His brothers went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. Israel said to Joseph, “Aren’t your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.” He said to him, “Here I am.”
He said to him, “Go now, see whether it is well with your brothers, and well with the flock; and bring me word again.” So he sent him out of the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. A certain man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field. The man asked him, “What are you looking for?”
He said, “I am looking for my brothers. Tell me, please, where they are feeding the flock.”
The man said, “They have left here, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’”
Joseph went after his brothers, and found them in Dothan. They saw him afar off, and before he came near to them, they conspired against him to kill him. They said one to another, “Behold, this dreamer comes. Come now therefore, and let’s kill him, and cast him into one of the pits, and we will say, ‘An evil animal has devoured him.’ We will see what will become of his dreams.”
Reuben heard it, and delivered him out of their hand, and said, “Let’s not take his life.” Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him”—that he might deliver him out of their hand, to restore him to his father. It happened, when Joseph came to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him; and they took him, and threw him into the pit. The pit was empty. There was no water in it.
They sat down to eat bread, and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing spices and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, and let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not let our hand be on him; for he is our brother, our flesh.” His brothers listened to him.
Midianites who were merchants passed by, and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. They brought Joseph into Egypt.
This was a very dark day, because on this day, the decision was made to send the Hebrews into captivity in Egypt. We can’t really see that now, but as we follow this story you will see that it ends up in slavery for all of Israel’s children.
There were many opportunities to turn things around. Ruben knew that it was wrong and even planned to return Joseph, but he didn’t say it out loud. It appears that Judah knew that it was wrong too but he gave in to selling Joseph to slave traders. No one stood up for what was right. Ruben should have demanded that they stop but it appears that he wanted to take care of it quietly while still going along with his brothers. This kind of casual selling out ended up sending all of their relatives and themselves into slavery in Egypt. They were still connected to Joseph and God would make sure of it.
It is sometimes difficult to see how we are all connected. Seemingly little things that we do can have a big effect on our families later. God does forgive us and sometimes saves us from consequences but often, even after forgiving us, God allows us to bear some of the consequences of our lives. As we will see later, God knows exactly what is happening and His plan is still in place. Even the bad things we do are used by God for good.