Genesis 41:1-32

41 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain,healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it.But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.

22 “In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23 After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.”

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.

28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.
(Genesis 41:1-32 NIV)

As we finished Chapter 40, we saw the king’s cupbearer restored to his former position, and the king’s baker put to death, just as the Lord had revealed to Joseph.  And the cupbearer never mentioned Joseph to the king.

As we begin Chapter 41, two years have elapsed since the cupbearer was restored to his position.  Life is good for the cupbearer, and Joseph is still languishing in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, had two disturbing dreams.  In ancient Egyptian culture, dreams were very important.  The Egyptians believed dreams were often the way that their gods communicated with them.

Pharaoh likely had other dreams, but none as improbable as these two.  Pharaoh was troubled, so he gathered all his wise men and magicians to provide the interpretation and meaning of the dreams.  No doubt there were many suggestions offered, as the wise men and magicians wanted to be in the king’s good graces.  But none of the possible explanations provided the king with the answers he longed for.

Consider for a moment the absurdity, from a human standpoint, of the dreams.  Cows eating cows?  Cows are herbivores, not carnivores.  Ears of corn eating other ears of corn?  Plants don’t eat plants, and the fruit of plants don’t eat anything – they are eaten.

And even if cows could eat cows and ears of corn could eat ears of corn, how could this happen with no visible effect?  If you or I were to eat something twice our size, would not our size, our volume change?  And yet, in these dreams, the skinny, malnourished cows and the withered ears of corn looked exactly the same after they ate their well-nourished and plump counterparts.

With no plausible explanations and the king still troubled about the meaning of the dreams, the cupbearer conveniently chose to remember that there was someone that might be able to interpret the king’s dreams.

Make no mistake here – the cupbearer was not confessing wrongdoing before the king, no was he feeling guilt over not mentioning Joseph to the king.  Rather, the cupbearer was in this for himself and his own glory and self-serving nature.

The king sends for Joseph; after Joseph cleans up (having come from the dungeon), he appears before the king.  As an interesting aside, I wonder who the king assigned to get Joseph?  The text does not say… could it have been Potiphar, the very man that had imprisoned Joseph in the first place?

The text says that Joseph shaved and changed clothes.  Hebrew men often kept beards, while Egyptian men were clean-shaven.  Whomever brought Joseph from the prison wanted to be sure that Joseph looked presentable before the king.

Notice Joseph’s response when the king asked if he could interpret his dreams.  Joseph was quick to deny his own powers, but gave all the glory to God.  Joseph was also confident that God would give the king the answer that would satisfy his desire to know and understand the meaning of the dreams.  In a word, the king would have peace in his heart about the meaning of  the dreams.  The king may not like the answer, but there would be no doubt as to the meaning of the dreams.

It is important to look at the word Joseph used for God.  The Hebrew word is Elohim, the plural name of God.  This is clearly in reference to the Hebrew God, not a generic term for any deity, but Joseph’s God.  Joseph did not refer to the Egyptian deities, but to the Triune God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and himself.

After Pharaoh told Joseph his dreams, Joseph shared their meaning – 7 years of great abundance, followed by 7 years of intense famine that would wipe out any memory of the previous abundance.  And this was not something to happen in the long-distant future – this was beginning now.

When you and I are called to stand before others, what is out response?  Do we, like the cupbearer, use the opportunity to talk about ourselves, or do we simply give the glory to God as Joseph did?

May we remain faithful to the Lord, even in our own distresses and situational “jails” that we may be in, just as Joseph did.

May we be quick to give God the glory when we are asked to help others or give an account, just as Joseph did.

Next time, we’ll look at Joseph’s next words of recommendation to the king, and the king’s response.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 40:1-23

40 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.

After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”

“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”

Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”

12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”

16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”

18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”

20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand—22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.

23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.
(Genesis 40:1-23 NIV)

In Chapter 39, we saw Joseph begin his service to Potiphar, the captain of the king of Egypt’s bodyguard.  The recurring theme was that the Lord was with Joseph, whether Joseph was serving his master faithfully or whether he was unjustly accused and thrown in jail.  As we ended the chapter, we saw Joseph being put in charge of all the prisoners by the chief jailer.

As we begin Chapter 40, we see two more people being added to Joseph’s charge – the chief cupbearer and the chief baker for the king.  Both men had somehow offended the king, and the king, in his anger, had thrown both men into jail.

Verse 4 gives us some insight into Joseph’s character.  Verse 4 says that Joseph “attended them”.  This word means that Joseph took care of them and ministered to them.  Rather than ignoring them or treating them with scorn and abuse, Joseph cared for them.

Joseph was no stranger to injustice.  He had been unjustly sold as a slave by his own brothers, and unjustly jailed by his master Potiphar based on the lies made up by Potiphar’s wife because Joseph turned down her romantic advances.

Verses 6 and 7 further demonstrate Joseph’s heart of kindness.  Joseph noticed their dejected spirits, and asked them why they were looking so sad.  Joseph cared about those under his watch, not just their physical well-being, but also their emotional state.

When the two men told Joseph why they were sad, Joseph was also careful to give God the credit for interpreting their dreams, not taking credit himself.  Although the text does not explicitly say so, this implies that Joseph had a strong walk with the Lord and confidence in the Lord to watch over him, protect him, and provide for him.

After the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream and Joseph related the meaning of the dream,  Joseph asked the man to remember him when he went back to his former position of serving Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.  Joseph lived with the weight of injustice each day, and looked forward to his freedom from prison just as the chief cupbearer was looking forward to his freedom and restoration that Joseph had prophesied.

On the third day, which happened to be Pharaoh’s birthday, both of Joseph’s interpretations came true.  The cupbearer was restored to his place of honor, and the chief baker was put to death.  Unfortunately, when the chief cupbearer was freed and restored to his former position, he forgot all about Joseph and went about his way.

In today’s story of Joseph and the cupbearer, we can draw some parallels between our life and our connection to the Lord.  Like Joseph, Jesus was unjustly accused of wrong and arrested.  And like Joseph, Jesus cares for us, not only our physical beings, but also our emotional state and ministers to us through His Holy Spirit.

Like the cupbearer, we sometimes get through a hard time, but forget the One who watched over us, cared for us when we were down, and gave us hope.  We conveniently walk away, choosing not to remember the One who gave us our freedom.

May we develop a constant heart of gratitude, a thankful heart at all times, not trying to repay the Lord for all He does for us, but rather expressing our humble appreciation for all God has done, is doing, and promises to do for us as we walk with Him.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 39:1-23

39 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did,Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
(Genesis 39:1-23 NIV)

Today’s story picks up where we left off at the end of Chapter 37.  Remember that Chapter 38 was the story of Judah and his family.

Joseph is now in Egypt, a slave to Potiphar, one of the king’s officials and head of the guard.  While Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and separated from his family, God had not forgotten Joseph and was still at work in the young boy’s life.

We see that God was with Joseph and blessed him, as well as his master Potiphar.  As Potiphar observed Joseph, he was impressed and gave him more and more responsibility for all of his domestic (non-military) duties, both inside the house and outside in the fields.

Unfortunately, Potiphar’s wife noticed Joseph as well.  She noticed Joseph in the wrong way, as a potential lover, not as the overseer of her husband’s domestic duties.

Even though Potiphar’s wife crossed the line and tried to seduce Joseph, he maintained his integrity before God and his master and refused her advances.

Not succeeding in what she wanted, Potiphar’s wife lay a trap for Joseph.  She arranged for all other male servants to be out of the house, and for her to be alone when Joseph arrived to perform his daily domestic duties.  When Joseph entered the room, she physically grabbed his outer coat and ordered Joseph to sleep with her.

Again, in his integrity, Joseph did not succumb to her desires.  He simply fled outside, leaving his outer coat in her hands.

Foiled again, Potiphar’s wife’s unfulfilled lust turned to anger.  With Joseph’s coat in hand, she switched roles from sexual aggressor to lying victim, making it look like Joseph was trying to sexually assault or even rape her.  She screamed and called for the other men of the house to come in and hear her made-up story.  She then told her husband Potiphar when he returned home.

Like any good husband, Potiphar took his wife’s word over his servant’s.  Potiphar was in charge of the guard and the prison, and threw Joseph in jail.

But even in jail, the Lord was with Joseph, and the chief jailer ended up putting all the other prisoners under Joseph’s control and care.

May we practice integrity and hard work before the Lord as Joseph did, refusing anyone and anything that goes against God’s principles, even if it lands us in jail.  The temptation may be overwhelming, but if we flee from sin like Joseph, God will honor our choices.

May we remember that God is working in us and through us, even in hard times like Joseph experienced.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 38:1-30

38 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.

Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death.

Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also.

11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.

12 After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.

13 When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.

15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.”

“And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked.

17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said.

“Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked.

18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?”

“Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him.19 After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again.

20 Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her.21 He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?”

“There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said.

22 So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’”

23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”

24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.”

Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”

25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”

26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29 But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez. 30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.
(Genesis 38:1-30 NIV)

As we began Chapter 27, Moses begins verse 2a by telling us that these writings are the generations (family) of Jacob.  We see a snapshot of the family dynamics in Chapter 37, particularly of Jacob’s sons.  In Chapter 39, we’ll see Joseph’s story pick up where we left off at the end of Chapter 27.

In Chapter 38, we see another family member in the spotlight – Jacob’s son Judah.  If you’re keeping track of all the family members, Judah is Jacob’s son by Leah, fourth in the birth order after his brothers Reuben, Simeon, and Levi.

Verse 1 of Chapter 38 begins with “At that time…”, referring to the incident of selling their brother Joseph off to the Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt.  Remember it was Reuben, the oldest brother that spared Joseph’s life, but it was Judah who came up with the idea of selling Joseph to the passing caravan.

As Chapter 38 opens, we see Judah leaving his brothers to spend time with his friend Hirah.  There he meets and marries a Canaanite woman and has three sons by her.  We don’t know the details about the first son, only that Judah arranged a marriage for him to a woman named Tamar.  Judah’s son was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life, leaving Tamar a widow.

Judah instructed his second son to perform the ritual of levirate marriage, where the brother of a deceased man is obliged to marry the deceased man’s widow in order to have children that will carry on the deceased brother’s name and family lineage.

The second son, for whatever reason, decides to not honor his brother and does not give Tamar any children, so the Lord took his life as well.

Judah then promises Tamar that she can have his third son, but to go live with her family of origin until the third son is of age to marry.  Judah is hoping that the whole thing will blow over and everyone will forget about his promise.  Judah is scared that he will lose his third son as well.

But as the years roll on, Tamar sees Judah’s third son grown but not given to her as her promised husband.  So she decides to trick Judah into what she has been promised, pretending to be a prostitute along the road.

Judah, after losing his wife, falls for the trap and has sex with the “prostitute”, not knowing it was his daughter-in-law.  After Tamar turns up pregnant, she confronts Judah and lets him know he is the father.

Verse 26 is a turning point for Judah, from self-righteous indignation about Tamar being pregnant to admitting that he did not honor his promise to her, and she was, in fact, more righteous in God’s sight than he was.

The chapter ends with Tamar having twin boys, and the whole birth-order struggle happening between the two brothers in the womb, reminiscent of Jacob and Esau.

While this story might seem somewhat anecdotal here, this is another building block for God’s developing story over the years and generations.  If we fast-forward to Matthew Chapter 1, we see God redeeming all this sin, the messed-up lineage, broken promises, and trickery of Judah and Tamar as part of the lineage of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-3).

So when we’re defeated and feel like we’ve blown it and that there are no more opportunities, know that we are not that powerful.  If God can redeem the mess in today’s story (and so many other stories in the Bible), then He can redeem us and our messy stories and lives as well.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 37:1-36

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

This is the account of Jacob’s family line.

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.

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When 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.

Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We 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.”

His 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.

Then 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.”

10 When 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?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”

“Very well,” he replied.

14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.

When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”

16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”

17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’”

So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.

23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?”

31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”

33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”

34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.

36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.
(Genesis 37:1-36 NIV)

In our last time together, we looked in Chapter 36 at the family tree of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother.  In today’s passage, we’ll begin looking at the family tree of Jacob, with the first story about Joseph, Jacob’s son by Rachel.

At this point, Jacob had returned to Canaan and was living in the area where his father Isaac had lived (v. 1).  The spotlight turns from Jacob to his son Joseph.

Verse 3 says that Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children, as he was the son of his old age.  Joseph was also the son of Rachel, who was Jacob’s favorite wife.  We see this in Jacob’s favoritism toward Rachel over Leah (Genesis 29:30).  Jacob made no effort to conceal his favoritism toward Joseph, and made a special coat for him (v. 3).

Verse 2 tells us that Joseph was 17 years old, and he had brought a bad report about his brothers to his father Jacob.  Nobody likes a tattle-tale, his brothers least of all.

Pouring fuel on the fire, Joseph proceeded to tell his brothers and father about two dreams where they all bowed down to him.  Even Joseph’s father Jacob thought the dreams were too much and rebuked him for sharing.

Despite all this open hatred toward Joseph, Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers again (v. 14).  Joseph dutifully went off to find his brothers as they tended their father’s animals.

When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming (easy to spot in his multi-colored coat), they plotted to murder him (v. 18).  The oldest brother, Reuben, stepped in and told the other brothers that they could not kill him; instead, they were to put Joseph in a dry pit so he could not run back to their father.  Reuben intended to go back and rescue Joseph and safely return him to his father’s home.

While Reuben was away, the other brothers decided to sell Joseph to a band of traveling Ishmaelite merchants on their way to Egypt to sell their products.  When Reuben returned, however, there was no rescuing of Joseph from the pit – he was gone!

Rather than chase after the Ishmaelite traders and rescue their brother, they opted to cover up their sin and make the evidence look like Joseph was eaten by a wild beast.  When the brothers brought Joseph’s special coat to Jacob, the brothers’ plan seemed to work – Jacob immediately went to the worst-case scenario and mourned for many days, refusing to be consoled by anyone, even his children.

But the Lord was watching out for Joseph, and put him under the care of Potiphar, the Egyptian Pharoah’s head bodyguard.

Despite what life throws at us, God can redeem any situation or hardship.  We’ll see more of what God is up to as we work through the rest of the book of Genesis.

Blessings,
~kevin