you determine in your heart to live holy- to pursue holiness it will not be done accidentally. It will be done on purpose with purpose. We have three enemies who will try to conform us and mold us:  the world, the flesh and the devil.
God was preparing Joseph. Joseph was a natural leader at 17- but he lacked maturity. He could  be perceived in his attitude as prideful, even arrogant as we will see in his telling his family about his dreams. God would humble Joseph and the next 13 years of his life would be a furnace where the dross of pride would be burned away.
You see, Joseph had to learn that God never  exalts a man for the man’s sake but rather to glorify God. Joseph would be elevated to a high position- but he was prepared in a grave-like cistern, on a slave block , as a household servant in a strange land , and as a prisoner before God could trust Joseph with the power and exalted position he would attain.
So at this stage of his life, I doubt that many of us would have liked Joseph if we were his age and in his presence. He was after all, handsome, well-built, smart, intelligent, honest, and favored by his father. Joseph seemed to do everything right. He was the heir apparent even before his older brothers. Joseph was the kind of teenager who was liked by adults but not by his own age group.
Verse 3 tells us Jacob did not help the matter in that he obviously loved Joseph more than his brothers and gave him a coat of many colors. A coat or robe that spoke of authority.
Listen as Joseph tells  his brothers of his dream and they hated him all the more. The first dream described in 5-7 was clearly understood by all:  He told his brothers in the dream of sheaves that they would bow down to him. To which his brothers replied do you think we will ever bow down to you?
In the next dream- he tells of the sun and moon  and eleven stars were bowing down to him. At this dream, even his father rebuked him as the implication was that even Jacob and Leah would bow down to him. But Jacob did not forget this dream- he remembered this dream.
In spite of these conditions and the obvious animosity his brothers had for him, Jacob sends Joseph to check on his brothers once again. As God the Father sent His Only Begotten Son, so did Jacob also send his son Joseph
Joseph discovers his brothers have moved on from Shechem to Dothan. The name Dothan actually means two wells.
As Joseph approaches his brothers they plotted to kill him. ( Verse 18) After all- Levi and Simeon had killed before. Listen to this chilling plan as these cold-hearted brothers plan to kill their own brother.
“ Here comes the dreamer. Come now let us kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say a ferocious animal has devoured him. Then we will see what comes of his dreams.”
Reuben the oldest brother attempts to rescue Joseph and says don’t shed any blood just throw him in the cistern here in the desert. We are told Reuben was planning to come back later and rescue Joseph. Perhaps thinking he could get back in his father’s good graces- or maybe just knowing this was going too far.
Imagine, Joseph, only 17 coming to his brothers after hard travel. Perhaps even a little glad to see them and then they attack him like a pack of wild dogs. They immediately grabbed him and stripped him of his robe then threw him down in this empty well.
Verse 25 records how hard-hearted these men were. They sat down to eat while Joseph must have called out to them to rescue him. Maybe he thought at first this was just a prank- a hazing of the younger brother. But as the sun rose, and he called out each one’s name to come get him out. Joseph must have realized it was not going to happen.
Then something occurs that if we are not careful we will miss the sovereignty of God. It was not by accident that at the same time God sent a caravan of Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt coming from Gilead. Look at their cargo and see if it rings a bell. They were loaded with spices and balm and myrrh on their way to sell their goods in Egypt.
Jeremiah would ask this question in Jeremiah 8:  “ Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? Then in Jeremiah 30, we read: “ but I will restore you to health and heal your wound, declares the Lord.”  For as we know of the many names for our Lord one is “ the Balm of Gilead.”
Joseph will learn of the healing balm of Gilead as the Lord becomes His Physician.
Judah comes up with the plan. What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come let us sell him and not have his blood on our hands. So they sell him to this caravan for 20 shekels of silver. Less than two pieces of silver apiece. They will come to loathe money as we will see later on. But we cannot  help but see a picture of  the betrayal of our Lord sold for 30 pieces of silver- that Judas came to loathe.
Now Rueben, the oldest brother, returns to the group to discover they have sold Joseph to a passing caravan. Reuben tears his clothes in sorrow- as he must have realized what this would do to their father.
Now watch this eerily familiar deception. Using a robe and the blood of a goat, the brothers prepare the deception. Remember what  Jacob and his mother did to deceive his blind father, Isaac? They killed a goat and prepared it to taste like venison and Jacob dressed in Esau’s robe to complete the masquerade. Now Jacob would be deceived by the blood of a goat and the robe of his beloved son.
I don’t believe these sons, as hard-hearted as they  might be were prepared for the depth of grief and sorrow this would cause their father.
Can you see the pain on their faces as they cannot look their father in the eye as they hear him all through the camp crying and wailing in his sorrow and mourning. They tried to comfort  him but they could not.  Jacob said I will go to my grave mourning  Joseph.
How their consciences must have convicted them as we see a Sovereign God begin His work through the evil acts of men in order to save many.

What we are about to see in the story of Joseph and his brothers is the truth of Romans 8:28 portrayed in great detail. This verse known by many proclaims : “ And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
God did not force these brothers to act against their will in order to accomplish God’s sovereign purpose, rather God brings about His plan through the willing choices of men, for which they are accountable.
In a way we cannot understand, for God’s ways are higher than our ways; God causes man to make willing choices to do what  they do.
Example :  Acts 2: 23: ( Peter speaking: “ this Jesus delivered up according to a definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hand of lawless men.”
This is what Joseph will come to understand as he looks back on the journey of his life and  says to his brothers: ‘You meant it for evil, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done- the saving of many lives.’
Do you understand how the Trinity works in the life of a believer?

  1. God the Father determines the agenda of our lives- orders our steps.
  2. God the Son communicates the Father’s agenda to us through His Word, and His life. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
  3. God the Holy Spirit’s task is implementation. He works in us a desire and the power to do God’s will.


“ Faithful is He who calls you who will also do it.” ( I Thess. 5:24)

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14