“The Causes for Jacob’s Dysfunctional Family”
Dr. Gary M. Barker
Many times in life a parent can be the cause of a dysfunctional family. The patriarch Jacob was a polygamist who was married to four different women. Jacob loved one of his wives more than the other three. This wife was Rachel and his love for her caused him to love her first born son Joseph much more than the rest of his eleven sons. This produced the problems that were caused by Jacob’s favoritism of Joseph. The brothers became jealous and envious of Jacob’s preferential treatment toward Joseph. These destructive emotions eventually turned into intense rivalry that manifested itself in hatred. Jacob showed his preferential love for Joseph by having a colorful tunic made for him which Joseph pridefully wore in the presence of his brothers. Joseph became a public “show off” and in pride caused his brothers to despitefully hate him. Joseph’s pride caused his brother’s jealousy to escalate to hateful rivalry. Joseph compounded this hatred by sharing with his brothers two dreams that he had in which they would bow down to him as their superior (Genesis 37:5-11). This intense hatred caused Joseph’s brothers to have the desire to kill Joseph (Genesis 37:20). Joseph’s oldest brother Reuben prevented this from happening. Instead of murdering Joseph, they sold him into slavery and he was exiled in Egypt. God allowed these events to occur because He had a glorious reason for sending Joseph to Egypt. Twenty years later, Joseph would become the prime minister in Egypt and be used by God to save Jacob’s family from perishing because of famine.
Lessons to Be Learned
- Favoritism shown in a family can be the cause of the harmful emotions of jealousy and envy.
- Pride can promote animosity and hatred.
- The harmful emotion of hate, if not overcome, can cause people to do very destructive things never thought possible.
- God is omnipotent and sovereign and can enable a believer to overcome being abused and mistreated. God enables people to endure trials and to learn how to graciously forgive people who have hurt them. This would become Joseph’s testimony (Genesis 50:20).