God gives great honour to Joseph

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Genesis chapters 37-50


Marie Wetherill and Keith Simons

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


About the Book of Genesis

We do not know who wrote the Book of Genesis. And we do not know when that person wrote the book. There is an ancient tradition that Moses was the author. Modern Bible students have many other ideas. But we can see that Genesis is a very old book. Even the oldest books in the Bible refer to it (for example, Exodus 3:15; Job 28:25-29).

The author was not merely collecting ancient stories. And he was not merely recording ancient history. In fact, Genesis is a very careful account, which teaches the main principles in the Bible. The author describes the nature of God. The author explains God’s plan for a perfect world. The author describes *sin and *sacrifice. He speaks about God’s promise to forgive. And, he speaks about God’s promise to send Jesus. The Bible teaches that the author was not merely setting out his own ideas. Instead, the author wrote by the Holy Spirit of God.

Chapter 37

Joseph and his brothers

v1 Jacob lived in the country called Canaan. His father had lived there too.

v2 This is the story about the things that happened to Jacob’s family.

Joseph was 17 years old. He was looking after the *flock with his brothers. He was helping the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. Joseph told a bad report about them to his father.

v3 Israel had many children. But Joseph had been born when Jacob was an old man. So Jacob loved Joseph more than he loved his other children. Jacob gave to Joseph a special long coat with sleeves. v4 Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more than he loved all Joseph’s brothers. They hated Joseph. They were angry whenever they spoke to him.

v5 Then Joseph had a dream. His brothers hated him much more when they heard it. v6 Joseph said to them, ‘Listen to the dream that I have dreamed. v7 Look! We were binding bundles of corn in a field. Then my bundle got up and it stood up. Your bundles of corn came together round my bundle of corn. They *bowed down to my bundle.’

v8 Joseph’s brothers said to him, ‘You will not rule over us. You will not be the master over us.’ So they hated him much more because he had had that dream. And they hated him because he had told them about it.

v9 Then Joseph dreamed again. He told his brothers what he had dreamed. He said, ‘Listen. I have dreamed again. This time the sun, the moon and 11 stars were *bowing down to me.’

v10 Joseph told that dream to his father and brothers. His father was angry with him. His father said, ‘This is a bad dream that you have had. Do not think that I, your mother and your brothers will *bow down to the ground in front of you.’ v11 Joseph’s brothers were jealous because of him. However, his father remembered what Joseph had said.

v12 One day, Joseph’s brothers went to their father’s *flock near Shechem. v13 Israel said to Joseph, ‘Your brothers are feeding the *flock at Shechem. Come. I will send you to them.’

So Joseph replied, ‘Here I am.’

v14 So then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Go now. Look to see if your brothers and the *flock are well. Come back and tell me.’ So Israel sent Joseph from the valley called Hebron. Joseph went to Shechem.

v15 A man found Joseph while Joseph was wandering in the fields. The man asked, ‘What are you looking for?’

v16 Joseph replied, ‘I am looking for my brothers. Please tell me where they are feeding the *flock.’

v17 The man said, ‘They have gone away. I heard them say that they were going to Dothan.’

So Joseph went to find his brothers. He found them at Dothan. v18 The brothers saw Joseph a long way off. They planned that they would kill him when he came.

v19 The brothers said to each other, ‘Here comes this dreamer (Joseph). He is a master in that. v20 Come now. We will kill him. Here are some pits (large holes in the ground). We will throw Joseph into one. Then we shall say that a wild animal ate him. His dreams will not help him then!’

v21 Reuben heard that. The other brothers wanted to kill Joseph. But Reuben stopped them. He said, ‘Do not kill him.’ v22 Reuben then said, ‘Do not hurt him. Throw him into this pit (large hole) here in the desert. Do not hurt him.’ Reuben planned to rescue Joseph. And then he would take Joseph back to his father.

v23 So, when Joseph came to his brothers, they took off his special coat. He was wearing the long coat with sleeves. v24 The brothers seized Joseph. They threw him into a pit (large hole). The pit was empty. There was no water in it.

v25 Then they sat down to eat. They looked up and they saw a group of *Ishmaelites. The *Ishmaelites were coming from Gilead with their camels. They had loaded their camels with gum, *balm and *myrrh. The camels were going to carry those things down to Egypt.

v26 Then Judah said this to his brothers. ‘We could kill our brother and we could cover up his blood. But we will not get any reward if we do that. v27 We will sell our brother to the *Ishmaelites. We will not hurt him. He is our own brother. He is a member in our family.’ Judah’s brothers listened to him.

v28 Then those *Midianite traders went by. The brothers pulled Joseph up. They took him out of the big hole. They sold him to the *Ishmaelites. The price was 20 *shekels of silver. Those traders took Joseph to Egypt.

v29 Reuben went back to the big hole. He saw that Joseph was not there. He was very upset. And he tore his clothes. v30 He went to his brothers. And he said, ‘The boy has gone. I am in trouble.’

v31 Then they took Joseph’s coat. They killed a goat. They held the coat while they lowered it into the goat’s blood. And then they lifted it out again. v32 The brothers sent the long coat with sleeves to their father. When they came home, they said, ‘We have found this. Look to see whether it is your son’s coat.’

v33 Jacob knew that it was Joseph’s coat. He said ‘It is my son’s coat. A wild animal has eaten him. It is certain that an animal has torn Joseph to pieces.’

v34 Then Jacob tore his clothes. He put rough cloth on his body. For a long time, he showed how sad he was about his son. v35 All Jacob’s sons and daughters came to comfort him. But Jacob refused to receive comfort. He said, ‘No, I shall go down to the place where dead people are. But I shall still be sad about my dead son then.’ So Joseph’s father wept for him.

v36 Meanwhile Joseph was in Egypt. The *Midianites had sold him to Potiphar. Potiphar was the captain of the guard. He was an officer of *Pharaoh.

The account of Joseph’s life begins in this chapter.

Reuben was Jacob’s oldest son. So, Reuben had the *birthright. But Reuben had carried out a wicked deed against Jacob (Genesis 35:22). So, Jacob decided that Reuben should not receive the *birthright. Simeon and Levi were the oldest sons after Reuben. But they too had upset Jacob (chapter 34). So, Jacob chose Joseph to receive the *birthright. Jacob’s other sons were angry. Except for Benjamin, who was still very young, they were all older than Joseph.

Jacob made a special coat for Joseph. This probably showed that Joseph had the *birthright. And Joseph had special dreams. These dreams were *prophecies. They showed that Joseph would become the leader of the family. But Joseph’s brothers hated the dreams. In fact, they hated Joseph.

Joseph’s brothers were working away from home. They were looking after Jacob’s animals. Jacob sent Joseph to them. Jacob wanted to know what was happening. This was an opportunity for the brothers to attack Joseph. Their first plan was to kill Joseph. But Reuben had a secret plan to save Joseph. Perhaps Reuben wanted to please Jacob. Then perhaps Jacob might change his mind about Reuben’s *birthright. But when Reuben was away, Judah made another plan. Judah and the other brothers sold Joseph as a slave. Then they pretended to Jacob that Joseph was dead.

Jacob was very sad. Nobody could comfort him. He felt as if his only *righteous son was dead. But Joseph was not dead. In fact, Joseph became a slave in Egypt. God allowed these things to happen because God had a plan to save the lives of many people (Genesis 45:5).

Notes on the verses

Verse 1 Jacob made his home in the country where his father Isaac had wandered about.

Verse 2 Joseph was a helper for his brothers. (Actually, they had the same father, but they had different mothers. So they were only ‘half-brothers’.) But Joseph was more important in the family than they were. Joseph was the first son of Jacob’s favourite wife. But these brothers were just the sons of *concubines. When Joseph returned to Jacob, Joseph told a bad report to his father. People usually think that the brothers were not looking after the animals well. But the Bible does not say what the bad report was about.

Verses 3-4 Israel (Jacob) upset his family. He gave more to Joseph than he (Israel) gave to Joseph’s brothers. The coat was very special. It was not a coat that Joseph would work in. It made his brothers angry just to see Joseph wear it. They had to work hard, while Joseph wore a special coat. And he did not seem to work like them. Joseph was special. He was Rachel’s first son. And Rachel was the wife whom Jacob really loved. So, Joseph became Jacob’s favourite son.

Verses 5-8 Jacob had decided that the *birthright belonged to Joseph. Joseph’s first dream seemed to show that this decision was right. In the past, God had spoken to Jacob too by means of dreams. But Joseph’s brothers were unhappy about the dream. Perhaps they did not realise that the dream was from God. So, they hated Joseph even more because of his dream.

Verses 9-11 Joseph’s second dream was about the sun, the moon and 11 stars. It seemed as if Joseph’s family really would *bow down to him. Rachel, his mother, was probably already dead. Leah may have looked after him as his ‘mother’. The two dreams were rather similar to each other. So Joseph could expect that they would probably become true. The writer does not tell us whether God showed their meaning. Joseph’s family might think that Joseph did not really have such dreams. But Jacob continued to think about the dreams. Previously, Jacob had dreams that came from God. So, Jacob was not surprised if Joseph had such dreams.

Verses 12-13 Shechem was a long way from home. It was also the same place where the brothers had killed many people. It might have been dangerous for Joseph to go out alone. Jacob did not think that. However, Jacob was anxious about his other sons. And he trusted Joseph. Joseph would tell Jacob the truth about what was happening. Joseph was a loyal son who always obeyed his father. So Joseph went.

Verse 14-17 In fact, the brothers were not still at Shechem. Probably there was not enough grass there for all their animals. So, they had to move to another place.

Verse 18 Even before Joseph arrived, his brothers were plotting to kill him.

Verse 19 The brothers were angry with Joseph because of the dreams. If Joseph’s dreams had no meaning, there would be no reason for the brothers to be angry. So probably, the brothers were thinking that the dreams might be right. And they were jealous of God’s plan for Joseph. So, they tried to stop God’s plan. If that was their intention, they were very foolish. God is much more powerful than this. Nobody can successfully oppose God’s plans.

Verses 20-21 The brothers intended to leave Joseph without food or water. Then, he would soon die.

Verse 22 Reuben was the oldest brother. So he probably considered that Joseph was in his care. If Reuben saved Joseph, perhaps Jacob would respect Reuben again.

Verses 23-24 The brothers took away Joseph’s coat. Jacob wanted to show that he (Joseph) had the *birthright. That is probably why he had given the coat to Joseph. So, the brothers were trying to take the *birthright from Joseph.

Verses 25-27 It was better for the brothers to sell Joseph. Then they would not murder their brother and so they would not be guilty of that. Also, they would get some money. Joseph would become a slave.

Verse 28 The traders included both *Midianites and *Ishmaelites. They were travelling together. The *Midianites were friends of the *Ishmaelites, who were a larger group.

Verses 29-30 Reuben was elsewhere when the brothers sold Joseph. So, Reuben did not know that his plan to save Joseph had failed. Perhaps Reuben only realised this when he returned to rescue Joseph. Reuben tore his clothes. This action showed that he was very sad. People usually tore their clothes when a relative died.

Verses 31-32 The brothers made a plan in order to pretend that Joseph was dead. They put blood from a goat on Joseph’s special coat. They handed the coat back to Jacob. None of the brothers felt able to take the precious coat for himself. They knew that they did not deserve the *birthright.

Verse 33-34 Jacob seemed even more sad about Joseph than he (Jacob) was about Rachel’s death (Genesis 35:16-20).

Verse 35 The only daughter of Jacob that the writer has told us about is Dinah. But people did not speak much about their daughters.

Verse 36 In *Hebrew, ‘captain of the guard’ means this. It means the ‘chief man among the killers’. So it might mean the chief man among those who provided meat for *Pharaoh’s *household. It might mean the leader of the army. Or it might mean the chief man among those that killed murderers as a punishment.

*Pharaoh ruled over Egypt. All the kings of Egypt were called *Pharaoh.

Chapter 38

Judah’s family

v1 At that time Judah went down, away from his brothers. He turned aside to stay with a man from Adullam. The man was called Hirah. v2 There, Judah saw the daughter of Shua, a *Canaanite. Judah married her. He had sex with her. v3 She became *pregnant and she had a baby son. Judah called him Er. v4 She became *pregnant again and she had another baby son. She called him Onan. v5 She had another baby son in addition to those. She called him Shelah. She was in Chezib when he was born.

v6 Judah took a wife called Tamar for his oldest son Er. v7 But the *Lord saw that Er, Judah’s oldest son, was wicked. And the *Lord killed him.

v8 Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Go in to your brother’s wife. Have sex with her. Become the father of children for your brother.’ v9 Onan knew that the children would not be his. So when he had sex with his brother’s wife, he spilled the liquid from his sex part. He spilled it onto the ground. He did not want to have children for his brother. v10 The *Lord was angry about what Onan did. And the *Lord killed him too.

v11 Then Judah said to his son’s wife Tamar, ‘Stay in your father’s house. Stay a widow until Shelah, my son, is a man.’ Judah was afraid that Shelah might die, like Shelah’s brothers. So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.

v12 After some time, Judah’s wife, who was Shua’s daughter, died. Judah was sad. When he was not as sad, he went up to Timnah. He went there with his friend Hirah, the man from Adullam. Judah’s men were cutting the wool off his sheep at Timnah.

v13 Someone told Tamar that her husband’s father was going up to Timnah. He was going there to cut the wool off his sheep. v14 Tamar saw that Shelah was a man. But Judah had not made her Shelah’s wife. So she took off her widow’s clothes. She put on a *veil and she covered herself up. Then she sat at a cross-roads. The cross-roads was on the way to Timnah.

v15 Tamar had covered her face. She wanted Judah to think that she was a *prostitute. Judah saw Tamar. He thought that she was a *prostitute. v16 He went over to Tamar. She was at the side of the road. Judah said, ‘Come. Let me have sex with you.’ He did not know that the woman was his son’s wife.

Tamar said, ‘What will you pay to me if I have sex with you?’

v17 Judah answered, ‘I will send to you a *kid from my *flock.’

Tamar said, ‘Will you give a *pledge to me until you send the *kid?’

v18 Judah said, ‘What *pledge do you want?’

Tamar replied, ‘I want your *seal and string. And I want the stick that you are holding.’ So Judah gave them to Tamar. He had sex with her. She became *pregnant by him. v19 Then Tamar got up and she went away. She took off her *veil. She put on her widow’s clothes.

v20 Judah sent the *kid with his friend, the man from Adullam. Judah wanted to get back his *seal and stick. However, the man from Adullam could not find Tamar. v21 He asked the men that were near, ‘Where is the *prostitute that meets people in the *temple? She was by the side of the road. She was at the cross-roads.’

The men replied that there had not been a *prostitute there from the *temple. v22 So Judah’s friend went back to Judah. The friend said, ‘I could not find her. Also I spoke to the men that lived there. And they said that there had not been a *prostitute there from the *temple.’

v23 Judah replied, ‘Let the woman keep for herself the things that I gave as a *pledge. We do not want people to laugh at us. As you can see, I sent this *kid to her. But you could not find her.’

v24 After three months people told Judah, ‘Tamar, your son’s wife, has had sex. She is expecting a baby because she has had sex.’

Judah said, ‘Bring Tamar out and burn her.’

v25 When people were bringing Tamar out, she sent a message to her husband’s father. She said, ‘My child’s father is the man that owns these things. Here are the *seal and string and stick. Please notice who owns them.’

v26 Then Judah said that they were his. He said, ‘Tamar is right and I am wrong. I did not make her my son Shelah’s wife.’ Judah did not have sex with her again.

v27 When the time for the birth had come, there were *twins inside her body. v28 When she was having pains because of the birth, one *twin put out his fist. The nurse who was helping at the birth took a red *thread. And she tied it round his hand. She said, ‘This child was born first.’ v29 But as the baby pulled back his hand, his brother was born instead. She said, ‘How you have pushed yourself out, Perez!’ v30 Afterwards his brother was born. The brother still had the red *thread on his hand. His name was Zerah.

Reuben, Simeon and Levi had all upset Jacob. They were his three oldest sons. Jacob did not want them to have the *birthright. So, Jacob decided that Joseph would receive the *birthright. But now, Jacob thought that Joseph was dead. So, Judah became Jacob’s most important son. Judah was Jacob’s 4th son, after Reuben, Simeon and Levi. But much of Judah’s life would also disappoint Jacob.

Judah had three sons. The first son, called Er, married Tamar. But Er was so evil that God killed him.

The people then had a custom that they considered important. If a widow did not yet have a child, the unmarried brother of the dead husband would marry the widow. Then, they would have children together. So, Er’s brother, called Onan, married Tamar. But he too was evil, and God killed him.

Judah promised that Tamar could marry Judah’s last son, called Shelah. But when Shelah became old enough to marry, Judah did not arrange the marriage.

So, Tamar made a plan. She covered her face so that nobody would recognise her. She pretended to be a *prostitute. And she tempted Judah.

Afterwards, Judah discovered that Tamar was expecting a baby. He was very angry that she had acted as a *prostitute. He wanted to kill her. But she was able to show that Judah himself was responsible for her situation.

Judah felt very guilty. He confessed that he had been unfair to her. And he allowed her to live. In fact, she had *twins (two babies born together). The oldest, called Perez, received the *birthright among Judah’s *descendants.

Judah’s character and attitudes changed after this event. Before it, he was responsible for the sale of Joseph as a slave (Genesis 37:26-27). Afterwards, Judah himself offered to become a slave in order to save Benjamin (Genesis 44:16-34).

Among Jacob’s sons, Judah was the oldest son who received Jacob’s *blessing (Genesis 49:8-12). And that *blessing was very special. Jacob said that Judah’s *descendants would include the kings of the *Israelites. And the special *descendant of Eve (Genesis 3:15) and of Abraham (Galatians 3:16) would be a *descendant of Judah too. This special *descendant means Jesus (Hebrews 7:14). God sent Jesus to free people from their *sins.

Notes on the verses

Verses 1-5 The writer never tells us the name of Judah’s wife. Jacob’s sons did not marry into their own *tribe as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had done.

Verse 6 Tamar was probably a *Canaanite.

Verse 7 The writer does not tell us what Er’s *sin was. This was the first time that God killed one particular person only. (Or anyway, Er is the first one that we can read about.) In the great flood, God had killed nearly everyone. And in Sodom and Gomorrah, he had killed all the inhabitants except for Lot’s family.

Verses 8-10 Tamar had no children and Onan was unmarried. There was an ancient custom for people in this situation. The family expected a dead man’s brother to have sex with the dead man’s widow. If a child was then born, people accepted it as the dead man’s child. It meant that the child would *inherit instead of the brother. However, the brother was the child’s actual father. It is not clear whether people expected the brother to marry the widow. Perhaps they expected him just to have sex with her. But, among the *Israelites, the brother had to marry her. Sex between people who were not married was always wrong. Onan was evil because he was doing a wrong thing to Tamar. A wife or widow was ashamed if she had no children. Onan was not obeying God. God had told Onan’s relatives to have large families. Also, Onan was not obeying his father.

Verse 11 This promise meant that Tamar and Shelah were engaged.

Verse 12 Instead of ‘his friend Hirah’, some translations say ‘his *shepherd Hirah’. Hirah may have been a *shepherd. But here he was Judah’s friend. The time when people cut the wool off sheep was a very important occasion. There were *feasts for the men that cut off the wool. And there was much wine at the *feasts.

Verses 13-14 We do not know whether *prostitutes usually wore *veils. Tamar wore one so that Judah would not know her. Maybe other *prostitutes wore *veils so that people did not know them. Tamar covered her face because she did not want people to know her.

We read here, ‘Then she sat at a cross-roads.’ But some translations say, ‘Then she sat at the side of the road. That place was on the way into Enaim.’ The original *Hebrew text has this. ‘Then she sat at the opening of the eyes.’ Some writers a long time ago thought that it meant this. ‘She sat where two roads came together.’ That seems to be a likely place for a *prostitute to meet people. There, people were going from one place to another.

Verses 16-17 Sex between very close relatives in a family was very evil. But Judah did not recognise her. He agreed a price for sex.

Verse 18 A ‘*pledge’ was a thing that a person gave as a promise. It was a promise that the person would pay a certain price. The person had agreed about the price. When the person had paid the price, then he or she received the *pledge back again. Tamar asked for some things that belonged to Judah. The *seal was a small tube that someone had made out of metal or stone. It had special marks. Those marks showed that the *seal belonged to Judah. The owner kept the *seal on a string. The stick probably had special marks on it too. So those things could only belong to Judah. They could not belong to anyone else.

Verse 20 Judah sent the *kid so that he would receive his *pledge back.

Verse 21 Hirah asked for a ‘*prostitute that meets people in the *temple’. Before, in verse 15, the writer used the word for an ordinary *prostitute. A *prostitute from the *temple was more important than an ordinary *prostitute. It was more polite to ask for a ‘*prostitute from the *temple’. But only people who served *idols would use a *prostitute from the *temple. So, perhaps Judah served *idols at this time.

Verse 23 Judah was a rich man. He was afraid that his friends would laugh at him. They might laugh because a *prostitute had kept his *seal and stick. Actually, she had stolen them. Judah had tried to pay the *prostitute with the *kid. And Judah emphasised here that Hirah certainly knew it.

Verse 24 Tamar was engaged to Shelah. Her father had promised to give her to Shelah as a wife. So, when Tamar had sex with someone else, that was *adultery. *Israelites used to punish people that had done *adultery. Later, the *Israelites threw stones at such people until those people were dead, as a punishment. But Tamar was also guilty because she had become a *prostitute. Judah felt great shame that a member of his family had become a *prostitute.

Verse 25 Tamar was able to prove that she had had sex with Judah. She still had his *pledge. The *seal and stick had special marks. They could only belong to Judah.

Verse 26 Judah knew that he had done something wrong. He had been unfair to her. He had not done the things that he promised to do. He had not followed the custom to help her to have a baby. So, he confessed that he was wrong. Afterwards, he acted in the right manner. He never had sex with Tamar again.

Verses 27-30 Tamar had *twins. It was important for the family to know who was born first. That son would have the *birthright, and he would become the leader of Judah’s family.

Chapter 39

Joseph in Egypt

v1 Now the *Ishmaelite merchants took Joseph down to Egypt. Potiphar, an officer of *Pharaoh, bought him from them.

v2 And the *Lord was with Joseph. Joseph did well in everything. Joseph was in the house of his *Egyptian master. v3 Joseph’s master saw that the *Lord was with Joseph. The *Lord helped Joseph to do everything well. v4 So Joseph’s master liked what Joseph did. And so he had Joseph work with him. He made Joseph the manager over everything. He put everything that he owned into Joseph’s care. v5 From the time when Joseph became the manager, the *Lord *blessed the *Egyptian’s *household. The *Lord *blessed it because of Joseph. The *Lord *blessed everything that the *Egyptian had at home. And he *blessed everything that the *Egyptian had outside in the field. v6 So the master left everything in Joseph’s care. The *Egyptian did not worry about anything. He himself only looked after the food that he ate.

Now Joseph had a handsome body and he had a handsome face. v7 After a while, his master’s wife looked eagerly at Joseph. She said, ‘Have sex with me.’

v8 Joseph refused. He said to his master’s wife, ‘Look! My master is not worried about anything in the house. That is because I am here. He has put everything into my care. v9 I have as much power in the house as my master has. He has not kept back anything from me except you yourself. That is because you are his wife. I could not be so wicked. I could not *sin against God like that.’ v10 The wife continued to talk to Joseph every day for many days. But he did not listen to her. He did not have sex with her and he did not come near her.

v11 One day, Joseph went into the house to work. No men that belonged to the house were there in the house. v12 The master’s wife seized Joseph’s clothes. And she said, ‘Have sex with me.’ But Joseph left his clothes in her hand. He ran away and he went out of the house.

v13 The master’s wife saw that Joseph had left his clothes in her hand. He had run away out of the house. v14 So the wife called to the male servants that worked in the house. She said to them, ‘Look! He has brought a *Hebrew among us, who is playing unkind games with us. The *Hebrew came in to have sex with me. I cried out loudly. v15 When the *Hebrew heard my loud cry, he left his clothes with me. He ran away and he went out of the house.’

v16 Then the wife put the clothes aside near her until Joseph’s master came home. v17 She told the same story to the master. The wife said, ‘The *Hebrew slave that you brought among us came in to me. He tried to play unkind games with me. v18 Immediately, I shouted and I cried out. The *Hebrew left his clothes behind him. He ran away out of the house.’

v19 The master heard what his wife told to him. She said, ‘That is what your servant did to me.’ The master was very angry. v20 Joseph’s master took him and he put Joseph into prison. He put him in the prison where the king’s officers kept the king’s prisoners.

v21 But the *Lord was with Joseph. He was kind to Joseph. He caused the keeper of the prison to like Joseph. v22 The keeper of the prison put all the prisoners into Joseph’s care. That is, all the prisoners that were in the prison. Joseph did everything that people had to do there. v23 So Joseph had many things in his care. And the keeper of the prison did not worry about those things. That was because the *Lord was with Joseph. Joseph did everything well.

Joseph was just a slave when he arrived in Egypt. But soon, he began to have a successful career. Joseph worked for an important man called Potiphar. Soon, Potiphar realised that Joseph had many skills. Joseph was responsible and capable. Everything that Joseph did was successful. So, Potiphar gave Joseph authority over everything in his (Potiphar’s) *household.

The promise that God gave to Abraham (Genesis 12:3) was starting to happen. God was *blessing Potiphar because of Joseph.

Joseph even impressed Potiphar’s wife. She wanted to have sex with Joseph, who was an attractive young man. But Joseph knew that God does not permit such behaviour. So, Joseph refused. Potiphar’s wife was angry with Joseph. She lied that he tried to *rape her. So, Joseph became a prisoner.

Even in prison, Joseph impressed people. The guard realised that Joseph was responsible and capable. So, the guard gave Joseph authority over the other prisoners. Soon, Joseph was managing the prison. Joseph was still a prisoner. But even in the prison, God made Joseph successful.

Notes on the verses

Verse 1 The writer now goes back to the story about Joseph. This verse reminds us about Genesis 37:36. The writer tells us that Joseph went ‘down’ to Egypt. He probably means that a lot of the land in Egypt is lower than the mountains in Canaan. But Joseph had gone ‘down’ in another way. He also went ‘down’ in his social importance. He became a slave. He was not still a favourite son in a rich family.

Verses 2-3 In this chapter, the writer often tells us that the *Lord was with Joseph. Joseph suffered. But the *Lord was still taking care of him. And the *Lord made Joseph successful. So, Potiphar appointed him to do more important tasks.

Verse 4 Joseph soon became more important. He was a useful person and people trusted him. At home with his brothers, his own family did not respect him. But here in Egypt, his master respected him. That is clear. Soon, Joseph had authority over everything. But he worked well. He did not cheat his master.

Verse 5 God was *blessing Potiphar because of Joseph. In other words, Potiphar became more successful because Joseph was working for him.

Verse 6 Potiphar did not worry about his *household. That shows how much Potiphar trusted Joseph.

Verse 7 Joseph would not do wrong things. The situation was very difficult for him. His master’s wife had a lot of power.

Verses 8-9 Joseph was responsible to his master. But Joseph also knew that he was responsible to God. We can see that Joseph was a *righteous man. He did not care about his own pleasure. Instead, Joseph thought about what God wanted him to do.

Verse 10 This did not just happen once. The master’s wife tried to tempt Joseph every day.

Verse 11 The master’s wife had probably sent the other servants out.

Verses 12-13 On this day, the master’s wife held Joseph’s clothing firmly. So, Joseph could not just walk away, as he had done on other days. But Joseph refused to do what she wanted. He ran out of the house. She was still holding his clothing. He had done the right thing. But the master’s wife now had evidence that seemed to prove her lie.

Verse 14 The master’s wife pretended that Joseph tried to *rape her. When the wife talked to the servants, she even blamed her husband. She said that he had brought a foreign slave into the house.

Verses 16-18 The master’s wife repeated her lies to her husband. She wanted him to punish Joseph. She was very angry with Joseph. Perhaps she felt ashamed that she tried to tempt Joseph. But she was not sorry. Like Joseph’s own brothers, she hated the fact that Joseph was *righteous.

Verses 19-20 The master’s wife had said that Joseph had tried to *rape her. The usual punishment for that was death. Potiphar put Joseph into prison. It was a special prison. If a servant of the king had to go to prison, the king’s officers kept him there.

We do not know why Potiphar did not kill Joseph. But Potiphar was the captain of the guards (Genesis 38:36). So, perhaps Potiphar was responsible for the prison too. Potiphar knew that Joseph was capable. Perhaps Potiphar thought that Joseph would be very useful in the prison.

The writer does not use people’s names very much in this story. He talks a lot about ‘he’, ‘she’, the ‘master’ and the ‘master’s wife’. Perhaps it showed that the people in the story belonged to different social classes. Joseph was a slave. Potiphar and his wife were the master and the master’s wife. They even had the legal right to kill their slaves.

Verse 21 God caused the keeper (guard) of the prison to like Joseph. But the guard did not prove that Joseph was not guilty. He did not take Joseph out of prison.

Verse 22 Soon, Joseph became very important in the prison. He had authority over all the other prisoners. Even in prison, God made Joseph successful.

Verse 23 Again the writer tells how people trusted Joseph. And the writer reminds us why Joseph was successful. Joseph was successful because God *blessed him.

Chapter 40

Joseph tells what some people’s dreams mean

v1 Some time later, the *Egyptian king’s *butler and baker both did something wrong against their *lord, the king of Egypt. v2 *Pharaoh (the king) was angry with two of his officers. They were the chief *butler and the chief baker. v3 So *Pharaoh put them in prison. That is, the guards kept them in a house. The house belonged to the captain of the guard. That was the same prison that Joseph was in. v4 The captain of the guard told Joseph to look after the *butler and the baker. So Joseph served them. They were in prison for some time.

v5 One night, both the *butler and the baker dreamed. They had both served the king of Egypt. He had put them into that prison. Each man dreamed his own dream. And each dream had its own meaning.

v6 Joseph came to those men the next morning. He saw that they were unhappy. v7 So Joseph spoke to those officers of *Pharaoh. They were in prison with Joseph. They were in his master’s house. Joseph asked the men why they had sad faces that morning.

v8 The men answered him, ‘We have had dreams. But there is nobody that can tell their meaning to us.’

Then Joseph said to the men, ‘It is God who tells their meaning. He tells what dreams mean. Please tell your dreams to me.’

v9 So the chief *butler told his dream to Joseph. The *butler said, ‘In my dream I saw a *vine in front of me. v10 There were three branches on that *vine. Immediately when it had *buds, its flowers opened from them. Bunches (groups) of ripe *grapes grew. v11 I had *Pharaoh’s cup in my hand. I took the *grapes. And I squeezed them so that their juice went into *Pharaoh’s cup. And I gave the cup into *Pharaoh’s hand.’

v12 Then Joseph said to him, ‘This is what it means. The three branches mean three days. v13 In three days, *Pharaoh will lift up your head. He will give to you your job as *butler again. You will give to *Pharaoh his cup of wine. You will give it into his hand, exactly as you did before. v14 But please remember me. Please be kind. Tell *Pharaoh about me, when you are doing well. Please get me out of this house. v15 Actually, people stole me from the country where the *Hebrews live. And also I have done nothing wrong here. I should not be living in a prison.’

v16 The chief baker saw that the meaning of the dream was good. So he said to Joseph, ‘I too had a dream. I had three baskets of cakes on my head. v17 In the top basket, there were very many different kinds of foods. I had baked them for *Pharaoh. But the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.’

v18 Joseph answered, ‘This is what it means. The three baskets mean three days. v19 In three days, *Pharaoh will lift up your head. He will take your head from you. He will hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat your *flesh.’

v20 It was *Pharaoh’s birthday on the 3rd day. He made a *feast for all his servants. He lifted up both the chief *butler’s head and the chief baker’s head among his servants. v21 *Pharaoh gave the *butler’s job back to the *butler. So the *butler again placed the cup of wine into *Pharaoh’s hand. v22 *Pharaoh hanged the chief baker, however. It happened exactly as Joseph had said. He had said it when he had heard their dreams.

v23 However, the chief *butler did not remember Joseph. He forgot him.

Joseph was responsible for all the prisoners. So, Joseph was a skilled manager. But Joseph was also a holy man. And he knew that his relationship with God was very important. Even in prison, Joseph was still a *righteous man.

Two prisoners had strange dreams on the same night. They thought that their dreams had an important meaning. But they did not know the meaning. So, they were worried about the dreams.

Joseph told the prisoners that God knew the meaning of their dreams. Then God showed Joseph the meaning:

·     The *butler’s dream meant that *Pharaoh would free the *butler. And *Pharaoh would reappoint the *butler to his old job. Joseph asked the *butler to tell *Pharaoh about his (Joseph’s) situation.

·     The baker’s dream meant that the baker would soon die.

Three days later, these things happened as Joseph had said. But the *butler did not tell *Pharaoh about Joseph. It was not yet the right time for *Pharaoh to free Joseph. God had a plan for Joseph. But Joseph did not yet know about this plan.

Notes on the verses

Verse 1 *Pharaoh was the special name that all the kings of Egypt had.

Verses 2-4 These men worked for the king. So, they went to the special prison for the king’s prisoners. Joseph was responsible for the prisoners in that prison.

Verse 5 The *Egyptians believed that the gods sent dreams. They had many ‘wise men’. Those ‘wise men’ said what dreams meant. The two prisoners were unhappy. Each one believed that the gods had sent a message to him. They could not discover what the dreams meant.

Verses 6-7 Joseph really cared about the prisoners that he looked after. He even noticed that the men were anxious. He encouraged them to tell him why they were worried.

Verse 8 Joseph did not believe in their false gods. But he knew that the real God knows the solution to every problem.

Of course, most dreams have no special meaning. But sometimes God uses dreams to speak to people. Joseph had such dreams in the past (Genesis 37:5-9). And he could remember these dreams (Genesis 42:9). Perhaps he was hopeful about the future because of these dreams.

Verse 9-11 The chief *butler’s dream described the work that he used to do. He would make drinks for *Pharaoh. And then the *butler would give the drinks to *Pharaoh.

Verse 13 ‘Lift up your head’ means more than one thing. It can mean that the person does well. His head will not be down in shame any longer. He will show his face. He will not be sad. That was how the chief *butler would be.

Verses 14-15 Joseph asked the *butler to tell *Pharaoh about Joseph’s situation in prison. Joseph did not deserve to be in prison. Soon, the *butler would be free. And the *butler would be important again. So, the *butler would have the opportunity to speak to *Pharaoh about Joseph.

Verses 16-17 The baker’s dream also seemed to describe his work. But something was wrong. The birds were taking the bread that belonged to *Pharaoh.

Verse 18 Joseph was honest. He told the meaning of the dream, although the meaning was bad news. He did not pretend that the dream had a good meaning. He did not say that in order to please the baker.

Verse 19 ‘Lift up your head’ could also have another meaning. It could mean that someone would put very strong thick string round a person’s neck. Then someone would hang the person. That was what happened to the chief baker.

Verses 20-22 *Pharaoh was the king of Egypt. Kings often did special things to prisoners on the king’s birthday. It was a way for the king to show how important he was. *Pharaoh had the power of life and death over his people. He could order someone’s death. Or, he could make someone important.

*Pharaoh did whatever he wanted. But God knew what would happen.

Verse 23 Joseph remained in the prison. It was not yet God’s time for Joseph to be free.

Chapter 41

*Pharaoh’s dreams

v1 After two whole years, *Pharaoh dreamed. He dreamed that he was standing by the River Nile. v2 Then 7 fat healthy cows came up out of the river. They were eating the tall grass by the river. v3 Then 7 more cows came up out of the river behind them. These other cows were thin and *bony. They stood on the land by the river. They stood near the 7 fat cows. v4 The thin *bony cows ate up the 7 fat healthy cows. Then *Pharaoh woke up.

v5 *Pharaoh slept again and he dreamed again. This time he saw 7 *ears of corn, which were fat and healthy. They were growing on one stem. v6 After that, he saw 7 more *ears of corn. But these were thin and bad because the strong east wind had blown them about. And it had also damaged them because it was a hot wind. v7 The thin *ears of corn swallowed up the 7 big fat *ears of corn. Then *Pharaoh woke up. And he knew that it was a dream.

v8 So, in the morning, *Pharaoh was very worried. He sent someone to call for all the wise men in Egypt. *Pharaoh told his dream to them. Not one of them could tell *Pharaoh what it meant.

v9 Then the chief *butler said to *Pharaoh, ‘Now I remember that I have done something wrong. v10 When *Pharaoh was angry with his servants, he put us in prison. The prison was in a house. The house belongs to the captain of the guard. v11 The chief baker and I both dreamed on the same night. We each had a dream that had its own meaning. v12 There was a young *Hebrew there with us. He was a servant of the captain of the guard. We told our dreams to the *Hebrew. Then he told us what they meant. He told each man what his own dream meant. v13 It happened exactly as he said. *Pharaoh gave my job as *butler back to me. But he made someone hang the baker.’

v14 Then *Pharaoh sent people to call for Joseph. They hurried to bring him out of the prison. (The prison was in a very big hole in the ground.) Joseph shaved himself and he changed his clothes. Then he came in and he came in front of *Pharaoh.

v15 *Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream. Nobody can tell me what it means. But I have heard this about you. When you hear a dream, you know its meaning.’

v16 Joseph answered *Pharaoh, ‘I cannot do it. But God will give a kind answer to *Pharaoh.’

v17 Then *Pharaoh told Joseph what he (*Pharaoh) had seen in his dream. *Pharaoh said, ‘I was standing on the land by the Nile river. v18 I saw 7 fat healthy cows come up out of the river. They were eating the tall grass by the river. v19 Seven (7) more cows came up behind them. These cows were very sick, *bony and thin. I have never seen such poor cows in all this country, Egypt. v20 Then the thin *bony cows ate up the 7 fat cows, which had come out of the river first. v21 Afterwards, nobody would have known that the thin cows had eaten the fat cows. The thin cows were still as thin as they had been before. Then I woke up.

v22 In my dream, I also saw 7 *ears of corn. They were growing on one stem. They were fat, healthy *ears. v23 Then 7 more *ears of corn grew out of the stem. But these *ears were thin and bad because the strong east wind had blown them about. And it had damaged them because it was a hot wind also. v24 The 7 thin *ears swallowed up the 7 healthy *ears of corn. I told my dream to the wise men. But not one of them could tell me what it meant.’

v25 Then Joseph said to *Pharaoh, ‘*Pharaoh’s dream has one meaning. God has shown to *Pharaoh what he (God) will do. v26 The 7 healthy cows are 7 years. The 7 fat *ears of corn are 7 years. It means the same. v27 The 7 thin *bony cows came up out of the river behind the fat cows. The thin cows are 7 years. Then there were 7 thin, bad *ears of corn. The strong east wind had blown them about. And it had damaged them because it was a hot wind also. The 7 thin *ears are 7 years too. They are 7 years when there will be *famine.

v28 It is as I told *Pharaoh. God has shown to *Pharaoh what he (God) will do. v29 All this country, Egypt, will have 7 years with very big harvests of food. v30 After that, there will be 7 years with *famine. The people in Egypt will forget that there were 7 years with big harvests. During the *famine, people will eat everything up. v31 People will forget the large amounts of food that were in this country. They will forget them because of the *famine which will follow. The *famine will be very bad. v32 *Pharaoh dreamed the same thing twice. That means that God has decided it definitely. Soon, God will make it happen.

v33 Now therefore, let *Pharaoh choose a man that is wise and careful. Let *Pharaoh appoint that man over this country, Egypt. v34 Let *Pharaoh appoint *overseers over the country. Let him take a fifth of the harvest in this country, Egypt. Let him take it during the 7 years when there is plenty. v35 Let people save food during the good years that are coming. And let the *overseers gather all the food that the people save at that time. Let the *overseers collect corn for food in the cities. And let them store it. Let *Pharaoh make sure that people do all this. v36 There will be 7 years when there will be *famine in Egypt. People will store the food and they will keep it until the *famine. Then they can use it. So the people in Egypt will not die in the *famine.’

v37 Joseph’s idea seemed good to *Pharaoh. And it seemed good to all *Pharaoh’s servants. v38 So *Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Surely we cannot find a man like this, who has God’s Spirit!’

v39 Then *Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘God has shown all this to you. Therefore there is nobody that is so wise and careful as you. v40 You shall rule over my house. All my people shall do what you order. I will still be the king, but apart from that we will be equal.’

v41 Then *Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Look! I have appointed you over all this country, Egypt.’ v42 Then *Pharaoh took his special ring from his own hand. The ring had his *seal on it. *Pharaoh put the ring on Joseph’s hand. He dressed Joseph in clothes that someone had made from excellent linen (very good quality material). And *Pharaoh put a gold chain round Joseph’s neck. v43 He made Joseph ride in his second *chariot. Men cried out in front of Joseph, ‘Go down on your knees.’ So *Pharaoh appointed Joseph over all that country, Egypt.

v44 *Pharaoh also said to Joseph, ‘I am *Pharaoh. In all this country, Egypt, nobody shall lift up his hand or foot unless you say so.’ v45 *Pharaoh called Joseph Zaphenath-Paneah. He gave a bride to Joseph. She was Asenath, Potiphera’s daughter. Potiphera was the priest in the city called On. So Joseph went out over all that country, Egypt.

v46 Joseph was 30 years old when he started to serve *Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Joseph left *Pharaoh and Joseph went through all Egypt. v47 During the 7 years when there was plenty, the land produced big harvests. v48 Joseph gathered together all the spare food in the 7 years when there was plenty in that country, Egypt. He stored it in the cities. In every city, there was a store of food. People had gathered that food from the fields that were round the cities. v49 Joseph stored large amounts of corn. It was like the sand by the sea. He did not measure it any longer because there was too much to measure.

v50 Before the first year when there was *famine, Joseph had two sons. Asenath gave birth to them for him. She was the daughter of Potiphera, who was the priest in the city called On. v51 Joseph called the first son that was born Manasseh. Joseph said, ‘God has made me forget all my trouble. And he has made me forget all my father’s *household.’ v52 Joseph called his second son Ephraim. Joseph said, ‘God has made me *fruitful in this country where I had trouble.’

v53 There were 7 years when there was plenty in the country called Egypt. But they ended. v54 And the 7 years with *famine began, exactly as Joseph had said. There was *famine in all countries. But in all the country called Egypt, there was food. v55 When all the people in Egypt were starving, they cried to *Pharaoh. They cried to him for food. *Pharaoh told all the *Egyptians to go to Joseph. *Pharaoh said, ‘Do what Joseph tells you.’

v56 So when people were starving over all that country, Joseph opened all the stores of food. He sold corn to the *Egyptians. There was a bad *famine in that country, Egypt. v57 People came to Egypt to buy corn from Joseph. They came from all over the world, because there was a bad *famine over all the earth.

Joseph was still a prisoner when *Pharaoh had two strange dreams. In the first dream, 7 thin cows ate 7 fat cows. In the second dream, 7 weak stems of grain ate 7 good ones. *Pharaoh tried to use magic to understand the dreams. But the magic failed.

In chapter 40, God had shown Joseph the meaning of the *butler’s dream. As Joseph had said, the *butler was now working for *Pharaoh again. So, the *butler suggested that *Pharaoh should speak to Joseph. The officials took Joseph from the prison into *Pharaoh’s palace.

Of course, Joseph himself did not know the meaning of *Pharaoh’s dreams. But Joseph was confident that God knew the answer. God showed Joseph that both dreams had the same meaning. For 7 years, the harvests in Egypt would be good. But afterwards, for another period of 7 years, there would not be enough food. So, Joseph advised *Pharaoh to store food from the good harvests. Then, this food would be available for the next 7 years.

Joseph’s wisdom impressed *Pharaoh. *Pharaoh was confident that Joseph’s advice came from God. So, *Pharaoh appointed Joseph to be a ruler of Egypt. Only *Pharaoh himself was more important than Joseph was.

Notes on the verses

Verses 1-7 The two years were after *Pharaoh had freed the *butler from prison. Joseph was still in prison for all this time. But he did not waste his time. He continued to look after the other prisoners in a responsible manner.

The Nile River was very important for Egypt. It often flooded the land round it and that made the soil rich. Cows were very important for *Egyptians. The *Egyptians thought that cows were *holy and special. The *Egyptians thought that their *Pharaoh was a ‘god’. They also thought that dreams were messages from the gods. So when *Pharaoh dreamed, it was very important.

Verse 8 Very many wise men in Egypt studied dreams. And they used magic to find out what dreams meant. But their magic failed. They could not tell *Pharaoh the meaning of these dreams.

Verse 9 Joseph had asked the *butler to speak to *Pharaoh about Joseph’s situation (Genesis 40:14-15). But the *butler forgot (Genesis 40:23). However, the *butler remembered Joseph when *Pharaoh was worried about the dreams. We can see that God arranged the right time for Joseph to see *Pharaoh.

Verses 10-11 The chief *butler was very polite to his master, *Pharaoh. It was not polite to call the king ‘you’. So the *butler said, ‘When *Pharaoh was angry...’

The *butler described to *Pharaoh the events in chapter 40.

Verse 12 Joseph was still Potiphar’s slave and he was working for Potiphar. Potiphar was the official who looked after the prison.

Joseph would seem very unimportant to *Pharaoh. But *Pharaoh needed Joseph because God was with Joseph. God had told Joseph the meaning of these dreams.

Verse 14 *Hebrew men did not shave. They had beards. But *Egyptians did shave.

Joseph had been in prison. But now, he was preparing to meet *Pharaoh in the palace.

Verse 16 Joseph could only explain dreams because God told him the meaning. It was not because Joseph was clever. He told Pharaoh that clearly. God was doing as he had promised. And God was *blessing other nations by means of Abraham’s family.

Verses 17-21 *Pharaoh described the dreams. He added some words in his descriptions. These show that the dreams were clear in his mind.

Verse 23 The east wind was hot and dry. And so it made the grains start to become dry. They were losing their proper shape. They were not thick and smooth any longer.

Verse 24 The magic had failed. Perhaps *Pharaoh realised that he needed an answer from God.

Verse 25 *Pharaoh had dreamed two dreams, but they both meant the same thing. Most dreams just come from the imagination. But this time, *Pharaoh’s dreams came from God. God was using the dreams to warn *Pharaoh. And God placed Joseph in Egypt to help *Pharaoh in this particular situation.

Verses 26-27 Joseph showed *Pharaoh the meaning of the dreams.

Verses 28-32 Joseph gave a *prophecy about the future. He emphasised that this matter was God’s decision. *Pharaoh served false gods and he used magic. But *Pharaoh’s false gods could not save him now. And no magic could stop the troubles that would affect Egypt. *Pharaoh had received a message from the real God. So, *Pharaoh should do whatever God wanted.

Verses 33-34 In verse 33, Joseph asked *Pharaoh to appoint one *overseer. But then in verse 34, he asked *Pharaoh to appoint many other *overseers. One man alone would not be able to do the job. He would need other men to work under his authority. He could order them to do what they had to do.

Verses 35-36 God had warned *Pharaoh because God did not want the people to suffer. *Pharaoh could arrange to store food. Then, food would still be available when the harvests were poor.

Verse 38 *Pharaoh knew that Joseph had more than a man’s wisdom. God had given wisdom to Joseph. So, *Pharaoh wanted Joseph to be the *overseer.

Verses 39-41 Suddenly, Joseph became the most important man in Egypt, except for *Pharaoh. Everybody had to obey Joseph. But Joseph did not change his attitudes. He was responsible when he was in prison. And he would still be responsible as a ruler.

Verse 42 The ring was a special one. It had *Pharaoh’s *seal on it. *Pharaoh could press the *seal onto some wet *clay or *wax that was on a new law or command. That made a special mark on the *clay or *wax. The mark showed to everyone that *Pharaoh approved of that law or command.

Verse 43 *Pharaoh gave great honour to Joseph. But Joseph did not become proud.

Verse 44 Joseph was now responsible for everything that happened in Egypt. He had the right to give whatever commands he wanted.

Verse 45 Joseph had an *Egyptian wife, but that was in God’s plan. Joseph gave *Hebrew names to his sons.

Verses 46-49 There were good harvests for 7 years, as God had shown to Joseph. Joseph bought all the grain that people did not need. The grain was cheap during those years, because the people had plenty. Grain stores well in Egypt because the air is dry.

Verse 50-52 Many people forget about God when they are successful. But we can see that Joseph was still serving God. Joseph was thinking about God when he (Joseph) chose his sons’ names. Joseph knew that God had guided him.

Joseph’s troubles were in the past. Joseph had suffered greatly in Egypt. But now God had made him successful.

Verses 53-54 These things happened as Joseph had said. So, Joseph’s *prophecy was right. But God had arranged for Joseph to store the food that the people needed.

Verse 55 *Pharaoh trusted Joseph completely. Joseph would make the right decision about when to sell food.

Verses 56-57 When Joseph began to sell the grain, people from many countries travelled to Egypt to buy it. There was plenty of grain in Egypt because of Joseph’s work during the 7 good years.

Chapter 42

Joseph and his brothers

v1 Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt. Then he said to his sons, ‘Do not just stand there while you look at each other!’ v2 Jacob said, ‘Look! I have heard that there is corn in Egypt. Go down there and buy corn for us. Then we can stay alive. Then we will not die.’

v3 So 10 of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy corn in Egypt. v4 Jacob did not send Benjamin (Joseph’s brother) with the other brothers. Jacob was afraid that Benjamin might suffer something bad. v5 So Israel’s sons came to buy corn together with other people. There was *famine in the country called Canaan.

v6 At that time, Joseph was governing over the country called Egypt. He sold corn to all the people in that country. Joseph’s brothers came and they *bowed in front of him. They *bowed with their faces to the ground. v7 Joseph saw his brothers and he knew them. However, he behaved as if they were strangers. Joseph spoke severely to his brothers. ‘Where do you come from?’ he asked.

The brothers replied, ‘We have come from the country called Canaan to buy food.’

v8 So Joseph knew his brothers, but they did not know him. v9 Joseph remembered the dreams that he had had about his brothers. He said to them, ‘You are *spies. You have come to discover whether this country, Egypt is weak.’

v10 The brothers replied, ‘No, my *lord, your servants have come to buy food. v11 We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. We, your servants, are not *spies.’

v12 Joseph said to them, ‘No, you have come to discover where this country, Egypt, is weak.’

v13 They said, ‘We, your servants, are 12 brothers. We are the sons of one man in the country called Canaan. Look! Our youngest brother is today with our father. One brother is dead.’

v14 But Joseph said to them, ‘It is as I said to you. You are *spies. v15 I will test you. You will not leave here unless your youngest brother comes here. That is true quite as certainly as *Pharaoh is alive. v16 Send one man from among you to fetch your brother. All the other brothers will stay here in prison. In that way, I will prove your story. I will see whether you are telling the truth. If you are lying, then you are *spies. I tell that to you quite as certainly as *Pharaoh is alive.’ v17 Joseph put all the brothers together in prison for three days.

v18 On the third day, Joseph said this to his brothers: ‘I respect God very greatly. So do as I say. Then you will live. v19 If you are honest men, then let one of your brothers stay here. He will stay in prison. You other men should go home and you should take corn. So then the people in your *households will not die because of the *famine. v20 Then bring your youngest brother to me. So then I will know that you are speaking the truth. Then you will not die.’ They did as Joseph ordered.

v21 Then they said to each other, ‘Truly we are guilty. We saw that our brother Joseph had become very unhappy. He desperately asked us to help him. But we would not listen. So now we are suffering.’

v22 Reuben answered them, ‘I told you not to do bad things to the boy, Joseph. But you did not want to listen. Now God is punishing us because we killed him.’ v23 The brothers did not know that Joseph understood them. There was an interpreter between them and Joseph.

v24 Then Joseph turned away from them and he cried. Then he came back to them and he spoke to them. He took Simeon away from them. They watched Joseph put Simeon in chains.

v25 Joseph gave orders to fill the brothers’ sacks with corn. He gave orders to put each man’s money in his sack. And he ordered people to give food to them for their journey home. So people did all that for the brothers. v26 The brothers then loaded their *donkeys with the corn and they left for home.

v27 The brothers stopped at a place where people could lodge on the way. One brother opened his sack in order to feed his *donkey. Then he saw his money at the top of the sack. v28 He said to his brothers, ‘Someone has given my money back. Here it is in the top of my sack.’

Then the brothers were very afraid and they trembled because of fear. They said, ‘God has punished us!’

v29 They came back to Jacob, their father, in the country called Canaan. They told him everything that had happened. They said this. v30 ‘The man, the *lord of that country, spoke severely to us. He thought that we were exploring the country as *spies. v31 We told him, “We are honest men. We are not *spies. v32 We are 12 brothers, sons of one father. One brother is dead. The youngest brother is today with our father in the country called Canaan.”

v33 Then the man, the *lord of that country, said this to us. “I shall test you. In that way, I will discover whether you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers. Leave him here with me. Take the corn for the people who live in your homes. Then they will not die because of the *famine. Go home. v34 Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I shall know that you are not *spies. I shall know that you are honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you and you can trade in this country.” ’

v35 The brothers emptied their sacks. Then they discovered that each man’s money was in his sack. The brothers and their father were all afraid when they found the money. v36 Jacob, their father, said this to them: ‘You have taken my children from me. Joseph is not here. Simeon is not here. Now you want to take Benjamin away too.’

v37 Then Reuben said this to his father. ‘If I do not bring Benjamin back to you, then kill my two sons. Put Benjamin into my care. I will bring him back to you.’

v38 But Jacob replied, ‘My son shall not go down with you. His brother is dead. He is the only one that remains. Something might hurt him on the journey that you are making to Egypt. That would kill me because it would make me so very sad. I am an old man with grey hair.’

Like everybody else, Joseph’s brothers had to go to Egypt to buy food. They did not know that Joseph was a ruler in Egypt. They had sold him as a slave. And now, they did not even know that Joseph was alive.

When Joseph saw his brothers, his emotions felt very strong. He loved his brothers. He did not want them to suffer while the harvests were poor. He wanted to share with them the good things that he had received in Egypt. But Joseph realised that this might not be a good idea.

Joseph knew that, in the past, his brothers’ behaviour had been terrible. They had been selfish. They had been cruel. They had killed other men because of their anger. In fact, Joseph’s brothers had even wanted to kill Joseph himself.

Joseph was a very responsible man. He would not allow his brothers to cause such trouble in Egypt. So, he made a plan that would test his brothers. He needed to be sure that their attitudes had now changed. If they were humble, he would forgive them. If they respected him, he would give them honour and wealth. But if their attitudes were still wrong, Joseph could not help them.

Notes on the verses

Verse 1 Joseph’s brothers had grown older and they were married. But Jacob was still the master. The brothers were unhappy. They had no crops to harvest. They probably did not trust each other. Maybe they thought about whether there might be secret stores of food. People behave like that when there is *famine.

Verse 2 In chapter 12, Abraham went to Egypt for food. He went there because of a bad *famine.

Verses 3-4 Jacob believed that Joseph was dead. So, perhaps Jacob thought that Benjamin should have the *birthright. Benjamin was in fact Jacob’s youngest son. But Jacob acted as if Benjamin was more important than his other sons.

Verse 5 *Famines happened sometimes in Egypt and Canaan. But they did not usually happen in both those countries at the same time.

Verse 6 This was like Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:7.

Verse 7 Joseph wanted to know whether his brothers still hated him. Or perhaps they were sorry about what they had done to him earlier. He did not want to punish them.

Verse 8 Joseph dressed as an *Egyptian (Genesis 41:42). He had shaved (Genesis 41:14). He spoke the *Egyptian language (Genesis 42:23). He even had an *Egyptian name (Genesis 41:45).

Verse 9 Joseph remembered his dreams in Genesis 37:7-9. So, Joseph knew that this event was God’s plan. And Joseph knew that God was guiding him.

Verses 10-12 There were many wars at this time. Rulers would send men in secret. Then, the men would return with information. Rulers would use this information when they made their plans to attack.

Joseph’s brothers had not really come to Egypt for this reason. In fact, Joseph was using this as an excuse, so that he could ask them questions. He wanted to test their attitudes.

Verse 13 The brothers clearly remembered what they had done to Joseph. Jacob probably talked about Joseph often. In *Hebrew, the brothers said that Joseph was ‘no more’. It might mean that he was dead. Or, that they did not know where he was.

Verse 15 Joseph made a serious statement. And he said that it was true ‘as certainly as *Pharaoh is alive’. So Joseph seemed very *Egyptian to his brothers.

Verses 16-17 Perhaps this was the same prison where Joseph himself had spent several years. Joseph was strict, but he was not cruel. He freed them after just three days.

Verses 19-20 Joseph wanted to send the grain to Canaan quickly. He did not want his brothers’ families to suffer. His brothers had not yet passed Joseph’s test. But Joseph knew that they would have to return. The harvests in Canaan would be poor for several more years.

Verse 21 Joseph’s brothers had put him into a pit (very big hole) and then they had sold him. Joseph had cried out to his brothers for help. The writer did not tell us about that earlier.

Verse 22 Until now, Joseph did not know that Reuben tried to save him. Now Reuben thought that God was punishing the brothers. But Joseph did not want to punish the brothers. Joseph wanted to forgive them. He felt sorry for them. He knew that they were feeling guilty. But he was not sure that their attitudes had really changed.

Verse 24 The writer does not say why Joseph chose Simeon. Joseph had just learned that Reuben, the oldest son, had tried to save Joseph (verses 22 and 23). So Joseph did not take Reuben. Simeon was the second son in order of age. Perhaps he was a leader. Simeon and Levi were very cruel when they attacked the men in Shechem (chapter 34). Simeon was Leah’s second son. Joseph kept Simeon there in Egypt. In that way, he made sure that Benjamin, Rachel’s second son, would come to Egypt.

Verse 25 The writer does not say why Joseph gave the money back. Possibly Joseph was testing the brothers. In that way, he would discover what they would do. They might keep the money. Or they might come back so that Joseph would free Simeon.

But perhaps Joseph was just being kind. He knew that the *famine would last for several more years. The brothers would need money in order to buy food. Joseph cared about his family.

Verses 27-28 The reaction of the brothers shows us that they were very worried. They did not think that God returned their money in order to show kindness. Instead, they felt even more guilty. They thought that God was punishing them. They were afraid that the *Egyptians would consider them thieves.

Verses 29-33 The brothers described the events in Egypt to Jacob, even before they opened their sacks. These events seemed terrible. Simeon was now a prisoner. The brothers never even imagined that the *Egyptian ruler might be Joseph.

Verse 34 ‘You can trade in this country.’ That means that they would be free. They could travel about in Egypt as free men.

Verse 35 The brothers probably opened only one sack on the way home (verse 28). They were afraid that it was a clever plan by Joseph. They thought that Joseph wanted an excuse. So then he could call them thieves because of the money.

Verse 36 The news really upset Jacob. Jacob probably spoke about Joseph first because Joseph had the *birthright. Then he spoke about Simeon. Jacob had not been pleased about Simeon’s cruelty. But Simeon was still Jacob’s son, so Jacob cared about him. Then Jacob spoke about Benjamin. Benjamin had become Jacob’s favourite son. Jacob had not allowed Benjamin to go to Egypt in order to protect him.

Verse 37 The brothers argued with Jacob. But Jacob certainly did not want to kill anyone, and Reuben knew this. However, Reuben still tried to argue with Jacob.

Verse 38 Jacob would not agree with his ten sons. He spoke about Joseph and Benjamin as if they were his only sons. Jacob believed that Joseph was dead. So, Jacob did not want to risk Benjamin’s life. If anything bad happened to Benjamin, Jacob would be sorry for the rest of his life.

Chapter 43

Joseph’s brothers return to Egypt

v1 The *famine was very bad in the country called Canaan. v2 Jacob’s family had eaten up the corn that they had brought from Egypt. So Jacob said, ‘Go again to Egypt to buy a little food.’

v3 Judah said to Jacob, ‘The man warned us often. He said that we would not see him again unless we brought our brother with us. v4 If you will send our brother with us, we will go down to Egypt. We will go there in order to buy food. v5 If you will not send our brother, then we will not go down. The man told us this plainly. He said that we would not see him again unless our brother was with us.’

v6 Israel said, ‘Why did you tell him that you had another brother? You did an evil thing to me when you said that.’

v7 The brothers replied, ‘The man asked us many questions about ourselves and our family. He asked us whether our father was still alive. He asked us whether we had any other brother. We only told him what he asked. We did not know that he would ask us to bring our brother down with us.’

v8 Judah said to his father Israel, ‘Send the boy in my care. Then we will get ready and we will go. Then we shall live. If we do not go, we shall all die. That includes you and all our young children. v9 I promise that the boy will be safe. I will be responsible for him. I will be guilty for always, if I do not bring him back to you safely. v10 If we had not waited, we could have gone there. And we could have come back. We could have done it twice.’

v11 Then their father, Israel said this to the brothers: ‘Take in your bags some very good things that grow in Canaan. Take a present to the man. Take for him a little *balm, a little honey, *gum, *myrrh, *almonds and other nuts. v12 Take a double amount of money with you. Take back the money that was in the sacks. Perhaps someone put it there by mistake. v13 Take your brother too. Go. Go back to the man. v14 Let God *Almighty be *merciful to you when you see the man. Then the man will send back your other brother and Benjamin. If I lose my children, then I lose my children.’

v15 So the men took the present. They took a double amount of money with them. They also took Benjamin. They got ready and they went down to Egypt. They stood in front of Joseph. v16 Joseph saw Benjamin with them. Joseph said to the *steward of his house, ‘Bring these men into my house. Kill an animal and cook it. These men will eat with me at midday.’

v17 The *steward did as Joseph ordered. The *steward brought the brothers into Joseph’s house. v18 The brothers said, ‘He has brought us here because of the money that was in our sacks. He will accuse us. He will put us in chains. He will make us slaves and he will take our *donkeys from us.’

v19 So the brothers went to the *steward of Joseph’s house. They spoke to the *steward at the door. v20 They said to him, ‘Oh, my *lord, we came down once before to buy food. v21 When we opened our sacks on the way home, we found our money. Every man’s money was at the top of his sack. All his money was there. We have brought it back with us. v22 We have also brought more money here to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks.’

v23 The *steward answered, ‘It is all right. Do not be afraid. I think that your God, your father’s God, put something very valuable in your sacks for you. I had the money that you paid.’ Then he brought Simeon out to them.

v24 The *steward took the brothers into Joseph’s house. The *steward gave water to them and they washed their feet. He fed their *donkeys. v25 Then the brothers took out the present. Someone had told them that they would have a meal in Joseph’s house at midday. They decided to give the present to Joseph then.

v26 Joseph came home. Then the brothers brought the present into Joseph’s house with them. They *bowed down to the ground in front of Joseph. v27 Joseph asked whether they were well. He asked whether their old father was well. He said that they had told him before about their father. He asked whether the father was still alive.

v28 They replied, ‘Your servant, our father, is well. He is still alive.’ They *bowed their heads. And they went down on their knees in front of Joseph.

v29 Joseph looked up and he saw Benjamin, the son of Joseph’s mother. He said, ‘Is this your youngest brother? You told me about him. Let God be *merciful to you, my son!’ v30 Then Joseph hurried out. He needed to cry alone. He very much wanted to hug his brother. He went into his room and he wept.

v31 Then Joseph washed his face and he came out. He made himself calm and he ordered the servants to bring the food.

v32 The servants served Joseph separately. They served the brothers separately and they served the other *Egyptians separately. *Egyptians could not eat food with *Hebrews. *Egyptians did not eat with people from other nations. The *Egyptians believed that it was a very evil thing. v33 The brothers sat in front of Joseph. He had arranged them there in order of birth. They were in order from the oldest to the youngest. That astonished the brothers and they looked at each other. v34 The servants took food to them from Joseph’s table. They gave 5 times more to Benjamin than to anyone else. So they drank and they had a happy time together.

As the *famine continued, Jacob’s family became desperate for food again. But Jacob still would not let Benjamin go to Egypt. And the other brothers did not dare to go to Egypt without Benjamin. The *Egyptian ruler had warned them not to enter Egypt without Benjamin. Of course, the brothers did not know that this ruler was really Joseph, their own brother.

In the end, Judah persuaded Jacob to let Benjamin go. Judah promised that he would protect Benjamin. And Judah would accept the blame if anything bad happened to Benjamin.

Jacob ordered the brothers to take a gift for the *Egyptian ruler. Then, Jacob *blessed them. And he prayed for them.

When the brothers arrived in Egypt, Joseph prepared a wonderful surprise for them. He wanted to show his kindness to them. And he wanted to show them how wealthy he was. So, he provided a great meal for them. Joseph showed special honour to Benjamin, who was Joseph’s closest brother.

But Joseph still did not tell his brothers who he really was. He wanted to test them first. In the past, they had been jealous, cruel and selfish. So now, Joseph needed to know whether their attitudes had changed.

Notes on the verses

Verse 2 It is not possible to say how long this would be after the first journey. But it was probably the next year (Genesis 45:6). There were many people to feed. Each of Jacob’s sons had a family (except Benjamin). And they also had servants and animals to feed. It would have been difficult for the brothers to take back large amounts of corn. They would have needed very many *donkeys. Jacob was trying to talk as if another journey to Egypt would be simple. Perhaps he was hoping that the brothers would go, without Benjamin. Maybe Jacob hoped that ‘the man’ in Egypt had forgotten them. Jacob did not seem worried about Simeon.

Verses 3-5 Judah explained that the brothers would not return without Benjamin. They were too afraid of ‘the man’ in Egypt. They thought that he would make them prisoners or slaves.

Verse 7 Joseph really asked these questions because he cared about his family. Of course he wanted to know whether his father was still alive. Of course he wanted to know about his younger brother.

Verse 8 Judah realised that the whole family would starve without food. So, he decided to accept personal responsibility for Benjamin. Judah was making a very serious promise to his father. Of course, anyone could speak such words. The real test for Judah would be his actions when Benjamin was in danger. (See Genesis 44:33.)

People could not always trust Judah in the past (chapter 38). But Jacob trusted Judah now. Perhaps Jacob realised that Judah’s attitudes had changed.

Verse 9 The *Hebrew text has ‘I will be a surety for him’. A ‘surety’ meant that the person was willing to pay for someone else’s debt. It was a promise that the person definitely had to carry out. If the brothers stayed at home, they would all die because of hunger. That would include Benjamin.

Verse 11 Jacob made the final decision. He was the head of the family. And he was also acting as their priest. He prayed for them.

There were still special foods in Canaan. The merchants were taking such things to Egypt when Joseph’s brothers sold him. Such foods were even more precious during a *famine.

Verse 12 Jacob advised his sons that they needed a humble attitude in this situation. Their lives were in danger. They could not succeed on this journey by any clever schemes. They had to pay their debts.

Verse 13 Jacob allowed Benjamin to go.

Verse 14 Jacob prayed for them and he *blessed them. He knew that there were great dangers during this journey.

Jacob’s final words might seem to show despair. He thought that he might lose Benjamin. Jacob really loved Benjamin (Genesis 44:30-31). And Jacob cared about all his sons, although they caused him many troubles. But perhaps Jacob’s words do not really show despair. Perhaps Jacob realised that he had to trust God completely. So, Jacob told his sons not to worry about him.

Verse 15 Here we see a list of what the brothers took to Egypt. The writer puts Benjamin last in that list. Jacob did not send Benjamin because he wanted to do it.

Verse 16 Joseph felt special love toward Benjamin. Benjamin was Joseph’s closest brother. They had the same mother, Rachel. And Rachel died at Benjamin’s birth. So, when Joseph saw Benjamin, Joseph wanted to show special kindness to him. At once, Joseph invited all his brothers to a special meal.

Verse 18 The brothers did not realise that Joseph was showing kindness to them. Instead, they were afraid. So, they remembered Jacob’s advice that they needed to have a humble attitude.

Verse 19 Here the brothers were humble. They were not only humble towards Joseph himself, but they were also humble towards his servant!

Verses 20-22 The brothers offered all their silver to Joseph’s servant. They wanted to pay for everything.

Verse 23 Joseph probably told the *steward what to say. God had been kind to them. So, they should not worry.

Then the *steward brought Simeon to them. The brothers would be very pleased to see Simeon again. And they were able to relax for their meal with Joseph.

Verse 24 These were the normal acts of kindness to show to travellers.

Verse 26 Again they *bowed down to Joseph! They would even call Jacob ‘Joseph’s servant’ (verse 28)!

Now the events of Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:7 really happened. Joseph’s 11 brothers all showed him honour.

Verses 27-28 Joseph’s first question was about his father. We can see that Joseph really cared about his father.

Verse 29 Joseph said to Benjamin, ‘Let God be *merciful to you, my son.’ Perhaps Joseph seemed older than he actually was. He was a very important person. So it was right for him to call Benjamin ‘my son’. That was a polite way for an older person to talk to a younger man.

Verse 30 Joseph’s emotions felt too strong for him to control. So, he cried. But he had to cry in private. He was not yet ready to tell his brothers who he really was.

Verse 32 Perhaps the *Egyptians had this attitude because Joseph’s brothers were *shepherds (Genesis 46:34). So, Joseph’s brothers did not sit with the *Egyptians.

Verse 33 Joseph arranged for his brothers to sit in the order of their ages. This was a custom that showed honour to the older brothers. But this astonished the brothers. They could not explain how the *Egyptians knew the correct order.

Verse 34 Joseph’s table would have the best food. The *steward passed this food to Joseph’s brothers. The *steward would serve the brothers in order. But there was too much food. So, Benjamin, the youngest brother, received much more food than anyone else. Joseph arranged this in order to show special kindness to Benjamin, whom Joseph loved.

Chapter 44

Joseph tests his brothers

v1 Then Joseph gave orders to the *steward of his house. Joseph told him, ‘Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry. And put each man’s money back at the top of his sack.’ v2 Joseph had a special cup that someone had made from silver. Joseph then told the *steward, ‘Put the cup at the top of the youngest brother’s sack. And put his money there too.’ The *steward did as Joseph ordered.

v3 As soon as daylight came, the *steward sent the brothers off with their *donkeys. v4 The brothers were only a little way out of the city. Then Joseph told his *steward to go. Joseph told him to follow the brothers. He said, ‘Go faster than them, so you catch up with them. And, when you catch up with them, say, “You have done an evil thing, when we behaved well towards you. You have stolen my *lord’s special cup that someone made from silver. v5 My *lord drinks from this cup. He also tries to discover things about the future from it. You did a wrong thing when you stole it.” ’

v6 The *steward went faster than the brothers, so that he caught up with them. He said what Joseph had ordered. v7 The brothers answered, ‘My *lord should not say such things! We, his servants, would never do that thing. v8 Look! We brought back the money that we found in our sacks. We brought it even from Canaan. So we would not steal gold or silver from your *lord’s house. v9 Let us suppose that you find the cup with someone among us. Then that man shall die. The rest of us will be my *lord’s slaves.’

v10 The *steward said, ‘Let it be as you say. The man who has the cup shall be my slave. The rest of you will be without blame.’

v11 Then every man quickly lifted his sack and he put it on the ground. Each man opened his sack. v12 The *steward searched. He started with the oldest brother and he finished with the youngest one. The *steward found the cup in Benjamin’s sack. v13 Then the brothers tore their clothes. Each man loaded his *donkey and they all went back to the city.

v14 Joseph was still in his house when Judah and his brothers came back there. The brothers threw themselves to the ground in front of him. v15 Joseph said to them, ‘Why have you done this wrong thing? You should know that I am able to discover things.’

v16 Judah said, ‘There is nothing that we can say. We cannot say anything. We cannot prove that we did not steal. God has shown that your servants are guilty. Look! We are all my *lord’s slaves. That includes the man that had the cup.’

v17 Joseph said, ‘I could never do that. Only the man in whose hand you found the cup will become my slave. You other men can go in peace to your father.’

v18 Then Judah went near Joseph and Judah said this: ‘Oh my *lord, please let your servant speak freely to my *lord. Please do not be angry with your servant. You are as great as *Pharaoh himself. v19 My *lord asked us, his servants, whether we had a father or a brother. v20 We told my *lord that we have a father. He is an old man. We have a young brother. He was born to my father when my father was an old man. The boy’s brother is dead. The boy is the only one that remains from his mother’s children. His father loves him very much.

v21 Then you asked your servants to bring our brother down to you, so that you could see him. v22 We told my *lord that the boy could not leave his father. If the boy left him, his father would die. v23 Then you said to us, your servants, ‘You will never see me again if you do not bring down your youngest brother with you.’ v24 We went back to my father, your servant. We told him what my *lord had said.

v25 Our father asked us to go again, in order to buy a little food. Then we told him that we could not come down. v26 We told him this: We could come down only if our youngest brother was with us. Then we could come down. We could not meet the man unless our youngest brother was with us.

v27 Then my father, your servant, said this to us: As we knew, his wife had two sons. v28 My father said that one son went out. He has never seen that son since. It was certain that an animal tore the son to pieces. v29 My father told us this: If we took this son away, this son too might die. Then my father would be very sad. And that would cause him to die, since he is an old man. So in that way we, your servants, would have killed him.

v30-31 Therefore, let us suppose that I go back to your servant my father without the boy. Then my father will die, because he lives only for this boy. My father will die because he will be so sad. So in that way your servants will have killed our father, your servant. v32 I, your servant, promised this to my father: I said, “If I do not bring the boy back to you, you can consider me guilty all my life.”

v33 Now therefore, please let me stay as my *lord’s slave instead of the boy. Let the boy go home with his brothers. v34 I cannot go back to my father without the boy. I am afraid to see how much my father would suffer.’

Joseph’s plan to test his brothers was a simple plan. But it was also very clever.

In chapter 37, Jacob had given the *birthright to Joseph. Joseph’s brothers were jealous and they hated him. So, they sold him to be a slave when they had the opportunity.

Now, Joseph would give his brothers the opportunity to make Benjamin a slave. Benjamin had become Jacob’s favourite son. So, perhaps they were now jealous of Benjamin. Perhaps they wanted Benjamin to lose the *birthright too.

Joseph arranged the test well. The brothers really believed that the *Egyptians wanted to take Benjamin as a slave. And perhaps the brothers even thought that Benjamin deserved this, as a punishment.

In Genesis 43:9, Judah accepted responsibility for Benjamin’s safety. Judah was the brother who actually sold Joseph as a slave. But now, Judah’s attitudes had changed. Judah wanted to become a slave himself, so that Benjamin could be free. So now, Judah was both noble and humble. He offered to lose everything in order to rescue his brother.

Notes on the verses

Verses 1-4 Joseph wanted to pretend that Benjamin was a thief. Then, Joseph could see the reaction of the other brothers.

Verse 5 *Egyptians used to look into cups that they had just drunk from. They looked at the bottom of the cups. The wine would leave a pattern in the bottom of the cups. And the *Egyptians studied such patterns as a type of magic. A cup that someone used for that purpose would be very special. It would be much more important than an ordinary cup that people drank from. We do not think that Joseph really used his cup in that special way. God has told us not to do such things. Joseph continued to be loyal to God (Genesis 45:5-8). Instead, we think that Joseph was pretending to use magic. His brothers used to serve *idols (Genesis 35:2). So, perhaps they would be afraid when Joseph spoke about magic.

Verses 7-8 The brothers were sure that they were innocent. They had even tried to return the silver that they found in their sacks after the first journey.

Verses 9-10 It was polite for the brothers to offer more than they needed to. And it was polite for the *steward to refuse their offer.

Verse 12 This happened in the order of their ages, as in Genesis 43:33. Of course, this meant that the *steward looked in Benjamin’s sack last.

Verse 13 Usually, when people tore their clothes, they were very sad and very anxious. In that way, they were showing how bad they felt. This was the custom when a relative died. So, the brothers were acting as if Benjamin would die.

Verse 14 Judah was the leader of the brothers at that time because of his promise (Genesis 43:9). Earlier they had *bowed, because they respected Joseph. This time, they threw themselves to the ground. They did that because they were afraid. And they wanted *mercy.

Verse 15 We do not think that Joseph really used magic. He was using these words because of the effect that they would have on his brothers.

Verse 16 We do not know what Judah thought. Possibly he might have thought that Benjamin had really stolen the cup. But maybe Judah meant something else. Perhaps God was punishing the brothers because they had done evil things in their lives. Or perhaps God was punishing them because of what they had done to Joseph. Judah did not know that the whole situation was part of God’s plan.

Judah was very humble. He did not try to argue with Joseph. And Judah was polite. He again offered that all the brothers would suffer the punishment together. But, unlike in verse 9, he did not offer that Benjamin might die. Judah had promised to look after Benjamin.

Judah did not agree that the magic had proved Benjamin to be guilty. Instead, Judah said that God knew the truth. We do not know whether Judah really understood this.

Verse 17 Joseph was testing the brothers. He wanted to discover what they would do. Possibly the other brothers might leave Benjamin, so that they could save themselves. Joseph would discover whether they would do that. Or perhaps they would risk their own lives in order to save Benjamin.

Verse 18 Judah might have said nothing. Then, he and his brothers would be free. Only Benjamin would remain in Egypt, as a slave. In the past, Judah would have done that. But now his attitudes had changed.

Verses 19-26 Judah explained the events in chapters 42 and 43.

Verse 27 Judah was speaking as if Jacob had only one wife, Rachel. That would mean that Judah’s own mother (Leah) was a *concubine. And it would mean that Joseph always deserved the *birthright. If Joseph were dead, Benjamin would have the *birthright.

Verse 28 Judah thought that Joseph was dead (verse 20). But it seems that Jacob still had hope. However, he did not deny the evidence that the brothers had produced.

Verse 29-31 Joseph often asked the brothers about their father. And it seems that the *Egyptians respected old people (Genesis 47:8-9). So, Judah asked Joseph to save Benjamin because otherwise Jacob would suffer.

Verse 32 Judah told Joseph about Judah’s promise in Genesis 43:9. Now, Judah would do what he had promised to do. And Judah would do it, although it would ruin his own life.

Verses 33-34 Judah asked to become Joseph’s slave so that Benjamin could go free. Judah thought that he himself would never be a free man again. He showed great courage.

When Joseph heard this, he could not control his emotions. At last, the time had come for Joseph to tell his brothers who he really was.

Chapter 45

Joseph says who he is

v1 Then Joseph could not stay calm any longer. Many people were standing near him. He cried out, ‘Make everyone go away from me!’ So there was nobody there when Joseph told his brothers. He told them who he was. v2 He wept aloud. The *Egyptians heard him and the people in *Pharaoh’s *household heard him.

v3 Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph. Is my father really still alive?’ His brothers could not answer him. They were very fearful to be with him.

v4 So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come close to me. I am your brother Joseph. You sold me into Egypt. v5 And now, do not be anxious. Do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here. God sent me ahead of you to save people’s lives. v6 There has been a *famine in this country for two years now. There will be *famine for 5 more years. During that time, nobody will plough or harvest. v7 God sent me ahead of you. Then I could keep some people still alive on the earth for you. I could help many people to stay alive.

v8 It was not you that sent me here. But it was God. God has made me like a father to *Pharaoh. I am the *lord over all *Pharaoh’s *household. And I am the ruler over all the country called Egypt. v9 Hurry back to my father and tell him this: “Your son Joseph tells you that God has made him *lord over all Egypt. He wants you to come down to him immediately. v10 He wants you to live in the region called Goshen. You will be near him there. Bring your children and grandchildren. Bring your *flocks and *herds. And bring everything that you own. v11 Joseph will take care of you there. There will still be 5 more years with *famine. If you do not come, you might become very poor. That includes you and your *household. And it includes all those that belong to you.”

v12 Now I am speaking to you with my own mouth. You can see that with your own eyes and my brother Benjamin can see it. v13 You must tell my father about all the great honour that I have in Egypt. Tell him everything that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.’

v14 Then Joseph hugged his brother Benjamin and Joseph wept. Benjamin, too, wept in Joseph’s arms. v15 Joseph kissed all his brothers and he wept over them. Then his brothers talked with him.

v16 The people in *Pharaoh’s *household heard the news that Joseph’s brothers had come. *Pharaoh and his servants were very happy. v17 *Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Tell your brothers to do this. Tell them to load their animals. And tell them to go back to the country called Canaan. v18 Let them fetch their father and let them fetch the people in their *households. And let them come to me. I will give to them the best part of this country, Egypt. They shall eat the best food that the land in Egypt produces.

v19 Tell them to do this too. Tell them to take wagons from this country, Egypt. They will need them for their young children and wives. Tell them to fetch their father. And tell them to come. v20 They need not worry about their goods. The best things in all this country called Egypt are theirs.’

v21 Israel’s sons did that. Joseph gave wagons to them, exactly as *Pharaoh ordered. Joseph gave food to them for their journey. v22 He also gave special clothes to them. He gave to Benjamin 300 *shekels of silver. And he gave 5 special long coats to Benjamin. v23 Joseph sent things for his father. Joseph loaded 10 *donkeys with good things from Egypt. He loaded 10 female *donkeys with corn, bread and other food for his father’s journey. v24 Then Joseph sent his brothers away. As they were leaving, he said to them, ‘Do not quarrel on the journey.’

v25 So the brothers went up out of Egypt. And they came back to their father Jacob in the country called Canaan. v26 The brothers told Jacob that Joseph was still alive. They said that Joseph was ruling over the country called Egypt. Jacob was very anxious. He did not believe the brothers. v27 But they told Jacob all that Joseph had said. The brothers showed the wagons to Jacob. Joseph had sent those wagons to carry Jacob. Then the brothers’ father Jacob (also called Israel) became more cheerful. v28 Israel said, ‘I need nothing else. My son Joseph is still alive. I shall go. And then I shall see him before I die.’

Joseph had to pretend that he was someone else. He did that in order to test his brothers. But now, Judah had shown that their attitudes had changed. In the end, Joseph could not control his emotions. He had to cry. And he wanted to hug his brothers. So, he quickly ordered his servants to leave the room.

Even when Joseph spoke to his brothers in their own language, they could not immediately recognise him. And they were afraid of him. But Joseph’s words helped them to feel more confident. Joseph was not angry with his brothers. He forgave them. He believed that, in fact, God sent him (Joseph) to Egypt. God sent Joseph there to save lives. And now, Joseph was able to save his own family from the terrible *famine.

*Pharaoh was pleased to hear that Joseph’s brothers had come from Canaan. *Pharaoh wanted the whole family to live in Egypt. *Pharaoh even sent wagons so that the weaker members of the family could travel to Egypt more easily.

The news from Egypt astonished Jacob. But, when he saw the wagons, he believed. He knew that God had been kind to Joseph. And Jacob saw that the events in Joseph’s dreams (Genesis 37:7-9) really happened. Jacob could remember the promises that God gave about his family (Genesis 35:11-12). So, Jacob was confident that God would do these things too. These things would happen after Jacob’s death, but Jacob still believed (Hebrews 11:21; Hebrews 11:13). But now, Jacob would go to see Joseph again. And, during the journey, God would speak to Jacob again (Genesis 46:3-4).

Notes on the verses

Verse 1 Joseph wanted this to be a special time that he could spend with his family. He wanted to take away anything that was between his brothers and himself. For them, he was their *Hebrew brother. Although he was also an important *Egyptian ruler, he need to be with his own family now.

Judah had shown that the brothers had changed. They were not willing to leave Benjamin in order to save themselves.

Verse 2 Joseph wept. We can imagine his feelings of delight and relief.

Joseph tried to make this meeting private. Perhaps he was unsure what the *Egyptians would think about his family. But in fact, everybody heard that Joseph’s family had arrived. Even *Pharaoh heard. And *Pharaoh was very pleased.

Verse 3 Joseph asked again about his father. That showed again his love for his father. Judah had made it clear that the father was very weak.

In some translations, the brothers were ‘dumbfounded’. It means that they could not speak. And they could not do anything. That was because they were so surprised, afraid and confused!

Verse 4 Joseph was a very great ruler. His visitors usually stood at a distance in order to give honour to him. But he wanted his brothers to come closer. They needed to recognise him. And he wanted to hug them.

Verses 5-8 Joseph knew that God had controlled his (Joseph’s) life. He mentions God many times in these verses.

In verse 8, a ‘father to *Pharaoh’ meant someone that advised *Pharaoh. It meant someone that helped *Pharaoh. It had no connection with age. And it had no connection with relatives in a family.

Verses 9-11 Joseph wanted his father and the whole family to come to Egypt. Then, Joseph could look after them during the *famine.

Verse 12 Here Joseph was speaking *Hebrew to his brothers. He was not speaking in the *Egyptian language.

Verse 13 Joseph wanted his father to hear how much God had *blessed Joseph.

Verses 14-15 This was a very happy meeting. It was the custom for relatives to hug and to kiss. These actions showed that Joseph loved his brothers. The brothers had not met Joseph for nearly 20 years, until they saw him in Egypt.

Verse 16 People in Egypt liked Joseph very much. Everyone was pleased about his family.

Verses 17-20 *Pharaoh was very generous. He did everything possible to bring the whole family to Egypt. He did not even want them to bring their possessions from Canaan. *Pharaoh could provide much better things for them in Egypt.

Verse 21 Joseph sent his brothers back to Canaan. He told them to bring the entire family back to Egypt.

Verse 22 Joseph gave new clothes to his brothers. They had torn their clothes when Joseph’s *steward arrested Benjamin (Genesis 44:13).

Verse 24 In the *Hebrew text, Joseph told his brothers not to ‘tremble’. In other words, they should keep their emotions calm. It may mean that they should not be afraid or anxious. And they should not accuse each other. They should be friendly to each other.

Verses 25-26 At first, Jacob did not believe the news. The brothers had to show him the wagons that *Pharaoh sent.

Verse 27 Jacob had been sad about Joseph since the events in Genesis 37:34-35. And Jacob thought that those terrible feelings would never leave him. Only Benjamin was able to comfort Jacob (Genesis 44:30-31). But the wonderful news about Joseph changed everything for Jacob. At last, Jacob’s spirit felt strong again. Jacob was excited. He wanted to go to see Joseph at once.

Verse 28 The writer suddenly calls Jacob by his other name, ‘Israel’. This was the special name that God gave to Jacob (Genesis 32:28). The writer uses this name to emphasise Jacob’s relationship (friendship) with God. Jacob’s (Israel’s) family was starting to grow into the nation called Israel. And the families that belonged to that nation would live in Egypt for over 400 years.

Jacob said that he would see Joseph before his (Jacob’s) death. These might seem like sad words, but they are not. Jacob meant that his life’s work was complete. God had done everything that Jacob hoped. God had even returned Joseph, who seemed dead, to Jacob. So, Jacob was not worried about the future. Jacob needed nothing else to make him content. And he would be content for the rest of his life.

Chapter 46

The whole family in Egypt

v1 So Israel set off. He took everything that he had. And he went to Beersheba. He made *sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

v2 God spoke to Israel during the night. He spoke to Israel in *visions. He said, ‘Jacob, Jacob.’

So Jacob said, ‘Here I am.’

v3 Then God said, ‘I am God, your father’s God. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt. I will make you into a great nation there. v4 I will go down to Egypt with you. I will also bring you back up here. And Joseph will close your eyes when you die.’

v5 Then Jacob went away from Beersheba. Israel’s sons carried their family in the wagons. They carried their father Jacob, their young children and their wives. *Pharaoh had sent the wagons to Jacob for his journey. v6 The sons also took their animals. And they took all that they owned. They had got all that in the country called Canaan. So Jacob and all his family came into Egypt. v7 Jacob had with him his sons and his grandsons. He had his daughters and his granddaughters. Jacob brought all his family with him into Egypt.

v8 These are the names of Israel’s family who came into Egypt. That is, Jacob and his sons. Reuben was Jacob’s oldest son. Reuben was born first.

v9 Reuben’s sons were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron and Carmi.

v10 Simeon’s sons were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar and Shaul. Shaul was the son of a *Canaanite woman.

v11 Levi’s sons were Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

v12 Judah’s sons were Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah. (Er and Onan died in the country called Canaan.) The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.

v13 Issachar’s sons were Tola, Phuvah, Job and Shimron.

v14 Zebulun’s sons were Sered, Elon and Jahleel.

v15 (Those were Leah’s sons. She gave birth to them for Jacob. They were born in Paddan-Aram, as well as his daughter Dinah. Those sons and daughters, who were born for Jacob, were 33 in total.)

v16 Gad’s sons were Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.

v17 Asher’s sons were Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah. They also had a sister Serah. Beriah’s sons were Heber and Malchiel.

v18 (Those were the sons of Zilpah. She gave birth to them for Jacob. Those *descendants were 16 in total. Laban had given Zilpah to his daughter Leah.)

v19 The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin. v20 Joseph had two sons in the country called Egypt. They were Manasseh and Ephraim. Their mother was Asenath, Potiphera’s daughter. Potiphera was the priest in the city called On.

v21 Benjamin’s sons were Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.

v22 (Those were Rachel’s sons. She gave birth to them for Jacob. The *descendants from Rachel were 14 in total.)

v23 Dan’s son was Hushim.

v24 Naphtali’s sons were Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem.

v25 (Those were the sons of Bilhah. She gave birth to them for Jacob. The *descendants from Bilhah were 7 in total. Laban had given Bilhah to his daughter Rachel.)

v26 66 *descendants went down to Egypt with Jacob. They came from his body. That total did not include his sons’ wives, who also went with him. v27 Joseph had two sons. They were born to him in Egypt. So in total, that makes 70. Those 70 people in Jacob’s family had gone down to Egypt.

v28 Jacob sent Judah ahead to Joseph. So then Joseph could show the way to the region called Goshen. So the family came into that region, Goshen. v29 Then Joseph made his *chariot ready. And he went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel. Joseph came to his father. He hugged his father. And he wept for a long time on his father’s neck.

v30 Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now I am ready to die. Now I have seen your face. And I know that you are still alive.’ v31 Joseph told his brothers and his father’s family that he (Joseph) would go to *Pharaoh. And he would tell *Pharaoh this. He would say that his (Joseph’s) brothers and his father’s family had come from the country called Canaan. They had come to Joseph. v32 Joseph said that he would tell *Pharaoh this. He would say that the men were *shepherds and they worked with animals. Jacob’s family had brought their animals. And they had brought everything that they had. v33 Joseph told his brothers what to say to *Pharaoh. *Pharaoh would call for them. Then he would ask them what work they did. v34 Joseph told them this. ‘Say, “Your servants have looked after animals since they were young until now. Both we and our *ancestors looked after animals.” Then you will be able to live in Goshen. The *Egyptians hate all *shepherds.’

On the way to Egypt, Jacob stopped at Beersheba. Beersheba was a special place for Jacob. There, God had spoken to his father, Isaac (Genesis 26:24). Isaac had gone to Beersheba because God told him not to go to Egypt (Genesis 26:2). But God’s message to Jacob was different.

In a dream, God spoke to Jacob. God told Jacob not to be afraid to go into Egypt. God had a plan for Jacob’s family in Egypt.

The chapter then contains a list of Jacob’s sons and grandsons. The numbers are difficult to calculate. But the final figure is 70 people. This was a very large family. In time, the family would become a great nation. God had promised Abraham that he (Abraham) would have very many *descendants (Genesis 15:5). God made this promise before Abraham had his son. And Jacob was Abraham’s grandson.

Jacob and Joseph were very happy to see each other again. Joseph knew that Jacob would encourage him. Joseph still had his important work to do for *Pharaoh. Until now, Joseph was probably the only person in Egypt who served the real God. The *Egyptians served *idols. But now Joseph had Jacob to support him.

Joseph arranged a place where his brothers could work. They would continue to be *shepherds. So, they would not become rulers. But Joseph continued his important work for *Pharaoh.

Notes on the verses

Verses 1-4 Jacob was planning to leave Canaan and he would go to Egypt. But Canaan was actually the country that God had promised to Jacob and his family. So Jacob needed to be sure that God wanted him to leave it. Jacob was probably very anxious. He very much wanted to see Joseph. But Jacob was old. And it was a long way to travel. However, the family might all starve if they did not go to Egypt. Jacob needed to know what God wanted.

So, Jacob stopped in order to pray at Beersheba. That night, God spoke again to Jacob. God promised to make Jacob’s family into a big nation in Egypt (verse 3). Here God was not talking about Canaan, the country that he had promised to them. In Egypt, the family would not only stay alive. It would also grow. But God did not want the family always to live in Egypt. Centuries later, God would arrange for their *descendants to return to Canaan.

Verses 5-7 Jacob’s family continued their journey. The weaker members of the family used the wagons that *Pharaoh sent. They took everything that they owned.

Verses 8-14 The writer gives a list of Leah’s family first. He gives a list of her sons and grandsons. Leah was Jacob’s first wife.

Verse 15 Leah’s ‘sons’ include also her grandsons. But the 33 people here probably do not include Er and Onan. Those two grandsons had died already in Canaan. They did not go to Egypt. But without Er and Onan, there are still only 32 *descendants. Those 32 include the daughter, called Dinah. So it is possible that the 33 people here include also Jacob, the father.

Verses 16-18 These are the sons and grandsons of Jacob and Zilpah. Zilpah was Leah’s maid. Zilpah became Jacob’s *concubine.

Verses 19-22 These are the sons and grandsons of Jacob and Rachel. Rachel was Jacob’s favourite wife.

The list in this chapter contains Jacob’s whole family. At that time Benjamin was probably too young to have 10 children. The writer mentions Benjamin’s family here to make the list complete.

Verses 22-25 These are the sons and grandsons of Jacob and Bilhah. Bilhah was Rachel’s maid. Bilhah became Jacob’s *concubine.

Verses 26-27 The 66 people in verse 26 were Jacob’s sons, grandsons and daughter. They went to Egypt with Jacob. Joseph and his two sons were already in Egypt. The 70 people in verse 27 include also them as well as Jacob himself. The number 70 in the Bible often has a special meaning. It means that something is complete.

Verse 28 Judah had been the leader of the brothers when they sold Joseph. Here, he was the leader when they brought Joseph and Jacob together again.

Verses 29-30 As soon as possible, Joseph went to see his father. They were very pleased to be together again. Jacob’s words in verse 30 meant that his life felt complete. He had done everything that he needed to do. But in fact, God had more work for Jacob. Jacob would *bless *Pharaoh (Genesis 47:7-10). And Jacob would *bless each of his sons by a special *prophecy (chapter 49).

Verses 31-32 God’s plan was that Jacob’s family should live together as a nation. The *Egyptians did not like *shepherds. So Jacob’s family did not live in different places among the *Egyptians. The family was able to live together in one place.

Verse 34 Egypt had a very strong culture and an ancient religion. So, the *Egyptians had strong opinions about other people. Perhaps the *Egyptians did not like *shepherds because they travelled from place to place.

Joseph was a ruler in Egypt. But he did not want his brothers to work in the government. Instead, he decided that they should continue to be *shepherds. Then, they could live in the region called Goshen. Goshen was near Egypt. But Joseph did not want them to live in the important cities in Egypt. He knew that their decisions had not always been sensible in the past. He was careful in case they made any more mistakes. Joseph was a very capable ruler.

Chapter 47

Joseph works well for his master *Pharaoh

v1 So Joseph went in to *Pharaoh. Joseph told *Pharaoh that his father and brothers had come from the country called Canaan. They had brought their animals. And they had brought everything that they had. They were there in the region called Goshen. v2 Joseph chose 5 men from all his brothers and he brought those 5 brothers to *Pharaoh.

v3 *Pharaoh said to Joseph’s brothers, ‘What do you do to live?’

They replied to *Pharaoh, ‘Your servants are *shepherds, as our fathers were.’ v4 Then the brothers said to *Pharaoh, ‘We have come to stay in this country. We, your servants, have no land and we have no food for our animals. In the country called Canaan, the *famine is very great. Please, we ask you to let us, your servants, live in the region called Goshen.’

v5 Then *Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you. v6 This country, Egypt, is in front of you. Let your father and your brothers go to live in the best part of the country. Let them live in the region called Goshen. You may know whether there are capable men among them. If so, appoint them to take care of my animals.’

v7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in to *Pharaoh, and Jacob *blessed *Pharaoh. v8 Then *Pharaoh said to Jacob, ‘How old are you?’

v9 Jacob replied to *Pharaoh, ‘I have lived for 130 years. My years have been few and they have been evil. I have not had such a good life as my fathers had on their journeys.’ v10 Jacob *blessed *Pharaoh. And he went out from where *Pharaoh was.

v11 Then Joseph let his father and brothers live there in Egypt. He gave some land to them to live on. It was the best land in the region called Rameses, as *Pharaoh had ordered. v12 Joseph gave food to his father, his brothers and his father’s entire family. He gave as much as the families needed.

v13 However, there was no food in all the country. The *famine was very great. People in the countries called Egypt and Canaan were dying because of the *famine. v14 Joseph gathered all the money that was in those countries, Egypt and Canaan. That was the money that people had paid for the corn. Joseph took the money to *Pharaoh’s house. v15 Soon no money remained in those countries, in Egypt and Canaan. All the *Egyptians came to Joseph. And they said, ‘Give food to us. Otherwise we will die in front of you because we have no more money. And that would not be sensible.’

v16 Joseph replied, ‘You have no money. So give your animals to me. I will give food to you, if you give your animals to me. ‘ v17 So the *Egyptians brought their animals to Joseph. Joseph gave food to them, because they gave to him their horses, *flocks, *herds and *donkeys. Joseph gave food to the *Egyptians for that year because they had given their animals to him.

v18 When that year was over, the *Egyptians came to Joseph. They said, ‘My *lord, we cannot pretend that we have money. Our animals already belong to my *lord. We have nothing for my *lord except our bodies and our land. Nothing else remains. v19 Otherwise we shall die in front of you. That means both us and our land. Please buy us and buy our land. Give food to us. Then we, as slaves, will belong to *Pharaoh. And so will our land. Give seed to us. Then we can live and we will not die. Then the land will not be without crops.’

v20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for *Pharaoh. All the *Egyptians sold their fields. They were suffering very much because of the *famine. So the land became *Pharaoh’s land. v21 Joseph made all the people slaves, from one end of Egypt to the other end. v22 Joseph bought all the land except the priests’ land. The priests received a particular, definite amount of food regularly from *Pharaoh. They lived on what *Pharaoh gave to them. So the priests did not sell their land.

v23 Then Joseph said to the people, ‘Look! Today I have bought you for *Pharaoh. And I have bought your land for *Pharaoh. Now, as a payment, I am giving seed to you. You shall sow it on the land. v24 You shall harvest your crops. Then you must give a fifth (1/5th) of the harvest to *Pharaoh. Four fifths (4/5ths) will be yours. That will be seed for the field. And it will be food for yourselves, your families and your children.’

v25 The people said, ‘You have saved our lives. Let my *lord be kind to us. We will be *Pharaoh’s slaves.’

v26 So Joseph made a law. It was a law for a long time in that country, Egypt. In that law, *Pharaoh should have one fifth of all crops. Only the priests’ land did not become *Pharaoh’s land.

v27 So Israel’s family lived in the country called Egypt, in the region called Goshen. They owned things there. They were *fruitful and they had very many children.

v28 Jacob lived in that country, Egypt, for 17 years. So Jacob lived for 147 years in total. He lived for all the days in all those years. v29 The time came for Israel to die. Then he called his son Joseph to him. He said to Joseph, ‘Please be kind to me. Please put your hand under my *thigh. Promise me that you will be loyal and true to me. Do not bury me in Egypt. v30 Please let me lie with my father and grandfather. Carry me out of Egypt. Bury me where people buried my father and grandfather.’

Joseph answered, ‘I will do as you have said.’

v31 Jacob said, ‘Make a very serious promise to me that you will do so.’ So Joseph made a very serious promise. Then Israel *bowed down upon the head of his bed.

The right time came for Joseph to introduce his family to *Pharaoh. Joseph chose 5 brothers (on behalf of the whole family) to meet *Pharaoh. Then, Joseph introduced his father, Jacob, to *Pharaoh.

*Pharaoh respected Jacob because Jacob was a very old man. And *Pharaoh also gave honour to Jacob because of Joseph’s importance. *Pharaoh realised that Jacob, like Joseph, was a holy man.

Jacob explained to *Pharaoh that he (Jacob) did not consider himself a great man. Jacob referred to the lives of Abraham and Isaac. Jacob believed that they were really great men. He said that life on earth was like a journey. Perhaps he was desiring his permanent home in heaven (Hebrews 11:16). Then, Jacob *blessed *Pharaoh.

Afterwards, *Pharaoh became much more important as a ruler. This happened because of Joseph’s great skill. He bought the land in Egypt for *Pharaoh. And Joseph also arranged regular taxes that made *Pharaoh much more wealthy.

At the end of the chapter, Jacob was very old. Soon, he would die. So, he called Joseph. Jacob asked Joseph to promise to bury him (Jacob) in Canaan. Jacob wanted his *descendants to realise that Egypt was not their permanent home. Instead, God had promised Canaan to them. Joseph made the promise. In fact, Joseph would ask his own *descendants to make a similar promise about his own body, too.

Notes on the verses

Verse 2 Joseph took only 5 brothers to *Pharaoh. Joseph did not take them all. We do not know how he chose those 5 brothers. In the *Hebrew text, Joseph chose them ‘from the edge’. It means that he chose from all the brothers. Perhaps he took the most impressive ones, so that *Pharaoh would want such people in Egypt. Or perhaps he took the weaker ones, so that *Pharaoh would not take them into the government. God has not told us the reason why Joseph chose those 5 brothers. So we do not need to know why.

Verse 3 The brothers answered as Joseph had told them in Genesis 46:33-34.

Verse 4 We do not know exactly where Goshen was. It was probably on the east side of the Nile.

Verse 6 *Pharaoh was very kind. He did not behave towards Jacob and his family as if they were strangers. *Pharaoh received them with pleasure. He had this attitude because of Joseph. Joseph had *blessed *Pharaoh. So, *Pharaoh wanted to *bless Joseph’s family.

Verse 7 Jacob *blessed *Pharaoh. God was doing as he had promised. He was *blessing other people by means of Jacob and his family. Usually, the more important person *blessed the less important one. However, Jacob was an old man and therefore he was important. The ‘*blessing’ may have been a greeting, ‘Let God be with you.’ Or ‘I hope that you will live for a long time.’ Jacob was grateful for *Pharaoh’s kindness.

Verse 8 In the *Hebrew Bible, *Pharaoh asks, ‘How many are the days of the years of your life?’ That makes Jacob seem very old.

Verses 9-10 Jacob said, ‘I have lived.’ For ‘lived’, he used a certain *Hebrew word that he often used. That word means ‘to live in a temporary home’, ‘to camp’ or ‘to travel’. It does not mean that he always lived in one place. It is the opposite of that.

Jacob said that the years in his life had been ‘few and evil’. He was not quite as old as Abraham or Isaac. But they, too, had many difficulties during their lives. Jacob was trying to emphasise that his life was not perfect. He had made many mistakes. But he was aware of God’s greatness. God lives always. And God never does anything wrong. So, Jacob *blessed *Pharaoh. In other words, Jacob prayed that God would be kind to *Pharaoh.

Verse 11 The ‘region called Rameses’ may be a name that people gave later to the region called Goshen. Or it may have been another name for Goshen already. The name meant ‘Ra has created it’. (Ra was a god that the *Egyptians *worshipped.)

Verse 13 The *famine would continue for 5 more years (Genesis 45:6). This was a very long *famine. But Joseph had stored the excess food from the years before the *famine began.

Verses 14-15 Joseph was very honest. He was also a very good, careful official. At the start of the *famine, people used money to pay for their food. But the people ran out of money to buy food.

Verses 16-19 As the *famine continued, people had no money to pay for their food. But Joseph was very wise. He fed the people so that they did not die. They paid for the corn with their animals (verse 17). The people also paid with their land (verse 20). And they paid with themselves, as they became slaves (verse 21). They did it so that they did not owe anything to Joseph. Joseph also took good care of what belonged to *Pharaoh, his master.

Verses 20-24 After that, all the land belonged to *Pharaoh. So then it was easier to make sure that people used it well. Then, there would not be frequent *famines. It was not bad to be a slave. The master fed his slaves. Some slaves had important jobs. When Joseph was a slave, he had an important job with Potiphar. The people would have four fifths of future harvests. So really, the effect was that the people were paying taxes.

Verse 25 The people were not angry about Joseph’s taxes. They knew that he saved their lives by his careful plans. So, they were grateful to Joseph and to *Pharaoh. People respect governments that look after them carefully.

Verse 26 In the *Hebrew Bible, the writer says that Joseph’s law ‘remains at this day’. ‘This day’ means the day when the writer wrote the account.

Verse 27 God did as he had promised. Jacob’s family became rich and his sons had many children.

Verse 28 Joseph lived with Jacob for 17 years before the brothers sold Joseph. Here, Jacob lived near Joseph for another 17 years. That was the last part of Jacob’s life.

Verses 29-30 ‘Israel’ is Jacob’s name as the head of the family. The family would become a nation called ‘Israel’. Before Jacob’s request, he said, ‘Please be kind to me.’ The *Hebrew writer says, ‘If now you look at me with a kind attitude’. Jacob wanted people to take his body to Canaan when he died. That was the country that God had promised to him. So Jacob trusted that God would take the family back to Canaan. Jacob needed to remind his family that God would do that. Egypt was not their home.

Verse 31 Joseph had to do what Jacob wanted. So Joseph needed to make a very serious promise. Joseph needed to be very careful to do that. We do not know exactly what this verse means. Jacob may have *bowed because he was thanking God. Or he may have been very weak and tired. The *Hebrew text may mean that Jacob leaned on the head of his stick. It may not have been the head of the bed. We know that Jacob was a weak old man. He was grateful to God that he (Jacob) was content before his death.

Chapter 48

Jacob’s *blessing for Joseph’s sons

v1 After that, Joseph heard that his father was ill. So Joseph took his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, with him. v2 Jacob heard also that his son Joseph had come to him. Then Israel used all his strength and he sat up in bed.

v3 Then Jacob said this to Joseph. ‘The *Almighty God appeared in front of me at Luz. That is in the country called Canaan. And he *blessed me. v4 God said to me, “Look! I will make you rich and you will have a large family. I will make your family into very many nations. I will give this country to your *descendants. They will have it for always.”

v5 Now your two sons shall be mine. They were born to you in this country, Egypt. That was before I came here. Then I came to you here in Egypt. Ephraim and Manasseh shall be my sons, as Reuben and Simeon are. v6 After these two sons, other children may be born to you. Any other children shall be yours. They will share the country that God has promised to their brothers. v7 When I came from Paddan, Rachel died on the way. She died in the country called Canaan. We were still some miles from Ephrath. That made me very sad. I buried her there on the way to Ephrath. (That is, Bethlehem.)’

v8 Israel saw Joseph’s sons. Then Israel said, ‘Who are these?’

v9 Joseph replied to his father, ‘They are my sons, whom God has given to me here.’

Then Israel said, ‘Please bring them to me so that I can *bless them.’

v10 Because Israel was old, his eyes were weak. He could not see clearly. So Joseph brought his sons near to Israel. Israel kissed them and he hugged them.

v11 Israel said to Joseph, ‘I thought that I would never see your face again. Now God has let me see your children as well.’

v12 Then Joseph took his sons from near Israel’s knees and Joseph *bowed low to the ground. v13 Joseph then took both his sons. Joseph had Ephraim in his right hand, at Israel’s left side. And Joseph had Manasseh in his left hand, at Israel’s right side. Joseph led his sons near to Israel. v14 Then Israel put his hands across each other. He stretched out his right hand and he put it on Ephraim’s head. Ephraim was the younger son. Then Israel put his left hand on Manasseh’s head. Manasseh was the oldest son, the one that was born first.

v15 Israel *blessed Joseph. And Israel said, ‘This God is the God in whose sight my fathers Abraham and Isaac lived. This God has led me all my life, even until today. v16 The *angel of God has *redeemed me from all evil things. Let God *bless these boys. I pray that because of them, people will continue to remember my name. And they will continue to remember the name of my grandfather Abraham and my father Isaac. Let the boys grow. Let them become a great crowd in the middle of the earth.’

v17 Joseph’s father had laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head. Joseph was unhappy when he saw that. He took his father’s hand. And Joseph tried to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. v18 Joseph said to his father, ‘This is not right, my father. This son is the oldest. He was born first. Put your right hand upon his head.’

v19 But Joseph’s father refused. And he said, ‘I know, my son. I know. The oldest son, who was born first, shall also become the father of a nation. He too will be great. But his younger brother will be greater than he is. The younger brother’s *descendants will become very many nations.’ v20 So Israel *blessed them that day. And he said,

‘Israel (the *Israelites) will use your names to *bless people. They will say, “Let God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.” ’

So Israel considered Ephraim more important than Manasseh.

v21 Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Look! I am dying, but God will be with you. He will bring you back to your father’s and grandfather’s country. v22 Also, I have given to you a slope of a mountain. I have not given that to your brothers. I took that slope out of the *Amorites’ possession, with my sword and my bow.’

The *blessings that Jacob gave to his family start in this chapter. These *blessings were not just Jacob’s own ideas about his sons and grandsons. In fact, the *blessings were *prophecies about the future. Jacob spoke these things by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

Many of Jacob’s *blessings are difficult for us to understand. Some phrases have several possible meanings. But we need to remember that the *descendants of Jacob’s 12 sons became the 12 *tribes of Israel. So, often the words in the *blessing describe the places where the *tribes would live in Canaan.

The *blessings were also a type of poetry. They use descriptions that may seem strange to us today. And they often repeat the same ideas in different words.

Jacob began with his *blessings for Joseph’s sons. Joseph received the *birthright because of Reuben’s *sin (1 Chronicles 5:1-2). So, Jacob gave a special *blessing to Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Jacob wanted people to include Ephraim and Manasseh when they made lists of his (Jacob’s) sons. So, the *descendants of Ephraim became another *tribe of Israel. So did the *descendants of Manasseh. And the *descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh would receive their own land in Canaan (Joshua chapters 16 and 17).

The writer often uses Jacob’s other name, Israel, in this chapter.

Notes on the verses

Verse 1 Isaac gave his final *blessing to his sons when he expected to die (Genesis 27:2). That *blessing was very important. It included *prophecies about the future.

So, when Jacob was old and ill, Joseph went to receive his father’s *blessing. There would be a special *blessing for Joseph because he had the *birthright (1 Chronicles 5:2). And Joseph probably hoped that God would give a *prophecy to Jacob.

It seems that Joseph also wanted his own sons to receive a *blessing. They had lived a very strange life. Their mother’s father was the priest of a false god (Genesis 41:45). They had always lived in Egypt. They spoke the *Egyptian language. They wore *Egyptian clothes. They probably felt like *Egyptians. So, it was probably a great surprise for them to discover their real family. But Joseph wanted his sons to receive the benefit of God’s promise too. So, Joseph brought them to Jacob.

Verse 3 Luz is another name for Bethel. Jacob was describing the event in Genesis 28:10-15.

Verse 4 God had chosen certain people to be his servants. God had promised many times that he would make those servants ‘be *fruitful’. And he would make them ‘grow in number’. They would have many *descendants. And their *descendants would become a great nation. This was God’s promise to Abraham and Isaac. God repeated this promise to Jacob at Bethel. And now Jacob’s *blessings would include *prophecies with a relationship to this promise. God also promised that Jacob’s *descendants would rule Canaan.

It was as if Jacob was passing out these promises to his sons. Jacob would soon die. But Jacob’s sons would receive the benefit of these promises.

Verse 5 Jacob chose a special way to show that Ephraim and Manasseh belonged to his family. Jacob adopted them. The *descendants of all Jacob’s sons became *tribes. For example, there were a *tribe of Reuben and a *tribe of Simeon. And there were also a *tribe of Ephraim and a *tribe of Manasseh. Everybody knew that they belonged with Jacob’s *descendants. This was because Jacob adopted Ephraim and Manasseh.

Although Manasseh was the oldest son, Jacob mentioned Ephraim first here. Again, God especially *blessed the younger son. God had *blessed Joseph similarly, although his brothers were older than him.

Verse 6 Any other sons of Joseph would be part of the *tribes called Ephraim and Manasseh. And they would share the land of those *tribes.

Verses 8-9 The words that Israel used here may have been special words. People often used such words when they adopted children. But perhaps Israel (Jacob) was making sure whom he would soon *bless. He probably remembered how he had made Isaac *bless him.

Verse 10 Some Bible students say that this was actually a ceremony. When people were adopting children, they kissed those children. And they hugged the children. It was part of that event. In any case, it was natural that a grandfather would do that. He was very eager to love Joseph’s sons.

Verse 11 Israel (Jacob) and Joseph both knew that God had *blessed them.

Verse 12 We are not sure exactly where the grandsons were. They would not have been on Israel’s knees. They were both over 17 years old. Maybe they went near Israel’s knees because he was taking them into his family. It may have been part of that event. Look at Genesis 30:3. There, Rachel offered her maid to Jacob. In the *Hebrew Bible, she did it so that ‘she can have babies upon my knees. And even I can have children by means of her.’ In Egypt, Joseph was a more important man than Israel (Jacob) was. Joseph *bowed low because Israel (Jacob) was old. And Israel (Jacob) was dying. And Israel (Jacob) was his father. Joseph showed honour to Israel (Jacob) for those reasons. And Joseph also showed Israel (Jacob) honour because Israel (Jacob) was a holy man. Soon, like a priest, Israel (Jacob) would *bless his family. And he would give a *prophecy from God.

Verses 13-14 Israel (Jacob) clearly knew which son was which. He did not make a mistake. As he gave his *blessing, he was trusting God to guide him (Hebrews 11:21).

Verses 15-16 When Israel (Jacob) had *blessed Joseph’s sons, he *blessed Joseph. Israel (Jacob) cared more about God’s honour than he cared about his family’s happiness. He emphasised that God was really giving the *blessing.

Verses 17-19 Joseph wanted Manasseh to receive a greater *blessing. So, Joseph thought that his father had made a mistake. But there was no mistake. Israel (Jacob) knew what God wanted him to do.

Verse 20 ‘Israel will use your names to *bless people.’ In this sentence, ‘Israel’ means ‘*Israelites’. But in other places here, it means Jacob.

Verse 21 Israel (Jacob) had not forgotten the country that God had promised to him. He had been away from it for 17 years. But he had not forgotten it. He wanted to remind his family that they should return there.

Verse 22 Joseph had the *birthright. Usually, the oldest son in the family received the *birthright. But Reuben lost this right because of his evil behaviour.

The son with the *birthright received a double share of his father’s possessions. Of course, Joseph was very wealthy. He needed nothing more from his father. So, his father gave him some land in Canaan. It seems that this is the land in Genesis 33:19-20. (See also John 4:5.) This was a special place where Jacob built an *altar. So, this gift would remind Joseph to pray. And it would also remind Joseph that, in the future, his *descendants would return to Canaan.

Chapter 33 says that Jacob bought this land. But this chapter says that he fought for it. We do not know when he fought such a battle. Maybe he had to fight in order to protect his family after his sons attacked Shechem.

Chapter 49

Jacob’s *blessing for his family

After Jacob *blessed Joseph’s sons, Jacob *blessed his own sons.

In fact, Jacob did not give a *blessing to all 12 sons. Reuben, Simeon and Levi deserved no *blessing because of their evil deeds.

But God still gave Jacob a *prophecy about each son. All the sons belonged to Jacob’s family. And all the sons received the benefit of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God would make the *descendants of all the sons into a great nation. The *descendants of each son would become a *tribe in that nation. God would give them the country called Canaan.

And God would use them to *bless people from all the nations. Among them, Eve’s special *descendant (Genesis 3:15) would be born. That *descendant would free people from *sin and from the devil’s power. God’s promises to Abraham were also promises to that *descendant (Galatians 3:16). And that *descendant would be the real king of Israel (Genesis 49:10). The Bible tells us that these promises were about Jesus. He was that special *descendant.

This is a very difficult chapter to translate. Some phrases have many possible meanings. We have tried to explain the probable meaning. But different Bible students have other ideas about some verses.

v1 Then Jacob called his sons. And he said, ‘Come together, all you sons. Then I will tell you what will happen in the future time.

v2 Come together and listen, sons of Jacob. Listen to Israel, your father.’

Verses 1-2 This was a *prophecy about the future. Of course, Jacob could not speak about the future by his own knowledge. God showed him what to say. That is how he was able to speak such things.

Jacob often referred to past events as he spoke. But he was using these events as a way to explain what would happen in the future. He also used the names of some sons in a special way. The meanings of their names also helped to explain future events.

These *prophecies would not happen during the lives of Jacob’s sons. Instead, the *prophecies were about the *descendants of Jacob’s sons. These *descendants became the 12 *tribes of Israel. The *descendants of each son became a *tribe. The *prophecies were about the regions that each *tribe would receive in Canaan. And, they were about the work that each *tribe would do. And, sometimes, they were about that *tribe’s troubles.

Verses 3-4 Reuben

v3 ‘Reuben, you were my first son.

And the first son is the first evidence of his father’s strength and greatness.

That son should have the greatest honour.

That son should have the greatest power.

v4 But you are as weak as water.

You will certainly not be the leader

because you entered into your father’s bed.

You caused me shame.

Reuben had sex with my *concubine.’

Verses 3-4 People thought that the first son should become the head of the family after his father’s death. So, Jacob had great hopes for Reuben. But Reuben disappointed Jacob when Reuben had sex with Bilhah (Genesis 35:22). (Bilhah was Jacob’s *concubine.) So, Jacob decided to give the *birthright to Joseph instead of Reuben (1 Chronicles 5:1-2).

Reuben’s *descendants became the *tribe of Reuben. The *tribe of Reuben was never an important *tribe.

Verses 5-7 Simeon and Levi

v5 ‘Simeon and Levi are brothers who act together.

They are very cruel when they use their swords.

v6 Their plans would ruin my character.

If I joined in with them, I would deserve no honour.

They killed men when they were angry.

They hurt a strong animal so that it could not walk.

v7 Their anger was very fierce.

Such anger deserves punishment.

Their anger was very cruel.

Such cruelty deserves punishment.

So, I shall order them not to live together.

I shall make them scatter in Israel.’

Verses 5-7 Jacob was referring to the events in chapter 34. Jacob thought that the behaviour of Simeon and Levi was terrible. Simeon and Levi did not respect God. They had been angry. So, they used the *covenant that the family had made with God. They used it in order to kill their enemies.

Jacob said that they should not live together. This was a *prophecy. Each *tribe of Israel received its own land in Canaan. But the *tribes of Simeon and Levi were different.

The *tribe of Simeon was small. So, it did not receive its own region in Canaan. Instead, the *tribe of Simeon received part of the land that belonged to the *tribe of Judah (Joshua 19:1-9).

The *tribe of Levi became very important. Moses belonged to this *tribe. And God appointed families from this *tribe to become the priests. Because they were priests, they were responsible for all the people in Israel. So, the *tribe of Levi could not receive its own region. Instead, the people from this *tribe received their own towns. These towns were in every region in Canaan (Joshua chapter 21). So, people from the *tribe of Levi were available to help people from all the *tribes to *worship God.

So, the things that Jacob said actually happened. They were *prophecies from God. But these things did not always happen in the way that people might expect.

Verses 8-12 Judah

v8 ‘Judah, your name means “praise”.

And your brothers will praise you.

You will overcome your enemies.

You will be like a man who puts his hand on the neck of his enemy.

Your father’s sons will *bow to give you honour.

v9 You are like a young lion, Judah, my son.

The lion returns home after it has hunted for food.

The lion lies down to rest.

Nobody dares to wake a female lion.

v10 Judah is the ruler.

Judah has the *sceptre.

And Judah’s family will keep the stick that shows royal authority.

They will keep it until its real owner comes.

And all the nations will obey him.

v11 He takes his *donkey to carry the fruit from a *vine.

He puts his young *donkey by the best *vine.

There is so much wine that he could use it to wash his clothes.

There is so much fruit that the juice could wash his coat.

v12 His eyes are darker than *wine.

His teeth are whiter than milk.’

Verses 8-9 The *tribe of Judah became a very large *tribe. And it became very important. Even before there were kings in Israel, men from the *tribe of Judah led Israel’s army into battle. (See Judges 20:18.)

Jacob said in his *prophecy that the *tribe of Judah would overcome its enemies. Lions are very strong animals. And the men from Judah’s *tribe would be strong in battle. Someone cannot put his hand on his enemy’s neck until that person has completely defeated his enemy.

Verse 10 Jacob was saying that the kings of Israel would come from Judah’s *descendants. David and Solomon came from the *tribe of Judah. They were the greatest kings of Israel. And their *descendants ruled as kings for many centuries. But the other *tribes did not remain loyal to David’s family.

In the end, God’s plan is that the ‘real owner’ will be king. This means Jesus, who is the king of kings (Revelation 19:16). As the real king of Israel, Jesus owns the objects that show royal authority. He is the king of Israel, but he is also the king of every nation.

Jesus deserves to rule the nations because he is God. With God the Father and the Holy Spirit, Jesus created everything that exists (John 1:1-3).

Jesus also deserves to rule because he is Eve’s special *descendant. God promised that Eve’s special *descendant would free people from the power of *sin and the devil (Genesis 3:15). Jesus achieved this by his death for us.

Jesus also deserves to rule because he is David’s *descendant. And Jesus belongs to the *tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).

And, because Jesus will rule, God will *bless the people from all nations (Revelation 22:2-3). If we confess our *sins, God forgives us because of Jesus. And we shall rule with him, because we belong to his royal family (1 Peter 2:9). This is a wonderful promise to everyone who trusts Jesus. We do not deserve these things. And we cannot earn them by our own efforts. But God said that he would *bless people from every nation by means of Abraham’s special *descendant (Genesis 12:3). And that special *descendant is Jesus (Galatians 3:16).

Verses 11-12 These verses do not seem to describe Judah himself, who was a *shepherd. The verses probably describe the land in Canaan that the *tribe of Judah would receive. So, ‘he’ means someone from the *tribe of Judah.

Jacob described a place where the land was very good. People would plant fruit bushes. And the fruit harvest would be plentiful. A farmer would need a *donkey to carry the fruit from one bush. (See Numbers 13:23.) There would even be enough wine to wash clothes in it! People did not really wash clothes in wine. Usually, wine was much too precious to waste.

Verse 12 describes someone who is strong and healthy. That person is healthy because his food is good. His food is good because the land is good. So, the *tribe of Judah would receive good land.

Verse 13 Zebulun

v13 ‘Zebulun’s home will be by the sea shore.

In that place, there will be a shelter for ships.

The border of Zebulun’s land will be near Sidon.’

Verse 13 Jacob was saying that trade would be important to the *tribe of Zebulun. This tribe’s land included part of the shore of the sea called Galilee. But the land did not include the city called Sidon. And it did not include the shore of the great sea, called the Mediterranean. But perhaps the men from this *tribe traded in these places also.

Verses 14-15 Issachar

v14 ‘I shall describe Issachar as a strong *donkey.

The *donkey lies between the two sacks that it must carry.

v15 The *donkey knows when it has found a good place to rest.

The *donkey can recognise land that is pleasant.

So, it chooses to lift its heavy weights.

It agrees to work like a slave.’

Verses 14-15 Men from the *tribe of Issachar would become farmers. Their land would be very good. And, like the *donkey, they would work very hard.

Verses 16-18 Dan

v16 Dan will become the judge who defends his people among the *tribes of Israel.

v17 Dan will be like a snake by a road.

And a snake will bite the ankles of a horse.

When the horse feels the pain, its rider will fall.

v18 I am waiting for you to save me, *Lord.’

Verse 16 Dan’s name means “judgement”. These words are not a description of a modern judge, who merely makes decisions. Jacob was saying that God would use Dan (or the *tribe of Dan) to fight for his people. Samson did this, and he came from the *tribe of Dan (Judges 13:2).

Verses 17-18 A snake may be small. But it can fight a much larger animal. And the snake will win.

So, God would use the *tribe of Dan to defeat enemies that seemed very powerful. The *tribe of Dan would succeed because God was using it to save his people.

Verse 19 Gad

v19 ‘A group of guards will gather to get Gad’s goods (possessions)!

But Gad will go back to get their goods!’

Verse 19 Jacob repeats the same letters often in his *prophecy about Gad. Our translation also does this (with the letters ‘g’ and 'd'). This is a style of poetry.

Many enemies attacked the *tribe of Gad. These enemies belonged to the nations called Ammon, Moab and Aram. The people from Gad fought them successfully.

Verse 20 Asher

v20 ‘Asher will enjoy rich food.

He will produce food for the king to eat.’

Verse 20 The *tribe of Asher received good land. When Solomon became the King of Israel, the *tribe of Asher provided food for the palace. Each year, they provided the food that the palace used in one month. You can read a list of the food that the *tribe provided in 1 Kings 4:22-28.

Verse 21 Naphtali

v21 ‘I compare Naphtali to a graceful *deer (wild animal) that is free.

That deer gives birth to beautiful young animals.

And so, Naphtali will speak beautiful words.’

Verse 21 This verse seems to refer to the battle that Barak fought. Barak came from the *tribe of Naphtali (Judges 4:6). And the beautiful words may refer to the poem in Judges chapter 5.

Verses 22-26 Joseph

v22 ‘Joseph is like a *vine that produces plentiful fruit.

That vine grows near to the water.

It is in a garden and its branches grow over the wall.

v23 Joseph’s enemies were angry.

They hated him.

They shot their arrows at him.

v24 But Joseph held his bow firmly.

His arms were strong because God supported him.

God is Jacob’s strong helper.

God looks after his people as a *shepherd looks after sheep.

God is Israel’s security.

v25 And, Joseph, your father’s God will help you.

God is your provider and he will *bless you.

So, God will give you *blessings from *heaven above.

And God will give you *blessings from the deepest places below.

He will give *blessings to your children.

And he will give *blessings to the mothers in your *tribe.

v26 Joseph, these *blessings are greater than the *blessings that my father and grandfather gave to their sons.

These *blessings are great, like the greatness of the ancient hills.

And I give all these *blessings to Joseph.

They shall be like a crown for his head.

He is the prince among his brothers.’

Verse 22 This verse is like Psalm 1:2-3. These are descriptions of a *righteous person. Such a person does whatever God wants that person to do. Other people might think that a *righteous person is foolish. But the Bible teaches that only *righteous people are really successful. And *righteous people are successful whether they are rich or poor. Joseph was a *righteous man. And so, Joseph’s life did not just benefit Joseph himself. In fact, God *blessed *Pharaoh because of Joseph. God saved the lives of the *Egyptians during the *famine because of Joseph. And God helped Joseph’s own family, because of Joseph.

Verses 23-24 Joseph had many troubles during his life. But God protected Joseph. And God made Joseph able to overcome his (Joseph’s) problems.

Jacob described Joseph’s problems as if Joseph was a soldier in a battle. Joseph was not actually a soldier. This is just a description.

Verses 25-26 Joseph received a special *blessing because he had the *birthright. Jacob said that God would give many good things to Joseph. God had been very kind to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But the good things that God would give his people had not ended. In fact, the opposite was true. God would do even greater things for Joseph’s *descendants.

The son who had the *birthright used to receive a double share of his father’s possessions. The *descendants of each son of Jacob became a *tribe. But Joseph’s *descendants became two *tribes: Ephraim and Manasseh. And they were both large *tribes.

Verse 27 Benjamin

v27 ‘Benjamin is like a greedy *wolf.

In the morning, the *wolf eats whatever it has hunted.

In the evening, the *wolf tears apart the animals that it has taken.’

Verse 27 People from the *tribe of Benjamin would have a tendency to fight. In Judges chapter 20, this attitude caused a terrible war between the *tribe of Benjamin and the other *tribes. The *tribe of Benjamin refused to hand over criminals for punishment. Instead, the *tribe of Benjamin decided to fight.

The men from the *tribe of Benjamin were brave soldiers. But they still lost the battle. Nearly everyone from the *tribe of Benjamin died. Only 600 men from the *tribe of Benjamin escaped.

Many years afterwards, the first king of Israel, called Saul, came from the *tribe of Benjamin. Saul became a cruel king.

Paul too belonged to the *tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5). Paul had this tendency too, but he used it in a good way. He was brave. And he was not afraid to suffer (2 Corinthians 11:23-29).

Verses 28-33 Jacob’s final orders

v28 All those are Israel’s 12 *tribes. That is what their father said to them. He said it when he *blessed them. He *blessed each son with the *blessing that was right for that son.

v29 Then Israel gave these orders to his sons. He said, ‘God will soon gather me to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave. It is in the field of Ephron the *Hittite. v30 That cave is in the field at Machpelah. It is east from Mamre, in the country called Canaan. Abraham bought the field from Ephron the *Hittite. So then Abraham had a place to bury people. v31 There people buried Abraham and his wife Sarah. There they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah. I buried Leah there. v32 Abraham bought that field and he bought the cave in it. He bought them from Heth’s family.’

v33 Jacob (Israel) gave those orders to his sons. When he had finished, he pulled his feet up onto the bed. He breathed his last breath and he died.

Verse 28 This is the first time in Genesis when the writer writes about ‘Israel’s 12 *tribes’.

Verse 29 Jacob told his sons that he was dying. He said, ‘God will soon gather me to my people.’ Maybe he used these words to show that there is life after death. We do not know whether he did. Jacob may have meant only that his body would be with his dead relatives (verses 30-32). Jacob insisted that his sons should bury him in Canaan. Canaan was the country that God had promised to them. The sons needed to remember that. Their *descendants would not always remain in Egypt.

Chapter 50

Jacob and Joseph die

v1 Then Joseph bent over his father’s face. He wept and he kissed his father. v2 Joseph had some servants that were doctors. He ordered them to *preserve his father. So the doctors *preserved Israel. v3 They worked for 40 days. It takes 40 days to *preserve a body. The *Egyptians wept about Israel for 70 days.

v4 Then the days when the *Egyptians wept were over. Joseph then spoke to *Pharaoh’s family. He said, ‘Please do this kind thing for me and speak to *Pharaoh. v5 Please tell him that my father made me declare a very serious promise. Israel said to me, “I will soon die. Bury me in the grave that I bought for myself. I bought it in the country called Canaan. Bury me there!” Please ask *Pharaoh if I can go to bury my father. Then I will come back.’

v6 *Pharaoh replied, ‘Go up and bury your father. Do it exactly as you promised to him.’

v7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. And all *Pharaoh’s servants went with him. So did the older men in his own family, who had authority in the family. So did all the older men that had authority in the country called Egypt. v8 Joseph’s brothers and Israel’s family went up too, as well as Joseph’s family. They left only their children behind them (in Goshen). Their *flocks and *herds stayed in the region called Goshen. v9 Joseph had with him *chariots and also horsemen. It was a very large group.

v10 Joseph and his group came to a flat, open place where people separated the grains from corn. It was at Atad. That was in the country called Canaan, beyond the Jordan River. Then Joseph and his group cried. They cried for a very long time and they cried with deep emotion. Joseph arranged a special occasion when people could cry about his father. They cried for 7 days. v11 The *Canaanites that were living in the area saw it. They saw how Joseph’s group cried there. That was at Atad. It was in the place where people separate the grains from corn. The *Canaanites said, ‘The *Egyptians are very sad about this.’ So the place was called Abel-Mizraim. It is beyond the Jordan River.

v12 So Israel’s sons did as he had ordered them. v13 His sons carried him to the country called Canaan. They buried him in the cave in the field. The field is at Machpelah, east from Mamre. It is the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the *Hittite. Abraham bought it as a place to bury people. v14 Joseph went back to Egypt after he had buried his father. Joseph’s brothers also went back to Egypt. And many other people had gone up with him to bury his father. They all went back to Egypt.

v15 Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was then dead. They thought that Joseph might hate them. And he might punish the brothers for all the evil things that they had done to him. v16 So they sent a person to take a message to Joseph. The person told this message to him: ‘Before your father died, he ordered us to talk to you. v17 Your father said, “Say this to Joseph. Say that he should forgive his brothers for the evil, wrong things that they did to him. Joseph should forgive them for the bad things that they did.” Now please, we desperately ask you to forgive us for our *sins. We are the servants of your father’s God.’ Joseph wept when that person told that message to him.

v18 Joseph’s brothers themselves came and they *bowed down low in front of him. They said, ‘Look! We are your servants.’

v19 Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I am not God. v20 You certainly meant to do an evil thing to me, but God meant it for a good purpose. So, because of that, many people are alive until today. v21 Do not be afraid. I will take care of you. And I will take care of your little children.’ In that way, Joseph helped them not to be afraid any longer. So they became calm. He comforted them.

v22 So Joseph lived in Egypt. His father’s family lived there too. Joseph lived for 110 years. v23 Joseph saw Ephraim’s grandchildren. Manasseh’s son Machir also had children, whom Joseph took into his own family.

v24 Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am dying. God will come to you. And he will take you up out of this country. He will lead you to the country that he promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ v25 Joseph then made Israel’s sons promise something very seriously to him (Joseph). Joseph ordered them to do this thing. He said that God would come to the family and then they must carry up his bones out of Egypt.

v26 So Joseph died when he was 110 years old. People *preserved him. And they put him in a coffin (big box to bury people in). The coffin was in Egypt.

Jacob had asked his sons to bury his body in Canaan. So, after Jacob’s death, Joseph arranged for the funeral to be in Canaan.

It was not just Jacob’s family who attended the funeral. Many *Egyptians came to the funeral too. This fact shows how many people respected Jacob. It took several days to travel from Egypt to Canaan. And it was a difficult journey.

After the funeral, Joseph’s brothers became afraid of him again. They thought that he might be angry with them. They thought that he might punish them.

Joseph wept when he heard about their fears. He never wanted to be cruel to his brothers. He had forgiven them. He was sad that they did not seem to realise this. So, he explained that God placed him in Egypt in order to do God’s work. Their actions had been evil. But they could not prevent God from doing something good.

Joseph was an old man when he died. Before he died, he gave an instruction to his family. He did not want them to bury his body in Egypt. Instead, he asked them to store his bones. At the right time, God would take their *descendants back to Canaan. (God promised this to Abraham in Genesis 15:13-16.) And Joseph wanted them to take his bones with them. Joseph showed by these instructions that he trusted God (Hebrews 11:22).

And the *descendants of Joseph’s family did what he wanted (Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32).

Notes on the verses

Verse 1 There was special love between Joseph and Jacob. There were several reasons why such love existed between them. Joseph was the son of Rachel, Jacob’s favourite wife. Jacob and Rachel had waited for many years before Joseph was born. Jacob and Joseph were away from each other for many years. They had not thought that they would meet each other again. But particularly, they felt this love because they both served God. So, they both had the same attitudes.

Joseph was a very important person in Egypt. So, when his father was dying, Joseph would be the chief person by his father’s bed. God had promised that Joseph would close Jacob’s eyes when Jacob died (Genesis 46:4).

Verse 2 *Egyptians used to *preserve dead bodies. This was a special ceremony in their religion. So, usually, their priests did this task. But Joseph and Jacob did not belong to the ancient *Egyptian religion. Instead, they served the real God. So, Joseph arranged for doctors (instead of priests) to *preserve Jacob’s body.

Verse 3 ‘40 days’ may mean ‘a long time’ in the *Old Testament. However, it may actually mean 40 days here, because the writer mentions other such times also. People were usually sad for dead kings for 72 days. Jacob’s family considered him very important. The *Egyptians, too, considered him important, because he was Joseph’s father.

Verse 4 Joseph did not go to *Pharaoh himself. Probably, people did not usually go to a king while they were sad. It was probably not right to do that. Jacob wanted his family to bury him in Canaan because of God’s promises. But Joseph did not mention that reason. Perhaps he thought that it might not be polite to the people in Egypt. Joseph talked about the matter gently. He also spoke about a grave that Jacob had made for himself. Joseph did not mention that the graves of Jacob’s relatives were in the same place. Some translations have ‘the grave that I cut (out of the rock)’.

Verse 5 Joseph promised to return to Egypt.

Verse 7 All *Pharaoh’s *Egyptian servants went with Joseph. In that way, they showed great honour towards Joseph and Jacob. Perhaps the *Egyptians also wanted to be sure that Joseph would come back to Egypt.

Jacob’s funeral was a very great occasion.

Verse 9 The *descendants of people that went to the funeral would follow the *Israelites later. They chased the *Israelites when the *Israelites left Egypt for Canaan. But then, at that later time, the *Egyptians and the *Israelites were enemies.

Verse 10 We are not sure where this place was. It was usual to cry and be sad for 7 days. To separate the grains from the corn, people beat the corn. Each farmer chose a special area with flat ground for this task.

Verse 11 People could see that Joseph’s group were very sad. And people could hear it. The group made a noise and they probably tore their clothes. Probably, they threw ashes over their bodies and they shaved their hair. And they cried loudly. The name Abel-Mizraim meant that the *Egyptians were very sad there.

Verse 13 It seems that only Jacob’s family went further to his burial. (A burial is when people bury a dead person in the ground.) The *Egyptians stayed at Abel-Mizraim. Families usually buried their dead relatives in private.

Verse 14 Joseph did as he had promised to *Pharaoh. He returned to Egypt. Actually, many people went back together to Egypt. But Joseph was the most important person.

Verse 15 ‘Saw’ here means knew. The brothers were afraid. They thought that maybe Joseph would not still be friendly to them. Perhaps he was kind in the past only because he loved his father. So, Joseph’s brothers were afraid that he might now punish them. He was very powerful.

Verses 16-17 The writer does not tell us whether Jacob really told the brothers to say those things. The brothers had done bad things to Joseph. But we do not know whether Jacob ever knew that. Jacob would have wanted the family to be friendly, because God had promised great things for their future.

Maybe the brothers had not asked Joseph to forgive them before. If they had, we do not know it. But now, they asked him clearly to forgive them. They even offered to become his slaves.

Their message upset Joseph. He had already forgiven them. But it seems that they still did not realise this fact.

Their attitude was like many people today. God wants to forgive us because he is kind. He sent Jesus to die for us. Because of Jesus, God will forgive us if we humbly confess our evil deeds to him. Then, if we invite God into our lives, we become friends of God. But many people think that they must earn this by their own efforts. They are wrong. God forgives us as a free gift. God makes us his friends because he loves us.

Verses 19-20 Although Joseph had a lot of wealth and power, he had not become proud and unkind. He knew that God is the judge over everyone. He knew that God is always good. And God is powerful. Our evil deeds cannot stop God’s plans to do good things. God had a plan to use Joseph. And God’s plan succeeded. He used Joseph to save people’s lives.

Verse 21 Joseph promised to provide for his brothers’ families. They would be safe then. And they would continue to be safe during his whole life.

Verse 22 Joseph lived until he was very old.

Verse 23 In the *Hebrew of this verse, it is not clear whether the children were Ephraim’s grandchildren or Joseph’s grandchildren. Joseph adopted Manasseh’s grandchildren.

Verse 24 Joseph believed God’s promise that God would give the country called Canaan to the *Israelites. It is unlikely that many of Joseph’s actual brothers were still alive. The verse probably means that he spoke these words to his brothers’ families.

Verse 25 ‘Israel’s sons’ probably means Jacob’s grandsons, grandsons’ sons, and other *descendants. All Joseph’s brothers were older than he was, except Benjamin. Joseph used this promise to remind his family that he trusted God. And Joseph wanted them to trust God too.

Verse 26 Usually, the *Israelites buried bodies soon after death. But Joseph wanted the *Israelites to remember God’s promises. So, he told them not to bury his body. Instead, he told them to put it in a coffin. (A coffin is a big box that someone has made out of wood. People place dead bodies in it.) Whenever the *Israelites saw that coffin, they remembered God’s promise to them. God had promised that they would live in Canaan. It took several centuries before their *descendants arrived in Canaan. But, in the end, God did for them what he had promised. And, at last, they buried Joseph’s bones in the country that God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Word List

adultery ~ when a married person has sex with someone that is not the person’s husband or wife.

almighty ~ when someone has enough power to defeat all his enemies; the Person who is better than everyone else; the *Lord over everything; the Person who has power over everything.

almond ~ a kind of tree with pink flowers; a nut that this tree produces.

altar ~ a table that people made out of stone or metal. People burned gifts to God (*sacrifices) on it.

Amorites ~ a group of people that lived in the country called Canaan.

ancestor ~ a relative that lived a long time ago. A person’s parents are *descendants of such a relative.

angels ~ God’s servants from *heaven, who sometimes bring God’s messages to people.

balm ~ an oily, sticky substance from a tree. It smells good. People used it to cure troubles in people’s skin. And they used it to make the skin feel comfortable.

birthright ~ the oldest son had the birthright in the *Old Testament. He would be the leader of his family when his father died. And he would get a double share of the things that had belonged to his father. Sometimes in the Book of Genesis, a younger son actually received the birthright. Each time, there were special reasons why the birthright did not belong to the oldest son.

bless ~ to give someone a *blessing; or to be kind to someone; or to do good things for someone; or to promise good things to someone.

blessing ~ a good thing that God does for us; or when we ask God to help a person; or when we ask God to do something good in that person. In the Book of Genesis, blessings were often a type of *prophecy.

bony ~ so thin that people can see where the bones are, under the skin.

bow ~ to bend one’s body over to respect someone else. To bow one’s head means to bend one’s head forward.

buds ~ they grow on a plant or tree. Then they open out and they become flowers (or leaves).

butler ~ a male servant that serves wine in a *household. And maybe he arranges the table and he does other such things there.

Canaanites ~ people that were living in Canaan, the country that God had promised to the *Israelites. The Canaanites were already living in that country before the *Israelites went there.

chariot ~ a kind of car that horses pulled. Soldiers could ride in it when they fought. Or important people could ride in it.

clay ~ a kind of earth. When it is dry, it is heavy and firm. When it is wet, it is stiff but also fairly soft.

concubine ~ a woman that lives with a man but she is not his wife; or people do not know her as his wife.

covenant ~ an agreement between two or more people, in which they all have responsibilities; such an agreement between God and a person (or people).

deer ~ a graceful animal that can run fast. A male deer has two hard bony things like branches that grow on top of its head.

descendant ~ a child, grandchild, and so on; a person in your family who lives after you are dead.

donkey ~ an animal like a small horse. It carries things or people.

ear (of corn) ~ in a corn plant, the part that contains the grains. It is at the top of the stem.

Egyptian ~ a person from the country called Egypt; when someone or something is from Egypt.

famine ~ a time when plants for food do not grow, so people cannot eat food from them.

feast ~ a very big, special meal; a special time when people eat a lot and they drink a lot. People usually have a feast for a certain special reason.

flesh ~ the soft material that covers a person’s bones.

flock ~ a large group of such animals as sheep.

fruitful ~ fruitful land produces a lot of good crops. When a thing is fruitful, it produces many good results. When people are fruitful, they have many children.

grape ~ a small, sweet fruit that people make a drink (*wine) from.

gum ~ a sticky substance from a kind of bush. When the substance comes out into the air, it becomes hard. From it, people used to make a powder that made things smell good.

heaven ~ the place that is God’s home.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke; someone from the nation that spoke the Hebrew language. The writer wrote Genesis in the Hebrew language.

herd ~ a large group of such animals as cows.

Hittite ~ someone from a group (*tribe) of people called the Hittites. They lived in the country called Canaan.

holy ~ what God is like; completely good, with nothing bad in it; separate from *sin; perfect and clean; when something belongs to God.

household ~ your household means everyone that lives with you. They do not have to be your family.

idol ~ a false god that people made out of wood or stone or metal.

inherit ~ to receive something from someone that has died. That thing is a gift. God too gives gifts to us, but he has not died!

Ishmaelite ~ a *descendant of Abraham’s son Ishmael. (Ishmael’s mother was the female servant Hagar.) Many Ishmaelites were traders.

Israelite ~ a person from the nation called Israel; a *descendant of Jacob, who was also called Israel.

Jew ~ a person that was born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children. People also use it to mean a person from the nation called Israel.

kid ~ a very young goat.

lord ~ a man that has complete authority over someone or something.

Lord ~ a special name for God. Sometimes it is the *Hebrew word YHWH. YHWH means that God is always God. Elsewhere, it is the *Hebrew word ADONAI, which means ‘my master’. People used these words to give honour to God.

merciful ~ when someone has *mercy or he or she shows *mercy.

mercy ~ help to those that have lack or difficulty; the love that God shows when he forgives people; God’s love and goodness; God’s pity towards all that he has made; when someone is kind to bad people.

Midianite ~ a *descendant of Abraham’s son Midian. (Midian’s mother was Keturah.)

myrrh ~ a sticky substance from a plant. People used it in order to make things smell good. Or they put it on dead bodies before they put them into a grave. Myrrh was one gift that the wise men gave to Jesus. They gave gifts to Jesus after he was born.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before Jesus came; the *holy things that the writers wrote before Christ’s birth.

overseer ~ an officer who tells people to do certain tasks. And he makes sure that they do those tasks.

Pharaoh ~ the king of Egypt.

pledge ~ a thing that a person gives to someone as a promise. It is a promise that the person will pay a certain price. When the person has paid the price, he or she can receive the thing (the pledge) back again.

praise ~ to say how great somebody is; words to express how great someone is.

pregnant ~ when a lady is expecting to have a baby.

preserve ~ to keep something in a good state, so that it does not go bad.

prophecy ~ messages that God wants to tell or teach to people, often about future events.

prostitute ~ a woman whom a man pays for sex.

rape ~ when a man forces a woman to have sex with him although she does not want to.

redeem ~ when someone pays the price to allow a person in prison to go free; to give money in order to receive something or someone back; to bring back from a dangerous place; to give help in order to get someone out of a problem.

righteous ~ very good (only God is really righteous). God says that the people that love him are righteous. And those people obey him. Such people do whatever God wants them to do.

sacrifice ~ when someone puts an animal on an *altar in order to offer the animal to God; to give something valuable for someone or for God; to die for someone or for God.

sceptre ~ a special stick that a king or queen holds. It shows that he or she has authority.

seal ~ a small hard object that has its owner’s particular design or text. Its owner presses it onto a thing in order to make a mark. The mark shows that the thing is genuine.

shekel ~ a way that people measured weight, equal to 0.4 ounces (11 grams). People also measured silver or gold in shekels for payment.

shepherd ~ a person that looks after sheep.

sin ~ to do bad things against God or other people; a bad thing that a person does against God or other people; when a person does a bad thing.

spies ~ people that one country’s government sends in order to discover secret information about another country.

steward ~ a person that looks after another person’s house or land.

temple ~ a building where people *worship God or a false god and they *praise him there.

thigh ~ the upper part of a leg.

thread ~ a long, thin piece of material like cotton or wool. People use it to make cloth. And they use it to sew with.

tribe ~ a family (and *descendants) from the same father; the whole family (and *descendants) from one of Jacob’s 12 sons.

twin ~ someone that was born about the same time as a brother or sister; twins are two children that were born together from the same mother.

veil ~ a piece of material that covers a woman’s face.

vine ~ a plant that climbs. Its fruits are called *grapes. People use them to make *wine.

vision ~ a dream; sometimes a dream that comes to a person that is awake.

wax ~ a white or nearly white substance that is not very hard. An insect called a ‘bee’ makes it. People can use it to fasten things. People also use it to make candles. They burn candles to give light.

wine ~ a drink that contains alcohol. People make it from small, sweet fruit called grapes. People can use it as medicine.

wolf ~ a wild animal like a large dog.

worship ~ to show very great honour to God; to show that we respect him very much; to *praise God and to serve him; to tell God that we love him very much.

Book List

John Calvin ~ Commentary on Genesis ~ Eerdmans

Rev. Stephen Dray ~ Genesis – Lecture notes (unpublished)

Victor P. Hamilton ~ The Book of Genesis (2 volumes) ~ New International Commentary on the Old Testament ~ Eerdmans

Matthew Henry ~ Commentary on the Whole Bible ~ Marshall Morgan and Scott

Rev. Derek Kidner ~ Genesis ~ Tyndale

C. H. Spurgeon ~ Treasury of the Old Testament ~ Marshall Morgan and Scott

Gordon J. Wenham ~ Genesis (2 volumes) ~ Word Biblical Commentary ~ Word

Bibles ~ RSV, NIV, International Children’s Bible, Bible for the Deaf


© 2006, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

August 2006

Visit our website: www.easyenglish.bible