Jealousy Is Cruel
Jealousy is an emotion that causes people to do things that are often cruel. Anyone who has brothers or sisters at some time or another have had a moment when they were envious of their sibling. When you have eleven brothers that are jealous of you, this only compounds the problem.
Joseph: Israel’s Favorite
That was the case for Joseph in Genesis 37. In verses 3-11, we learn the reason why Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him. First of all, his father Israel loved Joseph more than any of the other brothers; so much so, that his father even gave him a multi-colored tunic (a very high-end item of the time). I wonder if Joseph had the option to not accept the gift; if he had, he probably wouldn’t have taken it. If you are the center of attention, you really don’t pay attention to how it affects others.
Joseph: Favored by God
It was not enough for the brothers that Joseph was favored by their father; but also he was also shown favor from God! This favor was shown in the visions that Joseph received of the future in which it showed the brothers paying respect to him. Now I often wondered why the brothers took Joseph’s dreams so seriously, after all they could’ve been just delusions of grandeur on Joseph’s part. They probably thought so after the first dream, but when Joseph had a second one that was similar to the first, they probably began to see the pattern; and patterns are usually from God.
The envy of Joseph’s brothers consumed them to the point that they wanted to kill him. This almost came to be in verses 18-27. Fortunately there were calm minds among the brothers, but that didn’t stop them from treating Joseph cruelly. They off his expensive tunic and dumped him into an empty well and left them in there as they had lunch.
I wondered what would they have done after they had finished eating. No doubt there would have been consequences for what they did, Joseph would certainly tell Israel what they did to him. The didn’t want to kill him, but they also didn’t want to get in trouble; what are they going to do? The third option came in the form of passing by Ishmaelites; they would sell their brother into slavery and create a cover story saying that Joseph was killed by a wild animal.
All is Well in the World?
I am sure that the brothers felt really good about what they did. They got rid of their annoying brother Joseph without having to kill him; and what’s more, their father will never know the truth and so there will be no consequences. Or so they thought.
Consequences to Jealousy
There are always negative consequences to acts done out of jealousy. Verses 31-35 describes what happened when the brothers told their lie to their father to cover up their sin. Israel was heart broken to the point that he wanted to die right then and there so that he could be with his son Joseph; and nothing that the brothers could do can bring comfort to him. So I could imagine that the good feelings that they had when they had done the deed had turned to guilt and remorse; and what’s worse there was no way to fix the problem.
The Cure to Jealousy
When we decide to go and perform anything that we know is wrong, we become so focused on fulfilling our selfish desire that we don’t count the damage that it would cause to others. Jealousy is a dangerous gateway sin and it must be put in check before it can escalate to other sins. To put it away from ourselves, we must have a positive view of our value. We may not be valuable to some of the people around us; but in the eyes of God, we are all special. Hold on to this truth and jealousy will depart and contentment will take its place.