And they [his brothers] drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.
“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.”
The deaths of Rachel and Isaac in Genesis 35 and the settling of Esau away from his brother in Genesis 36 mark the end of Jacob’s story. The narrative now turns toward Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph. Joseph’s story will continue to the end of Genesis – making it the longest narrative in the book.
Joseph has been a great source of comfort to me since my daughter’s accident. Joseph is one of the few characters in the bible who suffers greatly and also learns the reason for the suffering before his death. If you look at the sweeping narrative of Joseph’s story, you see God’s hand orchestrating each circumstance so that Joseph would be used to save the whole family of Israel, and therefore, preserve the lineage from which the promised savior would come.
We’ll walk through his story slowly over the next week – savoring each detail – as we also look forward to Jesus’ life as portrayed in Matthew.
Genesis 37 introduces us to Joseph. His father loved him, but his brothers were jealous of his preferential treatment and they hated him. The hate intensified as Joseph shared his dreams with his family… dreams of him ruling over his brothers and father. These dreams provoked Joseph’s brothers to conspire to kill him. Reuben and Judah, however, convinced their brothers not to shed blood, so instead they sold Joseph to slave traders making their way to Egypt.
Who gave Joseph these dreams? This is an important question because it was the dreams that pushed the brothers to such an evil act. But we learn later, that it was imperative that Joseph go to Egypt – for it was only from Egypt that Joseph could save the family. Joseph had no idea of his destiny. He only knew his present – that he would probably be separated from his family for his lifetime – serving as a slave in Egypt. That’s quite a sad turn in Joseph’s life, but we will see that God was with Joseph every step of the way… God was with Joseph in Egypt.
But let’s turn to look at what Jesus is up to in Matthew’s reading for there are parallels to Joseph’s predicament. Jesus was not conforming to the strict Sabbath laws of the Pharisees. The Pharisees hated Jesus for this – for Jesus spoke truth to them and said, “the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8).
This intensified the Pharisee’s anger and we read in vs. 14 that “the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.”
In both cases, God used the anger and jealousy in the hearts of men as a piece in his master-plan. God’s will will not be thwarted! This is a good reminder for me as it is easy to lose sight of God’s goodness in the midst of mass killings, extreme poverty, and innocent war casualties. Not much has changed since Joseph’s time. God still has a plan, and despite the evilness in this world, his good plan will come to pass!