12 “Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” 14 So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word.” So he sent him from the Valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. 15 And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” 16 “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” 17 And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.” (Genesis 37:12–17 (ESV)
Thus far in the narrative concerning Joseph, we have witnessed an arrogant teenager (Gen. 37:1-11). This is not an uncommon characteristic for many older adolescents conduct themselves with supreme self-confidence. However, Scripture attributes pride as a sin (Proverbs 16:18).
Such was the case with Joseph. He did not attribute his dreams to God until much later in his life (Gen. 40:8; 41:15-16). He also wore his tunic of many colors wherever he went (Gen. 37:23), a visual indication of his favored status with his father Jacob in place of his older brothers.
However, in spite of his favored status, Joseph remained eager to serve Jacob his father. When Jacob ordered Joseph to go to Shechem to see how things were with his brothers and with the flock, Joseph immediately obeyed. Puritan commentator Matthew Henry writes, “Though he was his father’s darling, yet he was willing to be his father’s servant. How readily does he wait [for] his father’s orders!”
Shechem was approximately 60 miles north from the Valley of Hebron and immediately to the west of the Jordan River. It was there that Joseph discovered his brothers has moved further northwest to Dothan.
One commentator writes, “Joseph’s mission is doomed from the start. His brothers have gone to Shechem, the last place Jacob’s sons should be on account of their massacre of the city’s residents (Gen. 33:18–34:31). Their presence in an area where a lone son of Jacob might run into trouble indicates Joseph’s welfare is not a concern of theirs as they doubtless expect him to check up on them like he did before (37:2).Moreover, Joseph learns of his brothers’ move to Dothan from a man unknown to him, showing that Jacob’s favorite son is a stranger in a strange land (vv. 15–17).”
Joseph will shortly become even more a stranger in a strange land. Dothan was about a day’s journey from Shechem and will place Joseph even farther from the watchful eye of his father Jacob in Hebron. Seemingly ignorant of the hatred his other sons had for Joseph, Jacob has unknowingly sent forth his favorite son into a trap. Joseph is about to enter a time of tribulation. However, the LORD is providentially leading and in control (Gen. 50:20).
Soli deo Gloria!