Now Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day he gave Joseph a special gift—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because of their father’s partiality. They couldn’t say a kind word to him. - Genesis 37:3-4
Of all the emotions, love is the greatest; but there is a dark side to love. Misdirected or misapplied, love can lead to the ugliness of jealousy, the heat of rage, or the cold relentlessness of hatred.
Jacob is a case in point. He “loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age” (Gen. 37:3). As an expression of his love, Jacob gave Joseph “a special gift—a beautiful robe.” The reaction of the other brothers was as predictable as it was despicable. They “hated Joseph because of their father’s partiality. They couldn’t say a kind word to him” (37:4).
If his brothers had simply ostracized him, Joseph could probably have borne the brotherly hostility, and no further harm would have been done, but unrestrained emotions do not remain static. So when the brothers saw their chance to get rid of Joseph, they decided to take it. They said, “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into a deep pit” (37:19-20). What they didn’t realize was how deep the pit they were digging for themselves was.
Reuben’s secret plan to rescue his brother required the brothers to buy into his fatuous argument: “Why should we shed his blood? Let’s just throw him alive into this pit here. That way he will die without our having to touch him” (37:22). In essence, the argument, which they warmly embraced, was, “Let’s not kill him, let’s leave him to die! That way we won’t be guilty of killing him”—even though they would be guilty of callously, intentionally letting him die. When hatred takes over, clear thinking checks out. Callousness was clearly part of their hatred, because after depositing Joseph in his intended “grave,” they went on with their lives unperturbed, even “sitting down to eat” (37:25).
Judah, meanwhile, was being slightly troubled by his conscience. “What can we gain by killing our brother? That would just give us a guilty conscience. Let’s sell Joseph” (37:27). So now, instead of avoiding killing him by allowing him to die, they would banish him to oblivion, to die out of sight and out of mind. And they would be guilty of nothing. Hardly! Because now they trumped up a story of Joseph’s death by wild animal attack. Then they told their father, who “mourned deeply for his son,” while the “family tried to comfort him, but it was no use” (37:34-35). Comfort born of hypocrisy doesn’t comfort.
Hatred masquerading as anything but hatred only digs pits for the hated and the haters. Hatred is the pits.
For Further Study: Genesis 37:1-36
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
For more from Stuart Briscoe, please visit TellingtheTruth.org.