The case of Joseph and Racism




What happened to Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob was despicable, unacceptable, and troubling because it was conceived and executed by his own brothers. If some stranger had done it, one would have had some understanding. For brothers to rise up against their brother and sell him to a foreign country as a slave because they were jealous of him is a prime indication of what issues of the heart can do.


Joseph was known for all the wonderful dreams that predicted that he was going to be a leader and greater than his brothers. These dreams did not sit well with his brothers, and they developed hatred towards him.


To make matters worse, Joseph was daddy’s boy and received special favors from their father, Jacob. Joseph would also brought report about his brothers to their father. Their hatred for Joseph grew to the point where they considered killing him.


One day, they had their opportunity. Jacob sent Joseph to go and give supplies to his brothers. When his brothers saw him coming from afar, they decided that when he arrives, they were going to kill him and all his dreams as well.


When Joseph arrived, his brothers immediately arrested him and threw him into a dry water well. They held a meeting to determine his fate. The decision was to kill him, but one brother suggested that they sell him as a slave to Egypt. The reasoning was that Joseph will be as good as dead if sold as a slave and they will make some money out of it. His brothers were so sure that Joseph was going to die.


When they went home, they told their father that Joseph was dead and even showed his coat that was torn and covered in blood. They had killed a goat and smeared Joseph’s special coat with the blood.


Can you imagine the length these brothers went to eliminate their brother? What were they thinking? We have already shown that the issues of the heart drive people’s actions, not their circumstances. These brothers were driven by jealousy, anger, and hatred for Joseph, and the result is that they “killed” him and were not ashamed to tell their father that he was dead.


Joseph was deprived of his father’s love, the comfort of his home, and all of his dreams by none other than his own flesh and blood.

His brothers sold him to slave traders who took him to Egypt and sold him to another master. It was not enough to be sold the first time, he had to be resold. Can you imagine the trauma Joseph went through as he was chained and yanked off to Egypt? He was in a foreign country among people who had little regard for Hebrews. He was put to work by his owner, and it is reported that Joseph excelled at the task he was given to do because God was with him. Because of his hard work, Joseph was promoted to be in charge of all his master’s businesses.


The mistress took notice of Joseph and wanted to have sex with him. He refused because he did not want to sin before God. Here was a slave who had no right to say no to his owner, but feared God enough to know who was his true owner. Joseph could have slept with his master’s wife and justified it by saying as a slave, he was supposed to obey orders because he had zero rights. Joseph understood that people could claim that they were his owners and even treated him as such and hold him captive, but his true owner was God, and that is the person to whom he was ultimately accountable.


While Joseph was a slave, he was still free because he refused to allow sin to control his life.

His act of disobedience and defiance to his mistress “backfired” on Joseph because this woman was so evil that she lied about him to her husband. Joseph had his own #MeToo moment when this woman told her husband that Joseph had tried to rape her, and after struggling with him, he had run out of the bedroom, leaving his cloak behind. Of course, this was a made-up story. After repeated failed attempts to seduce Joseph, the opportune moment presented itself. On this particular day, this woman realized that the house was empty and Joesph was in the house doing his normal chores. She grabbed him and tried to pull him to the bed with her. This was a desperate attempt on her part to physically achieve what her seductive words failed to do. But Joseph was not going to have any of it, and in the process of struggling to free himself from her grip, she pulled his cloak, and he ran out of the room without it.


When her husband came back, she had Exhibit A, and nobody could dispute her story of attempted rape by Joseph. The judgment was swift, and the penalty was served. Joseph was immediately thrown into prison without any possibility of parole and no indication that he was ever going to be released. This woman had framed him up and was about to finish what his brothers had started, that is, to put an end to all his dreams of rising up to prominence. This was the end of his life, and there was no appeal because he was a slave that had done a despicable act.


Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt after being falsely accused, wrongly convicted, and then imprisoned?

Maybe he thought that if his brothers had not been so hateful towards him and his dreams, he would still be home with his father. If his brothers had not sold him into slavery, he would not have encountered this evil woman who has caused him to be imprisoned for a crime he had not committed.


What on earth was God thinking by letting this woman, who had accused him falsely, go free? Where was justice when he needed it most? How could he obey God, and instead of being rewarded, He allowed him to be sent unjustly to prison where there was no hope for him ever escaping? This was a death sentence on all the dreams that he had been shown before this encounter.


It is extremely important to understand that everything was stacked against Joseph at this point, and there was no way humanly speaking that his dreams were going to be realized.

Not only was he a slave, but he was also in prison with no hope of getting out. Even if he was liberated from the prison, he was still going to be a slave in a land where slaves were looked down upon. No matter how you look at it, Joseph was in a helpless situation, and only a miracle was going to change his circumstances.


In prison, Joseph did not allow himself to be distracted or depressed. He understood that a person can be imprisoned physically, but the worst prison is that of the mind.

He knew God was still with him, and he did so well that he was placed in charge of all the other prisoners by the chief guard. He did not dwell on his misfortune or allow the fact that he had been wrongly condemned to that prison.