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Genesis 37:1-11

Spoiled Brat Becomes a Rat

Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. 2 This is the story of the family of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him. 5 Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, "Listen to this dream that I dreamed. 7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf." 8 His brothers said to him, "Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?" So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words. 9 He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, "Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me." 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, "What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?" 11 So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

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The story of Joseph is one of the longest stories of any one person in Genesis. It spans almost 10 chapters or about 1/4th of Genesis. It is technically "the story of the family of Jacob," thus intended to be broader that just Joseph. In fact, it is very much concerned with the ethnic and tribal issues of Jacob's offspring even though Joseph maintains the central role. What is seldom mentioned about Joseph is that he was probably a spoiled brat. Jacob shows preference to Joseph, Joseph provides bad reports of his brothers, and then tells his two dreams to them. It is likely that two similar dreams and their repetition is to emphasize the brothers' hatred. Jealousy motivates them to try to keep Joseph's dream from coming true or, at least, it annoyed them greatly. Jacob seems to understands the dream and he is upset with Joseph for telling it to the brothers, although Jacob "kept the matter in mind."

An interesting side note here is that the story of Joseph is also the longest story about one person in the Koran, even though his legacy is not import to the genealogy of the Muslims. Comparing the two versions is fascinating, but for another time and book (such as (shameless plug) Joseph: a Tale of Two Traditions).

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Genesis - Creation - Noah - Babel - Abraham - Isaac - Jacob - Joseph
Exodus - Egypt - Wandering - 10 Commandments

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