Lesson 4 | Sabbath, 27 July 2019
“Joseph illustrates Christ…. Joseph’s integrity and virtue were fiercely assailed, and she who would lead him astray could not prevail, therefore her hatred was strong against the virtue and integrity which she could not corrupt, and she testified falsely against him. The innocent suffered because of his righteousness. He was cast into prison because of his virtue. Joseph was sold to his enemies by his own brethren for a small sum of money. The Son of God was sold to His bitterest enemies by one of His own disciples. Jesus was meek and holy. His was a life of unexampled self-denial, goodness, and holiness. He was not guilty of any wrong. Yet false witnesses were hired to testify against Him. He was hated because He had been a faithful reprover of sin and corruption. Joseph’s brethren stripped him of his coat of many colors. The executioners of Jesus cast lots for His seamless coat.” –Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 174; Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1096.
Joseph as viewed by his brothers
1. What do we know about the youth of Joseph and his actions when he was still at home with his family? How did his brothers consider him?
Genesis 37:2, first part, 4 … 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…. 4And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
“There was one, however, of a widely different character–the elder son of Rachel, Joseph, whose rare personal beauty seemed but to reflect an inward beauty of mind and heart. Pure, active, and joyous, the lad gave evidence also of moral earnestness and firmness. He listened to his father’s instructions, and loved to obey God. The qualities that afterward distinguished him in Egypt–gentleness, fidelity, and truthfulness–were already manifest in his daily life. His mother being dead, his affections clung the more closely to the father, and Jacob’s heart was bound up in this child of his old age. He ‘loved Joseph more than all his children.’ Genesis 37:3.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 209.
2. What else made his brothers hate him? Was it his fault that the relationship between him and his brothers got worse and worse?
Genesis 37:5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
Acts 7:9, first part And the patriarchs, moved with envy,…
“His [Joseph’s] brothers rudely repulsed him. He told them his errand, but they answered him not. Joseph was alarmed at their angry looks. Fear took the place of joy, and he instinctively shrank with dread from their presence. They then took hold of him violently. They taunted him with the admonitions he had given them in the past, accused him of relating his dreams to exalt himself above them in the mind of their father, that he might love him more than themselves.” –Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 140; Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1096.
Sold as a slave
3. How far did his brothers’ hatred go? Instead of shedding his innocent blood, what did they do? As Joseph, who was sold by one who gave the impression that he loved Him?
Genesis 37:19, 20, 26-28 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. 20Come 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…. 26And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? 27Come, 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. 28Then 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.
Matthew 26:15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
“The life of Joseph illustrates the life of Christ. It was envy that moved the brothers of Joseph to sell him as a slave; they hoped to prevent him from becoming greater than themselves. And when he was carried to Egypt, they flattered themselves that they were to be no more troubled with his dreams, that they had removed all possibility of their fulfillment. But their own course was overruled by God to bring about the very event that they designed to hinder. So the Jewish priests and elders were jealous of Christ, fearing that He would attract the attention of the people from them. They put Him to death, to prevent Him from becoming king, but they were thus bringing about this very result.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 239.
4. What happened to Joseph in Egypt? Throughout all the years of heavy burdens and responsibilities away from his home, who was with Joseph and helped him in every way?
Genesis 37:36; 39:2, 3 And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard…. 39:2And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
“Those who study the Bible, counsel with God, and rely upon Christ will be enabled to act wisely at all times and under all circumstances. Good principles will be illustrated in actual life. Only let the truth for this time be cordially received and become the basis of character, and it will produce steadfastness of purpose, which the allurements of pleasure, the fickleness of custom, the contempt of the world-loving, and the heart’s own clamors for self-indulgence are powerless to influence. Conscience must be first enlightened, the will must be brought into subjection. The love of truth and righteousness must reign in the soul, and a character will appear which heaven can approve.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 43.
5. After the bitter experience with his brothers, who tried to trap him and hated and denounced him when he refused to compromise? What did he suffer, even though he was innocent?
Genesis 39:7, 9, last part, 12, 16-20 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me…. 9How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?… 12And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out…. 16And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. 17And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: 18And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out. 19And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. 20And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.
“Joseph regarded his being sold into Egypt as the greatest calamity that could have befallen him; but he saw the necessity of trusting in God as he had never done when protected by his father’s love. Joseph brought God with him into Egypt, and the fact was made apparent by his cheerful demeanor amid his sorrow. As the ark of God brought rest and prosperity to Israel, so did this God-loving, God-fearing youth bring a blessing to Egypt. This was manifested in so marked a manner that Potiphar, in whose house he served, attributed all his blessings to his purchased slave, and made him a son rather than a servant. It is God’s purpose that those who love and honor His name shall be honored also themselves, and that the glory given to God through them shall be reflected upon themselves.” –(The Youth’s Instructor, March 11, 1897) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1096.
6. What critical situation arose in Canaan, in the house of Jacob? What did Joseph’s brothers have to do for the extended family to survive during the famine?
Genesis 41:57; 42:1-3 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands…. 42:1Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? 2And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. 3And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
“The famine extended to the land of Canaan and was severely felt in that part of the country where Jacob dwelt. Hearing of the abundant provision made by the king of Egypt, ten of Jacob’s sons journeyed thither to purchase grain. On their arrival they were directed to the king’s deputy, and with other applicants they came to present themselves before the ruler of the land. And they ‘bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.’ ‘Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.’ Genesis 42:6, 8.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 224.
7. How did Joseph feel when he saw his brothers after a very long time, especially since the last time he had seen them, some of them wanted to kill him and then they sold him into slavery? How did he welcome them the second time they visited Egypt?
Genesis 42:24; 43:16, 33, 34 And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes…. 43:16And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon…. 33And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marvelled one at another. 34And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.
“Seeing their confusion, he said kindly, ‘Come near to me, I pray you;’ and as they came near, he continued, ‘I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.’ Genesis 45:4, 5. Feeling that they had already suffered enough for their cruelty toward him, he nobly sought to banish their fears and lessen the bitterness of their self-reproach.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 230, 231.
“Joseph bore the test of character in adversity, and the gold was undimmed by prosperity. He showed the same sacred regard for God’s will when he stood next to the throne as when in the prisoner’s cell. Joseph carried his religion everywhere, and this was the secret of his unwavering fidelity.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 94.
Tenderness, love, and forgiveness
8. What was demonstrated when Joseph made himself known to his brothers? Instead of condemning them for the evil they had done to him, what did he do?
Genesis 45:3-5 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. 4And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. 5Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
“Joseph was one of the few who could withstand temptation. He showed that he had an eye single to the glory of God. He evidenced a lofty regard for God’s will, alike when occupying the prisoner’s cell and when standing next the throne. He carried his religion with him wherever he went and in whatever situation he was placed. True religion has an all-pervading power. It gives tone to everything man does. You need not go out of the world in order to be a Christian, but you may carry your religion, with all its sanctifying influences, into all you do and say. You may discharge well the duties belonging to the situation where God has placed you, by keeping the heart fixed upon heavenly things, and thus break the spell now upon you through unwise association. Had you followed the light you would now be able to escape the snares which those who discern not the will of God have laid to captivate your soul.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 124.
For additional study
“The integrity of Joseph and his wonderful work in preserving the lives of the whole Egyptian people were a representation of the life of Christ.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 286.
“The lessons given Joseph in his youth by Jacob in expressing his firm trust in God and relating to him again and again the precious evidences of His lovingkindness and unceasing care were the very lessons he needed in his exile among an idolatrous people. In the testing time he put these lessons to a practical use. When under the severest trial, he looked to his heavenly Father, whom he had learned to trust. Had the precepts and example of the father of Joseph been of an opposite character, the pen of inspiration would never have traced upon the pages of sacred history the story of integrity and virtue that shines forth in the character of Joseph. The early impressions made upon his mind garrisoned his heart in the hour of fierce temptation and led him to exclaim, ‘How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ Genesis 39:9.” –Child Guidance, p. 197.