Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.
Joseph’s dreams are odd. They upset the usual order of family and society that Joseph’s brothers have come to expect. One dream is an image of the entire family out to harvest wheat, all the sheaves gathered by the rest of the family bowing before Joseph’s. The other is of the sun, moon and stars bowing before Joseph. Joseph is one of the youngest of Israel’s sons. While Israel might have had a certain amount of wealth for a nomadic shepherd, neither he nor his sons would have had any status or power when compared to the likes of Egypt’s Pharaoh, for example. The older sons should be more honored than Joseph in the family and the son of the Pharaoh more than the sun of shepherd. But the dream, an odd dream, suggests that the natural order of things could be upset. And this is troubling for those who are supposed to benefit from the status quo. Read a little more of Genesis 37 and you will notice that even Joseph’s father, who loved him best, found his dreaming annoying and troubling.
Dreaming is dangerous business. Especially a dream that threatens to upset equilibrium that the community is accustomed to. Dreams are troubling because not just anyone and everyone has them. And those without dreams, or who stand to loose the comfort, satisfaction or status of the current normal way of doing things will probably resist. Which is what the story of Joseph is all about - the resistance to the dream by the brothers, the father, the empire. Everyone resists Joseph’s dream. And we should note that the dream is not introduced as coming from God. It just arrives. So even Joseph, it is safe to assume, did not fully understand or appreciate what the dream meant.
What is at stake here is the mysterious way in which God bring peace and justice into human experience. The story assumes that God powerfully conducts such business, but in strange ways. Such as through the unexplained dreams of annoying children. The question for us as believers and as the church; are we Joseph excited by the possibility of a disruptive dream, or are we the brothers who resist disruption in favor of status quo?