Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Genesis 37:1-4 Robe Rage

"Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.  This is the account of Jacob.  Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them." (Genesis 37:1-2 NIV)

Now that we have finished the account of Esau's descendants (although they will show up later in the Biblical account), we are beginning to look at what happens in the lives of Jacob's descendants.  Jacob is living in the land which God had promised to Israel.  Joseph and his brother Benjamin were the beloved sons of Jacob's favorite wife, Rachel.  Joseph tended the sheep with his brothers, in this instance, the sons of two of Jacob's other wives.

As we will see in the following verses, Jacob made no effort to conceal his favoritism.  This is somewhat surprising, because Jacob's twin brother Esau had been his father's favorite, so Jacob should have been more aware of how the other brothers would react.  This may have been especially annoying to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah in particular, for they were the sons of the maids of Rachel and Leah, and may have felt that their mothers already had a rather secondary status.  On top of that, Joseph had brought their father a bad report about them.  Whether this bad report was because of a serious error on their part, or whether Joseph was just being a tattletale is not mentioned.

"Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him.  When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him." (Genesis 37:3-4 NIV)

It is one thing to believe that your father loves your brother more than you, it is entirely another to have him confirm it so blatantly.  This is the same type of robe worn by royalty (2 Samuel 13:18).  It is certainly not the type of garment worn while doing work, so this clearly signaled to the other brothers that Joseph was being especially favored.  On a more practical basis, and in typical brotherly fashion, they may have wondered if they would be expected to do all the chores, while Joseph lounged about in his robe like royalty!

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