“Growing Up Joseph”
By Larry Marak
Joseph was born long before Genesis was written and into a family that still kept family gods (idols) around. Yet he developed a powerfully close relationship with God. Where did he learn of God? Through his father Israel and his Grandfather Isaac whom he got to know for a little while.
His mother had stolen idols from her father, and later his older brothers stole idols from the people of Shechem, whom they murdered. But Joseph grew up uncontaminated and through his life lived the Scriptures.
As a teenager, he received prophetic dreams in which his brothers, and later his whole family, would bow down to him. It aggravated his brothers immensely, and his father told him to cut it out.
Joseph didn’t grow up with Leah’s children. They were entering their teens as he was born. He grew up among the children of the two maidservants and must have been considered one of the pack of concubine children by Leah’s sons.
At the time he was sold to traders, 9 of the ten children wanted to kill him. Only the oldest, Reuben, wanted him left alive. Being sold certainly taught him not to trust his brothers.
In Egypt he was an ideal steward for Potiphar, embodying the command in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”
He lived these words, and all Potiphar’ house prospered. When he was asked to lie with Potiphar’s wife he refused, saying Gen 39:9, “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”
Joseph knew, through his relationship with God, that sin separates us from Him. While imprisoned, he likewise rose to the stewardship position. Everything and everyone in prison prospered because he did everything as to the Lord.
He had learned that God gave him the gift of interpretation, and gave God the glory for his dream interpretations to the Baker and the Cupbearer.
After interpreting Pharoah’s dream, he was put in charge of Egypt’s economy. His practice of doing everything as to God was well established by now, and he saved both the peasantry of Egypt and Canaanites who came to purchase food during a 7-year drought that swept the Eastern Mediterranean.
When his brothers came to buy grain, Joseph recognized them and knew that they had all betrayed him, selling him into slavery. He wanted to be reconciled but was justifiably suspicious. Before he could forgive them, he needed to test their hearts. Mathew 10:16, “Be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.”
On the first trip to buy grain, Joseph took Simeon, his second oldest brother as a hostage of good conduct—Imprisoning him as a guarantee the remaining nine brothers would bring Benjamin back to him. When they returned to their father, they did not come back, abandoning Simeon to his fate. Thus Joseph knew they had not changed.
When the brothers came back again, after supplies ran out, and brought their brother Benjamin whom Joseph had last seen as a young boy, it was time for a second test. This time it was Benjamin who was seized and designated for prison and slavery. But this time Judah, the third son of Leah offered his life in exchange for the boy.
In proving himself willing to sacrifice his life and leave behind forever his wife and sons by Tamar, Judah proved that the brothers had changed over the years. Joseph embraced his brothers.
Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
Joseph continued as vizier to the Pharoah all the days of his life. When his father died his brothers, who had not accepted Joseph’s forgiveness but mistrusted him, concocted a lie to protect them from his wrath for the wrong they had done him many decades earlier.
Joseph’s mind was still devoted the Lord, and he forgave them again, telling them Gen 50:19, “Do not fear, for Am I in the place of God?”
The words had not been written in the Book of Life yet, but Joseph was fully aware that Romans 12:19, “Vengeance is the Lord’s.”
Joseph was an example to every believer, and proof that John 1:1, “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”