18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. 19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. 20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. 21 And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.
Even if it seems unfair that Jacob showed a clear favoritism towards Joseph, or if it seems imprudent of Joseph to have related his dreams to his brothers, there is no earthly justification for what these brothers conspired to do. They were contemplating murder, and their derision that they will then “see what will become of his dreams” is shockingly callous.
I do wonder which of the brothers were the primary instigators of this plot. Simeon and Levi had already shown their willingness to kill, though that was as a retaliation for the rape of their sister. Here they are discussing the death of an innocent. Fortunately, not every brother was as bloodthirsty as the others. Reuben interceded in Joseph’s behalf, which we will get more into with tomorrow’s verses.