Did Joseph Doubt His Father Jacob's Motives?

by Larry Buford, Christian Examiner Contributor |
Joseph's Bloody Coat Brought to Jacob, Diego Velázquez, 1630. | Painting: Wikimedia Commons

It's human nature when something bad happens to us, to put the blame on something or someone besides ourselves. The pronouns "he," "she" or "they" become the objects of our source of disappointment, suffering, pain and shame. It takes a mature person to be rational and ask, "what was my part in all of this?"

The blame seems to become even more amplified as we oftentimes become isolated whether self-imposed, or by some external force. Isolation can cause our minds to play tricks on us. It causes us to second-guess, and even distort, the facts, if we're not careful.

The biblical story of Joseph – often typified as a foreshadow of Jesus and the cross – may offer some insight to this human experience. Genesis chapter 37 tells the story of how Jacob favored Joseph over all his other children; how he set him apart weaving him a "coat of many colors" – causing Joseph's brothers to become very envious of him. Joseph was the apple of Jacob's eye.

Apparently, Jacob did nothing to mitigate the tension brewing within his own household; indicative of the fact that Joseph boasted about a dream he had of his brothers bowing down to him. However, when a second dream of Joseph's suggested that all of his family would someday bow down to him, even his father Jacob rebuked him.

Now when you go back in those chapters you will see a family history that surely Joseph (at age 17) must have known about; particularly how his great-grandfather Abraham deceived a ruler into thinking that his wife Sarah was his sister, and how his grandfather Isaac did the same thing; and the story of how his Uncle Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew after which Jacob deceived their father Isaac to receive the blessing that was rightfully Esau's. The seeds of family deception, dissension and division were planted before Joseph was even born.

So, as the story goes, one day Jacob sends Joseph out to see how his older brothers were faring working out in the fields. He traveled a long distance to find them, and when they saw him approaching from afar off, they plotted to kill him. They cast him into a pit to leave him for dead, but when they discovered a caravan heading for Egypt, they brought Joseph out and sold him to the Egyptians as a slave. During the course of events, I'm sure he pleaded for his life and wished he hadn't boasted so much.

Now, through all of this, do you think it never crossed Joseph's mind that his father Jacob might have been in on the plot to get rid of him? Surely Joseph must have entertained the thought. Although scripture repeatedly states that God was with Joseph, Joseph was fully human and subject to the doubts, fears and insecurities we all have at times. I'm certain there were times in the pit, in chains and in the Egyptian dungeon, Joseph must have cried out "father why have you forsaken me?" just as Jesus cried out on the cross; but scripture says Joseph had the peace of God. Now, if Jesus, who laid down His life willingly, knowing the joy that was set before Him – to reconcile mankind to God – had doubts, we can be certain that Joseph did.

The fact that after Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh and was made second in command over all of Egypt, did not go to seek after nor inquire about his father whom he loved, may validate that he did indeed have doubts about his father Jacob's motives. Scripture says that before he revealed who he was to his brothers, he wept profusely and uncontrollably. I would venture to say that those tears were not just for his brothers and father, but for all that God had brought him through and revealed to him as he stated to his brothers – "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." Please read the story for yourself and let me know what you think, or what is revealed to you.

–Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Author of "Things Are Gettin' Outta Hand," and his latest "Book To The Future" (both on Amazon); he also has a CD titled "One More Time" on CD Baby. E-mail: lbuford8101@hotmail.com.