In chapter 37 and 38 God’s name is not mentioned. There are no miracles, but God’s great power is at work in the events of Joseph’s life. God used him to fulfill His purpose for Israel and the world. Jacob made the Promised Land his home. His son Joseph was Jacob’s favorite because he was born to him in his old age. (Jacob should have remembered how he felt when his father, Isaac loved his brother Esau more than him and all the problems that occurred because of it.) Joseph’s brothers were very jealous, which turned into hate for him. This turned quickly into attempted murder. It’s human nature to love some more than others. This is wrong. We should not hate anyone, but hate evil and sin they do. We should always love the person. Jacob loved his son so much that he even made Joseph a richly ornamented robe for him. How do you think his brothers felt about that?
Joseph brought a bad report to his father about his brothers. He probably thought he was doing the right thing. If the brothers were doing a bad job at tending the flocks, his family’s livelihood would be at risk. It showed his integrity. However, this was a bad idea, because this made his brothers hate him all the more. “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” – Prov. 10:9. “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” – Prov. 21:23.
Joseph had a dream that he would be the heir of blessings and boasted this to his brothers. This made them hate him all the more. Then he had another dream and boasted about it, too. In this dream the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to him. The eleven stars are his brothers. Now they were even more jealous of him.
One day Jacob (or Israel, which was the name God gave him when he became mature in his faith) told Joseph to find his brothers and the flocks they were tending and bring them back. Joseph was obedient. He went to find them, but they were not where they were supposed to be so he traveled further and found them. As Joseph approached they plotted to kill him, but Rueben and Judah convinced the others not to kill him so they put him in a well so he could not get out. Joseph probably screamed and cried for them to let him go, but they wouldn’t listen. Judah suggested they sell Joseph into slavery. Then, when a caravan of Midianites came by, they sold him for 20 shekels. They took his robe and soaked it in goat’s blood and took it to their father. “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe”. – Gen. 37:32. Jacob (Israel) assumed a wild animal had killed Joseph. Jacob was deceived just as he had deceived his brother, Esau in the past.
The caravan of Midianites then sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, an official of the Pharaoh.
Life is not always easy. We all endure hardships. God always uses those hardships to bring about His perfect will. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Rom. 8:28. We can look back at our past and see the hard times and know that God’s hand was there.
Joseph reminds us of Jesus. Both were rejected by his own people, both were betrayed for money, both were found guilty when they were innocent, both brought salvation to their people. Jesus was greater and willing gave His life. He saved all humanity by His death on the cross.
Joseph was mistreated by his brothers, but God was always with him. God used Joseph and guided him to be the second most powerful person in Egypt as we will see in later chapters.
Are you or your family involved in ungodly behavior?Do you hold envy or bitterness to someone in your family or in your church?
What mistreatment are you enduring?
Do you feel God’s presence?
Do you treat each of your children the same?
Genesis 38 – The Story of Tamra
Judah left his brothers. Perhaps he had enough of his family. Maybe it was also because of his guilt and all the pain he caused his father who thought Joseph was dead. So Judah went one way and Joseph another.
Judah married a Canaanite and she bore a son, Er who married a woman named Tamar. Er was very wicked and the Lord put him to death. Judah told his other son, Onan to take Tamar and produce offspring for his brother. Onan was greedy and wanted his brother’s share of the inheritance so he lay with her, but spilled his semen on the ground. This was also wicked in the Lord’s sight so he was put to death. Judah ignored the sins of his sons and blamed Tamar for their deaths. Instead of providing for her, he sent her away to live as a widow in her father’s house. He told her to wait until his son Shelah grows up, hoping Shelah would escape his duty to marry her.
After a long while Judah’s wife died and Tamar realized Judah wasn’t going to honor her marriage to Shelah. One day Judah went to where the men were shearing sheep. When Tamar heard this, she dressed as a prostitute covering her face and waited for him on the road to deceive him. She was determined to be part of God’s people. Of course her methods were not right. He sleeps with her and she conceives twin boys. Since her face was covered, Judah did not know it was Tamar. She kept his seal, cord, and staff in order to later prove he is the father.
Three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law, Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.” - Gen. 38:24. Judah said to bring her to him so he could put her to death. This was his opportunity to get out of giving her as a wife to Shelah. She sent a message to Judah, “I am pregnant by the man who owns these… see if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.” – Gen. 38:25. Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” – Gen. 38:26. These words reminded Judah of almost exactly the words he and his brothers used to deceive Jacob about the coat in chapter 37. Judah repented quickly and accepted sole blame declaring Tamar righteous. He accepted her sons, Perez and Zerah as part of his family.
Do you accept responsibility when you have done wrong?Have you repented of your sins?
Do you wish to be part of God’s family?
God’s grace covered both Judah and Tamar’s sin and gave them a place in the Messiah's family. Tamar is 1 of 4 women recorded in the lineage of Jesus. “Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar” – Matt. 1:3. God’s grace is greater than all our sins. His grace shines clearly in this story of a pagan woman named Tamar. His grace extends to all people who like Tamar and want to be part of God’s family.