Genesis 37

Genesis 37

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Joseph’s Dreams

37 Jacob lived in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan.

These are the generations of Jacob.

Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.

Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.

Joseph Sold by His Brothers

Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word.” So he sent him from the Valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.

When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?” Then they took Joseph’s robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son’s robe or not.” And he identified it and said, “It is my son’s robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.


Genesis 37 Commentary

by Hank Workman

Here begins one of the most amazing and remarkable stories of the Old Testament. The life of Joseph and all that came against him beginning with his own siblings reveal a man that no matter what happened, he didn’t cease to trust God.

“Adversity didn’t harden his character. Prosperity didn’t ruin him. He was he same in private as in public.”


In his young years, Joseph landed as a favorite to Jacob, who showed no discretion in how much he loved this son. Favoritism brought self-confidence and at a young age God revealed through dreams the designs for his life He had. There was no way he ever dreamed the path toward reaching these would be through betrayal, hardship and sorrow. But it was his confidence that turned to God through crisis after crisis that strengthened and led him further on the path of fulfillment. It doesn’t seem he ever asked the question so many are apt to spit out when things go wrong: “Why?” Instead, it seems his question was more toward: “What now?” and he moved through the darkness of every situation not blaming God but almost like partnering with Him. It’s amazing when you think of it.

We each have curve balls thrown at us. We have situations where the most unexpected things take place, hardship follows, discouragement stands at our door loudly rapping. We go from extreme highs of joy to the lowest of pits in zero to one hundred flat. Yes, life happens. Yes, things take place that are beyond the scope of understanding. That doesn’t minimize the pain or discomfort we have. But there in the middle of this, God still stands. There in the bleakness of betrayal and the unexpected, He gives strength.

There are ways to overcome the unexpected, the things we never thought possible, and it all begins with trusting God no matter what. It’s not ‘why?’ but ‘what now?’ and trusting Him to lead.

Genesis 37 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

“Enoch shows the walk of faith, Noah shows the perseverance of faith, Abraham shows the obedience of faith, Isaac shows the power of faith, and Jacob shows the discipline of faith. Along these lines we could say that Joseph shows the triumph of faith. Joseph never complained and he never compromised.”

David Guzik

Joseph had a simple, powerful faith. I know people like this. I love people like this.

Joseph’s main problem was that he was full of trust. He trusted God with all his heart, as we will see later. But, he also trusted his brothers far too much. He surely believed that in sharing his dream with them they would be happy for him. Did the thought ever cross his mind that they would be jealous? Well, I would counter that question with, does it matter?

The fact is, Joseph was favored. But everything he dreamed of would come true. His heart was well-intentioned and set on God. He loved God, and we know that those who truly love Him will experience God’s mighty power turning tragedy into triumph.

And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  28  We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:27-28 HCSB

This is certainly one of the most powerful stories in Scripture and one that foreshadows the future Messiah.

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