Joseph Goes To Meet His Brothers
As we read this section, several questions come to mind. First,
Why were Jacob’s sons pasturing their flocks fifty miles from home when there was surely good grassland available closer to Hebron?
Possible answer: They didn’t want anybody from the family spying on them.
Why did they return to the dangerous area near Shechem when Jacob’s family had such a bad reputation among the citizens there?
Suggested answer: The brothers were involved with the people of the land in ways they didn’t want Jacob to know about.
But there’s a third question that’s even more puzzling: Knowing that his sons hated Joseph,
Why did Jacob send him out to visit them alone and wearing the special garment that had aggravated them so much?
One of Jacob’s trusted servants could have performed the same task faster (Joseph got lost) and perhaps just as efficiently. The answer is that the providential hand of God was working to accomplish His divine purposes for Jacob and his family, and ultimately for the whole world. “He sent a man before them—Joseph—who was sold as a slave.“ (Ps. 105:17). God had ordained that Joseph would go to Egypt, and this was the way He accomplished it.
Soon after this, Joseph’s brothers went to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem. When they had been gone for some time, Jacob said to Joseph, “Your brothers are pasturing the sheep at Shechem. Get ready, and I will send you to them.”
“I’m ready to go,” Joseph replied.
“Go and see how your brothers and the flocks are getting along,” Jacob said. “Then come back and bring me a report.” So Jacob sent him on his way, and Joseph traveled to Shechem from their home in the valley of Hebron.
Genesis 37:12-14 (NLT)
Apparently the flocks of the Israelite clan were at this time pasturing in the grassy fields and valleys surrounding Shechem, while the home base was in Hebron; and Joseph’s brothers were off tending the animals.
I find it kind of interesting that Jacob and his sons apparently felt no compunction in going back to Shechem, considering that just a few years earlier, the King of Shechem’s son had raped Jacob’s daughter Dinah, and in retaliation the sons of Jacob had slaughtered every male resident of that city, and taken many of their widows and children for their own!
Israel, Jacob, told Joseph to go to his brothers and check on their welfare. The reason for Jacob sending Joseph could well have been that he was concerned for his sons in light of that horrible incident. In the Middle East, the desire for vengeance can go on for generations.
When he arrived there, a man from the area noticed him wandering around the countryside. “What are you looking for?” he asked.
“I’m looking for my brothers,” Joseph replied. “Do you know where they are pasturing their sheep?”
“Yes,” the man told him. “They have moved on from here, but I heard them say, ‘Let’s go on to Dothan.’” So Joseph followed his brothers to Dothan and found them there.
Genesis 37:15-17 (NLT)
Off goes Joseph, unaware of the precarious situation he was in. It was a journey of about 50 miles, and as he gets near Shechem, a man informs him that the flock had been there, but moved on to a place called Dothan.
- First, despite a few movie versions to the contrary, this man was only a man. The Hebrew word used was “ish”……man. So, this was not an angel.
- Second, the place called Dothan means “two wells”. And, Joseph was about to have a close encounter with one of those wells.
To be continued…