The following is based on Genesis 37 – 50 (Complete Jewish Bible and New International Version)
Keep remembering that the Bible was not meant to be a world history. It is a historical record of what happened in one family line. And though Adam and Eve had many other sons and daughters after they were commanded to leave their perfect home in the Garden of Eden, the only “branch” on the family tree that is traced completely in the Bible is the lineage that runs from Seth to Jesus, son of Mary … Son of God.
So far we’ve seen this much of Adam and Eve’s family tree:
Adam and Eve ==> Seth ==> Noah ==> Shem ==> (Abram & Sarai) ==> Abraham and Sarah ==> Isaac ==> Jacob ==> Judah
And this is where we left off:
When Abraham had just one son, Isaac, God promised to make him into a great nation. Isaac had two sons — twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons, and it was through these men that God would build the great nation of ISRAEL. Just one of them would be chosen to continue the lineage that led to Jesus. That was Judah.
But the one son who had the greatest impact on the destiny of the Israelites was Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son. We have to take a moment to look at Joseph’s legacy simply because we can learn so much from his RELATIONSHIP with the Lord God. So here are some highlights of his amazing life …
- Joseph had dreams that his family would one day bow down to him.
- His home was the land of Canaan, but his jealous brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. (Remember the curse on Canaan? Gen. 9:24-27)
Scripture tells us that: “ADONAI [the Lord] was with Yosef [Joseph], and he became wealthy while he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. His master saw how ADONAI was with him, that ADONAI prospered every thing that he did. Yosef pleased him as he served him, and his master appointed him manager of his household; he entrusted all his possessions to Yosef…. ADONAI BLESSED the Egyptian for Yosef’s sake; ADONAI’S blessing was on all he owned … so he paid no attention to his affairs, except for the food he ate.” (Genesis 39:2-6, CJB)
Joseph was about 17 years old when he entered into service as Potiphar’s assistant. Everything went well for him until he was around 28. Scripture says that Joseph was well-built and handsome, and Potiphar’s wife took notice of him …
- Potiphar’s wife enticed Joseph to come to bed with her, but he refused.
- Day after day, she kept pressing him, until one day she grabbed him by his robe and said, “Sleep with me!”
- Joseph fled, leaving his cloak in her hand. She used it as evidence against him and accused him of rape.
- When Potiphar heard the story from his wife, he put Joseph in prison, where the king’s prisoners were confined.
Again Scripture explains that Joseph’s RELATIONSHIP with the Lord God (Adonai) was tested. Here’s what happened …
“But Adonai was with Yosef, showing him grace and giving him favor in the sight of the prison warden. The prison warden made Yosef supervisor of all the prisoners in the prison; so that whatever they did there, he was in charge of it. The prison warden paid no attention to anything Yosef did, because Adonai was with him; and whatever he did, Adonai prospered.” (Genesis 39:21-23, CJB)
Joseph trusted God and maintained his integrity for two years while he was in prison, and God was with him! I encourage you to read Genesis 40 to get a grip on the details of his situation and on what happened to two men imprisoned with him. Ultimately, Joseph ended up in the presence of Pharaoh, where God gave him the interpretation of worrisome dreams that the king of Egypt had had. Pharaoh was so impressed that this is what happened …
“Pharaoh said to Yosef, ‘Here, I place you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.’ Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Yosef’s hand, had him clothed in fine linen with a gold chain around his neck and had him ride in his second best chariot; and they cried before him, ‘Bow down!’ Thus he placed him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Pharaoh said to Yosef, ‘I, Pharaoh, decree that without your approval no one is to raise his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt.‘” (Genesis 41:41-44, CJB)
Just as the Lord had foretold, there were 7 years of abundance in the land. Joseph obeyed the Lord’s instructions to store grain during those years, so when 7 years of famine came — as the Lord had also foretold — everyone from far and near came to Joseph for food Including his 10 older brothers! They didn’t recognize him and had no clue that the annoying little brother that they had sold into slavery as a young man was now in authority over the Pharaoh’s affairs in Egypt!
The story is a fascinating one, recorded in Genesis41:41 – 45:28. But here’s what you need to know:
When Joseph finally revealed his identity to his brothers, they were terrified. But instead of seeking vengeance, Joseph said to them,“I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” (Genesis 45:4-8, NIV)
BOTTOM LINE: Joseph became the “savior” of his entire family — the nation of Israel! His behavior and attitude through the ups and downs, extreme highs and dreadful disappointments of life as he grew into manhood, stand out in the Hebrew family history as a shining example to all of us.
However, Joseph is NOT a direct ancestor of Jesus. His older brother Judah was, and his story is far from that of righteous Joseph. We’ll look at that NEXT.