The Conspiracy - Part I
From the book Joseph by Jimmy Swaggart
“And a certain man found him (found Joseph), and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What do you seek? And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray you, where they feed their flocks. And the man said, They are departed from here; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan. And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to kill him.” Genesis 37:15-18
Little did Jacob realize that his sending Joseph to his brothers would instigate a time of sorrow of unparalleled proportions. It would break his heart to such an extent that, in fact, there are no words that could adequately describe, at least properly, what Joseph’s brothers did to him and, thereby, to their aged father Jacob.
Such is sin. It has no heart. It truly steals, kills, and destroys.
The sons of Jacob were guilty of murder, for their hatred fostered such. The Scripture plainly says that “whosoever hates his brother is a murderer” (I John 3:15), and this even though the deed itself may not be carried out.
The sons of Jacob hated their brother because their father loved him. Joseph was a type of Christ, for though He was the beloved Son of His Father and hated by a wicked world, yet the Father sent Him out of His bosom to visit us in great humility and love. He came from Heaven to earth to seek and save us, and that despite our hatred toward Him.
Christ In The Actions Of Joseph
He came to His own, and His own not only received Him not, but consulted saying, “This is the Heir, come, let us kill Him; crucify Him, crucify Him!” This He submitted to in pursuance of His design to redeem and save us.
As we go forward in this narrative, we will see Christ in the actions of Joseph set out perfectly before us. As such, we must learn what the Holy Spirit is telling us through the life of this man.
Dothan was about 12 miles north of Shechem, with Shechem being about 50 miles north of Hebron. So, Joseph would have to walk more than 60 miles to find his brothers.
Even before he arrived there, that is, when they saw him coming, they conspired to kill him. It was thus so with Christ as well. When He was born, Herod sought to kill Him (Matt. 2).
If it is to be remembered, Shechem is the place where Simeon and Levi killed all the men of that small town because their sister Dinah had been raped.
Some period of time had now passed, but the greater reason that the brothers were not fearful of reprisal is probably due to their great strength.
That Jacob would have to send a part of his herds so far away as to Shechem — a distance of some fifty miles or more — tells us how large these herds were and, therefore, the power of Jacob. There is a possibility that there was quite a number of other men with the brothers at that time and, no doubt, were actually serving in their employ, which would have made this group powerful indeed.
“And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer comes. Come now therefore, and let us kill him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast has devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again” (Gen. 37:19-22).
Partly through the personal character of Joseph, partly through the evil passions of his brethren, partly through the apparently casual incidents of the neighborhood, partly through the Spirit of righteousness working in the heart of Reuben, and partly through the weakness and fondness of Jacob, we see all things working together in God’s hands! He wove the web composed of many single threads into one united, orderly pattern as a whole in which we are able to trace His own thought and purpose.
When we look at Joseph in the pit and in the prison, and look at him afterward as ruler over all the land of Egypt, we see the difference between the thoughts of God and the thoughts of men. So, when we look at the Cross and at the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, we see the same thing.
Nothing ever brought out the real state of man’s heart toward God but the coming of Christ.
Reuben was actually the firstborn; consequently, it was to him that the birthright should have gone. This would have guaranteed him a double portion of Jacob’s riches when the patriarch came down to die. So, he would have had the most to gain from Joseph’s death, who, by now, had been given the birthright instead. However, Reuben seemed to have some conscience left, where his brethren did not. As such, the Scripture says, “He delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.”
Several things greatly rankled these men.
The dreams angered them greatly, as did the coat of many colors. So, they would kill the one who dreamed the dreams and strip the coat from him, thinking to silence his voice. Little did they know what the future held!
Reuben suggested that they put Joseph in a pit, which they did, with him thinking that he would come back later and rescue the boy. Evidently he had to go some place. When he returned, he found that Joseph was gone. They had sold him to the Ishmaelites.
Along with Reuben, Judah was the one who saved the life of Joseph, suggesting that they sell him as a slave. However, this was little an act of mercy on the part of Judah inasmuch as under normal circumstances, they were consigning him to a life worse than death.
Twenty Pieces Of Silver
“And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colors that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we kill our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him: for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt” (Gen. 37:23-28).
The merchants who bought Joseph were called both Midianites and Ishmaelites. They were sons of Abraham by Hagar and Keturah, making them kin in some distant way to the Israelites.
These brothers sitting down to eat bread, even after they had thrown Joseph into the pit, shows how hard their hearts were, indicating deplorable brutality on their part. In their minds, they had satisfactorily disposed of the young man and his dreams. This coat of colors, which signified that he had now been chosen for the birthright instead of Reuben, would be used to deceive his father.
Evidently, when they put him in the pit, their idea was to let him starve to death, but now, a change of events came about in that they spotted a camel train coming near them and going down to Egypt. They would sell Joseph as a slave to these Ishmaelites and make some profit from the transaction. Judah was the one who suggested this. They would get twenty pieces of silver. This is a type of Christ being sold for thirty pieces of silver.
As they stripped the coat from Joseph, likewise, they cast lots for Jesus’ robe.
This article is an excerpt from the book, Joseph, (09-124) written by Jimmy Swaggart.