Apparently Reuben missed dinner . . . and the decision to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites.
When he sneaks back to the cistern to rescue Joseph and take him home, Joseph is nowhere to be found. And Reuben is distraught.
Since Reuben is the oldest son, he’s probably responsible for Joseph, the favorite son. And now Joseph is gone and Reuben doesn’t know how he’s going to explain things to his father.
But this illustrious clan comes up with a plan. They kill a goat and dip Joseph’s coat in it and take it back home and show it to their father. They don’t even have to lie . . . at least not very much.
Check out what happens.
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Genesis 37:29-35 / Contemporary English Version (CEV)
29 When Reuben returned to the well and did not find Joseph there, he tore his clothes in sorrow. 30 Then he went back to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone! What am I going to do?”
31 Joseph’s brothers killed a goat and dipped Joseph’s fancy coat in its blood. 32 After this, they took the coat to their father and said, “We found this! Look at it carefully and see if it belongs to your son.”
33 Jacob knew it was Joseph’s coat and said, “It’s my son’s coat! Joseph has been torn to pieces and eaten by some wild animal.”
34 Jacob mourned for Joseph a long time, and to show his sorrow he tore his clothes and wore sackcloth.[a] 35 All of Jacob’s children came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will go to my grave, mourning for my son.” So Jacob kept on grieving.
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I love how the brothers took the coat and showed it to their father and said they had found it. Right. Then they told him to look at it carefully to see if it belongs to “your son” . . . like anyone else had a coat that looked anything like Joseph’s! They didn’t have to provide any more details. They let Jacob jump to his own conclusions, and the brothers were good with the ones he jumped to.
Here are a couple of truths I found:
– Sometimes our delay to do good (or to do the right thing) ends up in a missed opportunity.
Reuben “planned” to go back and rescue Joseph. But he was too late. That chance was gone forever.
– Sometime innocents suffer to cover up our sin.
The brothers killed an innocent goat so they would have enough blood to pour on Joseph’s coat so their father would be convinced he was dead.
– When we’ve wronged someone, we tend to distance ourselves from them.
The brothers didn’t even say Joseph’s name when they took the coat back to their father. In fact, they didn’t even claim any relation to him. They called him “your son.”
– If our plans involve any deceit, they rarely work out how we want them to.
The brothers planned to get Joseph out of their lives, but their mourning father was a daily reminder of what they had done–not only to Joseph but to their own father. I think one of their goals in this betrayal was to get rid of their father’s hyper-focus on Joseph. Instead they created a scenario where he was continually focused on Joseph for the rest of his life. I don’t think they ever got back the relationship with their Dad that they wanted.
1. When has my delay to do good or to do the right thing resulted in a lost opportunity?
2. What innocent people have suffered in order to cover up my wrong-doing?
3. When have I made plans that didn’t turn out like I wanted them to?