Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GENERATIONAL PROBLEMS


Parents give their children a unique set of features, both physical and psychological. Hair color and height as well as character traits are passed from one generation to another. The same was true for Jacob’s family in today’s reading. Unfortunately, this included the generational pattern of conflict and deception, so noticeable in Jacob’s own life, which now continued with his sons.

Just as tension had defined the relationship between Jacob and Esau, animosity described the sibling rivalry between Joseph and his brothers. Jacob’s special love for Joseph (displayed in the exquisite robe), along with Joseph’s knack for tattling on his brothers, led them to hate Joseph. When Joseph then began sharing his dreams of reigning over them, Scripture tells us that the brothers were provoked to jealously, and “hated him all the more” (v. 5). Although their plan shifted from initially wanting to kill Joseph to throwing him into a pit and eventually to selling him for profit, the anger and hatred towards their brother was palpable.

Likewise, the deceptive qualities of the young Jacob earlier in Genesis now became evident in his sons. To cover up their actions, the brothers took Joseph’s prized coat, dipped it in goat’s blood, and showed it to their father. Jacob drew the (wrong) conclusion they had hoped for: “Joseph has surely been torn to pieces” (v. 33). Do not miss the irony. Just as Jacob once deceived his old father with clothing and the killing of a goat, so now his own sons deceived Jacob with clothing and the slaughter of a goat. The conflict and deception that had so marked Jacob’s own life spilled over to his sons. The despair in Jacob’s lament at the end might leave us without hope—but the story of Joseph is not over, and God’s grace is yet to be revealed.


Consider your own family and possible recurring sin you see in yourself and relatives. Whether it’s patterns of failed relationships, addictions, or struggles with anger, we might be tempted to despair in the face of generational sin. But God is bigger than that, as the remainder of Genesis will show. God can break their destructive power.

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