Thursday, March 23, 2017

Genesis 39:7-12 comments: Potiphar's wife assaults Joseph at his work


7 ¶  And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 8  But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 9  There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? 10  And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. 11  And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 12  And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

Potiphar’s wife wants to have sex with Joseph. We use different euphemisms in our language for sin such as this. We say she wants to have an affair with him, or she wants to seduce him or some other such drivel to make wickedness seem sophisticated. As he is in an inferior position socially and powerless this is all about lust, a type of attempted rape. It used to be more common than it is now in our culture until sexual harassment laws, although much abused, worked to prevent even the taint of it. But, in our history, for instance, under the racial slavery that existed before the Civil War, no slave had any power to resist the advances of their master or mistress except to flee as Joseph will. It is a barbarous and uncivilized condition that exists still in some countries today, usually afflicting women, where they have no choice but to submit to the humiliation and physical danger or flee to an uncertain fate.

Joseph tells Potiphar’s wife that everything Potiphar has except for her has been put into his hands to care for and he is not about to violate the trust he has been given. The woman continually pressed upon Joseph her desire to do wrong with him daily and we might question why he didn’t tell Potiphar this but then it is likely she would have called him a liar and his situation would have been no better. Finally, she could stand his resistance no further and at a time when he went into the house to work and there were no witnesses, she grabbed his clothing and demanded that he have sex with her. Joseph ran, leaving that clothing in her hand she held it so forcefully in her lust.

His business is not the idiom in English that some use when referencing going to the bathroom. Here it is defined in the Bible as the work that one does.

Nehemiah 13:30  Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business;

Proverbs 22:29  Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

The word wotteth is a form of wot, to know.

Genesis 21:26  And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.

Exodus 32:23  For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

Joseph displays a high level of character in holding the trust he has been given in honor. Most men, if the lady of the house wasn’t hideous looking, would have succumbed to her desires and used her favors as a means to gain advantage. Joseph shows himself worthy of the trust he has been given.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chapter 39:1-6 comments: Goodly and well favoured


1 ¶  And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. 2  And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3  And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4  And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. 5  And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. 6  And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.

Joseph was bought as a slave. This is a very unhappy circumstance for Joseph but God can make any difficult circumstance be positive.

Proverbs 16:7  When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

God is going to use Joseph to save his people and Egypt to provide the conditions for their propagation and increase in preparation for them to return to the land He has promised them in force.

Potiphar, Joseph’s human master, realized the administrative smarts and honesty of Joseph and placed him over the running of his house. Because of his association with Joseph he, too, prospered. This is a positive lesson for us. If you want good things to happen to you associate with good people. Young people can often make friends with the bad because they find them interesting or exciting while older people often make friends with the bad because they see some financial or social gain from it.

Amos 3:3  Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

2Corinthians 6:14  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Most of the time it is likely that you will be better off if you associate with a good, strong, and moral person as an employee or an employer, someone humbly devoted to God.

It is important to note here that Potiphar trusted Joseph completely to the point where Potiphar himself didn’t know what he had. It was all in Joseph’s hands. Joseph was, in essence, what we would call today a butler, although the term has changed meaning somewhat over time as we will see shortly. A butler in ancient and medieval times oversaw the valuable wine possessions of the rich household, from the Old French word for bottle-bearer. The steward in the Bible of the New Testament was more like the butler we know today or a combination of a great household’s butler and land agent.

Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. Goodly is built strong and tall and well favoured is filled out well and handsome as it meant beautiful in other contexts. You can cross-reference both in the Bible to see that it is applied that way.

Genesis 29:17  Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. (Don’t forget and as a joiner of synonyms as we’ve studied before.)

Genesis 41:2  And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow…4  And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.

Leviticus 23:40a  And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees

1Samuel 9:2  And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.

 Joseph was quite a looker and very attractive, most likely preoccupied with his work, too preoccupied to pay attention to looks and stares.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Genesis 38:24-30 comments: The scarlet thread


24 ¶  And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. 25  When she was brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff. 26  And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more. 27  And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb. 28  And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first. 29  And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez. 30  And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.

Tamar is three months pregnant with Judah’s child. An accusation has been made to Judah that she had done wrong and Judah, who had denied her his youngest son in spite of his promise, wants “justice” to be done and she is to be killed. Clearly, in this culture, as in most on earth, the cards are not dealt in the same manner to men and women. Judah’s use of a harlot is no big deal but Tamar’s supposed indiscretion is worthy of death.

But, Tamar has a surprise for Judah. She brings out the items that he had given her, supposing her to be a harlot, as surety against her payment. It is then that Judah is slapped with the truth of his own egregious behavior. Judah admits about Tamar;

…She hath been more righteous than I…

Judah was not angry at Tamar’s deception but acknowledged that he had been in error in not giving her his son as he had promised. One can only wonder at how many women in this culture paid the price for a powerful man’s behavior. Although Tamar was not raped it is nothing today for a woman in certain Muslim regions who has been raped even to be executed herself by the village for the crime committed against her. The fact that the writer, Moses, was led by the Holy Spirit to include that Judah did not use Tamar again in like manner shows that the possibility of her becoming a plaything or concubine for him was a possibility in this culture.

Travail refers to the process of giving birth in verse 27. For confirmation see;

Jeremiah 4:31  For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers.

Pharez, spelled Phares in the New Testament, was not the one that was expected to come out first, to be the first born, but he was. He is in the genealogical line of Christ, not Zarah.

Matthew 1:3  And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

Luke 3:33  Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda,

Zarah stuck his arm out first and a scarlet thread was tied to it, but it was Pharez who actually came out. There are many sermons to be made about this birth and many things can be said about it. For our purposes, in fleshing out the narrative of God’s ministry of reconciliation of mankind to Himself, the old saying goes, “Man proposes, but God disposes.” Christ did not come in the manner the Jews would prefer, as a noble ruler, perhaps a Pharisee, holding court in king’s palaces with the Gentiles coming to Him for His wisdom and approval. He came from a poor background, the physical son of common parents, not aristocrats. What man chooses, indeed, what he holds in high regard, God regards with contempt.

Luke 16:15  And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

Zarah was chosen by Tamar’s mid-wife but Phares was chosen by God to play the part he played in Christ’s lineage without having any will to choose anything himself.

Notice how God’s ministry of reconciliation starts and works through one man or woman at a time. It is only in the very end that Christ comes to take the kingdoms of the world. Right now, they are under Satan’s, the god of this world, control (2Corinthians 4:4) and His own people rejected Him.

John 1:10  He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

Mark 12:10  And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:

Tamar says, in surprise, this breach be upon thee which gives us the meaning of his name and points out that Christ did not come to unite mankind but to divide them, the sheep from the goats; those who would trust God and follow Him and those who would worship themselves and the god of this world through their own hearts.

Matthew 10:34  Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Luke 12:51  Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52  For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53  The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

So, now, in Christ’s lineage we have a man who is the product of a sexual liaison between a woman and her father-in-law. Not very appropriate from our perspective but clearly showing that the human side of Christ’s lineage contains imperfect people, sinners like He came to save.

A scarlet thread will also come into play in Joshua, chapter 2, for a much different reason.

The Holy Spirit, through Moses, now takes us back to the narrative about Joseph’s experiences in Egypt.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Genesis 38:12-23 comments: Judah and Tamar


12 ¶  And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah’s wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13  And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnath to shear his sheep. 14  And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife. 15  When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. 16  And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me? 17  And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it? 18  And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him. 19  And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood. 20  And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman’s hand: but he found her not. 21  Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, that was openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot in this place. 22  And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot in this place. 23  And Judah said, Let her take it to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her.

Tamar, promised Shelah, is ignored. This culture is rather bizarre to us but certain economic factors should be considered, particularly the powerlessness of women. Tamar concocted a plan to have a child, a plan which we find, at best, strange and very objectionable morally. She disguised herself as a prostitute would look and went to Timnath where Judah was shearing sheep. Covering her face, an action that, in some modern cultures has come to mean severe modesty, signified her then as a harlot. Notice how it was an act of modesty with Rebekah in 24:65.

When he negotiated with her a price for her services she demanded of him some things that would definitely be identified as belonging to him as a deposit until he could send her a kid of his goats. After the deed was done she went back to being Tamar, the widow of Onan and Er. Judah could not find her and witnesses denied there ever was a prostitute there, a harlot. Judah then acknowledged that he had done his part to make good on the deal and decided to leave things as they were.

Lest an unbalanced, carnal, or wicked person think that this passage justifies men going to prostitutes as being acceptable to God let us examine something important. First, it is vital to a clear understanding of reality as explained in the Bible that God permits man to do many things man wants to do that are against God’s preferences and standards but that none of man’s moves can prevent God’s ultimate will from being accomplished. Women had no political power in this culture. A woman had to accomplish her wishes sometimes by being clever or subtle or appealing to a man’s sense of ego or honor. Woman was no longer Adam’s helper, worthy or meet to be his partner or as would be said later, his fellow heir in the grace of life as in 1Peter 3:7 or equal to him in God’s eyes as in Galatians 3:28. Woman had become a servant, a pack animal, not much better than an oven in which to create the next generation, preferably of men.

Finally, there are enough admonitions about adultery that harlotry and prostitution are clearly not acceptable behavior. Although God will use a harlot in His ministry of reconciliation of man to Himself such as Rahab of Jericho (Joshua 2:1) the behavior is proscribed as adultery and fornication are forbidden (for adultery see Exodus 20:14).

Judah has had sexual relations with his daughter-in-law, unknowingly, but things will become even more complicated in a short time. Judah followed the impulses of his culture in comforting himself with who he thought was a harlot when his wife died and Tamar did what she thought she must do to secure a child, hopefully a son, lest she be a widow for the rest of her life in Judah’s household. We know in life that human beings often do things that were better done differently and yet God uses them anyway. This is one argument against both abortion and suicide. No matter how you got here or what you are or have done God can and will give you a special purpose in His plans.

This passage is a warning to us to be careful of viewing cultural references or desperation as doctrine lest someone think this activity is acceptable behavior for a Christian.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Genesis 38:1-11 comments: Judah's interlude


1 ¶  And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2  And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her. 3  And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er. 4  And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan. 5  And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah: and he was at Chezib, when she bare him. 6  And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. 7  And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. 8  And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. 9  And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. 10  And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also. 11  Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, Remain a widow at thy father’s house, till Shelah my son be grown: for he said, Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did. And Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house.

If you recall, the excuse that Rebekah used for sending Jacob away was the concern about the daughters of Heth, Canaanite women, from whom Esau selected his wives. Here, Judah, who we now know as being in Christ’s genealogy rather than his elder brother Reuben, has relations with a Canaanite woman, the daughter of Shuah. She bore him three sons; Er, Onan, and Shelah. Judah arranged a wife for Er, named Tamar, but God killed Er who was wicked.

Judah’s command to Onan to father children by his dead brother’s wife comes to us in a modern word for the system called a Levirate. In a society where women have no political and little economic power this system can provide a protector and offspring, a male child being the only support in old age for a widow. More importantly to Judah and Onan in this culture the system provides for a man’s physical lineage to continue by his brother being a proxy. Compare, if you will, the similar action of a woman providing her maid as a surrogate wife to bear children for her husband as we have already discussed. The Levirate has been practiced in several African cultures, as well.

Onan resented his duty to provide offspring in his brother’s place and practiced a form of birth control we call Coitus Interruptus but has been known, because of this Bible character, as Onanism, named after Onan, came to mean any sexual act that was not meant to produce offspring. This even was carried over into birth control as a sin still not long ago. Onan’s unwillingness to obey his father invoked God’s displeasure. Onan clearly knew that Er was the firstborn and any child considered his would be the heir of Er and his father, Judah’s, wealth, in the main. We see later in the Law given to Moses how standards of long practice are confirmed by God. In this case the Levirate will be called for in the Law given to Moses.

Deuteronomy 25:5 ¶  If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. 6  And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. 7  And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother. 8  Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her; 9  Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house. 10  And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.

This is evident in the book of Job, for instance, in seeing that people knew God’s standard long before the Law was given. Many of the Laws God gave to Moses were not new things but the reinforcement of old standards along with new commands separating the Hebrews from the behavior of the Canaanites.

Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, will come through Judah so there is some importance here that goes beyond simply rebelling against your father’s wishes so that you inherit all rather than your dead brother’s heir that you helped make.

God kills Onan. Who knows how? A heart attack, an aneurysm, or some other of the million or so ways that God uses to end our physical lives, takes him. Judah tells his unfortunate and perhaps traumatized daughter-in-law, Tamar, to live in his house until his youngest and only remaining son, Shelah, is old enough to secure an offspring. Now, the story gets even stranger, if that were possible. This story was certainly not invented by someone trying to glorify an ancestor or justify a leader’s position of authority. It is remarkably disgusting as some Bible stories tend to be. It certainly isn’t how you or I would write Christ’s lineage unless we were simply reporting the unpleasant and unvarnished truth.

One thing that this story represents is how God makes a plan out of the wreck and unseemly life you create for yourself. For all of your wickedness you cannot thwart God’s will.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Genesis 37:31-36 comments: Joseph's life in Egypt begins


    31 ¶  And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; 32  And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no. 33  And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. 34  And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. 35  And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him. 36  And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard.

Joseph’s coat of many colors is now used to present false evidence that Joseph was killed by a wild animal. As explained previously an evil beast would refer to an animal intent on violence. It would have nothing to do with a supposed moral condition. Evil in this context has to do with an intention of malice and violence, not sin.

The lie worked and Jacob is grieving and like Job, those close to him seek to comfort him to no avail. He states that he will go to his grave mourning for Joseph, who is sold by the traders to an Egyptian officer.

If we create in our minds a spiritual comparison to what happens to Joseph and what happened to Jesus, understanding that types rarely hold up on deep examination, we might muse that the Midianite traders taking Joseph out of the pit are like angels transporting the souls of the dead to their destination.

Luke 16:22  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

And we know that Jesus went to Hell, which Joseph’s destination, Egypt, is like in type, not to suffer but to preach. (see Deuteronomy 4:20; 1Kings 8:51; and Jeremiah 11:4 for Egypt as an iron furnace.)

1Peter 3:18 ¶  For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19  By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20  Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

Potiphar is said to be captain of the guard. The Hyksos were a group of Asiatic people who conquered Egypt in antiquity.(46) Some scholars call The Hyksos the Shepherd Kings. I contend, as some scholars do, and we’ll have Biblical evidence later in Exodus, that Joseph and his family came into Egypt under their reign. The Hyksos are said to have ruled through Egyptian vassals who would have worshipped the traditional gods of Egypt and, of course, longed for an Egyptian revival, hating anyone who represented the shepherd economy of Canaan, longing to reestablish authority over not only their own country but Canaan as well. This will explain a couple of statements we will find later in the Bible in other books.

Exodus 1:8  Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

This native Egyptian pharaoh of Exodus, like the rest of the Egyptians, would have held the shepherds from the area of Canaan in great contempt and hatred. He, or his dynasty, would have reestablished authority over Canaan and so, when the Pharaoh and his army are destroyed in the Red Sea disaster Canaan’s cities would have been without its protector. The Amarna Letters give us an indication that the Canaanite cities were vassals of Egypt and were under great threat around the time of the Exodus without Pharaoh’s army to protect them.(47)

Number 14:9  Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.

These are just some ideas that will help you connect the dots, so to speak, in the Bible. Apparently, God doesn’t regard them as all that important as He provides no great explanation through Moses, but it is interesting to think about, nonetheless.

(46) History World International, “The Hyksos,” http://history-world.org/hyksos.htm (accessed 3.5.3017).

(47) The History of Israel, “Amarna Letters,” http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/amarna-letters.html (accessed 3.5.2017).

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Genesis 37:23-30 comments: Joseph is sold to passing traders


23 ¶  And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; 24  And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. 25  And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. 26  And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? 27  Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. 28  Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt. 29  And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. 30  And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?

Joseph is now cast into a dry pit and they took off his coat of many colors much like Jesus’ garment was removed in Matthew 27:35 and John 19:23 although the similarity is limited to the removal only. Notice the difference in the nastiness of the dungeon Jeremiah will be thrown into in Jeremiah 38:6. It is then Judah, without Reuben present, who suggests they sell their brother to the Ishmaelite traders who are traveling to Egypt. This is done as an act of mercy as Judah says that it would be better to do this than to kill him. The brothers consent. This passage seems to indicate that the Midianites were also Ishmaelities; Midianites through Abraham’s wife, Keturah;

Genesis 25:1 ¶  Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 2  And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.

…and Ishmaelites through his concubine, Sarai’s handmaid, Hagar;

Genesis 16:15  And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.

So, we see how quickly the genealogies of the Ancient Near East became muddled.

Joseph’s life was worth twenty pieces of silver to the traders. Jesus was betrayed for thirty. To Reuben’s dismay, when he returned from wherever he had gone not knowing about or approving the sale of Joseph, his brother was gone. Tearing one’s clothing was a sign of grief in the Ancient Near East as evident in many places throughout the Bible.

What was Reuben going to do now?