LESSON 24 – Joseph’s Betrayal – Genesis 37-38

  1. Discussion– For the rest of Genesis we will be studying the life of Joseph.  No other person’s life in the Bible parallels the Lord’s more closely than Joseph’s life. Be on the lookout for ways that Joseph and Jesus are alike in their experiences. {NOTE: On the print version for younger children I have included a coloring page of Joseph and His Coat of Many Colors that I got from http://www.sundayschoolresources.com. I know that some parents let their children do this while going over the lessons and it helps keep the child focused.  You can download several coloring pages from this site; feel free to it yourself anytime!}
    • Gen. 37: 1-11. How old is Joseph at the beginning of this story and what does he do after tending the flocks with his brothers? (He is 17. He brings home a bad report. Evidently, his brothers are goofing off or not doing what they’ve been instructed to do.) How does Jacob treat the older brothers differently from Joseph? What does he do for Joseph? (He favors Joseph over all of the other sons. He gives him a special coat, made for him especially, that has many colors woven into it. The others get nothing.) What is the consequence of Jacob’s actions according to verse 4? (His brothers hate him and are jealous and don’t speak kindly to him.) What is the dream that Joseph has and how do his brothers interpret it? (vs. 5-7 – Joseph dreamed that he and his brothers were binding together sheaves of grain and Joseph’s sheaf rose up and his brotherssheaves came around and bowed down to it. His brothers are not amused as they see this as Joseph saying that they will bow down to him and he will reign over them. They hate him even more.) What was the second dream? (vs. 9 – The sun, moon and 11 stars bowed down to him.) This made his brothers even more furious with him and they told his father. Jacob gets irritated as well and rebukes Joseph for indicating that his mother and father and brothers would bow down to him.  What does Jacob do with this information? (vs. 11 – He keeps it in his mind and mulls over it.  Dreams were very significant and were a way that God chose to communicate with people then.)
    • Gen. 37:12-36. Have your children summarize what happens when Joseph travels to his brothers near Dothan. How does Reuben save Joseph from death? (vs. 21 – He talks his brothers out of killing him and suggests instead that they throw him into a dry well. He does NOT however let him go free!) What is Judah’s suggestion about what to do with Joseph? (vs. 36 – That no gain would come from killing him [nice guys, huh], but if they sold him into slavery they could get some money for him. Because after all, he is their brother!) They sell him to the Ishmaelites (their own relatives through Jacob’s great uncle) and Joseph is bound for Egypt.  What do they do with the beautiful coat? (vs. 31, 32 They dip it in blood and tell Jacob that they found it. Jacob surmises that Joseph has been killed by a wild animal.) Joseph is so deeply wounded by the supposed death of his son he declares he will never get over the loss. Meanwhile, what happens to Joseph? (vs. 36 – His is sold to Potiphar who is an official of the Pharaoh – the captain of the guard.)
  2. Application Why, of all people, should Jacob have known not to favor one child over the other? (Because his own father favored Esau over himself.  He knew the pain of rejection.  He does not learn though and favors Joseph and makes it abundantly clear to the other members of the family.) Why do you think God gives the dreams to Joseph at this time? (Because He wants Joseph to know the future plans he has for Joseph. Later this will be an encouragement to Joseph as he faces the severe trials ahead. God’s promises strengthen us when we undergo difficulty. Also, his brothers and father need to know so they will recognize God’s hand in the future when they actually do bow down to Joseph! All will recognize that God is in control.) Even though Reuben saved Joseph’s life, he still shares the guilt of what the brothers have done. The fact that he wasn’t there when they sold Joseph, doesn’t absolve his guilt.  Why? Did he participate in the cover-up? (He had the power to let Joseph go earlier and didn’t; and yes, he participated in the cover-up.) This is a great time to point out to your children standing by when a sinful act is done by others, doesn’t mean you are innocent. What should have Reuben done? (First, as the oldest could have stopped the whole thing.  He should have kept the brothers from doing anything thing to Joseph and when they did, he should have told the truth to his father.)  When we witness wrong and do nothing to make it right, we share in the guilt.  Ask your children for examples of this (examples: they see a friend steal something from a store but don’t require them to take it back or report it; their siblings do something sinful and they don’t admonish them or go with them to confess to the parent, they see their friends making sinful choices and they do nothing.) However, it is also important to realize that in all of this with God is working. However, Reuben and his brothers still stand before God for the wrong they have done!
  3. Digging Deeper
    1. If you were the family counselor for Jacob and his 12 sons, what would you say? What are the problems with each part of this family? What is the root of the problem? What would be the remedy that would mend this family? List the problems, sin and what advice you would give. Be sure to include specifics steps and Biblical principles (and references must be included as well.)
    2. How did the sin of envy progress in the hearts of Joseph’s brothers? Do you struggle with envy? Tell about what led you there. What can you learn from this story? How can you deal with this problem? What does God want from you? Be specific and list Bible verses.