Genesis 37: Joseph’s Dreams

Was Joseph being a snitch when he told his father about his brothers’ wrongdoing? Should he have kept their misbehavior a secret? Why?

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Genesis 37:1–2 Jacob lived in Canaan, the land where his father had settled.
This is what happened in Jacob’s family. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he tended the flocks with his brothers, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. He told his father about the bad things they were doing.
King James
Genesis 37:1–2 And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.

For what reasons did the brothers hate Joseph? How much of that hatred was caused by the beautiful coat? Why?

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Genesis 37:3–4 Joseph was born when his father was very old, so he was loved more than his brothers. Jacob made him a beautiful multicolored coat. When the brothers saw their father favoring Joseph above them, they hated Joseph and would not wish him well.
King James
Genesis 37:3–4 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

Why was Joseph’s dream taken seriously? Wasn’t it just a dream?

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Genesis 37:5–8 After Joseph told him about his dream, they hated him even more.
“Please let me tell you what I dreamed,” Joseph said. “We were in the field, tying up bundles of grain when my bundle stood upright. Your bundles around me stood and bowed to mine.”
“Do you think you will be our king and we will bow to you?” Their hatred grew because of what Joseph said about his dream.
King James
Genesis 37:5–8 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

Was it wise for Joseph to tell his second dream? If he knew how his brothers might react, why didn’t he just keep quiet?

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Genesis 37:9–11 Joseph dreamed again. “Listen,” he said. “I had another dream. The sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing to me.”
When he told his brothers, his father scolded him. “What are you saying? Will your mother and I and your brothers bow to the ground before you?”
His brothers were jealous, but his father pondered what the dreams might mean.
King James
Genesis 37:9–11 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.
And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?
And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

Why did Jacob think Joseph’s dream might be significant?

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Genesis 37:9–11 Joseph dreamed again. “Listen,” he said. “I had another dream. The sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing to me.”
When he told his brothers, his father scolded him. “What are you saying? Will your mother and I and your brothers bow to the ground before you?”
His brothers were jealous, but his father pondered what the dreams might mean.
King James
Genesis 37:9–11 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.
And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?
And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

Why wasn’t Joseph with his brothers who were tending sheep?

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Genesis 37:12–13 Joseph’s brothers took their father’s flocks to graze the pastures at Shechem.
Later, Jacob said to Joseph, “Your brothers are in Shechem, tending the flocks. I want you to go there.”
“As you wish,” Joseph said.
King James
Genesis 37:12–13 And his brethren went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.

Couldn’t one of Jacob’s servants have gone to check on Joseph’s brothers? Why was Joseph asked to go?

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Genesis 37:14–17 “Please see how they are doing, whether all is well with them and the flocks, and bring me word.”
So Jacob sent him from the Hebron valley.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering the fields. “What are you looking for?” the man said.
“I’m looking for my brothers,” Joseph said. “Have you seen where they are grazing their flocks?”
“Not around here,” the man said. “I heard them say something about going to Dothan.”
So Joseph went to find his brothers there.
King James
Genesis 37:14–17 And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?
And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.
And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan.
And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.

Why weren’t Joseph’s brothers where they were supposed to be?

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Genesis 37:14–17 “Please see how they are doing, whether all is well with them and the flocks, and bring me word.”
So Jacob sent him from the Hebron valley.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering the fields. “What are you looking for?” the man said.
“I’m looking for my brothers,” Joseph said. “Have you seen where they are grazing their flocks?”
“Not around here,” the man said. “I heard them say something about going to Dothan.”
So Joseph went to find his brothers there.
King James
Genesis 37:14–17 And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?
And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.
And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan.
And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.

How could the brothers recognize Joseph far off in the distance? What was said as their plot developed?

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Genesis 37:18–20 When the brothers saw Joseph in the distance, long before he arrived, they made plans to kill him. They said to one another, “Look, the dreamer is coming. Let’s kill him and throw him into a cistern. We can say a wild beast must have devoured him. Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams.”
King James
Genesis 37:18–20 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. 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.

To what extent was Reuben a contributor to the plot? What did he think would happen if he later rescued Joseph and took him back to his father?

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Genesis 37:21–22 Reuben didn’t like that idea and wanted a way to rescue Joseph from their hands. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. “Why should we make ourselves guilty of murder? Just throw him into this cistern out in the wilderness where he will not be found.” He said this intending to rescue him and take him back to his father.
King James
Genesis 37:21–22 And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. 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.

What did Joseph say to his brothers when they took his coat and threw him into the cistern? What did they say to him?

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Genesis 37:23–24 When Joseph arrived, they stripped him of his beautiful coat and threw him into the dry cistern.
King James
Genesis 37:23–24 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.

Why did Judah think he and his brothers couldn’t be blamed for what happened to Joseph if they sold him to the Ishmaelite traders?

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Genesis 37:25–27 Later, at a time when Reuben was away, the brothers were seated and eating when they looked up to see an Ishmaelite caravan from Gilead. The camels were carrying spices, ointments, and perfumes for trade in Egypt.
Judah said, “We have nothing to gain in concealing our crime by leaving our brother to die here. Let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites so we can’t be blamed for what might happen to him. After all, he is our flesh and blood.”
King James
Genesis 37:25–27 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 spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.
And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? 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.

How was the sale price negotiated? How did that transaction compare with Judas negotiating with the chief priests about Jesus?

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Genesis 37:28 As the traders were passing by, they lifted Joseph out of the cistern and sold him for twenty pieces of silver.
The Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt.
Matthew 26:15 “How much will you pay me to deliver him to you?” So they reached an agreement to pay him thirty pieces of silver.
King James
Genesis 37:28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
Matthew 26:15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

What would Reuben have done if he had been present when the Ishmaelite traders came by? How did he react when he learned what had happened? How did his feelings compare to what Judas felt when he wanted to reverse his betrayal of Jesus?

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Genesis 37:28–30 As the traders were passing by, they lifted Joseph out of the cistern and sold him for twenty pieces of silver.
The Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt.
Awhile later, Reuben returned, found the cistern empty, and rent his clothes in despair because Joseph wasn’t there. He joined his brothers and said, “The young man is gone. What do I do now?”
Matthew 27:3–5 When Judas, the traitor, saw that Jesus had been condemned, he was sorry for his actions. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and Jewish leaders. “I have sinned,” he said, “by betraying an innocent man.”
“What does that have to do with us?” they said. “That is your problem.”
He flung the silver across the Temple floor, left, and hanged himself.
King James
Genesis 37:28–30 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?
Matthew 27:3–5 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.
And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Who was the spokesman who delivered the news about Joseph to Jacob? What expressions and emotions did the brothers have while they faced Jacob?

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Genesis 37:31–33 They slaughtered a goat, dipped Joseph’s beautiful coat in the blood, 32 and took it to their father. “We found this,” they said. “Can you tell whether it belongs to your son?”
Jacob recognized the coat. “It is my son’s,” he said. “A wild animal has torn him to pieces and eaten him.”
King James
Genesis 37:31–33 And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no.
And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.

What happened to the coat that was stained with blood?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 37:33 Jacob recognized the coat. “It is my son’s,” he said. “A wild animal has torn him to pieces and eaten him.”
King James
Genesis 37:33 And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.

After mourning for so long, how did Jacob cope with his grief?

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Genesis 37:34–35 In mourning for his son, Jacob tore his clothes and wore sackcloth for a long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but he would not be comforted. “I will mourn until I join my son in the grave,” he said, weeping.
2 Samuel 12:23 Now that he is dead, no amount of grieving can bring him back to me. But one day, I will go to him.
King James
Genesis 37:34–35 And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
2 Samuel 12:23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

How much do you think the traders received when they sold Joseph to Potiphar?

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Genesis 37:36 In Egypt, the traders sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officers, captain of the guard.
King James
Genesis 37:36 And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard.

During the journey to Egypt and while being sold as a slave, what was Joseph’s attitude toward God? How did he feel about the dreams he had shared with his brothers?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 37:36 In Egypt, the traders sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officers, captain of the guard.
King James
Genesis 37:36 And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard.