Sabbath School Lesson for June 4-10, 2022

Overview for Lesson 11

Covering Joseph’s life this week, we explore…

  • how Joseph was treated as the favorite son of Jacob (Sunday)
  • the attack of Joseph when his brothers threw him in a pit and sold him as a slave (Monday)
  • how Tamar, the wife of one of Judah’s sons, became an ancestor of Jesus (Tuesday)
  • Joseph’s life in Potiphar’s house and later in prison (Wednesday)
  • how Joseph interprets dreams for two prisoners, and later for Pharaoh himself (Thursday)

Although Abraham’s story is central to God’s covenant and is found in the center of the book of Genesis, Joseph’s story is quite significant as well for its extensive coverage in the book (chapters 37-50). Joseph is correctly identified as one of the great patriarchs in the Bible.

His life, and that of Daniel, both have close parallels to the life of Christ. They were both separated from their families when they were young and carried far from home to pagan lands. Just as Jesus left heaven to be born on our sinful, fallen planet. Curiously, both Joseph and Daniel lived exemplary lives. At least no record is made of any major fault or sinful behavior for these two. And of course, the same applies to the life of God’s Son.

Memory Text: “Then they said to one another, ‘Look, this dreamer is coming!’ ” Genesis 37:19 NKJV

The nickname “dreamer” might be interpreted “master of dreams”. And as we see in the life of this incredible patriarch, he is an expert at receiving and interpreting prophetic dreams. He also plays a part in their fulfillment. We are repeatedly made aware of God’s ability to carry out His promises by turning evil, bad situations into outstandingly positive ones.

Sunday: Family Troubles

Genesis 37:1 establishes a difference in Jacob’s dwelling in the promised land, as opposed to Abraham and Isaac being strangers there. Jacob’s family seemed to have been more accepted by their neighbors, and less seen as unlawful visitors.

Unfortunately, the source of their troubles are more within the family. There are numerous accounts of two brothers not getting along in the Bible. Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ismael, Jacob and Esau, for instance. The dysfunctional qualities of these relationships were now multiplied due to the number of Jacob’s wives and their many sons, all struggling to find their place within the family.

Of course, in Jacob’s mind, Joseph was the rightful one to receive the blessings of the firstborn. After all, he was the first son of he and Rachel, the one he had intended to marry from the start. He demonstrated his preference by giving Joseph a prince’s tunic, one of many colors (Genesis 37:3). This only added to the animosity already felt for Joseph by his unruly brothers.

In addition, Joseph gave reports to Jacob of his brothers’ misbehaviors, and this surely did not add to Joseph’s popularity in the family (Genesis 37:2). He also related two of his dreams that implied his brothers, and even his father and mother, would someday bow down to him. Even Jacob openly rebuked him for such fanciful dreams, but inwardly he meditated on their meaning. See Genesis 37:6-11.

Joseph recognized that when a dream was repeated with similar details, it was likely to be a message from God. We’ll see this principle at work as Joseph later explained, when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream (Genesis 41:32).

Discussion Questions:

Genesis 37:1

  • Why do you think Jacob’s family seemed to fit in with their neighbors more than Abraham or Isaac’s?
  • What does it feel like when you are a guest or visitor and not a permanent resident?

Genesis 37:2-4, Isaiah 53:3, and John 1:11

  • What were the reasons why Joseph was rejected by his brothers?
  • How did Jesus feel similarly rejected by those He came to save?

Genesis 37:5-11

  • Without giving an interpretation, why do you think Joseph told his dreams to his brothers, when he probably knew how unpopular it would make him?
  • Why was it important for the dreams to be told at that time, even without an interpretation?

Monday: The Attack on Joseph

Jacob sent Joseph out to find his brothers one day, just as God sends us out to find others who may be lost (Genesis 37:13, 14). A stranger saw Joseph wandering in a field and gave him the information he needed to find his brothers (Genesis 37:15-17). We also must equip ourselves with the word of God, His directions, before going out to find our lost brothers and sisters.

It was clear that Joseph’s brothers intended to kill him as they saw him approach their flocks. Reuben, the oldest, convinced them, however, to just throw him in a pit. We are told that he intended to go privately and release him later (Genesis 37:21, 22). We aren’t given his motive for doing this. He may have had tender feelings for the lad, and/or perhaps it would be a way to be seen favorably by their father Jacob.

By chance, a caravan of Midianite merchants was seen in the distance. Judah came up with the idea to sell Joseph to them as a way of avoiding the shedding of blood. They would spread goat’s blood on Joseph’s coat and use it to deceive their father into thinking Joseph had been killed by some wild animal. See Genesis 37:25-36.

Jacob, once known as a deceiver himself, was again the victim of a cruel deception by his own sons.

Discussion Questions:

Genesis 37:28, Matthew 27:9, and Matthew 20:26-28

  • Why were God’s people, and even His own Son, only considered worth the sale price of a slave?
  • What lessons can we, and even Joseph, learn by being a slave?
  • What’s the difference in being a slave to Satan and a servant of God?

Tuesday: Judah and Tamar

Genesis 38 reveals another episode of deception, and how God can turn a sad, unfortunate situation into one filled with grace and hope. Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law, had been promised that she could be the wife of Judah’s third son, when he became old enough. Judah’s two oldest sons had died, because of their selfish, wicked behavior (Genesis 38:7, 10).

Judah, perhaps because he was mourning over the loss of his own wife, Shua, was deceived into thinking Tamar was a prostitute. She had disguised herself and seduced him, in order to have the child she had been promised. Not at all the way God would have dealt with her misfortune, but the unholy way many of us try to take matters into our own hands to better our situation.

The son she conceived, Perez, is mentioned in Christ’s line of ancestors in Matthew 1:3. Notice Tamar’s name is in that genealogical record, along with three other women: Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah’s wife Bathsheba (Matthew 1:3). Jesus is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” in Revelation 5:5. He did come from Judah’s promiscuous behavior with Tamar. How amazing that God’s grace can cover so perfectly our unwise decisions and sinful actions.

Discussion Questions:

Genesis 38:6-8

  • Why were women given to a close relative, when their husband was deceased?
  • What would happen to women, if they had no son to take care of them in their old age?

Genesis 38:9-10

  • What part did their unrighteous behavior have to do with the death of Er and Onan? Why was God said to be the cause?
  • How do we sometimes contribute to our own death?

Genesis 38:13-16

  • How are all these stories of deception reminding us about Satan, who deceived Eve in the Garden?
  • How are they showing us God’s grace by giving us a better outcome when we rely on Him?

Wednesday: Joseph, a Slave in Egypt

Joseph was blessed by God during his time of slavery in Egypt. Genesis 39:23 makes it clear that it was God who gave him success and prospered him, both under the authority of Potiphar, but later when he suffered worse treatment in prison.

Once again the theme of deception was used to help us understand its detrimental effects on our lives. Potiphar was deceived by his wife into thinking Joseph had attempted to rape her. Joseph’s staunch refusal of her earlier enticements did not stop her. She found a way to have the man she couldn’t seduce suffer for his loyalty to his master and to God.

Despite the initial sense of abandonment Joseph must have felt after arriving in prison, he didn’t lose faith in God. And God once again rewarded him for his caring, positive attitude. The prison keeper recognized Joseph’s stalwart demeanor and raised his position and standing within the prison system.

Joseph endured many highs and lows during his lifetime, but these stories convince us that, with God, we can overcome even the most depressing circumstances and come out better in the end.

Discussion Questions:

Genesis 39:3, 23

  • Why is it important to remember the source of our success?

Genesis 39:9 and Psalm 51:4

  • How is God affected when we sin against Him?
  • Why is our sin always seen as a sin against God, in addition to against some other person?
  • Is there any sin that only affects us alone?

Thursday: The Dreams of Pharaoh

Joseph developed a close relationship with God during his time in Egypt. He became quite good at interpreting dreams that seemed to come from God. They usually consisted of more than one dream with different details, but similar themes. He always gave God credit for the interpretation he was given (Genesis 40:8 and 41:16).

Two officers of Pharaoh’s palace, his chief butler and his chief baker, were thrown in prison. They came to Joseph when they both had troubling dreams and needed someone to interpret them. Joseph gave them each an accurate interpretation that was fulfilled exactly as predicted. In three days, the butler was restored to his position, but the chief baker was hanged by Pharaoh. See Genesis 40.

Joseph was hopeful that the butler might speak favorably to Pharaoh and do something to get him out of prison. But two years passed before the butler remembered Joseph’s request.

Pharaoh had dreams and couldn’t seem to find a satisfactory interpretation for them. The butler suggested that Joseph be found to interpret the troubling dreams. Joseph so impressed Pharaoh with his wise interpretation and counsel that he made Joseph a ruler over all Egypt. See Genesis 41.

Discussion Questions:

Genesis 41:32

  • Why does God use repetition so much in teaching us about Him?
  • Are all dreams we have sent from God? Why or why not?

Genesis 40:8 and 41:16

  • Why is it important to recognize the source of our success and our wisdom? What happens when we don’t?

Genesis 41:33-36

  • What experiences did Joseph have that caused him to give such wise counsel to Pharaoh?

Genesis 41:39-43 and Revelation 3:21

  • When will we also be given a high position in government?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Although most of our study this week was about Joseph, Judah also had a major role. He was the one who saved Joseph’s life when they threw him in a pit. His family later was saved from the famine, after Joseph became a ruler in Egypt.

Judah made a terrible mistake, however, by having an illicit encounter with his daughter-in-law Tamar. But God caused good to come from their unholy behavior through the son she bore, who would be a descendant of the Messiah.

With Joseph’s story, we are reminded time and time again that God will take care of us…

Next Week: Joseph, Prince of Egypt

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