Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
37:1 Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan.
37:2 This is the story of the family of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father.
37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves.
37:4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.
37:12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem.
37:13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” He answered, “Here I am.”
37:14 So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.”So he sent him from the valley of Hebron. He came to Shechem,
37:15 and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, “What are you seeking?”
37:16 “I am seeking my brothers,” he said; “tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.”
37:17 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.
37:18 They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him.
37:19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer.
37:20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”
37:21 But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.”
37:22 Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him” –that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father.
37:23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore;
37:24 and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.
37:25 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.
37:26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood?
37:27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed.
37:28 When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.
The story of Joseph is one that is both frustrating and miraculous at the same time. We read how in one fail swoop, Joseph’s life is completely turned upside down and will never be the same again. He is forever separated from his family, friends, father and all that he knows in life. He is forced to adapt to new cultures, languages, people and customs of living. From a human perspective, Joseph’s situation looked bleak and hopeless.
It is interesting to note that there was one small moment in which Joseph could have been “rescued”. Rueben, being the older brother, did not want to bring any physical harm to his brother, and wanted to rescue him. This was a thought that scripture makes no mention of him sharing his desire to rescue his younger brother out loud. Shortly after, his brother Judah, also agrees that it is not a good idea to physically hurt him but instead they should sell him. Rueben remains silent and does not act on his desire to protect his youngest.
From reading all of this, we know that in the end, God was in complete control of ever single event that took place in Joseph’s life. His brother’s could have chosen to kill him, but God indeed did rescue him from being killed in order to be used for something greater in the end. Joseph’s life was already characterized by a leadership quality. God foreseeing what the future held for the nation of Israel, needed someone who was of strong character to act on behalf of the entire nation of Israel.
Sometimes from a human perspective, we look at a situation and wonder what could God possibly be doing in the midst of a hard situation. The story of Joseph teaches us that God knows what the future holds for us and sometimes has to put us through the fire in order to refine us to be better equipped to do His work. Joseph would have not been useful and successful in leading the nation if he wasn’t first separated from his family. Let us always trust that God is working and taking care of every detail of our lives to bring about the good even when we do not see it.