12 Joseph’s brothers had gone to take care of their father’s flocks near Shechem. 13 Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are taking care of the flocks near Shechem. Come. I’m going to send you to them.” “All right,” Joseph replied. 14 So Israel said to him, “Go to your brothers. See how they are doing. Also see how the flocks are doing. Then come back and tell me.” So he sent him away from the Hebron Valley. Joseph arrived at Shechem. 15 A man found him wandering around in the fields. He asked Joseph, “What are you looking for?” 16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are taking care of their flocks?” 17 “They’ve moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went to look for his brothers. He found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him a long way off. Before he reached them, they made plans to kill him. 19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to one another. 20 “Come. Let’s kill him. Let’s throw him into one of these empty wells. Let’s say that a wild animal ate him up. Then we’ll see whether his dreams will come true.” 21 Reuben heard them talking. He tried to save Joseph from them. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t spill any of his blood. Throw him into this empty well here in the desert. But don’t harm him yourselves.” Reuben said that to save Joseph from them. He was hoping he could take him back to his father. 23 When Joseph came to his brothers, he was wearing his beautiful robe. They took it away from him. 24 And they threw him into the well. The well was empty. There wasn’t any water in it. 25 Then they sat down to eat their meal. As they did, they saw some Ishmaelite traders coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, lotion and myrrh. They were on their way to take them down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and try to cover up what we’ve done? 27 Come. Let’s sell him to these traders. Let’s not harm him ourselves. After all, he’s our brother. He’s our own flesh and blood.” Judah’s brothers agreed with him. 28 The traders from Midian came by. Joseph’s brothers pulled him up out of the well. They sold him to the Ishmaelite traders for eight ounces of silver. Then the traders took him to Egypt.
We only get part of the story in this passage. We see that Joseph was obedient to his father – ready to do what his father asked without complaining or questioning. We see that he was resourceful. He went to the area where his brothers were supposed to be and asked around until he found out where they were. He then went to the new location. Then his brothers snatched him despite Reuben’s attempt to minimise the situation.
We know that prior to this Joseph was a bit of a painful brother – parading his coat and making a big deal of the dream he had. We also know that after a long time Joseph became well respected and powerful in Egypt. So we can have sympathy for how the brothers felt about Joseph but we can also see that God rewarded Joseph’s readiness to serve and his patience.
Such stories remind us that God wants us to trust Him and that He works things together for our good even when it makes no sense. He wants us to stick to what He says and what He asks us to do, to be at peace and to hold on to the promises He has made. How hard would this have been for Joseph at this point in the story. He was sold to slave traders by his brothers and there was nothing he could do. It would have been easy for him to give up but he went on to work to the best of his ability in all the situations in which he was placed. We can do that too.
Lord help us to know Your words and to embed them into our very being so that in every situation we will remember how it is You want us to be and to act. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in difficult situations, help us to hold onto You and Your promises. Help us to trust You.
Written by Therese Manning