Genesis 37:1-5: Favouritism.
“Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. 2 This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.”
Jacob did not help Joseph, or his brothers, when he made it clear who his favourite was. I don’t excuse it, but I’m not surprised they were hurt and hated him. Jacob may not have said, ‘’I love Joseph more than you other lads’, but he showed it. People often know what we’re saying even when we’re not speaking. I know we can sometimes get things wrong, and misunderstand, but we often do see quite plainly what others think or feel about us. We send so many non-verbal messages, even when we don’t want to. It’s not difficult to read when you’re being excluded; when you’re not wanted. You know when you’re not part of the ‘in-crowd’. When you’re in a bustling room you can tell when the person you’re in conversation with is actually scanning around for someone ‘more important’ to talk to.
Joseph’s richly ornamented robe marked him out as noble and princely. No wonder his brothers seethed. That coat was just asking to get blood-stained, and it did (31).