This chapter details Joseph's dreams and his brothers selling him into slavery. The third verse tells us “Israel loved Joseph more than his other sons because Joseph was born to him in his old age.” But what about Benjamin? He was also born to him in his old age, but Israel's beloved wife Rachel died giving birth to him. It makes me wonder, how did Israel feel about Benjamin? Was it hard to look at his youngest without thinking of Rachel? Did he blame his son for her death?
We see later that after he believed Joseph was dead, Israel became very protective of Benjamin. It makes me wonder if God used Joseph's presumed death to bring healing to that relationship. We often study how God was at work during that time in Joseph’s life, but seldom consider the impact on his brothers.
When Joseph was out in the field, it was not with the sons of Leah, but only the sons of the concubines. That detail increases the perception of Joseph lording his position over them. In the ancient familial hierarchy, sons of a concubine had fewer rights and privileges than sons of a wife.
I also wonder where Leah's sons were? They were the oldest, perhaps they already had their own families and flocks. And when Joseph is sent after them, they had been grazing their flocks near Shechem. Remember, Shechem was the site of their bloody revenge after their sister was raped. Why were they hanging out there, and what made them move on?
The scripture doesn’t tell us whose suggestion it was, bit I wonder if it was Simeon and Levi who wanted to kill Joseph? Had their earlier bloodlust numbed them to violence and murder?
As I study this chapter, I have a lot more questions than answers, but the one thing that is so clear to me throughout Joseph's story is how God is working out a plan for his life. Even when people are plotting against him, God is thwarting and redesigning their plans to achieve a purpose that is still far in the future, a purpose that wouldn't even make sense to Joseph or his brothers at this point in time if God were to reveal it to them. A plan to restore relationship between Israel and his youngest son, and a plan to create unity in the family through a famine and forgiveness.
I’ve seen that so many times in my life. Painful circumstances become pivotal moments leading to a future blessing. At the point of pain, it makes no sense, it doesn't seem as if anything positive could ever come from such tragedy and heartache. It's only in looking back later that we are able to see how the point of pain changed our course and brought us to a better place. Have you seen God do that in your life?