If there’s one thing we see consistently in this part of Genesis, it’s family favoritism and it’s ill effects. We’ve already talked about Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau… Now we come to Jacob’s sons, and it seems Jacob learned nothing from his parents. Remember, he loved his wife Rachel more than his wife Leah–more favoritism!–and that led him to love his son through Rachel more than his sons through Leah.
Genesis 37:3a (GW)–Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons because Joseph had been born in Israel’s old age.
And thus begins Josephs journey. His father loved him more. And every one of the other sons knew it. They resented him for it. It’s only a few verses later in Chapter 37 that they decide to kill him, but relent and sell him to slave traders headed for Egypt instead.
Isn’t it funny how love can lead to hate? I once heard someone say that love and hate are not opposites. Both require strong feeling. Both require energy on the part of the lover or hater. Both require you to think of the other person, sometimes constantly. I guess that’s why they say there’s a fine line between love and hate. (In case you’re wondering, this person said the opposite of love is apathy, the absence of feeling. Whether it’s true or not, it’s an interesting idea.)
If Israel could have been more fair-minded, perhaps Joseph wouldn’t have found himself in an Egyptian prison later. Perhaps he wouldn’t have developed the ego that sent him there. But God knew Egypt needed Joseph… and Joseph needed Egypt. He had already told Abraham that his descendants would suffer slavery and deliverance there.
Which begs a question I’ve always had. How exactly does prophecy work? Did God intend all along for Israel to go through the Egyptian years? Or did He look through history and know they’d lead their own selves there? Since we have free will, it makes you wonder, huh? One of those things I’m not to know on this side of heaven, I suppose.
For better or for worse, the whole point is we have to watch how we treat other people. Love out of control can be just as dangerous as hate and can, oddly enough, have the same consequences.
I guess we need it in all parts of our lives, huh?