** JOSEPH'S YOUTH (37:1-36; Chapter 38)

a)  Why did Joseph's brothers hate him? (2,3,4,5,8,11)

Because:  verse 2 - he brought a bad report to his father about them;  verse 3 - they were jealous that Jacob loved Joseph more because he had been born in Jacob's old age and he had made a richly ornamented robe for him;  verse 4 - Jacob loved Joseph more than any of them;  verse 5 - Joseph had a dream and innocently told his brothers about it;  verse 8 - when he told them the dream they hated him all the more because their dream had the implication that he would rule and reign over them;  verse 11 - his brothers were jealous of them.

What was his home atmosphere probably like?

Like a battleground full of jealousy and human conflict.  Joseph hated sin from an early age.  He didn't sin with his brothers.  He lived before God's eyes and uncompromised life.  His brothers were full of hate.

a)  Describe Joseph's dreams.  What did they reveal about God's larger purpose for Joseph?

Read verses 7 and 9.  This dream foretold Joseph's spiritual leadership among his brothers that would eventually come true.  They were God's promise to him.

In the absence of a written Bible, how might God use dreams in Joseph's life?

They were to direct him and guide him.  He held them in his heart and they helped him to endure all hardships later on.  They gave him hope.  They were God's revelation.

Why didn't his brothers have dreams?

They weren't spiritual men.  From his youth, Joseph was different.  His dreams were not ordinary dreams.  But his brothers could not comprehend his inner spiritual life.  Joseph was a pure hearted man who seemed to be unaware of the raging storms of jealousy that whirled around him.

a)  What was the errand Jacob gave Joseph?

Verse 14.  Go and see if all is well with his brothers and their flocks and then to bring back word to Jacob his father.

How did Joseph carry out the mission hi father gave him?

He said, "Very well."  Verse 13.  He knew the implications to go.  He knew how his brothers felt about him.  But he went anyhow.  He was a man of responsibility.  He worked hard and did what he could despite the circumstances.  He did his mission to completion and did not give up.

What does this show about him?

He was his brothers' keeper.  He had a shepherd heart for his brothers and an obedient heart to his father.  This shows that he was an obedient man to God.

a)  How did Joseph's brothers come to sell him to Midianite traders going to Egypt?  

Their anger boiled over and so did their hatred.  They remembered his dreams and called him "dreamer."  They decided to kill him.  This was the fruit of an unrepentant jealous heart.

What were the roles of Judah and Reuben in this crime? (42:21)

"They said to one another, 'Surely we are being punished because of our brother.  We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that is why this distress has come upon us.'"  The oldest son Reuben was too weak to exercise any leadership among his brothers, but secretly planned to rescue Joseph.  They followed Reuben's suggestion and stripped him of his robe and threw him into a cistern.  Judah, the real leader had a brilliant idea.  See verses 26-27.

How did they explain to their father, and how did this affect his life?

See verses 31-35.  They dipped Joseph's robe in blood and said to Jacob that some ferocious animal devoured him.  Jacob then mourned and was in great distress.  They brought their father much grief and heartache because he had lost the son whom he loved.

a)  What happened to Joseph? (36; Ps 105:17,18) 

The Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard.  He was a slave and sold as a slave.  His feet became bruised with shackles and his neck was put in irons.  

What did Judah do after this? (38:1-30)

He left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam.  He then married a Canaanite woman and had sons.  Judah left after what he had seen. (37:31-35)  He felt uneasy as a gloomy environment settled over the family.  Judah couldn't stand it.  He couldn't deal with his father's inconsolable grief or with his own guilt.

Describe his family life among the Canaanites.

He had three sons.  His first son and second son died because they did evil in the sight of the Lord, so they left Tamar as a widow each time.  Judah wasn't influential to his sons.

a)  Who was Tamar?

Judah's daughter-in-law and wife of his first son.

Why did Judah say, "She is more righteous than I…"?  (38:26)

Because of the way she went about trying to be included in God's covenant family and in God's history.  She was a faithful woman.  Judah didn't want to give her to his third son.  So he sent her to her father's house with a promise which he didn't intend to keep.  In the meantime, Judah's wife died.  Tamar realized that Judah wasn't going to keep his promise, so she took matters into her own hands.  She disguised herself as a prostitute and slept with Judah, her father-in-law and conceived.

How does God use her to bring Judah back into the covenant history? (See also Matt 1:2,3)

She was determined not to die a sorrowful woman and fruitless woman in her father's house.  She was called to bear an heir for the covenant family and she was determined to do so.  She was faithful to her husband's family.  Tamar's faithfulness touched Judah's heart and he came home to become a faithful son and again become a leader among his brothers.  God honored her act of faith and included her in the genealogy of Jesus.


a)  How does the writer describe the rise to power in Potiphar's house? (39:1-6a)

The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered.  His master saw that the Lord was with him and that all his success came from the Lord in everything he did.  Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his chief attendant.  Potiphar put him in charge of his household and entrusted him to care for everything that he owned.

What are some of the things he had to overcome in that situation?

New land, new language, different culture, loneliness.  And the questions, "Why me?  Why did this happen?"  He was suddenly thrust into the cruel reality of slavery life in a strange land.  He cried a lot and was frightened.  He thought a lot about his father at night.

Why was he successful? (2,3,5)

Because the Lord was with him.  He believed the Lord.  Joseph accepted God's sovereignty and trusted God's love in good and bad times.  His heart did not become crooked.  He believed that the Sovereign God loved him and had a purpose for him in being in Egypt.  The life of faith must be undergirded by a deep and humble acceptance of God's sovereignty.  This means that one can't be fatalistic.  One's life is not determined by an impersonal fate or by accident or chance.  The loving sovereign God is the Ruler and Lord of life.  He created each of us for a purpose and he is working out that good purpose when we trust in him.  Because God was in his heart, hardships and mistreatment didn't make him bitter and success didn't make him proud.  These experiences - good and bad - made him grow in character in his inner man.  All people have ups and down in life.  Some become bitter and angry towards God when these hard times come.  They become proud and self-indulgent when things go well.  God was with Joseph and Joseph trusted God and God used these experiences to build his character.

a)  Why was Potiphar's wife attracted to Joseph?

He was well built and handsome.

How did she try to seduce him?

She told him to come to bed with her.

What was involved in the temptation other than physical desire?

The chance to gain power.  He could have given into her temptation and used her to get free or to get some kind of power from Potiphar.

What reasons did Joseph give for refusing her?

Verse 9.  "..How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?"  

What does this show about him?

He fears God and lives before the eyes of God.  This was the greatest temptation to a young man.  She was persistent day after day just as sin is persistently knocking at our doors everyday.  But Joseph was clear and unyielding.  He avoided sin and even ran out of the house and tried to avoid her.  If Joseph had allowed passion and pride or ambition to get even a small foothold, he surely would have fallen.  After God's blessings a time of testing always comes so we must be on the alert.  Joseph was at the height of his power and success as a steward, then temptation came.

a)  What happened that caused Potiphar's wife desire to turn into hatred?

When Joseph didn't give into her desires.

What happened to Joseph because of her lies?

He was put in prison.  When we stand firm in the flesh we should not be surprised when we suffer unjustly.

a)  In what kind of prison was Joseph put?

The prison where King's prisoners were confined.  From a slave to a slave in prison.  Joseph could go no lower in society!  He had tried to do what was right and now look where it had got him!

What happened to him there?

The Lord was with him and showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.  So the prison warden put Joseph in charge of all those who were held in the prison.  Joseph was made responsible for all that was done there.  He became the practical steward of the prison.

How could he avoid becoming bitter and fatalistic?

He trusted in God and had faith in God.  Though his imprisonment was a great injustice and he could have become filled with all kind of bitterness and despair, Joseph saw all that happened from God's point of view.  He believed that God was with him.

What does it mean that "God was with Joseph"?

When Joseph believed God's sovereignty over his life and trusted in him then God was with him and blessed him.

What can you learn from Joseph's faith and life?

Not to complain but to accept my circumstance and see that God loves me and has a purpose for me each moment.  I can overcome my human circumstance when I believe that God loves me and has a great purpose for my life no matter what happens each day.  See Romans 8:28.  God uses sufferings and hardships to grow up and mold us so that we do greater things and grow in faith.

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