Joseph had quite the scam going.
When I was in high school, I was in the theatrical production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. At the time, I thought that this jacket that Jacob gave to Joseph must have been some fancy-schmancy duster-looking thing with patterns and colors that would have made Timothy Leary’s head explode on sight.
But it was just a jacket. More accurately, a tunic. Here, I’ll give you the Bible translation verbatim.
“Israel [Jacob] loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made for him a long tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him.”
I imagine they even had a pow-wow when they saw Jacob give Joe the jacket and became incensed.
“Hey Reuben,” said Levi. “Did you see the jacket Dad gave Joe?”
“Nope,” Rueben said as he was bundling sheafs of grain (Note: That last sentence is important, as you will see.) “Is it nice?”
Who freakin’ cares if it’s nice or not?” Levi shouted. “Point is, Dad never gave me a jacket. Dad ever give you a jacket?”
“No! Now that you are making far bigger a deal out of this than it deserves, Dad never did give me a jacket. What about you Zeb?”
“Nope,” said Zebulon as he filed horse hooves.
“What about you Asher?” Asher was milking goats at the time and poked his head out from under a goat’s utter.
“Nah,” he said, dribbling goat milk on his face as he wiped his brow. “Dad never gave me nothing but these goats so’s I’d milk’em,” he said and went back to milking goats.
That’s it. Joe’s brother’s hated him because their dad had given him a jacket because, one assumes, Jacob was more surprised than anyone that his boys could still swim and get Rachel pregnant, considering he was over 100 years old by the time Joe was born. Of course, Joe, in his naivete, didn’t realize his bothers hated him so much and this got him in a whole heap of trouble.
One day, Joe goes to his brothers and says “Dudes! You’re not gonna believe this dream I had. Alright, so check it … [the following is the account verbatim from my Bible. That first part was mine] There we were, binding sheaves [a sheaf is a strand of grain to bundle with other strands] when suddenly, my sheaf rose to an upright position, and your sheaves formed a ring around my sheaf and bowed down to it. Isn’t that wild?![That last sentence is mine. And by the way, in 2019, I’d be willing to bet money that all this talk about rings around sheafs would have never gotten into the made-for-TV movie and it gets more graphic later].”
And this just set Joe’s brothers off even more.
“Are you really gonna make yourself king over us and impose your rule on us?!” Joe’s brothers asked him, infuriated. Now they hated him even more all because the little flake told them about a dream. And Joe, like little brothers are wont to do, wanted to antagonize his older brothers more so he went to them the next morning and told them about another dream he’d had with this smarmy grin on his face.
“Dudes!” Joe said. “I had another dream. This time, the sun, the moon and 11 stars were bowing down to me! Isn’t that crazy?”
Enraged, Joe’s brothers were “wrought up against him,” which I don’t really understand but I assume it means Joe’s brothers had had enough. Meanwhile, Jacob took Joe aside and said, “What is the meaning of this dream of yours? Can it be that I and your mother and your brothers are to come and bow to the ground before you?” But Joe just grinned that smug grin again and skipped off to watch Asher milk goats. Now, the Bible doesn’t explicitly implicate Jacob’s intentions with what he did next, so I’m left to infer that, jacket or no jacket, Jacob had had enough of Joe’s shenanigans himself. A few days later, the brothers were out in the fields tending to Jacob’s flock and Jacob told Joe to get off his dream-interpreting ass and go out and help them. Then a man ran into Joe on the way to the fields (maybe a spy Jacob sent out to make sure Joe was indeed headed out and not just going off to make fun of Asher and throw buckets of fresh-squeezed sheep’s milk on him? We’ll never know.) Joe’s brothers, seeing him coming, plotted to kill the little “master dreamer” (It is distinctly possible a malicious interpretation of this afterthought of a phrase, which indeed comes straight out of the Bible, translated by a sexually frustrated monk who, century’s later, deeply regretted his decision to follow his “calling” explains its inclusion in the text and is the root of every dogmatic religious prohibition of masturbation hence forth, but that’s just whimsical speculation on my part.) But Reuben, Joe’s eldest brother, had a spark of elder brotherly sympathy for Joe and insisted they not kill him but instead just toss him in an empty grain silo. So, this they did, but not before stripping him of the jacket that started all this nonsense in the first place. And, as I have said before, Joe’s brothers were a cold-blooded gang because you know what they did after they tossed Joe in the grain silo? They sat down and had lunch.
As they ate, some other traders were passing on the road to Egypt with some Chapstick and Hubba Bubba to sell at the market there when Judah, I guess feeling another twinge of guilt for their brother that they had just flung into a grain silo, told his brothers he thought they should go ahead and just sell Joe to the traders to they could take him down to Egypt to sell him into slavery.
“I mean, he is our brother after all,” Judah said.
So, this they did. They sold Joe to the passing traders for 20 pieces of silver and Reuben went back to the silo to get Joe. But while the commerce was going on, a different band of traders had passed by and heard Joe beating the inside of the silo and took him out themselves and went on to Egypt. So, when Reuben got there, he found Joe gone! So, he goes back to his brothers and tells them Joe was nowhere to be found and pulls an Incredible Hulk and tears off his shirt in frustration. At this point, Joe’s brothers were skilled in deception and, thinking quickly, they grabbed Joe’s jacket and went down to where Asher was milking goats and slaughtered one of them (Asher didn’t mind, One less goat to milk) and smeared the blood all over Joe’s jacket and took the jacket to Jacob to tell him cockamamie story. Since Jacob was an old, dottering fool with one foot in the grave at this point, he started crying and wailing and gnashing his teeth and stripped naked, cut some leg holes in a potato sack and wore it like a diaper and prayed for death (which was like 9 minutes later because Jacob was 180 years old.)
When I first started writing this post, I thought about just glossing over these events and the ones after because once Joseph gets to Egypt, the whole story reads like Keystone Kops routine. Then I read it again and decided it was pretty good and warranted a blog post. What happens when Joseph gets to Egypt though is like The Kids in the Hall meets Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in a Monty Python production (which completely explains Life of Brian.)