Genesis 37:1-36

Genesis 37:1-36

Genesis 37:1-4 This chapter begins with the assertion that Jacob like his father and grandfather, Abraham, lived as a sojourner or pilgrim in the land that was promised to them. We too are called to live in such a manner in order to be commended to God (Heb 11:8‑10). Nowhere in Scripture is it asserted that Joseph was a type of the Messiah. However, the many analogies are significant:

(1) both were special objects of a father’s love (Genesis 37:3;Matthew 3:17; John 3:35;5:20);

(2) both were hated by their brethren (Genesis 37:4;John 15:25);

(3) the superior claims of both were rejected by their brethren (Genresis 37:8;Matthew 21:37-39;John 15:24-25);

(4) the brethren of both conspired against them to slay them (Genesis 37:18;Matthew 26:3-4);

(5) Joseph was intended to be killed by his brothers, as was Jesus (Genesis 37:24;Matthew 27:35-37);

(6) each became a blessing among the Gentiles and gained a bride (Genesis 41:1-45; Acts 15:14;Ephesians 5:25-32); and

(7) as Joseph reconciled his brethren to himself and afterward exalted them, so will it be with Christ and His Jewish brethren (Genesis 45:1-15; Deuteronomy 30:1-10; Hosea 2:14-18;Romans 11:1,15,25-26). The Rabbinical commentators recognized that some of the prophecies concerning the Messiah were typical of the events and trials of Joseph that they described this view of Messiah as Messiah ben Joseph.

The cornerstone of this motif is found in Isaiah 53. The preferred perspective is the coming King of Israel who would be like King David and rule and reign over Israel and the nations. Messiah ben Joseph is fulfilled in the first coming of the Messiah while Messiah ben David foreshadows the second coming of Jesus.

Joseph brought back to his father Jacob a bad report. This kind of action by Joseph did not endear him to his brothers. This compounded with the greater attention that Joseph received from his father engendered jealousy in them. Joseph demonstrated a greater desire for spiritual things than his brothers. This may be due to the additional attention Jacob gave him, and Jacob recognized his leadership skills by appointing him over his brothers. His authority was indicated by his coat of many colors.

Genesis 37:5-8 – Joseph dreams a spectacular dream; there is no indication that it was from the Lord, except that it was fulfilled later in his life. This dream, if it came from the Lord was meant for his encouragement and was not meant to be shared with his brothers who already were upset with him. Unwisely he shared his dream with them and their response was to like Joseph even less than before.

The dream was clearly understood by them to mean that they would be bowing down in subservience to him. The dream had to do with a field of corn in which he and his brothers were binding the sheaves at harvest time. The sheaf that Joseph bound stood up, while the sheaves of his brothers bowed down to his sheaf. They responded with anger and obvious understanding of what his dream meant. Will you indeed rule, or from the Hebrew we rightly may infer, will you be king over us?

Genesis 37:9-11 – Then Joseph had another dream that included not only his brothers but also his father and mother bowing down to him, represented by the Sun and the Moon. Showing a considerable lack of wisdom he shared with his brothers again the dream and with his father as well. This time even his father rebuked him for sharing this dream. We see symbols like this used in John’s vision in Revelation 12:1 which refers to events affecting Israel and the 12 tribes. While his father rebuked him, he kept this incident clearly in his mind.

Genesis 37:12-14 – The brothers went back to Shechem to allow their flocks to feed. It would not have been with Jacob=s blessing that they went back there for he wanted to be removed from the events that took place there. Perhaps because of the delay in not hearing from them that he sent Joseph to find them. Sending Joseph must have brought with it certain fears of retaliation from the present inhabitants of Shechem, who no doubt heard about what his son=s did to the former residents of Shechem.

Genesis 37:15-17 – Joseph made good time to Hebron since he was not slowed by grazing animals. When he arrived they were not there. A man comes to Joseph inquiring what he was looking for. Because of their reputation and the size of the flocks the man new them and that they had left. He was told that they were traveling north to Dothan. The word means literally two wells, or cisterns, and it was in the dry one that the brothers would later place Joseph.

Some Bible students have seen this as a foreshadowing of the future nation of Israel wandering far from the Father searching for greener pastures out in the world and not finding anything. (Jeremiah 2:13 NASB) “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns, That can hold no water.

Joseph is believed to be a type of Jesus who was sent by the Father to seek his brethren, but was both rejected and slain by his brothers. (John 1:10‑11 NASB) He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. {11} He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

18-24 – Joseph’s brothers saw him approaching and they conspired together to rid themselves of this Adreamer@ and trouble maker. While this plan was evil God was working it all for good. Joseph needed to learn discernment, humility and patience, before he would be able to be used as a deliverer of his brethren. The brothers needed to experience repentance and humility and learn the consequences of sin before they could be what God could really use them. The nation that would come from them would have to learn about suffering, patience and Divine deliverance before they would be useful to God. The brothers saw him coming from quite a distance thanks to the bright coat that he was wearing. Instead of working in patience and love with their brother they became jealous and bitter, which led them to the brink of murder. Only Benjamin and Joseph were related to Rachel, while the others probably felt the rejection of their mothers by their father Jacob. Reuben was not involved in this plot against Joseph, but he was not at this point opposing the plan, probably because of his lost status and rebuke by his father over his incest with his step mother. He steps up to counsel his brothers against murder and suggests that they place him in a nearby cistern. The brothers first strip Joseph of his coat of many colors and then throw him into the cistern.

V 25-28 – Their treatment of Joseph doesn’t seem to affect their appetite as they sit down to eat right after throwing Joseph in the well. In the meantime Reuben left them, probably so distressed with the hardness of their hearts that he left to watch the flocks while they ate. It may be that he was hoping that once they left Joseph he could sneak back and release him. While they were eating a caravan of Ishmaelites and Midianites pass by on their way down to Egypt for trading. With Reuben gone, and the brothers arguing that they should abandon Joseph leaving him in the pit to die, Judah intercedes acting like a first born son. Simeon and Levi already had shed blood and Reuben was now gone from the scene. So Judah came up with the idea of sparing his life by selling Joseph into slavery. This way he would live but be out of harms way from his jealous brothers. They hailed the caravan down and entered into negotiations with them to sell them Joseph settling on the typical price of an underage slave of 20 pieces of silver, this would haunt them later (Gen 42:21).

V 29-33 – Reuben returns to the cistern, probably to release Joseph and he’s not there. He demonstrates real grief at what he perceives is the loss of Joseph by tearing his garments. He catches up with his brothers and learns of what they did with him. They then agree to lie by letting their father believe that Joseph was killed by a wild animal. The dip Joseph=s coat in the blood of a slain goat and bring it to their father asking him to identify it. Without questioning Jacob assumes that a wild animal killed his beloved son.

V 34-36 – Grief stricken Jacob tears his garment and dons sackcloth to mourn the loss of his son. His morning is great as this loss is compounded with the loss of his mother Rachel. This was the one to whom he intended to pass on the birth right. The intensity of his grief was so great that we learn about other daughters of Jacob as well as his sons trying to comfort him. His refusal to be comforted suggested that he would grieve until he died. His life was wrapped up in this boy and he seems to have put this child now before the Lord. In the meantime the caravan with Joseph arrived in Egypt and he is sold to Potiphar whose title Aofficer@ translates literally as Aeunuch@. This is one of the reasons that Potiphar=s wife felt justified in seducing Joseph. His role as Acaptain of the body guards@ has been understood to mean that not only did he oversee the guarding of the Pharaoh but also he was his chief executioner.

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