Genesis 37 - Outline of Genesis (Book Notes menu page)
37:1 And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.
37:2 These [are] the generations of Jacob.
Joseph, [being] seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren;
and the lad [was] with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives:
and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.
37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children,
because he [was] the son of his old age:
and he made him a coat of [many] colours.
37:4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren,
they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
the generations of Jacob...- After an overview of Esau's line in ch. 36, we return to Jacob's line.
Jacob's life extends through ch. 49, his burial is recorded in ch. 50.
However, most of the narrative in ch. 37-50 deals with the story of Joseph. In fact, more space is given to Joseph than to any other person or topic in Genesis. Why?
  1. Joseph's godly life provides a wholesome example for all believers. cp. Php 4:8
    Joseph's godliness uncovered the ungodliness of his brothers. Apparently, his brothers were planning some injurious activity, but Joseph's report interrupted it. v.2; cp. Eph 5:11-13; 1Pet 3:15-17
  2. Joseph's life is a wonderful illustration of the Person & work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Although the NT does not refer to Joseph as a 'type' of Christ, there are at least 30 points of similarity between their stories. As we come to these points in the text, we will note them with the following heading: ''Both Joseph and Jesus...''
         Here is a brief overview of some of these similarities: Both were loved by the father, and hated by their brethren. Both bore testimony to truth, which their brethren rejected. Their brothers conspired against them to slay them. During the period of their rejection, both became a blessing among the gentiles and received a bride. Both were exalted to a high position of authority. Finally, their brethren came to understand that the sufferings and exaltation of the rejected one was on their behalf, as ordained by God.
Both Joseph and Jesus were...
  1. the object of the father's love. v.3; Mat 3:17; Joh 3:35; 5:20
  2. hated by their brethren. v.4; Isa 53:2,3; Joh 1:11; 15:22-25
    In the case of Joseph, this hatred was spurred by the favoritism which Jacob showed to him. Jacob knew from experience the strife and heartbreak which followed the favoritism of his parents (ie., of Isaac for Esau, and of Rachel for Jacob). As a parent, he repeated their error.
         But the Lord Jesus was 'hated without a cause.'
  3. born by God's intervention. Gen 30:22; Luke 1:35
    Jacob loved Joseph as ''the son of his old age,'' since he was the firstborn of Rachel, his beloved wife. Following many barren years, the birth of Joseph was a blessing beyond expectation. cp. Isa 54:1
  4. set apart from their brethren... Joseph, by the coat... Jesus, by his righteousness. Heb 7:26
    Joseph's coat may have identified him as equal to the father, the primary heir, the one for whom the birthright was intended. Joseph was 'the firstborn' of the beloved Rachel.
37:5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told [it] his brethren:
and they hated him yet the more.
37:6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
37:7 For, behold, we [were] binding sheaves in the field,
and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright;
and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
37:8 And his brethren said to him,
Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us?
And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
37:9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said,
Behold, I have dreamed a dream more;
and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.
37:10 And he told [it] to his father, and to his brethren:
and his father rebuked him, and said unto him,
What [is] this dream that thou hast dreamed?
Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed
come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?
37:11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.
{cp. Luk 2:19}
sun, moon and stars - Jacob (Israel) readily interpreted these symbols:
Shall I {the sun}, thy mother {the moon}, and thy brethren {the eleven stars} bow down to thee? v.10
In Rev 12:1-5, these symbols refer to the nation of Israel, which brought forth the Messiah. (There are eleven stars, in Gen 37, because Joseph is not among them. All twelve tribes are represented in Rev 12.)
Both Joseph and Jesus were...
  1. faithful witnesses. They did not withhold the message revealed by God,
    even though it was unpopular, and dangerous to proclaim. v.9; cp. Psa 40:7-10; Joh 1:18
  2. to rule over their brethren, but were rejected. v.8; cp. Joh 19:15,19-22
  3. envied by their brethren. v.11; Mat 27:17-18; Acts 7:9,51,52
37:12 And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem.
37:13 And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed [the flock] in Shechem?
come, and I will send thee unto them.
And he said to him, Here [am I].
37:14 And he said to him, Go, I pray thee,
see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again.
So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
37:15 And a certain man found him, and, behold, [he was] wandering in the field:
and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?
37:16 And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed [their flocks].
37:17 And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan.
And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.
Joseph went far from home to obey his father. Jacob was living near Hebron (cp. 35:27; 37:1).
Shechem is about 40 miles north of Hebron. Dothan is another 15 miles to the north.
Shechem had been the scene of the brothers' previous treachery and violence. 34:25-29
Both Joseph and Jesus were...
  1. sent by the father to their brethren. v.13,14; Mat 15:24; Luk 20:13; Joh 5:30; cp. Php 2:5-8
  2. conspired against by their brethren. v.18-20; Mat 26:3-5; Luk 20:13-15
37:18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them,
they conspired against him to slay him.
37:19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.
37:20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him,
and cast him into some pit, and we will say,
Some evil beast hath devoured him:
and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
37:21 And Reuben heard [it], and he delivered him out of their hands;
and said, Let us not kill him.
37:22 And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood,
[but] cast him into this pit that [is] in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him;
that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.
37:23 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren,
that they stript Joseph out of his coat, [his] coat of [many] colours that [was] on him;
37:24 And they took him, and cast him into a pit:
and the pit [was] empty, [there was] no water in it.
37:25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold,
a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh,
going to carry [it] down to Egypt.
37:26 And Judah said unto his brethren,
What profit [is it] if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?
37:27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites,
and let not our hand be upon him; for he [is] our brother [and] our flesh.
And his brethren were content.
37:28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen;
and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit,
and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty [pieces] of silver:
and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
Ishmaelites and Midianites- These related groups worked closely with each other.
Abraham was the father of Ishmael (by Hagar) and of Midian (by Ketura). see note at 25:12.
Both Joseph and Jesus were...
  1. sold by Judas (Judah), for the price of a slave. v.26,27; Mat 26:14,15; cp. Zech 11:12,13
    Thirty pieces of silver was apparently the full price of a slave (see Ex 21:32).
    These traders offered twenty pieces, in anticipation of a profit in the slave market.
    Perhaps, Potiphar paid 30 pieces of silver to purchase Joseph. v.36
  2. stripped and humiliated, robed and de-robed. v.23,24; Mat 27:27-31
37:29 And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph [was] not in the pit;
and he rent
{ie., tore} his clothes.
37:30 And he returned unto his brethren, and said,
The child [is] not; and I, whither shall I go?
37:31 And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats,
and dipped the coat in the blood;
37:32 And they sent the coat of [many] colours,
and they brought [it] to their father; and said,
This have we found: know now whether it [be] thy son's coat or no.
37:33 And he knew it, and said, [It is] my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him;
Joseph is without doubt rent
{ie., torn} in pieces.
37:34 And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins,
and mourned for his son many days.
37:35 And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him;
but he refused to be comforted;
and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning.
Thus his father wept for him.
37:36 And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar,
an officer of Pharaoh's, [and] captain of the guard.
Jacob is still reaping what he had sowed (Gal 6:7).
As he had deceived his father, by killing a kid of the goats (27:15-22), so his sons deceived him.
Jacob's unrelenting grief suggests the instability of his walk of faith. cp. 1The 4:13
Unlike Abraham, he did not cling to the hope of the resurrection. Heb 11:17-19
Both Joseph and Jesus were...
  1. delivered to 'death' by their brethren, and taken to 'death' at the hands of others.
    v.27; Joh 18:28-31; Acts 2:23
    As far as Jacob knew, Joseph was dead, as evidenced by the blood of a lamb. v.31-33
    As far as his brothers were concerned, Joseph was cut-off from their lives forever.
  2. placed into the pit (ie., the place of death, the grave). v.24; Luk 23:46,52,53
  3. sought, but not found in the pit. v.29; Luk 24:1-4
  4. raised out of the pit (ie., the place of death, the grave). v.28; Luk 24:5-7
    Joseph was carried away into Egypt.
    Jesus ascended into Heaven. His message was carried to the gentiles. Acts 1:8,9
Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt.
The account, of his experience there, is interrupted by ch.38 and resumes in ch.39.

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