Joseph the Dreamer (Part 2)

As we continue our look at Joseph: A Life With Many Colors, we see the dreamer keeps on dreaming.  And talking about it.  This time, not just to his brothers who are more than tired of this dreamer.  Now he’s telling his father too.

Genesis 37:9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?”


Two dreams, two reactions. 

His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. (Genesis 37:11)

What does it mean that Jacob would keep the matter in mind?

By this point in Joseph’s life (age 17ish), his mother Rachel has already been dead 7 years (which may have created the favoritism to begin with, a transfer of his affections from wife to son).  Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, Joseph’s only full brother. 

In the dream, who is this “mother” … is she Rachel from beyond the grave?  Leah as adoptive mother?  One of the concubines (Jewish tradition has Bilhah as Jacob’s favorite after Rachel died)?  It’s hard to say.  What isn’t hard to say is that it was tough for the brothers to choke back their total indignation and extreme envy.  What isn’t hard to say is that it’s one thing to give a bad report about siblings, receive and wear a coat of authority given by your father, and to dream about brother-sheaves bowing, but it’s another thing entirely to suggest to your dad and “mom” that your authority will extend over them, too.

(Pausing from the storyline for a moment, we begin to see in the progression in Scripture of the idea of kingship and ruling.  It’s emerging from within the Chosen People, the tribes of Israel.  Maybe that’s why Jacob pondered the significance and whether there was something spiritual, beyond-the-grave-ish about the whole thing.  Maybe he was sensing a dawning of God’s work in fulfilling the covenant he’d heard from God.  Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part, wanting to imagine he’s like Mary, the mother of Jesus, treasuring these things up in her heart because there’s a sense of significance even if one can’t put a finger on exactly what it is.  Understanding that what was happening was powerful and real, yet confusing, mysterious, and intriguing all wrapped up into one.)

But it could be Jacob was brooding over having given that stupid coat since it appeared to be a factor causing all this big-headed audacity.  Maybe he was just annoyed because this kid is giving evidence of bucking a long-held tradition of respecting your elders.  It’s hard to say why Jacob kept the matter in mind.

Think about it:

  1. In what ways do you think Jacob might be seeing an outcome of his favoritism? 
  2. But, also there’s this issue: Jacob had had his own dreams and knew their significance in his life.  In Genesis 28:10-22, Jacob dreamed about angels descending and ascending a staircase and it was evidence to him of God’s presence and the covenant promise of God being extended to himself.  In Genesis 31:1-13, Jacob had a dream that was from God about blessing and providing inside knowledge that God was fully aware of what deception his father-in-law Laban had been doing.  It was unmistakable evidence of God’s omniscience.  Might Jacob have wondered about God’s activity in Joseph’s dreams, too?
  3. It’s easy for us to speculate about the dreams and people’s reactions knowing the end of the story.  The truth is Scripture doesn’t tell us why Jacob kept the matter in mind, only that he did.  In what ways does this story of two dreams—even the brothers’ envy—advance the overall narrative of the Chosen People, headed toward slavery and a Mosaic deliverance, a Davidic kingship, and the coming of the Messiah?  That all Scripture is an integrated whole is a thought to keep in mind as we continue to look at Joseph: A Life With Many Colors.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on February 3, 2019

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