The Life of Joseph - Lesson 4
Genesis 37:1-11, And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. These are the generations of Jacob. 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: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.
Genesis 37:1, And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.
How can this be? Was not Jacob's father, Isaac a native of this land?
Was not Isaac born 168 years ago in this land from the time of this account?
And yet we are told that Isaac was a stranger in the land of Canaan.
But this is always the condition of those of faith.
Strangers and pilgrims in any land of this world, for those of faith are always looking for a better country.
And those who look for a better country are strangers in the country in which they dwell.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jacob's father died in faith, still looking, for he had not yet received the promise.
Hebrews 11:13-16, These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
But they died, still looking, for they were men of faith.
Perhaps not looking is an indicator of a lack of faith of those who claim to be kindred with Jacob and Isaac and Abraham?
Are they strangers and pilgrims in this world with an eye to a city made by God or have they turned their eyes away from the better country and settled for a country of this world?
But Jacob had his eye on a better country whose builder and maker is God!
But what of his sons?
Were they not about to be consumed by this land and amalgamated into the culture and the ways of the Canaanites?
Were they not to be simply another large family that was to be consumed by the gods of those who lived in Canaan?
Just blend in like most of the people of this world.
Just blend in, in the melting pot of this world. That is the devil's message.
But God's plan will not be thwarted, for we shall see how he will take one of those sons and separate him so the rest of his sons will also be separated.
Joseph is to be but a seed planted in Egypt that will result in a people for God's name who are then to return to this land of Canaan and rid the land of this wicked culture and peoples.
God cannot be stopped and we see here how he uses the wrath of men to praise him.
Genesis 37:2, These are the generations of Jacob. 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: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.
We are to keep in mind that verse two of chapter 37 tells us that these are the generations or history of Jacob.
When all is said and done the rest of the Old Testament is a Jacob history.
It is a history of that which Jacob generated.
When all is said and done this is the history of Jacob, this is the beginning of the history of Israel!
This is the outworking of God's promise to Jacob, to Israel.
This is the seed planting of God's covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.
And it is to be outworked through Jacob's son of Rachel, Joseph who being seventeen years old was feeding the flock with his brethren.
Note the use of this generational division in the book of Genesis and how this same generational division is continued in the New Testament in Matthew 1:1.
Note how the book of Genesis is divided.
Genesis 2:4, These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
Genesis 5:1, This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
Genesis 6:9, These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
Genesis 10:1, Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.
Genesis 11:10, These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:
Genesis11:27, Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
Genesis17:9, And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
Genesis 25:12, Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham:
Genesis25:19, And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac:
Genesis 36:1, Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.
Genesis 37:2 , These are the generations of Jacob.
And the generations of Jacob conclude with the generation of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 1:1, The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
This is the pattern of scripture, this is God's way of focusing attention to his son, Jesus Christ.
We see in this pattern, not a study of all mankind, but a focusing on those individuals who will lead to his son, Jesus Christ.
Think about this as a validation of God's word.
To be able to pick out among the innumerable individuals that one and that one again, and that one again, who will lead to the Messiah.
If anyone but God were to attempt this, which family would he focus on.
We have seen the generations that are listed in the book of Genesis and every choice was right.
Every choice eliminated those who did not lead to Christ but every choice included the exact individual who would lead to Christ.
One of Adams sons would, but another would not.
One of Noah's son's would, but two would not.
We are to go down Shem's path to lead to Christ!
One of Tehah's son's would, but two would not.
Don't go down Nahor's path. Go down Abraham's path!
One of Isaac's sons would, but two would not.
Ishmael will not lead to Christ!
One of Jacob's sons would but 11 would not.
Did Tamar who bore Pharez to Judah know that her son was in the princely line?
Of course not but God knew that Pharez would bare Hezron who begat Ram who begat Amminadab who begat Nahshon who begat Salmon, who begat Boaz who begat Obed who begat Jesse.
And only one of Jesse's sons would lead to Christ, but seven would not, only David the least in Jesse's eyes was to be chosen by God.
What a marvellous validation of the word of God!
So these "generations of Jacob" begin with the story of Joseph, his eldest son by Rachel.
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: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.
The Bible has set the stage for these events.
Joseph has now been in Hebron several years after living for a time in Succoth, Shechem, and Bethel.
He has recently lost his beloved mother Rachel who died baring Benjamin.
His father Jacob is 108 years old and he is seventeen. Quite an age difference.
Joseph is the youngest of his brothers except for little Benjamin who at this time is probably a tottler.
He is called a lad which describes a boy between childhood and manhood.
So a seventeen year old can be called a lad.
His 10 brothers are of the ages 17 to 23.
As related in the scriptures no doubt Joseph was alone and not one of the boys.
No doubt he was regarded by his brothers as his father's pet and he was detested for it.
Now Joseph's father Jacob was a shepherd with vast herds and flocks.
Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher (probably 19 and 20 years old), the four sons of the slave women wives, Bilhah (Rachels) and Zilpah (Leahs) were formed into a team to tend to the flocks.
Joseph was sent to work with them to learn the business of shepherding.
Naturally this takes place some distance from home, away from parental notice and as boys who leave home sometimes do, something took place that was of an evil nature.
We are not told what for what took place is not important to the story.
But Joseph was tempted to conform as all boys do when other boys wish to sin.
Peer pressure is nothing new!
It is always felt when we start a new job, or make new friends.
The devil uses this strong desire to conform to the world as he walks about seeking whom he may devour.
And Joseph was a prime candidate, 17 years old and away from home with older boys who were bent to do evil.
Joseph was with his four brother's 24 hours a day, no doubt the butt of their jokes, and under constant pressure to conform.
They were the sons of slave women and Joseph was the son of the favored wife.