The Suffering Soul

Harold S. Paisley

Excerpt from This Joseph by Harold S. Paisley

When Joseph's brethren saw him in the distance, coming their way, wearing the special coat, which evidenced his superiority over them as heir of Jacob, they were determined to murder him. They would rob him of the place which God had designed he would occupy, as his dreams had foretold. It was in like manner that the Blessed Lord was conspired against by His own people; they therefore took counsel against Him to put him to death (Matthew 27: 1). The cruel decision was made to cast Joseph, whom they would slay, into a pit. If anyone questioned them, they would say that an evil beast had devoured him. Then with malice and envy in their hearts, they said among themselves, that will be the end of the master dreamer and his dreams. But God intervened by means of Reuben and Judah, so that Joseph's blood would not be shed. God is in control at all times! In the putting to death of the Lord Jesus, men were permitted to carry out their evil design, but God's purposes were being fulfilled.

Reuben, the oldest, did not consent to their death sentence, not because of any love for Joseph, but from consideration of his father. On pretense that it would be better to shed no blood, he proposed to cast him into a pit, and leave him to perish, hoping, however, secretly to rescue him and bring him home to Jacob. Reuben in the same way acted as Pilate, who was willing to release Jesus, but found it impossible, because of the envy and enmity of the Jews (Matthew 27:18-24).

Finally his brethren stripped Joseph's coat of many colors off him, and heartlessly cast him into the deep pit to suffer abandonment. In total indifference, they sat down to eat bread. They knew no remorse, they were devoid of pity, they drank wine in bowls, but no man was sorry for the affliction of Joseph (Amos 6:6). This stripping of Joseph and cruel shame of being cast out and rejected points to the manner in which wicked men treated the Lord of Glory. He was put to open shame. They stripped Him. What ignominy! Even at the place called Calvary, they stripped Him again of his seamless coat, and cast lots who would wear it thereafter (John 19:23-24). In total indifference to the Saviour's suffering, sitting down, they watched Him there (Matthew 27:36).

Joseph's behavior under this treatment from his brethren is not recorded here, but they recalled the scenes over twenty years later, and confessed that they saw the anguish of his soul, and heard his plaintive pleas for deliverance, which they refused to hear or answer. The great company gathered at the Cross of the Lord Jesus saw the anguish of His soul, and heard His cry of abandonment, but unlike Joseph, who cried to his brethren by links of brotherhood to deliver him, the Lord Jesus sought no deliverance from any. The time came when Joseph's brethren confessed their indifference to him. What a foreshadowing of the nation of Israel, who will look upon Him whom they pierced, and repent of their sin with bitter tears (Zechariah 12: 10).

As the brothers were eating bread around the pit, they saw Ishmeelites coming from Gilead, passing by Dothan, to reach the main caravan route, which ran through Gaza to Egypt. These merchantmen engaged in the traffic of spicery, balm and myrrh, and also purchased slaves for the markets of Egypt. Many of these traders were Midianites, but as the Ishmeelites were greater in number and masters of their trade, they became a generic name for "merchantmen." Judah suggested to his brethren that they should sell Joseph to these merchants, rather than kill him, thus disclosing his love of money. It is most remarkable to study the parallel that from the twelve sons of Jacob, Judah was the one who made the bargain, just as from the twelve apostles, the one to sell the Lord was Judas (the English of the Greek equivalent).

Joseph's brethren agreed with the idea of selling Joseph as a slave. The bargain was quickly struck. He was sold to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver. The Lord was also delivered by the Jews, His own people, to the Gentiles. They had covenanted with Judas for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15; 27:3-9). In considering this, the indignity with which Christ was treated was greater than Joseph. In Joseph's case the betrayal price was to save his life. He was sold in order to live, and to recover his life by service. The Blessed Lord was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, with a view to his death at the hands of his enemies; thus He might well say, Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow (Lamentations 1:12).