Joseph in Egypt – Genesis 40+
Bible Background: The story of Joseph and his family occupies 13 chapters in Genesis, and takes many twists and turns! His brothers hate him, and sell him to slave traders. He ends up in Egypt with a good master (who has a bad wife!) Landing in prison, his experience with interpreting dreams helps him. When he interprets Pharaoh’s disturbing dream, his life and work take a whole new turn.
Digging Deeper: 1. One of the themes of these chapters is that “the Lord was with Joseph.” We might wonder “How so?” The poor guy is sold by his brothers; falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife; and forgotten by the guy he helped in prison. How do we trust that God is with us, when life’s circumstances seem otherwise? What words would you use to help someone in dire straits to believe that?
2. When asked to interpret dreams, Joseph gives the credit to God. In the storyline, this also suggests that the ‘thing’ which is about to happen is also God’s will. With Pharaoh’s dream comes the word that there will be 7 years of good harvests, followed by 7 years of famine. At age 30 (about 13 years since his misfortunes began) Joseph is put in charge of managing all the grain production, storage, and distribution in Egypt! His leadership saves many, many lives from starvation!
3. Another theme in this chapters is that wherever Joseph lands, he becomes a trusted servant. In Potiphar’s house, in prison, and in Pharaoh’s service. People do recognize his integrity and his abilities. How can we see ourselves as servants, in whatever situation we ‘land’ in in life, even if it’s not exactly what we planned?
4. The writer does not claim that it was God’s will that several terrible things happened to Joseph. But in a powerful way, Joseph explains how it was God’s will, God’s action, that turned things around: To his brothers he says “You meant it for evil, but God intended it for good! Gen. 50:20. It might have taken Joseph a good chunk of his life to see God’s hand at work through it all!
5. Finally, this is a story of reconciliation and forgiveness. And the good news is this: If a family as dysfunctional as Joseph’s could eventually come together and overcome their hurt and their hate, then perhaps forgiveness/reconciliation are possible in our lives and in today’s world too! May we never give up that hope!