Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Genesis 37:1-19

Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. 2 These are the family records of Jacob.

At seventeen years of age, Joseph tended sheep with his brothers. The young man was working with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought a bad report about them to their father.

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than his other sons because Joseph was a son born to him in his old age, and he made a long-sleeved robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not bring themselves to speak peaceably to him.

5 Then Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 There we were, binding sheaves of grain in the field. Suddenly my sheaf stood up, and your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.”

8 “Are you really going to reign over us?” his brothers asked him. “Are you really going to rule us?” So they hated him even more because of his dream and what he had said.

9 Then he had another dream and told it to his brothers. “Look,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun, moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

10 He told his father and brothers, and his father rebuked him. “What kind of dream is this that you have had?” he said. “Am I and your mother and your brothers really going to come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

12 His brothers had gone to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem. 13 Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers, you know, are pasturing the flocks at Shechem. Get ready. I’m sending you to them.”

“I’m ready,” Joseph replied.

14 Then Israel said to him, “Go and see how your brothers and the flocks are doing, and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the Hebron Valley, and he went to Shechem.

15 A man found him there, wandering in the field, and asked him, “What are you looking for?”

16 “I’m looking for my brothers,” Joseph said. “Can you tell me where they are pasturing their flocks?”

17 “They’ve moved on from here,” the man said. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph set out after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

18 They saw him in the distance, and before he had reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Oh, look, here comes that dream expert!”

The Original Intent

1) Who is Jacob and what is his significance in the big picture of the Bible’s story? (verses 1-4)

Since the Bible is one big story written by God, it’s wise to place its characters within the context of the whole Bible. Verse 1, which places Jacob in Canaan, is connected to the preceding narrative as a conclusion to the early Jacob story we read in Genesis 25-36. (

When Jacob’s mother was pregnant with him and his twin brother, Esau, God told her there were “two nations” in her womb who would eventually be at war. (Genesis 25:23) Esau’s family records are preserved in Genesis 36 and Jacob’s family story is recorded in Genesis 37 as stated in verse 2. Isaac and Rebecca seemingly did not take the prophecy seriously enough regarding their sons being at odds as Jacob and Esau grew up with their parents playing favorites. (Genesis 25:27-28)

This devastating favoritism crept into the next generation (verse 3) resulting in unintended consequences for Jacob’s beloved sonJoseph. It was no secret who the favorite was, and Joseph’s bad report of his brothers’ deplorable actions didn’t help matters. The brothers were despicable characters, and through no fault of his own, Joseph was rejected by them. Receiving special treatment from his father caused such great resentment among them that they want Joseph out of the picture. Verse 4 tells us they treated Joseph with the worst possible treatment: hatred. This Hebrew word is used interchangeably with our English word “unloved’ in Genesis 29:31 and 33.

We hear unloved and may dismiss it inconsequentially until we understand it is the complete antithesis of God Himself. Of the 149 times “שָׂנֵא” is used in the Old Testament, the vast majority of instances occur when God speaks of sin. The Sovereign Almighty hates sin. And Joseph’s brothers hated him. The one their father deemed most important was the one they held in contempt.

The Everyday Application

1) Who is Jacob and what is his significance in the big picture of the Bible’s story? (verses 1-4)

Friend, have you been the casualty of favoritism in your family? It can be a painful experience causing years of hurt and lasting insecurity. One sad part of this story is the lesson unlearned.

How could Jacob not have recognized the damage favoritism would cause? He’d lived it! He had feared for his own life at one point, knowing the emotional distance there was between his brother and himself all those years ago. He surely remembered how all the problems were centered around his parents playing favorites.

Thankfully, the stories of Isaac and Jacob don’t end with them or the failures of their parents. Jacob had a son who chose to walk a better path. Even though Joseph’s story is filled with people who wished evil upon him, he trusted in his God. Like our Savior, Joseph chose mercy and forgiveness. (Genesis 50:15-21Luke 23:32-43)

The bigger story is that we are all somewhat like Joseph’s brothers by choosing to sin against our Creator God. But oh, Sister, know this, there is a Redeemer! Jesus, God’s own Son “proved His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 Once accepting this lavish love for ourselves, we are equipped by God’s Spirit to extend love to others.

While it’s easy to fall into hatred and wield the weapon of contempt, God’s love arms us with His goodness and kindness instead. Love well, Sisters, and leave hatred for sin and its destructive ways.

The Original Intent

2) Were dreams common in the lives of people in the Old Testament? (verses 5-11)

The Old Testament teaches that Joseph was not the only dreamer in the history of God’s people. God often used dreams and visions (waking dreams as in Numbers 24:2-4) to communicate with His people.

Check out the testimonies of dreams and visions in Genesis 15:1, Genesis 20:1-71 Samuel 3:11, and Judges 7:13-14! Even Joseph’s own father, Jacob, received a message from God through a dream in Genesis 28:10-17. Dreams seem to have been frequent enough that their absence was noticed. (1 Samuel 3:1) It’s important to recognize that Joseph’s dreams were revelations from God and would eventually come to pass, but neither his brothers nor his father grasped their significance. I doubt even Joseph fully comprehended them until he witnessed their unfolding as God orchestrated the events. (Genesis 42:5-6)

The passage seems to indicate, though, that Joseph realized there was something important enough in those dreams that he should share them. Scripture gives no indication that Joseph was attempting to brag about his dreams, although we could conclude it wasn’t his most discerning approach to interaction with his brothers! (verse 8) Even so, as the brothers grew more resentful of Joseph, Jacob possibly recalled his own dream as he pondered the words of his son. (verse 11)

Though we aren’t told, perhaps he had finally learned to keep his strong feelings about Joseph to himself. Sadly, it was much too late for that recognition. He had driven a wedge so deep among the brothers it would change the course of their family history. Humanly speaking, of course, for God holds the final word of every story! (Genesis 50:19-20)

The Everyday Application

2) Were dreams common in the lives of people in the Old Testament? (verses 5-11)

As long as there have been humans, God has been working while they sleep. (Genesis 2:21Psalm 42:8) There are several accounts in the Bible of dreamers. Some dreams were surprising and exciting like the one Gideon overheard in Judges 7:13-15. Some were disturbing dreams like King Nebuchadnezzar’s in Daniel 2:1-3. The prophet Daniel in the Old Testament (Daniel 7) and the apostle John (Revelation) in the New Testament both had visions given by God about the future and the last days. The Bible mentions several other visions and dreams throughout its pages.

Dreams were a way God revealed Himself to His people in special times, but there were serious cautions for those who claimed to have prophetic dreams. The Old Testament Law declared that if a prophet proclaimed a dream to people and then called them to worship another god, he was to be put to death even if the dream came true. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) God has already told us that He alone is to be worshipped. Any dream that violates this foundational truth is not from Him which is why we study Scripture so we can confidently know what is true. God has revealed Himself to us through His promises found in His Word. He has told us we have everything we need to know in His word. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

I love that God works for us even when we don’t know it, and I’m thankful to know that whatever He’s doing is good for me. Sister, He’s singing and praying over you even now! Rejoice and be glad! (Zephaniah 3:14-17, Romans 8:24-28)

The Original Intent

3) Why did Joseph’s brothers despise him enough to plot against him? (verses 12-20)

The cards appear to be stacked against Joseph from the beginning of his life. While the causes of the brothers’ hatred for Joseph are detailed plainly in Genesis 37, they do not begin to uncover the troubled background of this family. His older brothers always knew their father loved his mother Rachel more than their mothers. (Genesis 29:28-30)

Though the text doesn’t say it explicitly, the brothers were likely aware that Jacob chose to protect Rachel and Joseph above all when confronted with a potentially dangerous encounter with his estranged brother. (Genesis 33:1-2) The implication in these passages from chapters 29 and 33 give us great insight into their strong feelings toward Joseph. Even if Joseph had never shared his dreams or worn his special coat, their hatred had been growing for years.

It wasn’t uncommon in those days for a younger brother to check on his older brothers and give a status report to their father. The Bible tells us that a young shepherd boy named David was sent by his father to check on his brothers and report back. (1 Samuel 17:17-20) But for Joseph, this was seen as more reason for his brothers to despise him. They knew he would give a bad report again. So, without pause, they immediately plotted against him when they saw him coming toward them. They had so much bitterness toward their younger brother, they even devised a plan to lie to their father about murdering him. (Genesis 37:20)

Vivid coats and vivid dreams had put them over the edge of reason. They had no mercy left in their wicked hearts. “Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”, they said mockingly. (verse 20) Little did they know that what they intended for evil in Joseph’s life, God would use to save a nation. (Genesis 50:15-21)

The Everyday Application

3) Why did Joseph’s brothers despise him enough to plot against him? (verses 12-20)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote the famous words in a poem, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” (Sonnet 43, Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806–1861) We read in Genesis that Jacob loved Joseph more than all his brothers, and the brothers despised Joseph for the favoritism shown him. It seems they spent their days counting the ways they hated him. On the better days, they ignored him. On the worst day, they sold him.

But God!

Sweet friend, I don’t know if you feel rejected or despised by someone you care about. It may be that you have experienced years of pain because of someone else’s bitterness and resentment, not caused by anything you’ve done. I encourage you not to lose hope. The psalmist reminds us to cry out to God with our pain … AND our hope!

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day? How long will my enemy dominate me? Consider me and answer, Lord my God. Restore brightness to my eyes; otherwise, I will sleep in death. My enemy will say, ‘I have triumphed over him’, and my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in Your faithful love; my heart will rejoice in Your deliverance. I will sing to the Lord because He has treated me generously!” 
(Psalm 13)

Bring your honesty to the Lord for He will carry and sustain you in the midst of your hardship just as He did for Joseph!

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