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             Joseph was a young man, only seventeen years old. Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than he loved his other sons. Israel gave his favorite son a special coat. This coat was long and very beautiful. Joseph's brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more than he loved them. And they hated Joseph because of this.

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            One night Joseph had a special dream. Later he told his brothers about the dream. He said, "I had a dream. We were all working in the field. We were tying bundles of wheat together. My bundle stood, and all your bundles made a circle around my sheaf. Then all your bundles bowed down to mine."

            His brothers said, "Do you think you will be a king and rule over us?" After this, his brothers hated him even more. 

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             One day, Joseph's brothers went to Shechem to care for their father's sheep. After some time, Israel sent Joseph to see if the brothers were safe. Joseph found his brothers at Dothan, about thirty kilometers north of Shechem.

            Joseph's brothers saw him coming. They said to each other, "Here comes Joseph, the one who dreams. We should kill him now while we can." But instead of killing Joseph, they put him in a dry, empty well.

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            While Joseph was in the well, the brothers sat down to eat. Then they looked and saw a group of traders traveling to Egypt. Their camels were carrying many different spices and riches. So Judah said to his brothers, "What profit will we get if we kill our brother? We will profit more if we sell him to these traders!"

            The other brothers agreed. When the traders came by, the brothers took Joseph out of the well and sold him to the traders for twenty pieces of silver. The traders took Joseph to Egypt.

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             The brothers killed a goat and put the goat's blood on Joseph's beautiful coat. Then they showed the coat to their father. They said, "We found this coat. Is this Joseph's coat?"

            The father saw the coat and knew that it was Joseph's. "Yes, that is his! Maybe some wild animal has killed him. My son Joseph has been eaten by a wild animal." Jacob was so upset about his son that he tore his clothes and put on special clothes to show that he was sad. All of Jacob's sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but Jacob was never comforted.

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             The traders who bought Joseph took him down to Egypt. They sold him to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh's guard. (The ruler of Egypt was called "the Pharaoh.") But the Lord helped Joseph, and Potiphar made Joseph the ruler of his house. Potiphar put Joseph in charge of everything he owned.

            Joseph was a very handsome, well-built man. After some time, Potiphar's wife began to like Joseph. One day she said, "Sleep with me."

            But Joseph refused. He said, "My master trusts me with everything in his house. I must not sleep with his wife. That is wrong! It is a sin against God." 

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              The woman talked with Joseph every day, but Joseph refused to sleep with her. One day she grabbed Joseph's coat and said to him, "Come and sleep with me." But Joseph ran out of the house and left his coat in her hand.

            When Potiphar came home, his wife told him a lie. She said that Joseph had tried to rape her, that she had cried out and scared Joseph away. When Potiphar heard this, he became very angry and put Joseph in prison.

            But the Lord was with Joseph. After some time, the leader of the prison guards put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners. The ruler of the guards trusted Joseph with everything in the prison. God helped Joseph, and he became successful in everything he did.  

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             While Joseph was in prison, the Pharaoh had two dreams. None of Pharaoh's wise men could explain the dreams. Then Pharaoh's wine server remembered that Joseph had interpreted a dream for him. So Pharaoh called Joseph from the prison.

            Joseph shaved and put on clean clothes. Then he went and stood before Pharaoh, and Pharaoh told Joseph his dreams. Joseph said to Pharaoh, "Both of these dreams mean the same thing. God has shown you what will soon happen. You will have seven years of good crops and plenty to eat in all the land of Egypt. After this, there will come seven years of hunger in all the land."  

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            When Pharaoh heard these things, he said to Joseph, "God has shown all these things to you. So I will make you governor over the land. The people will obey all your commands. I will be the only ruler in Egypt greater than you."

            Joseph was thirty years old when he began serving the king of Egypt. Joseph traveled through all the land of Egypt. Joseph saved one-fifth of the food during the seven years of plenty. Joseph stored so much grain that it could not be measured.  

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             After seven years, the time of hunger began. In all the lands everywhere, no food grew. People had nothing to eat. But in Egypt, people had plenty to eat.

            In Jacob's land there was hunger. When Jacob learned that there was food in Egypt, he sent ten of his sons to Egypt to buy grain.

            At this time Joseph was the governor of Egypt. Joseph's brothers came to him and bowed before him. Joseph saw his brothers and knew who they were, but they did not know who he was. And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about his brothers.

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            Later, when his brothers made a second trip to Egypt to buy grain, Joseph could control his emotions no longer. He cried and cried. Joseph said to his brothers, "I am your brother Joseph. Is my father doing well?" But his brothers did not answer him. They were scared and confused.

            So Joseph said again, "I am your brother Joseph. I am the one you sold as a slave to Egypt. Now, don't be worried. Don't be angry with yourselves for what you did. It was God's plan for me to come here. God sent me here ahead of you so that I can save your people in this land."

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             Joseph said to his brothers, "Leave quickly and go to my father. Tell my father that his son Joseph sends this message: `God has made me governor of Egypt. Come here to me. Don't wait. Come now. You will be near me in the land of Goshen.'"

            So the brothers left Egypt and went to their father in the land of Canaan. The brothers told their father everything Joseph had said. Their father was amazed. He did not believe them. But when Israel (Jacob) saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to bring him back to Egypt, he became excited and very happy.

            Then Israel began his trip to Egypt. But first, he went to Beersheba where he worshiped God by offering sacrifices. During the night, God spoke to Israel in a dream. God said, "I am God, the God of your father Isaac. Don't be afraid to go to Egypt. In Egypt I will make you a great nation. I will go with you, and I will bring you out of Egypt again."

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            Then Israel and his family left Beersheba and traveled to Egypt. The total number of people who went with him to Egypt was sixty-six, not counting his sons' wives or the family of Joseph.

            Joseph learned that his father was coming near. So Joseph prepared his chariot and went out to meet his father Israel in Goshen. When Joseph saw his father, he hugged his neck and cried for a long time.

             Israel lived in Egypt seventeen years. When he was 147 years old, he became very sick. Then Israel called all his sons to him and said, "I will tell you what will happen in the future." One by one, Israel told his sons what would happen. To Judah he said, "Judah will be like a lion. Men from Judah's family will be kings. The sign that his family rules will not leave his family before the real king comes." After saying these things, Israel lay down, pulled his feet up on the bed and died.  

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             1.      Jealousy and hatred lead to serious problems. Joseph was born at a time when his father Israel was very old. So Israel loved Joseph more than he loved his other sons. Israel gave Joseph a special coat that was long and beautiful. When Joseph's brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more than he loved them, they were jealous. They hated their brother.

            At Dothan, Joseph's brothers saw Joseph coming and wanted to kill him. But instead, they decided to sell him as a slave. Then, they dipped his coat in goat's blood to make their father think Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Jealousy and hatred can cause us to do terrible things.           

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            2. God rewards those who are faithful. Joseph could have become bitter. He could have been bitter against his brothers for selling him, bitter against his father for not coming to get him, bitter against Potiphar's wife for falsely accusing him, and bitter against Potiphar for putting him in prison even though he was innocent. But Joseph trusted in God and remained faithful to God in every situation.

            In his mercy, God blessed Joseph and turned every bitter experience into a stepping-stone to success. Joseph rose to the top in Potiphar's house, in prison, and in Pharaoh's court. Joseph was faithful to God, and God blessed him in everything he did. Joseph then became a blessing to others. 

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            3. God has plans that we do not understand. When Joseph's brothers sold him to the traders, Joseph could not understand why. When Potiphar put Joseph in prison, Joseph probably thought, "Why is this happening to me?"

            But when Joseph's brothers came to Egypt to buy food, Joseph looked back and saw the hand of God in everything. Joseph said to his brothers, "It was God's plan for me to come here. I have come here to save your lives." Later Joseph said, "You had planned to do something bad to me. But God was really planning good things. God's plan was to use me to save the lives of many people."

             Remember that God is in control. He may be using you, as he used Joseph, to save the lives of many people or to serve others in some special way. 

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            4. God points to the coming King. Thus far we have learned that a descendant of Eve will crush Satan's head, and that all nations will be blessed through a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In this lesson we have discovered that a descendant of Judah will be the real King who deserves to rule the nations.  

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             Scripture References: Genesis 37-50.

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