Joseph Sold by His Brothers
12 And his brethren went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem.
13 And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.
14 And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
15 And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?
16 And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.
17 And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.
18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.
19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.
20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
21 And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.
22 And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.
K.J.V. Bible Text
Although Jacob, now called Israel, surely knew how his other sons felt about Joseph, he apparently did not realize that Joseph was in danger from them; but when he sent Joseph to check on the welfare of his brothers and the flocks he sent him on a very dangerous journey.
Joseph did not find his brothers near Shechem as expected. He heard from a passerby that they had gone on to Dothan, so he followed after them. Perhaps if they had not been farther from home than Israel expected, they would have feared to do harm to the boy; but as it was they saw him coming from afar. (Perhaps that colorful robe that helped inspire their jealousy was the reason they recognized him.)
Although his other brothers would have killed him outright, Reuben convinced them to throw him into a cistern otherwise unharmed so they would not have his blood on their hands. He intended to return later to save Joseph and take him back to their father.
At least in this instance, Reuben was kinder than his other brothers toward Joseph and he fought—a little—to save him. Apparently, however, even though Reuben was the elder son, he did not have enough authority over his brothers to stop their plot outright.
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