a. Conspiracy to commit murder. Here we find the brothers at Dothan, taking a break from Joseph and his supposed delusions of grandeur, and who should come strolling down the path? It’s Joseph. The time apart has done nothing for their jealousy and hatred and so as they see him coming from far away they take the time to plot murder. We know, and they know, what they are planning is pure evil. Several generations before them, God told Noah, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” This is the family, Jacob’s sons, by whom the story of Noah and this command would come and they passed it down to the next generation until Moses and his generation, who wrote it down for the families of these brothers. They are without excuse. Many generations later, Jesus would explain that evil thoughts and murder come from the heart. It’s not Joseph’s fault or Jacob’s fault or God’s fault. It’s not the external people or circumstances that are causing the evil thoughts and desire for murder. Jacob and Joseph are only targets for the evil that is within the brothers already. We have already seen this evil spill out of their hearts when they destroyed and plundered Shechem. And here the evil and murder have found a new outlet in Joseph. They call him “the dreamer” and so their motivation to kill is based on the dreams that God gave him. They think that by killing him they will stop the dreams from occurring. “We will see what become of his dreams,” they say. Do not put the Lord your God to the test. The brothers are raging and plotting in vain. You can almost hear God laughing throughout this story. Little do the brothers know that they are actually putting into motion what will lead to the dreams coming true. And so they plan on killing Joseph and throwing his body into one of the nearby pits. Then they’ll take his robe of many colors and say that a fierce animal ate him. b. Reuben’s rescue plan. Reuben, the firstborn, and the leader of the group has a moment of clarity in the fog of rage and suggests to the brothers that they don’t just murder him on the spot but that they throw him into one of the empty cisterns. Why bloody their hands when they can throw him into a cistern and he’ll either starve to death or a wild animal might just come and kill him thereby rendering their tale true? We are told that Reuben’s motivation for his suggestion is that he might rescue Joseph and return him to Jacob. Is this an act of kindness from Reuben? Well, before you applaud Reuben as the hero, we have to read the rest of the story. The brothers agree to Reuben’s suggestion and they take Joseph’s coat and throw him into the cistern.