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Bailey Sadler Class

SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE - 2014

 

Study Theme: Overcome: Living Beyond Your Circumstances

What This Study Is About:

Week of:

Lesson Title:

This study is about the story of Joseph—a story of overcoming betrayal; temptation; being forgotten; hard times; bitterness; and an earthly mindset—which helps us to remember that no matter what our situation may be, God is still at work for our good.

X

Oct. 19

Overcome Betrayal

 

Oct. 26

Overcome Temptation

 

Nov. 02

Overcome Being Forgotten

 

Nov. 09

Overcome Hard Times

 

Nov. 16

Overcome Bitterness

 

Nov. 23

Overcome an Earthly Mindset

 

LIFE IMPACT:

God is at work, even when it’s not obvious.

FOCAL PASSAGE:

Genesis 37:19-27; 39:1-2

LESSON OUTLINE:

I.    

II.

III.  

The Peril of Hatred and Jealousy (Gen. 37:19-24)

When People Abandon Us, God Is Always There (Gen. 37:25-27)

In The Face of Human Betrayal, God Blesses Us (Gen. 39:1-2)

THE SETTING:  Genesis 37:19-27; 39:1-2

  The Book of Genesis includes many familiar stories.  N. T. Wright noted, “It’s about God and greed and grace; about life, lust, laughter, and loneliness.  It’s about birth, beginnings, and betrayal; about siblings, squabbles, and sex; about power and prayer and prison and passion.  And that’s only Genesis.”1  Joseph is the primary human character in Genesis 37—50.  The six sessions in this unit will highlight key events in Joseph’s life, beginning in this session with his betrayal by his brothers.  Joseph emerged on the scene as a teenager.  After being sold to slave traders, Joseph worked in Egypt for Potiphar.  Although Potiphar was impressed with Joseph, Joseph was falsely accused of sexual sin by Potiphar’s wife.  While in prison, Joseph interpreted dreams for two fellow prisoners.  One prisoner was liberated, but he forgot about Joseph.  Eventually, however, Joseph was summoned to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.  Impressed by Joseph’s God-given ability to interpret dreams, Pharaoh’s dreams.  Pharaoh liberated Joseph and placed him in a high position in the Egyptian government.  Joseph wisely guided the nation through a famine.  Joseph’s brothers visited Egypt, seeking food.  Throughout the story God was with Joseph.  At the end of Genesis, Joseph explained to his brothers that God had used Joseph’s experiences for good even though the brothers had intended evil for him.

1.   Wright, Simply Christians [New York; Harper San Francisco, 2006], 173.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

INTRODUCTION:

 How often is betrayal acted out in our society today?  Elements of betrayal is experienced in all walks of our society—in our families; our workplaces; in social circles; in our recreational activities; and, sad to say, sometimes even in our churches.  Why does this happen?  This session focuses on the story of Joseph being betrayed by his brothers.  We will look at the underlying causes of this betrayal and learn that even in the midst of such a situation, God remains steadfast in His love and support of His children.  As a child of His, we never need to feel alone and/or defeated when we may find ourselves in a betrayal situation, even when the consequences may seem overwhelming.  We must remember that no situation is too big for God, and that He will work all things for good when we trust in Him.

Introduction is adapted from the following source:

Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

I.

The Peril of Hatred and Jealousy (Gen. 37:19-24)

19 They said to one another, “Here comes that dreamer!  20 Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the pits. We can say that a vicious animal ate him. Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”  21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from them. He said, “Let’s not take his life.”  22 Reuben also said to them, “Don’t shed blood. Throw him into this pit in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him”—intending to rescue him from their hands and return him to his father.  23 When Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped off his robe, the robe of many colors that he had on.  24 Then they took him and threw him into the pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

1.        What does the term “sibling rivalry” mean to you?

2.        What kind of issues do you think usually creates this kind of situation within a family?

3.        Do you think the incident recorded in verse 2 played a part in the brother’s attitude toward Joseph?  Why, or why not?

4.        What was the significance of the coat Jacob had given to Joseph (vv. 3-4)?

5.        What part do you think this coat played in the brother’s attitude toward Joseph?

6.        Do you think Jacob’s favoritism toward Joseph played a part in fueling the brother’s negative attitude toward Joseph?

7.        What are some things parent’s showing favoritism among children can create within a family?

8.        Why did Joseph’s brothers call him a dreamer? (See vv. 5-11.)

9.        Why were Joseph’s dreams so upsetting for the brothers? (See vv. 5-11.)

10.     What part do you think Joseph’s dreams played in creating the brothers animosity toward him? 

11.     What had Jacob asked Joseph to do that would put him in touch with his brothers?  (See vv. 12-17.)

12.     How does verse 18 describe the relationship between Joseph and his brothers?

13.     Based on verse 20, what had this animosity led the brothers to consider doing to Joseph?

14.     How did they plan to cover up his death (v. 20)?

15.     What do you think was the real issue(s) between Joseph and his brothers?

16.     Which brother tried to save Joseph’s life?  What was his plan to so (v. 21) ?

17.     Where did Reuben suggest they put Joseph (v. 22)?

18.     Why do you think Reuben was so adamant about not killing Joseph (v. 22)?

19.     According to vv. 23-24, what happened to Joseph when he came to the brothers?

20.     Would you consider Joseph’s family to be dysfunctional?  Why, or why not?

 

Lasting Lessons in Gen. 37:19-24:

1.  Jealousy and hatred can motivate us to betray other people.

2.  Favoritism can contribute to rivalry and jealousy among friends, family, and co-workers.

3.  Betrayal may lead us to commit other sins.

 

II.

When People Abandon Us, God Is Always There (Gen. 37:25-27)

25 Then they sat down to eat a meal. They looked up, and there was a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were carrying aromatic gum, balsam, and resin, going down to Egypt.  26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?  27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay a hand on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh,” and they agreed.

1.        What does verse 25 tell you about the mentality of the brothers after stripping off his coat and throwing Joseph in the pit?

2.        Who were the Ishmaelites? (See Digging Deeper.)

3.        Based on verse 25, what do we know about the Ishmaelite caravan?

4.        When the caravan of Ishmaelites passed by, what did it prompt the brothers to do with Joseph (v. 27)?

5.        Whose idea was it to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites (v. 26)? 

6.        What do you think prompted this idea to sell Joseph (vv. 26-27)?  

7.        Why do you think the brothers all agreed to this course of action?

8.        What part did the Ishmaelites play in determining Joseph’s future?

9.        If this story had not been in the Bible, would you have thought that it was part of God’s master plan?  Why, or why not?

10.     In what ways was God at work in the events described in these verses?

11.     What does Romans 8:28 tell us about God’s role in the lives of His people?

12.     Why do you think God may choose to work behind the scenes in a believers life?

13.     How do you think it benefits the believer to NOT know how God is working in one’s life?

14.     How does it make you feel knowing that God is at work in your life, even when it’s not obvious?

15.     Since God is always at work, what’s our responsibility when we can’t see what He’s doing?

16.     What do we learn in these verses about God’s character and ability even when we are abandoned by others?

 

Lasting Lessons in Gen. 37:25-27:

1.  God may work behind the scenes rather than through miracles to accomplish His will.

2.  God can work through humans who may not even be aware of God’s role in their lives.

3.  God’s plans for our lives may be bigger than anything we could imagine.

 

III.

People Betray, God Doesn’t (Gen. 39:1-2)

1 Now Joseph had been taken to Egypt. An Egyptian named Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there.  2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, serving in the household of his Egyptian master.

1.     Who was Potiphar?

2.     What was Potiphar’s position in Egypt?

3.     What does this tell us about his relationship with Pharaoh?

4.     How could being a slave work for good in Joseph’s life?

5.     What does verse 2 tell us about Joseph?  About God?

6.     Based on verse 2, how would you describe Joseph’s relationship with God?

7.     How, even in less than desirable circumstances for Joseph, did God bless him?

8.     How did being Potiphar’s household slave prove to be a blessing?

9.     Even when God is working in the life of a believer, what is the responsibility of the believer?

10.  How does Colossians 3:22-25 (Ephesians 6:5-8) relate to the responsibility of the believer in every circumstance?

11.  How do you think God blesses a believer when he/she may find themselves in adverse circumstances? 

12.  What part do you think the attitude of the believer plays in such circumstances?

13.  How can a believer cultivate and maintain a positive attitude in a situation like Joseph found himself in?

14.  How can a believer guard against becoming discouraged when God may be working behind the scenes and the results may not be made known for years to come?

 

Lasting Lessons in Gen. 39:1-2:

1.  God is with us even when we face difficult situations.

2.  God can bring good out of bad situations.

3.  God can bless us wherever we are.

4.  Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God’s love and concern for His people.

 

CONCLUSION:

When we have lived a long time, we likely have more than one occasion when we felt betrayed. If you feel like you are in the pit of betrayal right now, how will you respond?  Few things are more painful than the anguish and hurt that come as a result of betrayal by someone from whom we least expect it.  Such an occurrence may cause us to wonder just who we can trust.  If not managed carefully, it can lead to bitterness and skepticism.  And we may wonder about God also.  How could He allow such a thing to happen to us when we had done no wrong?

We may not know how Joseph felt or responded to the actions of his brothers.  But no matter, we know that it was Joseph’s relationship with God that sustained him throughout this situation.  As we continue our study of the life of Joseph, we will learn more about him and the work of the Lord in his life.  Knowing that God was working in the life of Joseph throughout his life should give us pause to think about our relationship with God.  Are we focused on His work in our lives?  Do we really want to know what He wants to do for us and through us? 

What has God revealed to you from this session?  We know that God was with Joseph, but maybe the more important question should be: “Was Joseph with God?”  We know the answer is YES! YES! YES! 

So, how would you rate your relationship with God?  On a scale of 1 (on occasion) to 10 (constantly), rate how well you think God is with you; then rate on the same scale, how well you think you are with God?  Is there a difference in the two ratings?  What do you need to do to bring the two together at the highest level of the rating?  If God is constantly with you, what do you need to do to be constantly with Him?  Ask Him for help!  He stands ready to give it!

What are the implications of these truths for your life?  THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!

REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.

 

Lesson Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

 

COMMENTARY:

Overcome Betrayal — Lesson Outline & Commentary

Focal Passage from three different translations of God’s Word:

King James Version: Genesis 37:19-27; 39:1-2:

Genesis 37:19-27:

 19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.  20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.  21 And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.  22 And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.  23 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; 24 And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. 25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicey and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.  26 And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?  27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.


Genesis 39:1-2:

1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.  2 And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.   (KJV)

New International Version: Genesis 37:19-27; 39:1-2:

Genesis 37:19-27:

19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other.  20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”  21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said.  22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.  23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the richly ornamented robe he was wearing—24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.  25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.  26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?  27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.


Genesis 39:1-2:

1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.  2 The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.    (NIV)

New Living Translation: Genesis 37:19-27; 39:1-2:

Genesis 37:19-27:

19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said.  20 “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”  21 But when Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said.  22 “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.  23 So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing.  24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.  25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.  26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? His blood would just give us a guilty conscience. 27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed.


Genesis 39:1-2:

1 When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.  2 The LORD was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.    (NLT)

 

I.

II.

III.

The Peril of Hatred and Jealousy (Gen. 37:19-24)

When People Abandon Us, God Is Always There (Gen. 37:25-27)

In The Face of Human Betrayal, God Blesses Us (Gen. 39:1-2)

(NOTE:  Commentary for the focal passage comes from three sources: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old Testament,The Genesis Record,” andThe Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old Testament; Genesis 37:12-36; Gen. 39:1-6

Joseph’s Journey to Egypt (37:12-36)

37:12-18.  After a minor difficulty in which he temporarily lost his way and had to seek help from a stranger, Joseph found his brothers in Dothan. The purpose of this small account of Joseph’s seeking his brothers can be seen by comparing it with the brief and similar prelude to the second part of the story where he met his brothers in Egypt (chs. 42-44). The symmetry of the two passages and the verbal and thematic parallels serve to reinforce the sense in the narrative that every event is providentially ordered. Here at the beginning of the Joseph story, when Joseph’s brothers “saw him” (wayyir’u ‘otho v. 18) approaching, they “plotted” (wayyith nakkelu) “to kill him” (lahamitho). In the same way midway through the narrative, when Joseph first “saw his brothers” (wayyar’ ‘eth -‘ehayw 42:7) in Egypt, he eluded his brothers by “disguising himself” (wayyith nakker 42:7; NIV, “pretended to be a stranger”) so that they did not recognize him and then planned a scheme that, at least on the surface, looked as if he intended to kill them (welo’ tamuthu 42:20; NIV, “that you may not die”).

37:19-36. The details of the brother’s plans are given as well as their motivation. Behind their plans lie Joseph’s two dreams. Little did they suspect that the very plans that they were then scheming were to lead to the fulfillment of those dreams. In every detail of the narrative the writer’s purpose shows through, that is, to demonstrate the truthfulness of Joseph’s final words to his brothers: “You intended it to harm me, but God intended it for good” (50:20). The first plan was simply “to kill him” (wenahargehu 37:20), throw his body in a pit, and then tell their father that an “evil” (ra‘ah; NIV, “ferocious”) animal had eaten him. Again, the brothers punctuated their plan with a reference to Joseph’s dreams in an obviously ironic statement: “we’ll see what comes of his dreams” (v. 20; cf. 42:9). This initial plan, however, is interrupted by Reuben, who, the writer tells us, saved Joseph from their hands (vv. 21-22).

The reference to Reuben is countered later in the narrative by a similar reference to Judah (v. 26). The writer apparently wants to show that it was not merely Reuben who saved Joseph from the plan of his brothers but that Judah also played an important role. Again we can see the central importance of Jacob’s last words regarding Judah in 49:8-12. In the end it is Judah who is placed at the center of the narrative’s focus on the fulfillment of the divine blessing. It is the descendants of Judah who will ultimately figure in the coming of the Promised Seed. Reuben’s plan is to persuade the brothers merely to throw Joseph into a pit and, apparently, leave him to die (vv. 21-22a). We learn from the narrative, however, that his actual plan was to return later and rescue Joseph (v. 22b). Reuben’s plan was partly successful. The brothers threw Joseph into the pit alive and left him there. The reference to Joseph’s coat, by turning our attention briefly back to the earlier events of the narrative, highlights the central point of the story, namely, that the present plan is all part of a larger divine plan foreshadowed in Joseph’s dreams.

The story takes an important turn with the arrival of the “Ishmaelites” who were bearing spices down to Egypt (v. 25). The “Ishmaelites” become the occasion for Judah to enter the story with the suggestion that, rather than letting Joseph die (naharog v. 26) in the pit, they could “sell him to the Ishmaelites” (v. 27). Only a cursory account of Joseph’s fate follows in the text. The Ishmaelites, who are also called “Midianites” in this narrative, arrive, and Joseph is sold to them for twenty shekels (v. 28). They then take him to Egypt with them.

When the focus of the narrative returns to Reuben and to the outcome of his plan to deal with Joseph, ironically it serves only to underscore the role of Judah in the actual rescue of Joseph. Verse 29 suggests that Reuben had no part in the plan to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites. He returned to the pit, expecting to find Joseph there and to rescue him, but Joseph was not there. Reuben’s surprise is shown in his rage upon seeing that Joseph is gone. Thus in no uncertain terms we learn that it was Judah, not Reuben, who saved the life of Joseph. Ultimately the brothers must fall back on their original plan of telling their father that a “ferocious” (ra‘ah lit., “evil”; 37:33) animal had killed Joseph.

Once again the coat that Jacob had given to Joseph provides the narrative link in the story. The symbol of the brothers’ original hatred for Joseph becomes the means of the father’s recognition of his loss. In the end the blood-stained coat is all that remains of Joseph, and upon seeing it Jacob tore off his own coat and exchanged it for sackcloth (v. 34). Thus Jacob’s own fate and that of his sons is briefly sketched out in this opening narrative. What happens to Joseph foreshadows all that will happen to the sons of Jacob. They will be carried down into Egypt and will be put into slavery. In this sense, then, Jacob’s final words set the focus of the narratives to follow: “in mourning will I go down [‘ered] to the grave [Sheol] to my son” (v. 35). Ironically, the Joseph narratives conclude with Jacob’s going down (meredah 46:3-4) to Egypt to see his son and then with his own death (50:24-26).


Joseph in the House of Potiphar (39:1-6)

39:1.  Fully conscious of the intervening Judah narrative, the text resumes the account of Joseph, taking up where chapter 37 left off. As in 37:27, those who have brought Joseph into Egypt are called “Ishmaelites,” while in 37:28, 36, they are known as “Midianites.”

39:2-6. Verse 2 establishes the overall theme of the narrative: “The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered.” Verses 3-6 relate the theme to the specific series of events to follow: Joseph’s blessing from the Lord is recognized by his Egyptian master, and Joseph is put in charge of his household. Joseph’s sojourn in Egypt, like that of his father, Jacob’s (30:27), has resulted in an initial fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (12:3). Thus we are told that “the LORD blessed the house of the Egyptian because of Joseph” (v. 5). Such a thematic introduction alerts the reader to the underlying lessons intended throughout the narrative. This is not a story of the success of Joseph; rather it is a story of God’s faithfulness to his promises. The last note about Joseph in this introductory section (“Joseph was well-built and handsome,” v. 6) sets the stage for what follows.

SOURCE: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old Testament; Frank E. Gaebelein; General Editor; Zondervan Publishing House; A Division of Harper Collins Publishers

 

The Genesis Record, A Scientific And Devotional Commentary On The Book Of Beginnings: Gen. 37:18-28; 39:1-6

Rejected by His Brethren

Dothan was about twenty miles north of Shechem; so it took Joseph at least another day to reach there. The word “Dothan” is believed to mean “two cisterns,” and was presumably so named because of two storage wells there. One of these cisterns was dry at the time Joseph’s brothers were there, and it was into this well that they later decided to place him. Possibly both wells were dry, so that the men were perhaps frustrated at this point anyway, not finding water after they had led their flocks so far from home. Students who stress the typological aspects of this narrative suggest that the brothers represent the nation of Israel, wandering far from the Father’s house while searching for greener pastures out in the world, but finding none. “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

In the further development of this type, Joseph is believed to represent the Lord Jesus Christ, who was sent from the Father to the chosen people, but who was rejected and slain by them. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:10, 11).

Genesis 37:18-22.

 Whether Joseph’s experiences were divinely intended to foreshadow those of Christ, Scripture does not actually say. In any case, Joseph’s own experiences were very real and harrowing. He had incurred the murderous hatred of his brothers, and as he approached them in Dothan, he little realized the awful deed they were about to plan. Though it would be a terrible and bitter experience for him, in the providence of God it would work together for good. He himself, with his serious personal problem of pride and arrogance, needed to learn humility and patience before his remarkable gifts of intellectual brilliance and political leadership could be put to God’s use. His brothers, also, before they could be brought to genuine repentance and spiritual maturity, as necessary for the founders of the tribes of Israel, must be taught the awful consequences of sin and must themselves be brought low in confession and humiliation. Then, the nation which would come from their loins must also be prepared by suffering and divine deliverance to believe and trust God and His promises, as well as to obey His laws. All of this, in the providence of God, would be the ultimate outcome of the traumatic experience Joseph was about to undergo as he approached his brothers in Dothan.

They saw him coming a great way off, recognizing him by his colorful coat, which, as usual, he was wearing in pride of his position. They had been, no doubt, fretting about Joseph and his presumptuous dreams and boasts ever since they had left Hebron; in fact, it may very well have been because of him that they had left in the first place. What should have been a spirit of brotherly love and patient teaching of their younger brother had turned into a bitter spirit of jealousy and revenge. He was only their half-brother anyway. In view of their own background in a polygamous home, where there was bound to be a certain amount of feuding among the different families, combined with the low moral standards of the people with whom they had been in contact all their lives, it is not too surprising that they finally came to such a desperate decision as to do away with the problem which he had posed to them by actually doing away with him!

They were far from home and paternal restraint. As they saw him coming, they said sarcastically to each other: “Look yonder, here comes that specialist in dreams!” The Hebrew word for “dreamer” implies one who is a master at dreaming, perhaps suggesting that he is good for nothing else. They had no doubt previously been muttering about Joseph, and their anger had built to the point where they had actually discussed getting rid of him somehow. Now, here he was, giving them the perfect opportunity. They could slay him, throw him into one of the empty cisterns, and then report back to their father that he had been killed by a wild animal. That would be the end of his dreams!

Apparently this plan was hatched mainly by the younger brothers, perhaps supported by Simeon and Levi, since neither Reuben nor Judah would go along with it. Reuben, of all the brothers, would seem to have the most cause to resent Joseph, since Jacob obviously intended to give Joseph the birthright instead of him, the oldest son. His defense of Joseph is, therefore, the more commendable. Though he had lost his right of primogeniture through his incestuous relation with Bilhah, he must have truly repented of his deed, and tried henceforth as best he could under the circumstances to exercise the moral leadership which his firstborn position in the family should have elicited.

Reuben intended, if possible, to help Joseph escape back to his father, but he knew the murderous intent of the other brothers would not allow this immediately. He therefore persuaded them not to slay him right then, at least, but to catch him and throw him into the pit alive, perhaps letting him die of thirst rather than shedding his blood. They well knew God’s primeval command against the shedding of human blood (Genesis 9:6). Though Simeon and Levi may have felt justified in shedding blood in the matter of the Shechemites, they realized that there was no such justification in this case; furthermore, Joseph was their father’s son, even though he had made himself personally so obnoxious to them. Reuben was thus able to persuade them against the overt act of fratricide.

Joseph evidently realized that Reuben was really trying to save him; probably Reuben actually whispered words to this effect as they later cast him into the pit. Years later, Joseph indicated he remembered this by holding Simeon (the next oldest of the sons), rather than Reuben, captive in his prison (Genesis 42:24).

Genesis 37:23-28.

Having decided what they were going to do, the brothers laid hands on Joseph as soon as he reached them. The first thing they did was to strip off the resented coat of many colors (or long-sleeved coat, if that is what it was), his vaunted symbol of prestige. Then they threw him, probably violently, down into the dry well.

Reuben had persuaded them not to kill Joseph, doing this by craft rather than by overt moral leadership as, in his position of the eldest, he should have exercised. Probably he had forfeited much of his authority in his brothers’ eyes by his sin with Bilhah, so that they had no great respect for him anymore. Simeon was, on the other hand, a strong-minded moral zealot, as the affair at Shechem had demonstrated; and he no doubt was the chief voice among the brothers on this occasion. After they had thrown Joseph into the cistern, they probably discussed at some length what to do with him. It was mealtime; so they sat down to eat while they were discussing it.

In the meantime, Reuben had left them, possibly distressed at the whole situation and not wanting to argue with them further. Perhaps he was intending, after they had left the locality, to come back by himself and free Joseph. Or he might have gone to take care of the flocks, since the others had apparently forgotten them. In any case, he was absent.

As they were eating, they saw other visitors coming in the distance¾a caravan following the regular nearby trade route from the mountains of Gilead down into Egypt. Gilead was a plateau region east of the Jordan and extending down from about the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. It was in that area that Laban and Jacob had had their confrontation some years before. It was a lushly forested region, specially known for its balms and spices.

The men in the caravan are called both Ishmaelites (verse 25) and Midianites (verse 28). This is not a contradiction; both Ishmael and Midian were sons of Abraham (Genesis 16:15; 25:2), and their respective descendants were often together. The two names were often used interchangeably (note, e.g., Judges 8:24, 26). Quite likely both groups were present in this caravan.

With Reuben gone, and most of the brothers still arguing that they should at least abandon Joseph to die in the pit even if they didn’t actually shed his blood, Judah felt it was now his responsibility to save his life. He was the fourth oldest of the children of Israel, but the three older ones had already really forfeited their right to leadership. With his older brothers Simeon and Levi, however, joining with the rest who wanted to see Joseph dead, he really had little chance of saving him. At least, so it seemed.

Seeing the Ishmaelites, however, gave Judah an idea. Why not sell Joseph to them as a slave, whom they in turn could sell in Egypt? That way, Joseph would be removed from any further influence in the family¾which was what the brothers wanted most¾and still his life would be spared and they would not be guilty of murder. After all, he was their brother, and that should count for something. On top of that, they could actually make a financial profit for themselves.

With these arguments he convinced his brothers to sell Joseph into bondage, rather than to leave him to die in the pit. Probably they thought also that, even though the pit was in the wilderness (verse 22), there might still be some chance that some passer-by would rescue Joseph, in which case they would be entertaining the grave risk that he would return home and tell his father what they had done. Sending him as a slave into Egypt was clearly the best way of handling the whole problem.

When the Midianites reached them, they therefore hailed them and told them their proposition. After bargaining a bit, they settled on a price of twenty pieces of silver as Joseph’s price. All this time, Joseph had been pleading with his brothers in “anguish of soul” (Genesis 42:21) from the bottom of the pit, but they would not listen. The deal was struck, Joseph was drawn up out of the pit, delivered over to the Midianites, and then carried by them down into Egypt. The price paid for Joseph was later fixed as the price of dedication for a young man or boy (Leviticus 27:5). The price of a mature slave was set at thirty pieces of silver (Exodus 21:32).


Potiphar’s Wife:

The narrative now returns to Joseph, upon whom it centers throughout most of the rest of the Book of Genesis. Chapter 37 had closed with a brief mention of the fact that he had been sold by the Midianites who purchased him from his brothers as a slave to an Egyptian officer named Potiphar. The first verse of this chapter refers to these men as Ishmaelites, indicating again that the two terms were essentially synonymous.

The Egypt into which Joseph entered was, of course, a very ancient nation already. It was a highly civilized and organized empire, yet one which was polytheistic and immoral in its faith and practice. Egyptologists have never come to full agreement about Egyptian chronology, though it is largely upon this chronology that much of the dating of ancient history depends. The records of Manetho, an Egyptian priest of the third century B.C., constitute the most complete set of king lists. Manetho listed thirty-one dynasties (ruling families), giving the years of reign of each king within each dynasty. It is not clear, however, how many of these may have been contemporary dynasties in Upper and Lower Egypt, and how many ruled over the entire kingdom. The first pharaoh (meaning “Great House”) was Menes, who was evidently the first to unite the two divisions of Egypt. The actual date of Menes’ reign has been variously estimated, all the way from 5500 B.C. to 2000 B.C.. Probably the majority of Egyptologists date Menes at about 3100 B.C., but a vigorous group of modern writers who have studied outside the usual tradition have offered strong arguments favoring a reduction of the entire Egyptian chronological framework by several hundred years. The question as to the number and duration of successive Egyptian dynasties thus has to be regarded as still unsettled at this time, and therefore also the particular pharaoh and date of Joseph’s sojourn in Egypt.

Probably most scholars believe that this was during the reign of the Hyksos kings in Egypt. They were foreign invaders, probably at least partially of Semitic stock, who came from the East and conquered Egypt, according to the standard chronology, about 1720 B.C. They were also called the “Shepherd Kings.” Many believe that it was because of their Semitic origin that the rulers of Egypt in Joseph’s day treated the children of Israel so well when Jacob and his family moved to Egypt. The Hyksos were expelled from Egypt prior to Moses’ time, so that the pharaoh of the new dynasty “knew not Joseph,” and soon began to persecute these Hebrew “relatives” of the Hyksos. While this general background and its inferences may be correct, they should not be regarded as firmly established.


Genesis 39:1-6.

Potiphar, to whom Joseph was sold, was captain of Pharaoh’s bodyguard, and also probably in charge of political executions ordered by Pharaoh. He is also called an “officer” of Pharaoh, the Hebrew word being saris, meaning “eunuch,” or “chamberlain.” It was evidently customary in ancient pagan countries, beginning with Sumeria, to require prominent officers associated closely with the king’s court to be castrated, perhaps to ensure full-hearted devotion to the duties required of them and to minimize the possibility of their taking over the kingdom by military coup to establish a dynasty of their own. Since Potiphar was a married man, it would seem either that Potiphar had consented to such an operation after he was married in order to acquire his high office or else that his wife had married him for political or financial reasons rather than for normal marital relations. In either case, it is perhaps understandable, though hardly justifiable, that she would be prone to adulterous episodes from time to time.

Joseph was a highly intelligent and personable young man, and Potiphar soon recognized his abilities, placing more and more responsibilities on him. Though Joseph did have a natural problem with personal pride, and it was probably in part because of this that God allowed him to pass through so many difficult and humiliating experiences, he was indeed of high moral integrity and industry, and the Lord therefore prospered his work for Potiphar in an extraordinary way. It is not unusual that unbelieving employers, though themselves indifferent to God, recognize that earnest Christians make the best employees and hence desire to have them in their organizations. Honesty, integrity, faithfulness, sobriety, and similar characteristics are genuine assets to an employer; and such are the fruits of Christian faith and obedience.

It may even be that, because of these attributes, the employee will occasionally have opportunity to give a word of testimony to his “boss” as to the true source of the blessing that attends his activities. This seems to have been the case with Joseph and Potiphar, since “his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.” More and more responsibility did Potiphar turn over to Joseph, until everything in his household and business affairs was under Joseph’s oversight.

Just as the Lord made everything Joseph did “to prosper in his hand,” so will it be with Christ in His exaltation: “He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand” (Isaiah 53:10). It is a beautiful token of God’s grace that He often blesses even the masters (or, in modern parlance, the employers or supervisors) of those servants who are faithful to Him.

It is interesting that three times (verses 1, 2, 5) Potiphar is specifically called an “Egyptian.” Since Joseph was in Egypt, this would seem unnecessary, even tautological, except on the supposition that Pharaoh and most of the rulers of Egypt were themselves not Egyptians, as would indeed be the case if this was the time of the Hyksos dynasties.

Potiphar eventually came to trust Joseph so implicitly that he no longer even bothered to check up on his own business. He knew that he would prosper more by completely forgetting it all than by checking the records, offering suggestions of his own, and so forth.

In addition to his assets of mind and character, Joseph was of handsome physique and countenance. A similar statement was made much later relative to young David (1 Samuel 16:12), whom God also selected for a high calling and special service. On the other hand, even in the same context, Scripture makes it clear that it is not such outward features that matter with the Lord (1 Samuel 16:7), but the attitude of the heart. Absalom, for example, was also of handsome appearance (2 Samuel 14:25), but his heart was vindictive and filled with personal ambition and rebellion, and he came to a bitter end.

SOURCE:  The Genesis Record, A Scientific And Devotional Commentary On The Book Of Beginnings;  by Henry M. Morris; Foreword by Arnold D. Ehlert; BAKER BOOK HOUSE’ Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 

The Complete Biblical Library Commentary: Gen. 37:18-28; 39:1-6:

37:18. When the brothers saw Joseph in the distance, they probably recognized him easily by the long-sleeved, fancy tunic he was wearing. It reminded them of the dreams and perhaps of Joseph’s superior airs, and of his condemnation of their sins. Immediately they made him the object of a knavish, crafty, murderous conspiracy. Because of the hatred of Joseph, they were already murderers in their hearts (1 John 3:15).

37:19-20.  With contemptuous mockery of the dreams God had given Joseph, they called him the "master" or lord of dreams. They may have meant this one who in his dreams is master or lord over us. They planned to murder him and throw him down into one of the cisterns which caught the runoff from the rains and were commonly located at the bottom of the hills. These cisterns had narrow mouths covered by a large rock and were pear-shaped, so it would be impossible to climb out of them. The brothers would say some evil wild animal had eaten him. Then they would see what would become of his dreams. They were still being sarcastic. Notice that God was not considered in any of their plans.

37:21-22. Reuben was not in on the conspiracy. When he heard about it, he rescued Joseph in advance by saying strongly "We will not take life," and adding, "Let us not shed blood."

Then, as the elder brother, he commanded them to throw Joseph in a nearby cistern in the wilderness (that is, in the uninhabited area between towns), without putting a hand on him, that is to harm him physically.

Reuben, as the oldest of the brothers, also must have had an understanding of how his father would feel. His secret purpose was to rescue Joseph and take him back to his father, but that would not have been a step toward the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams.

37:23-24.  As soon as Joseph arrived, his brothers stripped off the hated long tunic and threw him into the cistern. Fortunately, it was far enough along in the rainless summer, so the cistern was dry. Genesis 42:21 lets us know that Joseph did not take this calmly. He begged them to let him live, but they turned a deaf ear and had no mercy.

37:25.  Since bread was part of every meal, eating bread means to eat a meal. Thus, while the brothers were enjoying a meal, they saw an Ishmaelite caravan coming from Gilead, the rugged hills east of the Jordan River. The caravan was heading for Egypt. Their camels were carrying spices (probably gum tragacanth, from a bush in the pea family), balm (mastic, a resin from the mastic tree, Pistacia lenticus), and Myrrh (labdanum, a soft gum resin from the rockrose, Cistus). These gums and resins were used by Egyptians for embalming or for medicine.

37:26-27.  Judah took the leadership here and suggested there would be no profit in killing Joseph and concealing his blood. He realized that throwing Joseph in the cistern made them just as guilty of murder as if they had killed him outright. He urged the brothers to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites. He was their brother, their own flesh, and they should not be guilty of killing him. If they sold him to the Ishmaelites, they would not be guilty of laying a hand on him. The brothers listened (and agreed).

37:28. The men in the caravan were Midianite merchants who had joined with the Ishmaelites for business purposes, but were also known as Ishmaelites (cf. Judg. 8:22-24).

The brothers then pulled Joseph out of the cistern and sold him to the Ishmaelites for 20 shekels (weight) of silver. (Coins were not used until the time of the Persians in the 5th century B. C.). Twenty shekels weighed about 7.3 ounces Troy weight. This was the standard price for a healthy, young slave in Bible times. A mature slave would be sold for 30 shekels, the price for which Jesus was betrayed. Joseph was brought to Egypt, the first step toward the fulfillment of the prophecy of Gen. 15:13-14.


39:1. Notice again the contrast with 38:1. Judah was free and his sin was his own choice. The dark picture of his sin in chapter 38 makes the purity of Joseph in the following account stand out all the more. Joseph was a slave and he was about to be tested again and again. The first test was to see how he would react when he was made a slave to Potiphar. As the captain of the king’s bodyguard and chief executioner, Potiphar must have been a man who was severe and not easy to please.

39:2-3.  Instead of becoming bitter, Joseph trusted the Lord. His confidence in God’s promises must have made him willing to commit his way to the Lord (Ps. 37:5). He must have done everything he was asked to do as unto the Lord. Thus, the Lord was with Joseph and honored his faith and faithfulness by making him successful in his tasks in the household of his master. Potiphar could not help noticing this. Perhaps Joseph gave testimony to the Lord. So Potiphar recognized that Joseph’s God was making him successful in all he was doing.

39:4-6. Because Joseph found favor in Potiphar’s eyes, he made him his personal attendant. Later, he made him overseer of his household and over everything he had. That is, he became the business manager with responsibility over all Potiphar’s possessions. It was not uncommon for a trusted slave to be made a personal business manager (cf. the case of Eliezer, Gen. 15:2). From that time the Lord blessed everything Potiphar owned, in his house and in his field or farm property--on account of Joseph (for Joseph’s sake). So completely did Potiphar trust Joseph, that he turned all of his household and personal business over to him without asking Joseph to give any account of it to him. Potiphar carried out his duties for the Pharaoh and paid no attention to anything at home except to enjoy the food he ate. This was important preparation for Joseph. The 17-year-old boy who was sold into Egypt needed several years to learn how to handle business affairs before he could fulfill the dreams God had given him.

SOURCE: The Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Acts.  Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.; World Library Press, Inc.

 

DIGGING DEEPER:

Pits—The word pits in Genesis 37:20 could be rendered “cisterns” (NIV).  A cistern or pit was dug into the ground to capture water.  They were often bottle-or pear-shaped, with a small opening at the top.  The prophet Jeremiah was thrown into a cistern by his enemies (Jer. 38:1-13).  Jeremiah was an unpopular prophet, considered by his enemies to be a traitor.  The cistern had no water in it, but Jeremiah landed in the mud (38:6).  Eventually Jeremiah was rescued by Ebed-melech, a Cushite court official who sympathized with Jeremiah’s predicament.  A cistern would be a safe place to keep someone captive, since a human could not climb out of the cistern easily.  Ebed-melech, for example, needed help of others to life Jeremiah our of the cistern.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

Pit: The area in which Joseph’s brothers tended Jacob’s flocks was dotted with open pits, some natural to the terrain, others dug into the ground as cisterns for collecting water or to use as dungeons.  The particular pit into which Joseph’s brothers cast him (37:20) did not contain any water, which may indicate that water was scarce.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

Cistern:  The translation of a Hebrew term that means “hole,” “pit,” or more often “well.” The difference between cistern and well often is not apparent. The innumerable cisterns, wells, and pools that exist in Palestine are evidence of the efforts of ancient people to supplement the natural water supply. The cistern of Palestine was usually a bottle or pear-shaped reservoir into which water could drain from a roof, tunnel, or courtyard. The porous limestone out of which the cisterns were dug allowed much of the water put into the cistern to escape. After 1300 B.C. cisterns began to be plastered, which resulted in a more efficient system of water storage. The mouth of a cistern was sometimes finished and covered with a stone. Some cisterns have been found with a crude filter to trap debris.

The biblical writers revealed that cisterns were used for purposes other than holding water. Joseph was placed in a “broken” cistern by his brothers (Gen. 37:20-29). The prophet Jeremiah was imprisoned in the cistern of Malchijah, King Zedekiah’s son, (Jer. 38:6 NASB). In Jeremiah 14, the pagan gods were symbolized as broken cisterns that could not hold water. Cisterns also served as convenient dumping places for corpses (Jer. 41:7, 9).

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

Robe—Joseph’s robe or “coat” (KJV), mentioned in Genesis 37:23, was distinctive, a clear sign to his brothers that their father Jacob favored Joseph.  A traditional translation describes the garment as a coal to “many colors,” but the Hebrew might mean a “robe with long sleeves” or a “long robe with sleeves” (NRSV).  In 2 Samuel 13:18 the same kind of robe was worn by David’s daughter Tamar.  The robe was not the typical garment for working in the fields.  It pointed to Joseph’s special relation to Jacob and irritated his brothers, who did not have such a special robe.  Years ago, a Broadway musical described the coat as the “amazing Technicolor® “dreamcoat”!

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

Coat: The word for coat in 37:23 can also be rendered as “robe,” or it can refer to a long shirt-like garment or tunic.  The coat is described as being of many colors, meaning it was made of different colors of cloth or was more ornate than the garments most people would wear, especially working people.  The New Revised Standard Version describes it as a “long robe with sleeves.”  Ordinarily garments for daily wear did not have sleeves and were of a shorter length to allow the wearer freer movement in the daily work environment.  Therefore, Joseph’s coat not only was sign of Jacob’s special love but suggested that he didn’t expect Joseph to spend a lot of time out in the fields.  As a result, the older brothers developed such a deep hatred for Joseph that they could not bring themselves to speak a friendly word to him (v. 4).

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

Jealousy:  Jealousy is used in three senses in Scripture; (1) as intolerance of rivalry or unfaithfulness; (2) as a disposition suspicious of rivalry or unfaithfulness; and (3) as hostility towards a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage. Sense 3 approximates envy. God is jealous for His people Israel in sense 1, that is, God is intolerant of rival gods (Ex. 20:5; 34:14; Deut. 4:24; 5:9) One expression of God’s jealousy for Israel is God’s protection of His people from enemies. Thus God’s jealousy includes avenging Israel (Ezek. 36:6; 39:25; Nah. 1:2; Zech. 1:14; 8:2). Phineas is described as jealous with God’s jealousy (Num. 25:11, 13, sometimes translated zealous for God). Elijah is similarly characterized as jealous (or zealous) for God (1 Kings 19:10, 14). In the New Testament Paul speaks of his divine jealousy for the Christians at Corinth (2 Cor. 11:2).

Numbers 5:11-30 concerns the process by which a husband suspicious of his wife’s unfaithfulness might test her. Most often human jealousy involves hostility towards a rival. Joseph’s brothers were jealous (Gen. 37:11) and thus sold their brother into slavery (Acts 7:9). In Acts 17:5 a jealous group among the Jews incited the crowd against Paul. Jealousy, like envy, is common in vice lists (Rom. 13:13; 2 Cor. 12:20; Gal. 5:20-21). Jealousy is regarded as worse than wrath or anger (Prov. 27:4). James regarded jealousy (or bitter envy) as characteristic of earthy, demonic wisdom (3:14) and as the source of all disorder and wickedness (3:16). (See Envy below.)

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

Envy: A painful or resentful awareness of another’s advantage joined with the desire to possess the same advantage. The advantage may concern material goods (Gen. 26:14) or social status (30:1). Old Testament wisdom frequently warns against envying the arrogant (Ps. 73:3), the violent (Prov. 3:31), or the wicked (Ps. 37:1; Prov. 24:1, 19). In the New Testament envy is a common member of vice lists as that which comes out of the person and defiles (Mark 7:22), as a characteristic of humanity in rebellion to God (Rom. 1:29), as a fruit of the flesh (Gal. 5:21), as a characteristic of unregenerate life (Tit. 3:3) and as a trait of false teachers (1 Tim. 6:4). Envy (sometimes translated jealousy by modern translations) was the motive leading to the arrest of Jesus (Matt. 27:18; Mark 15:10) and to opposition to the gospel in Acts (Acts 5:17, 13:45; 17:5). Christians are called to avoid envy (Gal. 5:26; 1 Pet. 2:1).

Envy is sometimes a motive for doing good. The Preacher was disillusioned that hard work and skill were the result of envying another (Eccl. 4:4). Paul was, however, able to rejoice that the gospel was preached even if the motive were envy (Phil. 1:15).

The KJV rightly understood the difficult text in Jas. 4:5, recognizing that it is a characteristic of the human spirit that it “lusteth to envy”. Contrary to modern translations, the Greek word used for envy here (phthonos) is always used in a negative sense, never in the positive sense of God’s jealousy (Greek zealos). God’s response to the sinful longings of the human heart is to give more grace (4:6).

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

Ishmaelite (ihsh' may ehl ite): Tribal name for descendants of Ishmael. According to Genesis 25:12-16, Ishmael was the father of twelve sons. The Ishmaelites were regarded as an ethnic group, generally referring to the nomadic tribes of northern Arabia. The Ishmaelites were not, however, exclusively associated with any geographic area. References to them in the Old Testament are relatively few. The people to whom Joseph was sold by his brothers are called Ishmaelites in Genesis 37:25.

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND READING:

 

JOSEPH A Man of Integrity

By Terry W. Eddinger

Terry W. Eddinger is the Benjamin Miller Professor of Old Testament and vice president for academics at Carolina Graduate School of Divinity, Greensboro, North Carolina.

T

HE STORIES IN GENESIS 37—50 depict a person of high moral integrity.  His name is Joseph.  Being the great-grandson of Abraham, the hero of faith (Heb. 11:8-19), perhaps we would expect nothing less.  Perhaps we would expect integrity to be a family tradition for Joseph and that it would come easily.  Yet we would be wrong to have such expectations.

What He Came From

Joseph grew up in a family that lacked integrity.  As Charles Swindoll points out, Joseph’s family proved to be poor role models.1  He was the son of a master deceiver.  Jacob, Joseph’s father, spent much of his life tricking and deceiving people, mostly members of his own family.  Even his name means “one who supplants.”  He deceived his father Isaac and cheated his brother Esau on at least two occasions.  Jacob was in the process of deceiving his uncle Laban out of his flock when Joseph was just a boy (Gen. 30:23-43; 31:41).  Even Joseph’s mother Rachel stole her father Laban’s household gods when the family fled from him and then she failed to tell the truth when confronted about it (31:19,34-35)!  Joseph’s brothers proved they knew the art of trickery too.  After selling Joseph to Ishmaelites, they deceived their father by putting goat blood on Joseph’s coat and then telling him that a wild animal had killed Joseph (37:31-35). 

Joseph’s childhood years did not bode well for building his character.  Joseph was the youngest of Jacob’s sons except Benjamin.  He was the firstborn to Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife.  Jacob favored Joseph over his other sons and on one occasion gave him a distinctive coat which indicated special favor or status (vv. 3-4).  This coat may have been one that a supervisor would wear and not that of a day laborer,2 perhaps implying to his brothers that Joseph outranked to them.  Genesis tells us that Joseph’s brothers hated him to the point they could not speak kindly to him.  This was partly because of his favored status and partly because Joseph tattled to his father about his brother’s wrong-doings (37:2,4).  When Joseph told his brothers about his dreams that reflected his self-importance, they became jealous and hated him even more (vv. 5-11), even to the point of wanting to kill him.  Instead, they sold him into slavery (v. 28).  Up to this time, Joseph had acted like a spoiled child before his family, being insensitive to how his actions affected them.  The teenaged Joseph did not reflect the sage and person of moral character that he would become in Egypt.

What He Became

Joseph’s demeanor changed on his forced journey from Canaan to Egypt.  He became the model of integrity.  The self-centered teenager became a responsible, selfless adult.  His brothers betrayed him.  Potiphar enslaved him.  Potiphar’s wife tempted him and falsely accused him.  Potiphar put him in prison.  Through it all he remained upright.  He kept integrity as a major character trait for the rest of his life.

We can learn several lessons about integrity from Joseph’s adult life.  First, Joseph put forth his best effort despite his circumstances.  Joseph successfully took on responsibility, even when he was not the primary beneficiary of his work.  Although a house slave, Potiphar recognized Joseph’s potential and promoted him to head of the household (39:1-6).  Likewise, the captain of the guard placed Joseph over all the work at the prison where he was confined (vv. 21-23).  Pharaoh recognized Joseph’s wisdom when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams.  Pharaoh promoted him to second in command over all Egypt (41:40).  In this capacity he effectively served as an administrator to save the people from starvation during the seven-year famine (vv. 38-57).

Second, Joseph was a person of moral character.  Joseph demonstrated this best in how he dealt with Potiphar’s wife.  He did not give in to her recurring advances (39:7-9).  Instead he fled, leaving his coat behind.  He did not violate the trust Potiphar had placed in him.  Unfortunately, Potiphar did not return the loyalty Joseph had shown him.

Third, Joseph forgave.  When he faced his brothers (without Benjamin) in Egypt about 22 years after they sold him into slavery, Joseph did not take revenge for how they had mistreated him.  Instead, he tested them to see if they had changed their ways before he revealed his identity.  Joseph accused them of being spies and dishonest and then put them in prison for three days (42:8-17).  He questioned them to see if they would answer honestly; then he tested them.  Next Joseph put Simeon in jail and allowed the rest to return home.  Joseph required the brothers to bring Benjamin to Egypt as proof they were telling the truth (v. 20).

The brothers passed their test on several occasions.  First, they recognized and admitted they had mistreated Joseph wrong (vv. 21-23).  Joseph heard this confession although the brothers did not know he was Joseph at the time.  Second, they brought Benjamin with them on their next journey to Egypt (43:15).  They treated Benjamin kindly in Joseph’s presence.  Joseph discovered they had spared Benjamin the ill treatment he had received.  Third, they attempted to return the money they found in their sacks.  Earlier, Joseph had it placed there without their knowledge.  Joseph saw that his brothers had learned to be honest with material things (vv. 19-23).  Fourth, when Joseph threatened to put Benjamin in jail, Judah asked to take Benjamin’s place for his father’s sake (44:18-34).  This was the final proof; he knew his brothers had indeed changed.

Joseph’s revealing himself to his brothers is not only a scene of great joy but also one which best shows Joseph’s integrity and forgiveness.  “Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here” Joseph said, “for God sent me before you to preserve life” (45:5).3  Rather than be angry and retaliate, Joseph kissed them and promised to provide for them (vv. 9-15).  “Joseph could never have spoken such words of reassurance if he had not fully forgiven his brothers.”4  A similar scene occurred after their father Jacob had died.  The brothers were afraid Joseph would exact revenge.  They sent a message, asking for his forgiveness.  Hearing of their concern (and likely heartbroken), Joseph wept (50:17).  How did Joseph respond when he spoke to his brothers?  “’Do not be afraid for am I in God’s place?  As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.  So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (vv. 19-21).  Joseph’s words and actions reflected what he had become—one of the best examples of a person of integrity in the Old Testament.                                                                                          Bi

1.  Charles R. Swindoll, Joseph: A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness (Nashville: Word, 1998), 19.

2.  Robert E. Longacre, “Joseph” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, eds. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003), 475.

3.  All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

4.  Swindoll, Joseph: A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness, I44.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 40, No. 1; Fall 2013.

 

EGYPTIAN CULTURE In Joseph’s Time

By Janice Meier

Janice Meier is adjunct instructor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and William Carey College, teaching in the areas of Old Testament, New Testament, and Hebrew.

JOSEPH, whose name comes from a Hebrew root meaning “to add” (see Gen. 30:24), was added to the clan of Jacob by divine providence. Joseph, the oldest son of Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel, received favored treatment from his father. To his older brothers, Joseph was an unwelcome addition to the family. Joseph’s unpopularity with these brothers increased as he began to share his dreams of domination over them. The brothers’ increased as he began to share his dreams of domination over them. The brothers’ animosity toward Joseph culminated in their act of selling him to some passing merchants (37:28).

Joseph was taken to Egypt. There he suffered imprisonment but eventually became second-in-authority to Pharaoh due to his God-given ability to interpret dreams. A central theme running through the stories of Joseph is that of divine providence. The Lord was with Joseph, even in Egypt (39:2,3,21,23).

Most likely, Joseph’s rise to power occurred during the Hyksos rule in Egypt, between approximately 1800 and 1550 BC. Who were the Hyksos, and what was life in Egypt like under their control? Understanding the origins and culture of the Hyksos provides much insight into how a Hebrew such as Joseph could have risen to power in the Hyksos period.

From Manetho, an Egyptian historian of the third century BC, comes information about the Hyksos. Although none of Manetho’s writings survived, the Jewish historian Josephus (first century AD) quoted Manetho. The designation “Hyksos” means “shepherd kings . . . out of the eastern parts.” Obscurity surrounds the beginning of the Hyksos dominion in Egypt. Probably the rulers at Thebes were subject to the Hyksos during the fifteenth and sixteenth dynasties in the north. No clear evidence indicates the Hyksos fully controlled the territory of Thebes and the area to the south. The Hyksos established their capital at Avaris in the Delta region. The Delta area, serving as the Hyksos base of operations, included Goshen where Jacob’s descendants settled. Genesis 46:26-34 indicates Pharaoh’s court was located near Goshen. Both before and following the Hyksos era the capital city was Thebes in Upper Egypt.

The Hyksos were not an ethnic unity. Because the Hyksos adopted the language of Egypt when they arrived, the linguistic evidence for the composite ethnic background of this group consists mainly of personal names. The only personal names that can be identified with certainty are Semitic. Since Joseph’s origins were Semitic, as likely were a majority of the Hyksos origins, Joseph had an opportunity to rise to power during this period. Joseph apparently was related ethnically to the Semitic Hyksos rulers. Native Egyptians, in contrast, viewed the Semites with contempt.

Furthermore, prior to the era of Hyksos domination, the nation consisted of numerous small landholders over whom Pharaoh ruled. After the Hyksos domination, Pharaoh personally owned all the land of Egypt and the people became his servants. During the famine, the Egyptians sold their land, their possessions, and ultimately themselves into servitude in order to survive (see 47:15-21).

What was Egyptian culture like under the Hyksos domination? Certainly these invaders were not barbarians in many respects. Among the cultural changes associated with the Hyksos invasion of Egypt was the introduction of the horse and chariot. In Genesis 41:43 Pharaoh had Joseph ride in a chariot (see also 46:29; 50:9). Superior weapons of bronze, heavier body armor, and a new type of earthen fortress were introduced. Massive embankments erected of beaten earth surrounded major Hyksos cities. Moats lay outside these embankments. The Hyksos exhibited special skills in metallurgy and making jewelry. Fine linen was exported from ancient Egypt. Observe the references to both jewelry and fine linen when Pharaoh placed Joseph in charge of the land of Egypt (41:41-43). The Hyksos supported art, commissioning various works. Also as active merchants, the Hyksos introduced a new system of weights into Egypt.

The story of Joseph in Genesis 37 – 50 reflects economic, social, religious, and governmental aspects of Egyptian society during the time of the Hyksos rule. Economic elements may be observed in Genesis 41:56-57 and 47:20-26. As the severity of the famine increased, Joseph sold grain to the Egyptians and to people from other countries. When the people’s financial resources had been exhausted, they sold their livestock, lands, and even themselves into servitude in exchange for food. Evidence from nonbiblical sources indicates that such a major shift in landholdings occurred during the Hyksos period of rule. Joseph established the law that a fifth of the produce in the land of Egypt belonged to Pharaoh (47:26). This statement reflects the return of normal conditions and the end of crop failures. In effect, Joseph levied a 20 percent tax. Joseph’s economic policies highlight his skill as an administrator.

Social aspects of Egyptian society during the Hyksos period also appear in the story about Joseph. Two verses indicate social practices the Egyptians regarded as detestable. Genesis 43:32 records that the Egyptians would not eat with Hebrews. Thus when Joseph’s brothers dined with him, they were served separately from Joseph and from the other Egyptians eating with them. In Genesis 46:34 shepherds are described as abhorrent to the Egyptians. This latter fact probably influenced Pharaoh’s decision to permit Jacob’s family to settle in the border area of Goshen, the good grazing land located in the northeast part of the Delta (47:5-6).

Burial practices described in 50:1-3,22-26 also reflect Egyptian customs. Both Jacob’s and Joseph’s remains were embalmed according to the Egyptian custom of mummification of kings and high officials. Mummification was expensive and time-consuming. These burial procedures indicated Joseph’s social standing in Egypt. He was both wealthy and influential. Through their practice of mummification, the Egyptians believed that they were preparing the body for an afterlife.

Religious aspects of Egyptian culture during the period of Hyksos rule are evident in references to Pharaoh’s dream, priests, wise men and magicians, and divination practices. The nature of Pharaoh’s dream reflects Egyptian culture. Appropriately Pharaoh’s dream included cattle, an object of many Egyptian paintings. The word translated “reeds” in 41:2 has an Egyptian origin. Pharaoh’s dream involved the welfare of cattle and grain, both dependent on the Nile River, an object of Egyptian worship. The Hyksos worshiped a pantheon of both Egyptian and Asiatic deities.

Priests received special status in Egyptian culture as evidenced in Genesis 37 – 50. Pharaoh gave Joseph Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the high priest of On, as his wife (41:45). This action indicates Joseph’s noble status. Joseph was assigned the name Zaphenath-Paneah, meaning “the God speaks and he lives.” Joseph’s authority as an administrator who brings life is affirmed in this name. The name change also was a ceremonial act intended to draw Joseph completely into the Egyptian court circle. When Joseph began buying Egypt’s land, the priests’ land did not become Pharaoh’s (47:26). The priests received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from that allotment (47:22).

Finally divination was practiced in the Hyksos period (44:5). The silver cup found in Benjamin’s sack was used for divination. The king or Pharaoh erroneously believed that knowledge of the future belonged to those with specially trained skills in divination. Yet Egypt’s wise men and magicians could not interpret Pharaoh’s dream (41:8). In contrast the biblical writer asserted that true understanding comes only from God (41:16).

The story of Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt provides some insights into governmental conditions during the Hyksos period. Joseph originally was sold as a slave to Egypt. In that era slaves commonly were brought from Canaan to Egypt. Joseph, the model servant, soon gained favor with his master Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials and captain of the guard (39:1-6). Out of loyalty to both God and his master, Joseph rejected Potiphar’s wife’s advances (39:9). Joseph’s moral stance resulted in imprisonment. Potiphar’s wife referred to Joseph as a Hebrew (39:17), the term here designating a socially rejected individual. The punishment Joseph received may indicate that Potiphar was not convinced of Joseph’s guilt since he was only imprisoned instead of being sold into base slavery or put to death for such action. Little, however, is known of Egyptian or Hyksos laws related to such matters.

Joseph’s status advanced to that of second-in-command of the land of Egypt due to his God-given ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dream (41:41). Joseph’s installation ceremony described in verses 41-43 reflects actual Egyptian practices. The words for “signet ring: and “fine linen” (41-42) have an Egyptian origin. The chain about the neck signified honor. Joseph became the authorized representative of Pharaoh and directory of the palace.

Frequently Joseph’s rise to such high status in Egyptian government is attributed to the nature of the Hyksos rule. The biblical writer, however, repeatedly asserted that Joseph’s status resulted from the Lord’s presence with him. (see 39:2,3,21,23). A young man away from all family influences in a foreign land maintained his integrity, morality, and faith in God in the face of prolonged and severe testing. The story of Joseph reveals his faithfulness, fortitude, and forgiveness. Joseph, whose model character blesses our lives today, remained steadfast because behind all his life’s circumstances, he recognized God’s hand at work (45:5-8; 50:15-21).

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Fall 1995.

 

Joseph  His Life And Times

By D. Waylon Bailey

Dr. Bailey is professor of Old Testament, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

E

XCEPT FOR A BRIEF TIME when he is seen as a brash young man without tact and spoiled by his father, Joseph is one of the most wholesome characters in the Old Testament.  His life serves as a positive example in numerous areas.  He made the best of discouraging circumstances; he rejected the advances of his master’s wife; he saw God’ great purpose being worked out in his own circumstances.  His stories, found in Genesis 37-50, are some of the most fascinating of any body of literature.

The general story of Joseph is well known and, while Joseph is not mentioned in any known Egyptian inscriptions, a number of parallels can be drawn between Joseph’s life and stories which survive from ancient Egypt.  Joseph’s seduction is quite similar to the Egyptian “Tale of Two Brothers,” in which an unsuccessful attempt was made to seduce the younger brother.  Another similarity concerns the butler.  Egyptian records indicate that the butler’s place was well established in the court.  He acted as a trusted advisor.  In one famous trial the king’s butlers served with other officials as judges.  Thus, when the pharaoh had a dream, we are not surprised that the butler accompanied the wise men and magicians who were summoned to interpret the dream and then recommended Joseph as a discerner of dreams.

The question of Joseph’s position and duties in Egypt still is a mystery, however.  In what capacity did he serve and what functions did he perform?

The position Joseph held apparently was that of prime minister, called vizier in Egypt.  The vizier’s duties described in Egyptian records correlate amazingly with the stories of Joseph in Genesis.

After the pharaoh, the vizier was the most important man in the government of ancient Egypt.  In the earliest times of Egyptian monarchy, the pharaoh appointed his son as vizier.  As the government expanded and became more centralized, the vizier came increasingly from the nobility or priesthood.  After the time of Joseph, the office of vizier was divided into two positions.  One vizier became administrator at Memphis over Lower (northern) Egypt while another held sway at Thebes over Upper (southern) Egypt.  This, no doubt, became necessary because of the complexity of the Egyptian state after 1500 BC.

A summary of the duties of the vizier accords well with Joseph’s responsibilities.  Genesis records the words of Pharaoh to Joseph:

Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled; only in the throne will I be greater than thou.  And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt; And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt (Gen. 41:40-44).

The vizier served as the chief justice of the state and dispensed justice throughout the land.  He was the most powerful man in the kingdom under pharaoh.  As state archivist, his office contained all the archives of the government, including the registry of lands and wills.  The vizier administered the kingdom, receiving daily reports from the treasurer and reporting directly to the pharaoh each day.

As vizier, Joseph knew the pharaoh as well as any non-family member Joseph must have been the man in the kingdom; all of the daily workings of government hinged on his capabilities and hard work.  Pharaoh rightly called the vizier “the supporting post of the entire land.”1  With authority delegated to a vizier like Joseph, the pharaoh had the freedom to move his armies out of Egypt to establish an empire or direct his energies in other areas.

The most favorable time for a foreigner in Egypt occurred during the Hyksos period, about 1720-1550 BC.  The Hyksos—“rulersof foreign countries” is the meaning of the Egyptian word—were an array of peoples, including Semites, Hittites, and Hurrians.  In a time of such foreign domination of Egypt, an outsider would have a greater opportunity to rise to great heights.  In the fourteenth century BC, Akhenation promoted a Semite named Tutu to a high position of power.  Among his duties were the inspection of public works and the reception of foreign visitors.  Other people of non-Egyptian descent were given government positions during the second millennium BC.  Thus, nothing particularly surprising can be found in Joseph’s elevation to power and his family’s reception in Egypt.

Joseph’s installation as a vizier of Egypt probably followed a customary pattern.  Genesis 41:42-43 records the ceremony:

Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee; and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Rekh-mi-Re, the vizier of Upper Egypt under the reign of Thutmose (thoot-MOE-suh) III (1490-1436 BC), received a similar appointment.  Rekh-mi-Re said: “I went forth clad in fine linen.  I reached the doorway of the palace gate.  The courtiers bent their backs, and I found the masters of ceremonies clearing the way.”2

The charge to the vizier is as impressive as the ceremony of installation.  In a charge unexpected in such an age, the pharaoh commanded the vizier to govern impartially and with kindness and humanity.

“Behold, it does not mean giving attention (only) to himself and to his officials and councilors, nor (yet) making [dependents] out of everybody.  [The] abomination of the god is partiality.  This is the instruction, and thus shalt thou act: ‘Thou shalt look upon him whom thou knowest like him whom thou knowest not, upon him who has access to thee like him who is far away.’”3

Horemhab (HAHR-im-hab, 1340-1310 BC) paid special attention to the character of those who would serve in such a high capacity.  He called the two viziers he appointed “perfect in speech, excellent in good qualities, knowing how to judge the heart.”4  He attacked bribery as an affront to justice: “Receive not the reward of another.  How shall those like you judge others while there is one among you committing a crime against justice?”5  The biblical record gives many indications that Joseph’s character suited the office of vizier.  He appears in the Bible as a strong-willed, dedicated person who cared for the people around him.  He was one who could sacrifice immediate pleasure for long-term goals.  It was just such a man that the pharaoh wanted to serve over all the land.

The biblical account of Joseph’s duties portrays two main areas of concern: (1) He ruled the land as governor (Gen. 41:44; 42:6); and (2) he was in charge of the royal granary, thus spent much of his time administering agriculture (Gen. 41:49).

From available Egyptian accounts, we can ascertain more detailed duties that Joseph had.  The chief concern of the vizier may have been to dispense justice over all the land.  Each day, Joseph had an audience with those seeking redress of some grievance.  Every morning people crowded to the hall of the vizier, the senior court in the land, to be heard.

The courtroom setting must have been impressive.  When Rekh-mi-Re was vizier, he sat “upon a judgment-chair, with a matting on the floor, a matting over him, a cushion under his back and a cushion under his feet, a [cape] upon him, [and] a scepter at his hand.”6  In front of the vizier were forty leather straps or thongs which were the symbol of his disciplinary authority.  The number of men around the vizier was impressive as well.  He sat with “the Chiefs of Southern Tens on two sides in front of him, the Overseer of the Cabinet on his right hand, the Supervisor of Clients on his left hand, and the Scribe of the Vizier beside him.”7

As chief judge, Joseph had to be able to dispense justice according to fairness, custom, and precedent.  No codified law from this period in Egypt has been found.  Thus, wisdom in making crucial decisions played an important part in Joseph’s life.  Determining the mind of the pharaoh was necessary since the vizier was pharaoh’s mouthpiece.  Even with his enormous power, the vizier recognized that he was subject to pharaoh.  Pharaoh expected the vizier to give every man his due in accord with his previous instructions.  Thutmose III charged his vizier: “Would that thou mightiest act in conformance with what I may say!”8  Matters of great significance for the nation were taken to the monarch.  One such example is the death penalty, which could be handed down only by pharaoh’s permission.

In the Joseph stories in Genesis, the greatest emphasis is given to his supervision of the granaries.  During the seven plenteous years Joseph bought grain and dispensed it during the seven lean years.  But Joseph’s tasks were more burdensome than this.  He supervised the cutting of trees, checked the water supply, sent out the men to plow at harvest time, and received census reports of cattle.9  He heard each territorial dispute within two months, or in the case of his own city, within three days.

In addition to the granary, Joseph probably supervised the royal treasurer.  Each morning the chief treasure reported to Joseph.  Only after his report was made did Joseph give authority to open the offices and carry out the business of the state.

Taxes were collected by the vizier as well.  The tomb of Rekh-mi-Re depicts the vizier receiving dues from lower officials the tribute from Asiatic vassal-princes and Nubian chiefs.10  A long list of officials and their dues also has been found in the tomb of Rekh-mi-Re.

As royal archivist all administrative documents required his seal and no document could be consulted without his permission.  In later times viziers performed such tasks as helping end workers’ strikes and settling disputes among local officials.

Genesis 41-40 says that Joseph was over pharaoh’s house.  This probably included the local palace as well as the entire land.  Being over the house of pharaoh meant that he recruited the staff of the royal household and dispatched all palace messengers.  In addition, he arranged the king’s travels and hired the royal bodyguard.

Joseph’s day-to-day activities must have been quite demanding.  The statement in Genesis 42:6 that Joseph was ruler (governor) over the land fits all the extra-biblical evidence concerning the work of the vizier.  As vizier he consulted daily with the pharaoh, the royal treasurer, and other lesser officials.  He conducted daily hearings in his judgment hall and attended to the administrative affairs of the land.

Concerning the duties of the various viziers, Breasted stated that “it must have been this office which the Hebrew narrator had in mind as that to which Joseph was appointed.”11  Without a man of such tremendous energy and insight, many people would have suffered even more tragically during years of famine and want.  Joseph himself stated well the truth of the providence of God: “And as for you (his brothers), ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Gen. 50:20).                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bi

1.  Wilson, The Burden of Egypt (Chicago: The Univ. of Chicago Press, 1951), p. 172.

2.  Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. 1969), p. 213.

3.  Ibid.

4.  Breasted, A History of Egypt (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1909), p. 405.

5.  Ibid.

6.  Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 213.

7.  Ibid., pp. 213-14.

8.  Ibid.

9.  Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, vol. 2 (Chicago: The Univ. of Chicago Press, 1906), pp. 278-80.

10. Ibid., pp. 294-95.

11. Breasted,  A History of Egypt, p. 244.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Summer 1982.

 

BIBLE CHARACTER TRIVIA

 

What Is The Answer To & Where In The Bible Is This Week’s Trivia Question Found? (10/19/14)  What is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer?  Answer next week:

 The answer to last week’s trivia question : Who found bees and honey in the carcass of what animal? (10/12/14)  Answer: Two-part question: (1) Who? Samson; (2) What kind of animal? A lion; Judges 14:8.