Scripture: Genesis 41: 46 – 57, Genesis 42: 1 – 38
Pages 74 – 78 in “The Golden Children’s Bible”
Note to the teacher: My inspiration for this lesson is a sermon called “The Prison of Your Past” by Kevin Brownfield at Sermon Audio.
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 41 or Pages 74 – 78 in “The Golden Children’s Bible”
Remind the children that Joseph had interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams about a coming famine. As a result, Pharaoh put Joseph second in charge in Egypt and to collect 1/5 of the grain for the next 7 years.
(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.)
- How much grain did Joseph collect? Beyond measure – like the sand of the sea.
- Who, besides the Egyptians, came to buy grain during the drought? Joseph’s brothers
- Which brother stayed home? Benjamin
- Why did Benjamin stay home? Jacob was afraid that something might happen to him.
- Why was he so protective of Benjamin? He was the youngest and the son of Rachel.
- When the brothers met Joseph how did they show their respect? They bowed to him.
- Did they recognize Joseph? No.
- Why didn’t they recognize him? He was much older now – about 40 years old. They wouldn’t have expected Joseph to be in a position of power. And he spoke Egyptian and used an interpreter.
- Did Joseph recognize them? Yes.
- He didn’t let on that he was Joseph, though. Instead he was harsh with them. What did he accuse them of? Being spies.
- What do you think the brothers meant when they said, “We are true men.”? We are honest men.
- How do you think Joseph felt when they said that? He knew that they were not honest. They had sold him into slavery and lied about it.
- He tells them that he is going to test their story. How were they to prove that they were honest men? They were to send one brother to bring the youngest brother to him.
- Why do you think Joseph gave them this command? He wanted to see Benjamin, his blood brother. He wanted to see if his brothers had changed or not.
- Then what did he do? He put them in jail for 3 days.
- Do you think that Joseph was trying to get revenge on his brothers? Or was he trying to teach them something? Or do you think that Joseph needed some time to think about the situation and pray about what God wanted him to do? (No definite answer.)
- After 3 days, what did Joseph do? He let them go to take grain back to their families except for one brother, Simeon.
- Why did the brothers think this bad thing was happening to them? They were being punished because of what they had done to Joseph.
- What does that tell you about the brothers? Their conscience was bothering them. They knew that they had done wrong and they wished that they hadn’t sold Joseph.
- What orders did Joseph give his servants? To fill the brothers sacks with grain and to put the money that they had paid for it back into the sacks also.
- What was their reaction when one of them found the money in his sack later? “What has God done to us?”
- Have you ever done something wrong and tried to hide it? How did it make you feel? (Let them share about their experiences.)
- When the brothers arrived at home what did they find in their sacks? The money that they had paid for their grain with.
- How did they react when they found it? They were afraid.
- What do you think they were afraid of? They were afraid that Joseph would now say that they stole the money and put them into prison with Simeon. They were afraid that they could never get Simeon back home.
- Do you think that they were also afraid of God? Yes. They had said, “What has God done to us?” They knew that God was punishing them.
- How did Jacob react? “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!” He refused to let Benjamin go.
- Having a guilty conscience is a terrible thing, isn’t it. They had sold Joseph into slavery, but do you think that they themselves were “free” all of these years? No, their guilt was like it’s own prison.
- Do you have things that are bothering your conscience? Are you covering up some sin? Let’s pray and ask God to help us to be honest with ourselves about the wrong things that we have done. Let’s ask Him to forgive us, and to help us make things right with the people that we have hurt…
During the remaining class time do activities that help to reinforce what the children have learned. Here are some suggestions…
Memorize the verse.
Proverbs 28:13 (NIV) “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper”
Have the children use colors or pastels to draw their own vision of the story on a sketch pad page. Or have them color a color page related to the story.
Color page #1 from Bible Printables
Color page #2 from Bible Printables
An excellent color page book is “Through-the-Bible Coloring Pages For Ages 4-8” by Janet Skiles. The pages are reproducible.
Select one child hold a very sturdy bag (or a bucket). Add rocks to the bag. Ask the child to hold the bag as long as he or she can. When the child expresses that it is getting difficult to hold the bag, explain that the rocks symbolize guilt and that guilt is like a heavy burden. Ask the children how we can get rid of guilt. Explain the if we confess our sins and ask God for forgiveness we can slay down the heavy load.
Watch “Testament – Bible in Animation – Joseph”. This is a very cute children’s movie about Joseph.
Sing “God’s Not Finished” by Mary Rice Hopkins
There are lots of great ideas for this lesson here at Bible Fun for Kids.
Have the children do one of these worksheets from Bible Wise.
Have the children fill out these worksheets from Calvary Curriculum.
This lesson from Free Sunday School Lessons has some great ideas and a color page and worksheet.
Have the children fill out one of these worksheets from the Garden of Praise. (Scroll Down)
Here is another great lesson from Mission Bible Class.
Make these pharaoh’s headdresses and have the children act out the story.
This lesson from Sunday School Sources has skits. Have the children or helpers act them out.
Sing “All Things Work Together” and “I Can Obey” by Mary Rice Hopkins.
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.