Genesis Chapter 37
"The Generations of Jacob."
Bible Study is written by Roger Christopherson, and it's
Genesis 37:1 "And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan."
Jacob is getting old now, and we will see his sons taking their roles in the family of Israel. It is this family that the Christ, the Messiah will come through. God had promised the land of Canaan to them, through their father Abraham, and they were now there. In the prior chapter we see God had also blessed Esau to the point that he had to move out of the land, for the land would not sustain the cattle of both Esau and Jacob.
Genesis 37:2 "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."
"Joseph" is the first son of Rachel, by Rachel and Jacob. The sons of Bihah were Dan and Naphtali, and the sons of Zilpah were Gad and Asher. Joseph was with his big brothers and watched what they were doing, and then went tattling to his father of his brother's actions. They may have been a little lazy, however this does not indicate an act of a criminal nature, but disobedience to their fathers wishes.
Even though Joseph was only seventeen, and his father was well over one hundred years old, Joseph was the overseer for his father. The two had grown close together, and Jacob [Israel] had come to rely upon his youngest son. You know how this goes over with older brothers, when one son is treated differently then the others. Is the picture starting to form?
Genesis 37:3 "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."
Jacob is starting to show the other sons that Joseph is his favorite. Think about that, and now to show it outwardly, he has established this pattern through this coat that he made for his youngest son.
The coat, or raiment that is worn, even to this day, marks the social rank and position of the wearer. Amongst the Bedouins, the chief and his eldest son wear a distinctive garment, and this accounts for Jacob's desire for Joseph to be marked for this official and priestly position. Back in Genesis 27 Esau sold his "Birthright", or raiment that marked as the rightful heir to Isaac's birthright, and Hebrews 12:16 rightfully called this act, "Profane".
So we see that this "coat of many colors" that was made for Joseph represented much more than just a beautiful garment, it represented their father's choice of who he would select to become the head of the family, and take over the role of the firstborn son. It would be Joseph, the last born, and the first born to Rachel Jacob's first love. Joseph was a child of Jacob's old age, and some times people of old age do strange things.
Was it right? Not in the eyes of Joseph's ten older brothers.
Genesis 37:4 "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."
This is simply a natural thing, and the nature of all human being to seek attention. Then when they saw their own father, whom the had taken great pride in, do this thing against them, this sibling rivalry grew.
Genesis 37:5 "And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more."
This hatred is growing now beyond control between the brothers and Joseph.
Genesis 37:6 "And he said unto them, "Here, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:"
Genesis 37:7 "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."
Notice this is just a kid telling his grown brothers, aged men, of the dream he had, and using the tasks of common labor that they were doing, to show how he would rule over them, and how they would bow down to him. Yet Joseph has been so favored that this labor task has not yet been given to him.
Joseph is telling them that he is going to be over you, I am blessed more than you, and as Jacob's attitude toward Joseph bore out this dream of Josephs' it didn't help the brothers one bit. Joseph in his innocence saw this vision revealed to him by Almighty God, and so shall it be.
We will see in future chapters that this is the position that Jacob gives, and God allows; that Joseph and his two sons will become the tribes, and ultimate nations that receive the blessings of God's covenant made to Abraham. Joseph will be shipped off into Egypt, and then become ruler of Egypt, because of his God given ability to interpret dreams. And during an extreme famine, these same brothers will come begging at Joseph's feet, before it is all over with.
This is a prophecy, and it did come to pass, but it didn't give any peace in the family. However we will see that it is Joseph that becomes the saving power for the family of Israel, during the famine crises.
Genesis 37:8 "And his brethren said to him, "Shalt thou indeed reign over us? Or shalt thou indeed indeed have dominion over us?" And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words."
As the brothers mocked their little brother, and agreed with Joseph's dream, this rubbed them even more. We know from past history that this did come about, and Joseph became their ruler, as he reigned over Egypt and the Israel family. However, at this time it is still prophecy that will come to pass.
Another thing to consider here is that God is using the emotions of the brothers to fulfill His will, and sell their brother Joseph into Egypt where he can fulfill the prophecy. It is not an accident that this is happening, for in Genesis 15:13 God told Abram that his descendants would serve Egypt for four hundred years, and in the end would come out far richer then when they went in.
We are not to judge our human emotion when we are in the will of God, for God uses our emotions to direct our lives into where He would have us. We are to learn a lesson from these things that are written in His word, and that is to trust him, even when things don't seem just right. When it seems that God is unfair, that is the time to look at yourself, for God is always fair. God has a will and a plan, and that plan is written to us so that we can understand why things happen the way that they do. We are to study that word, and observe the signs of the times, for each of us will be affected by those signs.
God will save his people by stirring up the emotions of Joseph's brothers, for had Joseph not been in Egypt at the right time to interpret the dreams of others, the Israelites would not have had a person in the right place, at the right time, to provide for them in the time of world famine. God not only protected the Israelites, but the very lineage that Christ child, the Messiah would later come through.
Genesis 37:9 "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."
Joseph is saying that the other eleven would even lay prostrate [face down], bowing to Joseph their brother.
Genesis 37:10 "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?"
Jacob can now see that there is trouble in the family, and he knew exactly what Joseph meant when he told this last dream to his brothers. Joseph is using the Zodiac to describe how the other eleven would bow to the twelfth, himself. Jacob can now see the hate in all of his son's eyes, as Joseph continues now to even say that his father and mother will bow to him. Now even Jacob can see how this son that he had spoiled, is telling "old dad" that I am even going to rule over you dad.
Jacob is telling his son to keep it under control, for he now fears for Joseph's well being.
Genesis 37:11 "And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying."
Jacob took note of what Joseph was saying.
Genesis 37:12 "And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem."
Remember what happened in Shechem? That is where Dinah, their sister was raped, and Jacob and the family took all the wealth and cattle of the city. The brothers are now caring for the cattle.
Genesis 37:13 "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."
Joseph again is ready, willing and able to to do what ever task his father has for him.
Genesis 37:14 "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."
Joseph has been Jacob's eyes and ears of his old age, and once again he is sent to report what is going on with his brothers.
Genesis 37:15 "And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, "What seekest thou"
Genesis 37:16 "And he said, "I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks."
Genesis 37:17 "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."
"Dothan" means "two wells", and there was more water there for the flocks. This fact made the location right on the road for the caravans to pass on their way to Egypt.
Genesis 37:18 "And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him."
When the brothers saw their little tattle-tale brother coming, in his shining bright coat of many colors, their hatred turned to conspiracy against Joseph to even murder him. They were sitting in the hot son for days, tending the sheep and cattle, doing the work, and here comes the little tattle-tale. This is the very shades of "Cain", the brother conspiring to kill his brother Able in the field.
Genesis 37:19 "And they said one to another, "Behold, this dreamer cometh."
"Dreamer" in the Hebrew text is "Baal dreamer", or "Master dreamer".
Genesis 37:20 "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."
Their emotions have taken control of their every thought, and the bitterness toward Joseph is to the point that they are thinking of killing him.
Genesis 37:21 "And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, "Let us not kill him."
Reuben is Jacob's firstborn son, the eldest of the brothers. It is Reuben that saved Joseph's life here, and changed the thought from killing to some other way of disposing of Joseph.
Genesis 37:22 "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).
Though Reuben also hated Joseph, he knew what the murder of this favorite son would do to his father. Reuben had hurt his father already in his sexual act with his mother, Jacob's wife, and he didn't want any more hurt to come upon him.
Genesis 37:23 "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;"
the first thing they did when the got their hands on Joseph was to separate Joseph from his coat, the symbol of his position.
Genesis 37:24 "And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it."
The little fellow is probably wondering what happened to him, his thoughts were that his dear brothers were suppose to love me and serve me. This is no way to serve their master.
Genesis 37:25 "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."
The Ishmeelites are also part of the family of Abraham, and we have two different families brought together for this act. Ishmael was the son of Abraham by Hagar.
Dothan is right on the main Caravan road leading to Egypt, and the need for water caused them to stop and talk to the brothers.
Genesis 37:26 "And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?"
Judah is starting to show his true colors, he wants to know how they can make a profit, and make money while selling their little brother into a foreign land. Not much has change in the past 4000 years. Was Judah trying to save his little brother, or did he have his eye on the money?
Genesis 37:27 "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."
Judah made his story to fit the evil act, and make it soothe his conscience for the evil act that they were committing.
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."
The price of a slave was always thirty pieces of silver, that is what Jesus was sold for; however merchants must always make a prophet. They wanted their third off the top of the deal. Though this is a terrible act, it is the very thing that shall save the Israelites in the years to come. The Israelites are the selected people by God that the promised Messiah shall come through. God is in control, and Joseph is still strong and in tune with God; and there is nowhere recorded that Joseph ever complained for the acts committed by his brothers toward him. Joseph in his innocence trusted his brothers, even when they turned him over to the Ishmeelites, and sold him into Egypt.
Genesis 37:29 "And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes."
Reuben had nothing to do with the sale of Joseph into slavery. It was Judah's idea, and the only way the it could be pulled off was to be done when Reuben wasn't present.
Genesis 37:30 "And he returned unto his brethren, and said, "The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?"
Genesis 37:31 "And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood;"
This is the second time in this family that the goat has been used for deception, for it was Jacob [now called Israel] that killed the goat, and put the skin on his arms to deceive his old father Issac into giving him the blessing, instead of Esau.
Genesis 37:32 "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 not."
The brothers knew very well it was Joseph's coat, for it had been the center of their very emotions. Yet they did not have the nerve to tell him what they have done.
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."
They allowed their father to assume the very worst thing that could have happened to Joseph, his favorite son.
Genesis 37:34 "And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days."
This just about killed the old man.
Genesis 37:35 "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."
This bunch of rats knew all the time what had happened, and kept quiet. These sons have deeply hurt their father, and all the time it was in God's plan, and to save Israel, and the lineage of the Christ child.
In reality, Joseph was not dead and in the end, Joseph would be again joined to his father, and his sons would receive the Abrahamic covenant blessing. This is what is confusing to many Bible teachers and preachers today, for they have Judah receiving the promise and being the chosen people, instead of recognizing that to Judah was given the scepter, the right of law giver. That is the position that brother Judah has today, while they sit in their seats of authority, and are blessed in the lands of their brother Joseph.
Joseph's blessing is given to sons, Ephraim, and Manasseh, and today Ephraim has grown to a nation, with a descendant of Judah sitting on the throne, as God wrote in his Word, and Manasseh has become the superpower of all nations, the nation that feeds the world. Ephraim and Manasseh are the nations of England and the United States of America. The Kenites have so blinded them to the truth that simply cannot see the truth, or even know from where they came. In fact the Christian nations today ascribe things of Satan, the Kenites [Jews] as the chosen, and themselves as Gentile, instead of being the "House of Israel".
The Prophet Hosea prophesied it would be so, and it has come to pass. The world is being set up today for the final events of this earth age, and this is but a part of God's plan. God's elect will see how they fit into that plan, and they will identify the events as they take place, for God has revealed it all in his word, and only those sealed in the final days will understand.
Genesis 37:36 "And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard."
Joseph is placed right into the house of the highest ranking men in the land, just under the Pharaoh. This is the head of the men that even guarded Pharaoh himself. God's plan is always positive. Joseph is placed by God right where he is to fulfill His Word. Though the mind mankind sees this as a terrible thing, Joseph has held fast to his trust of God, and the purpose that God has for him.
What is taking place in this chapter sets the stage for the rest of not only Genesis, but the entire Bible. What happened to Joseph, had to be done, and was fully carried out in the continuing of prophecy. It was no accident that Rachel could not bare children until her old age, for that made Jacob and Joseph very close. The dreams of Joseph caused the hatred between his brothers and him, while the coat established who the heir would be, and also brought the sale of Joseph about.
As we continue in Genesis we will see the Joseph assuming the rightful leadership over all Israel, and finally in the last chapters, the transfer of the blessing from Israel [Jacob] on to the sons, jointly, and the name is to be on the head of them; not Judah [the Jews]. If you miss this point, then the whole Bible will become mixed up to you, including end time prophecy, and all of God words and who they are that it is directed to.
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