This article, part 1 of our Bible series, reveals Old Testament conspiracies involving Joseph, Samson, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Queen Esther, Mordecai and a priest named Zechariah. Part 2 discusses the imaginary insurrections that adversely affected the reign of King Saul. Part 3 covers the prophecied treason that took place during David's reign.
Part 4 of this series focuses on the acts of treachery involving the rulers over the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Part 5 tackles the secret plots and plans of Jewish religious leaders to murder Jesus Christ. Finally, part 6 discuses some of the threats against the life of the Apostle Paul.
Jacob, at 91 years old, is finally able to produce a son through his greatly beloved wife Rachel. The son, named Joseph, is favored by his father from the start. Joseph's elevated status compared to his ten older brothers is made abundantly plain when his father personally weaves him a beautiful tunic of many colors (Genesis 37:3).
Joseph, at the age of 17, is both envied and hated by his brothers. His fate is finally sealed when he reveals dreams that symbolize his preeminence over not just them but the entire family (Genesis 37:5 - 10)!
And when his brothers saw that their father loved him (Joseph) more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him . . . And they hated him still more for his dreams and for his words (Genesis 37:4, 8, Holy Bible Faithful Version throughout).
The brothers initially conspire to murder Joseph and then conceal their evil by claiming a wild beast attacked him.
And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. And they said to one another, 'Behold, this dreamer comes. Therefore come now, and let us kill him . . .' (Genesis 37:18 - 20).
Reuben, Jacob's firstborn son, seems to have a change of heart when he convinces his brethren not to kill their brother but throw him into a pit (hoping to save him later). When Reuben leaves to tend to some business, his brothers sell Joseph to a band of traders traveling toward Egypt. See our timeline on the life of Joseph to discover how God used this conspiracy for the good of the entire family!
Weakness in strength
Samson, whose conception was made possible by a miracle, possessed the rare Biblical trait of being a Nazarite while still in the womb (Judges 13:3 - 5). The Lord also endows him with superhuman strength to fulfill his goal of freeing Israel from Philistine domination (Judges 13:1 - 5).
Samson, during his twenty years as Israel's Judge, becomes the single greatest threat to the Philistine nation. The enemy's frustratingly failed attempts to bring him down receive new hope in the form of a harlot named Delilah. Philistine leaders, aware that Samson is smitten by her, conspire with Delilah to discover the source of his great power. They offer a rich reward if she is successful in discovering his secret.
Lure him and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may prevail against him, so that we may tie him to afflict him. And each one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver (Judges 16:5).
The conspiracy works as Delilah, playing off Samson's weakness for women, ultimately discovers the source of his unusual strength. See our articles on the life of Samson and the true source of his power for the rest of the story!
Written between 627 and 585 B.C., the prophet Jeremiah's rebuke of the Kingdom of Judah's sins was, unsurprisingly, not popular (Jeremiah 11:1 - 17). His message so angers the people of Anathoth in his hometown that they conspire to murder him if he doesn't shut up!
But I was like a docile lamb being brought to the slaughter. And I did not know that they (the men of Anathoth) had plotted devised plots against me, saying, "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name may be remembered no more" (Jeremiah 11:19, see also verse 21).
The bitterness against Jeremiah's inspired message of warning and condemnation reaches such a high level that even his own family deals treacherously against him (Jeremiah 12:6)!
Spreaders of lies
God revealed, through the prophet Ezekiel, that the false prophets throughout the Kingdom of Judah had formed a conspiracy to promote lies and oppose his true servants. These spreaders of lies, motivated by greed, acted like wild beasts in their attempts to steal wealth from people.
There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst, like a roaring lion tearing the prey. They have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they made many widows in her midst (Ezekiel 22:25).
Haman was the second most powerful individual in the Persian Empire at the time of King Ahasuerus. The king required all the empire's subjects to bow and revere him (Esther 3:1 - 2). Mordecai, however, a Jew who served in the King's court, refused to obey this order. This lack of respect, coupled with Haman's huge ego, causes him to fly into a rage. The Bible states He vows not only to destroy Mordecai but also all the Jews.
And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not kneel down nor pay honor to him, then Haman was full of wrath. But it seemed contemptible to lay hands only on Mordecai, for they had revealed to him the people of Mordecai. So Haman sought to destroy all the Jews throughout the whole kingdom . . . (Esther 3:5 - 6).
Haman hatches a plan where, after the king approves of his conspiracy, he will lead an effort to murder every Jew living in the kingdom (Esther 3:8 - 15). It takes the concerted effort of Queen Esther and Mordecai to thwart Haman's self-centered goals and save the Jewish nation from extinction! Read more about this fascinating battle between good and evil in our article on the book of Esther.
Murdering the messenger
Jehoiada the High Priest faithfully served God during the reigns of Judah's evil Queen Athaliah and her successor King Joash. After Jehoiada's death Joash allows the people to return to their idolatrous ways (2Chronicles 24:17 - 18). Several prophets warn the people to repent but to no avail.
Zechariah, Jehoiada's son, is then inspired to proclaim that the people's forsaking of the Lord and his commandments caused God to reject them (2Chronicles 24:20). Their anger at such a message leads them to plot a conspiracy against Zechariah.
And they conspired against him and stoned him with stones at the command of the king (Joash) in the court of the house of the Lord (2Chronicles 24:21).
The Bible records Jesus, many years later, referring to this murder by conspiracy in his condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy and sins (Matthew 23:34 - 35)!