Summary: We live in a world where it is hard to find people who care. We live in a world where people are willing give money and even time to help people we don’t know. But at the same time, we often ignore people we do know who are in a spiritual pits.
I spent this week with Joseph on his journey and in the pit. I wanted to feel and think what Joseph felt and thought. Listen to
Joseph’s thinking, as he approached his brothers. It has been a long walk from Hebron to Shechem to Dothan. My father wanted me to visit my brothers to check up on them because he does not trust them. I know how this makes my brothers feel, when father shows favoritism to me. I also know how they feel when they see my coat of authority over them. They hate me. Then to make matters worse, God gave me two dreams that my family would bow down to me. This caused my brothers to hate me even more. As I see my brothers speaking on that distant hill in Dothan, I know they are talking about how much they hate me. That is what they always talk about when I am around. But, all I can do is be faithful and obedient to my father, Jacob. This is pleasing to my father and to God. I am on this journey because I want to be obedient. Let’s see what the brothers were thinking and saying as they watched Joseph approach them from a distance. Gen 37:17b-20
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.” The plan of the majority of the brothers was cold blooded murder. They would kill Joseph and lie to their father that he had been killed and eaten by a ferocious animal. They wanted to kill Joseph and kill the dreams of Joseph. Gen 37: 21-24
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.
For whatever motive, Reuben did not want to kill Joseph. In fact, he planned to eventually return Joseph to his father, Jacob. Reuben had good intentions toward his brother, in the pit. The problem was that Reuben wanted to rescue Joseph and at the same time please his brothers. So he convinced the brothers to just let Joseph die out in the desert, in a pit, with no water. Then
Reuben would return later and rescue Joseph. Gen 37:25
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. With Joseph in the pit, the brothers sat down to eat their meal. In this text, we are not told what was going on with Joseph in the pit, while the brothers were eating. But listen to what the brothers say later in Egypt about Joseph in the pit, in Gen 42:21. - 21They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us.” Seventeen year old, Joseph, was in the pit listening to his brothers talk about his death while they ate their meal. This was beyond what Joseph could grasp, and from his brothers, of all people. He was terrified and he was begging and pleading with his brothers to spare his life. And his brothers did not even listen to him, but just kept on eating their meal. Bitterness and hatred makes people hard and insensitive. Gen 37:26-28 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.
Plan A was to kill Joseph and throw him in the pit.
Plan B was to just throw Joseph in the pit and let him die without water. Reuben had a separate plan to eventually rescue Joseph. Then along came a caravan of merchants. Judah came up with the idea of selling Joseph to this caravan going to Egypt.