The Joseph Stories: A Brother’s Regrets


This series takes a creative approach to the Joseph stories. Each day’s reflection imagines what one of the characters might have written in both their diary and their memoirs about the events in that day’s Scripture passage. While this approach sometimes requires us to “fill in the blanks” a bit with regard to what the characters are thinking and feeling, every effort has been made to stay as close to the Bible’s details as possible. The diary/memoir approach underscores how we often perceive—or don’t perceive—God’s hand in our lives.


A Brother’s Regrets

Read: Genesis 37:29-36

The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?

(v. 30 NRSV)

If Reuben had written in his diary that night, what might he have said? DIARY:  I never intended for it to go this far. I had planned to go back and pull Joseph up from the pit. Frankly, I was hoping his time underground would take him down a notch—no pun intended. I’ll never forget how I felt when I looked over the edge and saw that the pit was empty. I suppose it’s some comfort that Joseph is still alive, but I’ll never see him again. What I will see until the day I die is the image of our Dad wailing over Joseph’s blood-stained robe….

If Reuben had written in his memoirs years after this experience, what might he have said? MEMOIR: That was easily the worst day of my life. In retrospect, the thing I’m most ashamed of is not “coming clean” with Dad. I can’t figure out why I went along with the deception. We let the robe do our lying for us, knowing that Dad would conclude that Joseph was dead when he saw all that blood. We lived with that lie for decades, and it ate at us like acid. Whoever said, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,” must have been thinking about our story.

Prayer: Forgive us, merciful God, when we hurt those we love. Protect us when we are tempted to deceive others or ourselves. Help us to turn to you when we don’t know where to go with our guilt.