JOSEPH -ACHARACTERSTUDYBYROMMEL FERNANDESIntro:
I spent the whole month of July, 2010 during my quiet time, reading chapters on the life of
Joseph in the Book of Genesis. What an encouraging and a chal enging time it was for me!
I was so impressed by Joseph's life that I decided (after talking to my wife) to name our soon to
come first baby either Joseph or Josephine (depending on its gender). A baby girl came out, and
because the name Josephine sounded too common to my family and my wife's family, I decided
to name her Daniella (after my other hero prophet Daniel).
Don't be put off by my coarse language here. I am your brother so accept me as I am and learn
to put up with other people who don't behave like you want them to. May God bless you,
chal enge you, train you, and use you mightily for His glory wherever He wants to just like He
used Joseph thousands of years ago. Down here, our only goal is to do what God has sent us
on earth for.GENESIS 37The Message1 Meanwhile Jacob had settled down where his father had lived, the land of Canaan.2 This is the story of Jacob. The story continues with Joseph, seventeen years old at the
time, helping out his brothers in herding the flocks.
When seventeen years of age, Joseph was pasturing the flock with his brothers. What do those
who are seventeen years old do today? Spend time on Facebook or Orkut finding a boyfriend or
girlfriend. Isn't it? Or busy playing computer games or cricket.
Joseph didn't spend time looking for a girlfriend or watching games being played in the
neighborhood. He was involved in his father's business.
If you want God to use you in a mighty way when you are about 30 years old (like he used
Joseph), you need to stop wasting time in un profitable activities.
Spend time studying the Bible.
One thing that you will notice about Joseph is that from the time he was a boy til he died, he
was a hard working person.
Why do you think God cannot use most of the pastors in our land? Because they are lazy
people. The only work they do is deliver recycled sermons. It is because of boring sermons that
it becomes difficult for people to sit in church without their minds wandering.These were his half brothers actually, the sons of his father's wives Bilhah and Zilpah.And Joseph brought his father bad reports on them.
The Bible does not tel us what the bad things they did were. But Joseph did the right thing by
reporting them to his father. According to the pledge, all Indians are your brothers and sisters.
So if you see any person doing something wrong at your work place, you need to report him to
your father (Supervisor) there. Don't say, "Kiske baap ka jaatha hai? Us se panga kyon le loon
(What am I losing if he does that? Why should I make an enemy?)" It is your moral duty to
report wrong doers.3-4 Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the child of his
old age. And he made him an elaborately embroidered coat. When his brothers realized
that their father loved him more than them, they grew to hate him--they wouldn't even
speak to him.
Jacob made a mistake by playing favoritism. He made an even bigger mistake by making it very
obvious by gifting Joseph with a beautiful coat.
Nobody likes favoritism be it at the work place or at home. Make sure that you don't have a blue
eyed boy and are fair in al your dealings.
In Goa, you see fathers having a soft corner for their daughters and mothers showing a lot of
love for their sons.
Be like a cat. A mother cat shows love to al its kittens equal y.
Joseph's brothers would not greet him. In Israel people greet each other by saying, "Shalom"
(which means peace).
Today, in our churches too there are people like Joseph's brothers who won't greet you with a,
"Praise the Lord." It may be because they are jealous of you or because you offended them in
some way. Joseph's brothers openly expressed their hatred for him.
In our churches we also have malicious people who wil say, "Praise the Lord" and will pretend
to like you, but in their hearts they are actually hoping to see your downfal or waiting for the day
they can put a knife in your back.5-7 Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He
said, "Listen to this dream I had. We were all out in the field gathering bundles of wheat.
All of a sudden my bundle stood straight up and your bundles circled around it and
bowed down to mine."8 His brothers said, "So! You're going to rule us? You're going to boss us around?" And
they hated him more than ever because of his dreams and the way he talked.
If you get to become a leader at your work place when you are young, be careful with the way
you talk. Older people don't like to report to younger people. If there are older people working
under you, treat them with respect.
The elders of Israel personal y went and told David to be their king. Why was that? He was a
humble person. Here Joseph was just 17 and did not know how to talk. God had to deal with
him and change him completely so one day there would not be even a little bit of pride left in
It's natural for a person to boast by saying, "You know what? I got promoted after spending just
one year in this company!" And it's very difficult to remain humble when your Manager feeds
your ego and makes you feel that you are smarter than others. He does that so he can get work
done from you. Never forget that God hates pride more than anything else.9 He had another dream and told this one also to his brothers: "I dreamed another dream
--the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed down to me!"
Joseph rubbed salt into their wounds. We need to learn when to stop.
We know that both these dreams were given to Joseph by God because they got fulfil ed. In the
Old Testamental period, God spoke to a lot of people through dreams but now He speaks to us
through the Bible. So if you are in the habit of standing up in church on Sundays, telling people
about your dreams and attempting to appear like a prophet, don't do that anymore. Make sure
that you don't drink too much beer on Saturday evening. That'l may be prevent you from getting
There are some people who get bad dreams and then they worry about them. Since nothing
happens in the lives of believers without God's knowledge, there is no need to.
Then there are others who get wet dreams. Such people should take care that they don't think
about dirty sexual stuff when they are awake. Dreams are often a result of what people think
about when they are awake. By fil ing your minds and meditating on things true, honorable,
right, pure, lovely and admirable (Philippians 4:8), you will no longer end up with wet underwear
when you wake up in the morning.
God may still speak to some people through dreams even today if He wants to.10-11 When he told it to his father and brothers, his father reprimanded him: "What's with
all this dreaming? Am I and your mother and your brothers all supposed to bow down to
you?" Now his brothers were really jealous; but his father brooded over the whole
Jacob thought that Joseph had gone too far so he reprimanded him. Discipline your children if
they talk what they should not (things that will hurt or irritate people). Teach them to respect all
human beings. Make them address your maid, your driver, the postman or the person who
comes to collect your garbage as "uncle" or "aunty."12-13 His brothers had gone off to Shechem where they were pasturing their father's
flocks. Israel said to Joseph, "Your brothers are with flocks in Shechem. Come, I want to
send you to them."Joseph said, "I'm ready."
Another translation says that Joseph said, "I will go." There was no reluctance shown by him. It
was not without reason that Joseph was Jacob's favorite. Jacob loved him because he was an
Al the others displeased their father. The eldest Reuben slept with his wife Bilhah, Levi and
Simeon had spoilt his name by deceiving and kil ing people and the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah
did bad things. Joseph was one lone bird with different feathers.14 He said, "Go and see how your brothers and the flocks are doing and bring me back a
report." He sent him off from the valley of Hebron to Shechem.
We read in Genesis 33:19 that for a hundred pieces of silver, Jacob had bought a plot in
Shechem from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. So why was he worried about the
welfare of his sons when they were there?
This is because, some years before, his daughter Dinah had been raped at that place by the
prince of Shechem, so two of his sons - Levi and Simeon took revenge for their sister by
deceiving the inhabitants. They took their swords, entered the town without opposition, and
slaughtered every man there including Shechem its prince and his father.
When the rest of Jacob's sons came on the scene of slaughter, they looted the entire city in
retaliation for Dinah's rape. Flocks, herds, donkeys, belongings - everything, whether in the city
or the fields - they took. And then they took all the wives and children captive and ransacked
their homes for anything valuable.
The Canaanites and the Perizzites from the other towns knew about this so Jacob was worried
that they may attack his sons.15 A man met him as he was wandering through the fields and asked him, "What are you
In India, if you are asking for directions to a place, you better ask 3 or 4 people before
proceeding. People may confidently point in a direction but may not actual y know where the
place you are looking for is located. Like teachers in Bible colleges they don't like to say that
they don't know and wil make things up.16 "I'm trying to find my brothers. Do you have any idea where they are grazing their
flocks?" 17 The man said, "They've left here, but I overheard them say, 'Let's go to
Dothan.'" So Joseph took off, tracked his brothers down, and found them in Dothan.
Notice Joseph's perseverance. He doesn't go back to his father when he doesn't find them in
Shechem, saying, "You know what, dad? They weren't in Shechem. I don't know where they've
gone. They'l come back when it's time. Let's not worry."
Had Jacob returned back without doing the work that he had been sent to do properly, he may
not have become the Prime Minister of Egypt one day.
The little tasks that you do every day, may be the key to you getting a big task one day!
A lot of people want to be used by God. But they cannot be used because they aren't really
concerned about the welfare of their brethren. They are more concerned about the fame that
comes by being used by God.
Joseph wanted to know how his brethren were doing so he took great pains in walking a long
People, how are you going to know about the welfare of your colleagues if you don't cause
inconvenience to yourself? Yes, your work breaks are for you to eat and chil . But you are not
your own. Your time belongs to God. You are on earth on a mission.
Never forget that.
How much inconvenience do you put yourself through to go and check the welfare of your
brethren? If you truthfully say the pledge that al Indians are your brothers and sisters, you won't
make lame excuses again when the pastor schedules hospital visitation to check the welfare of
the lost.18-20 They spotted him off in the distance. By the time he got to them they had cooked
up a plot to kill him. The brothers were saying, "Here comes that dreamer. Let's kill him
and throw him into one of these old cisterns; we can say that a vicious animal ate him
up. We'll see what his dreams amount to."
Joseph's brothers were upset with him because of his dreams. In this age, God gets upset with
people who waste the time of other people by giving strange interpretations in church of their
dreams. Their, "God is tel ing us..." or "God is saying to us..." statements make Him furious. The
Lord's name should never be taken in vain.21-22 Reuben heard the brothers talking and intervened to save him, "We're not going to
kill him. No murder. Go ahead and throw him in this cistern out here in the wild, but don't
hurt him." Reuben planned to go back later and get him out and take him back to his
Reuben was the eldest and he should have been the one who needed to get offended by
Joseph's dreams but he was not bothered by them at al . This is because he didn't have an ego.
It's only people with a big ego who get offended easily. Someone says something that pokes
them in the butt and they say, "How could he say that?" or "How dare he talk to me like that?"
Fights in churches start because of egos. Two big people cannot fit into one bag!23-24 When Joseph reached his brothers, they ripped off the fancy coat he was wearing,
grabbed him, and threw him into a cistern. The cistern was dry; there wasn't any water in
Dothan is there even today. If you go to Israel the local guides wil take you to a pit and tel you
that Joseph was put into it (al though common sense wil tell you that it may not be the same
one. The gullible ones will go back and tel church members back home that they saw the exact
pit that Joseph had once been put in).
Praise God whichever pit you are in today wil be empty soon as God wil stretch forth His hand
to lift you out of it. Don't be like those sil y believers who prefer to remain in the pit as they want
to hear comforting words from their fel ow believers. You can't achieve anything for God by
remaining in the pit.
25-27 Then they sat down to eat their supper.
Joseph was crying in the pit and here they were ignoring his cries and sitting down to enjoy a
meal. "How cruel they were! How could they do that?" you may ask. Wel , that is exactly what
you are doing when you throw a prayer letter asking for your money into a waste bin and sitting
down to eat a tasty meal when the children of a missionary, that prayer letter was appealing for,
are going to bed hungry.Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites on their way from Gilead, their camels
loaded with spices, ointments, and perfumes to sell in Egypt.
These Ishmaelite traders knew the ABC of business - find out what people want and supply it to
them. Egypt needed stuff for embalming and for seasoning food, so these traders sourced
spices from far away places like India and then traveled miles to deliver it.
If you are jobless, don't blame God and don't put prayer requests in church anymore. God is
tired of listening to such prayers. God has already given you an answer to your prayer. There is
a job waiting for you in your town square. Buy a loaf of sliced bread, butter, tomatoes, potatoes,
ketchup and some paper plates and make sandwiches for people. Anybody can make
sandwiches or omelets.
When people pass by and look at you, they wil stop and have your sandwiches.
If you don't have an ego, you can achieve anything in life. Many of the millionaires and the
bil ionaires in this world, started with something small.
When you make enough money, rent a shop.
In places like Mumbai, people love to eat on the road and roadside stal owners make more
money than those who own food shops. By God's grace, you may one day end up owning a
chain of fast food restaurants.
That was just an example.
You know your strengths. If you are educated, there is so much you can do by sitting in front of
your computer at home. You can work as a freelancer, recruiting candidates for call centres or IT
Use the time that you've saved on travel to do God's work.Judah said, "Brothers, what are we going to get out of killing our brother and concealing
the evidence? Let's sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let's not kill him--he is, after all, our
brother, our own flesh and blood." His brothers agreed.
If only this fact dawned on you that the person who you have not been speaking to for many
years for something wrong that he did to you years ago is after all your brother
, you would
forgive him and hug him. We all hurt each other by our words or actions, knowingly or un
knowingly because we have a sinful flesh. But we should also be quick to forgive and accept
forgiveness from others.28 By that time the Midianite traders were passing by. His brothers pulled Joseph out of
the cistern and sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites who took Joseph
with them down to Egypt.
Most probably they made him travel on foot as he was just a slave they had bought. Those who
are godly wil suffer for bring righteous.29-30 Later Reuben came back and went to the cistern--no Joseph! He ripped his
clothes in despair. Beside himself, he went to his brothers. "The boy's gone! What am I
going to do!"31-32 They took Joseph's coat, butchered a goat, and dipped the coat in the blood. They
took the fancy coat back to their father and said, "We found this. Look it over--do you
think this is your son's coat?"33 He recognized it at once. "My son's coat--a wild animal has eaten him. Joseph torn
limb from limb!"34-35 Jacob tore his clothes in grief, dressed in rough burlap, and mourned his son a
long, long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him but he refused their
comfort. "I'll go to the grave mourning my son." Oh, how his father wept for him.36 In Egypt the Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials, manager
of his household affairs.
Many years ago, Jacob had deceived his father using a goat. Here we see his sons deceiving
the budda (their old man) using the same thing - a goat! In this life we wil reap what we sow!GENESIS 39New Living Translation1 When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by
Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of
Here we see Joseph being sold to Potiphar. The Bible doesn't tel us that Joseph was afraid or
scared when he reached Egypt. One would expect to see that considering that he was just a 17
yrs old boy.
So why wasn't Joseph scared?
The answer lies in Gen 12.
Many years before, there was a famine in Canaan, so his great grandpa Abraham had gone to
Egypt with his beautiful wife Sarah. Abraham was a new believer then, so he didn't know God
that well. He was scared of the Egyptians. He thought that they would kill him if they knew that
Sarah was his wife. So he told her to tel them that she was his sister. She was taken into
Pharoah's harem. God then showed Abraham who He really was - A God who cared for and
protected people who followed Him. He struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues
because of Sarah, Abraham's wife. Pharaoh got scared and commanded his men to escort him
away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.
When Joseph was young he must have been told this story.
It must have taken them about 2 weeks to get to Egypt from Dothan which was a distance of
about 300 miles. In those days they traveled for about 20 miles in a day either on a donkey's
back or on a camel's back or by foot. Along the way, Joseph must have come to know from the
Ishmaelite traders that they were going to Egypt. Suddenly he remembered this incident and
that calmed his fears. He knew that His God was there in Egypt and that He would protect him
just like He had protected his grandma.
There was another incident that took place years before.
The passage is Genesis 30:22-24:God has taken away my shameGod has removed my disgraceGod remembered Rachel's plightGod remembered Rachel and answered her pleading and made it possible for her to have
children.And [now for the first time] she became pregnant and bore a son; and she said, God has
taken away my reproach, disgrace, and humiliation.
Notice the line, "Then God remembered Rachel."
When he was little, Rachel must have told him that the God who they believed in was a prayer
answering God. He was a God who took away shame and disgrace and who remembered her
plight. If He could do that to his mom, He could do that to him as wel .
That is why Joseph was cool when they reached Egypt and he remained cool in the most trying
situations he faced throughout his life.
I want to tell you that what you teach your kids when they are young, will remain with them
throughout their lives.