“they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.
Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to
his brothers, they hated him even more.”
But if the younger said to the older, “you will bow down to me” – even though both are Christians – it would not go well.
How much worse for Joseph, whose 10 older brothers are opposed to God and His plan for their family?
We think of hatred as deeds. Actions, words spoken, intended to wound, hurt, and harm. But in its most basic form, it’s staying away from the person hated. Only later, if its developed, will hatred be made visible in deeds.
One man expressed it this way:
Hate expresses an emotional attitude toward persons and things which are opposed, detested, despised and with which one wishes to have no contact or relationship. It is therefore the opposite of love. Whereas love draws and unites, hate separates and keeps distant.
So, at church, who do you hate? It’s the person you avoid talking to. In your family, who do you hate? Same thing.
Now Joseph tells the brothers the dream. Their sheaves bowing down to his. OK, that’s not really accurate. In the Hebrew he commands them to listen to him tell them his dream about their submission to him. Thus adding force to authority, Joseph doubles down on his brothers. Not too politically savvy, this one. Then Moses writes, “and they hated him even more.”
But as of yet, they had no opportunity to carry out their hatred. It would come, soon enough.
Then this, and you’re cringing, like ‘nooooo:’
“Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers,
and said, “Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold,
the sun and the moon and eleven stars
were bowing down to me.”
That ‘bowing down’ there is the kind of bowing done to a superior. Joseph is clueless as to how he’s being read, and even Dad tells him, ‘stop!’ – ‘What, shall I and your mother bow down to you? Don’t be ridiculous!’ Or something like that.
Well, Dad’s words water the seeds that will produce Joseph’s 20 year harvest of betrayal: ‘And his brothers were jealous of him’ (Gen. 37:11). Jealousy is not a superficial emotion, it’s a strong emotion whereby some quality or possession of the another person is greatly yearned for, and the jealous person(s) is willing to use violence to obtain it.
Joseph has his Dad’s love. The 10 older sons want it. But if they can’t have it, they would rather see Dad lose the 1 favored son than repent of their betrayal to him.
All of this exploration of sin is necessary to seeing God hand in our lives, and His power to work great good out of it.
O God. Make my heart pure and free from jealously and hatred, for my brothers and sisters in Christ, and for anyone or anything in the world. In Christ’s name, amen.