To Kill, Or Not To Kill…….

Joseph had always been the apple of his mother’s (Rachel’s) eye, and the favourite son of his father, Jacob. To show Joseph how special he was, Jacob had a special robe made for him – a robe of many different and striking colours, which extended all the way to the wrists and ankles.

While Joseph’s brothers wore robes also, they were short-legged and short-armed robes suitable for wearing while doing hard work in the fields. The significance of Joseph’s special robe will be seen in the fact that similar robes would be worn by favoured sons in the Roman empire to come, and are still worn today by favoured sons in Persia, India and China.

Although Joseph didn’t work in the fields tending to Jacob’s sheep and harvesting the crops as his brothers and half-brothers did, he did accompany them and observed them at their work. If he saw them slacking off, or engaging in infractions of good sheep-caring and crop-harvesting practices, he would tell Jacob, who admonished his sons when next he saw them.

Joseph’s being the favoured and pampered son was bad enough for his brothers. His informing Jacob about what went on in the fields, made it worse. The hatred that Joseph’s brothers had always had for him, intensified.

You might think that Joseph would have sensed the hatred, and have behaved more sensitively. Quite the contrary.

One day when the brothers were having lunch under a tree after a tiring morning in the fields, Jacob, who as usual had been lolling about and just watching, decided this was the moment to say to them, “Brothers, would you like to hear of a dream I had last night?”

“Not particularly,” said one of the brothers, Simeon, “Instead of telling us your dream, how about getting up off your behind and doing some work like we do?” The others voiced Simeon’s sentiment.

“Brothers, I’m going to tell you of my dream because….well….. it’s a dream you should hear about. We were all in a field binding sheaves. My sheaf rose on end and stood upright. Then your sheaves bowed low before my sheaf……..”

“Then what,” said another brother, Levi.

“Then I woke up.”

“So”, said Levi, “are you trying to tell us that your sheaf was you, and the other sheaves that bowed down to your sheaf were us?”

“I’m not trying to tell you anything. It’s for you to make up your own minds what my dream meant,” said Joseph.

“Don’t get cute with us little brother,” said Simeon, “You know you think your dream means you’ll one day be a king and will have dominion over us.”

“I won’t deny this,” said Joseph.

“What should we do with little brother here?” said Simeon to the others.

“Let’s kill him and leave his body for the jackals to eat” said another brother, Zebulun.

A chorus of the voices of most of the other brothers bespoke that they thought this a good idea.

“I agree, Brothers, that we should kill little brother Joseph,” said Simeon, “But let’s not act rashly. For starters, how exactly do we kill him? And what do we tell Father when we return home this evening, and he sees there’s no little brother?”

“I go along with Brother Simeon,” said another brother, Reuben, “Father would be devastated were little brother Joseph not to return with us. Give him a chance to mend his ways, is what I say.”

After further discussion, it was agreed that Joseph wouldn’t be killed, at least for the time being.

Joseph, listening to all this, seemed not worried at all.


– Genesis 37, 1-9

Adam Clarke Commentary

This entry was posted in Jacob, Joseph, Levi, Reuben, Simeon, Zebulun and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to To Kill, Or Not To Kill…….

  1. jenny says:

    Grovel, grovel, cringe, bow, stoop, fall,
    Worship, worship, beg, kneel, sponge, crawl.

    Can you blame them for wanting to off him? Donny Osmond is damned annoying.

  2. dafna says:

    ohhhhh jenny 🙂

    great minds. u beat me to it.

    joseph will always be associated with donny osmond in my mind. and on a tangent, it looks like it’s the year of the mormons.

    do the mormons hold the story of joseph in some higher regard than other faiths? or is it just that donny was so iconic in the role. pardon my ignorance, christopher.

  3. Christopher says:

    @Jenny and Dafna – Since I’m out of touch with the contemporary popular culture, your references to Donny Osmond are over my head.

    However, I do recall a weekly television variety show, I think in the 1970s, that starred Donny and his sister Marie. The show was popular, no doubt because Donny and Marie, with their scrubbed faces, toothy smiles, and paeans to chastity, were the paradigms of American wholesomeness.

    Are they still the paradigms of American wholesomeness? You will know better than I.

  4. dafna says:

    dearest christopher,

    thanks to you i have discovered that i can watch movies on youtube in ten minute increments. and so can you watch the musical of which we speak. you will enjoy it!

    here is the scene that you retell from ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ starring donny osmond:

    jenny’s refrain comes later in the musical on youtube scene #20 called “grovel, grovel”.

  5. jenny says:

    So, Christopher, have you really never seen the musical “Joseph”? Or you just haven’t seen Donny’s rendition?

  6. Christopher says:

    @Dafna – Thanks for this clip. I really liked it. I can see I missed out on something in not seeing this film, which I’ll now search out on YouTube.

    @Jenny – Yes, it’s true that I’ve never seen this musical, although I had heard of it. But, as I said to Dafna, I’ll seek it out on YouTube, for the clip I’ve just seen is compelling.

    Talking of musicals, did you ever see “Evita”? I loved it, both on film and on stage.

  7. jenny says:

    I’m not sure how it happened, but “Evita” passed me by. OK, I’ll watch it.

    I’m feeling guilty now for trash-talking Donny Osmond. To be fair to him, he has amazing diction, and when he sings “Close Every Door” I tear up every time. (But that’s partly because I’m a sentimental little fool.)

    This blog of yours, Christopher (and, by the way, your name–if indeed that is your name, Lieutenant Bat Guano–is one of the most beautiful names for men; with all kinds of good associations) serves in the same way as “Joseph” and “Jesus Christ Superstar”: retell great stories and make them your own. I like it.

  8. Christopher says:

    “Christopher” is the name on my birth certificate, so I’ve assumed it to be my real name, and is the name I go by. In the interests, though, of trying to appear a regular fellow, I usually say “Chris” when asked my name in a poolhall.

    Being as I’ve said before, out of touch with the contemporary popular culture, “Bat Guano” is over my head. Is his first name Christopher? If so, does he also introduce himself as “Chris’ when in poolhalls?

    “….This blog…….serves… retell great stories and make them your own……..”

    I have lots of fun doing this, especially writing dialogue, which I’m concentrating more on, as you’ll see in my posting of last night (if you’ve not yet read it).

    As I write the dialogue I’m hearing the voices (not psychologically healthy, I know) and never know what will pop out next.

  9. jenny says:

    I will read your next post. Now that you’re into dialogue, you really must be reacquainted with Colonel (sorry, I flubbed his rank) Bat Guano. Here he is with Peter Sellers in one of his (Sellers) many roles in Strangelove. I couldn’t find the scene where Sellers says “…if that really is your name,” but this is classic. C’mon, Christopher, I suppose you don’t know who General ‘Buck’ Turgidson is either? I don’t believe it.

  10. Christopher says:

    Although I’ve seen Strangelove a few times I’d forgotten Bat Guano.

    The draining of my precious bodily fluids must be doing something to my memory.

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