Remember back in Sunday school or children’s church when you heard the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors? Remember how your teacher cut neck holes in paper bags and then had you color bright stripes to make your own Joseph’s coat?
Did you ever wonder about that and wonder what Joseph’s coat truly looked like and why his brothers were so jealous?
Shepherds coats were plain colored and were cut short with short sleeves. The reason? They needed to climb rocks and go after errant sheep and couldn’t be hampered by long, fussy garments.
In contrast, sons of wealthy families had full-length tunics. (The word “coat” in Genesis means long tunic.) Sons in wealthy families didn’t spend their time in the fields and so didn’t need a short tunic. In other words, Joseph was given a garment that went down to his ankles and had long sleeves down to his wrists..
As far as the colors? That’s not the most important aspect of the coat, but some scholars think it had embroidery or gold ornaments sewed into the fabric — but no one is positive about the description.
In other words, Jacob gave Joseph a coat worthy of the son of royalty— not the tunic of the average shepherd. (Think back to Jacob’s own upbringing. The concept of favorite children was something he learned from his own parents.)
THAT’S WHY Joseph’s brothers were jealous.