1 Jacob Lives in Canaan 2-4 Beginning of the History of Joseph 5-11 The Two Dreams of Joseph 12-17 Jacob Sends Joseph to His Brothers 18-22 The Plan to Kill Joseph 23-30 Joseph Rejected and Sold 31-35 Jacob Deceived 36 Joseph Sold to Potiphar
Jacob Lives in Canaan

1Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan.

Unlike the mighty Esau who has conquered his possessions, Jacob lives as a guest in Canaan. He has no kings like Esau and no land to rule over and no great tribes. Worldly power is acquired faster than spiritual greatness. A promised spiritual blessing requires patience and faith.

Jacob stays in the land for a long time, until he goes to Egypt. He has come to the end of his experiences and has come to rest. However, he still has to learn that God is not only entitled to Rachel, but also to Joseph and Benjamin. That is again for him via a long way. Abraham learned this lesson faster (Gen 22:1-121Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”2He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”3So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.4On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance.5Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.”6Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.7Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”8Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.9Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.10Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.11But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”12He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”).

Beginning of the History of Joseph

2These are [the records of] the generations of Jacob. Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was [still] a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father. 3Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic. 4His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and [so] they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.

The history of Joseph begins with a remarkable remark. It is said “these are [the records of] the generations of Jacob” and then the history of Joseph begins. From this we can conclude that the generations of Jacob are interwoven with the history of Joseph. The continued existence of Jacob and his descendants depends on Joseph. Joseph is a beautiful and almost perfect picture of the Lord Jesus. No sin is mentioned of him. However, we see that at the end of his history he is mistaken when he thinks Jacob is mistaken in blessing his sons (Gen 48:17-1917When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.18Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.”19But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”).

Joseph, like other men of God, for instance Abel, Moses and David, is a shepherd. Leaders learn leadership behind the sheep. He performs his task together with the sons of the female slaves of Jacob. This is reminiscent of the days of the Lord Jesus, when the people are in slavery, subject to Roman dominion – and even more so to the dominion of sin – and in that situation He performs His service.

The Lord Jesus is the separated One. In this Joseph resembles Him. He does not join the wrong of his brothers. Jacob also calls Joseph “the one distinguished among his brothers” (Gen 49:2626“The blessings of your father
Have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills;
May they be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.
). Joseph brings back a bad report about them to his father. He is not a squealer. Everything we know about Joseph, that is known to us from his history, shows that he is someone who hates evil and does not participate in it. What his brothers do hurts him. Who better to talk to than his father? In the same way, the Lord Jesus spoke to His Father about everything.

Jacob loves Joseph more than his other sons. That is not procrastination. Does not a child walking with the Lord give us more joy than a child who is willful? Jacob also loves his other sons, but Joseph gives him a special joy. With him he can share the things of his heart.

Jacob expresses his love for Joseph by making him a varicolored tunic. This arouses the brothers’ jealousy and hatred. Do we find this hatred understandable? We can only understand their hatred if we realize that the brothers are boys who care nothing about their father. This is evident from the rest of this history. The further course of history also shows how they too are ultimately brought into the right relationship with their father. But it takes a lot of discipline.

What happens to Joseph here, shows in picture what happened to the Lord Jesus as the Beloved of the Father. How is He hated and watched with jealousy. God loves His people, but the people disobey Him. The Lord Jesus is the only One Who does what the whole people should do: Honor God and serve Him. That is why the Father loves Him and why His testimony sounds: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Mt 3:1717and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”).

Joseph’s brothers hate him, not strangers. The faithful believer is always hated by fellow Christians who do not take the truth so seriously.

The Two Dreams of Joseph

5Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6He said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had; 7for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. 9Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, “Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10He related [it] to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?” 11His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying [in mind].

Because Joseph lives with God, God can also tell him what will happen in the future. In Joseph’s two dreams, there is encouragement for him. After all the suffering he has to endure, there will eventually be glory for him. It is an encouragement for every believer to know that after suffering the glory follows. Let’s look at our great example “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb 12:22fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.).

The first dream about the sheaves in the field shows an earthly scene, the second dream about the heavenly bodies shows a heavenly scene. We see here in the picture that to the Lord Jesus all things in heaven and on earth will be subject. To Him already “all authority has been given … in heaven and on earth” (Mt 28:1818And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.). “But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him” (Heb 2:8b8You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.). However, God has purposed “the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth” which will happen in “the fullness of the times” (Eph 1:9-109He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him10with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, [that is,] the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him).

That the dream has a meaning is shown by the reaction of his father and his brothers. They realize that the dream applies to them. Similarly, the adversaries of the Lord Jesus have realized that He has spoken some things in view of them (Mt 21:4545When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them.).

When the Lord Jesus stands before His earthly judges, He testifies of the truth that they will “see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN”. On this basis He is condemned: “Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”” (Mt 26:64-6664Jesus *said to him, “You have said it [yourself]; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”65Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy;66what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”). The deep reason He is surrendered is their envy (Mt 27:1818For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.), as do the brothers envy Joseph (verse 1111His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying [in mind].). There is no jealousy with Jacob. He keeps all these things in his heart (cf. Lk 2:5151And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all [these] things in her heart.).

Jacob Sends Joseph to His Brothers

12Then his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock in Shechem. 13Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing [the flock] in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “I will go.” 14Then he said to him, “Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. 15A man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16He said, “I am looking for my brothers; please tell me where they are pasturing [the flock].” 17Then the man said, “They have moved from here; for I heard [them] say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

Although “Israel” (verse 1313Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing [the flock] in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “I will go.”) knows his sons, he sends Joseph, the son of his love, to his brothers. This proves that Jacob does not neglect his other sons in favor of Joseph. Here too we see a beautiful picture of the Father Who sends His Son. As Joseph says, if his father wants to send him, “Behold, here I am”, the Lord Jesus says at His coming into the world, “Behold, I have come … To do Your will, O God” (Heb 10:7,97“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the book it is written of Me) To do Your will, O God.’”9then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second.). Jacob is concerned about the welfare of his sons and also about the welfare of the flock (Pro 12:1010A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal,
But [even] the compassion of the wicked is cruel.
). Thus God is concerned about the welfare of His people and His creatures.

Jacob thinks his sons are in Shechem. When Joseph comes there, he cannot find them. Then he meets a man who asks him what he is looking for. Joseph gives the wonderful answer: “I am looking for my brothers.” Joseph knows his brothers aren’t considering him as such, but he sees them that way. Thus the Lord Jesus also came to “His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (Jn 1:1111He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.).

The man tells him where he can find his brothers. Then Joseph goes there. His obedience goes beyond what his father told him to do. He could have gone back with the announcement that he did not find his brothers at the place Jacob sent him to.

Of course God knows the condition of His people when He sends His Son. The Son’s obedience did not go beyond what the Father asked of Him, for the Son acted in all things out of obedience to the Father. During His life on earth He does nothing more and nothing less than to be perfectly and fully obedient. He cannot do otherwise, for it is His food to do the will of Him Who has sent Him (Jn 4:3434Jesus *said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.). In His obedience is no gradation.

The Plan to Kill Joseph

18When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. 19They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer! 20Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’ Then let us see what will become of his dreams!” 21But Reuben heard [this] and rescued him out of their hands and said, “Let us not take his life.” 22Reuben further said to them, “Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father.

When the brothers see Joseph coming, they immediately think of his dreams. These dreams are also the reason for their murder plans. They want to do everything they can to prevent their brother’s dreams from coming true. They want to kill him especially because he has said they will bow before him. And they never want that! In the same way, the Lord Jesus has been consciously killed because He will rule as heir, and that is what the leaders themselves want to do (Mt 21:3838But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’). “Men of bloodshed hate the blameless” (Pro 29:10a10Men of bloodshed hate the blameless,
But the upright are concerned for his life.

In the consultation there is still a protest through Reuben. Similarly, there is a Nicodemus who objects to the course of events surrounding the condemnation of the Lord Jesus (Jn 7:50-5150Nicodemus (he who came to Him before, being one of them) *said to them,51“Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?”). With his proposal, Reuben prevents the murder of Joseph.

Joseph Rejected and Sold

23So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; 24and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it. 25Then they sat down to eat a meal. And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing aromatic gum and balm and myrrh, on their way to bring [them] down to Egypt. 26Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our [own] flesh.” And his brothers listened [to him]. 28Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled [him] up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty [shekels] of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt. 29Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his garments. 30He returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is not [there]; as for me, where am I to go?”

Joseph is thrown into the pit. They do not care about the distress of their brother’s soul and his pleading for mercy (Gen 42:2121Then they said to one another, “Truly we are guilty concerning our brother, because we saw the distress of his soul when he pleaded with us, yet we would not listen; therefore this distress has come upon us.”). The coldness of their hearts becomes clear when they sit down and eat after this act. The thought that they are free from his possible rule provides them with peace and joy (cf. Rev 11:1010And those who dwell on the earth [will] rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.).

The prophet Amos also refers in his prophecy to what the brothers are doing here. He uses their example to denounce the attitude of the people towards God. He does not use a soft language: “Who drink wine from sacrificial bowls While they anoint themselves with the finest of oils, Yet they have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph” (Amos 6:66Who drink wine from sacrificial bowls
While they anoint themselves with the finest of oils,
Yet they have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph.

Amos points out with these words that, while Israel sighs under the consequences of sin, its inhabitants surrender to carelessness, lust and indolence. All the gifts God has given them, they use for themselves. The pursuit of one’s own pleasure allows the situation among God’s people to be pushed into the background. Israel is in need, the greatest need being that the people do not see their need. It laughs and dances ahead of its downfall.

Also today, Christians are indifferent to how the whole church is fragmented into countless pieces. It is even justified by terms such as “the multicolored nature of God”. The pursuit of our own convenience makes us insensitive to the decline in the church and the divisions that exist.

When Ishmaelites come, Judah proposes to sell Joseph. The Ishmaelites are descendants of Abraham via Hagar (Gen 16:1515So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.). The Midianites are descendants of Abraham via Ketura (Gen 25:1-21Now Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah.2She bore to him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Ishbak and Shuah.). The brothers sell Joseph to related merchants. They sell him for even less money than a slave is worth (Exo 21:3232If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall give his [or her] master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.). This is where the Judas spirit comes to the fore, which the Lord Jesus has handed down for money (Mt 26:14-1614Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests15and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him.16From then on he [began] looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.).

Reuben has stipulated that Joseph is not killed, but thrown into a pit. With this he thinks he saved Joseph’s life, because he wants to take him out of it later and bring him back to his father. He will have been absent for a moment when the other brothers sell Joseph. When he discovers that Joseph has been sold, he desperately tears his garments and blames his brothers for making his life unbearable. Here we see that inventors of evil follow their own plans and do not take any account of each other.

Jacob Deceived

31So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood; 32and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, “We found this; please examine [it] to [see] whether it is your son’s tunic or not.” 33Then he examined it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!” 34So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, “Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.” So his father wept for him.

The brothers add the sin of lie to their violent acts against Joseph. They lie to their father about the absence of Joseph. As for Jacob, once again he will have to deal with the consequences of his own cunning actions. He is deceived by his sons. He has been deceiving his father with the skins of young goats (Gen 27:1616And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck.). Now he himself is being deceived with the blood of a goat.

The heartlessness of the brothers is shocking. Thus is man, so am I, without God. Jealousy makes every human feeling disappear (Pro 27:44Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood,
But who can stand before jealousy?
). This is made all the worse by their attempts to comfort their father, when they are the cause of his grief. This is hypocrisy at its summit.

Joseph Sold to Potiphar

36Meanwhile, the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer, the captain of the bodyguard.

While Jacob thinks his son is dead, Joseph is on his way to Egypt to finally take his place on the throne. But first he must go a way of suffering. He had already suffered this suffering from his brothers. Now his suffering begins on the part of the nations. In all this the counsel of God is fulfilled. In Egypt he is first humiliated, to come to the greatest glory thereafter.

In practical terms, the way of suffering is the way God uses to form His servants. Prophetically, the way of suffering is God’s way to come to glory. Thus the Lord Jesus first suffered and then was glorified (Lk 24:2626Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”). This principle also applies to the believer (Rom 8:1717and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with [Him] so that we may also be glorified with [Him].).

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