�������� The Pastor's Class


Joseph the Beloved


Genesis 37



Jacob went to live with his mother's people and fell in love with his cousin Rachel. His love for her was so great that he agreed to work for seven years for the privilege of marrying her. However, due to the deceitful nature of his uncle Laban he discovered that at the end of seven years he had married the wrong girl. Thus it took a commitment of an additional seven years in order to marry Rachel, the one he loved. Each of the girls were given maidservants who also served as concubines to Jacob. Jacob would eventually have twelve sons by his wives and concubines.


Jacob and his family lived with Labon for twenty years. During that time Jacob was able to finally outsmart his Father-in-law/Uncle and amass a large herd of livestock for himself.


By this time Jacob was becoming very homesick and decided that he would risk returning home. He had no idea how he would be received by his brother Esau. As a gesture of kindness Jacob sent on ahead a very generous gift of livestock. (32:13-16).


Esau got word that Jacob was returning and so he rode out to meet him with an army of 400 men. Jacob, in a survival maneuver dived into two camps in hopes that if one was attacked the other might escape.


When the two brothers finally met it was a wonderful reunion. After twenty years any hostility that Esau harbored had faded away.


Chapter 34 deals with an encounter between Jacob's family and the Hivites. We do not have time to discuss that but you will enjoy reading that chapter.


Today we resume our story with Chapter 37. This is the beginning of the story of Joseph the Beloved.




Genesis 37: 1-4


37 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.


2 This is the account of Jacob.


Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father�s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him.4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.




At this period in time Jacob had a total of eleven sons by two wives Leah and Rachel and by two concubines Bilhah and zilpah. Joseph was the older of the two sons born to Rachel.

The older brothers were in charge of the enormous herds of livestock owned by Jacob. Joseph was sort of the liaison between the brothers and the father.


The text states that Joseph brought a bad report back to his father concerning their conduct. Some have concluded that Joseph was a "bratty" kid who should have kept his mouth shut. Others have concluded that Joseph was the dutiful son whose integrity would not allow him to be anything but honest.


Jacob, who was his mother's favorite son, has found a favorite son in Joseph. Joseph was born to the woman who had stolen Jacob's heart many years ago. This monumental Father-Son relationship caused a bitter riff between Joseph and the rest of his brothers.

Pastor's Notes


In Joseph we find a glimmer of hope for this family. After decades of deceit and lies and trickery we find in Joseph a different sort of mindset. He is not willing to become entangled with whatever his brothers are doing. He chooses instead to honor and further fortify the relationship that he has with his father.


Personal Notes








Genesis 37: 5-11


5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.6 He said to them, �Listen to this dream I had:7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.�

8 His brothers said to him, �Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?� And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. �Listen,� he said, �I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.�

10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, �What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?�11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.




In Joseph's time dreams were taken rather seriously. They understood that dreams were a way of understanding future events. Dreams needed to be understood or interpreted in order to be beneficial. Dreams could be simple or complex. Joseph's dream seemed rather simple. When Joseph revealed his dream the brothers easily understood its meaning. They did not take kindly to Joseph or his dream. The dreams that indicated he would one day rule over his brothers was just another reason for them to hate him. Even Joseph's father took objection to this dream because it included him. However, the text states that "His father kept the matter in mind." In other words Jacob did not dismiss the idea as foolish thoughts of a seventeen year old.


Pastor's Notes


The brothers hated him. Hatred is a terrible thing. It means to see one as an enemy. If we can successfully place someone on our enemy list then we feel justified in our feelings toward them. Hatred has an addictive quality and it feeds on itself. Unbridled hatred creates a domino effect that can quickly end in disaster.







Personal Notes









Genesis 37: 12 - 18


12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father�s flocks near Shechem,13 and Israel said to Joseph, �As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.�

�Very well,� he replied.

14 So he said to him, �Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.� Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.

When Joseph arrived at Shechem,15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, �What are you looking for?�

16 He replied, �I�m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?�

17 �They have moved on from here,� the man answered. �I heard them say, �Let�s go to Dothan.��

So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan.18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.




The brothers were grazing the flocks at Shechem. That is a distance of about 50 miles from home. Sheep need lots of water and SHechem was noted for and abundance of water. Possibly this is why they moved the flocks so far from home. Father Jacob wanted to know how things were going so he sent Joseph to check on the brothers and bring back a report.


When Joseph arrived he discovered that they had moved on to Dotham (meaning two wells).


When the brothers saw Joseph approaching from a distance they plotted to kill him.


Pastor's Notes


Notice the text says that they plotted to kill him. In today's courts we would call that "pre-meditated murder." It would not be an accident. It would not be done in a fit of anger or rage. It would be cold, calculated and fueled by hatred.


Hatred comes easy for most people. It is a natural feeling toward someone who we consider an enemy. Jesus teaches us that we should love our enemies. To love rather than hate is a decision that we can make. It is not easy to love someone who harbors ill-will toward you but it can be done.



Personal Notes









Genesis 37: 19 - 27


19 �Here comes that dreamer!� they said to each other.20 �Come now, let�s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we�ll see what comes of his dreams.�

21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. �Let�s not take his life,� he said.22 �Don�t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don�t lay a hand on him.� Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.

23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe�the richly ornamented robe he was wearing�24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, �What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?27 Come, let�s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.� His brothers agreed.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.




Here comes the dreamer they sneered. Since it was widely regarded that dreams had a way of coming true, since dreams were thought to beguided by God's providence these brothers either thought that these dreams were not legitimate or that they could intervene and alter the course of God's providence by killing Joseph.

It would appear that the conscience of Rueben had not been totally seared by hatred. Rueben was the oldest and he understood what this act would do to his father.


Judah, who at first went along with the plot to kill Joseph now sees and opportunity to dismiss this situation without any blood being shed. They would sell him to a traveling band of Ishmaelites. The Ishmaelites who were by now very distant relatives to Joseph were engaged in commerce and they also engaged in the buying and selling of slaves.


Pastor's Notes


What these evil brothers did not understand is that God knew their evil heart and he diverted their evil actions in such as way as to fit perfectly into God's plan. God does not force nor even encourage anyone to do evil. However, he will not allow evil to circumvent his ultimate plan.





Personal Notes









Genesis 37: 28 - 36


28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes.30 He went back to his brothers and said, �The boy isn�t there! Where can I turn now?�

31 Then they got Joseph�s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood.32 They took the ornamented robe back to their father and said, �We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son�s robe.�

33 He recognized it and said, �It is my son�s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.�

34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days.35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. �No,� he said, �in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son.� So his father wept for him.

36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt t o Potiphar, one of Pharaoh�s officials, the captain of the guard.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.




The Genesis writer seems to use the names "Midianite" and "Ishmaelite" interchangeably. The term Ishmaelites was probably a generalized term for the Arabic people. Midianites were also descendants of Abraham from his wife Keturah (25:1).


When Reuben found out what the others had done he was distraught. Possibly he felt a responsibility for the boy. His statement "Where can I turn now." suggests that he could not stand before his father and confess that he allowed this to happen. This is possibly why Reuben was willing to go along with the scheme to deceive their father by making it look as if Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. So Jacob who himself was artful at deception will now himself be deceived.


Sackcloth and ashes were the common signs for a mourner. Sackcloth was a dark fabric coarsely woven from goat's hair. It was often used in making sacks. This outward adorning was a way of showing the pain that one felt on the inside.


Pastor's Notes


How does one deal with the loss of a child? The text says that Jacob refused to be comforted. Grief is a process and to some extent it lasts for a lifetime. The loss of a child is a life altering experience. The best we can hope to do for a grieving friend is to share their grief.




Personal Notes






Created with Logos Lesson Builder - http://www.logos.com/llb