When Others Hate You
Explore the Bible Series
April 6, 2008
Background Passage: Genesis 37:1-38:30
Lesson Passage: Genesis 37:2b-11; 17-20, 28
Introduction: This section of Genesis begins the narrative about Joseph. As before, the text takes directions that readers may not anticipate. Furthermore, patterns of behavior surface again and again. Careful Bible students should note these trends.
I. The Jacob’s Sons Betrayed Joseph (37:1-36)
A. Joseph’s relationship with his brothers (vv. 1-11): Though Joseph’s brothers acted disgracefully, Joseph apparently did not handle his family relationships very well.
1. tattling(v. 2): We don’t know the occasion, but, at some point, Joseph gave a bad report on some of his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah (See I Timothy 5:13—this word denotes a meddlesome spirit).
2. favoritism (vv. 3-4): Jacob favored Joseph over all the other sons, and he gave expression to his bias by giving his younger son an impressive garment. This beautiful coat may have denoted status and certainly reminded the other ten sons of the elevated status of Joseph. Recall that Jacob had grown up in a divided household and enjoyed the favoritism of his mother. Apparently, the patriarch did not learn from the tumultuous environment of his childhood. This coat provoked the slighted brothers to envy and bitter speech toward Joseph.
3. pride (vv. 5-11): Joseph received two dreams. Soon afterwards, Joseph reported his dreams to his brothers, and their hatred increased toward their kinsman. Even Jacob seemed offended by Joseph’s report of the dreams (See v. 10). The text makes clear that the brothers’ resentment grew in the wake of Joseph’s account of his dreams. Perhaps Joseph could have handled this situation more diplomatically, and his bold pronouncement to his brothers may have reflected an immature, prideful heart.
B. Joseph Sold by his Brothers (vv. 12-36)
search for his brothers (vv. 12-17): The
older sons of Jacob tended the family flocks some distance from their father’s
home. In time, Jacob wanted a report of
their wellbeing, and the old man sent Joseph to check on the family
interests. Joseph sought his brothers at
2. the sons’ conspiracy (vv. 18-36): As Joseph approached his
brothers, they mocked and conspired to kill him. Reuben intervened in Joseph’s behalf and
convinced the brothers to throw Joseph in a pit. Later, Reuben planned to return to rescue his
younger brother. Apparently, Reuben left his brothers for a time, and, in his
absence, the sons sold Joseph to Midianite
tradesmen. When Reuben returned, to his
horror, he discovered what the men had done, and he agreed to tell Jacob that a
wild beast had killed Joseph. The
brothers dipped Joseph’s coat in goat’s blood and lied to their father about
Joseph’s death. Jacob, of course,
grieved inconsolably for his lost son. Joseph, in the meantime, was taken to
The Adultery of
and Tamar (vv. 6-11): When Er grew to maturity he married a Canaanite woman
named Tamar. The Bible does not reveal
the nature of Er’s sin, but the Lord killed this wicked man. According to the levirate marriage norms of
ancient Middle Eastern culture, Onan, Er’s brother, was obligated to father a
child in his deceased brother’s line. Onan
made a mockery of his family responsibilities, and the Lord took his life