Haters Gonna Hate
“A number of years ago when I needed a kidney transplant, my Jewish nephrologist asked me a soul-searching question, ‘Do you know anyone who would give you a kidney?’ I grew up in a wonderful Christian home with both my parents and three brothers and three sisters. I knew they loved me, but I must admit that when that question was asked, all sorts of strange thoughts went through my mind. Many of them had to do with how I had acted toward my brothers and sisters in earlier days. My parents did not spoil me, but I had acted spoiled in many instances. Now they reared their ugly memories in my mind.”
[Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 305].
It makes us think doesn’t it?
How have I acted toward my siblings?
How have I acted toward fellow students growing up?
Years ago when I first started using Facebook, I began connecting with fellow students from Shippensburg
I didn’t graduate from there, but I grew up with them
When I friended one particular person, they eventually sent me a message sharing something I had said that hurt them
I didn’t remember the comment or situation, but they did because it caused them pain
I had the privilege of apologizing and asking them for forgiveness after twenty plus years
I had no idea how my words had affected this person
How have I acted toward colleagues I have worked with?
How have I acted toward fellow Christians that I worshiped with?
Perhaps all of us can and should ask ourselves the same questions
How have we acted toward our parents and siblings?
How have we acted toward fellow students we grew up with?
How have we acted toward colleagues we have worked with?
How have we acted toward fellow Christians we have worshiped with?
How have we acted toward our neighbors?
In Genesis 37, we are going to see how Jacob’s family members acted toward each other. There were some dynamics in Jacob’s family that motivated some strong feelings by his sons. We begin today to see what caused some of the strong feelings and next week we will see happens when those strong feelings go unchecked. What we are going to learn over the next two weeks is that . . .
BIG IDEA – Unchecked hatred leads to greater sin.
GOD (Genesis 37:1-11
Transition (v. 1)
Some scholars have verse 1 of chapter 37 with the Esau episode
Others have it as part of chapter 37
It is definitely a transitional statement to take us from the account of Esau to the account of Jacob
Walton informs us that Jacob has been in Canaan for about a decade [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 662]
Verse 1 “implies that Jacob had now entered upon his father’s inheritance, and carries on the patriarchal pilgrim-life in Canaan, the further development of which was determined by the wonderful career of Joseph.” [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 215]
Final toledot (v. 2a)
This is the account of Jacob is the final toledot in the book of Genesis
The remaining chapters of Genesis (37-50) will be talking about the sons of Jacob, specifically Joseph
One of the major themes in the last fourteen chapters of Genesis is the sovereignty and providence of God
What seems like the end for Joseph and the account of Jacob continues, because in God’s sovereignty He uses the evil of humanity to accomplish His plan and purpose
We will see that theme repeated over and over again in the final toledot section
Favoritism (vv. 2b-4)
Age – he was seventeen, just a teenager
Job – assistant shepherd
Inform his father about what his brothers were doing
We are not told what the bad report from Joseph included
Some speculation is that the brothers may have been robbing their father, Jacob
Perhaps it was some unethical or ungodly behavior
Maybe they were adopting the ways of the Canaanite people
We are just not told
Whatever these brothers were doing, Joseph recognized that his father needed to be informed
Some scholars question whether Joseph was being a tattletale or following the will of his father
Here are a couple of things to think about
Throughout the remaining narrative about Joseph, we see that he is a man of character and that God is with him and helps him
When sold into slavery to Potiphar, he worked hard and God allowed him to find favor in Potiphar’s eyes, which resulted in Joseph becoming his personal attendant, and when he was approached by Potiphar’s wife concerning being intimate he rejected her and eventually had to flew from her
When put in prison, he again worked hard and God allowed him to find favor in the warden’s eyes, which enabled him to be put in charge of all the prisoners
When he was brought before Pharaoh God gave him knowledge concerning Pharaoh’s two dreams, which allowed him to be promoted to second in command in Egypt
When Joseph’s two dreams were fulfilled, he didn’t lord that over his brothers or hold anything against them, but forgave them
So, it would seem like being a tattletale would not fit into the man of character Joseph was
Following the will of his father
The significance of the robe that Jacob gave Joseph will be discussed in a moment, but perhaps it is part of why Joseph was following the will of his father when he brought the bad report against his brothers
The other indicator that Joseph was probably following the will of his father is what we will see next week when Jacob sends Joseph to check up on his brothers and bring a report back to him (Genesis 37:14)
So, I believe that Joseph was following the will of his father – he cared more about his father than he did his brothers
The information about Joseph is important as we continue to unpack this narrative
Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons
The reason given for his preferential love was that Joseph was born to him in his old age
That is certainly true
Joseph and Benjamin would have been born to Israel when he was older, because Rachel had been barren
Perhaps the favoritism of Israel for Joseph stems from the fact that he was the first born son of his favorite wife
Genesis 29:30a, Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah . . .
Some scholars believe that Israel looked to Joseph as his “real” first born son that would inherit his estate, because he was the first born son of Rachel, his favorite
Learning from the past
It seems as though Jacob had not learned from his past, the kind of hurt and damage, playing favorites can create
Isaac and Rebekah’s favoritism
If you recall, Isaac favored Esau and Rebekah favored Jacob
The competition that ensued brought about hard feelings between Jacob and Esau – to the point that Esau was going to kill Jacob after their father died
There was continual competition between his first and second wives, because he loved Rachel more than Leah
Rachel bargained with Leah for her son Reuben’s mandrakes
That competition spread to Leah and Rachel’s handmaidens being given to Jacob as two additional wives
Now we see that Joseph brought a bad report to Jacob about Bilhah and Zilpah’s (the two handmaidens) sons
Favoritism always creates heartache and hatred
Unchecked hatred leads to greater sin.
Jacob should have known what would happen if he favored one child more than the others
“The heart has its reasons which reason cannot know.” [Pascal in Pensees, cited by Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 141]
“‘Love unwittingly produces hate’: it is the first instance of ‘the pivot of irony’ upon which the entire plot of the Joseph story might be described as turning. The Jacob family illustrates the dynamics of many a family, with someone loved too much, someone loving too much, and some people not feeling loved enough.” [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, 573]
PRINCIPLE #1 – Favoritism is always wrong.
We have seen throughout Jacob’s life how favoritism was wrong
It creates hard feelings, resentment, competition, and hatred
The same is true for us in our relationships
Loving too much
Parents have ever you found yourself favoring one of your children over the others?
It can be easy to do, especially when some of your children are making decisions that are hurting them while others are not
It may not be favoritism that comes into play, but just a realization that certain children are more difficult to raise than others
Personality types also play a role in how we connect with each of our children
It takes intentionality in order to treat each of your children equally
As parents, we may not even realize we are favoring one child more than the others
Perhaps an outside perspective would be helpful
If you are aware that you have been showing favoritism, then determine today to make the necessary changes
Those changes can heal wounds, create unity, and express love
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Love all of my children equally.
We need to love all of our children equally no matter what they are doing or have done
Take time this afternoon to talk with them or call them and tell them how much you love them
Depending on your relationship with them, they may ask you if you are dying, because you haven’t told them that in quite some time
Just reassure them that you aren’t and that you genuinely love them
Not feeling loved enough
Perhaps you feel like Jacob’s other sons – not loved as much as another sibling
I’m so sorry if that is actually happening in your family, because it makes you have hard feelings toward your parents and the favored sibling
Sometimes our perspective can be skewed, because we aren’t aware of everything that is happening in another person’s life
We may think we know, and from the outside it looks like another brother or sister is being favored
I would encourage you to not be easily offended, but rather to communicate with your parents
Let them know how you are feeling
Give them an opportunity to express how much they love you
Every one of us is susceptible to the view that the grass is always greener on the other side
We become consumed with wanting what another sibling has (relationships, intelligence, money, personality traits, and much more)
When we allow ourselves to be consumed with what others have, we will always be discontent, angry, resentful, hateful, jealous, and envious
God did not make a mistake when He created you – you are one of a kind, unique and valuable (please hear me today)
You have a heavenly Father who loves you perfectly
He loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3)
He loves you so much that He sent His one and only perfect Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for you (John 3:16) so you can have an eternal relationship with Him
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Communicate with my parents that I am feeling like they favor another sibling over me.
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Forgive my parents for favoring another sibling over me.
You can be set free from the bitterness, anger, resentment, hatred, jealousy, and envy today
You can begin to heal from those wounds that have been festering for far too long
The great think is that then you will not have unchecked hatred that leads to greater sin
You and I do not need to fall into the same cycle that Jacob did with his sons
He made it clear that Joseph was his favorite, by giving him a special robe
Richly ornamented robe
What were you taught about his robe? (it had many colors, it was technicolored)
What did the robe probably look like?
Richly ornamented (NIV)
Many colors (KJV, NKJV, ESV, CSB, ASV)
Multicolored/Varicolored (NASB, LSB)
Long robe with sleeves (RSV)
Long coat (YLT)
Beautiful robe (NLT)
Full-length coat or a long-sleeved coat [Walton, 662]
A long robe with sleeves [Waltke, 500]
An upper coat reaching to the wrists and ankles, such as noblemen and kings’ daughters wore [Keil & Delitzsch, 215-16]
Coat or tunic with long sleeves [Gangel & Bramer, 307]
We cannot know with certainty what the robe looked like, because the Hebrew word used for it is only used here and in 2 Samuel 13:18
What did the robe represent?
It was definitely not the uniform of a common shepherd
Joseph’s social standing had changed [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 689]
It signified that Joseph did not need to work [Goldingay, 572]
Joseph was in management now [Walton, 663]
“It was the rich garment of a ruler…” [Wiersbe, 141]
Jacob was definitely revealing his preferential love and favoritism for Joseph, and with that he may have been signaling to his other sons that Joseph was his preferred heir
Jacob was elevating Joseph in the eyes of the other family members
Jacob’s favoritism had created hard feelings with his other sons
The brother’s attitude
Joseph’s brothers recognized that Jacob loved him more than any of them, which caused them to do two things:
Speak harshly to him/not speak to him at all
It can also be translated as “could not so much as greet him” (ask him how he was doing, offer him the usual greeting of Shalom, Peace be with you)
This is how deep the hatred went
This unchecked hatred was going to go even further
The narrative then transitions to Joseph’s two dreams
Dream 1 (vv. 5-8)
All of the brothers were binding sheaves of grain
Joseph’s sheaf rose up and stood upright
His brother’s sheaves gathered around his and bowed down to it
Things to ponder
Why was Joseph even telling his brothers about his dream when he knew they hated him?
Was it youthful arrogance? (I don’t believe so)
Was it youthful enthusiasm and excitement? (perhaps)
Was it God’s sovereignty and providence? (I believe so)
“This revelation at the beginning of the story shows God as the Director behind the entire account. This is the first dream in the Bible in which God does not speak (cf. 20:3; 28:12-15; 31:11, 24).” [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 500]
“This wasn’t ‘adolescent enthusiasm’; it was the will of God.” [Wiersbe, 142]
In our human intellect it does not make sense, but in God’s will it makes perfect sense
He is the Director of the entire situation in which Joseph is taken to Egypt
This is the first step in that process
What did the sheaves represent?
Shepherds, not farmers
Some scholars believe that Jacob’s family also did some farming
It was perhaps how they fed their family
Framing would have been a secondary occupation to shepherding
Foretelling the future
As the story of Joseph unfolds we will see that one of Pharaoh’s dreams includes heads of grain (Gen. 41:22) and it is Joseph’s wisdom, concerning reserving grain for seven years, that saves Egypt and his own family (41:48) [Mathews, 691]
It is likely that this first dream is foretelling the future for Joseph
What did this dream mean?
It meant that Joseph was going to have supremacy over his brothers at some point in his life [Keil & Delitzsch, 216]
“The prophecy is fulfilled in escalating stages: the brothers initially bowing once (42:6), then bowing twice to honor him (43:26, 28), and finally throwing themselves at his feet (50:18).” [Waltke, 501]
Remember that Joseph’s brothers already hated him
The brothers questioned the validity of Joseph’s dream by asking him two questions
Do you intend to reign over us?
Will you actually rule us?
Remember, the long coat that Jacob gave Joseph was already a sign that he did not need to work like his brothers and that he was their foremen or ruler
With Jacob’s favoritism already in play and now Joseph’s divine dream elevating him to ruler status, the brothers are not happy
They hated him even more
Notice that the words “they hated him all the more” opens and closes this first dream narrative
Unchecked hatred leads to greater sin.
Perhaps their hatred, first expressed in verse 4, has turned into bitterness
We know that their hatred has deepened, it has become more pronounced
There is a progression taking place
Joseph has second dream
Dream 2 (vv. 9-11)
The sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me
Joseph tells his brothers and his father for the same reason he told his brothers the first dream – it was according to God’s will
What did the dream mean?
Joseph’s supremacy would not only be over his brothers, but also over the whole house of Israel [Keil & Delitzsch, 216]
“The inclusion of his parents . . . suggests Joseph’s eventual prominence in the ancestral line, superseding even his parents in significance.” [Walton, 664]
We know from the rest of the story that Joseph has supremacy over all the Egyptian citizens and people of neighboring countries
Dreams in pairs
Joseph received two dreams together, which signified that God had made up His mind about this situation and it would happen [Waltke, 501]
We will see that the remaining two dreams in Genesis will come in pairs also (Pharaoh’s attendants and Pharaoh himself)
Joseph not only shares the second dream with his brothers, but also his father
Jacob rebuked him
Jacob’s initial reaction is to rebuke Joseph
It was probably out of shock, at hearing that Joseph was going to rule over the entire household of Jacob, that Jacob rebuked him
Jacob kept the matter in mind
After his initial reaction, Jacob spends time thinking about it
“Perhaps this occurred because Jacob knew the Lord could speak in dreams (Gen. 28:12-16) and he also knew that the Lord’s words in dreams came true (Gen. 35:7).” [Gangel & Bramer, 308]
Finally we see the brothers reaction to the second dream
They were jealous of Joseph
Unchecked hatred leads to greater sin.
PRINCIPLE #2 – Jealousy/Envy drives us to ruin others.
“They did not just want what Joseph had; they wanted to ruin him.” [Walton, 701]
There is a difference between coveting something and envying or being jealous of something
“What an envier wants is not, first of all, what another has; what an envier wants is for another not to have it. . . . To covet is to want somebody else’s good so strongly that one is tempted to steal it. To envy is to resent somebody else’s good so much that one is tempted to destroy it. The coveter has empty hands and wants and wants to fill them with somebody else’s good. The envier has empty hands and therefore wants to empty the hands of the envied. Envy, moreover, carries overtones of personal resentment: an envier resents not only somebody else’s blessing but also the one who has been blessed.” [Plantinga cited by Walton, 701]
That is exactly what Joseph’s brothers wanted to do to him – destroy what he had been given both physically and in through the dreams
Where are you at today?
Are you envious/jealous of someone (family member, fellow student, colleague, neighbor, fellow Christian)?
Have you allowed your hatred to go unchecked, which has driven you to envy and jealousy?
Do you wish that the person you are jealous of would fail?
Have you actually tried to ruin someone you are jealous of?
I want to encourage you to repent of your hatred and jealousy
Next, I would encourage you to begin the process of reconciliation with that person (my guess is they already know you hate them – you haven’t been talking to them)
#4 – My Next Step Today Is To: Repent of my hatred and jealousy and seek to restore the relationship.
Do you need to love all of your children equally?
Do you need to communicate your feelings to your parents and forgive them for showing favoritism?
Do you need to repent of your hatred and jealousy?
We may need to love all of our fellow Christians equally
We may need to communicate our feelings and forgive leadership for showing favoritism
We may need to repent of our hatred and jealousy
Growing up, I remember my grandma Johns sharing stories that Paul Harvey had shared on the radio. “Every day he’d begin a broadcast with one of his catchphrases, ‘Hello, Americans! I’m Paul Harvey.’ Then after he started his story, before the next break he’d say, ‘In a moment…. the rest of the story….’ And at the very end he would say, ‘Now you know…the rest of the story,’ and conclude his radio show with, ‘Paul Harvey…Good day.’”
I want you to know the rest of the story from the introduction.
“I am humbled to write that my entire family expressed a willingness to share with me the needed kidney. As members of the same family, my brothers and sisters, as well as my mother and father, acted in a way that honored the Lord and showed great love for me. Not all families act in such a loving, accepting way. Neither do all Christians. And when a family fails to act like a family, terrible consequences occur. Sometimes these consequences are far-reaching.” [Gangel & Bramer, 305]
We will see next week what happens when Jacob’s sons do not act in a loving way towards Joseph.