Scripture: Genesis 37
Target Age Group: 1st through 6th grade
Welcome the children to the classroom and chat with them about their week as they gather around the table.
Pray and ask God to teach the children not just head knowledge, but also heart knowledge.
Have the children open their Bibles to Genesis 37
(Read the story to the children because at this age some of the children do not read smoothly, which hinders comprehension for the whole class.)
Remind the children that in the last few lessons we learned about Jacob, who met with God at Jacob’s Ladder, married Rachel and Leah, and who came back home to his brother Esau.
Jacob had 12 sons. The youngest sons were Joseph and Benjamine, who were his favorite because they were the sons of Rachel, the wife that he loved, and because they were the youngest.
Genesis 37 (NIV)
1 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.
2 This is the account of Jacob’s family line.
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
Joseph Sold by His Brothers
12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”
“Very well,” he replied.
14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”
16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”
17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’”
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.
23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?”
31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”
33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”
34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.
36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.
- Joseph was 17 in this story, so he was a teenager. Today he would have been in High School. How old were his brothers? adult men
- Why did his brothers dislike him? He was their father’s favorite. Jacob gave him a special coat of many colors. Joseph tattled on them to their father.
- What was Joseph’s first dream? The brothers were all in the field binding sheaves, and all of the older brothers’ sheaves bowed down to Joseph’s sheave.
- What is a sheave? A bundle of wheat. (Show them a picture of a sheave.)
- How did the brothers respond to Joseph when he told them the dream? They hated him all the more. They said, “Do you really think you’re going to rule over us?
- What was Joseph’s second dream? The sun, moon and 11 stars bowed down to him.
- What do the sun, moon and 11 stars symbolize? Joseph’s father, mother and brothers.
- How did his father respond to his telling this dream? He “rebuked” (reprimanded) him. Do you think that your mother and I and your brothers will bow down to you? But, Jacob also remembered the dream.
- Have you ever bragged to others about something you had or did that you thought was better than anybody else? (Let them tell you some incidents.) How did others respond when you did that? Jealousy, anger, etc.
- Why was Joseph sent out to find his brothers? To report back to his father how they were.
- When the brothers saw Joseph coming in the distance, what did they decide to do? kill him
- What did Reuben suggest that they do instead? Throw him into a dry well
- What did Reuben plan to do later? To rescue him from the pit and to take him safely back to his father.
- What did Judah suggest that they do? Sell him to a caravan of merchants going to Egypt.
- How did the brothers cover up the crime? They dipped Joseph’s coat in goat’s blood and took it to their father claiming that they found it.
- How did Jacob respond to this news? He tore his clothes in grief, put on sackcloth and mourned.
- How do you think the brothers felt when their father wouldn’t be comforted? Pretty bad. They probably wished that they hadn’t done what they did.
- Have you ever been jealous of your brothers and sisters or your friends? Maybe they got new clothes or had the latest video game, and you didn’t. (Let them tell you of these incidents.)
- Do you think that those things make them better than you? No. God only cares about what is in our hearts.
- When you fight with your brothers and sisters, who else gets hurt? God. My parents.
- Let’s pray and ask the Lord to help us to neither brag nor be jealous of others, but to be content…
During the remaining class time do activities that help to reinforce what the children have learned. Here are some suggestions…
Galatians 5:26 “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
Give the children some scenarios that involve bragging and jealousy. Discuss together what the children should or shouldn’t do.
My Little House has a great craft for this lesson.
Make a robe from a striped cloth or shirt and have the students take turns being Joseph and acting out the story.
Read the story “A Coat and a Dream” for a personal application of the story.
Bring gingerbread men or sugar cookie men decorated with colorful icing coats for the snack. If you are not afraid of a big mess, bring un-iced cookies and let the children decorate their own cookie with icing and sprinkles.
Evaluate what the children have learned. While they are coloring or crafting ask each one what they learned today.
Send each child’s parent an e-mail (or a hard copy) of the Parents’ Page.