31 And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood;
32 And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no.
Genesis 37:31-32 (KJV)
Goats and coats – In this story we read how Joseph’s brothers took his coat and dipped it in the blood of a goat to deceive their father, Jacob. This was the defining moment that resulted in the slavery of Israel in Egypt. As we explored in the previous post we saw that the prophecy of slavery was fulfilled twice. The second time was preceded by these verses above, but what about the first time when Jacob was an indentured servant to his uncle Laban? What was the catalyst there?
A series of videos from Rabbi Forhman shows how these two periods of slavery occurred because of two very similar events of deception. Each of these moments of deception involved goats and coats. Let’s take a look.
|Jacob & Rebekah vs. Isaac||Joseph’s brothers vs. Jacob|
|Jacob took the coat of Esau and the hair of the goat.
|Joseph’s brothers took the special coat of Joseph.
|Jacob killed a goat and used its meat and hair to deceive Isaac.
|Joseph’s brothers killed a goat and used the blood to deceive Jacob.
|Isaac investigated the attire to discern if he was Esau.
(Genesis 27:21-22; 27)
|Jacob investigated the attire to discern if it was Joseph’s.
Just as Jacob deceived Isaac, so then was Jacob deceived by his own sons. The sin was repeated, and so the prophecy of slavery was repeated as well.
But this wasn’t planned. Jacob was certain that as his time with Laban was over, he would live peacefully in the land of Canaan for the rest of his life.
And Jacob dwelt in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan. (Genesis 37:1 (JPS))
Jacob settled in the land where his fathers were only strangers. Everything would now be well… except until the episode of goats and coats reenters his life again. Do you see how the pieces fit together? Jacob could have been the fulfillment of the prophecy. The deception of 1 child lead to 21 years of servitude to Laban, but because of the deception of 10 children, there were 210 years of slavery. The story of Jacob and Laban was a small taste of the greater story of Israel – it was a forewarning.
So why would God prophecy this? Why could God cause Israel to enter into slavery just to bring them back out?
Well if we read the verses of the prophecy again we’ll notice that God isn’t a part of what’s happening. He’s only stating a fact. You know Abram, your seed is going to end up in a strange land and become slaves. That’s it really.
And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; (Genesis 15:13)
Israel causes them to end up in a strange land. And it’s Laban, or Egypt, that afflicts them. God really isn’t mentioned here… until…
And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. (Genesis 15:14)
When God intervenes, the people are set free. This is why we rejoice. No matter the affliction, God is there ready to redeem His people.