Joseph’s Brothers’ Hatred

4477_4477_5There were reasons and even some history behind Joseph’s Brothers’ hatred for him. Many people read the story of Joseph in the Bible, who was the well known eleventh son of Jacob, and assume that this intense hatred that Joseph’s older brothers expressed toward him, as they so wickedly sold him into slavery, was just a result of their father’s favoritism.

It was not.

It turns out, when we delve deeper into the story, that this resentment was built up over a period of years, even before Joseph was born. Their hatred was only partially the result of their father, Jacob’s favoritism, but it was, even-more-so, the  result of the mistreatment that was heaped upon their mother (Leah) by both Jacob and her sister Rachel, who happened to be Joseph’s mother. The Bible clearly states that Leah, who was the mother of six of Joseph’s older brothers, was a hated family member. She was so hated and mistreated, in fact, that God saw her plot and rewarded her to have the first sons by Jacob, while, at the same time, God shut Rachel’s womb.

We can pick up this true family drama starting in Genesis 29:30-32 (reading from the King James version Bible),

(30)’And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.’

(31)’And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.’

(32)’And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.’

It would not be until years later that God would hear Rachel’s cries for a child of her own, and God opened her womb allowing her to conceive and bare Jacob her own biological son named Joseph. Rachel was Jacob’s favorite and chosen wife while, Leah, on the other hand, was forced upon Jacob by his deceitful uncle named Laban. And Jacob did not like nor favor Leah at all because of this.

Therefore, it fell on poor Joseph (who was innocent and kind)  to pay for the unfairness of his father, and for the actions of his mother Rachel toward her sister Leah.

The Basis of Joseph’s Brothers’ Hatred

The foundation of this mean-spirited dislike for their younger brother was the result of the unrighteous actions of their father (Jacob) when he hated their mother and when he, then, in turned, heaped special favor on Joseph’s mother Rachel and later, on Joseph, himself.  Therefore, the sin of hatred and the sin of unfairness laid the cruel foundation for a innocent young man to be bound and sold into slavery by his own brothers.

That is why God hates unrighteous judgment and unfairness so much, He sees the incredible resentment and problems that arises as a result of it. In the Bible, God commanded the leaders of His people (the descendants of Jacob) to always be fair judges, fair bosses, fair teachers, fair parents, fair priests, and treat the poor fair. In fact, in Proverbs 31:9, it says,

“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”(KJV)

Later, the Lord spoke on fairness in Zechariah 7:9, when He said,

“Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:”(KJV)

Moses, also, taught to render fair and righteous judgment in decisions in Leviticus 19:15, he says,

Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.”(KJV)

Finally, James the brother of Jesus, spoke on the matter of favoritism among those even in the church during Christian assembly. Starting in James 2:1-8 (from the King James version {KJV})  he says,

(1)”My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”

(2)”For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;”

(3)”And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:”

(4)”Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?”

(5)”Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”

(6)”But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?”

(7)”Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?”

(8)”If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:”

God, who is Just and Fair, saw Leah’s dilemma and acted, as He always does, on behalf of the mistreated, rejected, and scorned person. God made Leah very fertile and gave her multiple children by Jacob, while God, then, had to deal with Rachel who had scorned and rejected Leah, although they were sisters.

The Bible says that Rachel was made barren for years before she was finally able to conceive.

It was very obvious that Joseph’s older brothers saw this unfairness as they were growing up and grew to resent the way their mother Leah had been treated. Then, finally, years later little Joseph was born to Rachel and Jacob started favoring him over each one of them, as well. Then, to add insult to injury (at least in their minds) , Joseph became a great Dreamer, who dreamed that one day all of his family, including his parents, would bow down before him.

They could not understand this, and Joseph’s brothers’ hatred only grew more intense toward him. They began to mistreat Joseph and to reject Joseph in the same manner that their father had done to Leah and had begun to do to them. The foundation of resent was laid that eventually led to the unspeakable, as found in Genesis 37:4-5, 8, 20, 22, & 28 (reading from the King James version)

(4)”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.”

(5)”And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.”

(8)”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.”

(18)”And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.”

(20)”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.”

(22)”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.

(28)”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.”

There we have it, the results of unfairness and favoritism can be devastating to both those who are on the brunt end of the mistreatment and then, to those who are on the receiving end of the favoritism.

How Is Joseph’s Brothers’ Hatred Relevant To Us Today?

All who are Children of God, who are saved by grace through faith, given to them by the shed blood on the cross of Christ, should strive to be fair to everyone that we have any authority over, regardless of who they are and what they have done. If we are parents; if we are pastor; if we are judges; if we are bosses; if we teachers; or if we are governs over various groups of people, then it is unrighteous and ungodly to mistreat one person or persons over another person or persons.

Although it is very easy to have favorites, we as children of a Just God, should be fair to all. It is wrong not to be fair to all, even if we have favorites.  We must remember that even God’s favoritism comes, to a certain extinct, to all. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 5:45,

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”(KJV)

Jesus was teaching, in context, that we should treat even our enemies in a loving and fair manner. This is how God treats us. Yet, God does, in fact have favoritism, but it is special favoritism.

How Is God’s Favoritism Different Than Man’s?

God’s favoritism is not based on who we are, or what we look like, or where we came from, or how much money we have, like much of man’s favoritism is based on.  I must, also, disagree with the teaching that has become wide spread suggesting that God’s favor is not fair. That is an ungodly saying.

GOD IS AlWAYS FAIR! And we must never forget this.

God shows favor to all, but special favor only to those who show obedience and favor toward Him. God’s favor is  not automatic, it is conditional. He says,

If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:”(Isaiah 1:19, KJV)

God’s special favor is based on an ‘if then’ situations. If Abraham, for example, obeyed and believed God, then he would be blessed; and he was. Furthermore, if Joseph endured his servitude in Egypt with righteousness, integrity, and wisdom, then he would be promoted to Prime Minister of Egypt. And that is where we end this family drama, with Joseph reigning in high authority in Egypt.

Although, his brothers so wickedly sold him, like cattle, into slavery, God was with Joseph and Joseph kept his integrity. God began to promote Joseph higher and higher and he was fair to all who were placed under him. He did have setbacks and was falsely accused and sent to prison, but God, then, just promoted him to run the prison. Later, when Joseph was ready, God promoted him to the highest office in the land, second only to Pharaoh the King of Egypt.

Finally, many years later, Joseph comes face to face with his brothers. He instantly recognizes them, but they don’t recognize him. Yet, they do see him in high authority and they have to bow before him. They had to travel to Egypt because there was an extreme famine in the land and Jacob had to send them to Egypt for grain or all his family would die. Joseph saved the day, and rescued his family from famine.

We will let Joseph conclude this lesson by explaining to us how God can take our failures and faults and cause them to do His will. There in Genesis 50: 18-21, we see the conclusion of this matter with Joseph and his brothers (reading from the King James version), it says,

(18)’And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.’

(19)”And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?”

(20)”But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”

(21)”Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.’  


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