JOSEPH SOLD INTO EGYPT

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    [Genesis:37:1-36].

    Lesson No.: 
    33
    Class: 
    Senior
    Memory Verse: 

    "Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us" (Psalm 44:5).

    Cross References: 

    I The Young Man Joseph, Jacob's Most Beloved Son
    1. Joseph, the son of Rachel, was the favourite son of his father [Genesis:37:1-3]; [Genesis:30:22-24] ; [Genesis:33:2].
    2. Jacob's partiality causes enmity and animosity between Joseph and his brothers, [Genesis:37:4].

    II Joseph's Dreams and the Resultant Hatred
    1. He dreams that his brothers' sheaves bow down to his sheaf, [Genesis:37:5-8].
    2. He dreams that eleven stars, together with the sun and moon, bow down to him, [Genesis:37:9-10].
    3. The dreams cause the brothers to hate and envy Joseph; the father rebukes him but keeps a fond parental interest in him, [Genesis:37:5], [Genesis:37:8], [Genesis:37:10-11].

    III The Crime's Inception and Perpetration
    1. Joseph is always an obedient son, [Genesis:37:12-17].
    2. The brothers conspire against him, but Reuben, the first-born, intervenes to spare his life, [Genesis:37:18-22].
    3. Joseph is sold as a slave without Reuben's knowledge or consent, [Genesis:37:23-28].
    4. Reuben grieves when he fails to find Joseph in the pit, [Genesis:37:29-30].
    5. The brothers deceive their father and cause him great grief, [Genesis:37:31-36].

    Notes: 

    We now begin the study of the life of Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob, Rachel's first son. An interesting thing about Joseph is that he is one of the few characters of whom a detailed account is given in the Bible but of whom no fault is mentioned. He had a sterling character that was above reproach in all his dealings with others, despite the fact that the favouritism shown him by his father was sufficient to have spoiled an even better than average child. We can say that in many ways he is a type of Christ.

    The sons of Jacob, who were to be the tribal fathers of the Israelitish nation, lived with their father in the vale of Hebron. Since Rachel was the one whom Jacob originally chose when he made the offer to work seven years for Laban in exchange for a wife, it is only natural that her children should be the most loved of the family [Genesis:29:18]).

    All the sons, except Benjamin, were born in Haran while Jacob was working for his father-in-law. Benjamin, the youngest and the son of Rachel, was born while the family was journeying from Haran to Canaan. Rachel died when Benjamin was born, so her two sons were especially endeared to the father. They were all Jacob had as a living remembrance of Rachel, whom he dearly loved [Genesis:37:3]).

    The sons of Bilhah were Dan and Naphtali, and those of Zilpah were Gad and Asher. Joseph apparently spent more time with these four than with the rest of his brothers. Because Jacob listened so readily to Joseph, he brought his reports of the evil deeds of these four brothers to the parental ear and, no doubt, caused the brothers to suffer very often because of their misdeeds. This naturally caused a feeling of resentment toward Joseph to exist in the carnal hearts of the four brothers.

    There is always danger when the parent shows a decided preference for one child over the others of the family. Much suffering has been brought upon sons through this indulgence on the part of a father or a mother. It is not easy to be a perfect parent and always to do the right thing in bringing up those whom God has entrusted to our care; but partiality shown toward one or two at the expense of others in the family is something that should be guarded against with all the fervour of one's spirit.

    Jacob should have known where this course of partiality would lead. He had been the less favoured son of his father's house, the greater regard being shown by Isaac for Esau, his elder twin brother. Because of his inferior position in the family and his desire for a greater blessing than was naturally his, he used deceit to obtain that favoured benediction. As we found out in our study of that lesson, deceit is never justified and will always bring a harvest of suffering and regret in due time.

    Now Jacob again suffers for the sins of his youth, being deceived by his sons in his old age, reaping an unpleasant harvest for those sins [Genesis:27:18-19], [Genesis:27:24], [Genesis:27:35]). "For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" [Galatians:6:7]).

    The incidents in this lesson are the beginning of a long and arduous "training period" for this young man, Joseph. The Lord had chosen him as a man whom He could trust to fill a high position in the plan He had for His people, the Children of Israel.

    No doubt Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had wondered just how the covenant promises that God had given were to be carried out. They might have envisioned their descendants, gradually increasing in the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, until they overpowered the tribes living there. But God had a different plan. His people were to go down into Egypt; and after suffering in bondage, they were to come out as a nation, by a mighty deliverance for which they could give praise to no one but God. Joseph was the one chosen by God to "spearhead" this movement of the chosen family to Egypt and the one by whom the power of God was to be revealed to that pagan nation [Genesis:45:5]).

    Joseph was hated by his brothers, not only because of the parental favour shown him, but because the Lord gave him two dreams which the brothers interpreted as showing that they and the parents would bow down in reverence to this younger brother, a thing which was unheard of in those Eastern countries. To some it may seem that a lack of tact on the part of Joseph made his way hard, causing his brothers to envy, hate, and ridicule him; but we know that God was directing Joseph's course in life and all this was a part of God's plan for His own chosen people, the Children of Israel [Genesis:45:5-8]). The father rebuked him but nevertheless observed the saying, perhaps feeling a sense of parental pride in the fact that this younger, favoured son was to be a ruler over them all [Luke:2:19]). These dreams were fulfilled to the letter in later years [Genesis:42:6]; [Genesis:43:26]; [Genesis:50:15-18]).

    Some time later the elder sons took the flocks to Shechem for grazing. Since this was the place that Jacob had bought from the Shechemites and where his sons at one time had committed a horrible slaughter, the aged father might well be solicitous of their welfare. He knew it would not be an uncommon thing if some of the neighbouring tribes would attempt to take revenge for the cold-blooded murder of the Shechemites. He sent Joseph to see if all was well with them. Joseph's immediate obedience, even though the journey was probably a hard one since Shechem is thought to be about 60 miles from the vale of Hebron, is an indication of his good character. He found that his brothers had gone to Dothan, probably about eight miles distant, so he journeyed on to them that he might inquire their welfare and take a report to his father.

    The first plan of the jealous brothers, as they saw Joseph approaching, was to kill him outright; but the first-born, Reuben, suggested that Joseph merely be put into a pit to die and in that way they could not be accused of actually taking the lad's life. This was only an excuse of Reuben's, who was certainly no saint, as we can see by past references to his life -- but who was eager to save the boy's life so that he could return him safely to his father. As the first-born, Reuben was the responsible member of the party. His bosom was not the habitation of cruelty as were the others, who would not only cast their own young brother into a pit, intending to leave him there to die of starvation and exposure, but could immediately sit down and eat a meal. This act forcibly describes the brutish and diabolic nature of their ruthless souls.

    Judah later evolved a plan, and secured its acceptance by all except Reuben who was absent at the time, to sell Joseph as a slave to a caravan that was passing on the way to Egypt; and then let their father believe that the young man was killed by a wild beast as he hunted for them in that uninhabited region. He perhaps reasoned that in that manner they could obtain some financial gain as well as save themselves the guilt that would result from his death.

    The plan was carried out without Reuben's knowledge or consent, and Joseph was sold into bondage. When Reuben saw that his own private plan had failed he mourned the loss of his brother but still was content to allow the deception to go on refusing to reveal the truth of what had happened. He let the aged parent believe that his most loved son had met a terrible death as the result of an encounter with some ferocious beast, when all the time he was alive in a faraway land. One cannot help seeing the terrible lengths to which sin and deception can lead its partakers. These brothers made a farce of trying to comfort the bereaved father; but, to free themselves of his blame and censure, kept from him the news that would have relieved him the most.

    We find many parallels between the life of Joseph and that of our Lord. Jesus was the beloved Son of His Father and Joseph was a beloved son of his father. Both were obedient, even unto death ([Philippians:2:8]). Both were the innocent persons whom their brethren sold for a few pieces of silver ([Luke:22:3-6], [Luke:22:47-48]; [Matthew:27:3-10]).
    In Joseph's case this bargain was proposed by his brother, Judah (Greek Judas), the very name-sake of that disciple and brother who sold his Lord and Master.
    Joseph became the means whereby his brethren -- and a world of strangers -- could be saved from death. Jesus, through His betrayal and death, became the Lord and Saviour of His brethren (the Jewish people) and also a world of strangers to the covenant of promise. This happened in both cases by the plots of rejection and destruction.

    Another interesting parallel is that both had someone who tried to deliver them from their obvious fate. Reuben conceived a plan to deliver Joseph from the hands of his brothers; and Peter drew his sword to attempt a deliverance from the hands of Jesus' captors. But both schemes failed, since they were merely the results of a natural man's well-intended reasonings. God's great over-all plan for His people depended upon a Joseph in Egypt and a well-beloved Son in a sinful world.

    How wonderful is God's plan! How marvellously it is carried out and revealed to mankind! How interested God is in the welfare of men of every time and period in the world's history, in that He sent encouragement to them through His blessed promises, covenants, examples, and prefiguring-types, that they might not be driven to despair but see by means of them the Way, the Truth, and the Life and be rescued from a devil's hell and an eternity of out-poured judgement.

    Questions: 

    1. What position did Joseph have in his father's family? What was his mother's name?
    2. What was the first cause of the enmity that existed between Joseph and his brothers?
    3. Describe the two dreams that Joseph had.
    4. Did the brothers have to ask for the interpretation of the dreams?
    5. What attitude did the father show toward the dreams?
    6. Who else, in the Bible, observed the sayings of a young man and pondered them in her heart?
    7. Did Joseph show signs of being a spoiled child, one who did not know what discipline meant?
    8. To whom was Joseph sold? Where did they take him?
    9. What untruth did the brothers tell Jacob?
    10. Show as many parallels as you can between the life of Joseph and that of Christ.