Joseph’s story is a very long one that runs 13 chapters from Genesis Chapter 37 to Chapter 50. Clearly someone considered the story important, since this much precious space is devoted to it in such ancient documents. This is a story that continues to capture the imagination, since a whole musical, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, was based on it. Unfortunately we won’t be able to read the whole thing, I’ll just give some snippets here, and encourage you to read the whole thing another time.
The story starts with Jacob, who we’ve studied the last two weeks. He has been renamed Israel, and is meant to pass on God’s covenant promises to the generations after him. He has 12 sons who will become known as the twelve tribes of Israel (sort of…one tribe gets split…but that’s a story for another day). But he has one favourite son:
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. (Genesis 37:3-4 ESV)
He had a dream one night that his brothers would bow down to him as leader. This was not well received by his brothers.
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. (Genesis 37:23-24 ESV)
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. (Genesis 37:28 ESV)
Joseph became a slave, and then things got worse, as he was thrown in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.
But his expertise in interpreting dreams came in handy. Word got to Pharoah, the king of Egypt, who had just had a strange dream, and Joseph interpreted the dream as predicting an upcoming famine.
Not only that, he also proposed a plan to save food for those famine years…rationing.
This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 41:37-40 ESV)
When the famine happened, Egypt was ready. People came from all over to buy grain from Egypt…including Jacob’s other sons, the same ones who sold Joseph into slavery.
As they approached him, they didn’t recognize their long lost brother, now dressed as an Egyptian prince.
Question: What do you think happened next? What would you do? What would someone estranged from you do?