Genesis 37

Listen to Genesis 37

Joseph's Dreams

1 Jacob lived in 1the land of his father's sojournings, in the land of Canaan.
2 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives. And Joseph brought 2a bad report of them to their father.
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was 3the son of his old age. And he made him 4a robe of many colors.[a]
4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.
5 Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more.
6 He said to them, "Hear this dream that I have dreamed:
7 Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, 5my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and 6bowed down to my sheaf."
8 His brothers said to him, "Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?" So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
9 Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, "Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me."
10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and 7your mother and your brothers indeed come 8to bow ourselves to the ground before you?"
11 And 9his brothers were jealous of him, 10but his father kept the saying in mind.

Joseph Sold by His Brothers

12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father's flock near 11Shechem.
13 And Israel said to Joseph, "Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them." And he said to him, "Here I am."
14 So he said to him, "Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word." So he sent him from the Valley of 12Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
15 And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, "What are you seeking?"
16 "I am seeking my brothers," he said. "Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock."
17 And the man said, "They have gone away, for I heard them say, 'Let us go to 13Dothan.'" So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at 14Dothan.
18 They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them 15they conspired against him to kill him.
19 They said to one another, "Here comes this dreamer.
20 Come now, 16let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits.[b] Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams."
21 But when 17Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, "Let us not take his life."
22 And Reuben said to them, "Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him"--18that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father.
23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, 19the robe of many colors that he wore.
24 And they took him and 20threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.
25 Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a 21caravan of 22Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing 23gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.
26 Then Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it 24if we kill our brother and conceal his blood?
27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and 25let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers listened to him.
28 Then 26Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and 27sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels[c] of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.
29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he 28tore his clothes
30 and returned to his brothers and said, "The boy 29is gone, and I, where shall I go?"
31 Then they took 30Joseph's robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood.
32 And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, "This we have found; please identify whether it is your son's robe or not."
33 And he identified it and said, "It is my son's robe. 31A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces."
34 Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days.
35 All his sons and all his daughters 32rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, "No, 33I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning." Thus his father wept for him.
36 Meanwhile 34the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, 35the captain of the guard.

Genesis 37 Commentary

Chapter 37

Joseph is loved of Jacob, but hated by his brethren. (1-4) Joseph's dreams. (5-11) Jacob sends Joseph to visit his brethren, They conspire his death. (12-22) Joseph's brethren sell him. (23-10) Jacob deceived, Joseph sold to Potiphar. (31-36)

Verses 1-4 In Joseph's history we see something of Christ, who was first humbled and then exalted. It also shows the lot of Christians, who must through many tribulations enter into the kingdom. It is a history that has none like it, for displaying the various workings of the human mind, both good and bad, and the singular providence of God in making use of them for fulfilling his purposes. Though Joseph was his father's darling, yet he was not bred up in idleness. Those do not truly love their children, who do not use them to business, and labour, and hardships. The fondling of children is with good reason called the spoiling of them. Those who are trained up to do nothing, are likely to be good for nothing. But Jacob made known his love, by dressing Joseph finer than the rest of his children. It is wrong for parents to make a difference between one child and another, unless there is great cause for it, by the children's dutifulness, or undutifulness. When parents make a difference, children soon notice it, and it leads to quarrels in families. Jacob's sons did that, when they were from under his eye, which they durst not have done at home with him; but Joseph gave his father an account of their ill conduct, that he might restrain them. Not as a tale-bearer, to sow discord, but as a faithful brother.

Verses 5-11 God gave Joseph betimes the prospect of his advancement, to support and comfort him under his long and grievous troubles. Observe, Joseph dreamed of his preferment, but he did not dream of his imprisonment. Thus many young people, when setting out in the world, think of nothing but prosperity and pleasure, and never dream of trouble. His brethren rightly interpreted the dream, though they abhorred the interpretation of it. While they committed crimes in order to defeat it, they were themselves the instruments of accomplishing it. Thus the Jews understood what Christ said of his kingdom. Determined that he should not reign over them, they consulted to put him to death; and by his crucifixion, made way for the exaltation they designed to prevent.

Verses 12-22 How readily does Joseph wait his father's orders! Those children who are best beloved by their parents, should be the most ready to obey them. See how deliberate Joseph's brethren were against him. They thought to slay him from malice aforethought, and in cold blood. Whosoever hateth his brother is ( 1 John. 3:15 ) because their father loved him. New occasions, as his dreams and the like, drew them on further; but this laid rankling in their hearts, till they resolved on his death. God has all hearts in his hands. Reuben had most reason to be jealous of Joseph, for he was the first-born; yet he proves his best friend. God overruled all to serve his own purpose, of making Joseph an instrument to save much people alive. Joseph was a type of Christ; for though he was the beloved Son of his Father, and hated by a wicked world, yet the Father sent him out of his bosom to visit us in great humility and love. He came from heaven to earth to seek and save us; yet then malicious plots were laid against him. His own not only received him not, but crucified him. This he submitted to, as a part of his design to redeem and save us.

Verses 23-30 They threw Joseph into a pit, to perish there with hunger and cold; so cruel were their tender mercies. They slighted him when he was in distress, and were not grieved for the affliction of Joseph, see ( Amos 6:6 ) ; for when he was pining in the pit, they sat down to eat bread. They felt no remorse of conscience for the sin. But the wrath of man shall praise God, and the remainder of wrath he will restrain, ( Psalms 76:10 ) . Joseph's brethren were wonderfully restrained from murdering him, and their selling him as wonderfully turned to God's praise.

Verses 31-36 When Satan has taught men to commit one sin, he teaches them to try to conceal it with another; to hide theft and murder, with lying and false oaths: but he that covers his sin shall not prosper long. Joseph's brethren kept their own and one another's counsel for some time; but their villany came to light at last, and it is here published to the world. To grieve their father, they sent him Joseph's coat of colours; and he hastily thought, on seeing the bloody coat, that Joseph was rent in pieces. Let those that know the heart of a parent, suppose the agony of poor Jacob. His sons basely pretended to comfort him, but miserable, hypocritical comforters were they all. Had they really desired to comfort him, they might at once have done it, by telling the truth. The heart is strangely hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Jacob refused to be comforted. Great affection to any creature prepares for so much the greater affliction, when it is taken from us, or made bitter to us: undue love commonly ends in undue grief. It is the wisdom of parents not to bring up children delicately, they know not to what hardships they may be brought before they die. From the whole of this chapter we see with wonder the ways of Providence. The malignant brothers seem to have gotten their ends; the merchants, who care not what they deal in so that they gain, have also obtained theirs; and Potiphar, having got a fine young slave, has obtained his! But God's designs are, by these means, in train for execution. This event shall end in Israel's going down to Egypt; that ends in their deliverance by Moses; that in setting up the true religion in the world; and that in the spread of it among all nations by the gospel. Thus the wrath of man shall praise the Lord, and the remainder thereof will he restrain.

Cross References 35

  • 1. See Genesis 36:7
  • 2. [1 Samuel 2:23, 24]
  • 3. Genesis 44:20
  • 4. ver. 23, 32
  • 5. Genesis 42:6, 9
  • 6. Genesis 43:26; Genesis 44:14
  • 7. [Genesis 35:18]
  • 8. ver. 7, 9
  • 9. Acts 7:9
  • 10. [Luke 2:19, 51]
  • 11. See Genesis 33:18
  • 12. Genesis 13:18; Genesis 35:27
  • 13. 2 Kings 6:13
  • 14. 2 Kings 6:13
  • 15. [Psalms 37:12, 32]
  • 16. ver. 26
  • 17. Genesis 42:22
  • 18. ver. 29, 30
  • 19. ver. 3
  • 20. [Jeremiah 38:6; Lamentations 3:53]
  • 21. Job 6:19; Isaiah 21:13
  • 22. [ver. 28, 36; Genesis 39:1]
  • 23. Genesis 43:11; Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 46:11
  • 24. ver. 20
  • 25. [1 Samuel 18:17]
  • 26. ver. 36; Judges 8:22, 24
  • 27. Genesis 45:4; Psalms 105:17; Acts 7:9
  • 28. Genesis 44:13; Numbers 14:6; 2 Samuel 1:11; 2 Samuel 3:31; Job 1:20
  • 29. Genesis 42:13, 32, 36; Genesis 44:31; Jeremiah 31:15; Lamentations 5:7
  • 30. ver. 23
  • 31. ver. 20; Genesis 44:28
  • 32. [2 Samuel 12:17]
  • 33. Genesis 42:38; Genesis 44:29, 31
  • 34. ver. 28; [ver. 25; Genesis 39:1]
  • 35. Genesis 40:3, 4; Genesis 41:10, 12

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. See Septuagint, Vulgate; or (with Syriac) a robe with long sleeves. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain; also verses 23, 32
  • [b]. Or cisterns; also verses 22, 24
  • [c]. A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 37

In this chapter begins the history of Joseph, with whom the remaining part of this book is chiefly concerned; and here are related the hatred of his brethren to him, because he brought an ill report of them to his father, and because his father loved him, and which was increased by the dream he dreamed, and told them of, Ge 37:1-11; a visit of his to his brethren in the fields, whom he found after a long search of them, Ge 37:12-17; their conspiracy on sight of him to slay him, but by the advice of Reuben it was agreed to cast him into a pit, which they did, Ge 37:18-24; and after that, at the motion of Judah, sold him to the Ishmaelites, who were going to Egypt, Ge 37:25-28; this being done, Reuben being absent, and not finding Joseph in the pit, was in great distress, Ge 37:29,30; their contrivance to deceive their father, and make him believe that Joseph was destroyed by a wild beast, which on the sight of the coat he credited, and became inconsolable, Ge 37:31-35; and the chapter concludes with the sale of Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, Ge 37:36.

Genesis 37 Commentaries