BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 27, Day 5: Genesis 40

Summary of passage:  Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker offended him so he threw them in jail.  Potiphar assigned them to Joseph.  After some time, both men had a dream and Joseph noticed they were downcast about it.  So he asked them why they were gloom and they said because they had a dream they did not understand.  Joseph asked them to tell him his dreams because God can interpret them.

The chief cupbearer dreamed of a vine with three branches.  Grapes bloomed on the branches and the cupbearer squeezed the grapes into Pharaoh’s cup and gave him the cup. Joseph said in three days time the cupbearer will be restored to his position as cupbearer.  He asked him to remember him and mention him to Pharaoh so that Joseph may be released.

The chief baker dreamed of three baskets on his head of which the first baskets contained baked goods for the Pharaoh but birds were eating all the food.  Joseph said in three days Pharaoh will remove his head and hang him on a tree while the birds eat his flesh.

In three days time, it was Pharaoh’s birthday and he gave a feast for all of his officials. Just like Joseph had said, the chief cupbearer was restored and the chief baker was hanged (or impaled).  The chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph.

Questions:

11a)  To remember him and show him kindness and to mention him to Pharaoh to get him out of this prison.

b)  It is not recorded if the cupbearer agreed or didn’t agree to mention Joseph to Pharaoh.  All we know is that the cupbearer did not; he promptly forgot about Joseph.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I think Joseph was discouraged at times and did lose heart.  Those times are just not recorded.  Joseph was human.  What happened to Joseph would make anyone cry.  It was deplorable, unimaginable conditions and Joseph must have lamented his lot.  However, Joseph never forgot he had God.  God was with him. Joseph had outward signs of this due to how others saw God in him and put him in charge of all the prison and all that was done there.

Joseph never let his circumstances dictate his actions.  He probably was bummed for a while but then would pray and be cheered.

I’m sure Joseph was disappointed the cupbearer forgot him for Joseph was pinning his hopes on this for release.  But Joseph knew God was still with him.  And the time was just not right.

13)  Jesus is saying that if a kernel of wheat remains on the stalk, nothing happens.  But when the kernel falls to the ground it “dies” meaning it is no longer a seed but it grows anew, into a plant that is useful and will feed people and eventually produce many more seeds.

Joseph “died” to who he was.  He was given a new name by Pharaoh (Genesis 41:45), Zaphenath-Paneah, married an Egyptian woman, and became Egyptian for all purposes. He dressed like one.  He led an Egyptian life.  But out of this life, he fed people and produced many more seeds (including the seed for Jesus when he saved his family) through the saving of these people as they survived and had children.  But Joseph had to “die” first.

This is the literal meaning.  Spiritually, Jesus had to die in order to give life to many. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 15:36-38; 42-44 that you must die first in order to be raised from the dead and have eternal life.  You plant the seed and God gives it a body, which is perishable, weak, natural, and in dishonor.  But then God raises the body in glory, honor, power, and spiritualness.

Conclusions:  We must remember that the cupbearer and the baker were in prison for the sole reason of meeting Joseph and having their dreams interpreted.  God sent them their dream and gifted Joseph to interpret them all to get the attention of Pharaoh (whom God sent dreams as well).  God is everywhere in our circumstances and the story of Joseph in particular is a great example of God’s hand in every facet of our lives.

Question 13 nailed the lesson on the head:  you must die to who you were in order to become who you were meant to be.  Die to self in order to live forever.

The moment Joseph’s life changed forever and he died to self is recorded powerfully in Scripture–when his brothers sold him to slavery.  He ceased being Joseph and became God’s instead–living, trusting, and doing God’s work.

Great lesson for Easter.  Jesus died so that we may live.  Something we cannot praise God enough for.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 27, Day 4: Genesis 40

Summary of passage:  Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker offended him so he threw them in jail.  Potiphar assigned them to Joseph.  After some time, both men had a dream and Joseph noticed they were downcast about it.  So he asked them why they were gloom and they said because they had a dream they did not understand.  Joseph asked them to tell him his dreams because God can interpret them.

The chief cupbearer dreamed of a vine with three branches.  Grapes bloomed on the branches and the cupbearer squeezed the grapes into Pharaoh’s cup and gave him the cup. Joseph said in three days time the cupbearer will be restored to his position as cupbearer.  He asked him to remember him and mention him to Pharaoh so that Joseph may be released.

The chief baker dreamed of three baskets on his head of which the first baskets contained baked goods for the Pharaoh but birds were eating all the food. Joseph said in three days Pharaoh will remove his head and hang him on a tree while the birds eat his flesh.

In three days time, it was Pharaoh’s birthday and he gave a feast for all of his officials. Just like Joseph had said, the chief cupbearer was restored and the chief baker was hanged (or impaled).  The chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph.

Questions:

8a)  He asked them why they appeared so gloom.  So he had to have noticed a change in them, meaning he had to have been monitoring their condition.  He offered to help through dream interpretation and give them hope by mentioning God.

b)  Several opportunities.  On a personal level he was able to lift one man’s spirits with good news and warn the other man to cherish his last days before his life was taken.  He had the chance to prove that God was with him and that God was interpreting dreams correctly–so to show God’s powers.  It gave him a chance to tell them about God and perhaps convert them before their death.

And it gave Joseph an opportunity to get out of jail if the cupbearer mentioned him to Pharaoh.  It gave Joseph hope that he may still be free.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Take note of people.  See when they are down.  Ask them about it.  Encourage them with the Word.  Tell them of God and His strength to lift them up.  Pray over them.

9a)  Omnipotent, omniscient, control the future, blesses those who belong to Him and believe in Him.  God is good, faithful, and just.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Acknowledgment from others.  That the cupbearer forgot him.  That he may languish in prison for the rest of his life.  I don’t think he ever doubted God.  But we all get depressed and down by our circumstances.  And I’m sure Joseph did as well.  He was probably disappointed he had to wait another two years in prison.  But he trusted.  And that made all the difference.

10)  Leadership, trustworthiness, caring, empathy, dream interpretation, desire to help others, patience, kindness, trusting in God, honesty

Conclusions:  I liked how Joseph approached the cupbearer and baker.  That they did not come to him.  That Joseph took the initiative and noticed they were down.  If Joseph hadn’t of said anything, Pharaoh would have never of known of his abilities.  Joseph took concrete action about his circumstances.  He still had a heart when many would have lost it long ago.

Note Joseph never abused his power.  “He attended them” (Genesis 40:4).  He served. He cared about others.  Just like Jesus.

God notes our good deeds even when others do not.  God remembers us even when others do not.  God rewards us even when others do not.  God promotes us and demotes us–all according to His will–not our own.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 27, Day 3: Genesis 39

Summary of passage:  Joseph was taken to Egypt and purchased by Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard.  Because the Lord was with Joseph, he became Potiphar’s attendant and then put in charge of his household and everything in it.  Because of Joseph’s presence, the Lord blessed Potiphar and everything in his house and in his fields.

Potiphar’s wife tried to get Joseph to sleep with her but Joseph refused, saying he is to care for everything that is his master’s and he cannot sin against God committing adultery.  She tried daily and he avoided her.

One day Joseph was alone with Potiphar’s wife and she grabbed him by his cloak.  He slipped out of his cloak and ran outside.  She told her servants that he had come to her to try to sleep with her and had left his cloak behind.  She told Potiphar who put Joseph in prison.

Still, the Lord was with Joseph so Joseph was put in charge of all the prisoners and all the happenings there and had success in whatever he did.

Questions:

6a)  He refused, telling her it would be a sin against God and a wicked thing to betray his master’s trust. He avoided her the best he could.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Same.  Try to avoid whatever is causing the sin.  Pray to God for strength to overcome.

7a)  He gained experience running a household that I imagined was quite large.  He had to delegate tasks.  He had to learn about both the farming and the domestic aspects.  He then ran a prison, which probably entailed much of the same tasks but some new ones.  All throughout God was building Joseph’s trust in Him, which is the most important skill Joseph would need to lead others.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I don’t know.  Honestly.  Not sure where I’m supposed to be.

Conclusions:  Yesterday I was mixed.  Today I’m just disappointed.  There was a lot of history in this chapter that was just glossed over.  I would have liked to have seen more emphasis on how these events could only have happened because of God.  A Hebrew (foreign) slave running a household?  Never.  Running a prison?  Doubtful.

BSF usually sends us to other places in the Bible when we discuss a topic such as temptation.  This lesson they did not.  I would have liked to have read more on that.

Not all of us are called to be leaders.  We just can’t be.  Then we’d all be butting heads for decision making.  I’m just not for sure I’m being trained for leadership for God and how (or if) my present circumstances are contributing to that.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 27, Day 2: Genesis 39

Summary of passage:  Joseph was taken to Egypt and purchased by Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard.  Because the Lord was with Joseph, he became Potiphar’s attendant and then put in charge of his household and everything in it.  Because of Joseph’s presence, the Lord blessed Potiphar and everything in his house and in his fields.

Potiphar’s wife tried to get Joseph to sleep with her but Joseph refused, saying he is to care for everything that is his master’s and he cannot sin against God committing adultery.  She tried daily and he avoided her.

One day Joseph was alone with Potiphar’s wife and she grabbed him by his cloak.  He slipped out of his cloak and ran outside.  She told her servants that he had come to her to try to sleep with her and had left his cloak behind.  She told Potiphar who put Joseph in prison.

Still, the Lord was with Joseph so Joseph was put in charge of all the prisoners and all the happenings there and had success in whatever he did.

Questions:

3a)  Genesis 39:3, 23:  When God is with you, you have success in whatever you do.

Genesis 39:21:  When God is with you, God shows you kindness and others see you favorably.

Joshua 1:7-9:  Follow and obey the law and meditate on it day and night and you will be successful and prosperous wherever  you go.

b)  Joshua 1:  God promises to never leave us or forsake us.  No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.  Be strong and courageous.  Follow and obey the law and meditate on it day and night and you will be successful and prosperous wherever you go.  God will be with us wherever we go.

Psalm 1:  Blessed is he who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night.  Whatever he does prospers.  The Lord watches over the righteous.

4)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Potiphar probably witnessed the abundance Joseph brought in whatever tasks he was doing before he was promoted.  Joseph was honest (as shown by not sleeping with his wife), which was hard to find in slaves back then.  I would imagine Joseph was one of those people whom you just know God is with him.  He probably had an aura about him that just attracted others to him.

5a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He trusted in God and God’s plans.  He was also young.  He hadn’t experienced yet how hard the world could be until this moment so he probably took a positive attitude and made the best of every situation.

b)  By prospering those around Joseph.  It was like Midas and the Golden Touch.  Everywhere it seemed Joseph made everything turn to gold so to speak and everyone knew it.  Even in prison God blessed him and made that life tolerable.  God allowed others to see how Joseph was the reason for all the good in their lives; hence, they showed him favor.

Conclusions:  Mixed on this lesson.  The theme was if you obey and trust in God you will prosper no matter your circumstances, which is a good lesson.  God blesses. However, something was missing–depth perhaps?

Prisons of ancient times were NOTHING like prisons of today.  No regular meals.  No sanitary conditions.  No toilets.  No showers.  And definitely no human rights.  Prisoners were tortured, beaten, and starved to death.  No one cared if you lived or died back then and if you were thrown in prison for a crime (like Joseph was), odds are you’d never get out and you would die there.  You’d literally be left to rot, especially if you had no money in which to buy your freedom.

A prisoner being put in charge of prisoners was rare.  Yet God had to intervene here or Joseph would die.

Fun Fact:  The name Potiphar means “devoted to the sun”.  In Ancient Egypt, the Sun God, Ra, was considered the King of the gods and was worshipped by some as the creator god.  Pharaoh was seen as the son of Ra.  He was said to command the chariot that rode across the sky and brought day to the world.  He was universally worshipped throughout the entire Ancient Egyptian reign (3000 years).

Hence, Potiphar’s name means devoted to this god as well as to Pharaoh since Pharaoh is the son of Ra and considered his embodiment on earth.

Potiphar’s job was personal security to Pharaoh.  He wasn’t in charge of the army. Hence, he was very important in Egypt.

Joseph was in Potiphar’s house for 11 years.  We are not told how long it took him to work his way up but we can assume it took a bit of time.  We must remember Joseph is a foreigner.  He didn’t know the language, the culture, the customs, the religion, etc.  There had to have been a learning time and an adjustment period.

Interesting Fact:  Joseph is one of only 3 men called handsome in the Bible.  The other two are David (1 Samuel 16:12) and Absalom (2 Samuel 14:25).  Hence, I think it is safe to say he would have been voted Time’s Sexiest Man Alive!

Why is Potiphar’s wife coming on to Joseph?  Besides the fact Joseph is handsome, there is debate amongst scholars on whether or not Potiphar was a eunuch.  The Hebrew word for “official” in verse 1 may be translated as eunuch and it was common for high officials serving the Pharaoh to be castrated in order to ensure complete loyalty.  This may be another reason his wife was seeking attention elsewhere.

Plus, Joseph, a mere slave, said no to a woman of noble status–very rare in ancient times. I’m sure she felt the need for retribution (and indeed she had her revenge).  When she tired of the challenge, she had Joseph thrown in jail.  End of story.

Egyptian religion was lax when it came to marriage rites and being unfaithful was not uncommon.

The temptation Joseph endured could have gone on for years.  We are not told–only that it happened “day after day”.  This was definitely a test of strength for Joseph–one in which we are to gain strength from.

Joseph did everything right:  he avoided temptation, never being alone with her; he knew it was a sin; he said no; and then he ran when she trapped him.  Yet he still paid a price for following God.  As we all do.

Joseph could have been killed but instead was put in prison.  This hints that Potiphar probably suspected his wife’s lies (what husband doesn’t know his wife is flirting in his own household?).  Also, this shows how God saves.

When Did “Google” Become a Bad Word?

Yep, I did it.

I said I googled answers to BSF questions IN CLASS this week and I got a “Shush” from the teaching leader, shocked expressions from some, and laughs from the others (who use google too).

Just being honest when asked how I found all my references.

When I first began BSF, I’d ask myself when a challenge question came up, “How do these women know these references?  I would NEVER know where to find that in the Bible.”

That’s when I started googling.

Because how else am I going to learn where in the Bible to find a passage about love for instance if I DON’T google?

My Bible background was minimal at the time.  I didn’t know the books of the Bible or where anything was.  I vaguely knew the New Testament was about Jesus.  That’s about it.

Even now, I’ll know generally in what book to find something but I still have to google.

For instance, I needed to know where to find the passage “you make everything work for my good”.  So I googled that and came up with Romans 28:8–the exact passage I was seeking but had no idea (besides the New Testament) where to look.

It’s the quickest, easiest way to learn where passages are in the Bible.

And I learn!  I read other passages too that come up about a topic and WHAM!  I know God better!

I couldn’t ask for more than that.

And, yes, I had help.  From Google.  An idea that God planted in someone’s mind.  An idea we all can learn from.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 26, Day 5: Genesis 38

Summary of passage:  After Joseph was sold to the Midianites, Judah left his family and went to Adullam.  He married a Canaanite woman names Shua and had 3 sons with her–the last of which was born in Kezib.  When Judah’s first-born son grew up (Er), he married a woman named Tamar.  But Er was so wicked that the Lord put him to death.

Onan, the second-born of Judah, now was ordered to sleep with Tamar since it was law back then to produce heirs for the line.  Onan refused and the Lord killed him too.

Tamar went to live in her father’s house until the third son, Shelah, was grown.  However, Tamar was not given to Shelah when he had come of age so Tamar dresses up as a prostitute in order to trick Judah into sleeping with her.  He does indeed sleep with her and she conceives twin boys.  She keeps his seal, cord, and staff in order to prove he is the father to avoid being accused of prostitution and put to death.  Judah admits he was wrong in not giving her Shelah so spares her life.

Their names are Perez and Zerah.

Questions:

12)  We see in Genesis 34:1 that Dinah apparently was a girl of the town who “visited the women of the land” frequently.  We see the horrendous retribution by Simeon and Levi wiping the town of Shechem from the map.  Joseph was sold to slavery by all the brothers in Genesis 37.  And now Judah marries a Canaanite.

13)  The whole family might have become pagans once again and the line to Jesus would have been tainted forever.  Belief in the One, True God could have vanished all together and God would have had to start all over again.  Remember, those who believed in God at this time were all from Abraham’s family.  And not that many generations have passed since then.  Perhaps hundreds?  Maybe a thousand people believed in God.

It’s not hard to imagine how these people could be swallowed up by the corruption and unbelief around them.

14)  No.  Judah.  Judah shouldn’t have married a Canaanite.  Period.  When God kills two of your three sons that should have been a hint that you made a mistake.  However, like Rachel, Tamar resorted to trickery to get what should have been rightfully hers.  This is not good in God’s eyes.  But I can’t help but wonder in ancient times how women had little other means to do anything.  Not that their behavior is justified.  But it is understandable considering women were mere property back then.

Furthermore, Judah wasn’t following the law either by refusing to give Tamar to Shelah. Judah held all the power in his hands to do what was right and he refused.

15a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Perhaps she came to believe in the Lord and back then there wasn’t a lot of believers in the One, True God to choose from as husbands.

However, this question may be misguided and makes a lot of assumptions.  How do we know she had her own friends and opportunities for marriage?  Tamar was now a widow and she had no land or anything to go with that status.  She had also married outside of her culture.  Normally, this causes a rift between her and her “friends” and family so she may have been labeled as an outcast.

Furthermore, as a widow, it was Judah, NOT her father, who now decided whom she should marry.  Only he could give her in marriage and provide a dowery.  And from what Tamar was seeing, it appeared Judah’s intentions were to leave her with her father for the rest of her life.

Well, an unmarried woman and childless in that culture was an outcast period.  She’d have no son to provide for her and would have no purpose outside of the marriage realm. She was facing a bleak future and hence took matters into her own hands.  Can anyone blame her?

In conclusion, I don’t think she had any other opportunities to marry.  I think this question is wrong in asserting that.  I think she had no friends either.  Her former friends were probably all married now with a family of their own.  And as a mother we all know once you have kids it is difficult to maintain friendships with your single friends who have no kids simply because you have nothing in common any more with them.  I think this is more likely the case.

Like I said, there weren’t a lot of other believers out there to marry at this time.  I believe she was stuck between a rock and a hard place and didn’t like either one.

It was obvious the Lord was with her.  If she was a believer, she could have been praying for a solution to her problem.  She probably acted before He answered.  But He never abandoned her and He blessed her in a way only we know (by being in Christ’s line). Amazing!

b)  Ruth, who was a Gentile as well, accepted the Lord as her God after her marriage to Ruth’s son. She would not turn back to her people who were unbelievers and who worshipped other gods.  Rahab has heard of God’s power and abilities and although it doesn’t say if she was a believer when at this time when she protected the two spies, she reveres God enough to get on his side and not the side of her people.

Tamar seems to be the same way.  She probably was converted when she was married to Er and would not turn her back on God no matter what happened to her.

16)  Judah sent Tamar back to her father to live because he thought “he may die too like his brothers” (verse 11) and then refused to give her Shelah, probably out of fear he would be stricken by the Lord as well (verse 14).    Verse 26 is where Judah mentions she is more righteous than him for her actions.

17)  Personal Question.  My answer:  First because her story takes up a whole chapter in Genesis.  And her actions were righteous and because of them we have Jesus.  Her story is an example of following the law.  If it hadn’t of been for Tamar’s actions, there would have been no Jesus.  She was responsible for conceiving, not Judah.  Hence, I believe she is mentioned in recognition of that fact.

Conclusions:  We look at some powerful women in this lesson that clung to God despite all the hardships involved.  For supposedly a “weak” lot, women play a powerful role in God’s world even when in man’s she is nothing.

Onan was more than happy to have sex with Tamar but didn’t want her to have a child that would not be considered his.  He was shirking the law and for that he is judged.

We must remember God caused Tamar to conceive.  It was His will that she carry the line even if she used deception.  Just like Rebekah and Jacob.  God is in control despite all man’s doings.

Both Tamar and Judah are shining examples of God’s grace.  Neither was worthy to be the heir of Jesus but they were both chosen by God to be so.  Despite our sins, God loves us anyways and uses us in powerful ways.

End Note:  I had never drawn the conclusion that Jacob and his family were meant to get out of Canaan for a bit in order to escape the pagans around them.  I had always assumed that they only went to Egypt for food.  Now I see God’s wisdom and purposes in a new light.

It is just absolutely amazing how God has everything planned and how we may only see one purpose (like the need for food); whereas, God has infinitely more (like getting them out of Canaan to protect them).  Good to remember in my life as well.

Map of Timnah, Bethel, and Adullum:  http://bibleatlas.org/full/timnah.htm

Adullum is beneath Timnah to the right a bit.  Bethel is in the upper-right hand corner in the brown.  So Judah left Bethel where his family had been staying, went to Adullum and got married, then went up to Timnah to shear his sheep.  The place where Tamar waited for Judah, Enaim, is right outside of Timnah on maps I found.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 26, Day 4: Skimming Joseph’s Story in Genesis 39-41

Summary of passage:  Genesis 39 tells how Potiphar’s Wife wanted to sleep with Joseph but he refused so she told her husband he tried to take her and he ended up in prison. Genesis 40 tells that while Joseph was in prison he began interpreting others’ dreams. Genesis 41 tells how Joseph languored in prison for 2 years until he was called upon to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.  Joseph credits God and seeing that God is with him Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of all of Egypt–second in command beneath him.

Questions:

9a)  Jacob refused to be comforted and was disconsolate when his favorite son, his whole world, died.  He refused to rejoice that Joseph was in heaven, in a better place.  Instead, he only wanted to die.  This was from his emphasis on Joseph as his favorite son.  When Joseph died, so did Jacob.

b)  Throughout all the circumstances that happened to Joseph, he rose to become the number two guy of the most powerful nation on earth.  He not only saved God’s chosen people but he also saved Egypt and all the peoples around.  God used Joseph to ensure all prospered.  Joseph’s family was reconciled.

Just like Romans 8:28 says “In all things God works for the good of those who love him”. All things work together for my good.  Even the bad works for good.  We just have to remember to trust God and what He is doing for He has a purpose that we cannot see nor understand.  God is in control and no matter what happens to us or around us we must not worry.  For His plan will prevail.

10)  Thrown down the cistern and sold by his brothers.  Potiphar’s wife lied to have him thrown in prison.  He explained a dream to a cellmate who forgets about him.  There he sat for 2 years until he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams.

11)  God protects Joseph from the death of his brothers (Genesis 37).  Potiphar’s wife tempts Joseph day after day but he tell her he cannot sin against God (Genesis 39:9). Potiphar puts him in jail when he could easily have killed him and while in jail Joseph is favored by God (Genesis 39:21) and put in charge of the prisoners and God “gave him success in whatever he did” (Genesis 39:23).

While in prison, Joseph meets those who will tell Pharaoh about him, the chief cupbearer.  Joseph credits his interpretations to God (Genesis 40:8; 41:16)

Conclusions:  Honestly, didn’t like this lesson.  Not much point to it.  Why not just be assigned to read the passages and then answer questions?

9b is why the story of Joseph is so powerful and why almost everyone (even non-Christians) know his story. For despite all the terrible things that happen to Joseph, he never once gives up on God and God never forgets Joseph.  I think this story particularly resonates with Americans who hold the American dream:  that no matter where you come from you can rise to succeed.  No matter how many hard knocks you take, you must always get up and keep fighting.

With one caveat:  As long as you give God the credit.

I know, even non-Christians rise and succeed but it is all God’s plan and God’s credit even if they don’t believe nor acknowledge it.

But as Christians we must.  His glory.  Never ours.  As Joseph so wondrously shows us how.