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Saturday, June 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 37

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 1-11

Joseph a Type of Christ

Genesis 37:1-11


Genesis 36:1-43 presents to us the generations of Esau, who is Edom. The Edomites became a mighty people on the earth, but their glories centered in things which were carnal and temporal. Like their great sire, Esau, who was the head of their nation, they sold their birthright for a mess of pottage, and lived for the things of earth.

The best that could be said of Esau was that he was the father of the Edomites. There was nothing in him that looked beyond to the realms of light and life and glory.

Leaving the story of Esau, we come to the story of Jacob. In some respects Jacob was not the equal of his brother, Esau; yet, in spiritualities, he far outclassed him. Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, even in the land of Canaan.

That land was given unto Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and to Jacob's twelve sons and their descendants forever. When God divided unto the nations their inheritance, He purposed this land as the inheritance of Israel, As we now write, the Children of Israel are known to be scattered over the whole world, even as corn is scattered in a sieve. However, there is a remnant still in Canaan, and in Jerusalem. That remnant is growing rapidly in these last days. Jews from all over the world are turning their faces once more toward Jerusalem. Chartered ships are carrying the people home again. The Lord is granting unto the land much of its former fertility. Tremendous enterprises along commercial and educational lines are taking place. The papers recently have been discussing the unprecedented and almost incalculable wealth that has been stored, during the centuries, in the bosom of the Dead Sea. The Arabs still hold much of power and authority in the land, while the Jews are buying up great tracts of land and are steadily becoming the dominant power in Palestine. Eng-land has sponsored the cause of the Jews, and by her graces Israel is enjoying a freedom and authority in the land of the fathers which she has not known since her city was destroyed by Titus.

Those who know, through the Bible, the eternal purposes of God, are watching with intense interest the present-day course of Jewish history. During all of the centuries the Jews have been kept together against this very hour in which we live. God promised that they should inherit the land, and that they should no more be pulled down out of their land forever. This promise is about to be realized. At the Second Coming of Christ, the twelve tribes will be restored under one King, the Lord Jesus. The people, forgiven and blest, will dwell in their former habitations and will possess the land to its uttermost geographical bounds, as was promised by the Lord through the Prophets.


Our text says, "Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren."

As we pursue our lesson and the two lessons which follow, we will discover that Joseph is one of the outstanding types of Christ in the Bible. The many chapters devoted to the history of this marvelous youth are given us in the Word of God, not merely to instruct us in the chronicles of ancient times, and of mighty seers, but they are given because this man Joseph delineates in no uncertain way the story of our Lord.

1. Joseph was a shepherd. Jesus Christ was the Good Shepherd when He was upon earth the Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep. Jesus Christ is now the Great Shepherd whom the Father brought again from the dead even the Shepherd who daily leads His flock. Jesus Christ will be the Chief Shepherd in the blessed hour of His Second Advent when He comes to reward His saints.

2. Joseph was a youthful shepherd. He was only seventeen years of age as he fed the flock. He is spoken of as "the lad." The Lord Jesus Christ lived upon earth as the Good Shepherd in His youth. He was only thirty-three years of age, so far as His life in the flesh was concerned, when He died for His sheep.

When He comes again as the Chief Shepherd, He is described thus by the Holy Spirit: "From the womb of the morning: Thou hast the dew of Thy youth."

3. Joseph was a shepherd associated with those who were evil. We read that he was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives.

Jesus Christ, likewise, was associated with evil men and yet with men of His own city and race.

Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. Thus Christ brought an evil report of the Jews. He likewise testified of the world that its works were evil.


Our text reads, "Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children." There are some who may condemn Jacob because of his favoritism toward Joseph. Be that as it may, Jesus Christ was God's well beloved Son.

To Abraham it was spoken, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest." Thus, both Isaac and Joseph were types of God's love to His Son.

It is worthy of note that our text reads, "Now Israel loved Joseph." Jacob's new name is used. This increases the beauty of the type, inasmuch as "Israel" stands for covenant relationship. "Jacob" stood for the man of the flesh, the man who was a supplanter. "Israel" stood for the man who clung to God and prevailed.

1. Jesus Christ frequently spoke of the love which the Father had for Him. We know that the Father delighted to speak of His love for the Son. Out of the blue, on at least two different occasions, the Father called Christ His Beloved Son; and, out of the blue a third time, the Father said, "I have glorified [Thee], and will glorify [Thee] again."

Christ, as He neared the Cross, said, "Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life" for the sheep.

2. The love of God toward the Son is passed on unto all of those who are saved through the sacrifice of the Son. God loves us because we are sons. Our Lord once said, "That the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them." Again, Christ said, "Thou * * hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me."

Thus the love of Jacob to Joseph is a type not only of the Father's love to His Son, but to His sons whose sons we are. How these words should humble us and cause us to lift up our voices in praise! If the Father loves us even as He loved the Son, how great a love He hath toward us!


Here is the way our text runs: "Because he (Joseph) was the son of his (Israel's) old age."

The aged patriarch was more than rejoiced when Joseph was born. He was the son of Jacob's favorite wife, Rachel. When Joseph was born he was named Joseph because he was "added." In this name Joseph was a type of Christ, inasmuch as in Christ all things are added to us. In the first man, Adam, all was lost; in the second Man, Christ, all was regained.

1. The striking feature, which is now before us, is that Joseph was the son of his father's old age. The type is plain. Christ was the Son of eternity. He was the Eternal Son, He was without beginning of days, and without ending of days.

Of Christ it is written, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." When the Holy Spirit announced the birth of Christ through Micah, he said, "Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting " (Micah 5:2 ).

Thus it was that Christ spoke to the Father, saying, "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with * * the glory which I had with Thee before the world was ."

2. Once more the typology includes the saints, for they too are said to have eternal life. If it be argued that the eternal life of saints reaches only forward from the time that they were saved, we answer that is true. However, there is a sense in which even saints are made partakers of all the glory which Christ had with the Father before the world was.

3. Old age, as relating to Christ's Sonship and the Father's Fatherhood, by no means carries with it the conception of infirmity and lost strength. Jesus Christ is, at the same time, both the Son of eternity, the eternal Son, and the One who is to come to earth in the dew of His youth. God never is weary, and never grows old as we think of old age.

IV. JOSEPH'S COAT OF MANY COLORS (Genesis 37:3 , l.c.)

Our portion of Genesis 37:3 says, "And he made him a coat of many colours."

1. This coat of many colors suggests the special distinction with which Joseph was crowned. His father saw fit to set Joseph apart from the other sons as one to be specially favored and recognized.

As we pause, seeking the analogy between Joseph and Christ, we discover that our Lord was distinguished from all of the other sons of Mary and also from all of the other sons of men. Christ was from above, others were from beneath. The human race had Adam to its father. All came by him, and all partook of his fallen nature in Adam death passed upon all men, in that all men have sinned.

Sainthood recognizes Christ as its Head. He is, in fact, spoken of as "The Everlasting Father." In Him we are made partakers of the Divine nature. In His flesh He was God incarnate. He knew no sin and in Him there was no sin.

Jesus Christ was distinct from all other men in that He was born as no other man ever was born; He lived as no other man ever lived; He spoke as no other man ever spoke, for it is written, "Never man spake like this Man."

2. This coat of many colors presented the special honor with which Joseph was set aside by his father. The other sons of Jacob immediately recognized this honor placed upon their brother, and they evilly entreated him.

Jesus Christ was honored of God in His birth. Not only did an angel announce to the shepherds the fact that He was born, but a multitude of angels sounded forth His praise. Beside this, a star, one of God's heavenly constellations, guided the wise men to the manger where the God Child lay.

Jesus Christ was honored of God at His baptism. He was honored at the transfiguration and honored in the ascension.


"And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him."

Three times the chapter tells us that Joseph's brethren hated him.

1. They hated him because their father loved him. As Jesus Christ moved among men, the scribes and the Pharisees realized that He was beloved of God. They saw that the hand of the Heavenly Father was upon Him.

Recently, according to the "Sunday School Times" there has been a re-trial of Christ in the city of Jerusalem before a large and august assembly. One noted Jew pleaded in behalf of those who crucified Him. He paraded Christ's false claims; His antagonism to Judaistic principles, and His seeking to inaugurate a new religion. For five hours he presented his pleas. The second noted Jew to whom was given the defense of Christ pleaded His sincerity, His holiness of life and of purpose. He demonstrated that Christ was absolutely innocent from those things whereof they accused Him. When the five jurors brought in their verdict, they stood four to one in favor of Jesus Christ, as against the scribes and Pharisees of His day. The Bible plainly says, "They hated Me without a cause."

2. They hated him because of his dream. Joseph related unto his brethren and to his father certain dreams which came to him in the visions of the night. These dreams showed Joseph's superiority and authority not only over his eleven brothers, but also over his own father and mother. It was for this also that they hated Christ. The Jews desired for themselves the first seats in the synagogue. They wanted to be called of men Rabbi, Rabbi, (Great Chief).

3. They hated him for his words. Jesus Christ spoke words that no man had ever spoken. In His twelfth year He amazed the rulers and the doctors of Law with His questions and answers. As a Man they acknowledged that no man spake as this Man and yet they hated Him the more for His Words.

VI. JOSEPH'S FIRST DREAM (Genesis 37:6-7 )

And Joseph said, "Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf."

1. Some have suggested that Joseph should have kept the story of his dream to himself. They say that relating the dream only caused him needless hatred on the part of his brethren.

However, we need to view these dreams of Joseph in their relationship to Joseph's own future; and, more particularly, in their relationship to their prophetic message concerning Jesus Christ, Should Jesus Christ have kept to Himself the fact of His all-glorious might and power? Should He have refrained from telling that which seemingly did no more than anger the scribes and Pharisees? Should He have hid the fact that He came forth from the Father? that God was His Father? that He was equal with the Father? By no means.

2. The Lord Jesus is the pre-eminent Christ. When, on the occasion of the Transfiguration, Peter suggested that three tabernacles be made, one for Moses and one for Elias and one for Christ, quick as a flash, from the Heavens came the voice of God saying, "This is My beloved Son, hear Him."

When John would have fallen down to worship an angel, supposing that He was the Christ, the angel said, "See thou do it not; for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the Prophets."

The present-day tendency to deify man is an abomination with God. It is just as villainous as bowing down to idols according to the custom of the East.

VII. JOSEPH'S SECOND DREAM (Genesis 37:9-10 )

This time Joseph dreamed, and he said: "And, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me."

The meaning of this dream was altogether too plain to suit his brethren; even his father Jacob said unto him, "What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?"

We, of course, know that this dream, as well as Joseph's other dream, met a literal fulfillment. His brethren did fall down before him and did obeisance when they came to Egypt for corn.

The far-flung prophecy of Christ, hidden away in Joseph's dream, stands forth in easily detected prominence. The time came when Joseph's brethren fell down before him, and the time is coming when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Christ to the glory of the Father.

Joseph's brethren hated him for his dream and for his words, and they were moved with envy against him. Jesus' brethren in the flesh, even the Jews, hated Him for His statements concerning His Deity. They said, This man maketh "Himself equal with God," saying that "God was His Father." They even took up stones to stone the Lord. The Lord Jesus never, however, withdrew any statement that He had made. He rather emphasized, "That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father." He claimed that as the Father raised the dead, even so the Son quickened whom He would. He insisted that the hour was coming when all the dead would hear His voice and live. He said that as the Father had life in Himself, even so had the Son life in Himself.

Joseph's brethren envied him, and yet in after years they fulfilled his words, and did obeisance to him. Jesus' brethren envied Him, and yet, in coming years they will fall down and worship Him, and acclaim Him as their King.



Jacob gave Joseph a coat of many colors. God gives us the coat of righteousness, "'Man is a proud creature, and would fain establish his own righteousness, and have somewhat wherein to glory in himself (Romans 10:3 ). Our proud heart takes up the old proverb and thinketh A russet coat of our own is better than a silken garment that is borrowed of another.' Man would sooner wear his own rags than Christ's fine white linen. Pride, however, is too expensive a luxury when a man must give up all hope of Heaven in order to indulge it. Such is the case. There can be no feasting with the King unless we wear the wedding-garment which He supplies. Our own silk and satin would not suit His courts, much less our russet and our corduroy. We must accept the righteousness of God, or be unrighteous for ever. Surely we shall be worse than madmen if we insist upon going naked rather than put on the royal apparel of free grace.

Lord, I cannot longer err in this fashion, for I perceive my righteousnesses to be filthy rags, and I am heartily glad to be rid of them. Clothe me, I pray Thee, with Thy righteousness."

Verses 12-19

Joseph Seeking His Brethren

Genesis 37:12-19


It is difficult for us to understand why Joseph's brethren should have hated him. Joseph was but a youth of quiet mien and true integrity. His deeds were righteous and his life was clean. His being hated of his brethren only cast shame upon them.

As we run our eyes down through the opening verses of Genesis 37:1-36 , we discover that in each instance the hatred of Joseph's brethren is in full accord with the hatred of Christ's brethren.

Let us consider, then, step by step, the Scriptural reasons for the malice that was so deep-rooted against Joseph. As we consider these, we will compare them, in each case, to the Savior and those who despised and rejected Him.

1. Joseph was hated because his father loved him. This special love of Jacob for Joseph was visible to all. The coat of many colors, which the fond father gave his son, was proof sufficient.

The scribes and the Pharisees and the rulers of Israel well knew that Jesus Christ was beloved of the Father. They had heard of the voice from Heaven which had spoken at the baptismal waters. They knew about the star which had guided the wise men, and the message of the angels to the shepherds. All of this made them hate Christ. They wanted no one to hold the place of favoritism above themselves. They had long considered themselves as the elect of God, and they were unwilling to yield their place of superiority and power.

2. Joseph was hated because Joseph reported their evil deeds unto his father. Some may think that Joseph was a talebearer and that he made himself a spy against his brethren. This is altogether unjust. Was Jesus Christ a spy? and a talebearer? Yet, Jesus Christ took the robe of hypocrisy from off the scribes and the Pharisees and laid bare their evil deeds. The Lord Jesus testified of His generation, that their works were evil. He showed the hypocrisy that lay beneath the fair words of the religious hypocrites who ruled in the synagogues. He described them as wolves in sheep's clothing. He told them that they robbed widows' houses, and then for a pretense offered long prayers. He told them that they did their works to be seen of men, that they were blind guides and fools. Against the scribes and Pharisees Christ denounced His woes. He likened them unto whitened sepulchers, which indeed appeared beautiful outwardly, but within were full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness. He called them a generation of vipers who could not escape the damnation of hell.

3. Joseph was hated because his own righteousness contrasted the villainy of his brethren. Never did the sins of the Pharisees stand forth in stronger light than when Jesus Christ moved among them as the Holy One of God. The people readily saw the sins of the one, as they were contrasted with the righteousness of the other. Jesus Christ was so different from the scribes. They lived for themselves, He lived for others. They went about laying heavy burdens upon men's shoulders; He cried, "Come unto Me * * and I will give you rest."

4. Joseph was hated because of his marvelous words. Jesus Christ was hated also because He spake as no man ever spake. His words of revelation concerning the Father, concerning all the good things that the Father had prepared for His saints, were so far above and beyond the messages of the scribes that they only hated Him the more.

We may sum this all up with one word first, concerning Joseph: "And his brethren envied him." The second word is concerning Jesus, "He knew that for envy they had delivered Him."


1. The analogy between Joseph sent of Jacob, and God sending His Son into the world is so simple and so striking that it hardly needs emphasis.

The key verse reads: "And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I."

Jesus Christ continually spoke of being sent forth, from the Father, and of having come down from the Father. Only once indeed, did He speak of His own birth, and then He said, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world."

In all of this we see, first of all, the Christ of God as one with the Father in the eternity past; then we see, also, how Jesus Christ was sent forth by the Father. He did not come to earth as an adventurer. He came forth on a mission, Divinely planned and Divinely ordered.

2. When Jacob said, "I will send thee," Joseph replied, "Here am I." We can almost catch in this, the voice of the eternal Son as He said to the Father those same matchless words.

We must remember, that not alone in Heaven, before Christ came to earth, was He the willing servant of the Father, but that upon earth He went forth obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.

There was no resistance with Joseph against his father's command, although Joseph full well knew the tyranny of his brethren, and how they had ofttimes evilly entreated him.

Jesus Christ also knew that He would be despised and rejected of men and yet He went as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before His shearers, dumb, He opened not His mouth.


1. There is one word in the Genesis 37:13 which stands before us in illuminating power, that is the word "Shechem."

We have no doubt that Jacob had fears as to the safety of his sons at Shechem. The memory of his own sojourn there and the bitter experiences which befell him had not faded from mind.

Shechem stands at once for sin and sin's tragedy. It was to Shechem that Joseph was sent.

It was to a world sunken in iniquity and covered with shame that God sent Jesus Christ.

When we think of our Lord wrapped in swaddling clothes, we think of how He was circumscribed by being found in fashion as a man. When we think of Him as lying in a manger mid the cattle and the plunder, we consider Him as mixing and mingling with the publicans and the sinners and the outcasts of earth,

Jesus Christ did, indeed, come down, to seek and to save that which was lost. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He came to a land in which He would find Himself an alien, rejected and despised of men.

2. The meaning of the word Shechem is "Shoulder." This was because the city was situated on the shoulder of a hill from whence the waters made their way either to the Mediterranean, or to the Valley of the Jordan. The word itself is suggestive of servitude the servant bends his shoulders to his burden. It was this which Jesus Christ did. He came in fashion as a man and being found in form as a servant He humbled Himself. He was among men as one who served. He went about doing good, healing the sick, raising the dead. It seems to us that upon His shoulders the burdens of the whole world rested. Finally, He laid bare His shoulders and bore His Cross bore the Cross upon which He was to die, that He might bear the sins of the world.


1. "So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron." The word "Hebron" means, "Fellowship" or "communion." Hebron therefore makes us think, first of all, of Joseph's comradeship with his father. His father, Jacob, loved him and gave him every consideration.

Beyond Joseph and his happy home we pass on to our Lord and His Heavenly Home. Christ once spoke of the glory He had with the Father before the world was. In Heaven there was unbroken joy and fellowship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Even on earth that fellowship was maintained in a most gracious way, save when, on the Cross, the Lord passed alone around the cycle of His suffering.

It is also the privilege of saints, even now, to dwell in their Hebron, for Christ said, "We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him." There is no comradeship which can be compared to that which we have with the Father, and with our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. The VALE of Hebron gives an added significance. A vale is a place of quietness and perfect peace. It is the place where the fruit trees grow and where the shade of the forests gives rest and repose.

As we turn our faces toward the Eternal City we can but think of its river, with the trees growing on either side of its crystal waters. We do not wonder that songs of the Heavenly state are often centered in the rest that awaits the sons of God.

Even now He makes me lie down in green pastures and beside the waters of quietness; but what will it be over there in the eternal vales of God?

Thank God for the perfection of peace that shall be ours when we are with Him in Glory. It was from that "vale of Hebron," thus symbolic, that Joseph went down to Shechem; and it was from Heaven's vale that Christ came down to a world of sin. and woe.


"And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field." As Joseph came to the land of Shechem he came to a strange land, and he wandered about seeking his brethren.

1. The field suggests the world. We remember the parable of the Sower, wherein Christ said, "The field is the world." Joseph in the field makes us consider Christ in the world. "He was in the world, * * and the world knew Him not." "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not."

2. Joseph, wandering, suggests the Savior homeless and friendless among men. We read that the foxes had their holes and the birds of the air their nests, but that the Son of Man had nowhere His head to recline. When He was born there was no home in which to lay Him; when "He died there was no grave of His own, in which to lay His body.

We should not pass by this thought without suggesting that we, too, are strangers and pilgrims in this world. We have no abiding city. We are wanderers among men.

3. Another thought that comes to us: Joseph, wandering in the field, speaks of Christ going hither and thither, from town to town, and village to village, seeking for that which was lost. On one occasion the Master said, "Let us go into the next towns * * also: for therefore came I forth."

The Church, also, should go out through the lanes of the city, on through the byways and hedges, and even to the uttermost parts of the earth. Paul said, "Having hope, when your faith is increased, that we should be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, to preach the Gospel in the regions beyond you."

God grant that we may ever keep in mind, that, as Jacob sent Joseph, so also the Father sent the Son; and as the Father sent the Son, so also the Lord has sent us. All are "wanderers in the field."


Step by step we are finding in Joseph the unmistakable outline of Christ and His coming forth from the Father to the earth.

1. Christ came primarily to His own people, Israel. We read from Joseph's lips these striking words: "I seek my brethren." Our Lord said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel." His quest on earth was preeminently a search for His own.

It was not until after Christ was risen that He gave the commission, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." It was not until the veil of the Temple was rent at the time of Christ's death, that the middle wall of partition was broken down and the Gentiles became fellow heirs and members of the one body.

2. Christ came to His own people and sought until He found them. Joseph came to Shechem and found his brethren had gone to Dothan. Then, Joseph went from Shechem to Dothan and there he found them.

The Lord gave a parable of a man who had an hundred sheep, and one of them was lost. Thus the shepherd left the ninety and nine in the wilderness and went out after that which was lost until he found it. In this parable the Lord Jesus was showing the faithfulness of His own heart in seeking Israel.

The journey from Heaven to earth was a long one, but it was not too long for the Master's love. The journey from the cradle to the Cross was also long. As the Lord of life passed along this way, the days grew on toward the eventide. The darkness deepened and the threatening clouds hung over His head. Yet, the Master pressed on His way, all forespent. Up Calvary's rough and rugged road He trod until He reached the hill that was lone and gray. It was there, in truth, that He found His own. It is from there that He made possible the future restoration of His people. He shall yet bring them Home with rejoicing.


The Scripture says, "And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him."

1. There was an utter contempt toward Joseph's spirit of love and sympathy. Joseph had come from his father unto his brethren. He had come with messages of love from the father. He had come because the father's heart yearned after his sons. Yet, his brethren rose up against him and conspired to slay him.

The Lord Jesus Christ came forth from the Father. He came because of the Father's concern for His chosen people. He came with messages of love, and with gifts of unspeakable worth, and yet His brethren, the Jews, conspired also against Him to slay Him.

There is a Scripture in Isaiah 53:1-12 which shows the travesty of this whole scene: "Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." Jesus Christ came to relieve the oppressed, and yet He was Himself, oppressed. He came to save men from the power of Satan and from the slaughter of sin, and yet they led Him as a Lamb to be crucified. He came to cut off from His people the tyranny of Rome, and yet He, Himself, was cut off from the land of the living.

2. The attitude of Joseph's brethren toward Joseph is still the attitude of the world toward Christ. Jesus Christ at this moment is being set at nought by men. There is no more room for Him now, than there was when He came of yore. His own people Israel still receive Him not, neither will the Gentiles have Him to rule over them. In all of this we stand amazed. What is there which Christ has done that He should be so maligned and so trodden underfoot? Surely, His own people Israel, and surely the world in their treatment of Christ, have manifested the spirit of the viper which stings the hand which reaches forth to feed it.


Let us quote the words which Joseph's brethren used as their excuse for seeking to slay him. They said, "Behold, this dreamer cometh."

1. In this charge against Joseph there was nothing worthy of death. It was no sin to have dreamed dreams, particularly, when those dreams were Divinely ordered, and Divinely true.

Against the Lord Jesus Christ there was nothing found worthy of death. The Lord looked His haters in the face and said, "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?"

After Pilate had heard all of the accusations which they brought against Christ, he said, "I find no fault in this Man." The populace went so far as to suborn witnesses. These they paid to fabricate lies against the Lord.

2. In. this charge against Joseph there was a distinct rebellion against Joseph because of his superiority. His brothers knew that Joseph's dream set forth the truth that Joseph was in every way their superior, but particularly, he was a superior in righteousness.

Those who sought to slay the Christ set their faces against Him, not because of any sin which they had found in Him, but because He was the Son of God.

3. In this charge against Joseph there was an attempt to bring to nought the purport of Joseph's dream. This is plainly set forth in the next verse, when his brothers said, "Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams."

When the Jews set themselves against Christ as He hung upon the Cross, they wagged their heads against Him and reviled Him. Tauntingly they said, "Let Him (God) deliver Him now, if He will have Him." "Let Him now come down from the Cross, and we will believe on Him." They were determined by killing Christ to utterly spoil every claim He had ever made to Deity.



Joseph seemed to count his sufferings as "all joy."

"'Thuanus repenteth of Ludovicus Marsacus, a knight of France, when he was led, with other martyrs that were bound with cords, to execution, and he for his dignity was not bound, he cried, "Give me my chains, too; let me be a knight of the same order.'"

Certainly, it is an honor to be made vile for God; David purposed to abound in such vileness (2 Samuel 6:22 ). Shame for Christ's sake is an honor no more to be declined than the highest dignity a mortal man can wear. Among the early Christians the relatives of martyrs were a sort of aristocracy, and the martyrs themselves were regarded as the nobility of the Church. We need a spice of the same spirit at this day. A true believer should tremble when the world commends him. but he should feel complimented when it utterly despises him.

What do we suffer, after all? The most of us are but feather-bed soldiers. Our ways are strewn with roses compared with those who endured hardness in the olden time. We are poor and mean successors of noble ancestors ennobled by their supreme sufferings. If we cannot reach their superior dignity, nor hope to wear the ruby crown of martyrdom, at least let us not shun such glory as may be obtainable, but accent with cheerful patience whatever of opprobrium this worthless world may honor us with."

Verse 20

Joseph Rejected by His Brethren

Genesis 37:20 -Genesis 39:1-23


As we proceed to consider Joseph, as rejected of his brethren, there will be discovered an outline of Christ rejected by His people which will stand forth in amazing colors. Truly the hand of God was working in a way that neither Joseph nor the brothers who delivered him, knew.

Let us now consider the five reasons which Christ, Himself, gave for His being refused by His own. In these five statements we will likewise discover the five reasons why men are rejecting Christ today.

1. Christ was rejected by the Jews because they had not His Word abiding in them. They read the Prophets, or they heard them read in their synagogues every Sabbath, and those Prophets testified of Christ and yet they knew it not.

They even went so far as to fulfill all the things concerning Christ up to the hour of His crucifixion until the moment that they took Him down from that Cross, and yet they knew not that they fulfilled the Prophets.

How many there are today who are rejecting Christ because of their ignorance of the Word of God! The world is filled with Bibles, and thousands of pulpits are dedicated to its exposition, and yet the world knows not the Bible.

2. Christ was rejected by the Jews because they believed Him not. He wrought many miracles, and signs, and wonders which portrayed His glory and gave witness to His Messiahship, and yet they did not believe in Him.

He spake before them as none ever had spoken; He lived before them as none other had ever lived; He wrought deeds of love and mercy as none had ever wrought, and yet they believed not on Him.

3. Christ was rejected by the Jews because they would not come unto Him that they might have life. Their wills were unbending and their hearts were filled with rebellion against God. "They turned every one to his own way."

Having cast off the authority of the Father they were prepared in heart to cast off the authority of the Son. Having rejected the Prophets and having stoned them, or killed them, they found it easy to reject the One of whom the Prophets had written.

4. Christ was rejected by the Jews because they did not have the love of God in them. God loved the Son, but they did not know God, neither did they possess the love of God. They professed to serve God, they boasted that they knew Him, yet, withal, they knew nothing of His love either toward others or toward the Lord Jesus Christ.

5. Christ was rejected by the Jews because they received Him not When Christ was born He had no reception on the part of national Israel. When He was grown His own home city of Nazareth received Him not. For a while the populace followed after Him because of the miracles which He did, but the masses never opened their hearts that He The Word of God with its message is set at naught.

As we have brought before you the reasons why Christ was then rejected, we are sure that we have also suggested the reasons why He is now rejected. The world will not believe today any more than it did then. Innumerable excuses may be given for the rejection of Christ, but the reasons noted above are those which Christ gave in the fifth chapter of John for His rejection.


1. Joseph's brethren disbelieved his dreams. They said, "We shall see what will become of his dreams." Joseph had related his dreams to his brethren, but they believed him not. They had no sympathy for Joseph's visions.

When Christ spoke men believed Him not. He was the Truth, but they preferred to believe a lie. He was Life, but they preferred to abide in death. It is still the same today. might come in and rule and reign in righteousness.

Joseph's dreams were great prophecies of his future power and glory. This glory was utterly repudiated by his brethren. They would not concede to Joseph any superiority. to themselves.

Here is another striking thing. All of Christ's Word is set at naught, but the world particularly rejects His prophetic words. Prophecy foretells the coming glory and might of the Son of God, and the complete overthrow of the enemy this the world will not accept.

2. Joseph's brethren set themselves in array against Joseph's dreams. Here is the way the brethren spake: "Let us * * cast him into some pit, [then] * * we shall see what will become of his dreams." They thought within themselves to utterly undo the words of Joseph. They felt assured that they could forestall any prophecy that Joseph might make.

Once again we are face to face with facts concerning Christ and His brethren. They thought to lift their hand up against God's beloved Son. They thought that they could make void any prophecy that Christ gave.

All of this is but a pen picture of the spirit of our own day. The Word tells us, "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." What consummate folly is man's effort against God!


Among the ten brothers there was one who sought to stay the wrath of the rest, thinking that he might, by chance, deliver Joseph to his father. Here was a touch of sunshine against the clouds.

Let us look for its counterpart in the wrath of the Jews against the Lord. This, as we see it, will not be difficult to find.

As the days wore on the antagonism to Christ deepened. The rulers were seeking how they might slay the Lord. Officers had been sent to apprehend the Master; they returned saying, "Never man spake like this Man." The Pharisees tauntingly replied, "Are ye also deceived?" Then the rulers said, "Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him?" It was at this juncture that Nicodemus, the one who had visited Jesus by night, said, "Doth our Law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?" Thus did one man at least seek to curb the wrath of the Pharisees.

What we now desire to ask, however, and to ask with all of our soul, is this: Who is there among those who now live who will stand forth against the voice of the masses, and step in the breach for Christ?

The world cannot, now, crucify the Son of God. He is risen indeed and hath ascended to the Father. However, the world with an heart of unbelief still hates the Son of God. Where is He who will stand with Reuben, and plead the cause of our Joseph?

Do you cry, "Let Him plead His own case? If He be God let Him deliver Himself." Never thou fear. Our Christ will yet vindicate His holy Name. He will yet put to rout the enemy. Every knee shall yet bow, and every tongue shall yet confess Christ as Lord. Now, however, He is looking to see who will stand with Him and for Him, against the unbelief of the hour.

Be thou a Reuben. Take up the cause of the Lord. Lift up thy hand against His foes. Cry aloud thy praises of the Christ. One day He will come and will glorify thee.


We have already spoken of Joseph's coat of many colors. We now wish to suggest how the age in which we are living today has sought to rob our Lord Jesus Christ of that robe of His Deity, which is His token of many colors, which designates His glory.

1. The Lord Jesus is defamed as to His Virgin Birth. No one would hesitate in saying that the fact that He was begotten of the Holy Ghost and born of a virgin stands forth as one of the colors which crowns Christ as God. If Jesus were not the Son of God, begotten of the virgin, then He would hare been a sinner the same as all other men who are conceived of natural generation.

2. The Lord Jesus is defamed as to His eternity. Here is one of the colors that stands out so plainly in the Word of God. He came forth from the Father because He had been with the Father. He is described in the Bible as the Word which was with God, and was God, in the beginning. He is described in the Bible as the One by whom and for whom all things are made, and in whom all things consist. The world would rob Christ of that glory.

3. The Lord Jesus is defamed as to His miracle-working power. The Bible says of His first miracle, wherein He turned the water into wine: "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory."

The Jews said that Jesus wrought these miracles through Beelzebub. Theologians of today do not always go thus far, but they do endeavor to do away with the miraculous by explaining the miracles upon some supposed natural basis.

4. The Lord Jesus is defamed as to His vicarious atonement. Men seek to take away this color of His God-given coat by stating that His death was due to the increasing wrath of the Jews and His utter inability to avert its catastrophe. They utterly repudiate any vicarious, saving power in His Cross.

IV. JOSEPH CAST INTO A PIT (Genesis 37:24 )

1. Joseph helpless to his brethren's wrath. "And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it." Such is the story of their treatment of Joseph. The next statement is, "And they sat down to eat bread."

We know that it was after the Lord was nailed to the Cross that they sat down and watched Him there. Thus, it seems that the pit may have to do with the seeming utter helplessness of Christ as He came to the hour of His death.

Not but that the Lord had all power as Deity not that. But, because of His having voluntarily given Himself over to His persecutors and would-be slayers, He was left helpless in their hands.

Joseph, shut up in the pit, was without an avenue of escape. He could not scale the sides of the pit, he could not lift himself out. Jesus Christ was shut up to the will of the Father. He was shut up by His love for the lost. It was for this cause the Lord did not exert His own power, nor did He call for twelve legions of angels, as He might have done.

2. Joseph suffered while his brethren sat down and ate bread. What spirit of unconcern to the fate of their brother did these sons of Jacob show! They could eat while he was left to die.

As they ate, they, no doubt, talked about Joseph and sought to justify their villainous deed. They simply had made up their minds to get rid of the one whom they despised. They were setting themselves to do away with any possibility of Joseph's holding any lordship over them.

As Jesus hung on the Cross His haters sat down and watched Him there. They also talked. They talked of their notable achievement against what they termed was a would-be Messiah. They said, "Let us see what He can do now." They imagined that all of His power was gone. If God had ever "been with Him, they assured themselves that He was now, at least, deserted by Him.


1. A cunning subterfuge. As they sat down to eat, while Joseph languished in the pit, they lifted up their eyes and looked, and behold, a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead en route to Egypt. One of them said unto his brethren, "What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him."

This action of Joseph's brethren reminds us of the Jews seeking to shift the burden of Christ's death over on Pilate and the Romans. When Pilate urged them to judge Him according to their own law, they said, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death."

Unto this very day the Jews will argue that it was the Romans who crucified Christ. This was true. The guilt, however, of the death of the Lord lay upon the Jews. Peter was not slow to say, "Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."

2. Sold by Judah. We almost catch our breath as we note that it was Judah, one of Joseph's brethren, who suggested that Joseph should be sold, and it was Judas who sold the Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver; Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver this was the price by which He was appraised.

Think you that the brethren of Joseph lessened their crime by selling him to the Ishmaelites? They sold him into what they supposed would be abject slavery and death, They never expected to see Joseph again.

We wonder if the twenty pieces of silver did not burn in the pockets of these men as the Ishmaelites moved on their way carrying Joseph with them as merchandise, to be bartered and sold in Egypt.

After Judas had sold his Lord he went and hanged himself, and perhaps, Judah ofttimes wished himself dead, as in the wee hours of the night the last look of his brother haunted him.


While Joseph himself was spared from death, yet a kid of the goats was killed in Joseph's stead, and the coat of many colors was dipped in the blood.

1. The coat all blood-stained and dirty suggests the humiliation which men placed upon the Lord. Christ was covered with all indignity by the ruthless "brethren" who delivered Him to death. He was buffeted, spit upon, beaten, and exposed to the ribaldry of the maddened mob. A crown of thorns was placed upon His brow, as the people in mockery bowed the knee and cried, "Hail, King of the Jews!"

The Prophet Isaiah in the Spirit described Christ in death, with His visage more marred than any man, and His form more than the sons of men. Thus was Deity set at naught. Yet the God-man bore the ignominy and shame without a word. He gave His back to the smiters and His head to those who plucked out His hair. For the joy that was set before Him He endured the Cross, despising the shame.

Let those of us who suffer, not count it a matter of boast, that we are buffeted for Christ's sake. Let us gladly bear His reproach.

2. The coat dipped in blood was brought to Jacob with the statement: "This have we found; know now whether it be thy son's coat or no."

After the Cross work of Christ was finished, we have every reason to believe that the Blood was carried into the Heavenly Holy of Holies and presented to the Father. We know in the annual feasts of Jehovah, once a year, the high priest carried the blood into the holiest of all and there he sprinkled it upon the mercy seat.

Of this much we are sure, the Blood of Christ is the basis on which God, the Father, accepts the trusting sinner.

Here is a quotation from Hebrews concerning Christ's sacrifice: "But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God."

VII. JACOB'S GRIEF (Genesis 37:34-35 )

Travel in memory with us now into that ancient dwelling of the aged patriarch. There we may learn several vital lessons.

1. Sin begun, must be sin continued. The brethren of Joseph not only sold their brother, but when they returned home they were compelled to add sin to sin in order to cover their tracks.

They carried with them the coat of many colors, and as they gave it to their father, they lied saying, "This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no." They played the part of the innocent although they were guilty. They sought to cover their sin by an act of deceit and by a falsehood.

The same men who so treacherously treated their brother, now, with the same maliciousness, trample under their feet all the tender love and devotion of their father toward his son Joseph.

2. Jacob mourning for Joseph. When Jacob saw the coat all stained with blood, he said, "Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces." Then Jacob rent his own clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son for many days.

As Jacob mourned, his sons and his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted. Thus did Jacob weep for Joseph and said, "I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning."

3. A cloud with silver lining. As Jacob wept, God was working. The Midianites had sold Joseph to Potiphar an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard.

Is it not often true that if we could look beyond our tears, we would find God working out our own salvation? That which seemed against Jacob was, in fact, for him. In a future sermon we will learn how God had sent Joseph down into Egypt to preserve the lives of Jacob, his sons, and his son's sons.



Let us have the courage of Joseph.

"'Sometimes God letteth His people alone till their latter days, and their season of fighting cometh not till they are ready to go out of the world, that they may die fighting and be crowned in the field. But first or last the cross cometh, and there is a time to exercise our faith and patience before we inherit the promises.'

It has been observed that many of those who begin their spiritual career with severe mental conflicts are afterwards filled with peace, and are left unmolested for years. Others have their battle in middle-life, and find the heat of their noontide sun to be their severest trial; while a third class suffer, as our author tells us, at the very close of their pilgrimage. No rule can be laid down as to the varied experiences of the saints; but we suspect that few make the voyage to Heaven over a perpetually glassy sea; the vast majority, at some time or other, are 'tossed with tempest and not comforted.'

What if we also must die fighting? We shall fall amid the shouts of victory. How surprising will Heaven be to us! One moment almost wrecked, and the next in 'the Fair Havens.' Wrestling one moment, and resting the next with the crown about our brows! 'At eventide it shall be light.'"

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Genesis 37". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/genesis-37.html.
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