Introduction: One of the great stories of the Old Testament is the
story of Joseph. The story covers 20 chapters of the Bible. Since we
do not have the time to look at each chapter, let’s jump in and study
a few highlights from 9 of the chapters.

  1. The Favorite Son

    1. Read Genesis 37:3-4. Who knows this cast of characters?
      Who is Israel, or is this a place? Who is Joseph? Who are
      these sons? (Israel is the new name for Jacob (of Jacob
      and Esau fame). Genesis 32:28. The country was named after
      him, because the descendants of these sons became the
      twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph is one of his youngest
      sons, the first born of his wife Rachel. Genesis 30:22-24.
      Rachel was Jacob’s favorite wife. Genesis 29:30. The other
      sons are the children of Jacob’s other wives: Leah (his
      first wife)and two other wives who were servants of Rachel
      and Leah.)

      1. What does it do to a family when parents show a
        preference for one child over the others?

      2. What do you think it did to this family to have the
        father love one wife more than the others?

      3. Was it a blessing to Joseph to be preferred by his
        father? (His brothers hated him and would not speak a
        kind word to him!)

    2. Let’s read on. Genesis 37:5-8. What does this tell us
      about Joseph?

      1. Why do you think he told his brothers his dream?

      2. Does Joseph show emotional intelligence?

    3. Read Genesis 37:9-11. What does this tell us about Joseph?
      (These two dreams tell us that Joseph had no discretion.
      He was making a bad situation worse.)

      1. Do you think God wanted Joseph to tell his brothers
        and his parents these dreams?

      2. Notice verse 11. It says Joseph’s brothers were
        jealous. Why were they jealous as opposed to just
        thinking Joseph was a nut? (Something made them worry
        he might be right.)

        1. Did Joseph’s father think he might be right?
          (Yes! Verse 11 tells us he stored it away in his

  2. The Slave

    1. The brothers are supposed to be grazing Israel’s flocks by
      Shechem. Joseph is sent on a mission by his father to find
      out how things are going. It turns out the brothers and
      the flocks are not where they are supposed to be. The
      “teacher’s comments” section to our lesson has a very
      interesting insight into this. Anyone wonder why the
      brothers were not where they were supposed to be? Could
      shepherds graze their animals wherever they wanted?(The
      comments say that grazing rights required extensive
      negotiations by the head of the family. When the brothers
      moved the flock (and no doubt worked out some arrangement)
      they were usurping Jacob’s authority.)

      1. What attitude did these boys have towards their

    2. Read Genesis 37:18-20. Why did the brothers hate Joseph
      so much they wanted to kill him? (They twice mention his

      1. What do you learn from this that will help you in
        your relationships at work? What do you learn for
        family relationships?

    3. Read Genesis 37:21-24. Reuben is the oldest of the sons.
      What is his motivation in having Joseph thrown in the dry
      well? What are the motives of the other brothers?

      1. Why did the brothers strip off Joseph’s robe?

      2. If Reuben wanted to bring Joseph back to his father,
        why did he suggest this plan rather than simply
        telling the brothers to leave Joseph alone? (He was
        probably the leader, but, like Pilate, he was weak.
        This plan involved compromise and deceit rather than
        standing for principle.)

      3. Was Reuben’s plan well-conceived? (How would this
        work to tell “Dad” that the rest of the brothers
        wanted to kill Joseph, but he had rescued him?)

    4. Read Genesis 37:25-28. Were the brothers having second
      thoughts about killing Joseph?

      1. Have you had a bad day recently? How does Joseph’s
        bad day compare? What do you think was going through
        Joseph’s mind as he headed off with the slavers?

        1. Do you think the brothers reminded him of his
          dreams as they bid him farewell?

        2. What do you think Joseph thought about his
          dreams now?

        3. Was God still with Joseph?

        4. How important do you think Joseph’s robe was to
          him? (It showed he was rich and important. Now
          that he is a slave, he has now lost all outward
          sign of being “somebody.” His worldly “anchors”
          are gone!)

    5. Read Genesis 39:1-5. What does this say about God being
      with Joseph?

      1. Was it God’s idea to have Joseph become a slave? If
        not, what is God’s role when evil things happen to
        us? (God does not inspire jealousy or the desire to
        kill. But God does take evil and turn it into good.)

      2. What is the effect on Potiphar of Joseph working for
        him? Can this principle work for your employer?

  3. The Prisoner Slave

    1. Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph, and when he
      refuses she falsely accuses him of trying to rape her. Why
      would she do this?

      1. Are her motives similar to those of Joseph’s

    2. Read Genesis 39:20-23. Verses 21 and 23 say that “the Lord
      was with” Joseph. Do you agree?

      1. Would Joseph have agreed? If you were Joseph would
        you have blamed God for this further disaster in your
        life – a disaster which happened only because you
        were faithful?

    3. While Joseph is in prison, he interprets the dreams of two
      former members of Pharaoh’s court who have been thrown in
      jail with him. One of these former court members,
      Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer is restored to his position (in
      accord with Joseph’s interpretation of his dream). Let’s
      read just three verses from this: Genesis 40:13-14, 23.

      1. How do you feel if you are Joseph? (High hopes at
        first, then disappointment.)

      2. What do you think that Joseph now believes about the
        dreams he had “long ago and far away?”

      3. The teacher’s helps tell me that my “aim” is “to
        portray Joseph’s life from God’s point of view” – as
        “an unbroken series of successes, as each part of
        God’s plan for Joseph was set in place.”

        1. Do you agree that God viewed Joseph’s life as an
          unbroken series of successes?

        2. Do you think Joseph viewed it that way?

        3. Do you think Joseph had regrets about how he
          acted in the past? (As we have discussed, there
          is a direct link between Joseph’s telling of his
          dreams to his brothers and his being sold as a
          slave. Both Israel (in giving him the special
          robe) and Joseph (in recounting these dreams)
          showed a lack of emotional intelligence.)

        4. Do you think what happened was God’s “master
          plan” for Joseph’s life? Or was this God’s
          frequent role of overcoming evil with good?
          (Compare Romans 8:28 with John 16:33)

  4. The Road to Glory

    1. Read Genesis 41:1, 8-13. Pharaoh has a dream about cows
      and grains which bothers him and cannot be deciphered by
      his wise men. Why do you think the chief cupbearer tells
      Pharaoh about Joseph now? Did he just now remember him? (I
      think he remembered before, there was just no benefit to
      him to tell Pharaoh about his prisoner.)

    2. Read Genesis 41:14-16. How would you feel if you were

      1. What does verse 16 tell us about Joseph’s “emotional
        intelligence” now and his devotion to God? Would the
        young Joseph had said, “I’ve been interpreting dreams
        all my life!” Is that what you would have said to

    3. Read Genesis 41:25-28. Pharaoh did not believe in God. Why
      did God reveal to Pharaoh the future?

    4. Read Genesis 41:39-41. If you answered the last question
      by saying God revealed the future to Pharaoh (and Joseph)
      as part of a “promotion plan” for Joseph, what was the
      ultimate outcome of this promotion? (Slavery for God’s
      people for hundreds of years.)

      1. Does that make any sense to you?

      2. Wouldn’t it have been easier on all concerned just
        to rescue Joseph from the dry well and insure that he
        became the leader of his family? (I have no doubt it
        would have been easier – and I bet this was God’s
        original plan. But a series of sins got in the way –
        starting with Laban’s deceit in giving Leah to Jacob
        (Israel) as a wife instead of Rachel (Genesis 29). If
        Rachel had been Jacob’s only wife, then Joseph would
        have been the oldest and Jacob’s heir. The next major
        sin was selling Joseph as a slave. The consequences
        of that sin were horrendous – the brothers were
        guilt-ridden (as we will see) and their descendants
        became slaves.)

      3. When you consider sinning, do you think about the
        life altering consequences that could follow?

  5. Dreams Fulfilled

    1. Read Genesis 42:1-2. How does the relationship between
      father and sons sound?

      1. We discussed the reason why Joseph was sold into
        slavery and why God revealed His will to Pharaoh. Do
        you think it is possible that Jacob (Israel) and his
        family would have starved had it not been for the
        Egyptian supplies?

    2. Read Genesis 42:3-9. Why is verse 6 important? (This
      fulfills his dream!)

      1. Why do you think that Joseph accused them of being
        spies when he remembered his dreams (v.9) and not
        when he first recognized them? Why is the accusation
        connected to his dreams? (The “point” of the first
        dream, the part that made the brothers mad, was that
        Joseph would rule over them ( Genesis 37:8). To be
        able to accuse them of a crime and throw them in jail
        showed that he had the authority as a ruler over

    3. Joseph decides to test his brothers. He tells them not to
      come back for more food unless they bring his brother
      Benjamin with them. Jacob does not want the boy to go, but
      he finally relents and all the brothers return to Joseph.
      Let’s continue by reading Genesis 43:16-18. Why do you
      think the brothers were so fearful? (They are living under
      the pressure of guilt. Genesis 42:21-22 show that they are
      expecting punishment from God. Such a sad way to live.)

    4. Joseph now gives the brothers another test by having his
      silver cup hidden in Benjamin’s sack. The cup is found in
      Benjamin’s sack, he is arrested, and they all return to
      Joseph. Joseph tells them they are all free to go except
      Benjamin. Judah offers Joseph a deal in Genesis 44:32-34.

      1. Why is it significant that Judah makes this offer?
        (Judah is the one who suggested selling Joseph into
        slavery ( Genesis 37:26). He had now completely
        changed. He is willing to give up his freedom for his
        brother, rather than take his brother’s freedom.)

    5. Read Genesis 45:1-5. Why did Joseph and the brothers have
      such a different attitude. (The brothers were concerned
      about the judgment of God (and Joseph), while Joseph
      believed that God had ordained this for the good of all.)

      1. Why did Joseph forgive? Why didn’t he say, “I told
        you so!”

      2. Why did the brothers change?

      3. Read Genesis 45:6. What does this add to your
        thoughts about why God let Joseph be sold into
        slavery? (If Jacob and his sons were out of food in
        less than two years, they surely would not have made
        it for five more. This tends to show this sequence
        of events was God’s method of saving the family, and
        drawing Joseph and his brothers closer to Him.)

    6. Friend, how about you? Are you willing to trust God’s
      love for you even though your life seems to be going in
      the wrong direction? Are you willing to trust God when
      all your earthly “supports” have been taken away?

  6. Next week: Sibling Rivalry