Being too far off to hear his brothers’ *plans for him*, Joseph was surprised when they seized him roughly as he greeted them after his journey from Jacob’s home in Canaan.
“What’s come over you all, my Brothers?” cried the struggling Joseph, “And watch what you’re doing with my beautiful multi-coloured robe that our father went to so much trouble to have made for me.”
Joseph’s loud protests were in vain, for his beautiful multi-coloured robe was ripped off him, and his hands tied behind. The brothers then dragged Joseph to a nearby dried-up well and dropped him down it. It was a deep well, over one hundred feet by our measurements today. So, as Joseph wooshed down the deep hole of the well, he thought he was experiencing the last moments of his young life. Fortunately for him, the bottom of the well was thick sand. Although Joseph landed hard, he wasn’t killed or even injured, apart from a bruise or two.
Feeling relieved by the thought that Joseph wouldn’t trouble them ever again, the brothers felt extremely hungry, and they sat down for a meal. So good did the food taste that, despite Joseph’s cries from the bottom of the well being audible, they concentrated on their food, and so didn’t at first notice an Ishmaelite caravan in the distance. Judah was the first to see it.
“See that caravan yonder?” said Judah, “Looks like it’s coming in from Gilead and going to Egypt.”
“What’s it to us?” said Levi, his mouth full of jackal-meat.
“It looks a rich caravan. The camels are loaded with what looks like gum, tragacanth, balm and myrrh. It must all be worth a pretty shekel.”
“Think we should rob them, do you?” said Levi.
“All things being equal, yes” said Judah, “However, all things here aren’t equal. After *what we did* to Prince Hamor and his men, we’ve lots of enemies in these parts. We must tread softly, to coin a phrase.”
“I have an idea”, said Simeon, “Why don’t we sell little brother Joseph to those Ishmaelites. Judging by all that gum, tragacanth, balm and myrrh they’re carrying, they’d be rich enough to buy our little brother. If we sell him to them, we make money on top of getting rid of little brother.”
“But if we sell him” said Levi, “he won’t suffer lingering and painful death in the well. So he would escape what we want for him. I ask you, Brothers, is the money we might get from selling little brother, worth him not suffering the agonies of hell while dying?”
“Let’s sell Brother Reuben to the Ishmaelites too,” said Dan, still angry at Reuben’s having *lain with his mother, Bilhah*. “By the way, where is Brother Reuben?”
The other brothers didn’t know where Reuben was either.
“Let’s put all this to a vote,” said Simeon, “Two votes: one on whether to sell little brother Joseph to the Ishmaelites; and one on whether to sell Brother Reuben too. Even though Brother Reuben and little brother Joseph aren’t present, there are ten of us here, more than enough for a quorum.”
By a show of hands, it was agreed by six votes to four, that Joseph be sold to the Ishmaelites. But the proposal to sell Reuben off too, was rejected by eight votes to two.
Source: Genesis 37, 23-27