Bible Reading: Genesis 37. 25-28
Jacob’s brothers, most of them sons of Leah and her concubine, were jealous of Jacob’s preference for Joseph, Rachel’s oldest son. Joseph didn’t help matters. He told them of a dream he had in which they all bowed down to him.
Jacob’s sons were tending the herds of sheep and goats in the area of Dothan in central Canaan. Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers. When the brothers saw Joseph approaching they discussed killing him but decided that there was no gain or profit in merely killing him. Instead, they decided to sell him to a caravan of Ishmaelite traders taking spices to Egypt. Thus, Joseph went from being a pampered son to a slave in a foreign nation.
There is so much wrong with this story that it is difficult to know where to start.
First, the Ishmaelites were offspring of Ishmael. Ishmael was the son of Abraham and brother to Isaac, Abraham’s son. These Ishmaelites who bought Joseph and planned to resell him in Egypt were his cousins.
Second, Jacob’s sons were half brothers of Joseph. The sons had the same father (Jacob) as Joseph, despite having distinct mothers. All sons were reared in the same camp; they knew each other, they worked and traveled together from Paddan Aram to Canaan. Most likely at various times, they protected one another.
Third, Joseph’s brothers knew the degradation that often occurred in a slave’s life, particularly one as young and attractive as Joseph. Casual thinking on their part could anticipate that Joseph would be abused, likely sexually.
Four, Jacob’s sons and Joseph’s brothers knew how much their father loved Joseph. They knew how crushed Jacob would be to learn of Joseph’s death. They didn’t empathize with their father’s feelings.
Five, Joseph’s brothers and his cousins were more focused on gain (profit) than blood ties.
Turmeric is a product of the plant Curcuma longa, a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant, that has been used as a medicine dating back 4000 years. In Ayurvedic (traditional India) practices, turmeric is believed to have many medicinal properties including enhancing body energy, relieving gas, dispelling worms, improving digestion, regulating menstruation, dissolving gallstones, and relieving arthritis.
In addition to being used in traditional medicine, turmeric is used as a spice and as a component in religious ceremonies.
The root or rhizome is the principal component of the plant. The name turmeric derives from the Latin word terra merita (meritorious earth), referring to the color of ground turmeric, which resembles a mineral pigment. The turmeric plant needs temperatures between 20°C – 30°C (68°F – 86ºF) and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive. Curcuma longa is native to southern India and possibly southeast Asia. The plant doesn’t grow in Canaan or most other parts of the Middle East. When the turmeric rhizome is dried, it can be ground to yellow powder with a bitter, slightly acrid, yet sweet, taste.
Symbolism – Gain, Profit
Jesus asked, “what good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” “What can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Mark 8.36-37).
Joseph’s brothers selling him to Ishmaelites provided them with a profit or gain far less than the worth of the entire world. There may have been 6-8, even 10, brothers present when they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites. When Joseph’s selling price was divided among the brothers, each would have had little profit from Joseph’s sell. Yet, they lived with their conscience. Possibly, some of the brothers weren’t bothered by their actions, but some could have been. They lived with their deception for decades before they learned that God redeemed Joseph’s life in Egypt.
So much of our lives we spend getting educated for jobs and attempting to secure better jobs with more income. Would Christ say these are optimal goals?
Copyright 4/1/2020: Carolyn A. Roth