When Jealousy Rules

KEY VERSE: “When his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.” —Genesis 37:4

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Genesis 37:3, 4, 17-28

IT WAS partly, no doubt, because of his fervent love for Rachel that Jacob esteemed Joseph so highly. He loved Joseph more than any of his other children, and when this son was seventeen years old Jacob presented him with a coat of many colors—the marginal translation says ‘pieces’.

Joseph’s elder brethren, noticing this display of favoritism, resented it, and they began to hate Joseph, and could not speak peaceably to him. They should have rejoiced with their father in his love for their younger brother, and endeavored to appreciate him more themselves. But too often selfish human nature leads in the direction of jealousy and hatred.

Joseph had a dream in which he and his brothers were binding sheaves in the field. In the dream he saw his sheaf stand upright, and the other sheaves bow down to him. He insisted on telling this dream to his brethren. In this perhaps we see the not infrequent urge of youth to prove to its elders that they were wrong, and that some day they would find it out. They could hardly be expected to react any differently than they did, which was to hate Joseph even more. Then Joseph had another dream in which he saw the sun and the moon and the stars making obeisance to him. He told this dream also to his brethren, and in front of his father. His father rebuked him for this, realizing, probably, the effect it would have on the older brothers. Jacob also saw a suggestion in this dream that one day even he might be bowing down to his son, Joseph, and he probably was not pleased with this thought either. However, there was a vast difference between the attitude of the brothers who hated Joseph, and the father who loved him: “His brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.”—vss. 3-11

Some time after Joseph told these dreams, his brothers went on a quest for good pasturage for their flocks. They went first to Shechem. Finding no suitable grazing land there, they went on to Dothan. Jacob became concerned over their welfare, and asked Joseph to go seek them, find out how they were getting along, and to bring back a report. Joseph gladly undertook this mission, indicating he held no resentment toward his brothers.

But Joseph’s brethren continued to envy and hate him, and when they saw him approaching, decided they would kill this “dreamer.” Reuben urged that instead of committing murder they cast the boy into a pit and leave him there for whatever might happen to him. Reuben’s plan was that later he would rescue Joseph from the pit and take him back to his father.

The brothers agreed to the compromise and threw Joseph into a deep pit from which escape was impossible without help. They were about to abandon him there when, pausing for lunch before departing, they saw a group of Ishmaelite traders en route to Egypt, and decided to sell Joseph to them, to be taken into Egypt to serve as a slave.

The hatred which Joseph’s brethren bore toward him was not reciprocated. He loved them, and had nothing but their best interests at heart. Those who are pure of heart and who desire only good for others, even for those who may be opposed to them, seem often to be incapable of imagining the evil plottings which go on in the minds of those whose hearts are filled with hatred. This seems to have been Joseph’s attitude. Perhaps if he had been warned it still would have been difficult for him to believe that his brothers would take advantage of his insecurity in the open field and lay hands on him for evil, as they did.

Then they plotted to deceive their father. When he saw Joseph’s coat of many colors smeared with blood, he reached exactly the conclusion his sons had reasoned he would, for no doubt was left in his mind that the boy had been slain by a wild beast. Jacob was heartbroken. It was almost more than the aged parent could bear. He wept bitterly, rent his clothes, put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.

His family tried in vain to comfort him. He explained that he would continue to mourn for Joseph as long as he lived. But he did not express the thought in just this way. He said, rather, “I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning.”

How cruel are the results of jealousy. Indeed, “Jealousy is cruel as the grave, the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.”—Cant. 8:6

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |