Lesson 15 - A Rich Man's Son Who was Sold as a Slave

Genesis 37:1-36

After Jacob came back to the land of Canaan with his eleven sons, another son was born to him, the second child of his wife Rachel, whom jacob loved so well.  But soon after the baby came, his mother Rachel died, and Jacob was filled with sorrow.

Jacob named the child Benjamin.  Now Jacob had twleve sons.  Most of them were grown men now, but Joseph was a seventeen-year-old, and his brother Benjamin was just a baby.

Of all his children, Jacob loved Joseph the best.  Jacob gave Joseph a robe of bright colors made somewhat like a long cloak with wide sleeves.  This was a special mark of Jacob's favor to Joseph, and it made his older brothers very envious of him.

His brothers also hated him because of two strange dreams that he had.  Here is what Joseph told them one day.

"Listen to this dream that I have had.  I dreamed that we were out in the field binding sheaves, when suddenly my sheaf stood up, and all your sheaves came around it, and bowed down to my sheaf."

The brothers said angrily, "Do you suppose that the dream means that you will some time rule over us, and that we shall bow down to you?"

Again, a few days later, Joseph had another dream and told them about it.  "I have dreamed again.  This time I saw in my dream the sun and the moon and eleven stars all come and bow down to me."

His father spoke to him about these dreams.  "I don't like you to dream such dreams.  Do you think that I, your mother, and your brothers will come and bow down before you, as if you are a king?"

Even though his father told Joseph this, he thought a lot about what Joseph had said.  But the brothers hated Joseph, and spoke unkindly to him.

One day, Joseph's ten older brothers were taking care of the flock in the fields near Shechem, which was nearly fifty miles from Hebron, where Jacob's tents were spread.  Jacob wanted to send a message to his sons.  So he called Joseph and said to him, "Your brothers are near Shechem with the flock.  I would like for you to go to them, and take a message, and find out if they are well, and if the flocks are doing well.  Then come back and bring me word from them."

That was quite an errand for a boy to go alone over the country, and find his way, for fifty miles, and then walk home again.  But Joseph knew how to take care of himself, and could be trusted.  So he started on his journey.

When Joseph reached Shechem, he could not find his brothers.  He was told by a man that they had gone to Dothan, which was fifteen miles further.

His brothers saw him coming towards them.  They could spot him easily because of his bright clothes.

"Look, that dreamer is coming!  Leg's kill him, and throw his body into a pit, and tell Father that some wild animal has eaten him.  Then we will see what becomes of his dreams."

One of the brothers, Reuben, felt more kindly toward Joesph than the others, but he didn't dare oppose the other brothers openly.  So Reuben said, "Let's not kill him.  Let's just throw him into this pit, here in the wilderness, and leave him there to die."

Reuben intended to rescue Joseph from the pit as soon as the other brothers were out of sight.

The other brothers did as Reuben said, and threw Joseph into a pit.

Joseph begged them to let him out, but they would not.  They calmly sat down to eat their dinner on the grass while their brother was calling to them from the pit.

After dinner, Reuben went to another part of the field, so he was not there when a company of men passed by with their camels.  They were going to Egypt to sell spices.

Judah, another brother, suggested, "What good will it do us to kill our brother?  Wouldn't it be better for us to sell him to these men, and let them carry him away?  After all, he is our brother.  Perhaps we'd better not kill him."

The brother agreed with him.  So they stopped the men who were passing by, got Joseph out of the pit, and sold him for twenty pieces of silver.  The men took him away with them down to Egypt.

After a while, Reuben came to the pit, where he had left Joseph, and looked into it.  But Joseph was not there.  Reuben was very upset, and he came back to his brothers saying, "The boys is not there!  What shall I do?"

Then his brothers told Reuben what they had done, and they all agreed together to deceive their father.  They killed one of the goats, and dipped Joseph's coat in its blood, and they brought it to their father.  They said to him, "We found this coat out in the wilderness.  Look at it, and see if you think it was Joseph's."

Jacob recognized the coat at once.  He said, "It is Joseph's.  Some wild beast has eaten him.  My dear son Joseph has been torn in pieces!"

Jacob's heart was broken over the loss of Joseph, all the more because he had sent Joseph alone on the journey through the wilderness.  They tried to comfort him, but he would not be comforted.

He said, "I will go down to the grave mourning for my poor lost son."

So the old man grieved for his son Joseph.  All the time his wicked brothers knew that Joseph was not dead, but they wouldn't tell their father the dreadful deed that they had done to their brother in selling him as a slave.

Review Questions
1.  Who was Joseph?

2.  How did Jacob feel toward Joseph?

3.  How did Joseph's brothers feel toward him?

4.  What did Joseph's brothers do to him?

5.  To what country was Joseph taken and sold?

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