the backside of betrayal
Post on 13-May-2015
Embed Size (px)
DESCRIPTIONJoseph is sold to Egyptian bondage by his brothers. This episode teaches us much about how God can bring good even out of the most black of situations.
Joseph is one of the most intriguing sections of
Joseph’s brothers despise him and sell him into slavery.
Yet, Joseph forgives his brothers.
Joseph fully surrendered his life to God at an early age.
Therefore, God was able to use Joseph in a major way to advance
Had Joseph and his brothers died in famine, God would not have
been able to fulfill His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The issues of faith that plagued Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
do not appear in Joseph’s life.
Joseph arguably had a much harder life than Abraham, Isaac, or
Moses illustrates what a faith-full life would look like.
Joseph’s brothers hated him, because:
He brings an evil report of his brothers Dan, Naphtali, Gad,
and Asher to his father (v 2).
His father shows him partiality by giving him the infamous
coat (vv 3-4).
He has two dreams (of the eleven sheaves, and of the sun,
moon, and eleven stars) which suggest that he is to be
exalted above the rest of the family (vv 5-11).
How might Joseph have handled his brothers
Do we ever seriously hurt relationships over perceived
How might we keep from doing so?
Joseph, the Beloved of His
“Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a
stranger, in the land of Canaan” (v 1).
Moses reminds us again that the patriarchs were aliens on
Heb 11:8-16 and Phil 3:17-21 connect this to the Christian life.
We, as the people of God, are strangers on this earth.
How do we show we are aliens?
Do we sometimes get too comfy with this world?
How do we keep from getting too comfy?
Not only were Jacob a “stranger,” but he was an alien in
The mention of Canaan reminds us of the promise of God.
Jacob’s descendants would inherit the land.
How can we have confidence in God’s promises?
“This is the history of Jacob.”
The rest of Genesis is the history of Jacob.
Yes, the special emphasis throughout the text is on Joseph, but
Jacob’s burial doesn’t occur until the end of the Book.
Why do you think that Moses, through the Spirit, spent so much
space on Jacob?
The Jacob/Joseph narrative demonstrates how God providentially saved the
nation of Israel and His scheme of redemption.
If God had allowed this family to die in the famine, He could not fulfill His promise
to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Instead, we see the lengths God goes through to fulfill His promise.
The lesson is two-fold:
God is faithful!
God may work in our lives in ways we do not understand.
At the age of 17, Joseph is feeding the flock with his
brothers, and he brought back “a bad report of them
[Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher]” to Jacob.
Throughout the Old Testament, this Hebrew term refers to a
message that is at best derogatory, and at worst deceitfully
God has commanded that we not speak in such a manner.
“You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people” (Lev
“He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do
not associate with one who flatters with his lips” (Prov 20:19).
Why might Joseph have wanted to gossip against these
What might he have gained?
Why might people today gossip?
What might be gained through gossip?
What might be lost through gossip?
Rabban Simon ben Gamaliel once ordered his servant
to bring from the market the best thing to be found
there. To the good rabbi's surprise he brought a tongue.
At another time the rabbi commanded him to bring the
worst thing the market could offer. To his still greater
surprise the servant again brought a tongue. “How is
this?” the master asked. “When I bad thee bring the
best thing the marked provided, thou didst bring a
tongue. And now that I have ordered the worst thing,
thou dost still bring a tongue?”
“Good master,” answered the wise servant, “dost thou
not know that a tongue may be either the best or the
worst thing in the world accordingly as its owner uses
It seems that Joseph’s tongue gets him into a good bit
There is the bad report he brought against four of his
There is also the telling of the dreams.
Joseph couldn’t help that He had these dreams.
God gave Joseph the dreams.
God, in His bountiful wisdom, gave Joseph these dreams.
However, Joseph didn’t have to tell everything he knew.
The text doesn’t say so, but I can imagine that Joseph
flaunted his favored position.
The wearing of the coat to go visit his brothers seems to indicate
Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than all his children.
Of course, Israel had seen that favoritism in his own parents.
I think this should stand as a warning to all of us parents
about what we’re passing on to our children.
Israel gave Joseph “a tunic of many colors.”
That translation has been flatly rejected by most scholars.
The LXX translated the Hebrew this way, and many English
translations have followed suit.
We see the multicolored coat in Sunday school curriculum (I even
searched for an image of a multicolored coat for the PowerPoint).
The Hebrew almost certainly does not mean this, but the
Hebrew is not precisely clear.
The Hebrew might mean an ornamental robe.
The idea would be that it was a special robe that separated Joseph from
However, most scholars today believe the Hebrew really means “a
long robe with sleeves.”
“Long robe with sleeves.”
The robe with long sleeves could refer to a royal robe.
The only other occurrence of this expression is in the narrative of
Amnon’s rape of Tamar (2 Sam 13:18-19).
Tamar “had a robe of many colors, for the king’s virgin daughters
wore such apparel” (2 Sam 13:18).
The sleeves might indicate that Joseph was not expected to
work in the fields like his brothers.
Workers wore short garments with short sleeves so that their arms
could be free to work.
Joseph worked with his brothers (v 2) at one point, but when the
brothers went to Shechem Joseph stayed behind (vv 12ff).
Joseph’s brothers hated him and could not speak
peaceably to him.
We sometimes talk very casually about hating things (e.g.,
certain teams or foods).
“Hate” in Hebrew refers to a deed or the inception of a deed.
Just like we might talk about love as action, hate, in this manner, is
Thus, when we find that Joseph’s brothers hated him, we should
expect to find a corresponding action.
Is there a great deal of hatred in the world today?
What are some examples of hate that we find?
How can we get rid of hate in this world?
Obviously, following Jesus is absolutely the only way that we can
get rid of hate.
What are some things that He taught us that are the antidote to
Joseph had a dream, told it to his brothers, and they
hated him even more.
The dreams indicate that God is directing Joseph’s life.
There can be little doubt but that these dreams are a divine
I further believe that Joseph understood the dreams to be a divine
Even Joseph’s brothers understood the meaning of the dreams: “Shall you
indeed reign over us?” (v 8).
However, what did Joseph gain by telling his brothers these
Are there ever times that the wise thing is to keep our mouths
The dreams indicated a unique position for Joseph.
“Your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my
“The sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to
In other words, this was not a case where the meaning
of the dreams could be in anyway ambiguous.
Notice that twice the narrative tells us that the brothers hated
Joseph even more (v 5, 8) because of the dreams.
That’s very interesting, because:
The dreams, the telling of them, and the hatred of the
brothers all work for the unfolding purpose of God.
This serves as a reminder that the will of God cannot be
thwarted even by sin.
In the case of Joseph (as with Jesus), sin helps move God’s
The brothers’ hatred was clearly wrong.
Their selling Joseph into Egyptian bondage was wrong.
The advances of Potiphar’s wife were wrong.
The lying of Potiphar’s wife that led to Joseph’s being wrongly
imprisoned was wrong.
However, through all that sin, the purpose of a God who
cannot be touched with sin was fulfilled.
I cannot even begin to fathom how God could do that.
Yet, I believe He can do that because He is a “BIG” God.
He has all power, He has infinite wisdom, He has a perfect will, etc.
This should leave us with an unshakeable calmness as we rest in
the will of God.
The world is very chaotic as we meet tonight (07.23.14).
There is a war in Ukraine & a plane that has been shot down.
There is war in the Middle East.
There is a sluggish economy here in the United States.
Yet through all of that, God is moving everything to be subdued in Christ (1
Cor 15:25-28; Eph 1:10; Phil 2:9-11).
Joseph Hated and Rejected by His
The mention of eleven stars in verse 9 indicates that
Benjamin had been born when Joseph was sold into
Joseph also asked a leading question about Benjamin (Gen
Some scholars have suggested that Benjamin was not born
until after Joseph was sold into slavery.
Jacob’s mention of “your mother” at v 10 is difficult to understand.
Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin (35:16-21).
Because of the traveling sequence given, it seems very unlikely that this is
out of chronological order.
Some have suggested that Leah or Rachel’s maid Bilhah was
regarded as Joseph’s mother after the death of Rachel.
Jacob rebuked Joseph for the dreams (v 10).
It could be that Jacob rebuked Joseph for the telling of the
However, the wording of verse 10--“What is this dream that
you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your
brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before
you?”--really makes me think that Jacob was rebuking him
for the dreams themselves.
Why would Jacob rebuke Joseph for something over which Joseph
had no control?
Are there ever times that we rebuke when we shouldn’t?
How might we know when to rebuke and when not to rebuke?
Are there appropriate ways to rebuke?
Joseph’s brothers envied him.
What is the difference between hatred and envy?
Why might Joseph’s brothers have been envious of him?
Why is envy harmful to the Christian?
1 Cor 13:4.
Joseph’s father “kept the matter in mind.”
Why might Jacob have “kept the matter in mind”?
Can you think of anyone else who kept matters in mind?
Joseph’s brothers go to feed their father’s flock in
Shechem is about 50 miles north of Hebron.
This journey could have taken 2½ days if they were able to
walk 20 miles a day which was common.
I would imagine, however, that the sheep would have slowed them
down a good bit.
Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers.
Isn’t this a case where a cell phone would have come in
Even if this journey had gone as Jacob expected, the
journey there and back would have taken at least a week.
It is quite possible that Jacob wants Joseph to check on
his brothers because of the massacre Simeon and Levi
carried out in Shechem because their sister Dinah was
violated (Gen 34).
Jacob was concerned when that massacre occurred that the
Canaanites and Perizzites would carry out retribution (Gen
If Jacob is worried. . .
That the Canaanites and Perizzites would carry out retribution, it
would be difficult seeing him sending Joseph.
That Simeon, Levi, and the other eight might carry out more
vengeance, it would be easy to see Jacob sending Joseph.
We know of his willingness to bring a bad report to his father (v 2).
When Joseph gets to Shechem, he discovers that his
brothers are in Dothan, fifteen miles farther north.
The brothers could see Joseph coming “even before he
came near them.”
Obviously the coat he was wearing allowed them to see him.
When they see Joseph, they say, “Look, this dreamer is
The phrase in Hebrew literally means “master of dreams.”
The Heb phrase was commonly used with many traits and means “to
represent a person (poetically even a thing) as possessing some object or
quality, or being in some condition(.”
E.g., “masters of arrows” (Gen 49:23) are archers, “a master of the lending
of the hand” (Deut 15:2) is a creditor, “a master of the tongue” (Eccl 10:11)
is a charmer, “a master of two wings” (Eccl 10:20) is a bird, etc.
While the coat and their father’s favoritism caused the
ten brothers to hate Joseph, it appears as though the
dreams were the final straw.
The dreams could have been the “final straw” for a
One: They may generally hate the idea that this bratty kid is
going to have any power of them.
They may not have believed the dreams, but the implication of the
dreams was quite obvious.
Two: They may have generally hated the idea that God
would elevate Joseph to such a position.
They may have believed the dreams and been angry that God
would elevate Joseph.
Are there any times when we get angry at God because
He (seemingly) blesses others better than He blesses
Does God bless us equally?
There are many who see God’s hand in every single thing
that happens (“Everything happens for a reason”).
I would flatly deny that is the case.
However, does God need to justify to me what He does?
Joseph Cast into the Pit
When the brothers saw the master of dreams, they
conspired against him to kill him.
The same Hebrew word is used here as was used in the
case of Cain and Abel.
They did not intend simply to kill him, but they planned to do so in a
gruesome, grizzly manner.
This demonstrates to us how much sin was in their hearts.
They would say that a wild beast had devoured their brother.
The Hebrew word for “wild” can mean “sinful” or “wicked” in some
contexts and “harmful” or “punishing” in others.
The idea then would be a harmful, wild, unrestrained beast.
What does it take for a person to plot murder?
In this case, it’s not just that one person plots murder, but
Only Reuben was opposed to the murder.
He may have still had some love for his younger brother; maybe
Joseph occupied a “warm place” in Reuben’s heart.
It may have been to get back in his father’s good graces because
of his earlier indiscretion (35:22).
Some have also said that while Reuben hated his brother, he may
have felt that murder was simply wrong.
After committing Joseph’s murder, the ten brothers plan
to throw Joseph into a pit.
What is a pit?
A pit at this time in the Middle East was 6-24 feet in depth.
The purpose was to collect rain water during the rainy season.
The rest of the year these cisterns would be quite dry.
Joseph’s brothers stripped him of his tunic “of many
colors” before casting him into the pit.
That symbol that the brothers hated so badly was stripped
away from Joseph.
Are there “symbols” that we might have that it would be wise
to strip from ourselves?
After stripping him of his garment, nine (Reuben has left
for some reason) brothers “cast him into a pit.”
The Hebrew word for “cast” or “throw” says more than it first
This verb with a person as the direct object “almost always refers
to the placing of a dead body in a grave” (2 Sam 18:17; 2 Ki 13:21;
Jer 41:9), “or to the placing of a living body into what is assumed
will be its grave” (21:15; Jer 38:6).
Therefore, it seems extremely likely that the brothers hoped
Joseph would soon be dead.
The idea that they hoped Joseph would die in the pit is
exemplified in the fact the brothers sat down to eat a meal (v
The nine brothers sat down to eat a meal.
This is absolutely incredulous!
They are so callous that that they are able to eat after what they
had done to Joseph.
I don’t know, but…
Is Joseph injured in some way?
Is he, therefore, screaming in agony.
The fact that he is sold as a slave to Potiphar indicates that any injury is fairly
Is Joseph pleading with them?
Is Joseph very uncomfortable (cold, wet, etc.) because he is nearly naked?
I cannot escape the irony.
The brothers sit down to eat.
A few years later, Joseph would be the reason they ate.
Why would Moses record the fact that they ate while
Joseph was in the pit?
One: I think it shows the hardness of the brothers’ hearts.
Two: I think it is purposefully mentioned to be
ironic/foreshadowing of things yet to come.
The nine brothers lifted their eyes and there was a
coming a company of Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead.
There is a fairly serious “problem” with the text at this point.
The company is identified in two different ways:
They are Ishmaelites (37:25), then Midianites (37:28), Ishmaelites
(37:28), Midianites (37:36), and then Ishmaelites (39:1) again.
Midian was descended from Abraham through Keturah, and
Ishmael through Hagar.
Which were they?
There are two serious attempts to solve this issue.
The first idea is that the author of Genesis used sources
and that the sources differed on the ethnicity of the
The idea of sources in Genesis became popular shortly after
the American Civil War (although there was some support
for this idea going back to the 1650’s).
The idea is that Moses did not write any of the Pentateuch,
but that someone (a redactor) put the five books together
from four different sources.
There are some issues with that theory.
The most serious issue is that other Old Testament authors, Jesus,
and the apostles all attribute the Law to Moses and declare that
Moses wrote the Law.
There is nothing in Scripture which says specifically
says that Moses wrote Genesis.
John 7:22 might, but Jesus could also be referring to Lev
However, there are reasons to believe that Moses wrote
The language of Genesis is very similar to Ex-Deut.
The author new Egyptian customs very well.
Exodus begins in Hebrew with the word “and,” which indicates a
However, I have no problem with the idea that Moses
Luke strongly implies that he used source material in writing
his Gospel (Lk 1:1-4).
I personally believe that the Holy Spirit guided Moses in
using sources for Genesis.
Yet, it seems to me a very far stretch to suggest that
within a couple sentences Moses switches back and
forth because he wasn’t certain the ethnicity of the
Some of these scholars treat the biblical authors as though
they were stupid hicks who couldn’t have found their way out
of a paper sack.
The second suggestion as to the identity of the caravan
is that Ishmaelite and Midianite were synonyms.
We don’t know how these two names became merged (they
descended from Abraham through different women, one
mistress and one wife).
The two terms are synonymous in Judges 8:22-26.
Joseph Sold into Egypt
Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill
our brother and conceal his blood? Come and let us sell
him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon
him, for he is our brother and our flesh.”
Judah here talks about concealing Joseph’s blood.
Could they have concealed Joseph’s blood from God?
What are some examples of sins people believe they can hide from
God and others?
Why do people continue to think they can do this?
It might seem that Judah is being very humane in
suggesting that Joseph be sold instead of being killed.
Moses and his contemporaries might not have agreed.
In the 13th and 14th centuries BC, people in the Ancient Near East
(ANE) were commonly sold into Egyptian slavery as punishment
for various crimes, including defaulting on debts.
Because the demand for slaves became so high, people began
kidnapping others for sale as slaves (isn’t that kinda what’s
happening in this passage?).
Legislation was developed to keep that from happening.
The Code of Hammurabi prevented this.
Under the Law of Moses, this was a capital offense (Ex 21:16; Deut 24:7).
Therefore, Judah is encouraging something that would result
in death under the Law.
Dothan sat on a major trade route--the Via Maris--that
ran all the way to Egypt.
Therefore, there’s nothing surprising that these travelers on
the road headed to Egypt.
However, it seems without any doubt that Moses wants to
make clear that this is not a coincidence.
God is orchestrating every little part of Joseph’s life (the dreams,
the anonymous tipster, the caravan).
Nothing is happening by chance, but God is moving Joseph to
become a major player in the divine epic.
I believe that God providentially works in our lives, too.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not
one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of
your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are
of more value than many sparrows” (Lk 12:6-7).
I don’t know all that God does providentially.
We do not have a prophet to tell us what is and is not providential.
However, the Scriptures certainly teach that God cares for us and
There are examples of God’s providential care
throughout the Testaments.
The Messiah’s birth.
“When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son,
born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal 4:4).
Fullness of time:
Roman peace (Pax Romana).
Common language throughout the world.
Roman system of roads.
What other examples would you add?
Joseph is sold for twenty shekels of silver.
This was the going rate at this time for slaves during this
period according to the Code of Hammurabi.
This was also the going rate under the Law of Moses to
redeem a male between the ages of 5 and 20 who had
consecrated himself to the LORD (Lev 27:5).
Ten shekels was the annual salary for a laborer during
this period of history.
Therefore, the brothers stood to make considerable money.
In my opinion, the money was probably divided nine ways.
Joseph would not have received any money; I can’t se Benjamin
I doubt that Reuben would have received any.
When Reuben discovers that Joseph was not in the pit,
he tore his clothes.
The tearing of clothes in the ANE indicated deep grief.
I understand that Jews today continue this practice.
Why would Reuben be so distraught?
It would be extremely easy to judge his motives for his grief.
Maybe he wanted to get back in his dad’s good graces after his indiscretion
with Bilhah (Gen 35:22).
Perhaps Reuben really cared about his brother.
Maybe he simply did not believe it appropriate to take a life.
What problems occasionally develop because we judge someone’s
Reuben goes to his brothers and says, “The lad is no
more; and I, where shall I go?”
Why was Reuben concerned about where he would go?
He may have been concerned that his father would not welcome
I wonder, though, if he isn’t a little concerned about what happened
God to Cain: “A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth” (Gen
Maybe Reuben fears that YHWH will consign the ten of them to that same
The brothers take Joseph’s tunic and dip it in goat’s
blood; they then present the coat to Jacob.
There is a bit of horrible irony here.
Jacob had deceived his father with his brother’s coat and a goat
There is certainly much to be said about the seed that Jacob had
“Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num 2:23).
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he
will also reap” (Gal 6:7).
If God has forgiven us, why are there still consequences to sin?
What are some consequences that people face because of sin?
When the brothers present the cloak to Jacob, they say,
“We have found this. Do you know whether it is your
son’s tunic or not?”
They do not refer to Joseph by name or as their brother--
they refer to him as “your son.”
A couple other examples:
The lawyer at the end of the Parable of the Good Samaritan: “He who
showed mercy on him” (Lk 10:37).
The elder brother: “As soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured
your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him” (Lk 15:30).
It certainly seems that their hatred for Joseph prevented the
brothers from using Joseph’s name.
Do you think such hatred is common?
How might we rise above that type of hatred?
I find it interesting that in this narrative the brothers
don’t exactly “lie” with their mouths about Joseph’s fate.
The closest the brothers come to verbal lying is when they
say, “We have found this” (v 32).
It would depend on the definition of “found.”
Also, what I’m saying about lying would only apply to what Moses
recorded; we have no idea what else they might/might not have
This should really serve as a warning to us.
Lying does not need to be verbal.
What are some ways that we might lie through our actions?
How can we keep from lying through actions?
Jacob recognized his sons tunic and said, “A wild beast
has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to
The brothers allow Jacob to reach his own conclusion (a
conclusion they have carefully orchestrated).
It would be difficult to think about the pain your child would
go through in such a death.
Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and
mourned for Joseph many days.
Sackcloth was made of goat or camel hair and was coarse
Sackcloth was commonly worn as only a loin covering.
The official period of mourning was often 30 days.
However, the mourning period could continue as long as the
mourner chose to grieve.
It certainly seems that Jacob intended to go to his grave mourning
Joseph (v 35).
All his sons and daughters tried to comfort Jacob.
We only know of one daughter, Dinah.
Some think that Jacob had other daughters.
This doesn’t seem likely.
Some think that daughters means daughters-in-law.
Possible, but not probable.
Some believe “sons and daughters” is simply an idiom that means
However, it is likely that the Hebrew “daughters” can be used
generically to refer to one daughter or several daughters.
The plural is used at Gen 46:15 where Dinah is clearly the only daughter
Jacob refused to be comforted.
He took the “death” of his son quite hard.
Everyone mourns in his/her own way.
But, is there a right way and a wrong way to mourn?
“I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have
fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thess 4:13).
If we have hope, how would our grief be different?
I don’t want to get bogged down in a discussion about
how much the patriarchs knew of the afterlife.
This is before God reveals Himself as the God of the living
and the dead (Ex 3:6; Matt 22:32), yet the patriarchs “waited
for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker
is God” (Heb 11:8-10).
I would imagine that the more the patriarchs knew of the
afterlife, the easier the grieving process.
This is the first time in Scripture that we have mention
of the afterlife.
“I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning” (v 35,
“I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning” (ESV).
Every time “Sheol” is mentioned in Scripture the ESV
(with only one exception in the Song of Songs) leaves
the word untranslated.
The translators chose just to put the Hebrew “Sheol” in the
text; the term seems to have different meanings depending
on the context.
In many ways, that is preferable, because it allows the
reader to draw his/her own conclusions.
Sheol can mean:
Death (Prov 5:5);
The grave (1 Sam 2:6);
The realm of the departed (Job 7:9);
The state of being in extreme danger (2 Sam 22:6).
It appears that both the righteous and unrighteous go to
In this way, Sheol would be quite akin to Hades in the New
But, Sheol seems to have a much more broad meaning.