Introduction: Last week studied the dysfunction in Joseph’s family and the terrible results of that awful relationship. Joseph suffers, but God blesses him. God’s blessing might not be completely obvious to the ordinary bystander. But, we see God’s hand in Joseph’s life. How does a righteous person, like Joseph, respond to deliberate, terrible evil done to him? What does it mean to truly forgive? How can we move to a place where we forgive and have rest? Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Joseph and His Brothers

    1. Read Genesis 42:1-2. Jacob is a man of vast wealth. How can he speak of dying when he has so much cattle? (These few words tell us volumes. The sons are so shocked by their sudden change of fortune that they listlessly sit there staring, not knowing what to do.)

    2. Read Genesis 42:3-5. What was the source of harm that Jacob feared for Benjamin?

      1. Do you think Jacob has his suspicions about Joseph’s death?

    3. Read Genesis 42:6. Does this remind you of any prior dreams? (See Genesis 37:5-8. Now who do you say gave Joseph this dream?)

    4. Read Genesis 42:7. If you were Joseph, what would you say to your brothers? Would you feel forgiveness in your heart?

    5. Read Genesis 42:8-11. Notice that verse 9 connects Joseph’s dreams to his allegation that they are spies. What sense can you make of this? (The dreams are not yet fulfilled. The second dream has his entire family bowing down. Thus, Joseph may be thinking about how he can get his entire family to Egypt.)

      1. What did Joseph’s older brothers do to keep his dreams from being fulfilled? (The very thing they did to keep his dreams from being fulfilled, selling him into slavery, is the cause of the fulfillment of his dreams!)

      2. Are they, as they say in verse 11, “honest men?” (They were not spies.)

    6. Read Genesis 42:12-14. Is Joseph tempted to vengeance? Would it be just to throw all of his brothers into prison for as long as he was in prison?

    7. Read Genesis 42:15-17. What do you think about this method of proof? How difficult will it be for them to prove they are not spies? (I’m not sure what this test proves. If they were lying, they could bring any young person as their “younger brother.” This test only makes sense because Joseph knows the truth.)

      1. When the brothers were in custody, do you think they discussed the obvious problem with this “test?”

    8. Read Genesis 42:18-20. Joseph modifies the test. He does not require all of them to remain in jail, except the one going back to collect the youngest brother. Why does he change the test? (I see a struggle going on in his heart. His first inclination was to jail all but one until Benjamin comes. But, he relents and keeps only one of them in jail.)

      1. What is the lesson for us in Joseph’s change of heart? (Even great heroes of faith struggle with vengeance.)

      2. Why does Joseph pick this test? (He wants to know their relationship with his younger brother.)

      3. Why is Joseph calling them spies, swearing by Pharaoh (“as surely as Pharaoh lives”), and jailing them? (He is giving them a taste of his past life in Egypt.)

    9. Read Genesis 42:21-22. Why would the brothers connect their treatment of Joseph to their current situation? (They were reminded of Joseph because of the command to bring Benjamin to Egypt. This shows that they still have guilty consciences.)

    10. Read Genesis 42:23-24. If you were Joseph, when Reuben said “there comes a reckoning for his blood,” would you be tempted to say “You have that right! The reckoning comes now!”

      1. Instead, Joseph weeps. Why is that?

      2. The brothers are making progress? Now, only one is in prison. Why did Joseph take Simeon? (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says tradition holds that he was the most cruel of the brothers. See Genesis 49:5-7 for further proof of this tradition.)

        1. If this commentary is correct, what does this teach us about forgiveness?

    11. Read Genesis 42:25-28. What is wrong with getting your money back? Shopping in Egypt is a real bargain! (They were already accused of dishonesty. This might be taken as evidence of it.)

      1. Why would the brothers attribute their problems to God?

    12. The brothers go home, explain the situation to their father Jacob. He does not want to let them take Benjamin and they do not return until their food situation is desperate. Read Genesis 43:15-18. What do you think about their fears? (They fear happening to them what they did to Joseph! They will be servants.)

    13. Read Genesis 43:26-31 and Genesis 43:33-34. Why did Joseph give directions that Benjamin should have more food? (He wanted to see how the brothers now reacted to favoritism.)

    14. Joseph instructs his steward to give the brothers their grain, return their money again, and put his royal cup in Benjamin’s sack of grain. After they leave, Joseph sends the steward to catch them and accuse them of theft. The cup is found in Benjamin’s sack, and they are forced to return. It looks like Benjamin may be put to death for theft and the rest enslaved, but the sentence is reduced to slavery for just Benjamin. Roll the clock back, if this had been Joseph and his brothers when Joseph was 17, what would the brothers have said? (Great! Take him off our hands.)

    15. Read Genesis 44:30-33 to see what Judah says about leaving Benjamin. How have things changed?

      1. What do you think would have happened if the brothers had been content to leave Benjamin?

        1. Would Joseph have forgiven them if they had not changed?

  2. Joseph Forgives

    1. Read Genesis 45:1-7. Notice what Joseph says about God’s plan for his life and the lives of his family. Is Joseph bitter about the 13 years he spent in slavery and prison?

      1. How about you? Have you reached the point Joseph has reached? Can you see the hand of God working out for the best the bad things in your life?

      2. What parallel do you see in Genesis 45:7 between Joseph and Jesus? (Notice that Joseph sees an even bigger picture – God’s people are preserved for the future.)

    2. Joseph invites his family to Egypt, the brothers go home and tell Jacob the amazing news that Joseph is the ruler of Egypt. Read Genesis 45:25-46:4. Why does God allow this when He knows that Jacob’s descendants will become slaves in Egypt?

    3. Jacob dies and Joseph’s brothers are afraid. Read Genesis 50:15-19. What is Joseph saying when he asks if he is “in the place of God?”

      1. What does this teach us about forgiveness? (The sin is against God.)

    4. Read Genesis 50:20-21. What kind of attitude does Joseph show towards his brothers? (Forgiveness.)

    5. Read Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 6:14-15, and Luke 23:34. Do we need to forgive people before they ask for forgiveness? (Jesus specifically did that. An attitude of forgiveness does not turn on what the other person does.)

    6. Friend, sometimes life does not go the way we want it to go. Sometimes people treat us terribly. The lesson from the life of Joseph is that we need to trust God and be kind to our enemies. We need to forgive. Others may intend to hurt us, but God can overrule every evil intent. Will you agree to trust God and have an attitude of forgiveness?

  3. Next week: Free to Rest.