And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.
Joseph's is one of the most interesting histories in the world. He has the strange power of uniting our hearts to him, as to a well-beloved friend. He had "the genius to be loved greatly," because he had the genius to love greatly, and his genius still lives in these Bible pages. We discover in Joseph—
I. A hated brother. The boy was his father's pet. Very likely he was the perfect picture of Rachel who was gone, and so Jacob saw and loved in him his sainted wife. In token of love his father foolishly gave him a coat of many colours, to which, alas! the colour of blood was soon added. It was for no good reason that his brothers hated him. Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. Not that he was a sneaking tell-tale; but he would not do as they did, nor would he hide from his father their evil doings. God means the children of a family to feel bound together by bands that grapple the heart, and to stand true to one another to life's end. Reverence the mighty ties of kindred which God has fashioned. Joseph also teaches you never to make any one your foe without a very good reason. The weakest whom you wrong may one day be your master.
II. Joseph was also a blameless youth. Though terribly tempted, he never yielded. He was shamefully wronged, yet he was not hardened or soured. His soul was like the oak which is nursed into strength by storms. In his heart, not on it, he wore a talisman that destroyed sin's charms. The heavenly plant of his piety disclosed all its beauty, and gave out its sweet odours in the wicked palaces of Potiphar and Pharaoh.
III. Joseph was also a famous ruler. He entered Egypt as a Hebrew slave, and became its prime minister. He was the hero of his age, the saviour of his country, the most successful man of his day. He became so great because he was so good; he was a noble man because he was a thorough man of God.
IV. Joseph was a type of Christ. Joseph, like Jesus, was his father's well-beloved son, the best of brothers, yet hated and rejected by his own; was sold from envy for a few pieces of silver, endured a great temptation, yet without sin; was brought into a low estate and falsely condemned; was the greatest of forgivers, the forgiver of his own murderers; and was in all things the son and hope of Israel.
J. Wells, Bible Children, p. 35.
References: Gen 37—F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 135; M. Dods, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, p. 139. Genesis 37:1-11, A. Craig, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 358; R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 113; W. M. Taylor, Joseph the Prime Minister, p. 7. Genesis 37:1-36.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 99. Genesis 37:3—S. Cox, Expositor's Notebook, p. 31.
Genesis 37:3, etc.
Jacob was wrong in making a favourite of Joseph. The coat of many colours was the dress the firstborn child was to wear. In giving it to Joseph, Jacob was making him like the firstborn son. It was a beautiful white tunic, with a great many pieces bound upon it—not many colours like a rainbow.
I. Joseph's coat must have been a snare to him, for we read that he was a tell-tale. He told his father about the wrong things that his brothers did. Never tell of others till you have used every possible persuasion. If you try to do good to others, you must be very good yourself.
II. Just at that time Joseph had two dreams. Perhaps it was the wearing of the coat that made him have these dreams. He was a little proud about the coat, so he had proud dreams.
III. When his father sent him to Dothan, we find that Joseph was very obedient and very brave. He went at once. He lost his way, but he was so persevering he would not go back, because he was determined not to return without doing what his father told him; and even after his brothers had sold him, we find that he was patient and forgiving. The reason was that he loved God and tried to please Him. God took care of him and blessed him through life.
J. Vaughan, Sermons to Children, 4th series, p. 317.
References: Genesis 37:12, Genesis 37:35.—W. M. Taylor, Joseph the Prime Minister, p. 20; R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 120. Genesis 37:18.—Parker, Hidden Springs, p. 140. Genesis 37:19.—Parker, vol. i., p. 287; Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvii., p. 262. Genesis 37:25-36.—R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 128. Genesis 37:33.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xii., p. 139. Genesis 37:36.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. vii., p. 167. Gen 38—R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 128. Gen 39—F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 140; Parker, vol. i., p. 294; M. Dods, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, p. 165; R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 138. Genesis 39:1.—Ibid., p. 128. Genesis 39:1-7.—W. M. Taylor, Joseph the Prime Minister, p. 33. Genesis 39:2.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii., No. 1610; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 369. Genesis 39:2-21.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xiv., p. 96. Genesis 39:7-23.—W. M. Taylor, Joseph the Prime Minister, p. 48.
These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.
And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.
And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?
And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.
And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem.
And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.
And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?
And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.
And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.
And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.
And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.
Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.
And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.
And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;
And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.
And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?
Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.
Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.
And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?
And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood;
And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no.
And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.
And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard.