Joseph, his seventeen-year-old son,3 was taking care of4 the flocks with his brothers. Now he was a youngster5 working with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives.6 Joseph brought back a bad report about them7 to their father.
tn Heb “a son of seventeen years.” The word “son” is in apposition to the name “Joseph.”
tn Or “tending”; Heb “shepherding” or “feeding.”
tn Or perhaps “a helper.” The significance of this statement is unclear. It may mean “now the lad was with,” or it may suggest Joseph was like a servant to them.
tn Heb “and he [was] a young man with the sons of Bilhah and with the sons of Zilpah, the wives of his father.”
tn Heb “their bad report.” The pronoun is an objective genitive, specifying that the bad or damaging report was about the brothers.
sn Some interpreters portray Joseph as a tattletale for bringing back a bad report about them [i.e., his brothers], but the entire Joseph story has some of the characteristics of wisdom literature. Joseph is presented in a good light—not because he was perfect, but because the narrative is showing how wisdom rules. In light of that, this section portrays Joseph as faithful to his father in little things, even though unpopular—and so he will eventually be given authority over greater things.