Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.The lives of Abraham, his son Isaac, Isaac's son Jacob, and one of Jacob's twelve sons named Joseph are recorded for us in Genesis 12-50. They cover a period of 345 years (2160-1815 BC). All four of these men, in spite of the fact that their lives were characterized by great weakness mixed with great strength, ended up in God's "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11. They entered this "Hall of Faith" because behind the curtain of eternity was the fine hand of the Master Potter taking the clay of broken and fallen humanity and molding a holy people into the nation of Israel and, in time, the church of Jesus Christ. And it is through these two instruments of grace, Israel and the church, that God kept his promise to Abraham that through his seed (Christ) would come the blessings of salvation to a humanity held captive by the world, the flesh, and the devil (see Genesis 17:8; Galatians 3:16).
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.
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. 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.
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: 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."
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.
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."
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?" His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
"Here is my servant whom I have chosen,Still more fuel was added to the hatred by Joseph's two dreams. Now, God had communicated to men and women in many different ways. He walked and personally spoke with Adam in the garden. He spoke directly to Cain and to Noah. He spoke to Abraham in a vision and a dream when he made his covenant with him and told him of the future of his new nation (see Genesis 15:12-21), personally when he renewed the covenant (see Genesis 17), as well as through angels when he announced the birth of Isaac (see Genesis 18:1-14). Jacob met God at Bethel in a dream and saw a ladder going up to heaven with angels ascending and descending, and heard God renew his promises to Abraham: "All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring" (Genesis 28:10-15). Later God told Jacob in a dream to leave his uncle Laban's place in Syria and return to Canaan (see Genesis 31:11-13).
the one I love in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations."
Now his brothers had gone to graze their father's flocks near Shechem, and Israel said to Joseph, "As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them."Joseph was still seventeen when his father sent him thirty miles north to the fields of Shechem to find out how his other sons and the flocks were doing. When Joseph arrived in Shechem, he found out that his brothers had moved twenty miles farther north to the city of Dothan ("Two Wells"). One of the brothers spotted Joseph coming toward them, and the root of bitterness, jealousy, and hatred began to take full flower: "Here comes Daddy's Favorite with his coat of many colors and his dreams that one day the whole family will be subject to his rule! Enough is enough! He gave our father one bad report, let's not let him give another."
"Very well," he replied.
So he said to him, "Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me." Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, "What are you looking for?"
He replied, "I'm looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?"
"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. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
"Here comes that dreamer!" they said to each other. "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."
When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. "Let's not take his life," he said. "Don't shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don't lay a hand on him." Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.
So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe---the richly ornamented robe he was wearing---and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
"...The high priest asked him, 'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?'Why? Because, although Jesus wanted to offer them salvation and the gift of eternal life, their jealousy, pride, and envy blinded their spiritual eyes and led them to murder him, the only one who could redeem them and eventually save their lives.
'I am,' said Jesus. 'And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'
The high priest tore his clothes. 'Why do we need any more witnesses?' he asked. 'You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?'
They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, 'Prophesy!'" (Mark 14:61-65.)
As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.Ishmaelites were the descendants of Ishmael out of the loins of Abraham and Hagar, in contrast to Israelites, who were the descendants of Isaac out of the loins of Abraham and Sarah. The Ishmaelites were a blending of three groups of people: the Midianites, the Amalekites, and all the other eastern peoples (see Judges 6, 8:24). This caravan was coming from Gilead (modern Jordan and Syria), on the east side of the Jordan River, and heading south toward Egypt. When the Midianite merchants came by, nine of the brothers sold Joseph to them for twenty shekels of silver, and they took this teenager to Egypt. Later Moses would fix the price for a boy slave between the ages of five and twenty years at twenty shekels, but the average price for a slave was thirty shekels (see Leviticus 27:2-5; Exodus 21:32). You can almost hear the sound of thirty pieces of silver dropping into Judas' hands as he asked the chief priests, "What are you willing to give me if I hand [Jesus] over you?" (Matthew 26:14).
Judah said to his brothers, "What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood." His brothers agreed.
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.
When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. He went back to his brothers and said, "The boy isn't there! Where can I turn now?"
Then they got Joseph's robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornamented robe back to their father and said, "We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son's robe."
He recognized it and said, "It is my son's robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces."
Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. "No," he said, "in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son." So his father wept for him.
Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard.
"[God] called down famine on the landTo the many colors of Joseph's robe was added one more: red, supposedly the blood of the slain beloved son. The brothers in concert brought the robe to their father (referring to him as Jacob's son, not as their brother). Jacob the former deceiver was deceived once again, unfortunately this time by his own sons. Jacob mourned the apparent death of his favorite son Joseph. The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 2, Zondervan Publishing House, says this:
and destroyed all their supplies of food;
and he sent a man before them---
Joseph, sold as a slave.
They bruised his feet with shackles,
his neck was put in irons,
till what he foretold came to pass,
till the word of the LORD proved him true."
Thus Jacob's own fate and that of his sons is briefly sketched out in this opening narrative. What happens to Joseph foreshadows all that will happen to the sons of Jacob. They will be carried down into Egypt and will be put into slavery. In this sense, then, Jacob's final words set the focus of the narratives to follow: 'In mourning will I go down to the grave (Sheol) to my son' (v. 35). Ironically, the Joseph narratives conclude with Jacob's going down (47:3-4) to Egypt to see his son and then with his own death (50:24-26).Meanwhile, the favorite son, greatly loved by his father and mother, a shepherd with the freedom of space and seasons for seventeen years, was being led in chains to Egypt, a foreign country with different language, customs, dress, and religion. It was a modern civilization with temples to every god possible, great pyramids for the dead, beautiful homes, paved streets, trade on the Nile, and great reed sailing boats---as well as an all-out denial of Joseph's God Yahweh. It was a dark day for Joseph, and to even make it darker, the Midianites placed their slave on the slave block in the marketplace and eventually sold him again to the highest bidder: Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh's guard (the Egyptian secret service).
"Who, being in very nature God,Joseph was of the natural and spiritual seed of Abraham and was being molded by the hands of God to become a man of faith and an image of Christ. He began his life loved by his father and rejected by his brothers. But we will also see in the life of Joseph his faith in God during the most trying of circumstances which finally turned into a season of joy. For behind all of those trials and blessings stood a God who was arranging Joseph's life, the life of his father Jacob, and the lives of his eleven brothers, who were also to come to Egypt. We will see foreshadowed in Joseph's life the wonderful plan of salvation designed by God the Father and carried out by his Son Jesus. Joseph "...clearly appears as the forerunner, sent into Egypt to prepare the way for the coming of the 12 tribes into that land, and as such he pictures our great Forerunner who has gone on before us, even Jesus our Lord, to prepare the way for all His own to come into glory with Him and to share that glory together." (Ray C. Stedman, Highlights of the Bible.) As the years passed, Joseph came to a place just before his death when he was finally able to say to his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:20.)
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death---even death on a cross!"
"Have Thine own way Lord! Have Thine own way!May we all have the faith of Joseph (shepherd, slave, prisoner, and ruler) and Jesus (carpenter, shepherd, prisoner, and ruler) to trust God our Father for our lives today and for the future, for all of his plans for us are for good and not evil (see Jeremiah 29:11).
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still...
Have Thine own way Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o'er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!"
Copyright © 1995 Discovery Publishing, a ministry of Peninsula Bible Church. This data file is the sole property of Discovery Publishing, a ministry of Peninsula Bible Church. It may be copied only in its entirety for circulation freely without charge. All copies of this data file must contain the above copyright notice. This data file may not be copied in part, edited, revised, copied for resale or incorporated in any commercial publications, recordings, broadcasts, performances, displays or other products offered for sale, without the written permission of Discovery Publishing. Requests for permission should be made in writing and addressed to Discovery Publishing, 3505 Middlefield Rd. Palo Alto, CA. 94306-3695.