The story, almost self-contained, is the first part of the final section of Genesis. Genesis Act 4: These are the generations of Jacob, the story of his son Joseph.
If we came to it cold we might think it's just a great story, and one worth making a musical about.
But's it's not just a great story, it's a classically Genesis-story.
All about fathers and sons, and sons who are loved, and brothers who aren't their brother's keeper who try to kill their brother, and sons who deceive their father. All very Genesis. And it's a story of a journey from Canaan to Egypt - like Abraham in Genesis 12, though he came back, so will Joseph? And will anyone else go down there and will they come back?
Joseph is the beloved son of his father, clothed in splendor. He brings a bad report on his brothers who hate him, because he's loved, and because of the report, and because he has dreams that say they'll all bow down to him. His father sends him to them and they conspire to kill him, but instead sell him into slavery and deceive their father with his robe, as Jacob had deceived his father with his brothers robe. The story is reminiscent of Jacob's own story - where his brother was loved, and yet the LORD favoured Jacob, and Isaac prophesied that his brothers would bow - the promise repeats and pressed down a generation, and on.
Applications? The LORD isn't on stage here to be worshipped directly.
We're not really able to say the application is "go and do likewise".
So, we ought to ask a typological question... Do the events or the people point us forward to the promised seed and his story? And if so, how...
Joseph is pictured as a suffering servant in general by many, but his story isn't just any sufferer, but a suffering seed who, according to Nathan Pitchford, overlaps with The Suffering Servant in 21 ways! At the end Genesis Joseph will stand as a second Adam, ruling and blessing the world. But here we see him loved by the father, clothed in splendour, hated, sent, conspired about - thrown into the pit (a Psalmist's favourite picture of death before resurrection), into slavery while a prophetic dream hangs over him of every knee bowing before him. This is a deeply Messianic story! Though Joseph isn't in the Messiah's line (neither is Moses), the Messiah is surely a kind of son of Joseph. This a story with the prospect of songs of celebration, and yet by the end of 37 the tune is a lament. What we have in Genesis 37 is an unfinished story.
Joseph's dreams push the story into the future and into our hearts. 37v11 asks me, will I be jealous for the seed - envious of what is his, or think over what has been said about him? Do I rage against him or treasure what's said of him in my heart? He came to his own, but his own did not receive him. Will I? Will I trust that the seed will be raised to reign, to love those who hated him, to rescue them and bless the world? Will I stand over and against the seed, or take refuge in him? Will I got to him to feed me?
The story as we have it in Genesis 37 looks like a classic Ian McEwan tragedy as a fool is cast down to death - but the dream remains. It asks me to believe for more. To believe for comedy. Where is the happy ending? Surely there can be hope, and I'd like Genesis 38 to tell that story but it will heighten the tension by making me wait, not just for Genesis 50, but for the exaltation of the beloved and suffering promised Seed, who will crush the head of evil and bring his people back into the love of his Father.
This a story that must be told. Tell it on the greatest of stages, tell it with singing