This is the account of Jacob.
Too much going on here for just a simple genealogy, though, so we continue to watch this family unfold in detail. We need some insights here to understand how later events unfold as they do.
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers…and he brought their father a bad report about them.
Well somebody’s a little tattletale. Perhaps this was an important issue, or maybe it didn’t matter at all, or maybe Joseph just made something up. Whatever the case, though, he’s trying to get his brothers in some sort of trouble, for no apparent reason so far.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons…
Joseph, while the 11th son, is the firstborn of Rachel, the one woman Jacob really wanted and loved. And while it is true that “he had been born to him in his old age…” Benjamin was even more so an old-age son, from the same woman. Maybe Benjamin is still younger though, and Joseph is just the right age to be a man, while still remaining close to his father. Also, although this is the account of Jacob, it is Israel who loves Joseph more. So perhaps this is partly a prophetical love, since Joseph will be the one who will end up saving and providing for the family in the future.
When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Well, he is sort of a jerk, telling their father bad things about them and everything. Hate may be a strong word, but it’s at least partially understandable. Spoiled little brat.
“…my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
Yep. Still a jerk. Joseph really isn’t planning on accomplishing anything here, except annoying his brothers. There’s no other reason for him to tell them about his dream, especially not in such a high-and-mighty way.
“I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
Sun, moon, and 11 stars. So, all 11 brothers. This might be important later.
When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him…
Finally, he gets called out for being a snob. And perhaps this plays an important part in him growing up, which he’s going to need to do quickly.
His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
Although he called Joseph out, Jacob has had his share of weird dreams and odd things with God that he recognizes there could very well be something of importance in these dreams. And so he thinks about it.
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
Well, that’s one way to get him to stop telling you his dreams. Maybe a little extreme though…
When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands.
Although he screwed up earlier, Reuben is still the firstborn, and he tries to take charge of this situation, and figure out a way to get Joseph back safely to their father. Because he really does care about his father, and knows how much Joseph means to him.
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him…”
Well, at least it’s not killing him, but it’s not particularly nice either. Also, they do this while Reuben is gone, so he doesn’t get a chance to plead for Joseph again.
Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted.
Although he loved Joseph as Israel, he mourns as Jacob. With all the raw and over-the-top emotions. Not as the leader of a great nation, but as a broken father in despair over his lost son. And with the same stubbornness that refused to release God after their struggle, he refuses to be comforted in this time of mourning.