Sabbath School Lesson for June 11-17, 2022

Overview of Lesson 12

We now see Joseph as he became ruler of Egypt and helped save his family from a terrible famine. Genesis 41-45 cover…

  • Joseph’s sudden, providential rise to power in Egypt–Genesis 41 (Sunday)
  • Joseph’s brothers’ first visit and their bowing down to him–Genesis 42 (Monday)
  • Joseph finally getting to see his brother Benjamin on their second visit–Genesis 43  (Tuesday)
  • Joseph testing his brothers to see how they treat Benjamin–Genesis 44 (Wednesday)
  • Joseph revealing his identity and forgiving his brothers–Genesis 45 (Thursday)

The dreams Joseph had when he was a teenager made his family very upset with him. They finally saw their fulfillment, however, in the events that occurred in this next stage of Joseph’s life. It sounded like boasting to relay his symbolic dreams where all his brothers bowed down to him, but Joseph must have felt compelled by God at the time to share his dreams. How else would his brothers have felt the amazement they did when they saw their divine fulfillment so many years later in Egypt?

Memory Text: “And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’ ” Genesis 41:41 NKJV

The back-and-forth journeys of Jacob’s family, as they battled a widespread famine, illustrate the back-and-forth experience we often have with God. There always seemed to be a deception involved in these stories, resulting in heavy consequences for the offender and those around him. But when repentance is evident, so is forgiveness. God has endless ways to show us His plan of salvation. Repeated stories of intense human interest like this reveal the loving kindness of our heavenly Father.

Sunday: Joseph’s Rise to Power

Joseph wisely, not only interpreted Pharaoh’s puzzling dreams, but he also offered suggestions on how to minimize the effects of the predicted famine. The experience he had gained by managing Potiphar’s household and later the prison, enabled him to give sound, practical tips that the Pharaoh should and did consider.

Pharaoh saw that “no one was discerning and wise” as Joseph–language used later to describe King Solomon (1 Kings 3:12). He recognized the divine nature of Joseph’s counsel and immediately elevated his position, making him second in command over all Egypt.

Even foreigners were often given the role of vizier during that period of Egyptian history. Their duties would be like that of a prime minister, or CEO. They supervised the operation of running the country, of making their government work. Along with royal clothing, Joseph was given Pharaoh’s signet ring (allowing him to conduct business with the king’s signature).

Joseph, only 30 years old, had his name changed to Zaphnath-Paaneah (Genesis 41:45, 46), meaning “food of the land, this is life”, denoting his distinctive connection with providing food during the famine. The Egyptian wife he was given, Asenath, was the daughter of a prestigious priest of On, Poti-Pherah. Two sons came of this marriage, Manasseh and Ephraim.

Discussion Questions:

Genesis 41:39 and 1 Kings 3:12

  • Why does using our heart (character) and mind (intelligence) both lead to wisdom?

Genesis 41:40-44

  • How did this advancement for Joseph indicate how thoroughly Pharaoh believed Joseph’s interpretation?

Genesis 41:56, 57 and Esther 4:14

  • What part did both Joseph and Esther have in saving God’s people?
  • How and why were they elevated to the positions they had? Did they seek or desire to become rulers?

Monday: Joseph Confronts His Brothers

There must have been some talk among Joseph’s brothers when the famine hit and they heard that Egypt was providing food for so many surrounding countries. They had each silently carried the burden of their deception against their father for twenty years. They may have wondered among themselves now what finally happened to Joseph after they sold him into slavery.

Before their father Jacob expressed the need for them to go to Egypt, he noted, “Why do you look at one another?” They must have felt uncomfortable with going to Egypt, because it reminded them of their hateful treatment of Joseph.

God, however, had been working behind the scenes to place Joseph just where he needed to be at this critical time. Not only were Pharaoh’s dreams coming true with the famine, but the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams was about to take place.

Genesis 42:6 says that Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth. Twenty years had passed, but Joseph recognized them immediately and recalled his dreams about how they would bow down to him (Genesis 42:8, 9).

Joseph guarded his language, speaking roughly to them through an interpreter, so they wouldn’t recognize him. He needed to know more about the family and whether the brothers standing before him had changed their hearts and regretted their past treatment of him.

Discussion Questions:

Genesis 37:6, 7 and 42:6

  • Why was Joseph given those dreams in his youth? And why was it important for him to share them with his brothers?

Genesis 37:19, 42:21, and John 19:24

  • How was a plot created and shared in both these cases?

Tuesday: Joseph and Benjamin

Joseph knew the violent nature of Simeon. Who could forget his cruel vengeance involving their sister Dinah (Genesis 34)? So, after insisting that they bring back their brother Benjamin to prove their story, Joseph kept Simeon in Egypt, before sending them back to Canaan.

When they first returned to their father, Reuben offered his own two sons as surety, if Jacob would allow Benjamin to return with them so they could retrieve Simeon from captivity. Jacob felt he had already lost two sons, Joseph and now Simeon. But the offer of Reuben’s two sons to be killed in their place if they did not all come back from Egypt was not enough to change Jacob’s mind.

The famine was so severe that eventually Judah went to their father Jacob and pleaded again that they be allowed to go back to Egypt with Benjamin. He even offered himself as surety this time and was willing to take all the blame if they did not return with their youngest brother. See Genesis 43.

Jacob, referred to as their father Israel in Genesis 43:11, reluctantly agreed to let Benjamin go with them. It was either that, or they would all starve. So, taking many gifts with them, they made their way back to Egypt, hoping they could stay on the good side of the Egyptian ruler this time.

Joseph, overcome with joy at seeing his baby brother, instructed his servants to prepare a feast for the traveling family. He planned to test the brothers to see if they held any jealousy for Benjamin.

They never showed any resentment when Benjamin received more food than they did, however. So, Joseph was pleased to learn his brothers may have hearts that had softened over the years.

Discussion Questions:

Genesis 42:37, 38 and Genesis 37:21, 22

  • Why did Reuben, being the firstborn, seem to be the one who spoke up first in offering solutions for the family?
  • How good were his suggested solutions?

Genesis 43:8-10 and Mark 10:45

  • Why does Jacob listen to Judah, Leah’s third son, rather than Reuben?
  • How does the idea of a substitute point forward to Christ being our Substitute?

Wednesday: The Divination Cup

Genesis 44 speaks of the final and greatest test for Joseph’s brothers. As they were leaving Egypt, Joseph told his steward to place his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. This cup was thought to be what he used to gain knowledge from supernatural powers (Genesis 44:5), so it had much value to the Egyptians.

When the divination cup was found there, Joseph declared that Benjamin must therefore remain in Egypt as his slave, and the others could return to their father. Judah then pleaded that he stay in Benjamin’s place, explaining the harm it would do to their father if they returned without his beloved, youngest son.

This was the answer Joseph was looking for. It showed that the brothers had indeed changed. They would not allow Benjamin to suffer the same fate that he had endured so many years before.

Discussion Questions:

Genesis 44:20, 27, 28

  • How did these statements about Benjamin’s other brother, although false (he was not dead), show that the fate of Joseph was still on their minds?
  • How did his description of their grieving father also show their present, true concern for their father?

Thursday: ” ‘I Am Joseph Your Brother’ “

After Judah’s description of their grieving father and how important that they not return without Benjamin, Joseph could stand his charade no longer. He ordered everyone out of the room, except for his brothers, and then revealed his identity as they they stood dumbfounded and speechless.

Joseph’s cries were heard throughout the palace, as he tenderly reached out to the brothers. He quickly reassured them that they need not be sad or angry with themselves for their past wrongs against him. Who knew that their crime would be used by God to save their lives during the famine?

With five more years left of the famine, Joseph encouraged them to bring their father and all their families to Egypt, so he could see that their needs were met more easily. Goshen, the best land in Egypt, was to be their home for as long as it was needed.

Jacob, who once again was called Israel (Genesis 45:28), must have been ecstatic with the news that Joseph was alive, and looked forward to seeing him again before he died.

Discussion Questions:

Genesis 45:5-8

  • How was Joseph able to forgive his brothers and console them so well?
  • Why is it necessary to recognize God’s role in our lives, if we have given our lives to Him?

Friday: Final Thoughts

The story of Joseph has close parallels to the story of Christ. Joseph weeping with his brothers and forgiving them can’t help but remind us of the times Jesus wept while on earth. They were all times near the end of His life. He wept over Jerusalem, over the death of Lazarus, and as He pleaded with the Lord in Gethsemane.

This poem beautifully portrays those three times Jesus wept. Our Brother, our Friend, like Joseph, longs to identify Himself with us and extend the forgiveness we so desperately need to make our relationship complete.

I asked the Lord to give me love –
His love for souls in sin;
Instead He gave me weeping eyes,
A broken heart within.

I asked Him why He gave me tears,
He took me back in time
To when my Savior lived on earth,
When He was in His prime.

I saw Him go to where His friend
Was lying in a grave;
The sisters and their friends were grieved –
What love to them He gave.

You see my Savior standing there
Was also grieved that day,
He wept great heaving tears with sobs
Till those who saw could say:

“Behold we see now how He loved.”
His tears revealed His heart
His love was evident through tears –
I saw God’s point in part.

And then He took me to the day
The people hailed their King
While Jesus enters to their cheers
The children run and sing.

But when He saw Jerusalem
Stretched out before His eye,
His soul was moved with grief for them;
It moved His heart to cry.

Oh, as I read those solemn words
I feel that they are sweet
For in them I behold His love
So perfect and complete.

To one more place He took me now,
At midnight I beheld
The Son of God bowed down with grief
In deepest sorrow held.

I heard His weeping, strong and deep,
But through it I discerned
He prayed for me – it melted me,
His love for me I learned.

With tearful joy I thanked the Lord
For answering my prayer,
For giving me His love for souls –
His tears, His heart, His care.

-by Christina Joy Hommes