● Gen 37:21-22 . . But when Reuben heard it, he tried to save him from them. He said: Let us not take his life. And Reuben went on: Shed no blood! Cast him into that pit out in the wilderness, but do not touch him yourselves-- intending to save him from them and restore him to his father.
The suggestion to murder Joseph was apparently discussed in private among only some of the brothers at first. When they attempted to bring Reuben in on it, he balked. Reuben, the eldest son, seems to be the one dissenting opinion in Joseph's case-- so far. Exactly why, is not stated; but even though he messed up by sleeping with his father's concubine; that doesn't mean he's okay with murdering his own kid brother.
No doubt Simeon and Levi had no reservations about ending Joseph's life on the spot; having already displayed malicious tempers and made their bones while handling their sister's scandal back in chapter 34. Reuben's balk seems honestly motivated by a sincere concern for his dad's paternal feelings. Reuben already hurt Jacob's feelings once before by sleeping with his concubine. I don't think he wanted to do that again.
● Gen 37:23-24 . .When Joseph came up to his brothers, they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the ornamented tunic that he was wearing, and took him and cast him into the pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.
Some of the brothers would have sorely loved to burn that "despicable" coat to ashes since it fully represented their kid brother's lording it over them.
The Hebrew word for "pit" is bowr (bore); and means a hole (especially one used as a cistern or a prison). Bowr is variously translated cistern, well, prison, dungeon, and sometimes a pit as bottomless; viz: an abyss.
The "pit" may have been one of two widely-known natural water tanks in that area. Some commentators believe the word "Dothan" means two wells, or two natural tanks; like the Terrapin Tanks in the 1948 western movie The 3 Godfathers with John Wayne and Ward Bond. I seriously doubt that experienced drovers like Jacob's sons would have dropped Joseph in a tank with water because if he were to die in there; his putrefying body would have contaminated it; thus rendering the precious resource unfit for drovers and their herds. Natural water sources were essential to the safety of both man and beast in those days.
Ancient Jewish commentators made the tank home to some lethal critters.
T. And when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his garment, the figured garment that was on him, and took and threw him into the pit; but the pit was empty, no water was therein, but serpents and scorpions were in it. (Targum Jonathan)
● Gen 37:25a . .Then they sat down to a meal.
Would you be comfortable sitting down to a meal while listening to somebody weeping and sobbing in the background? According to Gen 42:21 that's what Joseph's brothers did. He spent some of his time down in that tank begging for his life; and they just kept right on dining like he wasn't even there.
I read a story of the torture and mistreatment of captives in Sadaam Hussein's pre-invasion jails. This one poor Iraqi man was forced sit down upon the jagged neck of a broken glass pop bottle; and while the bottle filled with blood from his torn bowel, Iraqi police played a game of cards.
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