Aug 13 – 10 Pentecost
Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
Joseph Dreams of Greatness
Joseph Is Sold by His Brothers
Background: In the latter part of Genesis we read the stories of the foundation of the patriarchs of Israel, Abraham, Isaac, and later Jacob. As Genesis draws to a close the writer sets the stage for the latter portions of the books of Moses by accentuating the strife within the family of the patriarchs of Israel. This passage is somewhat unique because it is an interwoven tale encompassing writings of the J, P, and E sources.
Theme: Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, continues the theme of strife within the family of Joseph. In this passage Joseph is marked as a dreamer, one who is self-sure, one who has little social “grace” to lessen the sting of his blunt observations (even if they are true), and one who will pay a price for his position and favor.
Questions to Ponder:
* Please read Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28. Read verses 5-11 for context.
* Place this reading in context; where does it take place, who are the characters, what is the relationship between the characters, etc.?
* Locate the following places: Shechem, Hebron, and Dothan. Identify the family position of the following sons: Ruben and Judah. Identify the nations: Midian and Ishmael.
* Why might the “story of the family of Jacob” begin with a story of Joseph?
* What might the significance of Joseph’s age be? Why might the writer emphasize that Joseph is 17 years old?
* Why might Joseph specifically be a “helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah” as opposed to all the sons of Jacob’s wives (including Leah and Rachel)?
* What is odd about the locations that Jacob’s sons took their flocks for pasture? Why might there be a wide separation between where the sons went (Shechem) and where Joseph was sent (the valley of Hebron)?
* Who do you think the unnamed man is in verse 15? Why do you think Joseph was reported as “wandering in the fields” – almost as if he was lost?
* Why might Ruben be the chief influencer of the brothers? What is Ruben’s status within the family? Given his position, what is odd about how he tries to influence his brothers?
* What might the significance be in the pit having no water? What might that location be a reference to?
* Why might Judah be the chief influencer in verse 26?
* Which group of people (1) sold Joseph and (2) to whom was Joseph sold?
* What was the significance of the price paid for Joseph, 20 pieces of silver?
* What do you think are the chief principles being discussed and shared in this story? What commentary do you think the writer is making regarding the patriarch, Jacob, and the fair and equitable relationship between him and his sons; and his sons and other members of their family?
* What is the message for our time within this passage?
* What is most challenging to you/us and the way you/we carry out our mission as children of God?