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Reuben: The Pit and The Caravan: Reuben's perspective on Joseph's visit, and the brothers' decision to kill him
Posted by Douglas, Apr 26, 2008. 2149 views. ID = 1201

Reuben: The Pit and The Caravan

Posted by Douglas, Apr 26, 2008. 2149 views. ID = 1201
This post was written in 45 minutes.
This post has been awarded 20 stars by 5 readers.
This post is Part 4 of a writing series titled Joseph's Story.

Few people understand just how messed up my family is. How could you possibly understand, unless you grew up with it? Twelve children, all with the same father, but with four different mothers. Two of those mothers are sisters, and the other two are slave girls that the sisters owned - and loaned - to my father.

If you haven't experienced it yourself, I don't think you can imagine the shame felt by my half-brothers Dan and Naphtali, who have to watch their mother slave away at the most menial of chores every day, while my mother sits in Father's tent doing nothing day after day. I see the way anger seethes just under the surface of their blank and stony expressions, and that anger frightens me.

To top it all off, for three generations now the family has been plagued by favoritism, discontent, and the constant fear that one brother will be raised up over all the others to receive the fabled blessing of God. When Joseph, who Father has always treated as the firstborn, received that extravagant gift of a multi-hued coat, all I could think was, Just as God gave Noah a promise through a rainbow, this rainbow coat is Father's way of promising the world to his beloved son.

The whole horrid mess came to a head one day when we - the oldest sons - were out in the fields far from home, tending the herds, and Joseph was sent out to check on us. Ostensibly, he was "seeing to our welfare," but every one of us knew from bitter experience that Joseph was Father's eyes and ears - the rat in the corner spying and carrying tales.

We saw him coming a mile off; how could we miss him with that rainbow coat? While he was still out of earshot, the brothers and half-brothers began plotting against him. I think it was Naphtali who first said: "Here comes the dreamer! Let's kill him and toss his body in a pit, and then we can tell the old man that he got eaten by a bear."

The brothers laughed at this, but it was a laugh with a very bitter and very sinister edge to it; it didn't take long for me to realize: they were taking the suggestion seriously.

I didn't wait to see how this conversation would play out; Joseph was getting close and I didn't have time. As the oldest, most responsible brother, I needed to act. "Brothers," I said, "Let's stop to think about this. We aren't murderers are we? We're not killers!"

From the expressions on their faces, and their muttered discontent, I saw that they weren't convinced. So I continued, "If we kill him, we are guilty of his shed blood before God. Let us not forget the story of Cain who wandered the world - a perpetual stranger - because he murdered his brother. So let us, instead, simply throw him in a pit without murdering him. What happens to him then is not our problem."

The brothers laughed again, and their laughter was filled with a kind of sadistic glee that sickened me.

Before God I swear to you, it was my intent to rescue my brother; I intended to wait until all the brothers were gone and pull Joseph out of the pit. I would be innocent of his blood, and one day - when this spoiled kid became king over all - he would remember who his true family was.

But my intentions came to nothing, for when I stepped away to pursue a wandering lamb, the brothers devised a second plan in my absence. When I returned with the lost animal in tow, it took me only a moment to realize that I no longer heard the cries of my little brother from the pit, begging us to spare his life.

At first I thought the brothers had relented, but I knew that was only wishful thinking. "What have you done?" I demanded. "Have you killed him after all?"

Simeon laughed. "While you were away," he explained, "we realized that it would be a pity to let our brother die when we could make some money off him."

Trembling at the possibilities of his meaning, my fear came out as anger; I stood close to Simeon and with fists clenched I snapped, "Explain!"

Judah stepped between us and tried to calm me with peaceful hand gestures. "Relax, brother. This is better. While you were gone, a caravan of Ishmaelites came by on their way to Egypt. We pulled Joseph out and sold him as a slave."

With a laugh that was filled with sickening glee, Naphtali said, "Look on the bright side, brother. The Ishmaelites are our cousins, so this way we've kept him in the family!"

Dan added, "At least until he reaches Egypt!"

The whole clan erupted into laughter.

I said nothing as the brothers took Joseph's rainbow coat and tore gaping holes in it, then dipped it in the blood of a slaughtered goat. I understood their intent. They would present this bloody garment to Father and tell him that Joseph had been devoured by wild beasts.

As for me, while I listened to their laughter and cruel mocking, I wept with the shame of a disturbing realization: This cruel story they've invented is horribly close to the truth.

Copyright 2008 Douglas. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 20 stars by 5 readers.
This post is Part 4 of a writing series titled Joseph's Story. The next part of this series can be found here: Potiphar: Foolish Slave Boy.
This is a revised version of a post. Click here to view the original version

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