Genesis 37:1-38:30 When Other Hate You

                WHEN OTHERS HATE YOU
        Genesis 37:1-38:30        April 6 2008
    The narrative’s focus shifts from Esau’s family (Gen.36)
Back to Jacob’s family Gen. 37-50), centering especially on
Joseph . Indeed, he is the main character for the remainder of
Genesis. Joseph was the 11th son born to Jacob and the older
of two sons by Jacob’s favorite wife Rachel. Joseph’s status
as Rachel’s firstborn resulted in Jacob’s favoring him above
his 10 older brothers. This favoritism created both privilege
and adversity for Joseph. Genesis 37  recounts  how Joseph
enjoyed the "favored son" status with his father and how his
brothers’ hatred resulted in his enslavement.

    1 Seek to Do Right (Gen. 37:2b-4)

Gen. 37:2   This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man
of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the
sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and
he brought their father a bad report about them. 37:3 Now
Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because
he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly
ornamented robe for him.  37:4   When his brothers saw that
their father loved him more than any of them, they hated
him and could not speak a kind word to him.

    Account. (Gen. 2:4). The word here introduces the tenth
and final main section of Genesis. Joseph. The author
immediately introduces Joseph, on whom the last cycle of
the patriarchal narrative centers. In his generation, he,
more than any other, represented Israel —as a people who
struggled with God and with men and overcame (Gen.32:28)
and as a source of blessing to the nations (Gen.12:2-3). It is,
moreover, through the life of Joseph that the covenant family
in Canaan becomes an emerging nation in Egypt, thus setting
the stage for the exodus. The story of God’s dealings with the
patriarchs foreshadows the subsequent Biblical account of
God’s purpose with Israel. It begins with the election and
calling out of Abram from the Post-babel nations and ends
with Israel in Egypt (in the person of Joseph) preserving the
life of the nations (Gen.41:57; 50:20). So God would deliver
Israel out of the nations (the exodus), eventually to send them
on a mission of life to the nations ( Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
A bad report about them. Doubtless about all his brothers (as
the later context indicates), not just the sons of his father’s
    Richly ornamented Robe. A mark of Jacob’s favoritism,
“the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore”
(2Sam 13:18).

    2. Seek to Communicate Wisely (Gen. 37:5-11)

Gen. 37:5   Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his
brothers, they hated him all the more. 37:6   He said to them,
“Listen to this dream I had:  37:7   We were binding sheaves
of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and
stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and
bowed down to it.” 37:8   His brothers said to him, “Do you
intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they
hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had
said.  37:9   Then he had another dream, and he told it to his
brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this
time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to
me.” 37:10   When he told his father as well as his brothers,
his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had?
Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and
bow down to the ground before you?”  37:11   His brothers
were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

     Dream. (Gen.20:3). Bowed down. Joseph’s dream would
later come true (Gen.42:6; 43:26; 44:14). Will you actually rule
us? Joseph would later become the “prince among his brothers”
(Deut. 33:16) and receive “the rights of the firstborn”
(1Chron. 5:2), at least the double portion of the inheritance
(Gen. 25:5), since his father adopted his two sons (Gen.48:5).
    Your mother. Jacob possibly refers to Leah, since Rachel
has already died (Gen.35:19). Bow down. . . Before you. An
unsettling echo of a hope expressed earlier to Jacob by his
father Isaac (Gen.27:29). Kept the matter in mind. A hint that
Jacob later recalled Joseph’s dreams when events brought
about their fulfillment.  Mary’s equally sensitive response
to events during Jesus’ boyhood days (Luke 2:19,51).

3. Seek to Perform Duties (Gen. 37:17-20,28)

Gen. 37:17   “They have moved on from here,” the man
answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’ ” So
Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan.
37:18   But they saw him in the distance, and before he
reached them, they plotted to kill him. 37:19   “Here comes
that dreamer!” they said to each other. 37:20   “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 comes of his dreams.” 37:28   So when the Midianite
merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of
the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to
the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

    Dotan Located about 13 miles north of Shechem, Dothan
was already an ancient city by this time. Dreamer. The
Hebrew for this word means “master of dreams” or “dream
expert” and is here used with obvious sarcasm.
    Reuben. . . Tried to rescue him. As Jacob’s firstborn, he
felt responsible for Joseph. He would later remind his
brothers of this day (Gen.42:22). Initially Reuben’s attempts
to influence events seemed successful (Gen.30:14-17). But
after his arrogant incest with Bilhah (Gen.35:22 ) his efforts
were always ineffective (Gen.42:37-38 )—demonstrating his
loss of the status of firstborn (Gen.49:3-4). Effective
leadership passed to Judah (Gen.37: 26-27; 43:3-5,8-10;
44:14-34; 46:28; 49:8-12).
     (Gen.37:23-24) Similarly, in Egypt Joseph (though
innocent of any wrongdoing) would be stripped of his position
of privilege and thrown into prison —also as a result of
domestic intrigue (Gen. 39). His cloak also would be torn
from him and shown to Potiphar, but he would be rescued
    Ishmaelites. Also called Midianites (Gen.37:28;
Jdg 8:22,24,26) and Medanites (Gen. Gen. 37: 36). These
various tribal groups were interrelated, since Midian and
Medan, like Ishmael, were also sons of Abraham (Gen.25:2).
Gilead . (Gen.31:21). Balm. An oil or gum, with healing
properties (Jer 51:8), exuded by the fruit or stems of one
or more kinds of small trees. The balm of Gilead was
especially effective (Jer 8:22; 46:11). Myrrh. Probably to
be identified with labdanum, an aromatic gum (Psalms 45:8;
Proverbs 7:17; Song of Songs 3:6; 5:13) exuded from the
leaves of the cistus rose. Its oil was used in beauty
treatments ( Esther 2:12), and it was sometimes mixed with
wine and drunk to relieve pain ( Mark 15:23). As a gift fit for
a king, myrrh was brought to Jesus after his birth (Matt. 2:11)
and applied to his body after his death (John 19:39-40).
    Twenty shekels of silver. In later times, this amount was
the value of a male of Joseph’s age who had been dedicated to
the Lord ( Lev 27:5).


            The effect of Joseph’s two dreams on his
relationship with his brothers is revealed in summary
statement, they were jealous of him. The term jealous
carries the idea of "zeal", which points to the danger
Joseph would face because his brothers were against him.
            Joseph’s brothers sold him to Midianite traders.
Some scholars see a discrepancy between the Midiannite
traders mentioned here and the "Ishmaelites" mentioned
later in the verse (Gen. 37:25). However, Midianite refers
to inhabitants from the land of Midian, while Ishmaelites
refers to descendants of Ishmael.
            Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver, the
value of a person between 5 and 20 years old (Lev. 27:5).
Joseph was 17 at the time. The pieces of silver were
probably 20 shekels of silver , referring to weight not
coinage. The price for a slave in Joseph’s time was 20
pieces of silver.