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Published by The Salvation Army Pakistan, 2019-05-21 01:21:16

Joseph! Bible Study - ISJC - Feb 2018

Joseph! Bible Study - ISJC - Feb 2018

Bible Study – Meeting Joseph

The story of Joseph is found in the book of Genesis, from Ch 37 through to Ch 50. Joseph's saga is integral to the overall narrative of the Israelite's descent
into Egypt and is one of the most expansive, layered and elaborate stories in the Torah. The extensive coverage (14 chapters!) follows Josephs progression
from favoured son and dream interpreting shepherd to his prominence as Minister of Egypt.

From the beginning, in Ch 37, we are straightaway introduced to Joseph as Jacob's favoured son. Vs 3: "Jacob loved Joseph more than all his sons since
he was a child of his old age". Joseph begins life basking in the love and devotion of his Father. But this favouritism, along with his talent for interpreting
dreams, when combined with Josephs immature & ensuing behaviour (Genesis 37:2 & 37:5-11) raised the destructive jealousy we see enacted in the

It doesn't take long for the brothers to act up. It's easy to imagine them sitting around in the shepherding fields, disgruntled by their shared experience of
jealousy. The compounded jealousy bubbles up into action and - on seeing Joseph the dreamer appear in the distance - they ambush the unsuspecting
favoured brother and throw him into a pit. They soon sell him to Midianite merchants on their journey to Egypt who in turn sell him on to Potiphar and into
servitude. It's here that we connect with the theme of Joseph as a victim of human trafficking and slavery.

For the brothers, betrayal begets deceit. The coat belonging to the favoured son is torn apart, dipped into goat's blood and presented to their Father Jacob
as evidence of his son's death. Sin compounded by sin.

This epic story contains so many classic themes: Calling. Favour. Jealousy. Despair. Determination. Courage. Relief. Forgiveness. Redemption and

[For those who want to explore the text further, this story falls into the theory of the "Genesis triangle" which plays itself out right through Genesis -
Abel/Cain : Abraham/Lot : Sarah/Hagar : Jacob/Esau : Joseph and his brothers. Favouritism - Jealousy - Reconciliation. A dominant theme where Gods
action through his people demonstrates the triumph of reconciliation over the needs of the human ego and self.]

Joseph's journey is a rich tapestry, mimicking - to lesser and greater degrees - life as many of us experience it. His life is a series of highs and lows, moving
between the highs of favouritism and unconditional love through to the lows of victimhood and betrayal; through the bewildering experience of forced
servitude, false accusation and imprisonment back to the highs of restoration, renewal and reconciliation.

As we observe Joseph, we can make links between the experiences of the characters in the story and our own experiences. In this bible study, we also
attempt to examine the plight of those who currently live through and experience the heinous crime of trafficking and modern day slavery and we seek to
reflect on our own willingness to engage with their plight.

The Hebrew scholar, Yoram Hazony, makes this point: "The bottom line is that the Bible introduces hope into human political affairs. What it does is it takes
the individual, empowers that individual and says "Somewhere above you, there is a transcendent God who is not controlled by the King or by the Priests or

by the Military [or even by traffickers and slave keepers] … All of human history has proceeded from that first spark of hope that appears in the Hebrew

We follow this journey of hope through four themes: Beloved - Betrayed - Bewildered - Beginning again.

Beloved Text & Insight Trafficking & Modern Slavery Questions
As Joseph had great value in the eyes of his In the world famous musical Joseph - Who is Joseph and
Genesis 37 : 1-11 Father, so we have great value in the sight of God! story of Joseph and his coat of what is his place in the family?
We all start out on the journey of life as the many colours...Everyone starts
beloved of God - of great worth. out with hopes and dreams: You - What is your value and
"Any dream, any dream will do!" place as a child of God? (1 John
Even with all this love and affirmation showered So did Joseph! 3 : 1) Do you experience that as a
upon him by his Father, Joseph still falls foul of his daily reality?
own ego - ingratiating himself in the eyes of his The lure of hopes and dreams is
father at his brothers' expense and demonstrating what traffickers play on...victims Victim - What might be the hopes
a somewhat arrogant superiority by flaunting his all too easily and unwittingly and dreams that a trafficked
gift of interpreting and placing himself at the head become vulnerable. victim starts out with?
of his family!!

Betrayed Genesis 37 : 1 - But Joseph's dreams create his downfall... the This reminds us of how Joseph - What are the root
36 brothers are jealous - resulting in their abhorrent financially viable and valuable causes and attitudes of the
actions of betrayal and deceit. (Ch 37 : 18 - 24 & modern slavery is. Human brothers, which lead to Josephs
Bewildered Genesis 39 : 1 - 31-34) beings are resilient and reusable betrayal?
23 The Brothers SELL him to the Ishmaelite caravan - unlike illegal drugs. Modern
of Midianite merchants, who in turn SELL him to Slavery, with human beings as You - Think of a time when a
Potiphar as a slave. Sold on from one hand to commodities, is rapidly rising family member, a close friend or
another - as chattel and commodity. towards the top of illegal a colleague betrayed you. How
BUT "The Lord was with Joseph" (Ch 39 : 2) international trade. did it make you feel?

Even in the depths of betrayal, Joseph rises up to We recognise victims of Victim - (Ch 39 : 21) Where is
be a trusted servant of Potiphar. He is trafficking through their God for victims of slavery and
experiences of being Tricked, injustice?
Trapped & Traded. Can we
imagine what it is like to Joseph - Unjustly used, abused,
experience such betrayal? accused. But (Ch 39:2 and 21)
The characters in this story
used Joseph for their own ends:

Beginning Genesis 41 : 9 - acknowledged for his integrity and trustworthiness Potiphar, Potiphar's wife, we are reminded that "The Lord
again 14 (vs 4) Events which follow, involving Potiphar's Pharaoh. was with Joseph". Did God
wife, prove to be a real attack on that integrity: permit this to happen? If so -
Joseph is seduced, unjustly accused and even There are positive things about why?
thrown into jail. fellow humans who become
trafficked victims. People with You - 1 Peter 5:8 "Beware, your
The circumstances, the false accusations and the base motives wait to control, enemy prowls like a roaring
miscarriage of justice must have been a manipulate and exploit. lion..."
bewildering experience - deeply challenging to Attractive woman are sold into
Joseph's sense of value and self worth. "But while sexual slavery - young men with Victim - How can we help
Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with energy and physical strength potential victims to protect
him." (Ch 39 : 21) are used for profit in forced themselves (as much as is
labour. possible) from being tricked into
Ultimately there was an intervention ( 41 : 9 - 14). It exploitation?
is this human intervention which offers Joseph the Joseph maintained his Israelite Joseph - What is the intervention
opportunity to recover dignity, value and worth. identity through 20 years of that leads to Josephs release and
Joseph was restored. separation from his family. how does he make the most of
Many victims struggle to keep the opportunity?
Whilst God was with Joseph in prison, it was the their identity - physically,
intervention of the cup-bearer which opened the emotionally, mentally and You - How has God - or another -
door to freedom and a hopeful future. spiritually. intervened in your life and how do
you best take hold of that
Can we be relied upon to open the door of But as Joseph's life remained intervention both for your own
freedom for victims currently entrapped? We work valuable to Jacob and his good and to the glory of God?
with God to be the human intervention in God's brothers. God still had a
restoration act. purpose of restoration and Victim - How can we commit to
reconciliation. partnering with God through
human intervention in this
What expectations can we have Modern Slavery struggle? What
for the recovery of the damaged part can we play?
and broken victim?

Final thoughts/reflection

We began by noticing the Genesis triangle of - Favouritism / jealousy / reconciliation. At the conclusion of our study we note that any favouritism shown by
God to Sarah or to Abraham, to Joseph or even to the whole of the Jewish nation does not necessarily bring with it an easy life. God doesn't promise us a
life of ease - but he does promise to journey with us should we accept the invitation.

The truth is also that a hard life - dare we even say a life of modern slavery - doesn't denote the absence of God's affection, of God's love or of our worth to

But we are called to play our part in the human intervention that even Joseph's rescue and restoration required. We are partners in the gospel of the
Kingdom - God longs for our good and the good of all his beloved...and he invites us to work with him in acts of intervention to bring slavery victims to
sustained freedom and hope.


Take time with each other to pray:
• for Victims of Trafficking and Modern Slavery who are held in captivity today, that God will be present to them as he was with Joseph and that they
will know their value and worth even in such despair.
• For those who are caught up in the exploitation of fellow human beings. Pray for justice and mercy - For light to shine in their darkness and for the
scales to fall from their eyes. And pray for appropriate, restitutional prosecution.
• For those who fight for justice in this field at all levels of government and nation. That their words and their fight will be Godly and clear and powerful.
• For those who faithfully serve and support victims as they seek recovery on their journey to sustained freedom.
• And for yourself - that you also will know today of your value and worth in the sight of God.

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