Genesis 37

Joseph's Dream

1 Now Jacob lived in 1the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan.
2 These are the records of the generations of Jacob. Joseph, when 2seventeen * years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with 3the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives. And Joseph brought back a 4bad report about them to their father.
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was 5the son of his old age; and he made him a 6varicolored tunic.
4 His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they 7hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.
5 Then Joseph 8had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more *.
6 He said to them, "Please listen to this dream which I have had;
7 for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and 9bowed down to my sheaf."
8 Then his brothers said to him, "10Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?" So they hated him even more * for his dreams and for his words.
9 Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, "Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven * stars were bowing down to me."
10 He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and 11your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?"
11 12His brothers were jealous of him, but his father 13kept the saying in mind.
12 Then his brothers went to pasture their father's flock in Shechem.
13 Israel said to Joseph, "Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in 14Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them." And he said to him, "I will go."
14 Then he said to him, "Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me." So he sent him from the valley of 15Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
15 A man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, "What are you looking for?"
16 He said, "I am looking for my brothers; please tell me where they are pasturing the flock."
17 Then the man said, "They have moved from here; for I heard them say, 'Let us go to 16Dothan.' " So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

The Plot against Joseph

18 When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they 17plotted against him to put him to death.
19 They said to one another, "Here comes this dreamer *!
20 "Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and 18we will say, 'A wild beast devoured him.' Then let us see what will become of his dreams!"
21 But 19Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, "Let us not take his life."
22 Reuben further said to them, "Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him"-that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father.
23 So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him;
24 and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.
25 Then they sat down to eat a meal. And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of 20Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing 21aromatic gum and 22balm and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to Egypt.
26 Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it for us to kill our brother and 23cover up his blood?
27 "24Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers listened to him.
28 Then some 25Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and 26sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus 27they brought Joseph into Egypt.
29 Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he 28tore his garments.
30 He returned to his brothers and said, "29The boy is not there; as for me, where am I to go?"
31 So 30they took Joseph's tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood;
32 and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, "We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son's tunic or not."
33 Then he examined it and said, "It is my son's tunic. 31A wild beast has devoured him; 32Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!"
34 So Jacob 33tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days.
35 Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, "Surely I will 34go down to Sheol in mourning for my son." So his father wept for him.
36 Meanwhile, the Midianites 35sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh's officer, the captain of the bodyguard.

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. Genesis 17:8; Genesis 28:4
  • 2. Genesis 41:46
  • 3. Genesis 35:25, 26
  • 4. 1 Samuel 2:22-24
  • 5. Genesis 44:20
  • 6. Genesis 37:23, 32
  • 7. Genesis 27:41; 1 Samuel 17:28
  • 8. Genesis 28:12; Genesis 31:10, 11, 24
  • 9. Genesis 42:6, 9; Genesis 43:26; Genesis 44:14
  • 10. Genesis 49:26; Deuteronomy 33:16
  • 11. Genesis 27:29
  • 12. Acts 7:9
  • 13. Daniel 7:28; Luke 2:19, 51
  • 14. Genesis 33:18-20
  • 15. Genesis 13:18; Genesis 23:2, 19; Genesis 35:27; Joshua 14:14, 15; Judges 1:10
  • 16. 2 Kings 6:13
  • 17. Psalms 31:13; Psalms 37:12, 32; Mark 14:1; John 11:53; Acts 23:12
  • 18. Genesis 37:32, 33
  • 19. Genesis 42:22
  • 20. Genesis 16:11, 12; Genesis 37:28; Genesis 39:1
  • 21. Genesis 43:11
  • 22. Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 46:11
  • 23. Genesis 37:20
  • 24. Genesis 42:21
  • 25. Genesis 37:25; Judges 6:1-3; Judges 8:22, 24
  • 26. Genesis 45:4, 5; Psalms 105:17; Acts 7:9
  • 27. Genesis 39:1
  • 28. Genesis 37:34; Genesis 44:13
  • 29. Genesis 42:13, 36
  • 30. Genesis 37:3, 23
  • 31. Genesis 37:20
  • 32. Genesis 44:28
  • 33. Genesis 37:29
  • 34. Genesis 25:8; Genesis 35:29; Genesis 42:38; Genesis 44:29, 31
  • 35. Genesis 39:1

Footnotes 24

Chapter Summary


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

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