Joseph’s story doesn’t start when we first meet him at age 17. To truly understand Joseph’s story, you must start with his grandfather Isaac. If you have never heard the story of Isaac, here’s a snippet to help you understand Joseph’s life a little more. As Isaac was facing death, he sent for his oldest son Esau to come to him. It was Isaac’s desire to give a blessing to his son Esau and before doing so, it was his wish to have Esau to prepare one last wild game dinner for him.
Isaac’s wife, Rebekkah, had other ideas. Her favorite son was Jacob not Esau, which was Isaac’s favorite. She concocted a plan, Genesis 27:1-8, 11-13, whereby Jacob would receive the blessing and not Esau. Jacob did in fact receive Isaac’s blessing but would soon be on the other side of deceit when Rebekkah’s brother Laban, Jacob’s uncle, would deceive Jacob (Genesis 29:16-21, 23 and 25) into thinking that he was receiving one of his daughters in marriage but in fact gave Jacob is other daughter instead. Jacob had worked 7 years for the hand of Rachel, whom he loved but was given Leah instead. Laban agreed to give Rachel to Jacob on the conditions that he finished his marriage week with Leah and agreed to work an additional 7 years for Laban.
Now I know as husbands, we all love our wives greatly and would have had no problem working 14 years to marry the woman of our dreams. Now pause here a second and look at Jacob’s life up to this point. First, with his mother’s encouragement and help, he essentially steals his brother’s blessing by deceiving his father to think that he was Esau. Then he goes to his Uncle Laban and asks for Rachel’s hand in marriage. Laban agrees to do so after Jacob has worked in his service for 7 years. When the day actually comes for Jacob to collect his new bride, Laban pulls a switch on Jacob and gives him his oldest daughter instead of Rachel, forcing Jacob to agree to work another 7 years before giving Rachel to him.
It’s amazing to me to think that even though Jacob knew all the turmoil that comes with deception and favoritism, he himself, followed the same path with his family. And this should be a warning to all of us that sins or a sinful nature can be passed down from generation to generation. So here we have the background for the type of family Joseph was born into. As we will see, Joseph did not allow his family’s history to define who he was or let himself fall into the same traps of dishonesty or deceit.
None of us are given the choice as to which family we will be born into but whether good or bad, it is still up to us to determine the path our lives will take.