Swine explains why Jacob suffered great pain after he found the perfect will of God for his life. The arrogance lurking in his heart is exposed and a loving heavenly father disciplines his son. God separates Joseph, smothered by his father’s unhealthy concept of love, from his family, so Jacob could bear fruit and Joseph could mature. 

And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.  And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.  And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it.  Genesis 35:20-22, KJV

 After Jacob fulfilled his vow at Bethel, the Bible calls him Israel for the first time, but he didn’t walk worthy of his new name for very long. On the heels of Jacob’s obedience, Rachel died.  Jacob was a man like any other alive today.  Therefore, it’s not hard to imagine what he thought when he buried the love of his life.  “It’s all God’s fault Rachel died.  If God had not made me travel to Bethel while Rachel was pregnant, this never would have happened. What good did it do to obey God?”


Jacob, offended that God had allowed Rachel to die, departed from the path that led home and “dwelt” in the land beyond the tower of Edar.  The Hebrew word that was translated “dwelt” means to dwell permanently.[1] The new man and the old man were still struggling for supremacy in Jacob’s life. Israel (the new man) had obeyed God, but Jacob (the old man) still loved like the world loves.  Fulfilling the vow he made at Bethel only brought the covenant he initiated with God back into its proper joint.  The covenant God made with the family of Abraham was still out of joint in Jacob’s thinking.  Therefore, when the old man (Jacob) lost something he loved, the new man (Israel) could not prevail when Jacob stopped walking in the Spirit.  The Spirit desired that Jacob would return to his family in Canaan, so God could fulfill the things he spoke to Abraham, but Rachel’s death offended Jacob. Confused and angry, he stopped walking in the Spirit’s desire.

 Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.[2]  The Greek word Paul used for “condemned” means a sentence pronounced with actual punishment following.[3]  In other words, if we walk in the Spirit’s desire for our life, judgments with punishment following will not be made against us. 

In another letter, Paul said that those who walk in the Spirit would not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.[4]  The lusts of the flesh are: “…Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…”[5]  On a human body, the head, where the brain resides, decides where the body goes, and so does the head of a nation, church, or family.  When the head fails to follow God’s desire, it opens the door for the works of the flesh to be fulfilled.

When Jacob, the head of his family, stopped walking in the Spirit’s desire adultery manifested in his family.[6]  After Jacob set up permanent residence in the land of Edar, a shameful thing happened; Ruben, Jacob’s eldest son, slept with Jacob’s wife, Bilhah.  Jacob’s son, Jacob’s flesh betrayed him, just like Jacob betrayed the Spirit of God yet again when he stopped to dwell in Edar. 


Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.  As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”  “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.  Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”  “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”  2 Corinthians 6:14-18, NIV

 Jacob vowed to make God “my” God, if God fulfilled the five stipulations he presented to God at Bethel. We cannot control God, nor make God “my” God at our whims.  If we believe or refuse to believe, it does not change the fact that God created all of us. What we say and believe does not change who God is.  Jacob could say Abraham’s God is “my” God for the rest of his life and it meant nothing if God had not said “my” son to Jacob.  God could not receive Jacob as a son until he separated Jacob from the world’s way of thinking and living.

When Jacob married Rachel, he yoked himself together with an unbeliever.  Idolatry had deep roots in Rachel’s heart.  God heard Rachel’s prayer for children and restored her joy by giving her Joseph.  Jacob’s God was the only God who helped Rachel in her distress, yet she still sneaked into her father’s tent and stole the family idols. 

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?”  Paul asked the Corinthians.  For Jacob to become Israel, God needed to separate him from Rachel’s influence.  Jacob could not walk in light and still fellowship with darkness. There could be no harmony between “the seed” (Jesus) God promised Abraham and Rachel’s idols.  The wife who satisfied the lust of Jacob’s eyes had hindered his relationship with God for many years. Since Rachel had no intention of forsaking her idols, God had few options when deciding her fate.

Long life is promised to those who honor their father.[7]  Rachel had not honored God “the father” when she returned to her idol worship after God came to her in her distress and gave her children.  God did not kill Rachel; he simply had no reason to grant her a long life.  When God allowed Rachel to die, he also separated Jacob from the uncleanness in the world, so he could receive Jacob as a father receives a son and bless his life.  


“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”  Hebrews 12:5-6, NIV

 God seldom asks very much of the men and women he calls to live by faith.  All God required of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was that they live in Canaan, circumcise their children, and wait while God fashioned them into a nation that would be his special treasure.  However, living in the land and circumcising their children never gave Abraham’s flesh descendants pure hearts.  Jesus said, “For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”[8] Isaac and Jacob did not treasure their God, therefore, their hearts were far from God most of their lives.  God’s heart was always with Isaac and Jacob, even when their hearts were far from him because God’s people are God’s treasure.

When Jacob refused to continue the journey to Canaan, Edar became another Shechem – a place of bitter memories produced by Jacob’s disobedience.  After Reuben committed adultery with Bilhah, Jacob packed his tent and continued his journey home. He arrived safely in Canaan to dwell in the land as a stranger and foreigner like Abraham and Isaac before him.  Jacob was separated from the world and, once again, in the will of God, but he still lacked a pure heart. Abraham, the father of faith, worshiped God at Beersheba; Jacob settled in Hebron.

Jacob was in the will of God but his heart was in the same condition as the church in Laodicea.[9]  Jesus told the Laodicean church that they were neither cold nor hot.  Jacob’s relationship with God was lukewarm as well.  He built altars and worshiped God everywhere he went (hot), but when things didn’t go his way, he stopped following God (cold).  He returned to Canaan as God commanded (hot). He avoided Beersheba where God spoke to his family for three generations (cold).

The Laodicean church thought their wealth indicated they were spiritually healthy. In God’s eyes the Laodiceans were “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.[10] Jacob returned home a wealthy man. He was just as wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked as the Laodiceans, but he didn’t know it. His body was in the right place – living in Canaan. His heart was still far from God.  

The New Testament declares, “If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.[11]  When Jacob returned home in a lukewarm condition, God brought him to maturity by allowing him to eat the fruit of his own way.  Jacob had sown to the flesh by walking in his own lust, and he had already reaped corruption. This would not be the first time, but it was the last time Jacob’s sons (the flesh) did something corrupt to ruin his life.  Ultimately, God took the sting out of discipline by bringing good things out of Jacob’s errors, but not before Jacob was wounded in the same manner that he wounded Isaac. 

Unfortunately, the only thing that successfully convinces some of God’s people to change the way they live is to experience the pain their way of life creates.  Most people do not believe their way is wrong, especially if they are as stubborn and vain as Jacob was.  Jacob had made a lot of progress, but his family still had a serious problem that Joseph’s dreams brought to light.

  Then he [Joseph] had another dream, and he told it to his brothers.  “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”  When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” Genesis 37:9-10, NIV

 Long before Joseph told his dreams to his family, God revealed his plan to Joseph’s great grandfather, Abraham.[12]  Ten years after Abraham came to Canaan expecting to become a great nation, God told Abraham the promise would not be fulfilled in his lifetime but through one of Abraham’s children.  Abraham thought Isaac was the promised child, but God proved Isaac wasn’t the Messiah when the angel stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. Abraham was eighty-five years old when he learned his family would serve another nation and God would judge the nation they served.  God promised to return Abraham’s family to the Promised Land with great wealth in the fourth generation. Abraham diligently taught his children everything God said to him. 

Since Abraham lived until Jacob was fifteen years old, it is reasonable to believe Jacob heard his grandfather explain God’s plan many times. Jacob knew that one day their family would leave the Promised Land and return with great abundance.  That is exactly what Jacob did when he went to Haran and returned a wealthy man.  Jacob knew that one of Abraham’s descendants would be given everything God promised, and everyone else in the family would be blessed by this one child.  Jacob also understood the significance of the fourth generation. Therefore, Jacob should have been the last one in the family to rebuke Joseph for dreaming that he would be exalted above his elders.  Abraham was the first generation, Isaac the second, Jacob the third and Joseph the fourth generation.  In addition to that, Jacob knew that God speaks in dreams.  God spoke to Jacob in a dream at Bethel when he fled from his brother Esau. God also told Jacob to return to Canaan in a dream.

 Jacob loved his son, Joseph, but he didn’t love him enough to bow to him. Jacob returned home separated from the world, but he still loved the way the world loves.  Jacob could not bear the thought of bowing to someone younger than he was, so Jacob rebuked Joseph.  For all Jacob knew, he was rebuking the Messiah that God chose.  Jacob had finally found the center of God’s will for his life, but his heart was not pure. 

All of my Christian life I’ve heard about Joseph’s arrogance for telling his dreams.  I’ve never heard anyone talk about the arrogance of elders who hated Joseph for speaking the truth. Joseph didn’t have a problem. The ones who rebuked Joseph for communicating God’s plan had a problem. 

Joseph did not interpret his dreams, his elders scowled in disgust “we’ll never bow to you.” The elders accurate interpretation of their little brother’s dream brought to light the arrogance in their hearts.  No one in Jacob’s family desired to bow to the youngest firstborn member of the family, even though they knew that it was the will of God. 

When Jacob rebuked Joseph, he revealed that his thoughts were still out of joint with the covenant of grace God established with Abraham. If Jacob would not bow to his son, Joseph, how would he bow to his future grandson, Jesus?  Jacob needed to humble himself before God could give him the blessing of Abraham. 

Jacob infected his entire family with his vanity. His sons did worse things than he did and were a source of much sorrow to him most of his life.  The disaster that befell Jacob at Shechem set Jacob on the road that took him to the center of God’s will, but Jacob and his children still had a long journey before them.  To the present day, Jacob’s children call themselves Israel, but they remain out of joint with God’s covenant because the nation they became is not willing to bow before their brother and God’s youngest firstborn son named Jesus. 

Joseph erred but not in arrogance. Jesus said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.[13]  If Joseph had known he lived in a house full of swine, he might have missed God’s will.  Joseph cast his pearl before arrogant swine when he told his dreams.  The swine unwittingly set in motion the events that put Joseph exactly where God wanted him to be: in the house of an Egyptian named Potiphar.  When Potiphar saw that God was with Joseph, he gave Joseph a free hand to grow in the administrative gift God had given him.[14] 

If Jacob and his family had possessed more than a form of godliness, they would not have denied the power in godliness.[15]  Jacob’s family worshiped at God’s altar, but they did not know their God.  If they had, they would have rejoiced when Joseph told his dreams.  God exalts an individual so he can give good things to many.  King David “realized why the Lord had made him king and blessed his kingdom so greatly – it was because God wanted to pour out his kindness on Israel, his chosen people.[16]  Not for David’s sake, but for Israel’s sake God exalted David to be king. Not for Joseph’s sake, but for the swine’s sake God chose to exalt Joseph before he was born.

God poured out his kindness on Jacob’s family because God’s goodness leads us to repentance.  Paul wrote to the Romans, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.”[17] As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. In the same way, you can lead a sinner to repent, but you can’t make him or her repent. God extends mercy with prudence because mercy does not guarantee a favorable response. Jacob had repented, but his repentance did not bear fruit in his life until he bowed before the son he rebuked for speaking the truth. 

After Jacob rebuked Joseph for telling his dreams, his brothers left to feed their father’s flock in Shechem.  They obviously had no shame or remorse for the way they slaughtered the men of Shechem less than a year earlier. Joseph’s brothers had wandered far from their father’s house and even farther from their God.  They were shepherds full of hatred and envy, devoid of wisdom and understanding.  They wanted God’s promised blessings, but they didn’t want to receive the blessings God’s way.  Jacob knew his sons went to Shechem, where they would face their sin again, so he sent Joseph to see if all was well with them. Joseph found his brothers at Dothan, but all was not well with their souls.

… even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.  And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.  Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. Genesis 37:18-21 KJV

 The brothers were so arrogant they would rather kill Joseph than bow before him.  Carnal shepherds are foolish shepherds!  If Joseph’s dreams did not come to pass, they would starve to death.  Jacob’s family was the salt to preserve Canaan, but the salt had lost its savor.[18]  A great famine was on its way to destroy all of them, because God’s people were as corrupt as the people they were left in this evil world to preserve.  In the midst of corruption, there was still hope because Abraham’s God is mighty.  He only needs one man to save all of us.  Joseph was a


The only brother willing to spare Joseph was the brother who had already suffered shame for his sin.  Reuben, the one who committed adultery with his father’s wife, said, “Let us not kill him.[19] Reuben could not bear seeing pain on his father’s face again.  He persuaded his brothers to throw Joseph in a pit, intending to rescue him later. 

Joseph had walked more than one hundred miles through difficult territory just so he could see if all was well and bring the news to his father.  His brothers greeted him by stripping him of his father’s love, his coat of many colors, and threw him into a pit where there was no water.  It would be a very long time before Joseph’s thirst for their love would be quenched. Everywhere Joseph went from this point on the Bible says that the Lord was with him.  Joseph’s brothers stripped away the token of Jacob’s love, but they could not strip God’s love from him. 


When Joseph’s brothers spotted traders on their way to Egypt, Judah thwarted Rueben’s plan by convincing his brothers it would be more profitable to sell Joseph than to kill him. 

 And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no.  And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.  And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.  And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning.  Thus his father wept for him.  Genesis 37:31-35, KJV

 Jacob’s conclusion that an evil beast had devoured Joseph pierced his sons like an arrow.  They were the evil beasts that tore Joseph’s heart into pieces.  Twenty years after the deed was done, the brothers were still haunted by the memory of Joseph’s anguish when he pleaded with them to stop, but they refused to listen.[20] When Jesus warned us not to cast our pearls before swine, he was referring to the wild pigs common in Palestine.  These pigs had razor-sharp tusks that destroyed grapes and trampled vineyards.[21]  God gave the fruit of Joseph’s life to his brothers, but they preferred to destroy it. 

Justice is not a pretty sight or sound for the guilty. Isaac’s lack of love for his younger son did not justify Jacob’s treachery and betrayal. Isaac was blind before Jacob left home, but he could still hear the sounds of Jacob’s sorrow echoing through the valleys night after night.  Jacob’s mourning was so great none of his sons and daughters could comfort him.  Jacob was positive he would spend the rest of his life in sorrow, but he was wrong.  When his sons deceived him, God let Jacob eat the fruit of his own way to bring Jacob to maturity, not destroy him.  Jacob didn’t know it, but God already lightened the burden of justice when he preserved Joseph’s life. God had no intention of letting Jacob go to his grave in sorrow.  Before any one went to the grave, Jacob’s entire family would be reconciled because Jacob’s God is El Elohe Israel, the mighty God of Israel, mighty in mercy, love, and kindness. 


And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.  And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.  And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.  And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat.  And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.  Genesis 39:3-6 KJV

 God blessed the people who were gracious to Joseph. The Egyptians saw God was with Joseph, but they didn’t hate him like his brothers did. Instead, the Egyptians gave Joseph a place to grow and develop in his God-given gift of administration.  God rewarded the Egyptians by blessing them. God was blessing Gentiles long before Jesus sent his disciples “to the ends of the earth.”[22] God left so many blatant clues to the mystery of the gospel before the mystery was revealed; it is a wonder that it was ever called a mystery. 

 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.  This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.  I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.  Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. Ephesians 3:4-9, NIV

 From the time God initiated his plan to exalt Jesus, Gentiles in every nation have been blessed just as God promised Abraham.[23] We are blessed for Jesus’ sake.  Jesus was exalted for our sakes, not to exclude Israel but to include all who love God. 

How refreshing it must have been for Joseph to be free from the oppression of his elders and breathe again.  The Gentiles who loved and appreciated Joseph healed the pain of his family’s rejection.  Jacob would not allow Joseph to tend the sheep. Potiphar put all he had in Joseph hand.  Potiphar had so much trust and confidence in Joseph that “he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat.[24] 

Having the coat of many colors stripped from him was the best thing that could have happened to Joseph. Jacob’s love inhibited his son’s spiritual growth.  Joseph did not make a mistake when he told his dreams.  His family erred when they hated Joseph for believing what God revealed to him.  Joseph prospered in Egypt while his father mourned, and his brothers wrestled with guilt.

Reeses’ Chronological Bible reveals that Joseph served in Potiphar’s house for nine years before Potiphar’s wife cast her eyes upon him.  There is more to this story than Joseph being good to look at.  He had been good to look at from the time Potiphar brought him home.  Whatever stirred up Potiphar’s wife to attempt an adulterous affair with Joseph is not important.  How Joseph responded is important, because this is why Joseph was thrown into prison.  

 …and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he refused.  “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care.  No one is greater in this house than I am.  My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife.  How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Genesis 39:7-10, NIV

 After King David committed adultery he cried “against God and God alone I have sinned.” Joseph cried this would be a sin against God, and refused to commit adultery.  Joseph’s adamant refusal to sin against his God landed him in an Egyptian prison, not his dreams. 

We must prove ourselves faithful with little before God will trust us with much.  If Joseph failed to be a faithful representative of God before Potiphar, how could he be a faithful representative of God before Pharaoh?  If Joseph could love God in prison, he could also be trusted to love God in a palace. God tests us before he gives us great authority. 

Prison wasn’t such a bad place for Joseph because, “the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.”[25] Four years, in a prison Joseph controlled, was a small price to pay for spending the rest of his life second only to Pharaoh.[26]  The injustice committed against Joseph by Potiphar and his wife became a stepping-stone to greater things.  The injustices committed against us in this life are also stepping-stones to spending an eternity second only to God.

[1] OT:7931 shakan (shaw-kan’); a primitive root [apparently akin (by transmission) to OT:7901 through the idea of lodging; compare OT:5531, OT:7925]; to reside or permanently stay (literally or figuratively): (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary.  Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

[2] Romans 8:1, KJV

[3] CONDEMN, CONDEMNATION katakrima NT:2631, cf.  No.  4, above, is “the sentence pronounced, the condemnation” with a suggestion of the punishment following; it is found in Rom 5:16,18; 8:1.  kataknno NT:2632, signifies “to give judgment against, pass sentence upon”; hence, “to condemn,” (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

[4] Galatians 5:16

[5] Galatians 5:19-21, KJV

[6] Galatians 5:16-26

[7] Ephesians 6:2

[8] Matthew 6:21, NIV

[9] See Revelation 3:14-22 for the spiritual condition of the Laodicean Church.

[10] Revelation 3:17

[11] Hebrews 12:8, NIV

[12] Amos 3:7

[13] Matthew 7:6, KJV

[14] 1 Corinthians 12:28, NIV

[15] 2 Timothy 3:5

[16] 2 Samuel 5:12, The Living Bible

[17] Romans 2:4, NIV

[18] Matthew 5:13

[19] Genesis 37:21, KJV

[20] Genesis 42:21, KJV

[21]  International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft)

[22] Acts 1:8, NIV

[23] Genesis 12:3

[24] Genesis 39:6

[25] Genesis 39:22, KJV

[26] Romans 8:18

About Teena Myers

Teena Myers is the Chairman of Southern Christian Writers, a freelance writer and author of three books.
This entry was posted in Epiphanies of Patriarchs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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