by Tony Nester

This content is part of a series.

Joseph's Shattered Dreams
Tony R. Nester
Genesis 37:1-36

Today we are beginning the first of two messages on the story of Joseph. Joseph is the favorite son of Jacob, now known by his new name, Israel, and his wife, Rachel. Jacob has three other wives and they have given him 10 sons. Rachel will bear one last son, Benjamin, and die in childbirth. These twelve sons are the patriarchs of the famous 12 tribes of Israel. The story begins in Genesis, chapter 37.

"Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. {2} This is the story of the family of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. {3} Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. {4} But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him."

Here the Bible presents us with yet another dysfunctional family. Jacob, now called by his new name, Israel, is favoring his youngest son, Joseph, birthed by Rachel, over Joseph's half-brothers who have been birthed by Jacob's three other wives: Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah.

Israel is doting over Joseph, his youngest son. Born in his old age, Israel is proud of this boy and delights in showing him off.

He gives Joseph a luxurious robe which we traditionally refer to as a "coat of many colors." It was an extravagance. That gift was just one more way Israel showed his favoritism toward Joseph over his other brothers. Just as you would expect, the other sons grow to despise Joseph. They resent his late arrival into the family of sons, and grow to despise him.

Good family requires two virtues which are conspicuously absent in this family.

The first is self-giving or unselfishne ...

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