The Coat for Joseph

In “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Charlie Brown goes to the mailbox and it’s empty.  “Rats,” he says, “Nobody sent me a Christmas card today. I almost wish there weren’t a holiday season.  I know nobody likes me.  Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?”

There’s nothing like evidence of affection elsewhere (or lack thereof to yourself) to send a message straight to the heart.  When it happens, it’s painful whether it’s a shock out of the blue or like proof in your face of what you’ve already known deep in your gut.

Genesis 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. 4 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.

Enter the coat, probably one of the most famous things about Joseph, especially thanks to a catchy tune by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sunday School coloring pages to enjoy with the Crayola 64s, 96, or 120- pack.  In fact, so much attention is paid to the coat that you’d think it is the greatly anticipated unveiling of the Ancient Near East collection from the House of Dior, launching the modeling career of Joseph, son of Jacob.  But that would be to misunderstand the coat.

No one exactly knows what the coat looked like, the same wording of “richly ornamented” being used in 2 Samuel 13:19 to refer to the robe that beautiful and desirable Tamar (virgin daughter of the king) tore after being raped by her half-brother Amnon.  (Half-brothers. Aargh!) 

The visual appearance of the coat is far less clear than the meaning of it. 


It was a status symbol saying in effect, “You know that management potential you saw displayed in the shepherding field?  It’s now an official title.  He’s headed for management not left to labor like you.”  As we continue our look at Joseph: A Life With Many Colors, make no mistake: It’s all about authority, and undeniable evidence of the special love Jacob had for his son Joseph.

No wonder the half-brothers were ticked off.

They already knew he preferred Joseph. 

They didn’t need a coat to emphasize it.

Think about it:

  1. If it was just a coat, they could have saved up and bought one, or had a duplicate made for themselves.  Deep down was it the coat, or was it what it said about the nature of relationship between a father and his various children? 
  2. As an illustration for insight, I am not ordained because the denomination that trained me and those for which I have worked and in which I have compatible theology will not ordain women.  Lots of women I know have gotten “online ordination.”  I can’t bring myself to do it.  How does this apply to the question in item (1)?
  3. Someday in the biblical future for the Israelites one of the Ten Commandments will be “Do not covet. How do coveting, envy, and jealousy lead nowhere good? 
  4. Read how James describes the progression:   James 1: 14 “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  How do you see that playing out here for Joseph’s brothers?

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on January 28, 2019

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