Summary of Genesis 37:12-36:
Joseph’s brothers were sent to graze the flocks near Shechem. Jacob asks Joseph to go and check on his brothers. When Joseph arrived in Shechem, his brothers were no where to be found, so he asked about them. He was told they went to Dothan.
Joseph went to Dothan to find them. As he approached his brothers, they recognized him and plotted to kill him and throw him in a cistern and leave him to die. Reuben, the oldest, said not to kill him, but just throw him in the cistern, probably planning to come and get him once he learned his lesson.
When Joseph arrived, he was stripped of his coat and thrown into the empty cistern. Ironically, they casually sat and ate lunch when a caravan of Ishmaelites strode by on their way to Egypt. Judah suggested not to kill Joseph so they would not have blood on their hands, but to sell him to these approaching Ishmaelities. So they sold Joseph for 20 shekels of silver who took Joseph to Egypt.
Reuben who apparently was not with his brothers returned to rescue Joseph who was not there. Upon not finding him, he tore his clothes. Instead, they killed a goat and dipped Joseph’s coat into the blood. They took this robe back to Jacob who assumed an animal had tore him to pieces.
Jacob tore his clothes and mourned for many days. Jacob refused to be comforted and said he would mourn till the day he died. Joseph was sold to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, who was the captain of the guard.
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 3: Genesis 37:12-36
6) I’m assuming Jacob did not trust his sons. Or, because of what happened to Dinah in (Genesis 34), Jacob may still be worried about the neighboring tribes taking their revenge against him and his family.
7) They immediately started to plot against him. I’m assuming anger had been boiling up inside them for quite some time.
8a) They planned to say a wild animal tore him to pieces.
b) God had both Reuben and Judah have a twinge of guilt and not want to kill Joseph.
c) Man is evil through and through to plot to kill your own brother and sell him into slavery for a mere 20 shekels of silver.
9a) Unsure. Most definitely nothing like this.
b) Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 3: Genesis 37:12-36
I noticed how they used one of Jacob’s animals, a goat, and killed it to cover their crime. This was not even their animal to kill.
I’m unsure how Joseph’s brothers can sit and eat before they kill him. Joseph had to be screaming and begging for mercy. This shows just how evil man can be.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 3: Genesis 37:12-36
Tending sheep and goats is not exactly easy. You are outside in the hot sun all day, every day. You have to defend the animals against wild predators, sleep outside in the elements and on the hard ground, and hardly get any time off. Joseph, on the other hand, stayed at camp, slept in his own bed, and probably did not do much work at all.
Joseph was seen by his brothers probably a mile away due to his multi-colored coat. Here we also see Joseph is a supervisory role, not unlike his sheaves dream.
Dothan was about 10 to 15 mile walk. We see Dothan in the Bible again where God protected Elisha (2 Kings 6:13-17) like God protects Joseph here too.
Since Joseph had reported bad things before, the brothers assumed he would again. Their anger must have been great to make the leap to murder.
Fruitless to Oppose God
Interestingly, the brothers opposed God, not Joseph here. Note we see this repeatedly in the book of Genesis as humans are told God’s plans, perhaps even by God or Jesus himself, and they do everything in their power to thwart God’s plans. God wins anyway. God never fails.
We’ll see Joseph rise to become the 2nd most powerful person in the known world. Only God can do such a thing.
Reuben has a twinge of guilt, probably from God. He proposes to throw Joseph into the cistern without killing him.
Note how Reuben did not want to offend his brothers. Because of this, Joseph is sold into slavery, lost to them in essence. If Reuben had been firm as the oldest brother about returning Joseph to his father, this might not have happened. It’s funny because we all know God meant all of this to happen so Joseph could save God’s chosen family. It’s insanely hard to wrap your mind around.
Jesus in Joseph
All throughout the book of Genesis, we’ll see Jesus in Joseph. Here, we see Joseph being stripped as Jesus was. Note how even though we may lose every material thing, God can never be stripped from us.
The brothers were beyond cruel as Joseph pleaded for his life. Genesis 42:21 When your heart has turned to evil, it can be insanely hard to break free. The brothers were not only ruining Joseph’s life, and probably killing him in a cruel way from a life of slavery, but they were about to break their father’s heart.
We see Arab traders headed the brothers’ way. Most likely, they were descendants of Ishmael, so very distant relatives.
Money turns many a man’s soul black. The idea stemmed from Judah, Jesus’ relative. However, he will be transformed from this experience.
20 Shekels of Silver
20 shekels of silver was not that much money (each shekel was probably equivalent to about $20). We don’t know what words were exchanged between Joseph and his brothers here. Perhaps Joseph was in shock and speechless. Maybe he was crying. Maybe he forgave his brothers then. Maybe the brothers laughed. All we know is what happened.
We see no signs of guilt from the brothers and probably the determination to take their secret to the grave with them. Utter selfishness and evil here.
Was Jacob wrong to mourn so long here? Many Bible scholars say Jacob should have known Jospeh would have eternal life. However, this is before Jesus. Jacob cannot know this.
Egypt at this time was a well-established culture and power. They were wealthy. The Great Pyramids and the Sphinx had been built hundreds of years before Joseph. They had no real enemies. They enjoyed life to the fullest. Joseph was about to enter a whole different world than one of a goat herder.
The Greatness of Joseph’s Story
Joseph’s story is perhaps one of the greatest because we can see the consequences of our actions in what happens to Joseph, as well as how God orchestrates it all. In fact, we can thank Joseph’s sinful brothers for what they did to Joseph for we would not be here otherwise. God’s plan never fails, ever:
- Joseph is sold into slavery
- Joseph is bought by Potiphar
- Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of rape
- Joseph is thrown into prison
- Joseph interprets the dreams of two men in prison, Pharaoh’s baker and butler
- Joseph then interprets Pharaoh’s dreams
- Joseph is made 2nd in command in Egypt
- Joseph prepares for the great famine
- Joseph saves his family
- Joseph saves the Messiah