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.

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.