This is the chapter which begins the story of Joseph, Jacob's first-born son by Rachel. The years of bitter rivalry between Leah and Rachel, Jacob's overt favoritism of all things Rachel, and some shabby parenting are about to bear fruit.
What has always struck me about this chapter is Joseph's complete lack of tact. He is a tattle tale, has no modesty when it comes to being his father's favorite, and can't wait to tell his brother's (not once but twice) how he will be the ruler over all. Joseph is almost the youngest of all Jacob's sons, and he is lording it over men twice his age every single day with the special tunic and by telling his dreams. Obviously, both Rachel and Jacob have encouraged Joseph to think of himself as extra special and he is something of a spoiled brat.
I don't imagine the brothers skipped straight to murder when it came to dealing with Joseph. They have undoubtedly cut Joseph down to size with words and fists and have ganged up on him to play pranks both harmless and mean. Through it all, Joseph has run to Mommy and Daddy telling tales assured he would be coddled and petted. The brothers finally decide to murder Joseph by leaving him to die in an abandoned well, but when they see a caravan approaching, sell Joseph into slavery instead. No sense leaving Joseph to die when they can ease their consciences and make money at the same time.
There is no question Joseph turns into a shining example of character later on, but while he may have had some outstanding basic qualities, he also needed to be brought down to size and, since Rachel and Jacob were failing as parents, God saw fit to tear him away from them and make him a slave to teach Joseph humility, tact, and few other necessary lessons.
As the parent of two grown children, I must admit failing to completely grow my children up before they left home. My husband and I tried to balance protection from and exposure to the world, to teach them right from wrong both directly and through natural consequences, and how to walk straight in a culture gone crooked. But we didn't finish the job. Over the past several years, God has taken over and taught our children many of the lessons we did not, either because we lacked the time or because it was a blindspot for us as parents. Thankfully, God is not only a better parent but also more interested in developing men and women of character than eartly fathers and mothers. If your children are nearing their time to leave home, or have already left, it is time to "let go and let God" be their parent, knowing He will finish perfecting them and make up whatever we lacked.
Until next time,