Genesis 37:3

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves.

Genesis 37:3 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 37:3

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children
He being the firstborn of his beloved Rachel, and a lovely youth, of a beautiful aspect, very promising, prudent and pious: the reason given in the text follows,

because he [was] the son of his old age;
being ninety one years of age when he was born; and the youngest children are generally most beloved, and especially such as are born to their parents when in years. Benjamin indeed was younger than Joseph, and is described in like manner, ( Genesis 44:20 ) ; and for this reason one would think had the greatest claim to his father's affections; wherefore some give a different sense of this phrase, and render it, the "son" or disciple of "elders", "senators", i.e. a wise and prudent man: and indeed, if being the son of his old age was the reason of his affection, Benjamin had the best claim to it, being the youngest, and born to him when he was still older; and this sense is countenanced by Onkelos, who renders it,

``because he was a wise son to him:''

and so the reason why he loved him more than the rest was, because of his senile wisdom; though a child in years, he was old in wisdom and knowledge. Abendana observes, that it was a custom with old men to take one of their little children to be with them continually, and attend upon them, and minister to them, and lean upon their arm; and such an one was called the son of their old age, because he ministered to them in their old age:

and he made him a coat of [many] colours;
that is, had one made for him, which was interwoven with threads of divers colours, or painted, or embroidered with divers figures, or made with different pieces of various colours: according to Jerom F6, it was a garment which reached down to the ankles, and was distinguished with great variety by the hands of the artificer, or which had long sleeves reaching to the hands; and so the Jewish writers F7 say it was called "passim", because it reached to the palms of the hands: this might be an emblem of the various virtues which early appeared in him; or rather of the several graces of the Spirit of God implanted in him, and of the raiment of needlework, the righteousness of Christ, with which he was clothed, ( Psalms 45:14 ) ; and of the various providences which Jacob, under a spirit of prophecy, foresaw he would be attended with.


F6 Trad. Heb. in Gen. fol. 72. A.
F7 Bereshit Rabba, ut supra. (sect. 84. fol 73.1.)

Genesis 37:3 In-Context

1 Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan.
2 This is the story of the family of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father.
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves.
4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.
5 Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Traditional rendering (compare Gk): [a coat of many colors]; Meaning of Heb uncertain
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.