Would You Rather?: Fatherly Treatment

Would you rather be like Jacob and deceive your father, or be like Joseph and have your father believe you were dead?
Would you rather is a fun game to play, particularly when getting to know someone. A person is asked to choose betwen two things of equal desiring—making it hard to decide and opening dialouge as to why the person chooses the option they choose. Recently I stumbled accross several versions of "Would You Rather?: Bible Edition" and found the questions quite intriguing. I've decided to answer one every Sabbath. Let me know your answer to today's "Would You Rather?" in the comment section.

Would you rather deceive you dad to receive a blessing or have your dad think you have been killed?

Answer: Deceive my dad for a blessing


Jacob Deceives Isaac

Jacob and his twin brother Esau had a rocky relationship to say the least. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob (Genesis 25), however, I'm not sure if included the blessing or not (technically the blessing was the right of eldest, so a birthright). Regardless, when the time came for their father to deliver the blessing, Esau was notified and made plans to receive his blessing. Meanwhile Jacob went in to action to deceive the father into thinking he was his brother Esau—he even received the help from his mother. In the end Jacob receives the blessing through deceit, since his father believes him to be Esau during the bestowing process.[1]

Joseph's Death Faked

Joseph also had a poor relationship with his brothers. Joseph is the favored son by Jacob, and by telling on his brothers when they do wrong, he cements his elder brothers' dislike for him. The relationship becomes so strained that the brothers decide to sell him into slavery. After getting rid of Joseph, they need something to tell their father, so they concot a story about him being killed by animals. They even shred his coat as evidence of the attack.[2]


This would you rather is hard; I'm not really sure which scenario is worse. Jacob is an active participant in what happens, but Joseph's situation is more painful for the father.

One thing to consider about Jacob's actions is that he deceived both his brother and his father. I am of the mindset that in selling his birthright, Esau technically sold the blessing and God's instructions told Isaac to bless Jacob (the younger son), which means Jacob with "right." Still, I think there is something to be said in how you handle these types of deception. Despite Esau verbally accepting Jacob's apology, the ramifications of this brotherly fued lasted through their descendents leading to the rift between the Israelites (descended from Jacob) and the Edomites (descended from Esau). We do not see how it affects Jacob's relationship with his father other than the fact that he is sent away to save his life.
And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. Genesis 25:23 KJV
Joseph, on the other hand, is almost blameless in his situation—I say almost because perhaps he could have been more self aware of the favoritism he was shown and sympathetic to his brothers' feelings, which may have kept them from getting quite as angry with him. Regardless, the concoted lie and Joseph's absence were all the fault of Joseph's brothers.
31And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; 32And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no. Genesis 37:31-32 KJV
From a self-responsibility standpoint, I would want to be Joseph. However, from a consequence standpoint, things get much trickier.

While Jacob's action did lead to him fleeing for his life, there doesn't appear to be an distress placed upon Isaac as a result. If Jacob hadn't fled, he wouldn't have met his wives, so something good did come from the event. The worst consequence is the fighting between Israel and Edom, but God prophesied that before the twins were born. Esau sold his birthright, so Jacob was always going to come out on top. I think Edom would have been at odds with Israel even if Jacob had gone about collecting the blessing in a more acceptable manner.

Joseph's situation had much larger consequences (for better and for worse). No parent wants to bury their child. I can only imagine the anguish Jacob felt upon being led to beleive that his second-youngest son, the miracle child of his most beloved wife, was dead. While the brothers may have been in less trouble than if they had outright confessed to selling him into slavery, I imagine Jacob lit into them for not protecting their little brother. Thus, the brothers had to live with the guilt of knowing what they did and still didn't gain favor in the father's eyes. Meanwhile, Joseph was enslaved. It may have worked out for the better in the end, but he spent a considerable time as a slave and a prisoner! Of course, if Joseph hadn't been sold into slavery, no one would have survived the famine, including his family.

I don't have siblings to steal from, but if I'm being honest, I probably have already misled my parents about sometihng to get what I wanted. I can't think of anything, but I definitely went behind my mom's back and convinced my grandmother to buy me a set of pens I wanted. It seems likely I would have said I needed something for school when I didn't or inferred I would do more chores if they bought something I wanted only to never do said chores. So, since I've probably already done that, I think I'm going to say I'd rather deceive my dad, even though Joseph's situation is the more noble of the two. (I asked my dad the inverse of this question after writing my response, and he said he would rather be deceived that to think his child was dead, so we're on the same page!)

Which would you rather do?

References and Footnotes

  1. Genesis 27
  2. Genesis 37
  3. I found many versions of "Whould You Rather?: Scripture Edition"; this question was found in a version made by Megan Briggs of Church Leaders

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