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Garment of Accusation

Genesis 37:18-24 

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"When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. [19] And they said to one another, 'Here comes this dreamer! [20] Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, 'A wild beast devoured him.' Then let us see what will become of his dreams!' [21] But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, 'Let us not take his life.' [22] Reuben further said to them, 'Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him'-- that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father. [23] So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; [24] and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it."

Last week we left Jacob holding Joseph's coat of many colors covered in blood. As far as Jacob knew, Joseph, his favorite son-the son of his old age-was dead. Jacob grieved bitterly. There is an old saying that I think applies to Jacob: What comes around goes around. Jacob, the deceiver is being deceived by his sons, much in the same way he deceived his father when he was young. Jacob put on his brother's best clothes, and put goat's skin on his arms to persuade his father to give him the blessing that belonged to his brother, Isaac's favorite son. Notice the similarity. Jacob's sons drenched their brother's best tunic in goat's blood to persuade Jacob that his favorite son was dead. Coincidence? I don't think so. There something else about last week's story that has puzzled me. Did you notice that Israel is referred to as "Jacob" in the text instead of the name that God gave him at his second major encounter with God? Why do you think that is? I have an idea. It is to draw our attention to the fact that Jacob was getting what he'd previously dished out. The name Jacob means "supplanter or deceiver." While Israel meant, "he will rule." As he held Joseph's bloody garment, he was not a ruler, he was reaping what he'd sowed as a deceiver. It will be weeks before we talk about Jacob again. The story continues, but now the main character in the story shifts from Jacob to Joseph.

Last week, we left Joseph in the pit not knowing what would happen to him. In the darkness he sat naked, shivering in the cold. Hungry. Thirsty. Without hope. Would his brothers leave him to die there? Will they kill him? Will a wild animal get him? What will he do? His fate, it seems is in his brother's hands. 

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