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According to Us

One Husband, One Wife, Five Children and Everything in Between


So Jacob settled again in the land of Canaan, where his father had lived as a foreigner.

This is the account of Jacob and his family. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he often tended his father’s flocks. He worked for his half brothers, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. But Joseph reported to his father some of the bad things his brothers were doing.

Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.

One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. “Listen to this dream,” he said. “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!”

His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.

When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”

So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.

Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt. -Genesis 37:1-8, 18-20, 23-28

Joseph was clearly the favorite child. Not only was he from the favorite wife, he was conceived at a later age. The colorful robe that Joseph received would have been extremely valuable. as if that wasn’t bad enough, Joseph had been given several dreams about the future. All his brothers and even his father would one day bow down to him. To make matters worse, Joseph had become a bit of a tattle tell. Being from a large family and being on the younger end, I can remember my own siblings being mad at me and my sister for getting them in trouble.

Some of Joseph brothers were ready to take his life but not all of them. Both Reuben and Judah expressed a concern for his life. To save the young guy, Judah suggests selling him to the passing caravan. To cover up their plan, they take the coat, cover it in animal blood, and lie to their father. Acting as if they happened upon the cloak that was torn up from an animal, Jacob is left to grieve the loss of his son.

Mean while, Joseph continues on to Egypt. He is sold as a slave to Potiphar, an Egyptian official. Despite the wrong done to him, Joseph didn’t allow his circumstance to become his voice. He turned the wrong into opportunity. He worked hard, served faithfully, and lived honestly. Before long, Potiphar took notice. He promoted Joseph to personal assistant. Joseph was now in charge of everything in Potiphar’s house. He was second in command. A job of honor and tremendous responsibility. Potiphar wasn’t the only one to notice Joseph. His wife had also taken a liking to him. He was handsome and muscular. Being around the home all the time, unlike Potiphar, I’m sure. She began to put the pressure on. She desired him in a way that she should have desired her own husband. Joseph was a man of integrity. He continually turned her down. Finally one day, when no one was around she cornered him in. He ran away, with his shirt in her hands. Embarrassed and shamed, she turned to revenge. If she couldn’t have him, she would bring an end to him. She flat-out lied about an attempt by him to rape her.

Potiphar was furious. He had the right to have Joseph executed. Instead he had him thrown in jail. It makes me wonder if he didn’t actually believe his wife. Perhaps he just couldn’t believe Joseph would do such a thing. Again Joseph is wrongfully treated. Placed in jail to rot, perhaps the rest of his life.

But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed. Genesis 39:21-23

Joseph still refused to let his circumstance to be his identity. He became in charge of the other prisoners. He was blessed by God in everything he did. People trusted him, and he was also great at organization and problem solving. One day two other prisoners were talking with each other. They both were quite upset. Joseph asked them about what was the matter. they both had strange dreams that they didn’t understand. Joseph, with God’s help, tells them what the dreams mean. In return, he asks that they remember his help. But he was forgotten, again.

Two years later when the Pharaoh has his own terrible dream that no one understands, the former jail mate finally remembers Joseph. Again with the help of God, Joseph is able to warn the Pharaoh. For 7 years they will have the best years of harvest followed by the 7 worst years of famine. With the right person in charge, the nation of Egypt can be saved.

Pharaoh places Joseph in charge, second in command to Pharaoh himself. He’s given a wife, blessed with two kids, and finally all that has been wronged is made right again.

This isn’t where the story ends. The 7 years of famine are so terrible, that even Joseph’s family in Canaan is effected. Israel (Jacob) hears that there is food in Egypt. He sends the 10 oldest boys to fetch food and other supplies. He keeps Benjamin, Joseph’s youngest brother, at home. There is no way he is trusting the older brothers with Benjamin.

The brothers arrive in Egypt. They are nomads, hairy and unkept. The opposite of the well-groomed Egyptians. They come into the courtyard and bow down to the Egyptian in charge. Immediately Joseph recognizes them, but they don’t recognize him at all. He spoke harshly to them in Egyptian, questioning their reasons for arriving. Spies! Joseph has them thrown in jail. Reuben tells the brothers that this is because of the way they treated Joseph years before. After 3 days, Joseph releases them to return home all but Simeon, with a trap to bring them back. If they are to return they must bring Benjamin with them.

Once the brothers arrive home, they tell Israel all that happened. He refuses them to bring Benjamin back to Egypt. Losing him would be too much for his heart to bear. The grain that they bought would only last for so long, because the famine was so severe. As the grain began to run out, their options to return were becoming more pressing. Judah personally was to be in charge of Benjamin. They also returned with gifts and double the money for the grain.


When Joseph saw the brothers returning, and that Benjamin was with them, he arranged for them to have a nice lunch in his home. They thought they were in deep trouble. Simeon was released to them, and great care was offered to them. When Joseph joined them for lunch, he asked about the health of their father. When he looked at Benjamin, he was suddenly unable to keep in his emotions. He ran from the room and wept. Loudly.

He returned to them, now composed and ate. He gave Benjamin 5 times the food of the other brothers. When it was time to leave he set another trap. They hid a cup in Benjamin’s bag, and accused them of stealing. The thief would be punished. When the brothers saw the cup in Benjamin’s bag, panic set in.

Judah, who had promised his safety, insisted that he be punished instead. He recounts the grief that his father went through in loosing Joseph, how he refused to let Benjamin return with them, and the promise he made to protect him. Seeing how they cared for Benjamin, Joseph can no longer hide his secret. He clears the rooms of everyone else. He reveals the truth to them.

“I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt. -Genesis 45:4-8

Immediately arrangements are made for the whole family to come to Egypt. At last Joseph is reunited with his father and brothers. Israel lives the rest of his life at peace in Egypt. Upon his death, the brothers fear that Joseph will now take revenge on them. Instead he replies:

But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. Genesis 50:18-21

They meant to harm and destroy Joseph, but God had a greater plan in store. There is no doubt that there were many dark and discouraging days that Joseph faced. There had to have been times that he questioned the dreams he had when he was young. No doubt he wondered why God had put him on a shelf and forgot about him. Despite his circumstance, Joseph decided in his heart not to live as a martyr. He lived everyday on purpose. He didn’t live that way so that one day he would be in charge. He lived as a man of integrity because he knew it was the right way to live.

Family Devotion:

gather a balloon and blow it up, skewers, vegetable oil, Bible and ornament

Sometimes things happen to us that aren’t good or fun. Name somethings together as a family: sickness, losing a job, accidents, etc. Hold up the skewer and say, what will happen if I was to take this bad thing and poke the balloon? It would pop. Joseph had many bad things to him, but never once did he allow the bad things that happened to be bigger than his God. God helped Joseph. Cover the skewer with the vegetable oil. Now carefully poke the balloon with the oil covered skewer. Read Romans 8:28. Pray together, thanking God for always helping us, even in very difficult times.


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