Summary: Joseph, Pt. 1 of 4


Four individuals shaped and defined Israel’s rise as a nation and emergence into a force. Abraham was the spiritual giant who walked by faith, and not by sight. Isaac was the perfect gentleman who treated friends and neighbors fairly. Jacob was the consummate gladiator who grappled with God and man, and Joseph was the unsung hero who single-handedly delivered Israel and his family, all seventy of them, from a severe seven year famine.

Joseph’s life was a dream that digressed into a nightmare on the road to glory. A friend noted rightly: "Vision without action is daydream; action without vision is nightmare."

His life intertwined not only with dreams, but with garments. When he was a teenager, his father made a robe for him that landed him in a pit (Gen 37:3). As a slave, Potiphar’s wife caught Joseph’s cloak in her hands that landed him in prison (Gen 39:12). Finally, the robes of fine linen Pharaoh gave Joseph landed him in the palace (Gen 41:42).

THE POSSIBLE DREAM (GEN 37:1-36, 39:1-2)

My dreams are really insignificant and meaningless. Once I dreamt of taking a flight for a trip. In my dream, I could not decide if I should lodge at a hotel near the airport the night before the next day’s trip, or stay with a friend near the airport that I never had, or stay at home and commute to the airport in prime time traffic. The following week, I had another dream. I was persuading my wife not to give away a cat she never had in real life, too!

Dreams are generally irrelevant, silly, and overblown. Contrary to reality, people do not usually spend their sleep lives dreaming of getting rich, being successful, gaining fame, or craving sex most or all of the time.

However, creative people have credited dreams for their discoveries. French chemist Auguste Kekule saw snakes biting their tales in a dream before he stumbled onto the mystery of the correct ring structure for the benzene molecule. Inventor Elias Howe attributed the discovery of the sewing machine to a nightmare of being captured by cannibals. Howe noticed the holes at the tip of the natives’ spears and designed the sewing machine accordingly. Vladimir Horowitz and other well-known pianists have described playing piano pieces or discovering a new fingering in their dreams that turned out to work perfectly. Robert Louis Stevenson said that his book “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” came to him in a dream.,5744,335625,00.html?query=dreams

The seventeen year-old Joseph (v 2) was Jacob and Rachel’s miracle child, golden boy, and teenage prodigy. Jacob, the father, loved Joseph to a family feud, sibling rivalry, and to a house divided. Unfortunately, Rachel, the mother, who died after giving birth to Benjamin, her second child, was not there to bring up or reel in her firstborn.

The stage was set for the Israel’s four hundred years of enslavement in Egypt that God had disclosed to Abraham (Gen 15:13-16), except that the leading character, the star player, and the show stopper was not ready for his debut. Joseph had a possible dream in his sleep and a promising future in the stars, but a potential crisis on his hands. He was ahead of himself, sure of himself, and full of himself. When he was young, Joseph was talkative, insensitive, blunt, naive, and immature.

How did Joseph mature from a boy to a man? What did he have to learn, understand, and concede along the way? Where does immaturity end and maturity begin?


37:1 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.

2 This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. 3Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. 4When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. 5Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: 7We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it." 8His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 9Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." 10When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" 11His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. (Gen 37:1-11)

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