And when they saw him afar off
They knew him as soon as they saw him, by his stature, his gesture or manner of walking, and especially by his coat of various colours he now had on, ( Genesis 37:23 ) ;
even before he came near unto them;
the distance he was from them when they first spied him is particularly remarked and repeated, not to show the quickness of their sight, but for the sake of what follows; to observe how soon their passions were raised, how intense and prepense their malice, and which put them upon devising ways and means to destroy him, for it follows:
they conspired against him, to slay him;
they entered into a consultation, and devised the most crafty methods they could think of to take away his life, and yet conceal the murder.