Sabbath School Summary
By Dr MASIMBA MAVAZA
Joseph, Prince of Egypt
Memory Text: “And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt’ ” (Genesis 41:41, NKJV).
Joseph is now leader of Egypt, and his own brothers will bow before him without knowing who he is (Genesis 42). Joseph’s brothers will humble themselves when Joseph forces them to return with Benjamin (Genesis 43), and—when Benjamin’s safety is, they fear, threatened (Genesis 44)—they will plead for grace before this powerful man, whom they see as “like Pharaoh.” In the end, when Joseph reveals his identity, they will understand that, despite what they have done, God has brought good out of it all.
nterestingly, this whole next sequence of events, which were supposed to be about Joseph’s success, are more about his brothers’ repentance. Their back-and-forth journeys from Joseph to their father, and the obstacles they encounter, make them remember their wicked acts toward Joseph and their father, and they realize their iniquity toward God. Joseph’s brothers live that whole experience as a divine judgment. And yet, the moving emotional conclusion, which brings everyone to tears and joy, also contains a message of forgiveness for them, despite their unjustifiable acts of evil.
SABBATH: The train of events that led to the success story of Joseph also led to the repentance story of his brothers (Gen. 42, 43, & 44). Moved by envy, they stripped away Joseph’s costly coat, sold him, he was falsely accused, & imprisoned till he was made a leader in Egypt. As he saw in a dream, his brothers bowed before him & were humbled due to Benjamin’s safety. Joseph forgave; God turned evil into good.
SUNDAY: The dream that troubled the mind of Pharaoh was the same dream that triggered Joseph’s rise to power. God’s solution to the dream & famine led to Joseph’s recognition. The king made him a leader of the economic affairs of Egypt & saw God’s spirit in the lad. God was the One who blessed the nation with abundant grain under Joseph (Gen. 41:28, 37-57, 22:17). God’s blessings were on his sons.
MONDAY: The famine that afflicted the poor old man, Jacob, was what reunited his family. As a victim of events beyond his control, he sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain not knowing he’ll see the son he long mourned (Gen. 42). In this union, Joseph’s dream was fulfilled & the brothers felt their guilt (Gen. 37:7, 8, 19, 22; 42:21, 22). Their time in “prison” echoes Joseph’s time in prison. They reaped their actions.
TUESDAY: Had he fallen a victim too to the brothers? Joseph might have thought when he did not see Benjamin. Jacob had lost Joseph & couldn’t easily let go Benjamin, his only son with Rachel left. It was at Judah’s vow & when there was no food that Jacob allowed him to go to Egypt (Gen. 43). At the sight of Benjamin, Joseph dinned with his brothers. Joseph called Benjamin “brother” & “son” (PP, pp. 228).
WEDNESDAY: On their joyful return home, the brothers had not gone far when a steward met to search them. Joseph willfully asked for his magic cup to be put in Benjamin’s sack. While he did not believe in magic, the cup was to evoke in the brothers a divine fear in them. This is how Judah saw it when he said God found iniquity in them (Gen. 44, 22:13, PP, p. 229). He opted to be “jailed” instead of Benjamin.
THURSDAY: When Joseph saw the signs of repentance in his brothers & Judah’s concern about their dad, he revealed his identity. This refer to God’s self-revelation (Gen. 45, Exod. 6:3, Ezek. 20:9). Despite the flaws of men, God’s will prevails. Joseph’s words, “God sent me” is to show that he forgave them & had to be in Egypt to save souls. He sent for his father & the family was reunited (Gen. 37:35, 44:29).
FRIDAY: “The three days in the Egyptian prison were days of bitter sorrow as [Joseph’s] brothers reflected upon their past sins.” They knew they were being jailed for being spies but had no proof to clear their names. They thought they would die or become slaves. They had in mind that Jacob would not allow Benjamin to go to Egypt after the “cruel death” of Joseph. Yet, Joseph forgave & gave hope.
—Ellen G. White, “Joseph in Egypt,” pp. 213–223; “Joseph and His Brothers,” pp. 224–232, in Patriarchs and Prophets.
PP- Patriarchs and Prophets
Manasseh & Ephraim- The two sons of Joseph. The name Manasseh means God has transformed the memory of pain into joy. The name Ephraim means God has turned the former affliction into fruitfulness.
Benjamin- When Joseph saw Benjamin, he called him “brother” and “son.” While the other brothers are described as “men” in the text (Gen. 43:16).
Joseph’s “Divination Cup”- Joseph “had never claimed the power of divination, but was willing to have them believe that he could read the secrets of their lives.”
SUNDAY- Joseph’s Rise to Power
MONDAY- Joseph Confronts His Brothers
TUESDAY- Joseph and Benjamin
WEDNESDAY- The Divination Cup
THURSDAY- “ ‘I Am Joseph Your Brother’ ”
📌 In class, dwell on the question at the end of Thursday’s study. Do you think that Joseph would have been so gracious to his brothers had things not turned out so well for him? Of course, we can’t know for sure, but what indications, if any, in the entire story of Joseph reveal to us the kind of character that Joseph had, which could help explain his graciousness?
📌 In what ways can we see in Joseph a kind of precursor to Christ and what Christ went through?
📌 Joseph had tested his brothers. In what similar ways does God test us?
📌 Even after all those years, the brothers realized their guilt in what they had done to Joseph. What does this teach us about how powerful guilt can be? And though we can be forgiven and accept God’s forgiveness, how do we learn to forgive ourselves, no matter how unworthy we are of that forgiveness?