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Book Of Genesis – Lesson #25

Lesson 25:  Genesis 41-43 

Read Gen. 41:1-13

When none of the magicians of Egyptcould interpret Pharaoh’s dreams of the seven fat and seven ugly and gaunt cows, of the seven plump and good ears and seven thin heads of grain, then the chief butler remembered Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams. The two full years mentioned in Gen. 41:1 may refer either to the time of Joseph’s imprisonment or the time since the chief butler’s release.

Read Gen. 41:14-32

Called before Pharaoh, Joseph explained that there would be seven years of great plenty inEgypt, followed by seven years of famine which would devastate the land. The repetition or duplication of Pharaoh’s dream meant that it was established by God and that He would shortly bring it to pass. We see this also in Joseph’s two dreams concerning his future (Gen. 37:6-9) and in the similar visions of Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. In the Bible, two is the number of witness. Joseph gave the same reply to Pharaoh in the royal hall as he gave to his servants in the prison house. “It is not in me; God will give an answer of peace” (v. 16; cf. 40:8). It is this humility that made it possible for the Lord to entrust Joseph with tremendous responsibility without fear that it would corrupt him.

Read Gen. 41:33-46

Joseph counseled Pharaoh to set aside reserves of grain during the years of plenty so that there would be sufficient during the famine years.  Pharaoh was so pleased that he made Joseph second in command, appointed him to administer the program (Gen. 41:40), assured him that without his consent no one would do anything (Gen. 41:44), and gave him a new name, Zaphnath-Paaneah (Gen. 41:45 a. The meaning of the name is uncertain. Some suggest Savior of the world).  He also gave Asenath, a Gentile, to be Joseph’s wife (Gen. 41:45).  How could Pharaoh set a Hebrew prisoner over the land of Egypt on the basis of a dream’s interpretation without waiting to see if it was true? The answer is in Proverbs 21:1 – “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord.” Cream rises to the surface. Joseph was the first of many godly Jews to rise to prominence in Gentile governments. He was thirty years old when he began this ministry (Gen. 41:46); it was thirteen years since he was sold by his brothers (cf. 37:2).

Read Gen. 41:47-57

The abundance of the first seven years was so great that it was impossible to keep an accurate record. It was during those years that two sons were born to Joseph—Manasseh (making to forget) and Ephraim (fruitful). Forgetting the wrongs committed against him, Joseph became fruitful.  When the seven years of famine came, the starving people of Egypt and of all the countries came to Joseph to buy grain. Here Joseph is a type (symbol) of Christ, through whom all the blessings of God are dispensed to the hungering people of this earth. It was the providence of God that brought Joseph to Egypt to save his people from famine, but it was also to isolate them from the moral pollution of thelandof Canaan. Chapter 38 illustrates what was happening to the children of Israel in Canaan. God’s remedy was to remove them toEgypt, where they would be virtually cut off from the heathen (Gen. 43:32).

Read Gen. 42:1-5

The scene switches back to Jacob inCanaan, where the famine was very severe. Hearing that there was plenty of food (grain) inEgypt, but knowing nothing of Joseph’s being there, Jacob sent ten of his sons for supplies. Only Benjamin remained at home. So far as Jacob knew, Benjamin was the only living son of his beloved Rachel.

Read Gen. 42:6-25

When Joseph’s brothers appeared before him, he treated them roughly, accusing them of being spies, putting them in prison, then demanding that their youngest brother, Benjamin, be brought to him. At last, Simeon was kept as a hostage in prison while the nine others returned to Canaan for Benjamin, well supplied with grain, with provisions, and with their money refunded secretly in the bags. Shining through the narrative we see Joseph’s underlying love and compassion for his brothers (Gen. 42:24-25) and their growing conviction of sin for what they had done to their “missing” brother over twenty years earlier (Gen. 42:21-22). Joseph, of course, was seeking to get them to confess their guilt.

We believe that Joseph is a type of Christ dealing with His Jewish brethren during the coming “Time of Jacob’s Trouble”. The events leading up to the reconciliation of Joseph’s brothers form one of the most moving portions in the Bible. Almost no other story is as intimate, detailed, or complete a picture of Christ.

Read Gen. 42:26-38

On the way home, one of the brothers found his money in his sack. This threw them into panic, making them fear they might be accused of theft (Gen. 42:26-28).  When they got home and told their story, the rest of them also found their money, and their fears multiplied. Jacob was inconsolable. In spite of Reuben’s offering the lives of his two sons as a guarantee, the patriarch feared to allow Benjamin to go to Egypt lest harm befall him.

Read Gen. 43:1-15

Finally Jacob was forced by the severity of the famine to take action. The brothers could not return without Benjamin—that was the condition laid down by the governor, Joseph. So Judah agreed to serve as surety for Benjamin, and Jacob accepted the offer. In this one respect at least, Judah here reminds us of his descendant, the Lord Jesus, who became our Surety at the cross ofCalvary. Jacob sent a present to the governor of Egypt, consisting of balm, honey, gum, spices, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds—items not affected by the famine. He also insisted they take double the amount of money in case the refunded money was an oversight.

Read Gen. 43:16-25

Joseph was deeply moved when he saw his brothers again, but he still did not reveal his identity. He ordered his servants to prepare a banquet. When his brothers were brought to Joseph’s house, they thought they were on the carpet because of the money they found in their sacks. They made a complete explanation to the chief steward, and he in turn assured them there was nothing to worry about. His records showed that they had paid in full. Simeon was released from prison and joined them in preparation for the banquet. They got their father’s present ready to give to Joseph when he arrived at noon.

Read Gen. 43:26-34

When Joseph arrived, his brothers bowed down before him in fulfillment of his dream (Gen. 37:7). He was overcome with emotion as he asked for the family and met Benjamin. At the banquet, he ate by himself; the eleven brothers were served separately; and the Egyptians likewise ate by themselves. The astonishment of the brothers was caused by their being seated according to their ages. How could anyone inEgypt know their order of birth? Special favor was shown to Benjamin, Joseph’s own full brother.