The Restored Orchard

Deeper Roots – Genesis 37:18-35

photo of an open book on a tree s roots

A humbled and open heart is fertile soil for God’s seeds of wisdom to be planted. Establishing deeper roots requires analyzing God’s word to discover truths, values, and lessons for application to our lives. Periodically, a scripture or passage calls for further exploration, like Genesis 37:18-35.

18 When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. 19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. 20 “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”

21 But when Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. 22 “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.

23 So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. 24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. 27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.

29 Some time later, Reuben returned to get Joseph out of the cistern. When he discovered that Joseph was missing, he tore his clothes in grief. 30 Then he went back to his brothers and lamented, “The boy is gone! What will I do now?”

31 Then the brothers killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood. 32 They sent the beautiful robe to their father with this message: “Look at what we found. Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?”

33 Their father recognized it immediately. “Yes,” he said, “it is my son’s robe. A wild animal must have eaten him. Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes and dressed himself in burlap. He mourned deeply for his son for a long time. 35 His family all tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “I will go to my grave mourning for my son,” he would say, and then he would weep. 

Genesis 37:18-35 NLT

Our Deeper Roots passage in Genesis shows that God can use the evil intentions and actions of others for good outcomes. Our scripture selection begins after Jacob has sent his son, Joseph, to report back on his older brothers. As his brothers saw him approaching, they plotted to kill him. Reuben, the oldest, thought of a plan to come back and rescue Joseph, so he convinced his brothers to throw him in an empty well. After they tossed him in the well, Judah devised a plan to sell him into slavery to the Midianite traders. It was at this point that Reuben discovers that Joseph was gone and is filled with grief. The brothers devise a plan to use the blood of a goat and Joseph’s coat in a lie. They presented the blood-stained coat to Jacob and immediately he went into mourning. Jacob refused to be comforted by others after the loss of his son, Joseph.

There are so many layers to the story of Joseph, but in the end, they all work together for the good of those who love the Lord. Joseph was the firstborn of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel. When Jacob bestowed the beautiful robe on Joseph it served as a sign that he was favored and would inherit a larger portion than his brothers. The blatant favoritism of Jacob filled his brothers with jealousy. They watched for years as their father didn’t love their mother, Leah, and now they were presented with an opportunity to get even. They came up with a plan to kill Joseph only a few miles away from where they had previously massacred the people that defiled their sister. Even in the midst of the scheme, we see two brothers stand out: Reuben and Judah. Reuben had intentions to return and help Joseph; perhaps out of wanting to get back in his father’s good graces. Judah came up with the idea to sell Joseph to the Midianites/Ishmaelites. They sold their sibling to the descendants of Abraham and Hagar/Keturah for three years’ wages. When Reuben returned and found Joseph missing, he was filled with emotion. The tearing of clothes was a sign of mourning. Now the siblings are faced with a dilemma, they have committed a sin and now they must come up with a lie to cover it up. The irony is that they use the blood of a goat to deceive their father, Jacob when he had used the skin of a goat to deceive his father Isaac. At the news of his beloved son, Joseph, Jacob begins to mourn inconsolably. Nothing that Jacob’s family did to comfort him helped.

Deception is a common thread in Genesis. Whenever sin is committed, it is common to find another sin to conceal it. We see it echoed multiple times throughout the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The scene of Joseph being cast into the empty cistern by his brothers gives us insight into God’s power and sovereignty. The evil intentions of others do not outweigh the dreams given by God. This is a truth that we can carry forward with us. When God gives us a vision, our part is to trust the process because we know that God weaves all the evil misfortunes of life into good.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: