Today's scripture: Genesis 37:29-36
When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. He returned to his brothers, and said, “The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?” Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, “This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not. He recognized it, and said, “It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father bewailed him. Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT...
- What do you think of Reuben's question to his brothers: "The boy is gone, and I, where can I turn?"
- How would you have felt if you were in Reuben's place?
- There is no mention of the brothers giving Reuben an explanation for Joseph's disappearance. They are entirely silent. Why does Reuben agree to the conspiracy?
- What is the symbolism of the brothers' use of the coat here?
- What did the brothers hope to gain by ridding themselves of Joseph?
- Did their conspiracy accomplish this goal?
- Does Jacob's reaction to Joseph's alleged death surprise you? How do you imagine you would have reacted upon receiving the news?
As the eldest son, Reuben was responsible for his brothers' behavior and for their safety while they were away from their father. When Reuben returns to find Joseph gone, he "tears his clothing." In that culture, this was a sign of deep grief and despair. Click here to read an interesting (and short) article about the Jewish practice of tearing clothing as a sign of mourning. This article is from the website of a sect of Judaism, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.