Chapter 1. A Dysfunctional Family

Read Genesis 37:2

My name is Joseph. I'm just a young man, seventeen years old to be exact.

About a year ago, I went through a difficult experience. My mother died while giving birth to my little brother, Benjamin. Her name was Rachel.

I really miss her—and so does my father, Jacob. He's been grieving ever since. They were very close. But since Mom died, I've grown even closer to my dad. In fact, for the first time in my life, we're spending a lot more time together.

I just returned from tending some of our flocks with four of my brothers—Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. I can't believe their behavior. It actually made me sick to my stomach. I was so upset I came home to tell Dad about it! Needless to say, he was upset too, but he wasn't too surprised (Gen. 37:2).

I've seen enough in my short lifetime to understand why my father sometimes gets discouraged and depressed. But that's just a small part of his long and difficult life. It's sometimes hard to believe some of the things he has told me. Since he has completely dedicated his life to serve God—not too many years ago—he has been a lot more open with me about his sins and failures when he was younger.

My grandfather, Isaac, and my grandmother, Rebekah, had their own set of problems. They made a great start in trusting and serving God, but—as Dad has often shared with me— they got sidetracked from doing God's will.

Please don't misunderstand. Dad is not blaming his parents for his mistakes—and neither am I. In fact, I had the opportunity to meet my grandfather, Isaac, before he died when we all returned here to the land of Canaan. He was a grand old man who lived to be 180 (35:27-28). And I could sense he really regretted his sins and mistakes that caused so much pain for my dad.

Out under the Stars

"What happened?" you ask. Well it's a rather long and involved story. But let me share what I remember from the many conversations I've had with my dad—particularly as we sit out under the stars at night.

"See those stars, son," Dad would say. And then he'd reflect on something that happened years ago to my great-grandfather, Abraham. You see, God called my great-grandfather out of the land where I was born. He was a pagan, an idolater. He didn't even know about the one true God. Jehovah simply appeared to him and made him a wonderful promise. One night after he and his family arrived here in Canaan—out under the stars—God promised my great-grandfather Abraham that his children would be like the stars of the heavens (15:4-5). Well, looking up at the stars on a beautiful, clear evening often starts Dad reminiscing about his own family experiences.