Discovery for Students



Genesis 37:1 through 50:26

“And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (Genesis 45:7)


Joseph’s birth is recorded in Genesis 30:22-24, and then his story begins in chapter 37, opening a new section in the book and covering fourteen chapters. Like his father Jacob, grandfather Isaac, and great-grandfather Abraham, Joseph was a chosen man. The hand of God was evident on his life in each situation portrayed, ruling and overruling the plans and decisions made by men.

Joseph was the eleventh of Jacob’s twelve sons, and the elder son of Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel. Of all his sons, Jacob loved Joseph the most, and this obvious favoritism caused a spiraling resentment in Joseph’s half-brothers that brought seeming tragedy into the young man’s life. However, Joseph’s commitment to the principles of truth, right, and faith in God were already entrenched in his heart, and those attributes served him well in the ensuing traumatic events. Though he faced betrayal, temptation, false accusations, and unfair imprisonment, his positive responses and consistent faithfulness to God transformed each adversity into something God could and did use.

The story of Joseph cannot be fully understood without a clear grasp of the Lord’s involvement in the proceedings. Years before Joseph was born, God had promised the land of Canaan to Abraham. However, He had also revealed to the patriarch that “thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them” (Genesis 15:13). God used the harsh events in Joseph’s life to relocate him, and ultimately his whole family, to Egypt, which was part of God’s foreordained plan. Joseph’s story offers us insight into how the mysterious workings of our sovereign God are threaded through all the endeavors of humankind, and His purposes will ultimately prevail.


  1. In Genesis 37:3 we read that Jacob made Joseph a coat of many colors. What did the coat represent? How did this garment impact his relationship with his brothers?
  2. Joseph had some unusual dreams, and he shared them with his already antagonistic brothers. What effect did Joseph’s dreams about the sun, moon, and stars, and the sheaves have on his brothers? Genesis 37:5-9
  3. The brothers’ anger at Joseph led them to conspire to murder him when he came to them in Dothan at his father’s request. Which two brothers intervened, and what was the outcome of their intervention? Genesis 37:18-28
  4. In Egypt, Joseph became a slave in the household of Potiphar, an officer of Pharoah. Genesis 39:2-6 tells us that Potiphar put all his affairs into the hands of Joseph. Why did he do this?
  5. Potiphar’s wife was a woman devoid of moral standards. She made Joseph the target of her attention, and one day when the master was away, she propositioned him. How did Joseph respond to this temptation? Genesis 39:7-12
  6. Because Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph, he was put into prison. However, once again his exemplary life was noticed, and before long he was placed in charge of many details of prison life. He won the confidence of his fellow prisoners, including Pharoah’s butler and baker. To whom did Joseph give the credit for interpreting the dreams of the imprisoned butler and baker, and later, of Pharoah himself ? (See Genesis 40:8; 41:16.) What does this tell us about Joseph’s character?
  7. Numerous events in Joseph’s life could have caused him to feel that God had forsaken him: the anger and resentment of his brothers, their selling him into slavery, the false accusation that resulted in his imprisonment, and the fact that even his kindness to fellow prisoners was forgotten. However, we see no indication that Joseph was discouraged or embittered. What do you think was the secret to his remarkable attitude? Genesis 39:2,21,23
  8. Two years after he correctly told the baker and butler what their dreams meant, Joseph was called to stand before Pharoah and reveal to Egypt’s ruler that a national disaster was impending. What was the nature of that disaster, and how did Pharoah respond? Genesis 41:28-32; 38-45
  9. Acts of harsh unkindness and a period of twenty years stood between Joseph and his brothers. When they came to Egypt to procure provisions, Joseph orchestrated a series of circumstances that revealed their attitudes truly had changed. Then he made the startling disclosure to them: he was their brother, Joseph. (See Genesis 45:4-8.) What did Joseph understand about God that helped him give such a merciful and kind response to his fearful brothers?


Joseph’s connection with God allowed him to survive and prosper in spite of extremely trying circumstances. He was betrayed and deserted by his brothers, falsely accused and imprisoned for doing the right thing, and forgotten by those he had helped. Still, his positive reaction transformed each obstacle into a step forward. When we face setbacks, a Joseph-type response will help us navigate through difficulties!