Where chapter 36 started with “These are the generations of Esau,” chapter 37 begins, “These are the generations of Jacob.” We are to see a sharp contrast and distinction from Esau to Jacob. And from here to the end of the book (14 chapters) are about what happens to the 12 sons of Jacob. That’s about 25% of the book of Genesis. So these are pretty important stories we’ve been leading up to.
More than any other of the brothers, Joseph, who happens to be the second youngest, gets the most “screen time.” This chapter introduces all of the important characters and motivations that we’ll keep in mind throughout the rest of Genesis.
Joseph is the center of the story. He’s a teenager. Like Moses much later, Joseph attempts to live into his vocation of leadership and influence to disastrous consequences. It proves to be the catalyst of the conflict in this story.
Where is God in this story? God isn’t mentioned once. This is a purely human story, full of human family conflict. Ambition. Anger. Jealousy. Envy. Scheming. Deception. This isn’t a complete story, yet. It’s just the set-up. If this is a play, this is Act I, and with the sale of Joseph the curtain closes, and we’re on the edge of our seats, “What happens next?”
Can you even imagine this scenario? Hating your brother to point of planning to murder him? But you can’t quite justify it, so you traffic him instead and make a few bucks?
Joseph is a pretentious brat. Jacob’s parenting skills are suspect at best to be playing favorites. And these brothers are profiteering thugs.
But this is the family that God has chosen. This is the family of whom all the hope of creation’s redemption lies. Wow.
It seems the heroes of God’s Redemption Story all start out with really shady beginnings. And if God can use them, who can’t God use?
What about you? What do you see?