When I was a little, it always bugged me that I got all the hand-me-downs. I was the youngest of three girls, so when my sisters had outgrown their dresses, they would land in my part of the wardrobe. Also, my mum was very good at dress-making, and made all our clothes. So they were home-made and hand-me-down! Poor, poor me! Then when I was about 14, I went on a French-exchange, where I stayed at the French girl’s house with her family for three weeks, and then we came back and stayed at my home for another three weeks. When I opened my suitcase over there, the family were amazed at how many dresses I had, and how beautiful they were! And when I told them my mother had made them all, they were soooooo impressed! Then while my French friend was staying at our house, my mum made her a trouser suit which she was thrilled to bits with, and showed it off to all and sundry. I suddenly started seeing my bountiful wardrobe in slightly different perspective!
Sibling rivalry is not unusual, and it plays a significant part of the early chapters of the bible. But here, in Genesis 37:2-4 the arguments about clothing got a little more serious than in my family.
From reading the whole story of Joseph, we know he was a highly intelligent man, but at the age of 17, what he had in brains he lacked in wisdom. From the whole of this chapter, I get the impression that Leah’s sons had a higher pecking order than those of the two servants Bilhah and Zilpah. And then of course Joseph (and Benjamin) had the highest position. I wonder why, in verse 2, Joseph and the servants’ sons were out tending the flocks together – maybe Leah’s sons were off doing something more important. These lesser sons, with the younger boy Joseph were set more menial tasks. No wonder they felt so aggrieved when the cocky youth took back bad reports about them. Spy in the camp or what! And how much more aggrieved when he had the fancy coat, which demonstrated just how much his father loved him.
But then I think that my Father God has given me a beautiful garment too. It’s a robe of righteousness. It covers over all the ugly bits in me. It’s not a hand-me-down, but he made it himself – just for me, just because he loves me. That’s a wardrobe to be proud of!