Summary: A tale of two brothers and their dad

Genesis 37-50

A tale of 2 brothers and their dad.


Today we finish off Genesis, as we look at chapters 37-50, which focuses on the story of Joseph, who is one of the most famous biblical characters. Just about everyone has heard of Joseph, whether they’ve been brought up in the church or not There’s the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “Joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat.” There’s the more recent animated movie, “Joseph: King of Dreams.” But what comes to your mind when you think of Joseph? His amazing technicolour dream coat? His dreams of feast and famine in Egypt? His up and down career - from favourite son, to slave, to trusted servant, to prisoner and then finally to prime minister of Egypt? What a varied life! All these things are true, but there’s far more to the story of Joseph than just these things. Joseph is a story of jealousy and betrayal. A story of attempted murder, of enslavement. A story of repentance and forgiveness. And most of all, a story of God’s sovereignty and control over everything, even in the midst of despair and wickedness.

You might remember that last time, we talked about Jacob. Jacob, who despite his faults, which were many, inherited the promise from his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac: the promise of offspring, which as we learnt was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The promise that through Abraham and his offspring, all nations of the world would be blessed. And you will remember that as well as all this, Jacob had 12 sons born to him. And Joseph was one of these sons. But Joseph was special for Jacob because he was the son of his old age.

Please open your Bibles with me, as we resume the story in Genesis 37, where the story starts to concentrate on Joseph, who at the time is in his late teens, the second youngest of Jacob’s sons. In verse 3 we read: Gen 373 Now Israel [remember Israel is another name for Jacob] loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colours. We see here that Jacob loved Joseph more than his other sons, and makes him a beautiful robe to show his preferential love for him. Well, we probably all know the result of showing preferential treatment to one child over the others, and so you can probably imagine how Joseph’s brothers felt about this preferential treatment Gen 374 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. And the rest of the book of Genesis covers the results of this hatred Joseph’s brother had of him.

In verses 5-10 we read of a couple of dreams that Joseph had. Dreams that one day his brothers, his older brothers, that they would bow down to him! And Joseph wasn’t backward in telling his brothers about his dreams, that one day they would all bow down to him! And his brothers’ reaction, the Bible makes it quite clear, that they hated Joseph even more because of his dreams and Joseph’s boasting about them. They hated him so much in fact, that one day his brothers hatched a plan to kill him. Now it’s one thing to be jealous of your brother because he gets the best clothes, but it’s going way to far to decide to kill him! But then the brothers see a caravan of traders going past, and Judah, the fourth oldest son makes a suggestion. He suggests they sell Joseph rather than kill him. Sell him into slavery. Now take a note of Judah, because we will be following the development of Judah as well as that of Joseph. We can see here that Judah doesn’t seem to like the idea of killing Joseph, but he’s quite happy to sell him into slavery. What a nice brother to have!

and so the brothers sell Joseph into slavery. They take Joseph’s precious robe and dip some goat’s blood on it, take it back to their father, and lie to Jacob their father. And Jacob is devastated, believing that Joseph his favourite son is dead. And chapter 37 finishes with Joseph reaching Egypt and being sold to an important official in Egypt called Potiphar.

Then chapter 38 interrupts the story of Joseph to talk about Judah, one of Joseph’s brothers. We might wonder why Genesis seems to suddenly interrupt the story of Joseph, but what happens to Judah is also important. Chapter 38 talks about the descendents of Judah, and it turns out that Judah is the ancestor of Jesus Christ. So his descendents are important. But perhaps what is more interesting, is that chatper 38 and chapter 39 present us with a stark contrast in how two of Jacob’s brothers, Judah and Joseph, deal with sexual temptation. In chapter 38 we read of Judah. Without going into all the details of what happened, which you can read about yourselves, Judah’s daughter-in-law who has been widowed disguises herself as a prostitute by wearing a veil and tricks Judah – her father-in-law - into sleeping with her. The upshot is we see that Judah doesn’t have any sexual scruples. He is willing to have a fling with an anonymous prostitute who turns out to be his daughter-in-law.

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