Joseph’s problems likely started the day he was born.
He was the first son of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel, who had been infertile for so long that Jacob was an old man by the time Joseph arrived. Jacob had a dozen sons by his two wives and their two maids who served as surrogate mothers. But from Joseph’s birthday onward, he was daddy’s boy.
In a family of mothers and children fiercely competing for Jacob’s affection, that made Joseph the primary target. He didn’t help himself. In a way, Joseph was a target sticking out his tongue; he flaunted his favorite-son status and stoked the fire of jealousy.
At age seventeen, he dressed the part, wearing a beautiful one-of-a-kind robe his father gave him. He talked the part, reporting a dream he had about bundles of grain owned by his brothers bowing to his bundle of grain. And he talked the part some more, telling of another dream about stars along with the sun about eleven stars along with the sun and moon bowing before him-a dream everyone clearly saw as representing his family, with the sun and moon as his farther and mother.
These dreams were a prophecy of what would happen decades later in Egypt. But Joseph’s brothers thought they were just another way of rubbing it in. So they decided to rub him out.
They got their chance while grazing sheep about a three-day walk from their home in Hebron. They had taken the flocks some sixty miles north to Dorthan, searching for good pasture.
Jacob sent Joseph to check on them.
“Here comes that dreamer!” one of his brothers said. “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into a deep pit. We can tell our father that a wild animal has eaten him. Then we’ll see what becomes of all his dreams!” (Genesis 37:19-20).
Instead, a caravan of Egyptian bound traders came along and bought him as a slave for eight ounces of silver-$27.00 at today’s price when silver sells for $4.50 an ounce. The brothers killed a goat, dipped Joseph’s robe in it, then took it home to their father. They told him an animal had eaten Joseph.