Abraham Isaac Jacob And Joseph
There are two main theories as to where to date Joseph, and they are known as the short sojourn and the long sojourn. To begin to understand what those terms mean we need to start with some scripture. Exodus 12:40-41 states:
40Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 41And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years on that very same day it came to pass that all the armies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.
This follows the Masoretic text, which is the version of the ancient Hebrew used as the basis for most Christian bibles. However, the Septuagint, a translation from Hebrew to Greek from the third century BC states:
Now the residence of the sons of Israel during which they dwelt in the land, Egypt, and in the land of Chanaan, was four hundred and thirty years.
Josephus, writing in the first century AD, supports the Septuagint version of events in his history of the Jewish people:
They left Egypt in the month Xanthicus, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt
The sojourn in Egypt was in fulfillment of the prophecy given to Abraham when God made His covenant with him:
In the New Testament we find a couple of additional references to the length of time the children of Israel spent in Egypt.
Day : Joseph And His Family
Looking to Gods Word
1. How would you describe Josephs relationship with his brothers?
2. Could Joseph have prevented the jealousy of his brothers? Why or why not?
3. How would you describe his relationship with his father Jacob?
4. In verses 21-27 Reuben and Judah came to Josephs defense. Why would these two, of all the brothers, try to save Joseph?
5. How do you see Gods sovereign hand at work throughout this chapter?
6. How do you see Gods hand at work in your own life?
- We are told in Genesis 37:3 that Jacob made Joseph a varicolored tunic. What was the significance of this tunic and what impact might that have had on his brothers?
- How was God already developing Josephs gifts at the age of 17?
God broke Joseph by taking him out of comfortable circumstances and stretching him. God often has to break us before He can use us.
- How has God broken you? How did it strengthen you?
- Are you willing to let God do whatever He needs to in your life to make you usable to Him? If not, why? Be honest with the Lord, and ask Him to make you willing, trusting His loving and sovereign hand in your life.
Family Reunion And Death
The famine that Joseph predicted ultimately brings the sons of Jacob to Egypt. With no other options, and hearing of excess grain in the neighboring country, Jacobs sons make a series of trips down to Egypt. Upon discovering his brothers some 20 years after selling him into slavery, Joseph conceals his identity and tests his family, locking up his brother Simeon until the rest of the brothers return with Benjamin .
Jacob is reluctant to send Benjamin his last child of Rachel but he ultimately relents. Only upon seeing Benjamin does Joseph reveal himself to his brothers, grant them forgiveness, and bring the entire family down to Egypt.
Joseph dies in Egypt at the age of 110. Before dying, Joseph makes his children promise that when the Israelites eventually leave Egypt, they will take his remains with them. In the story of the Exodus , Moses does just that, carrying Josephs bones on the way to Israel.
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Potiphar’s Wife Had The Hots For Joseph
After being sold somewhere between one and five times, Joseph finds himself a slave in the household of Potiphar, the captain of the Pharaoh’s guard. The account in Genesis 39 tells us that Potiphar’s wife fell in love with the handsome young slave and tried to seduce him. The virtuous young man rejects her, which is both the right and wrong move, as Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of assaulting her, which lands him in jail.
The episode of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife is the inspiration for much of the rabbinical and legendary material about Joseph. For example, The Legends of the Jews recounts the various means by which Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph. And how could she not? Joseph was so handsome that all Zuleika’s maids stare at him and unthinkingly cut their hands while peeling oranges. First Zuleika pretends to want to adopt him , then promises to reward him with power or renounce the worship of idols or murder her husband. When these fail, she tries giving him enchanted food. When Joseph won’t even look at her, she has his head shackled so he can’t turn away. It’s good that Joseph resists, because the Lord appears to him and tells Joseph that if he touches Zuleika, God will cause the world to crumble to dust. Yikes.
Day : Josephs Early Life In Egypt
Chapter 38 seems like an interruption to our story of Joseph in Egypt, but it is a narrative of what took place back in Canaan during this time, especially concerning the life of Judah. We pick up our narrative of Joseph in Chapter 39.
Looking to Gods Word
1. How did God use Josephs captivity for good ?
2. How was Joseph able to resist the temptation of Potiphars wife day after day ?
3. Joseph was falsely accused by Potiphars wife, and Potiphar believed his wife over Joseph, resulting in his imprisonment. Yet, how did God use this for good?
4. What was one mistake that Joseph made that perhaps could have prevented the false accusation against him?
5. What does it mean that the Lord was with Joseph?
6. Does Gods favor mean prosperity? Why or why not?
7. Have you ever been falsely accused? How did you handle it? What resulted from it?
- What does Stephen have to say about Joseph and what God did for him in Acts 7:9-10?
- As you look back over this chapter, note the times Gods favor and blessing on Joseph is mentioned. How does one gain favor?
Joseph lived a life of integrity and was faithful to God in the midst of prosperity and adversity. He is a great example for us to follow.
- Are you living faithfully in the midst of prosperity and adversity?
- Do others around you see Christ in you?
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Brothers Sent To Egypt
In the second year of famine, Joseph’s half brothers were sent to Egypt to buy goods. When they came to Egypt, they stood before the Vizier but did not recognize him as their brother Joseph, who was now in his late 30s but Joseph did recognize them and did not speak at all to them in his native tongue of Hebrew. After questioning them, he accused them of being spies. After they mentioned a younger brother at home, the Vizier demanded that he be brought to Egypt as a demonstration of their veracity. This was Joseph’s full brother, Benjamin. Joseph placed his brothers in prison for three days. On the third day, he brought them out of prison to reiterate that he wanted their youngest brother brought to Egypt to demonstrate their veracity. The brothers conferred amongst themselves speaking in Hebrew, reflecting on the wrong they had done to Joseph. Joseph understood what they were saying and removed himself from their presence because he was caught in emotion. When he returned, the Vizier took Simeon and bound him as a hostage. Then he had their donkeys prepared with grain and sent the other brothers back to Canaan. Unbeknownst to them, Joseph had also returned their money to their money sacks .
Genesis 4: 812 What Significant Portion Of The Birthright Blessing Was Given To Judah
The blessing given to Judah indicates that kings would come from his lineage . Old Testament history teaches that this promise was fulfilled. King David, King Solomon, and King Rehoboam are just three of the kings who came through Judahâs lineage. The King of Kings, Jesus Christ, referred to here as Shiloh, also came through this line. Elder Ezra Taft Benson said of this promise:
âThe great blessing to Judah is that it contemplated the coming of Shiloh who would gather his people to him. This prophecy concerning Shiloh has been subject to several rabbinic and Christian interpretations and the object of considerable controversy. The interpretation given this passage by the Mormon Church is one based on revelation to modern prophets, not on scholarly commentary. It was revealed to Joseph Smith that Shiloh is the Messiah. â
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Lessons From The Life Of Joseph Unwavering Integrity
Probably one of the most well known lessons from the life of Joseph comes from his unwavering integrity! Every woman who has ever felt the sting of betrayal knows how deeply she longs for a man who will RUN from temptation like Joseph did!
But as is always the case with people of integrity, we can find many more examples of his unwavering commitment to be obedient to God than just that one famous incident when he had the courage to run from a beautiful woman who threw herself at him!
Genesis 39:6-12 So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he ownedJoseph was a very handsome and well-built you man, and Potiphars wife soon began to look at him lustfully. Come and sleep with me, she demanded.But Joseph refused. Look, he told her, my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held nothing back from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, Come on, sleep with me! Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house.
Unshakable Faith That Endures Through Anything
Something Im starting to understand is that all the lessons from the life of Joseph really boil down to one thing: his unshakable faith. But I dont want us to walk away from this study without understanding how unlikely such a faith was in a story like Josephs.
Lets not miss the fact that he waited on God for A LONG TIME! Its so easy to lose the weight of time in Bible stories. Years and years unfold in a few sentences. Joseph was probably about 17 or 18 when his brothers sold him into slavery and he was 30 years old when Pharaoh made him the ruler over Egypt. Thats 12 YEARS or more!
We know he had already been in prison for a little while when he interpreted the dreams of the chief cup bearer and the chief baker, and we know he was left there in prison for two more years after that! So we can assume a minimum of 3 years probably more than that IN PRISON!
Thats a long time to be stuck in an ancient prison! I promise you, there was nothing fun about that situation. And it went on for years and years you guys! I really want us to think about that. And yet, Joseph had faith that endured through it all!
All the way to the very end of his life, Josephs faith remained strong, and He is recorded in Hebrews hall of faith for believing God would keep His promises about the nation of Israel.
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The Story Of Joseph In The Bible
The book of Genesis has quite a few stories about important people, but no one gets more time than Joseph. You can get an overview of most of the Genesis story, including Josephs, in this great video from the Bible Project:
Josephs story begins in Genesis 37, when he is seventeen years old. We learn that Joseph is his fathers favorite, and his many brothers are already jealous of him. Then Joseph has a dream where his brothers bow down to him. Instead of keeping this to himself, Joseph lets everyone know.
Joseph may have had other motivations for telling his brothers, but its hard to believe pride wasnt a big part of it. Especially considering that he told everyone about a second dream where his whole family bows to him. His brothers, already jealous, became furious.
They worked together to get rid of Joseph. Instead of murdering him, however, they sold him into slavery. His brothers enjoyed a nice payday, meanwhile Joseph became a slave in the house of a man named Potiphar.
Joseph And Gods Providence
There is another lesson we can learn from the narrative of Joseph. This story is one of the best examples of the benevolent providence of God.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Gods providence boggles my mind more than any miracle.
- a miracle is when God suspends natural law to do something outside of natural law.
- walking on water
- raising dead people
Think about how God works in this narrative through the various actors through providence
- Josephs father and the multicolored coat given with favoritism
- Josephs brothers and their sinful jealousy and envy
- The timely caravan of Ishmaelites traveling to Egypt
- Potiphar and his wife
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Joseph Sold By His Brothers
12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their fathers flocks near Shechem,13 and Israel said to Joseph, As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.
Very well, he replied.
14 So he said to him, Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me. Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem,15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, What are you looking for?
16 He replied, Im looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?
17 They have moved on from here, the man answered. I heard them say, Lets go to Dothan.
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan.18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
19 Here comes that dreamer! they said to each other.20 Come now, lets kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then well see what comes of his dreams.
21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. Lets not take his life, he said.22 Dont shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but dont lay a hand on him. Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.
33 He recognized it and said, It is my sons robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.
How Joseph Shows Patience Through The Bad Times
The prosperity gospel is an increasingly popular belief that those who love God, think positive, and work hard will receive material wealth and success. The story of Joseph stands in stark opposition to this. Joseph did everything right, and still spent thirteen years as a slave or prisoner.
And while many Western christians today would say they dont believe the prosperity gospel, few of us would stomach the idea of suffering for thirteen years. Were uncomfortable with the idea of suffering at all, but we like to think we can handle it for a few months. Surely God wouldnt push us to struggle for longer than that, right?
Once weve learned our lesson, we can move on to a season of blessing and easy living!
And yet, we are never promised this. We may experience trials and tribulations for far longer than a few months, we might experience them for longer than Joseph did. As I said at the beginning of this post, our family has endured a really tough year. Now that its been almost 12 months, Im really hoping weve crossed the finish line.
The story of Joseph reminds me that the trials may not be finished. The story of Joseph also reminds me that, even if the trials arent over, we will be ok. Because here is the good news: Just as God was with Joseph during his time as a slave and a prisoner, God will be with you during your hard times. Not only that, but we are promised an eternity without sickness, pain, or tears.
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