What Does Genesis 37:9 Mean?

Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, "Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me."

Genesis 37:9(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

Jacob had many sons, from four different women, but it was a troubled family and significant rivalry developed between the wives and the siblings - and Jacob's favourite son was Joseph. As the child of his old age and the son born to Rachel, his best-loved wife, Joseph was given many privileges which caused his half brothers to become increasingly jealous of him. Not only was Joseph awarded many concessions from Jacob, due to his age, but his father showered him with gifts, one of which was a coveted 'coat of many colours'.

The garment represented much more than a simple gift. It signified that Jacob had identified Joseph as his selected successor, which caused the other brothers to hate him with great intensity. Not only did they loathe their young sibling because he was his father's favourite, but their hatred intensified when he reported their bad behaviour to him. However, when Joseph began to tell his brothers about his prophetic dreams, they despised him even more and could not speak peaceably to him. 

Joseph first dreamed that he and his brothers were in a field where they were all binding sheaves of corn. He proudly related the dream to his brothers and told them that his sheaf rose up and stood erect, and all his brother's sheaves of corn gathered around his sheaf and they all bowed down to him. Knowing how much his brothers despised him, this was probably not the wisest thing to say to them and they angrily said, "Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?" So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

But unperturbed by their indignant reaction, he promptly told them about another dream he had a little while later: "Now Joseph had still another dream..." and he gleefully related it to his father and mother, as well as his ten half-brothers, and said, "Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me."   

Knowing how irritated and resentful his siblings were when he told them about his first dream, Joseph seemed to show an even greater lack of wisdom by relating this second dream to them, because it implied that both his parents as well as his older brothers were going to bow down before Joseph and pay him homage.

We, who have access to the whole counsel of God, recognise the significance of Joseph's dreams in God's plan of redemption and as we read through the thrilling fulfilment of his prophetic visions, we marvel at the way that God used this young man to save His people from the famine that ravaged Canaan, and we rejoice as we watch God's plans and purposes unfold and see Joseph's prophetic dreams being fulfilled.

In the flush of youth, it seems that Joseph was so excited by the gifts he was given by his father and the dreams he received from the Lord, that he did not consider the negative effect this would have on his spiteful brothers who had already expressed their jealousy of him in many unmistakable ways. Whether or not Joseph was wise to tell his brothers about the wonderful messages he received from God, it is evident that he did not consider the consequences of sharing this information with his resentful siblings, so Joseph not only reignited his brothers' anger but was also severely scolded by his father for his presumptuous attitude.

I wonder what would have happened if Joseph had been more discrete when God revealed the future to him in dreams. I wonder how differently the story might have unfolded if this cocky young guy had been more circumspect by holding his tongue and not inflaming the wrath of his half brothers. I wonder how the story of Joseph might have unfolded if he had been so quick to share his prophetic dreams with his carnally-minded brothers. But from his birth to his death, the story of Joseph provides us with many examples of God's never-failing goodness and grace, His power, and His faithfulness to His people. And this well-loved story also provides us with some amazing evidence of God's perfect, step-by-step plan of redemption and His amazing power to bring His perfect will to its completion.

The story of Joseph and his brothers shows us that all things, both good and bad, work together for good for those that are called according to His purposes - even when we mess up or behave in an unseemly way. It warns against the dangers of parental favouritism, sibling rivalry, insensitivity towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the wisdom of wise speech and godly discernment. 

May we find comfort in the life and times of Joseph and guard ourselves from the sort of parental favouritism or sibling rivalry that is evident in this verse... and may we be quick to listen to all the Lord has to say to us, wise in the things that we share with other people, and careful in the words we say and the attitude we display. Let us do everything in our power to live as God would have us live, for the honour and glory of His holy name.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for telling us in Your Word that "the tongue has the power of life or death." Give me wisdom to know when to speak the truth in love and to know when to keep quiet about a matter. May I ever live to lift Jesus up in all I say, and do, and think, and act. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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