Joseph the Dreamer

I. The Record of Joseph (Genesis 37 through 50) 

A. These various records were used by Moses to write Genesis.

1. Each section is “signed” by the Hebrew “Towledah.”

a. There are eleven of these signatures.
b. The Hebrew word means: “descendants” or “proceedings”.
c. It is translated “book” in Genesis 5:1.
d. They appear at the end of the recorded section.

2. Jacob signs off at Genesis 37:2.

a. The rest (Genesis 37:2 - 50:21) probably written by Joseph (no signature)
b. The last few verses are probably written by Moses (Genesis 50:22-26).

B. Joseph is seventeen (17) at the beginning of the narrative.

1. He is called “Jehovah (Yahweh) has added.”

2. He is the last child born in Haran (Genesis 30:22-24).

3. He is involved in shepherding the flocks of Jacob (37:2).

II. The problems of Joseph

A. Joseph is the favored son of Jacob (Genesis 37:3).

1. He is the son of Jacob’s old age.

2. He is “loved” more than all the other sons.

3. He is given the “coat of colors”.

a. Hebrew: Kethoneth  = Tunic; long covering
b. Hebrew: Passim  = unknown usage (from word that means “flat”)
c. Used of the Priest’s garments (Exodus 28:4; 39:27).
d. This may signify special authority or responsibility.

B. Joseph brings an “evil report” to Jacob (Genesis 37:2).

1. The “evil” is always connected as the opposite of good.

a. The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9)
b. The “evil report” at the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:21-22)
c. The “evil report” of the 10 spies (Numbers 14:37)
d. The “good man” (Job) who “eschewed evil” (Job 1:1,8)
e. The demand to “refrain from every evil way” (Psalm 119:101)

2. The report is given as a “furtive” tattle or “whisper” to Jacob.

a. The Hebrew (Dibbah) translated “slander” or “infamy”.
b. The root word describes the movement of a bear on the hunt through the woods – (sliding, stealth).
c. The “slander” of the spies (Numbers 13:32; 14:36-37)
d. Proverbs 10:18 – “...he that utters slander is a fool.”

C. Joseph is endangered by the partiality shown by Jacob.

1. His brothers hate him because of partiality (Genesis 37:4).

2. Biblical data reiterates the danger of this mistake.

a. Isaac and Esau are an earlier example (Genesis 25:28).
b. Eli and his sons (Hophni and Phinehas) damaged many.
1)   1 Samuel 2:22-29
2)   God executed Eli because of his sons (1 Samuel 2:29) – “you honor your sons before me”
c. The tragic story of David and Absalom (2 Samuel 13:28-29)
1)   Jonadab counseled Amnon to seduce Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-4).
2)   Absalom killed Amnon, the king’s son (2 Samuel 13:28-29).
3)   Absalom rebelled against David (2 Samuel 15).
4)   Absalom raped David’s concubines in public (2 Samuel 16:20-23).
5)   David was inconsolable when Absalom was killed (2 Samuel 18:33; 19:4).

III. Jacob dreams two major prophetic dreams.

A. The dream of the sheaves (Genesis 37:7-8)

1. This focuses on the eleven brothers.

2. This foretells the reason for their initial obeisance.

3. This makes the brothers even angrier.

B. The dream of the Sun, Moon, and eleven stars (Genesis 37:9-11).

1. This focuses on the entire family.

2. This causes Jacob to react negatively, then to reconsider...

a. Jacob “rebukes” Joseph.
b. Jacob “observed the saying”.
1)   Some translate this “suspended judgment”.
2)   Hebrew: Shamar = “preserve” “keep” “save”
3)   Psalm 119:4-5, etc.; “keep the word”

3. The brothers hate Joseph even more intensely.

IV. Jacob is sold into slavery.

A. Jacob is sent to Shechem to check on the brothers (Genesis 37:12-17).

1. Shechem is the place of previous worldliness and difficulty.

a. Shechem is about 48 miles from Hebron.
b. Joseph gains direction from a “man” in the field.
c. Brothers have moved to Dothan
d. Dothan is about 15 miles further north.

2. The brothers plot to kill Joseph (Genesis 37:18-20).

a. They “conspired” to kill him.
b. The Hebrew word, nakal, means to “deceive” or “beguile.”
c. They meant to “execute” – (used of government or army).

B. The action of the brothers reveals much about deadly conduct.

1. They could not “speak peaceably” (Genesis 37:4shalowm).

2. They continued to increase their hatred over time (37:5, 8).

3. They envied Joseph (Genesis 37:11).

4. They conspired against him (Genesis 37:18).

5. They used pejorative slander (“this dreamer” – Genesis 37:19).

6. They made agreement to hide their deeds (Genesis 37:20).

7. They delighted at the thought of getting the victory -- “we shall see what will become of his dreams”.

C. The brothers formulate the plot to kill Joseph.

1. The plot involves violent action.

2. They will “cast” (hurl) Joseph into the pit.

3. They intend to “slay” – gang murder

D. Reuben intervenes to rescue Joseph from death.

1. He “delivered” (snatched) Joseph out of their hands.

2. He plans to return to rescue Joseph and return him to Jacob.

E. The brothers actually execute the plot, modified by Reuben.

1. They strip Joseph of his coat of authority (satisfy envy).

2. They cast him into the pit (satisfy anger).

F. The brothers are completely unconcerned about their deed.

1. They “sat down to eat bread” (Genesis 37:25).

2. They are at ease with their deed.

3. They are unmoved by Joseph’s plight.

4. They have no consciousness of wrongdoing.

G. Judah intervenes with the thought of “making profit” (37:26-28).

1. The motive is not clear – could be an attempt to help.

2. The result is the sale of Joseph to the Midianites.

a. The Ishmaelites are descendants of Abraham and Hagar.
b. The Midianites are descendants of Abraham and Keturah.
c. They are both called “Ishmaelites” (Genesis 37:28; Judges 8:22-24).

3. The sale is for 20 pieces of silver.

a. This is later set as the price for a young boy (Leviticus 27:5).
b. The mature slave went for 30 pieces of silver (Exodus 21:32).
c. Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15).

H. Joseph is sold into Egypt to the house of Potiphar (Genesis 37:36).

The Patriarchs
ch. 37


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