“26 Judah said to his brothers, ‘What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.’ His brothers agreed.” NIV
Before moving on into the murky waters of chapter 38, I want to linger over a couple of places in the second half of chapter 37. Here’s the first of them:
‘Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.’’ ‘
To that I want to say, ‘Big deal!’ Judah would have been happy enough to kill his brother, until he realised that there was actually greater gain to be had in selling him. He saw him (or came to see him) as a commodity, and no longer valued his personhood. Although it doesn’t always take on such a grotesque expression, this is what happens when we see people only in terms of what we can get out of them, rather than what we can give to them. What can I gain from my relationship with you? This is my only concern.
I was disturbed to read an account written by a brilliant Puerto Rican woman, in which she told of her distress upon attending a conference one time. She realised that people were looking past her to find someone ‘more important’ or ‘more influential’ with whom to network. She described how she fled to her hotel room and broke her heart, convulsed with great sobs. Many of us will be able to identify. We have been at similar events, and we know how people can make you feel little and insignificant without them having to say very much. There are those who use people as step-ladders to try to climb higher in the world.
How we treat people is so important. Jesus emphasised this when He said,
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40; see also v.45).