“Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt (Genesis 37:28)
After pulling their little brother out of the empty pit, Joseph is sold to traders going to Egypt for 20 pieces of silver. This was the going price in that day and culture to buy a handicapped slave. In this transaction we see the little value his brothers saw in Joseph. 20 pieces of silver is hardly a financial windfall. Divided between 10 brothers, it only would equal out to 2 pieces per person. Betrayal seeks personal gain, no matter how little the gain is. For these brothers, the greater prize was that they would never have to see their brother again. They would never have to see him walking around in that extravagant coat. They would never have to hear him describe another one of his absurd and demeaning dreams. But now that their problem was gone, they still had the matter of what they would tell their father about his disappearance.
“So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood; and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, ‘We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son’s tunic or not.’” (Genesis 27:31-31)
Joseph’s brothers took the special coat that they had stripped off of Joseph before they had thrown him into the pit and soaked it in animal blood. They then sent the coat the many miles back to their father’s home with a message that they had found the coat and asking if the coat belonged to Joseph. The result is that Jacob is thoroughly convinced that his beloved son was dead. It is very difficult for betrayal to take place without the existence of falsehoods. Betrayal and lies are linked together like Siamese twins. The more hatred that is behind the act of betrayal, the more lies are necessary to pull off the act and even a greater amount of falsehoods are then needed to cover up the whole thing.
“So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days.” (Genesis 37:34)
And what’s worse is this – betrayal always hurts more than just the intended victim. Joseph was not the only one hurt that day – so was Jacob. This elderly man would now suffer the agonizing pain of believing and grieving the loss of his son whom he thought had died in a horrible accident. Just like in war, with betrayal there is always collateral damage. Unfortunately, the betrayer does not consider that fact. Their focus is single-minded. All they desire is to get rid of the person for whom they had developed such an intense hatred.
The topic of betrayal hits close to home for most people. It is almost impossible to make it through life without finding ourselves thrown into the pit of betrayal by someone who we thought loved us or was on our side. Maybe your betrayal came from a mate. Maybe it was a parent or a child, perhaps even a sibling who pushed you into the pit of betrayal, as in the case of Joseph. Maybe you found yourself in the pit of betrayal due to a friend, a co-worker, someone in your church, or even a ministry partner. Most of us can relate to Joseph. If you have ever found yourself in the pit of betrayal, or if you are living the pain of betrayal currently in your life, then there are some very important lessons you need to learn about the pit of betrayal from the story of Joseph. Over the next several postings I will share with you four such lessons.