God Directs Events toward His Purpose
A tragic event in Joseph’s family that nearly claimed his life at a young age challenges us to think about the roles of parents and siblings in managing unequal opportunities among the children of one family; potential problems of polygamous relationships; and God’s willingness to direct our life events, including events that appear tragic, toward his purpose.
Israel Sends Joseph on Fateful Errand
Israel, at this time the father of twelve men and boys, sent Joseph to visit with and re-supply his ten senior brothers that were tending flocks in the field. When they saw him coming, they conspired to kill to end what they saw as his dream to someday rise to an authority position over them. They eventually did not kill him but sold him into slavery and covered-up their act by tricking their father into believing that he was killed by wild animals.
Hated by Brothers
Joseph’s brothers hated him because of his advantages over them, exemplified by their father’s open preferential love for him and made worse by Joseph apparently flaunting the advantages by squealing on his senior brothers and telling them he dreamed they would bow to him some day.
Problems from Polygamy
Unhealthy rivalry among Jacob’s four wives likely contributed negatively by sowing seeds of envy, hatred, and adversarial competition among the children. Also, the fact that Joseph and Benjamin (the two children of Rachel) did not have a senior brother from their mother at about the same age as the other brothers may have contributed to their being isolated and mistreated in a family that likely developed into four separate families under one father.
Painful Beginning to a Pleasant End
However, though it started as a threat to his life, this event actually triggered a sequence of events that resulted in a grand blessing for Joseph and his community including saving the nation of Egypt and the young nation of Israel from a severe famine that ravaged the world about two decades later.