KEYWORDS: joseph, egypt, jacob, benjamin, brothers

Bible in Pictures, The--Chapter 7--Genesis 39-45

David Berg



IN CHAPTER 6 WE SAW HOW JACOB CAME TO SHECHEM where he bought a certain field & probably dug a well. Then he came to Bethel, & after a brief stay went on to his father's tent at Hebron. When he got to Bethlehem, Rachel gave birth to Benjamin, but she died & was buried near that city, & Jacob went on, heartbroken!

JOSEPH, THE FAVOURITE OF HIS FATHER, NOW COMES INTO THE STORY PROMINENTLY. He was sent to his brothers who were at Dothan with the flocks. The jealous brothers sold him to Ishmaelite traders going into Egypt, & when they returned to their father at Hebron, the sons‚ trying to hide their crime, pretended that Joseph had been destroyed by some wild animal, while Joseph was actually being carried to Egypt & placed on the slave market.

THE STORY OF JOSEPH IS THE STORY OF FAITHFULNESS! Here is Joseph the Ruler. Little did he dream he was to become ruler of all Egypt!—And his brothers would some day come bowing before him!

1. JOSEPH WAS SOLD TO AN EGYPTIAN WHOSE NAME WAS POTIPHAR, captain of the king's guard. Potiphar's position was second only to Pharaoh himself. He lived in great style‚ & his home was in keeping with his position. Gen.39:1.

2. IT IS REASONABLE TO SUPPOSE THAT JOSEPH WAS AT FIRST SET TO MORE MENIAL LABOUR, perhaps like watering his master's garden, which is done to this day by the use of a "sweep" pole to make the lifting of the bucket lighter.

3. IRRIGATION IS ALSO DONE BY THE SAKIAH‚ dippers on a wheel driven by a camel, & he may have been assigned to the task of driving the camel of water buffalo, which is not too severe for a boy of his age.

4. AN ERRAND BOY NEAR MEMPHIS. But "the Lord was with Joseph‚" & his tasks may have been lightened, possibly running errands for his master. At any rate "Joseph found grace in his sight as the served Potiphar." Genesis 39:2-4.

5. A SCENE ON THE NILE. "And it came to pass from that time that he (Potiphar) made him (Joseph) overseer in his house & over all he had. The Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake, & he left all that he had in Joseph's hands, & Joseph was a goodly person & well favoured."—Strong & handsome! Gen.39:5-6.

6. JOSEPH HAD BARELY BECOME ACQUAINTED WITH CONDUCT OF THE AFFAIRS OF THE HOUSE when Potiphera, his master's wife, falsely accused him of attacking her, because he wouldn't make love to her‚ so Potiphar had him cast into prison! Gen.39:7-19. B.C.1718.

7. "BUT THE LORD WAS WITH JOSEPH." He made himself so useful in the prison, & his faithfulness & kindness were so pronounced, that soon the keeper placed him in charge of the entire prison! Gen.39:20–23.

8. THIS IS THE ENTRANCE TO A DUNGEON-LIKE BUILDING OF VERY GREAT ANTIQUITY. It is pointed out today as being the old prison where Joseph was incarcerated in Egypt.

9. JOSEPH INTERPRETS THE PRISONERS' DREAMS. The king's butler & baker were also cast into the royal prison, & each of them had a dream which Joseph interpreted, & which came to pass just as he had predicted! Joseph then requested the chief butler (who was to be restored to his position) to remember him to the king as he ministered to the monarch from time to time. The butler promised, but apparently forgot his pledge. Gen.40.

10. 2 YEARS PASS. THE KING THEN ALSO HAS A MOST CURIOUS & TROUBLESOME DREAM. He calls in his magicians & wise men, but they fail to give him a satisfactory interpretation. Just then the king's butler remembers his experience in the prison & recommends Joseph! Gen.41:1–13.

11. JOSEPH INTERPRETS PHARAOH'S DREAM, Pharaoh lost no time in sending for the young prisoner. Joseph's first words were, "It is not of me; God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace," & the king was told of a 7 years' famine that was to follow an immediate 7 years of plenty, "and the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh & in the eyes of all his servants." Gen. 41:14-37. B.C. 1716

12. THE YOUNG MAN RECOMMENDED THAT HE GATHER FOODSTUFF DURING THE PLENTIFUL YEARS & STORE IT AGAINST THE FAMINE. This pleased the king, & he appointed Joseph to oversee the whole process over all the land of Egypt!

13. JOSEPH DIRECTING THE CAMPAIGN. Joseph had been in Egypt 13 Years & is now 30 years of age! Because of God's blessing & his experience as Potiphar's executive‚ he conducted the affairs with great skill, for he trusted God's divine leadership & "God was with him." Gen.41:44-49.

14. THIS OLD RUIN IS SAID TO BE THE REMAINS OF ONE OF THE GREAT GRANARIES USED BY JOSEPH, It is located near Cairo, & its form is like that of a very large well, similar to the grain silos of today.

15. THE OBELISK OF ON (HELIOPOLIS). In the meantime Pharaoh arranged a wedding for Joseph with Asenath, daughter of the Priest of On at Heliopolis, a very important Egyptian temple, one of the most powerful men in Egypt. So it was quite an honour!

16. A POOL NEAR MEMPHIS. The famine came as Joseph had predicted. "And the drouth was severe in all the land." But there was bread in Egypt & the people sold their stock, their lands, & finally themselves to Joseph for bread.

17. OLD FATHER JACOB IS STILL LIVING AT HEBRON, & by this time has become reconciled to the loss of his gracious son, Joseph, who was the child of his first love, Rachel.

18. MAMRE. THE FAMINE HAD ALSO REACHED CANAAN, & the hills of Mamre where Jacob lived became parched in consequence of the prolonged drought. There had been a famine in Abraham's day, & another in the days of Isaac, & now Jacob is caught in the grip of another.

19. A BEDOUIN CAMP NEAR MAMRE. There was no more merriment in the tents of Jacob. The corn, the flocks, the curds were exhausted, & starvation had nearly consumed them.

20. THE PARCHED HILLS OF MAMRE. The sons were seeking pasture among the sunburned slopes of Canaan & looking for water for their famishing herds along the dry creek beds, but in vain. Then Jacob learns there is corn in Egypt. Gen.42:1-2.

21. SO HE AT ONCE SENT HIS SONS ON A TRIP TO THIS FAVOURED LAND. Fortunately he had money (Gen.42:25) & with this, 10 of the sons, leaving the youngest Benjamin, to care for their aged father, departed for Egypt to buy food.

22. THEIR VISION OF SELLING JOSEPH. They follow the same route over which Joseph had been carried as a slave more than 20 years, before. But how different they feel‚ & how different is the purpose of their trip! "Their sin is soon to find them out‚ "but little do they realise it at this time. But surely they must've felt convicted of their sin as they thought of their mistreated brother!

23. THE GREAT PYRAMID. The wonders of Egypt must have impressed these sons of Jacob as awesomely as they had Joseph. They surely marvelled at the splendour, & no doubt supposed the authorities of this grand country to be the greatest in the World!—And they were right!—It was the World's first great Empire, & recognised by the Bible as such, for out of it shall also come man's last great World ruler, the Antichrist! (See Rev.12:3; 13:1; Dan.8:9 & 23, etc.)

24. THE SONS OF ISRAEL MAY HAVE SEEN JOSEPH IN EGYPTIAN COSTUME DRIVING HIS SPIRITED STEED ALONG THE STREETS OF MEMPHIS & receiving the applause of the populace‚ but if they did‚ they little dreamed he was their brother!

25. WHEN JOSEPH WAS APPROACHED BY HIS BROTHERS HE KNEW THEM AT ONCE, but he being only a child when they sold him, had changed with age, & he was not recognised by them. He pretended they were spies, & before he would sell them corn he compelled them to leave their younger brother Simeon as a guarantee that they were telling the truth, & made them promise that they would return & bring their youngest brother‚ Benjamin, his own only full–blood brother of Mother Rachel! Gen.42:7–24. So they were permitted to buy under these conditions.

26. JACOB REFUSES TO SEND BENJAMIN. They started home with the food. But they had occasion to open their sacks before they reached home, & to their surprise they found that their money they'd paid for the grain had been placed in their sacks! Arriving at Mamre they told their experience to Jacob. He was heartbroken at the story of Simeon's detention, & at first stoutly refused to let his sons return to Egypt with his youngest & Egypt with his youngest & last favourite son of Rachel, Benjamin. Gen.42:25-38.

27. HUNGER, HOWEVER, DROVE OLD JACOB TO SEND THE SONS AGAIN TO BUY FOOD, so they finally took his youngest son with them. Joseph wept when he saw his younger brother Benjamin, but he was not yet ready to make himself known to them at this time. Gen.43:1–25.

28. HE MADE A FEAST FOR THEM, HOWEVER, & SHOWED GREAT HONOUR TO BENJAMIN. You will remember that Joseph & he were full brothers & their mother was Rachel. While his brothers were enjoying the repast he arranged to have their money again placed back in their sacks, & in Benjamin's sack Joseph's own silver cup was placed! Gen.43:26-34 & 44:1-2.

29. AFTER THE FEAST THE BROTHERS STARTED ON THEIR RETURN TO CANAAN, but by pre-arrangement by Joseph, Egyptian soldiers were to overtake & search them for the silver cup, under the pretense that it had been stolen. The brothers freely gave their consent, since they were confident of their innocence, but the search revealed the fact that the cup was in Benjamin's sack, & so they were all summoned to return & appear before Joseph again! (Gen.44:4-13.)

30. WITH MUCH SUPPLICATION THE BROTHERS KNELT DOWN BEFORE JOSEPH & pleaded with him not to lay this crime to their blame, a fulfillment of Joseph's boyhood dream of their sheaves bowing down to his! Judah led the defense with a most dramatic argument, setting forth a touching history of the family, a closed by assuring Joseph that if Benjamin did not return that his old father Jacob would die of a broken heart! Gen.44:14-34.

31. JOSEPH COULD NOT "REFRAIN HIMSELF" ANY LONGER! IN THE MIDST OF HIS TEARS HE CRIED, "I AM JOSEPH"! But he then assured the brothers that he had forgive them, & that it was God's doing that he had been sent into Egypt, so that now he was in a position to save the whole family from the famine!

JOSEPH THEN SENT PLENTY OF THE FINEST FOOD & WAGONS INTO CANAAN to bring his old father Jacob & all his family to Egypt where he could take care of them. Gen.45:1-24. Joseph's reward for his faithfulness to God was now God's faithfulness to him & his family.

32. IT MUST HAVE BEEN A TRYING EXPERIENCE FOR THE SONS OF JACOB: They must now return to Hebron in Canaan & confess their crime to their old father! Then they must all return to Egypt & be dependent to save their lives upon the one whom they had so heartlessly mistreated!

IT WAS THEIR PUNISHMENT TO REAP WHAT THEY SOWED, & they & their children were all eventually enslaved themselves by the Egyptians! God's wheels of justice sometimes grind exceedingly slow, but they grind exceedingly fine!

33. WHEN JACOB WAS TOLD THAT JOSEPH STILL LIVED, HE COULD NOT BELIEVE IT! But when he saw the wagons which had been sent to convey him thither, he said‚ "It is enough, I will go & see Joseph before I die." Gen.45:25-28.

HERE & IN GEN.41:43 IS THE FIRST MENTION IN THE BIBLE OF WHEELED VEHICLES. They must have been quite impressive, these ancient King's limousines, to convice Jacob to ride back to Egypt in them!—A distance of about 300 miles or nearly 500 km!—But it was certainly better than on horseback!

Review Questions for Chapter 7:

1. To whom was Joseph sold in Egypt?

2. What was his position?

3. Was the Lord with Joseph?

4. Did Potiphar like Joseph?

5. What position was given Joseph?

6. Who wrongfully accused Joseph?

7. What was done to Joseph?

8. What position was given him in prison?

9. Name 2 other prisoners.

10. What did Joseph do for them?

11. What did Joseph request of the butler?

12. How long afterward did the butler speak to the king of Joseph?

13. What was the occasion?

14. What did Joseph interpret the king's dream to mean?

15. What did Joseph recommend?

16. Who was appointed overseer?

17. How old is Joseph now?

18. How many years did he gather food?

19. Whom did Joseph marry?

20. Where did she live?

21. What was her father's profession?

22. Did the famine come as predicted?

23. Where was Jacob still living?

24. Did the famine extend into Palestine?

25. What did Jacob do when he heard there was food in Egypt?

26. Which son remained at home?

27. Did they know Joseph was ruler?

28. Did they recognise Joseph when they appeared before him?

29. Did Joseph recognise them?

30. Who did Joseph pretend they were?

31. Did he mention Benjamin?

32. What did they find upon opening their sacks?

33. Was Jacob willing to let Benjamin go to Egypt?

34. Why did he let Benjamin go?

35. What did Joseph do when he saw Benjamin?

36. What honour did he do the brothers?

37. What relation was Joseph to Benjamin?

38. Who was their mother?

39. Tell about Joseph's silver cup.

40. What was done when they returned to Joseph?

41. How did Joseph reveal himself?

42. Did he forgive his brothers?

43. On what grounds?

44. What did Joseph then do?

45. Was Jacob happy to go to Egypt?