Introduction: Do you know people who have trouble handling
success? When they reach the top they decide to “settle
scores” with those who have harmed them on the way up. This
week we continue our study of Joseph. He is a man who would
reasonably have asked God, “What is going on? I’m faithful
and my life keeps getting worse!” Let’s dive back into this
Bible story and see what we can learn about trusting God and
A. We left off last week with Joseph interpreting
Pharaoh’s dream and proposing a practical solution
to the coming seven years of abundance and seven
years of famine. Read Genesis 41:37-39. Recall
that Joseph gave God credit for interpreting the
dream (Genesis 41:16), and specifically denied
that he was responsible. What is the result?
(Pharaoh links Joseph’s discernment and wisdom to
“the Spirit of God.”)
1. How important do you think this linkage is to
Pharaoh’s confidence in Joseph? (I believe it
is critical. If a mere man were advising
Pharaoh, then his advice would reflect human
weakness. But, if the advice comes from a god,
then it is high-level advice.)
2. The Egyptians had many gods. I understand that
they considered Pharaoh to be the connection
between the gods and men. In this sense,
Joseph was fulfilling that same role. Should
Joseph have explained that his God was the
only true God?
3. Look back at Pharaoh’s question in Genesis
41:38. What would Pharaoh’s response be? (He
would think that he was the only other man
B. Read Genesis 41:40-41 and Genesis 41:42-45. Is
Joseph being compromised? Should Joseph have
“dared to be a Daniel” and said, “No bowing down
to me,” and “No, I’m not marrying the daughter of
the priest of a pagan god?” (Recall that the Holy
Spirit is acting through Joseph. I think we tend
to ask questions like these when we lose sight of
the power of the Holy Spirit.)
C. Read Genesis 41:47-49. Is God honoring Joseph?
What about saving all of the pagan Egyptians?
D. Read Genesis 41:50-52. What attitude does this
reveal? (Joseph has not truly forgotten the hard
times, but he gives God credit for getting past
them (“God has made me forget”).
E. Read Genesis 41:54-56. Look at this from a
political point of view. Joseph has levied a 20%
tax on grain during the good years (Genesis 41:34)
and now is selling back to the Egyptians (Genesis
41:56) what they previously paid in taxes. This
looks like a massive transfer of wealth from the
hungry (Genesis 41:55) to the government. Is that
F. Read Genesis 41:57. Who else is enriching the
II. The Early Dream Fulfilled
A. Read Genesis 42:1-4. Why does God allow famine not
only in the land of Canaan, but among His
followers? (This is a world-wide famine. Genesis
B. Read Genesis 42:6-7. Why do you think Joseph
treated his brothers roughly?
C. Read Genesis 42:8-9. Why make an accusation that
Joseph knows is false? (I think Joseph’s goal is
to get the brothers to explain their family
situation in a way that will not make them suspect
D. In Genesis 42:10-13 the brothers explain their
family situation. Read Genesis 42:15-17. What do
you think would happen to the brothers if the one
released and Benjamin (the youngest brother) did
not return? (The penalty for spying is, according
to Genesis 42:20, death.)
1. What is the mood of the brothers during the
three days in jail?
E. Read Genesis 42:18-20. Joseph has changed his
mind, why? Is it simply because he was surprised
to see his brothers and had not carefully
considered what he should do? (Verse 18 refers to
the true God. I think Joseph prayed about this and
decided that his first plan did little to bring
food to his family, and presented the maximum
chance that he would have to face executing his
brothers – although I’m doubtful that it would
have ever come to that.)
1. We say bad things about Esau. In connection
with Genesis 32-33 we discussed that Jacob
feared he might be killed for his bad behavior
when he was reunited with his brother Esau.
Just the opposite happens. Esau rejoices in
seeing his brother so much so that he cries.
Why is Joseph not up to the standard set by
F. Read Genesis 42:21-22. Why would the brothers link
this unjust charge of spying to their treatment of
Joseph? Why not link it to the murder of Hamor and
Shechem in the Dinah controversy (see Genesis 34)?
(I think the Holy Spirit causes them to make this
1. Is this kind of payback the way that God
works? Is it the way that Satan works?
a. Recall that God predicted in Joseph’s
dream this encounter. Is Joseph going
beyond God’s plan?
b. Is the coming 400 year slavery in Egypt
payback for selling Joseph into slavery?
G. Read Genesis 42:23-24. Now we see Joseph crying.
Why choose Simeon? (We know he was a murderer
(Genesis 34:25) and had a reputation for violence
(Genesis 49:5). Likely, this is retaliation for
his role harming Joseph.)
H. Read Genesis 42:25-27. Recall that the brothers
claimed they were honest men? What is Joseph’s
motive for returning their money?
I. In the rest of Genesis 42 the brothers recount to
their father what has happened, and how they must
return with Benjamin. Read Genesis 42:36-38. What
does Jacob decide about taking Benjamin to Egypt?
1. When Jacob says that “Simeon is no more,” what
is he talking about? Simeon is merely in jail
awaiting their return. (Jacob understands that
if the brothers do not return, Simeon will be
executed as a spy. Jacob is willing to have
that happen to save Benjamin.)
III. The Salvation
A. Read Genesis 43:8. What argument does Judah make
to return to Egypt for food? (They will all die of
starvation if they do not go.)
1. Notice that Benjamin is called “the boy.” How
old do you think he is? (Commentators believe
that Benjamin was at least thirty years-old
and Genesis 46:21 tells us that he had ten
B. Read Genesis 43:11-14. What is Jacob’s (Israel’s)
attitude at this point?
C. When the brothers return Joseph arranges a dinner
for them. They fear the worst, and plead their
case to Joseph’s steward. Read Genesis 43:23 for
his response. How does the steward explain the
money in their sacks? (He says it is a miracle
from the true God.)
1. Is that true? (No. Genesis 42:25 tells us that
Joseph arranged this.)
2. Why do you think the steward said this? He is
likely the one who put the money in their bags
of food so he would know the truth.
D. Read Genesis 43:32-34. How do the brothers explain
their seating positions at dinner? (The steward
has introduced the idea that God is present in
their relationship with Joseph.)
E. The brothers leave with their food purchases. But
Joseph tells his steward to again return their
money, and also put Joseph’s silver cup in
Benjamin’s bag. Then Joseph sends his steward
after them to accuse them of theft. Read Genesis
44:12-15. How does Joseph’s comment about
divination play into the picture the steward
previously suggested? (This is not divination,
Joseph is doing this, but he believes that he is
carrying out God’s will. Part of which is to see
whether his brothers have reformed.)
F. Read Genesis 44:16-17. What is Joseph’s test? (To
see if they will treat Benjamin like they treated
him. Will they sacrifice Benjamin?)
G. Judah and the brothers refuse this proposal, and
Judah offers to take the place of Benjamin as a
servant. Read Genesis 45:1-3 for Joseph’s
response. Have the brothers passed Joseph’s test
to see if they have reformed?
1. What do the brothers fear?
H. Read Genesis 45:5-8. How does Joseph explain the
terrible events in his life? (He attributes it to
God’s master plan to save His people.)
I. Friend, is Joseph like Jesus? Does Joseph have a
godly attitude about his troubles and his success?
Will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you face
trouble and success in a godly way?
IV. Next week: Israel in Egypt.
Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail,
but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this
link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the
Holy Spirit as you study.