Jacob is deceived …
Brothers don’t know Joseph’s fate …
Convince dad he’s dead —
The plot twists in the Joseph story are dramatic enough for a soap opera – or a Broadway musical. Since for many people the stage show is how the story is remembered, it’s probably worth noting that Andrew Lloyd Weber got some details wrong. Not all of the brothers wanted Joseph dead, they weren’t the ones who sold him into slavery, and they trick their father into believing Joseph is dead. You can follow the links below for a couple of songs from the stage production that show where Weber got it wrong.
Reuben convinces his brothers to throw Joseph into a pit instead of killing him, “intending to save him from them and restore him to his father” (Gen. 37:22). Judah, in a further attempt to save Joseph’s life, later suggests they sell their brother to some passing Ishmaelites.
But before they can retrieve Joseph from the pit, Midianite traders pull him out and sell him to the Ishmaelites. The brothers don’t kill Joseph as originally planned, Reuben’s scheme to save him is thwarted (“The boy is gone! Now what am I to do?” Gen 37:30) and their brother’s fate is a mystery to them.
Upon returning home they don’t exactly lie to Jacob, handing him Joseph’s bloody tunic and telling him, “We found this. Please examine it; is it your son’s tunic or not?” (Gen. 37:32). Jacob is heartbroken at the presumed death of his favorite son. It will be many years before they are reunited.
Image from Tulane University production of the musical via Wikimedia Commons