We will pick up in verse 25 chapter 37 of Genesis.
Genesis 37:25 “And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up
their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from
Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to
carry [it] down to Egypt.”
These Ishmeelites were descendents from Ishmael. These Arab
traders were selling to the Pharaohs of Egypt. This was a known trade
route Gilead to Egypt. This spicery and myrrh were sweet smelling
perfumes. The balm was for healing, and was made from trees in the
Genesis 37:26 “And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit [is
it] if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?”
Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, spoke against killing
Joseph. Reuben was, also, Lea’s son. It seems, the only ones who really
wanted to kill Joseph were handmaids’ sons. Not only would they not
profit from his death, but if found out, they would be in worse
Genesis 37:27 “Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and
let not our hand be upon him; for he [is] our brother [and] our flesh.
And his brethren were content.”
They just wanted to be rid of him. They did not care how. This
plan they agreed on would put extra money in their pockets, and get
rid of him, too.
Genesis 37:28 “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
The price of a slave was thirty pieces of silver, but Joseph was
sold for twenty pieces, probably because he was just a lad. His
brothers lifted Joseph out. They were pleased with the price, and
certainly were glad to be rid of Joseph.
Genesis 37:29 “And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold,
Joseph [was] not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.”
Reuben had no intentions of killing Joseph. He rent his clothes
because he thought his brothers had killed Joseph.
Genesis 37:30 “And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The
child [is] not; and I, whither shall I go?”
Reuben knew that he should have stopped this long before it got
out of hand. How could he face his father?
Genesis 37:31 “And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of
the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood;”
Genesis 37:32 “And they sent the coat of [many] colours, and they
brought [it] to their father; and said, This have we found: know now
whether it [be] thy son’s coat or no.”
To lie to their father was a bad sin, but to grieve him by telling
him that his favorite son had been killed was cruel beyond reason.
Their deception did not speak well of their character. The Scripture
was not explicit about whether all of the sons were involved or not,
but we know the handmaids’ sons were herding before, and two of Leah’s
sons were mentioned specifically.
Genesis 37:33 “And he knew it, and said, [It is] my son’s coat;
an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in
Genesis 37:34 “And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon
his loins, and mourned for his son many days.”
This was about the cruelest thing sons could do to their father.
To be killed would be bad, but to believe that a wild animal had torn
your son to pieces would bring greater pain. There was not even a body
to bury. They say this is the worst kind of grief. When you bury
someone, it makes it final; But when there is no body, the grief goes
on and on. These sons could not have possibly loved their father very
much, or they would not have let him suffer like this.
Genesis 37:35 “And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to
comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will
go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for
Here was the first mention of daughters of Israel, except for
Dinah. Daughters can usually help their fathers, but Israel was so
grieved no one could comfort him. This was the love of his life. He
was an old man, around one hundred and eighty years old. This might
even grieve him to death.
Genesis 37:36 “And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto
Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, [and] captain of the guard.”
There are so many things that make us think of Jesus in all of
this. Jesus was sold by his brethren for thirty pieces of silver.
Joseph was sold by his brethern for twenty pieces of silver.
Jesus was taken before Pilate, a high official of the land.
Joseph was taken to Potipher, an officer of Pharaoh.
Joseph was a type and a shadow of Jesus. Be sure to watch for
more things that remind you of Jesus.
This young boy, the favorite of his father, had been forcibly
taken from his father to a strange land.
The Scriptures do not elaborate on what Joseph had to say about
all this. It seems as though he stood before them as one dumb.
The Midianites were descendents of Medan, a brother of Midian,
who were both sons of Abraham by Keturah. They were Joseph’s kinsman.
The Ishmeelites and the Midianites were fellow traders. Both groups
were involved in this crime against Joseph.
“Potiphar” means he who belongs to the sun.
The captain of the guard was in charge of executions. He was
keeper of the state prison.
Let us look back just a little at this situation, and note a few
The brothers was very jealous of him, Thus causing them to hate
him. Their reason for selling him, or killing him had lowered their
moral status. They were no better than the society around them, and
they were supposed to be God’s representatives here on the earth.
Their blessings of their great-grandfather, grandfather, and father
had fallen on them.
Wicked men and God seem to be at cross purposes. God will always
triumph, as we will see when this unfolds further. God can take
something as terrible as this and make something good out of it.
We will study chapter 38 of Genesis for our next lesson.