Joseph And His Brothers – And Israel War

Dear friends, I find myself in a predicament. On the one hand, this is a biblical blog, and I am not supposed to spend my once-per-month post discussing current events. On the other hand, it’s virtually impossible, living in Israel, to write about anything but the war these days. I suppose, there is only one solution here: to let the Bible speak to us about this war. That’s what I will try to do here.

The Torah Portion we are reading this week is called Vayeshev: it starts from Genesis 37 and begins the last part of Genesis: Joseph’s saga. Not only have I read this chapter a hundred times and almost know it by heart, but I have also spoke on it numerous times, and couldn’t believe anything new could be discovered there. But such is the Word of God – it is a ‘Living Word’ – it really does live – and all of a sudden, the words and sentences that you’ve read hundreds of times, are quickened and made alive and pierce your heart with a new revelation. That’s exactly what happened to me with the Torah Portion Vayseshev, with the 37th chapter of Genesis, when the whole story of what has been happening to Israel since October 7th was shown to me through this chapter. I would like to share it with you – so, let’s go through this chapter together.  Maybe, there is a hidden prophetic message here that God wants us to see!


  1. Now Jacob dwelt (vayeshev ) in the land where his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.

The “Joseph Story” begins in Genesis 37:1, with a statement that Jacob dwelled in the land of Canaan, the land where Abraham was just a stranger, a sojourner before him. This sentence should not be overlooked: today it sounds like a very solemn declaration! The Hebrew word Yeshev means not only “sit”, but also “settle” and “dwell”.  Jacob, whose name is already Israel at this point, is firmly settled in the very land where Abraham was only a guest and a stranger. This land now is Israel’s land!


  1. In the second verse we meet the main character of this saga, Joseph, son of Jacob. He is only seventeen years old, and at this point, he is probably not the nicest kid you could meet. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father. For one thing, we see him as a talebearer, or even a snitch – and nobody likes snitches. Certainly, his brothers were not happy about that.


3. And yet, all of this doesn’t really matter, because in the next verse we find out the real reason why the brothers hated Joseph: Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, and that’s why the brothers hated him. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, theyhated him and could not speak peaceably to him.

4. Moreover, from the next verses we learn that not only was Joseph especially loved by his father, but he was also chosen and elected by God for a special plan. The dreams that Joseph had, revealed some special plan that God had for him in the future, and after every one of these dreams, the brothers envied him and hated him even more: Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more (verse 5); So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words (verse 8); And his brothers envied him (verse 11).

This is the peculiarity of this chapter that is not to be missed: I don’t think in the whole Scripture you would find another chapter where the word “hate” occurs so much. Maybe, you are already starting to see the connection between this chapter and Israel’s current situation: “Those who hate me without a cause, are more than the hairs of my head.[1]

12-17. Then we watch God’s plan being set in motion in Joseph’s life. First, we see Jacob sending Joseph to check on his brothers, and we are wondering: What happened to Jacob? What did he think of while sending a 17-year-old boy alone on this trip to his hostile brothers? But in verse 13 we read: Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” – and once we read “Israel”, we know that it’s not just Joseph’s father, Jacob, but God Himself through His servant Israel, sending Joseph on this trip.

However, I find verse 15 even more astonishing: Now a certain man found him, and there he was, wandering in the field. And the man asked him, saying, “What are you seeking?” So, Joseph came to Shechem, and didn’t find his brothers; he could probably have returned to his father with a clear conscience at this point, because he went exactly where his father told him to go. And yet, he meets somebody there – who was this somebody?  In Hebrew, it’s “Ish”, “a man” – and his namelessness suggests a comparison with the nameless man who wrestled with Jacob at Penuel. Therefore, we can suppose that it was an angel or some divine being – this is the prevailing opinion in Jewish commentaries. What is interesting, however, is that this angel didn’t send him away from his brothers, didn’t warn him of the coming threat: No, he sent him right to the brothers! I am sure when Joseph was carried away to Egypt later, he kept thinking: why did I even meet this guy? Why did I listen to him? Why didn’t I go home from Shechem? But God’s plan was in motion already – and the story with this angel, as sad as it sounds, should be an encouragement for us: when something wrong happens, each one of us tends to ask whether I missed God’s guidance, whether I was out of God’s will. But, as we see from this story, sometimes God guides us right into the trouble, not away from it—especially His chosen ones!

And now – to the brothers

  1. 18. Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. 19 Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming! 20 Come, therefore, let us now kill him … ’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!”

Here is the crucial point: here we understand why they wanted to kill him! They wanted to make sure that none of God’s plans, nothing of what had been revealed in his dreams, would come to pass. Do you see the connection, again? A friend of mine commented on this place as she was reading this article: “Yes, I see the connection in a mighty way! The enemy is jealous of God’s plan as we are currently witnessing! Jealousy and hate are inextricably meshed. I think this is foundational to what is happening with current events”.

I suppose that Joseph, while he was approaching his brothers, was aware that they were not very fond of him – he was a smart kid, after all. However, the catastrophe that he experienced, the humiliation, the abuse, the physical suffering, the horrendous and overwhelming hatred – of course, he didn’t expect any of this, it all came as a horrible shock. In the same way, for many years, Israel has known that Hamas was not a friend of Israel, to say the least; however, the catastrophe of October 7th, the atrocities, the humiliation, the abuse, the physical tortures, the horrendous and overwhelming hatred – nobody expected any of this, it all came as a horrible shock!

When the brothers sold Joseph to Egypt, they were sure that the story was finished— that they had terminated God’s plan with Joseph. As we all know, God’s plan was accomplished despite their treachery. The nations around us want to terminate God’s plan with Israel: They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” Like Joseph’s brothers, “We shall see what will become of his dreams!” However, He who sits in the heavens shall laugh”:  In the case of Joseph, God’s plan was accomplished even despite the hatred and treachery of the brothers—and we will see the same in the case of Israel: God’s plan will be accomplished, despite the abominations of Hamas and its supporters and despite all the hatred and treachery that we have been facing since October 7! 


[1] Ps 69:4


If this blog whets your appetite for discovering the hidden treasures of the Hebrew Bible I would be happy to provide more information (and also a teacher’s discount for new students) regarding our wonderful courses  ( You might also enjoy my books, they all are Bible-based and have a lot of Hebrew insights you can get them here.  These days, you may be especially interested to read my book “If You Be the  Son of God”, which reveals God’s plan with Israel and explains the suffering of my people.  

About the author

Julia BlumJulia is a teacher and an author of several books on biblical topics. She teaches two biblical courses at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, “Discovering the Hebrew Bible” and “Jewish Background of the New Testament”, and writes Hebrew insights for these courses.

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Join the conversation (3 comments)

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  1. Cesario

    Ciao Julia,

    Dio ti benedica per i tuoi post su questo blog.
    Gli spunti che ricavi dalla parola di Dio sono sempre di grande benedizione e parlano in modo chiaro alla mia vita.
    Credo che quanto hai scritto riguardo Israele e Hamas sia davvero attuale.
    Voglio incoraggiarti con un verso che mi è venuto in mente leggendo le tue parole:
    “Ci sono molti disegni nel cuore dell’uomo,
    ma il piano del SIGNORE è quello che sussiste.”
    Proverbi 19:21

    L’uomo può fare tutti piani e i disegni di distruzione che vuole sulla nostra vita…ma l’ultima parola spetta solo a Dio e il suo piano è quello che riname per sempre!

    Dio ti Benedica insieme alla tua famiglia

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you, Cesario! I was really blessed and encouraged by your comment!

      1. Carla Gade

        Julia, I hope you are safe and well. I look forward to your next post. Praying for you.