Jacob and his large family have settled in Canaan. Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, has dreams that offend his brothers.
Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.
In Joseph’s day, everyone had a robe or cloak. Robes were used for warmth, to bundle up belongings for a trip, to wrap babies, to sit on, or even to serve as security for a loan. Most robes were knee length, short sleeved, and plain. In contrast, Joseph’s robe was probably of the kind worn by royalty—long sleeved, ankle length, and colorful. The robe became a symbol of Joseph’s favored status with his father, and it further strained Joseph’s relationship with his brothers.
Joseph’s brothers were already angry over the possibility of being ruled by their little brother. Joseph then fueled the fire with his boasting. No one enjoys a braggart—Joseph learned this the hard way. His brothers decided to kill him but then sold him into slavery instead. After several years of hardship, Joseph learned an important lesson: Because our talents and knowledge come from God, thanking him for them is much more appropriate than bragging about them. Later, Joseph gave God the credit (Genesis 41:16).
Favoritism in families may be difficult to avoid, but its divisive effects should be minimized. Parents may not be able to change their feelings toward a favorite child, but they can change their actions toward the others. And whether you are a parent or not, remember that humility goes much further than pride. Ask God to give you a humble spirit.