There is an early sense of the tense feelings Joseph’s brothers had toward him. When Joseph saw his brothers doing something wrong, he ran to tell his father. His brothers didn’t like being snitched on, especially by the young favorite son of the favorite wife. The family dynamic was already troubled, as the bearing of Jacob’s children was source of envy and animosity between Leah and Rachel. The end result was four wives with their children competing for the affection and attention of one father. Israel’s feelings toward Joseph were probably more tenderized with the death of Rachel, and the troublesome activities of some of his other sons. Still, he should have known better than to love one child more than the rest, as it was favoritism given by his parents that drove a wedge between himself and his brother Esau. Rather than love all of his sons without partiality, Israel made it clear who he loved the most. The gift of the robe to Joseph was an obvious show of greater affection. Whenever Joseph’s brothers saw the robe that Joseph wore, they saw that their father loved them less than him. They were consumed by their jealousy.
It would be hard to believe that Joseph was naïve of his brothers hatred for him, so why he chose to share his dream is worth pondering. His young age might play a factor in such an unwise or at least insensitive decision. The meaning of his dream with the sheaves of wheat was self-evident and correctly interpreted by his brothers, and they despised him for it. His father rebuked him for speaking of his next dream, but again interpreted it correctly. The rebuke was based on respect for his father and mother (Since Rachel was dead, Israel must have been referring to the wife who continued to raise Joseph). The rebuke was also meant to quell the aggressive reaction of Joseph’s brothers. Jacob kept the dream in mind, because he had experienced similar communication with God.
Favoritism of one child hurts the self-worth of the others and brews jealousy and hatred in the family. There is no partiality in God or Jesus Christ (Romans 2:11, Ephesians 6:9). Hate spreads quickly and consumes us if unchecked by the conviction of Christ’s command to love. We should be humbled by God’s willingness to speak to us as he chooses. We must be cautious and not overzealous about sharing God’s special messages to us, as they may not be meant for everyone to hear. Those who have never felt God touch their hearts may respond with anger and hate. Therefore we turn to Christ for example, who did not share his identity until it was time for him to do so. Let the Spirit guide us in these matters.