Joseph’s Early Life

Genesis Chapter 37
I. Observation • Who are the main characters? What do we know about them? • Joseph: • • • Joseph’s Brothers: Jacob/Israel:


When do the events of this passage take place? • The beginning of Ch. 35 appears to follow immediately after the events of Ch. 34, based on the transitional nature of verse 1 (“Then God said…”). Thus, we can conclude that the events of Ch. 35 occur immediately following the massacre at Shechem. • Where do the events of this passage take place? • Jacob was living in the land of Canaan (v.1) and Joseph left from the Valley of Hebron (v.14), so it would appear that Jacob and his family were still living in Hebron, which is where we last found them in Chapter 35. • Jacob sends Joseph to Shechem, a region to the north of Hebron. This is the same area from where they fled in Chapter 35 and the same area where Jacob's sons massacred all the men of Shechem, taking revenge for the rape of their sister. • When Joseph arrives in Shechem, his brothers are not there and he is told they have moved on to Dothan. Dothan was approximately 10 miles north of Shechem. • What is happening? (Summary of Events) • The Introduction (v. 1-4) tells us that Jacob was living in the land of Canaan, Joseph was 17 years old and was pasturing flocks with his brothers. He at some point brought a bad report about his brothers to his father. He was his father’s favorite and his brothers knew this and hated him for it. His father made him a beautiful robe of many colors. • Joseph has a dream that his brothers’ sheaves of wheat were bowing to his, he told them this dream, and they hated him even more for it. (v. 5-8) • Joseph has a dream that the sun, moon, and eleven stars were bowing to him, he tells his father and brothers of it and his brothers hated him even more for it. (v. 9-11) • Joseph’s brothers went to pasture flocks near Shechem and Jacob sends Joseph to check on his brothers and bring back news. (v. 12-14) • Joseph goes to Shechem, but his brothers are not there. A man tells him that they had moved to Dothan, so Joseph travels to Dothan and finds his brothers there. (v. 15-17) • When his brothers saw him coming, they conspired to kill him, but Reuben convinced them not to kill him but to leave him in a well. He secretly planned to come back and rescue Joseph later (v. 18-22) • When Joseph arrived, they attacked him, stripped him of his robe and threw him in a pit, which was probably a dry well (v. 23-24) • While they were eating, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites, Judah suggests that they sell Joseph to them as a slave, and they did so for 20 shekels of silver. (v. 25-28) • Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was gone. Deeply saddened and in despair, he returns to his brothers and asks them what happened. They plotted to deceive their father by dipping Joseph’s robe in blood to make it appear he had been attacked. (v. 29-31) • When they returned home and showed the robe to Jacob, he assumed that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal and began to mourn the loss of his son. (v. 32-34) • Jacob was so devastated by the loss of Joseph that no one could console him (v. 35) • Meanwhile, the traders that had purchased Joseph sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s men. (v. 36) II. Interpretation • What principles are illustrated in this passage? What is the main theme?

What factors played a part in Joseph’s being sold into slavery? Whose fault was it?

III. Application • Favoritism can be very dangerous. Not only within families, but also within other groups, like churches. God loves us all and we must strive to extend that same love to all people.

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