The Journey of Joseph: The Story Begins.

“Jacob lived in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan. These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.” (Genesis 37:1–4 (ESV)

Joseph’s story begins when he was seventeen years old. Other than the mention of his birth (Gen. 30:22-24), nothing else is stated about Joseph’s boyhood except that he had a younger brother named Benjamin (Gen. 35:22-26). What do we know of Joseph, aside from his family and his age?

To begin with, Joseph was a shepherd. The verbal participle pasturing means to tend flocks, drive out to pasture, and shepherd. The leadership and responsibilities Joseph displayed in caring for the flock (sheep or goats) would become the leadership responsibilities he would display and need in Egypt many years later when he would shepherd a nation.  

Joseph was shepherding the flock with his brothers Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. They were, respectively, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah (Genesis 35:24) who were wives of Jacob, Joseph’s father.

It was during this time that Joseph delivered a bad report to Jacob of all of his brothers. We do not know exactly what the negative report was about but it did not sit well with Joseph’s brothers.

What also did not sit well with Joseph’s brothers was that Jacob gave Joseph a coat, or tunic, or many colors. The text says that Jacob actually made the tunic for Joseph. The reason given was that Jacob loved Joseph more than his other sons. For this, and other reasons we will soon see, Joseph’s brothers, with the exception of Benjamin, hated him. They did not even speak cordially to him.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Joseph was honored by Jacob who gave him a richly ornamented robe, probably a multicolored tunic. This seems to signify that Jacob favored him above the rest with the intent of granting him all or a larger portion of the inheritance. For Joseph was the firstborn of Rachel, Jacob’s loved wife (30:22–24). Yet Jacob should have remembered what parental favoritism does to a family. It had separated him from his loving mother (Gen. 27:1–28:5), and it would separate Joseph from Jacob.”

More to come.

Soli deo Gloria!   

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