This is a weekly guest devotion written by my mother, Estelene. Each week she shares with us scripture and a short devotion to encourage us.
Sibling rivalry is very common. We have talked about it numerous times during our Bible studies; especially recently. Parents sometimes show favoritism toward one child, and that child enjoys gloating about it to his or her siblings.
I am sad to say that I believe my son has always felt like his parents favored his sister over him. He used to say, “She is not as perfect as you think she is.” We knew she was not perfect by any means. Yet he always had to follow in her footsteps. Since he was the younger of the two, if he had a teacher that was previously his sister’s, the teacher would, in so many words, try to make him feel as though he had big shoes to fill.
I love both my children the same, and each possess beautiful qualities that make him and her unique individuals. If I had to choose one over the other, I would not be able to. I hope I have never done or said anything to cause a strain on their relationship.
This week we start a new series during our walk through the Bible. This story is one of the most well-known accounts regarding sibling rivalry and the effects it can have on a family. But it also reveals how God can take a vicious act that was meant for evil and use it to accomplish something great. Let’s read from the book of Genesis:
Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. This is the account of Jacob.
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while you sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
If you remember from our previous devotions, Jacob had twelve sons. I am led to believe that when this story took place, only eleven had been born. At this time, Joseph must have been the only son born by Rachel, the woman he loved. I say this because we know that she died during the birth of her second son, and Jacob mentioned her as if she was still alive. Who knows, maybe she was pregnant with Benjamin at this time.
The story begins with Joseph going to his father and tattling on his brothers. No one likes a tattletale. The brothers mentioned were Jacob’s sons by the handmaids of Leah and Rachel. (If you want to read the devotion about sibling rivalry between Leah and Rachel and their handmaids, go to the Devotion Archives, Jacob and Esau.)
Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son. He and everyone else, including his brothers, were very aware of that fact. Jacob did not try to hide his special love for Joseph. He went as far as to make a beautiful ornamented and colorful robe for Joseph. In that day, a robe was knee length, very plain, and short sleeved. But Joseph’s robe was designed as if it was going to be worn by someone of royalty. This caused even more resentment and hatred toward Joseph. It was bad enough that he was a tattletale, but now he will stand out from the rest of his brothers because of his robe.
Joseph’s brothers hated him and never spoke kindly to him. I can understand their frustration with the situation. In their eyes, their father loved a stinking little brat more than he loved them.
Joseph had a dream. He said that in his dream, his brothers’ sheaves of grain bowed down to his sheaf that stood upright. They even questioned what his dream implied. Instead of keeping it to himself, he gained great satisfaction by sharing it with his brothers. The result of his relishing was greater hatred toward him.
Sometime later, Joseph had another dream. This time he said that the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down before him. Not only did he speak about this dream to his brothers, but he told his father. His father wasn’t too happy with Joseph’s news either. He pretty much asked Joseph if he thought that Jacob (the sun), Rachel (the moon), and eleven stars (his brothers) would bow down to the ground before him. Even though Jacob did not appreciate Joseph’s implications, he kept it in the back of his mind. But Joseph’s brothers hated him even more.
Jacob ignited a fire by showing favoritism, Joseph poured fuel on the fire by sharing his first dream to his brothers, and then he fanned the flames by bragging about his second dream.
Can anything good come from this? Join me next week and see what happens.