Summary: Have you witnessed two brothers or sisters, who were so different in their personality, you wondered, “How could these two people come from the genetic pool?” Today, I want you to see two brothers who were very different from each other.

When we consider famous brothers… … some famous brothers come to mind…

1) Wilbur and Orville Wright ushered in the era of flight;

2) The Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm and Jacob, popularized fairy tales such as “Snow White,” “Cinderella,” and “Sleeping Beauty”;

3) Outlaws Frank and Jesse James;

4) The brothers Manning – Eli and Payton;

5) And there’s the first two brothers in all of history, Cain and Abel;

But today we have another set of brothers that are not quite as famous but just as (if not more) important: Joseph and Judah.

Have you witnessed two brothers or sisters, who were so different in their personality, you wondered, “How could these two people come from the genetic pool?” Today, I want you to see two brothers who were very different from each other. Last week was Mother’s Day, and today we celebrate Brother’s Day ?.

And while the focus of so many famous brothers is often on their professional careers … …today’s story of two brothers will focus more on the lasting legacy of their personal lives.

Family Background

Joseph and Jacob comes from a family that would score great ratings on daytime television talk shows. If their story was available on Netflix, you’d binge watch the whole thing one weekend – it’s just that gripping. In the story of Joseph, you witness a house torn apart by the quarrels of mothers, a father’s preferential treatment of his younger son, and the jealous rage of his older brothers. Through it all, it’s a beautiful story of brotherly jealousy that eventually turns to brotherly kindness. Yet, this isn’t just any family – it’s God’s chosen family. Of all the people and all of the families in the world, God choose this family to work through to eventually bring His Son, Jesus, into the world. God said these word to Abraham: “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:17-18).

You don’t need to see the story of Joseph as a lake, all by itself. Instead, Joseph’s story is more like a river, flowing into the grand design of God’s big purpose in working with His people. You see the river of God’s grace run through the genetic pool of Jacob and Joseph all the way to Bethlehem and Golgotha to Jesus Christ. In Joseph’s family, we see the gospel of God’s grace.

Now there were twelve brothers in all making some 70 total descendants for their father, Jacob. Of the twelve brothers, the Bible really focuses on two boys in particular: Judah and Joseph. The story of the two brothers is as old as time (approximately 1,900 years before Christ) but as fresh as our day.


It’s important to note the similarities between the two brothers. Both are great grandsons to Abraham, the Father of the Faithful. They both move off, living in foreign lands (Judah by choice and Joseph by force). The both marry wives from other nations and they both are fathers of Hebrew tribes (Judah by choice and Joseph by force). Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, will be the powerhouse tribes in northern Israel, while Judah will prominent in the south.

But here’s where it gets interesting… Both men are faced with sexual temptation with women who are not their wives. Judah faces his sexual temptation when he is older and he fails the test… … while Joseph is faced by the lure of his master’s wife when he is but a young man… …but he passes the test with flying colors. And both leave behind significant items that can be traced to them in the hands of these respective women during the temptation that later help identify them. Yet, it’s the differences between the boys that are so instructive. Let’s concentrate on Judah first and proceed to his brother, Joseph, next.


Meet Judah, he’s the fourth oldest son of Jacob and his first wife, Leah. And he’s the eventual the leader of the twelve brothers. Is this story out of place? Chapter 37 ends with the brothers sell Josephs to Potiphar while the story picks right back up in chapter 39. And nearly everyone wonders, “Why is chapter 38 place here?” Even as far back as people in the medieval ages wondered this. The stories of Judah and Joseph are never presented in clearer contrast that Genesis 38 and 39. The last time we saw Judah, we witnessed him scheming the sale of his brother, Joseph, as a slave, for a small profit.

In the course of time the wife of Judah, Shua's daughter, died. When Judah was comforted, he went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow's garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “If you give me a pledge, until you send it—” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19 Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.” (Genesis 38:12-19)

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