Lesson Focus “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart.” (Psalm 27:14)
Jacob showed obvious favoritism among both his wives and his children. Joseph was clearly his favorite, and Jacob's preferential treatment contributed to the sin of his sons. At this time Jacob was living in "the Valley of Hebron." He evidently moved there from Bethlehem after the death of his father Isaac. Jacob had extorted the birthright from his brother Esau and had thus inherited the land previously owned by his grandfather Abraham and father Isaac. Verses 1-4 Joseph at this time was 17 years old. It is hard to judge the character of the young man at this point in his life. He was obviously gifted and handsome, trustworthy and well loved by his parents. It is also true, however, that Jacob used the boy to keep tabs on his other sons. Some have condemned Joseph as a tattletale for "bringing a bad report" to his father about his brothers. Yet we have no way of knowing if Joseph was simply carrying out his father's command to observe and report back the truth. The fact that he would report back to Jacob obviously alienated Joseph from the rest of his brothers. The bad report Joseph brought to Jacob involved Dan, Naphtali, Asher, and Gad. The subject of the "coat of many colors" is widely misunderstood. It has long been thought that Joseph's brothers were simply envious that he had received a handsome coat from his father and that they had not. The brothers were not that petty. The term translated "coat of many colors" is more literally translated "long tunic that reached to the ankles and wrists." Such a garment was worn by royal children of nobler rank, which explains why it angered the brothers so much. By giving Joseph such a garment, Jacob was placing him over the brothers as their superior. This also served to exacerbate Joseph's later dreams of supremacy, as well as his "spying" and reporting back to Jacob. Verse 5-11 It is hard to determine if Joseph was simply immature and naive in telling his dreams to his brothers, or if he was exhibiting some cruelty by "rubbing it in" concerning his favored position. The youth was probably naive rather than cruel. Though all eleven of Joseph's brothers eventually did bow down to him, we have no record that his father and mother ever did so. It is certainly true, however, that Joseph was later honored by all for saving the family from starvation. Verses 12-17 Though Jacob and his family had moved (fled) from Shechem after the shameful incident with Dinah, Jacob evidently maintained ownership of the land he had purchased there and used it to pasture his extensive flocks and herds. He may also have purchased land around Dothan, about 15 miles to the northwest, since he also pastured his flocks and herds there. Jacob, placing great trust in Joseph, sends him out again to check up on his brothers and the flocks and to report back. Jacob thus causes great stress in the relationship between Joseph and his older brothers. He also takes something of a risk in sending a 17-year-old boy out alone to make the dangerous 45-mile trip to Shechem. Joseph is not quite up to the task, for he is found wandering in a field near Shechem and must get help from a stranger. A more experienced man would probably have known to search in Dothan when he did not find the brothers in Shechem. Verses 18-28 The hatred of most of the brothers toward Joseph is very great, even to the point of plotting to murder him. It is hard to imagine what family life among Jacob's sons must have been like for the brothers to hate Joseph that much. Perhaps all of the years of favoritism, the ranking in order of affection enroute to meet Esau, etc., were all coming to a head there in the remote fields around Dothan. Reuben, both now and later, displays some strength of character and tries to rescue Joseph from his brothers. He was apparently not present when the others sold Joseph into slavery. In fact we have no record that Reuben was ever told exactly what the others had done to Joseph. It was Judah's idea to sell Joseph. He was obviously loath to kill his own brother, but despised him enough to sell him into slavery. We know from their words later (Genesis 42:21) that Joseph, "in great anguish of soul," pleaded with his brothers for his life–to no avail. The hatred and resentment of the brothers ran deep, but so did their guilt after selling him. Verses 29-36 Perhaps the greatest cruelty of all was when the brothers allowed their father to believe (for many years) that his beloved Joseph was dead. Jacob mourned for Joseph for several reasons. Not only was he his favorite, Jacob also very likely felt blame and guilt for sending his young son to his death. The fact that Jacob refused to be comforted was an indication not only of his love for Joseph, but also of a weakness of faith on his part. It is not right for even a parent to choose to refuse the comfort of knowing that a dearly loved child is safe and at peace with the Lord. Such a prolonged rejection of comfort can easily become a rebellious rejection of the will and wisdom of God.
Bible Story Joseph & His Brothers Genesis 37
Read from your Bible. Ask students to find it in a Bible too. Those that can read can follow along. Choose the passages you would like to read aloud. Use visuals to help tell the story.
Joseph learned to trust God no matter what his circumstances were.
Joseph grew up to be thankful for what he had. He was not perfect. His mother, Rachel, died when he was 15 years old. Two years later, his father gave him the authority to be shepherd over the flocks, even though he had several older brothers. He was a tattle-tale when his brothers did bad things. They were not happy about that! To make matters worse, Joseph's father gave him special treatment by giving him a multi-colored coat. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. - Genesis 37:3,4 Then one day Joseph had a dream. He told his brothers that he dreamed that a day would come when they would bow down to him and be his servants. Then he had another dream. He told his father and brothers that one day all of them would bow down to him. Even his father resented hearing this and told him so. His brothers envied him even more.
Jesus said neither cast your pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). One of Murphy's Laws says the same thing: Never teach a pig to sing. It is a waste of time and annoys the pig. These dreams were from God to comfort Joseph and strengthen him for the hard times he would face later. Joseph unwisely got very prideful about these dreams. He had to learn the hard way that all we have comes from God, so we should be humble and thankful.
Well, that coat of many colors that showed he was the favored son got Joseph into trouble with his jealous brothers. Joseph spent many years in the house of Potipher as a slave. He was wrongfully accused of a crime and put in prison for thirteen years. Eventually, after these humble years, he was exalted to a position of honor with the ruler. Through all of these bad and good times, Joseph learned to be happy where he was and be the best person he could be with what God gave him. He learned to trust God no matter what his circumstances were.
Bible Challenge “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart.” (Psalm 27:14) “For those who love God all things work together for good.” Romans 8:28
Read this passage from your Bible. Ask students to locate it in a Bible too. Help them learn this verse.
Activity 1: What Was God Doing? You’ll Need A piece of paper for each student Markers or other writing utensils Scissors for each student
What You’ll Do On one side in big letters write God is working On the other side divide paper into 3 parts, in one part draw a simple coat, in the center part draw a sheaf of grain, in the third part draw a simple money bag.
Ask: What do you see on your papers? Each picture on one side of your paper tells something about our Bible story, something about Joseph’s early life. Some of those things were special – like getting a new coat. Others were not special at all – like being sold as a slave. What you don’t see as easily is God at work.
Put the three pieces together. Our Bible words say that no matter what happens to God’s children, He is always working it out for good. When you have troubles, God works it out to be good for you! You may never see how that happens, but you have God’s promise that it will.
Activity 2: If You’re Wearing….Say Today’s Bible Verse Have all the children sit in a circle. Tell all the children, "If you are wearing red today, stand up and say the verse." Help the children who are wearing red say the verse. Keep going with different colors until all the children have had a chance to say the verse at least once.
Games Game: Forgiveness Balloons You’ll Need: Bibles Inflated large balloons – 2 per student – 1 partially inflated to sit on Read aloud Genesis 37 Ask:In the Bible Joseph found favor in his father’s eyes. His father gave him a coat of many colors. How would you feel if your brother or sister was the favorite child and received an item of importance? Joseph’s brothers were very jealous. What did they do to Joseph? We can celebrate the fact that God will always forgive us when we ask Him. His forgiveness helps us want to forgive others. Joseph forgave his brothers, even when they treated him badly. In Bible times God asked His people to think about their wrong actions during the 10 days called the Days of Awe. We’ll play a game by trying to tap a balloon 10 times in a row. How to play: Give each student a partially inflated balloon. Have students sit in a circle in groups of about 6. Students should sit on their partially inflated balloon. Give each group an additional inflated balloon.
Students in each group try to tap the balloon 10 times, tapping it to each other in random order without popping the balloon on which they are sitting. Lead students in counting aloud the number of times the balloon is tapped. If balloon touches the floor or if it pops, distribute new balloons as needed and students begin again.
Science Experiment Skittles Experiment - Floating S Experiment You’ll Need
Pitcher of water
Give each student a bowl, a small cup of water, and a small cup of Skittles candy.
Instruct students to pour the water into the bowl (you only need enough water so that it will cover the Skittles.)
Ask them to choose three different colors of Skittles to place in the bowl at the edges and spaced out so they weren’t touching each other (I let them eat the rest). BE SURE THE S IS FACING UP!
The children observed what happened to the colors (the colors will spread out and eventually blend with other colors and the three S’s float to the top).
An important note: this experiment only works well if the bowl sits on a very stable surface, such as a table that does not shake or the floor. Make sure the children understand not to touch or move the bowl. Be sure to place the Skittles with the S side up.
Talk about Joseph’s coat of many colors.
Closing Activity “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Remember Rhyme Joseph had a new coat Full of colors bright and bold; Joseph had a dream, And this is what it told: His brothers would bow down to him Though he was not old; But his brothers were angry with him, So it was Joseph that they sold. Off he went to another country; And his coat was taken away. He had hard times but still he knew That God was with him every day. God kept His promise to Joseph, And He keeps His promises to you. God always does exactly what He says He’s going to do.
Sing: Jesus Loves Me
Pray: Dear God, thank you for loving me and taking care of me. Thank you for all the people who are a blessing to me. Thank you for sending Jesus to take away my sins. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.