“When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them; they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” (Genesis 37:4/NIV).
Perhaps you can recall some of the stories of Jacob in the Old Testament. He specially loved one of his sons who had been born when he was comparatively old already.
In old age people may get milder towards babies and young children compared to how they cared for children in younger years. Anyway, this is what happened to Jacob with regard to his son Joseph. The bible actually says that he “loved Joseph more than any of his other sons…”
Nevertheless apparently Jacob’s preference had not always been that evident to all his sons. Meanwhile young Joseph had grown to be a seventeen years old teenager.
Jacob made a garment for Joseph which obviously differed from what the others wore. The NIV translates it was a ‘richly ornamented robe’ the KJV speaks of a coat of many colours. According to a footnote of the NIV the meaning of the Hebrew words they rendered ‘richly ornamented’ is uncertain.
This new dress, however, triggered the other sons of Jacob to be overwhelmed with envy and hatred against Joseph. We do not read at this stage, if they showed their ill-feeling towards young Joseph. Yet we are told they were seriously lacking in kindness towards Joseph from this time onward. They “could not speak a kind word to him.”
Bitterness may not always be clearly expressed in words and deeds. Yet isn’t it sad that these men ceased to be kind to their teenage brother?
To properly assess the situation you must know that the brothers were not only family members but they also were working together. They were tending flocks.
They were staying in a country where Jacob’s father and his grandfather had been strangers. Having spent considerable time in a place where they had other kinsmen, Jacob had returned here. They did not have that many points of contact to individuals outside their own family.
A bitter root within such a family could be a real disaster. Actually things became worse until the ten older brothers contemplated killing Joseph. One day they threw Joseph into a pit and after that they sold him as a slave to strangers passing by.