Jacob’s polygamous family consisting of four wives (two of which were blood sisters) twelve sons and an unspecified number of daughters could not be said to be a peaceful, united and harmonious one because of jealousy, envy, rancor, squabbles, and hatred among both the wives and the children, caused Jacob’s open love and preference of one wife (Rachel) over other wives (Genesis 29;32,33,34 chapter 30, 6,8,15) and open love and favoritism of one child (Joseph) over the rest children Genesis 37:3.
Although the Bible did not mention it anywhere that the wives consisting of Joseph’s late mother’s older sister (Leah) and her maid (Zilpah) and Rachel’s maid (Bilhah) hated Joseph, it wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that they wouldn’t like him for obvious reasons: (i) being the son of their husband’s favorite wife (Rachel) (ii)also being their husband’s favorite son (iii) being the one that reported their son’s misbehaviors to their husband/father (iv) because of his dreams that suggested he would be head over them and their children.
Jacob, their /husband/father did not help matters either; he showered so much love on Joseph than his other children for obvious reasons (a) Joseph was his love child being the son of Rachel, the love of his life. (b) He was the son of his old age. (c) He was a motherless child and needed to compensate and comfort him for his late mother’s (Rachel) death (d) he made a special coat of many colors to indicate his being his beloved son and distinguish him from his other brothers.
Jacob’s great love for Joseph became very glaring to the other children most especially as he made him a special coat of many colors and Joseph’s older brothers hated him for this and also because he brought evil reports of them to their father, “They hated him and could not speak peaceably unto him.” Genesis 37:2-4, ‘Could not speak peaceably unto him’ could imply, they always insult, bully, abuse, curse, spite, scorn, ridicule, condemn, shun, intimidate, rebuke, antagonize and criticize him as much as possible and on all occasions. This is victimization and oppression at its peak. It was a very toxic situation to find oneself. Of a truth, a brother offended is harder to be won, Proverbs 18: 19
He shared his first dream with their father and the brothers and his brothers became enraged against him more and more. The brothers antagonized him saying, “Shalt thou indeed reign over us? Shalt thou indeed have dominion over us?” They hated him yet the more, “they hated him yet the more for the dreams and for his words,” Genesis 37:5-8.
Just imagine the degree of their hatred for him as described in the Scripture, “they hated him yet the more” which implies they hated him more and more and more and are now at the peak of hatred for him, no love for him in their heart at all. No wonder they found it very easy to plan to kill him. Did the Bible not say that anyone who hates his brother is a murderer? 1 John 3:15. Indeed, a man’s enemies are members of his household, Micah 7:6.
He had yet another dream and told it to their father and his brothers and his brothers “envied him,” Genesis 37:11. This implied they went a step higher than hatred, they envied. Who can stand before envy? None! This is because envy is cruel more than wrath and outrageous more than anger, Proverbs 27:4.
They hated and envied him to the point of conspiring to kill him, Genesis 37: 18-22. Truly, where envy and strife is, there is every evil work, James 3: 16. They conspired against their younger brother, probably of the same age range with some of their children or some of their children were even older than him, Genesis 38. They would have killed him if not for Reuben who pleaded with them not to kill him and they dropped him in a dry pit. They would have probably left him there in the dry pit to die of hunger had God’s providence not brought the Ishmaelites that Judah suggested they should sell him to. They sold him, their blood younger brother into slavery for twenty pieces of silver and shared the money! Genesis 37:24-28. Was this not the height of callousness and greed? Brothers are indeed born for adversities, Proverbs 17:17
Could there be a worse scenario than as described above that anyone could find himself/herself in any family? This is the real definition of being in hell on earth! These are situations capable of making anyone very sad and bitter, traumatized, timid, frustrated, withdrawn, shattered, downcast, rejected and dejected, depressed, and hopelessly hopeless. However, Joseph remained comported and courageous and held his peace. He did not raise his voice and he did not rebel, he was at peace inside out. What could have made a youth of his age behave so bold and courageous, cool and calm in the face of so much hatred and hostilities against him?
Joseph must have been aware of all the hatred, envy and all their ill-feeling towards him yet he did not disagree to go and check their welfare and also give them food when sent by their father. He obeyed and went to look for them. When he couldn’t find them at where they were supposed to be instead of returning home to their father since he did not find them, he went further all alone without fear seeking for them until he met a man who told him they went to Dothan. He went seeking for them until he found them, Genesis 37: 14-17. Why did he go to this length for the people he knew hated him so much? Why the concern and care shown to his hateful brothers?
JOSEPH LOVED GOD AND TRUSTED IN HIS LOVE
His secret was simply that he loved and trusted in God’s love for him. This type of love he had is born of faith. This implies Joseph had great faith in God and his great faith birthed the great love he had for God. Nothing but the highest faith in the wisdom, mercy, faithfulness and loving-kindness of God can sustain one and make one fearless and courageous in such a very hostile family setting with so much hatred and wickedness, Psalm 119: 165; Isaiah 26: 3-4. God’s love was what sustained him and his trust in God’s love for him was what made him fearless and courageous, Lamentations 3: 22-23, 25-26. There is no love as tender as the love of God in one’s heart in the face of refusal and rejection.
Joseph was able to love his family members the way he did despite all their hatred and wickedness to him simply because he loved God and dwelled in God’s love. Natural passion will not love as he did, but the love that comes from the fountain of God’s heart and which goes out to others including the undeserving and those who hated us because God loves all men and they are precious to Him. It is only the genuine love of God in one’s heart that can make one respond to hatred with love because the love of Christ constrains us to love all, 2 Corinthians 5:14,”
Joseph’s love for his family members was Christ-like love.
The importance of loving God, trusting, and dwelling in His love is something many of us are yet to fully grasp and understand in our generation, and not doing it is the source of most of our travails.
To be continued here.
GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I