Introduction: Do you struggle with feelings of inferiority? Does
jealousy sometimes cause you to do things that you would not
otherwise do? What portion of your life is wasted trying to prove to
others that you are worthy? Has jealousy altered the course of your
life and that of your family? This week we turn our attention to a
family filled with jealousy and feelings of inferiority. Terrible
things happened as a result. Let’s dig into our Bible story and see
what we can learn!
- Joseph and The Mothers
- Read Genesis 37:1-2. Notice that Joseph is working with
his brothers, but they have different mothers. What do
we know about the different mothers?
- Read Genesis 29:16-18 and Genesis 29:21-29. What
kind of relationship do you think existed between
Leah and Rachel?
- Who is at fault for this situation?
- Read Genesis 30:1-5. What do you think about the
process of Bilhah becoming Jacob’s wife?
- What motivated this decision? (Jealousy.)
- Read Genesis 30:9-11. What do you think about the
process of Zilpah becoming Jacob’s wife?
- What motivated this decision? (Ambition.)
- Let’s go back to Genesis 37:1-2. Notice that verse two
says “this is the account of Jacob” and then immediately
talks about Joseph and his brothers. How does that make
any sense? (Jacob’s life is defined by the dysfunctional
situation in his family.)
- What control did Jacob have over this situation?
- Read Genesis 30:22-24. Is Rachel happy with having
Joseph? (She wants more sons.)
- Let’s make you the family advisor (maybe family
psychiatrist). What advice would you give them?
- Would you say that the wives should find their value
in their relationship with God, not their husband or
the number of their children?
- Read Genesis 30:17-18. Now what do you say about your
- Did God reward Leah for giving her maidservant to her
husband? (No doubt God listened to Leah’s prayers.
But, I feel confident He did not reward her for being
jealous and giving another woman to her husband!)
- What does this teach us? (Be careful what we
attribute to God.)
- We’ve learned that the family situation is a mess. Let’s
look at Genesis 37:1-2 again. Joseph gives a bad report on
his older half-brothers. If you knew only this fact, what
would you surmise about the relationship between these
- Let’s add some more facts. Read Genesis 35:22 and
think back to what we learned about the way in which
Bilhah and Zilpah became wives. What kind of attitude
do you think the sons of Zilpah (and especially
Bilhah) had about their self-worth? (They were the
sons of the lesser wives. Reuben, the son of Leah,
had even slept with Bilhah! I’m sure that in this
jealousy-filled situation that they felt inferior to
- How do you think Joseph felt about his older
brothers? (Since Joseph was only seventeen, he
probably looked up to his brothers. No doubt they
were in charge.)
- Is it possible that everyone – Joseph and the sons of
the lesser wives – all had feelings of inferiority?
- What do you think the sons of the lesser wives
thought about Joseph reporting on their bad behavior?
- Read Genesis 37:3. Why did Jacob (Israel) give this robe
to Joseph? (Because he was old when Joseph was born.)
- What kind of a reason is that? (Jacob may be
sentimental, but I’ve got to believe that his love
for Rachel was part of the reasons for his feelings
- Read Genesis 37:4. Is Jacob truly showing love towards
- Should Jacob have anticipated this?
- Do you think Jacob cares?
- How do you think that Joseph would react to this?
(This would only increase Joseph’s feelings that he
was an “outsider” and was not worthy to be part “of
- Read Genesis 37:5-7. Why do you think Joseph shared this
dream? Was he insensitive? Stupid? Arrogant? (He
certainly was not showing emotional intelligence and
maturity, but I suspect he told the story because he
wanted to show his older brothers that he was worthy.
They should let him into their circle.)
- Read Genesis 37:8. Did Joseph’s story have its intended
- Read Genesis 37:9-10. This time, does Joseph have any
excuse for telling his dream?
- Read Genesis 37:11. Are these the reactions you would
expect? (You might expect the brothers to conclude Joseph
was an arrogant pup. Jealousy, is not what would come to
mind. The fact they are jealous reinforces the idea that
they felt inferior, and now they think that perhaps God
has chosen Joseph over them.)
- Does Jacob believe this dream is from God? (Jacob
thinks it is significant.)
- Do you think these dreams came from God? Why would God
give them to Joseph knowing that he would be reporting
- Read Genesis 37:12-14. What level of authority is being
given to Joseph?
- To what degree is Jacob responsible for what happens
- Read Genesis 37:18-20. What directly motivated the murder
plot? (Joseph’s dreams.)
- Let’s make you the family advisor again. What advice
would you give to avoid this train wreck?
- Would you say to Jacob, “Don’t send your younger
son to give a report on the older sons?”
- Would you say to God, “Don’t give Joseph those
dreams?” (Jacob is entitled to appoint whoever
he wants as supervisor. I’m sure there were
reasons to choose Joseph. God is entitled to
reveal the future to His servants. The problem
is with the brothers (and us). We need to come
to grips with the fact that we are not as
bright, talented, honest, or able as some
others. Perhaps just timing (a son of Jacob’s
old age) gives one person an advantage over
another. We need to accept this with grace and
- Read Genesis 37:21-28 and focus on verse 26. What
motivates the final decision of the brothers?
- Our story continues with the amazing twist that Joseph
appears before Pharaoh King of Egypt, reveals a future
famine, and reveals how to avoid its consequences. Pharaoh
makes Joseph second in authority and in charge of the
famine relief plan. Read Genesis 41:56-42:2.
- If the brothers had followed their original plan and
killed Joseph, what would have been the results?
(Probably many of them would have died.)
- What does this teach us about feelings of
jealousy, inferiority and revenge?
- What happened to the brothers as a result of their
modified plan to harm Joseph? (Genesis 42-50 and
Exodus 1 recount that in the short term they lived.
Their sin was revealed. Their descendants lived in
Egypt 430 years ( Exodus 12:40), some part of which
they were slaves.)
- Friend, the decisions you make today based on feelings of
inferiority, jealousy and revenge can have a clear impact
on your life, your family and your descendants. Will you
decide today to ask God to take away your feelings of
inferiority and jealousy and replace them with feelings of
gratitude for what God has done for you?