As we see in Genesis 37 the sibling rivalry moves into the next generation… Jacob and his brother Esau had their share of conflict, and there were only two brothers. With Jacob’s children, Joseph has many brothers to deal with, most of whom have disdain for his privileged status in the family. In today’s passage, the other brothers seize the opportunity to get Joseph while he is away from Jacob’s protective eyes. So, how do they decide to get back at him… how about kill him?? Seems pretty extreme, even for a sibling you really don’t like. Thank goodness for Reuben, the responsible first-born, he pretended to scheme with his brothers but had every good intention of coming back to rescue Joseph. In the end, Joseph doesn’t get killed but sold into slavery–out of the way of the other brothers for good (so they think…).
While I feel a bit sorry for Joseph in this part of the narrative, he did seem to flaunt his favored status a bit. And Jacob, the poor dad, has been led to believe that his son is dead. But perhaps I feel the most pity for the other brothers–it’s hard to believe that their jealousy raged so strongly that they would consider killing Joseph. Did they long for the love, attention, and acceptance that their father seemed to direct entirely to Joseph? Terrible, isn’t it?
But, just like so much of scripture, this passage has the ability to make us look at our own lives. Do we ever do anything like this?? Perhaps we don’t sell our siblings into slavery, but do we make bad choices because somewhere deep inside we long to be loved and accepted by someone else? Do we ever do terrible things because of jealousy? Do we ever throw our family or our friends under the bus so that we get the limelight, the praise, or the attention that we so badly crave? Can you see yourself in this story? Ask God to help you see the motives of your heart and to purify anything that is less than good and holy.
Rev. Molly Simpson is the Campus Pastor of Resurrection’s West Campus in Olathe. She is also the proud new mom of a 2-week old little girl! Molly can be reached by email, Molly.Simpson@rezwest.org, though she’s checking it a bit sporadically during maternity leave.