Introduction: Time passes, father Isaac dies and his sons Jacob and
Esau bury him. The two sons, now at peace, decide that they have too
many possessions to live in the same area. Esau moves to the hill
country and prospers. Jacob remains in Canaan, the land promised to
Abraham, Isaac and now him. Let’s plunge into our continuing saga in

  1. Joseph and His Brothers

    1. Read Genesis 37:1-2. Notice with whose sons Joseph is
      working. What do you think is their outlook on life? (They
      are the sons of the “lesser” wives. Worse, their older
      brother, Reuben, had slept with one of these mothers
      ( Genesis 35:22 – Bilhah) and Jacob knew it. I’ve got to
      believe with all of the jealousy in this family they felt

      1. What does the son of the favored wife do to these
        “disfavored” sons? (He gave his father a bad report
        about them.)

      2. Why is this fact in the Bible? How would you react to
        this is you were a “disfavored” son?

    2. Read Genesis 37:3-4. We previously discussed this idea of
      parents who have favorites and the problems favoritism
      causes. Why does Jacob favor Joseph? (The Bible tells us
      it is because he was born in Jacob’s old age. I have to
      believe that the favored status of his mother Rachel also
      had something to do with this. The coat was that of the
      son of a nobleman.)

      1. What kind of life does this create for Joseph? (They
        were mean to him.)

      2. Is Jacob being wise? (No. Instead of helping Joseph,
        he makes him a pariah.)

    3. Read Genesis 37:5-9. Do you like Joseph?

      1. How many of Joseph’s problems are created by Joseph?
        (It is bad enough that Dad favors him, it is worse
        because Joseph has no common sense. He gives his
        brothers bad reports and he brags that he will rule
        over them.)

      2. How do you think Joseph answered the questions in
        Genesis 37:8? (Notice the text: they hated him for
        the dreams “and what he had said.”)

    4. Read Genesis 37:10-11. Was Jacob insulted by the dream?
      (Yes, but he took it seriously.)

      1. Who do you think gave Joseph the dream?

        1. If you say, “God,” is it appropriate to keep
          God’s message to yourself?

        2. If not, is God part of Joseph’s popularity
          problem? (Romans 14, especially Romans 14:22-23,
          tells us that when it comes to “disputable”
          matters we do not have to be telling others
          about every truth God has revealed to us. We
          need to use common sense so that we do not
          insult our fellow Christians. I think this is
          one truth Paul would tell Joseph to keep to

  1. Joseph and Betrayal

    1. Read Genesis 37:12-14. When Jacob asked Joseph to “bring
      word back to me,” do you think he was sending Joseph to
      report on the quality of the work of his brothers?

      1. Was this situation similar to Genesis 37:2.

      2. If Jacob knew about the problems between Joseph and
        his older brothers, why would he send Joseph on such
        a mission?

    2. Read Genesis 37:18-20. This is the family from which
      God’s chosen people will arise. What kind of men are

      1. What is the direct cause of their decision to kill
        Joseph? (His dreams.)

      2. Do you think consideration of the birthright had
        anything to do with this?

    3. Read Genesis 37:21-22. Would you expect Reuben to be the
      one to intervene for Joseph? (Reuben had serious character
      problems, he was the one who slept with his father’s wife
      ( Genesis 35:22).)

    4. Read Genesis 37:23-24. Why did they take Joseph’s robe
      from him? (It was the mark that made him special – and
      apparently superior to them.)

      1. Could Joseph live in this cistern? (No. He would
        eventually die.)

    5. Read Genesis 37:25-30. How many of the older brothers are
      against killing Joseph? (Two.)

      1. The Bible notes the names of the two who were against
        killing Joseph, but do you think they get any credit
        for their actions? (They should have stood up against
        any harm to Joseph, but by preserving his life, they
        preserved their lives in the future when the famine

      2. Tell me your feelings if you are Joseph and you are
        riding off as a slave away from your home and your

        1. What do you think about your dreams?

    6. Read Genesis 37:31-35. The text says that all of Jacob’s
      sons comforted him. What impact do you think that had upon
      the sons who had sold him into slavery?

  1. Joseph and Potiphar.

    1. Read Genesis 39:1-6. Joseph is a slave, but God is with
      him. What kind of life do you think Joseph enjoyed at
      this point? (It was probably pretty pleasant considering
      that he was in charge of everything in the household of an
      important man.)

    2. Read Genesis 39:6-10. Again (remember Rachel) we have the
      Bible describing the body and looks of one of its
      characters. Why does Joseph refuse to sleep with his
      master’s wife. (He makes reference to the trust his master
      has placed in him, but he pins his refusal on the
      requirements of God.)

      1. Why does Joseph refuse to even be with her? Certainly
        he trusts himself! (Getting close to sin is a bad

    3. Read Genesis 39:11-15. If Potiphar’s wife wants to sleep
      with Joseph, why does she do this? (She feels rejected and
      scorned by a slave. That is reflected in her “make sport
      of us” claim.)

    4. Read Genesis 39:16-20. Keil and Delitzsche Commentary on
      the Old Testament suggests that this was a very light
      punishment. What does this suggest? (That Potiphar liked
      Joseph and was not certain about his wife’s allegations.
      Her heavy reliance on Joseph’s coat in her story suggests
      that she thinks she needs it for credibility.)

    5. Read Genesis 39:20-23. Notice that these verses repeatedly
      say that “God was with” Joseph. Is that how it seems to

      1. Would it seem that way to Joseph?

      2. What has obedience gotten Joseph? (On the surface, it
        got him tossed into prison.)

      3. How “safe” do you think it would have been to sleep
        with Potiphar’s wife? (Leaving God’s requirements to
        one side, it would no doubt have been very dangerous
        because she was spoiled and would have tired of him –
        and probably turned him in then. By that time, there
        would likely be other evidence of the affair and
        Potiphar would have put him to death.)

  2. Joseph and Vindication

    1. In prison Joseph comes in contact with a couple of ex-officials of Pharaoh’s court. They have dreams, and Joseph
      correctly interprets their dreams. The interpretation for
      one is that he will be restored to his former position.
      Read Genesis 40:14-15 to see what Joseph asks of this
      official. How would you describe this? Is it trust in
      God? (I don’t think there is anything wrong with Joseph’s
      request. It does not show a lack of trust in God.)

    2. Read Genesis 40:23. How reliable are humans in getting you
      out of trouble?

    3. Read Genesis 41:1-13. How much longer has Joseph been
      languishing in a dungeon? (Two years! There is a test of

    4. Read Genesis 41:14-16. How is Joseph’s faith? (Still
      strong. He gives credit to God!)

    5. Read Genesis 41:25-32. What decision must Pharaoh make?
      (Will he stake the future of his kingdom on a foreigner he
      just dragged out of the dungeon?)

      1. If you were in Pharaoh’s place, what would you do?

    6. Read Genesis 41:33-36. What is Joseph doing? This is not
      part of dream interpretation – it is nation-leading advice
      from the “dungeon crew!”

    7. Read Genesis 41:37-40. I consider this to be an
      astonishing decision by Pharaoh. On what basis does he
      make it? (Joseph gave credit to God, not himself. As a
      result, Pharaoh believed he was turning the job over to
      God, not a man.)

    8. Friend, how about you? When things are going poorly, do
      you hold on to your trust in God? Do you give Him credit
      for every good thing in your life?

  3. Next week: The End of the Beginning.