Joseph

We have learned so far in our bible study how God created the heavens, the earth and all within. We saw God created man and woman.  We were instructed on how sin was created as well as the first marriage.  Then we were able to travel to Noah and his ark.  This was God’s way of getting rid of the sinful nature and to start over.  Last week we learned of the Tower of babel where humans were trying to build their way into heaven instead of God’s way.  We also learned about Abram who later was renamed Abraham.Remember last week we talked about Isaac who was the target of a sacrifice by Abraham because the Lord asked Him to do it to prove his love for God. At the last moment an angel appeared and stopped the sacrifice.

This week we are going to talk about Isaac who was named the son of a promise. Isaac has two sons named Esau and Jacob, who is called Israel.  Jacob has 12 sons who became the tribes of Israel.  But the two youngest sons of Jacob, Benjamin & Joseph were by his favorite wife. He favored them and gave them more than he did with the other sons. This caused jealousy in the other brothers.

Todays bible study comes from the book of Genesis. Genesis 37-46.

When Joseph was seventeen years old he had two dreams that made his brothers plot his demise. In the first dream, Joseph and his brothers gathered bundles of grain, of which those his brothers gathered, bowed to his own. In the second dream, the sun (father), the moon (mother), and eleven stars (brothers) bowed to Joseph himself. These dreams, implying his supremacy, angered his brothers. (Genesis 37:1-11)

Joseph’s half-brothers were jealous of him; (Genesis 37:18-20) wherefore, in Dothan, most of them plotted to kill him, with the exception of Reuben, who suggested to have Joseph thrown into an empty cistern, intending to rescue Joseph himself. Unaware of this secondary intention, the others obeyed his first. Upon imprisoning Joseph, the brothers saw a camel caravan carrying spices and perfumes to Egypt, and sold Joseph to these merchants. Thereafter the guilty brothers painted goat’s blood on Joseph’s coat and showed it to Jacob, who therefore believed Joseph dead. (Genesis 37:12-35)

Ultimately, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. Later, Joseph became Potiphar’s personal servant, and subsequently his household’s superintendent. Here, Potiphar’s wife Zuleika tried to seduce Joseph, which he refused. Angered by his running away from her, she made a false accusation of rape, and thus assured his imprisonment. (Genesis 39:1-20)

The warden put Joseph in charge of the other prisoners, and soon afterward Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer and chief baker, who had offended the Pharaoh, were thrown into the prison, and suffered dreams interpreted by Joseph, who stated that the chief cup-bearer would be reinstated but the chief baker would be hanged. Joseph requested the cup-bearer to mention him to Pharaoh and secure his release from prison, but the cup-bearer, reinstalled in office, forgot Joseph. After two more years, the Pharaoh dreamt of seven lean cows which devoured seven fat cows; and of seven withered ears of grain which devoured seven fat ears. When the Pharaoh’s advisers failed to interpret these dreams, the cup-bearer remembered Joseph. Joseph was then summoned. He interpreted the dream as seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine, and advised the Pharaoh to store surplus grain

Following the prediction, Joseph became Vizier, under the name of Zaphnath-Paaneah, and was given Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah, priest of On, to be his wife. During the seven years of abundance, Joseph ensured that the storehouses were full and that all produce was weighed. In the sixth year, Asenath bore two children to Joseph: Manasseh and Ephraim. When the famine came, it was so severe that people from surrounding nations came to Egypt to buy bread. The narrative also indicates that they went straight to Joseph or were directed to him, even by the Pharaoh himself. (Genesis 41:37-57) As a last resort, all of the inhabitants of Egypt, less the Egyptian priestly class, sold their properties to Joseph for seed; wherefore Joseph set a mandate that, because the people would be sowing and harvesting seed on government property, a fifth of the produce should go to the Pharaoh. This mandate lasted until the days of Moses. (Genesis 47:20-31)

In the second year of famine, Joseph’s half-brothers were sent to Egypt to buy goods. When they came to Egypt, they stood before the Vizier but did not recognize him as their brother Joseph, who was now in his late 30s; but Joseph did recognize them and did not speak at all to them in his native tongue of Hebrew. After questioning them, he accused them of being spies. After they mentioned a younger brother at home, the Vizier (Joseph) demanded that he be brought to Egypt as a demonstration of their veracity. This was Joseph’s full brother, Benjamin. Joseph placed his brothers in prison for three days. On the third day, he brought them out of prison to reiterate that he wanted their youngest brother brought to Egypt to demonstrate their veracity. The brothers conferred amongst themselves speaking in Hebrew, reflecting on the wrong they had done to Joseph. Joseph understood what they were saying and removed himself from their presence because he was caught in emotion. When he returned, the Vizier took Simeon and bound him as a hostage. Then he had their donkeys prepared with grain and sent the other brothers back to Canaan. Unbeknownst to them, Joseph had also returned their money to their money sacks. (Genesis 42:1-28)

The remaining brothers returned to their father in Canaan and told him all that had transpired in Egypt. They also discovered that all their money sacks still had money in them, and they were dismayed. Then they informed their father that the Vizier demanded that Benjamin be brought before him to demonstrate that they were honest men. Jacob became greatly distressed feeling that they treated him badly. After they had consumed all the grain that they brought back from Egypt, Jacob told his sons to go back to Egypt for more grain. With Reuben and Judah’s persistence, they persuaded their father to let Benjamin join them for fear of Egyptian retribution. (Genesis 42:29-43:15)

Upon their return to Egypt, the brothers were received by the steward of the house of Joseph. When they were brought to Joseph’s house, they were apprehensive about the returned money in their money sacks. They thought that the missed transaction would somehow be used against them as way to induct them as slaves and confiscate their possessions. So, they immediately informed the steward of what had transpired to get a feel of the situation. The steward put them at ease, telling them not to worry about the money, and brought out their brother Simeon. Then he brought the brothers into the house of Joseph and received them hospitably. When the Vizier (Joseph) appeared, they gave him gifts from their father. Joseph saw and inquired of Benjamin and was overcome by emotion but did not show it. He withdrew to his chambers and wept. When he regained control of himself, he returned and ordered a meal to be served. The Egyptians would not dine with Hebrews at the same table, as doing so was considered loathsome, so the sons of Israel were served at a separate table. (Genesis 43:16-44:34)

That night, Joseph ordered his steward to load the brothers’ donkeys with food and all their money. The money they brought was double what they had from the first trip. Deceptively, Joseph also ordered that his silver cup be put in Benjamin’s sack. The following morning the brothers began their journey back to Canaan. Joseph ordered the steward to go after the brothers and question them about the “missing” silver cup. When the steward caught up with the brothers, he seized them and searched their sacks. The steward found the cup in Benjamin’s sack just as he had planted it the night before. This caused a stir amongst the brothers. However, they agreed to be escorted back to Egypt. When the Vizier (Joseph) confronted them about the silver cup, he demanded that the one who possessed the cup in his bag become his slave. In response, Judah pleaded with the Vizier that Benjamin be allowed to return to his father, and he himself be kept in Benjamin’s place as a slave. (Genesis 44)

Judah appealed to the Vizier begging that Benjamin be released and that he be enslaved in his stead, because of the silver cup found in Benjamin’s sack. The Vizier broke down into tears. He could not control himself any longer and so he sent the Egyptian men out of the house. Then he revealed to the Hebrews that he was in fact their brother, Joseph. He wept so loudly that even the Egyptian household heard it outside. The brothers were frozen and could not utter a word. He brought them closer and relayed to them the events that had happened and told them not to fear, that what they had meant for evil God had meant for good. Then he commanded them to go and bring their father and his entire household into Egypt to live in the province of Goshen, because there were five more years of famine left. So, Joseph supplied them Egyptian transport wagons, new garments, silver money, and twenty additional donkeys carrying provisions for the journey. (Genesis 45:1-28)

Questions to be answered:

  1. What did we learn about God in this story?
  2. What do we learn about man/ourselves in this story?
  3. What did you learn new in this story?
  4. What should I do differently because of this story?

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