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Genesis Thirty Seven

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Genesis 37:1 And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.

Jacob dwelt in the land. This is the termination of the long record of Jacob, which began at Genesis 25:19, and ends with Genesis 37:2: “These are the generations of Jacob.” He had evidently continued the account up to the burial of his father Isaac (Genesis 35:28-29). His brother Esau joined with him in the burial service, and evidently gave Jacob his own records at this time. Jacob incorporated these “generations of Esau” (Genesis 36) in his own record before he closed it.

Genesis 37:2 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.

generations of Jacob. This is the last time the formula, “these are the generations of ... ,” is used in Genesis. This verse probably represents the signature of Jacob at the conclusion of the section originally written by Jacob (beginning at Genesis 25:19b). The information in the rest of Genesis must have come originally from Joseph and the other sons of Jacob. Possibly Moses recognized this by affixing a similar formula at its conclusion, in Exodus 1:1.

feeding the flock. Literally, “was shepherd over the flock.” Though he was slightly younger than the four brothers with him, he was very capable and had been placed in charge by his father. In this capacity, he was expected by his father to make full reports, and these necessarily included a record of the poor work of his brothers. Evidently the six sons of Leah had been assigned other duties in another place. Benjamin, his younger brother, was still a child, at home with his father.

Genesis 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.

Genesis 37:4 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.

Genesis 37:5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

Genesis 37:6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

Genesis 37:7 For, 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.

Genesis 37:8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

Genesis 37:9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

Genesis 37:10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and 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?

he told it. Whether Joseph's two dreams were from God or a product of his own pride is a question. They were only fulfilled in part—his father and deceased mother never bowed down to him. In any event, it was unwise and rather arrogant of him to tell them to his family. It was specifically because of these dreams that his brothers decided to slay him (Genesis 37:19-20). Nevertheless, God worked all this together for good (Romans 8:28). Joseph's pride, as well as the anger and carnality of his brothers, all needed to be changed before God would deem them ready to found his chosen nation.

Genesis 37:11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

Genesis 37:12 And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem.

Genesis 37:13 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.

Genesis 37:14 And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

Genesis 37:15 And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?

Genesis 37:16 And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.

Genesis 37:17 And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.

Genesis 37:18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.

Genesis 37:19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.

Genesis 37:20 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.

Genesis 37:21 And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.

Genesis 37:22 And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.

Genesis 37:23 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;

Genesis 37:24 And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.

Genesis 37:25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.

Genesis 37:26 And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?

Genesis 37:27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.

Genesis 37:28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.

Midianites. These traders are called both Midianites (here and in Genesis 37:36) and Ishmaelites (here and in Genesis 37:25). These two tribes were both descended from Abraham (he was father of both Ishmael through Hagar and Midian through Keturah), both lived in the same region, and undoubtedly both were associated closely in many ways. The result was the interchangeable use of their names.

twenty pieces of silver. Twenty pieces of silver was the going price of a slave. In the time of Zechariah (and of Christ) it was thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-15).

Genesis 37:29 And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.

Genesis 37:30 And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?

Genesis 37:31 And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood;

Genesis 37:32 And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no.

Genesis 37:33 And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.

Genesis 37:34 And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.

Genesis 37:35 And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.

the grave. The word translated “grave” is actually the Hebrew sheol, the great pit in the center of the earth where the spirits of the dead are confined after death, awaiting future resurrection and judgment. This is its first occurrence, and it is significant that righteous Jacob would go there, along with other spirits of the righteous dead, until Christ would take them with Him to paradise after His resurrection. See notes on Luke 16:22-23. The spirits of the lost will remain there until the time of final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

Genesis 37:36 And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard.

Potiphar. Archaeological research shows that Potiphar like Pharaoh, was a title in Egypt rather than a personal name.