Following the death of Isaac (Genesis 35:27-29), Jacob and Esau’s father, the genealogy of Esau is recounted in Genesis 36. It is very clear that Moses’ intention throughout the chapter is showing how God moved Esau out of the promised land and began establishing the land for Jacob and his descendants (36:6-8). Jacob’s settling in Canaan was a direct fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 15, and Genesis 17. Although there is great detail of Esau’s genealogy in Genesis 36, the focus of the rest of Genesis remains on the descendants of Jacob and particularly Jacob’s son, Joseph.
Seventeen year old Joseph, son of Jacob and Rachel (Genesis 30:22-24), was feeding the flock with his brothers, but he brought back a bad report of them to his father (37:1-2). The details of Joseph’s report are not provided, but it is revealed that Jacob loved Joseph more than all of his other sons; in fact, Jacob had given Joseph a coat of many colors which signified him as the future leader of the household (37:3). This coat was usually reserved for the eldest son, but Jacob favored Joseph causing all of his brothers to hate him (37:4). To make matters worse, Joseph also had dreams (two dreams recorded here) which were interpreted as Joseph ruling over all of his brothers (37:8-10). These dreams caused Joseph’s brothers to hate him even more, but Jacob pondered their meaning (37:11).
The brothers depart to Shechem to feed their father’s flocks and Jacob (Israel) later sends Joseph to check on them (37:12-14). Through the help of a stranger, Joseph discovered that his brothers had made their way 15 miles north to Dothan (37:15-17). When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming afar off, “they conspired against him to kill him” (37:18). Their internal hatred and bitterness against Joseph had caused them to find a way to permanently remove their brother from their life. They decided to kill him, throw him in a pit, and tell their father that Joseph had been devoured by wild animals (37:19-20); however, Reuben advised them to just throw him in a pit (37:21-22). When Joseph finally arrived, they stripped him of his coat of many colors and threw him into a pit (37:23-24). As they sat down to eat, a group of Ishmaelites (traders) passed by on their way to Egypt and they decided to follow the advice of Judah, who recommended that they sell Joseph as a slave instead of killing him (37:25-28). With Joseph out of their life, they now devised a plan to cover up what they had done. They took Joseph’s coat of many colors, killed a goat, and dipped the coat in the goat’s blood to make it look like Joseph had been killed by wild animals (37:31). When they took the coat to their father, Jacob mourned for many days and could not be comforted by anyone (37:32-35). What happened to Joseph? The traders sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard (37:36). Joseph was now far from home because his brothers’ hatred and envy had taken over their lives.
Dear God, protect me from hatred, envy, and bitterness.