Part 10: Joseph and His Brethren

by Pastor J. C. O'Hair

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.

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Before we study concerning Joseph, let us note a few facts concerning


Genesis 36:1 to 8

“Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.

Esau took his wives of the daughters] of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;

And Bashemath Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebajoth.

And Adah bare to Esau Eliphaz; and Bashemath bare Reuel;

And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these are the sons of. Esau, which were born unto him in the land of Canaan.

And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob.

For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle.

Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom”

Esau married Ishmael’s daughter. Ishmael was the son of Abraham and Hagar, the Egyptian woman. Hagar was Sarah’s servant.


Genesis 16:1 to 3

“Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.

And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.

And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.”

Genesis 16:15 and 16

“And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.”

Genesis 21:2 and 3

“For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.”

Genesis 21:9 to 11

“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.”

The Ismaelites came from Ishmael. The Edomites came from Esau. Edom means “red.” The Mohammedans, who live in the countries surrounding Palestine, claim that Mohammed came from Ishmael. They claim that the inheritance belonged to Ishmael, because he was born before Isaac. God promised the holy land to the seed of Abraham. Inasmuch as Ishmael was born before Isaac, the Mohammedans claim Jerusalem and Palestine. There is quite a disturbance in that land at the present time, a conflict between Jews, Mohammedans and Christians.

Deuteronomy 23:7

“Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother; thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.”

I Chronicles 18:13

“And he put garrisons in Edom: and all the Edomites became David’s servants. Thus the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went.”

II Chronicles 28:17

“For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah and carried away captives.”

Jeremiah 41:3

“Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him, even with Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, and the men of war.”


Galatians 4:21 to 31

“Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman, So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.”

In this allegory we have the answer to the question of. Galatians 3:21. “Is the law against the promise of God?” Note in Galatians 3:17, that the law which was given from Mount Sinai 430 years after God gave His promise to Abraham did not annul that promise.

After Paul had preached the gospel of grace throughout Galatia and many of the sinners had been saved, some very religious law-keepers went forth proselyting and preached a mixture of law, religion and grace. After Paul had declared God’s anathema and had given the Scriptural answers to the false teachings of the legalists he said that Hagar from Egypt, a bondwoman, spoke of the law, and that her son Ishmael was not the child of promise, but rather, was brought forth as the result of the flesh. Isaac was the child of promise. Sarah was the freewoman.

The bondwoman, Hagar, and her son, Ishmael, scoffed at Sarah and Isaac. God said, “cast them out.” God’s application of truth is that no part of the law can be mixed with God’s message of grace as a factor in the sinner’s salvation.

Galatians 2:21

“I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

Romans 3:28

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”


“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not sneak peaceably unto him.” Genesis 37:3 and 4.

Genesis 37:5 to 11

“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.”

Genesis 37:31 to 35

“And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no. And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.”

Genesis 37:23 to 28

“And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.”

Genesis 37:36 and 39:1 to 4

“And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard. And Joseph was brought down to Egypt and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.”

In Genesis 39:7 to 20 is recorded the wicked work and false charges of Potiphar’s wife against Joseph. Because she could not persuade Joseph to commit sin she lied about him and although innocent he was sent to jail.

Genesis 39:20 and 22

“And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.”

“And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.”

In the Egyptian prison Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s butler and baker. Genesis 40:1 to 23. Then later Pharaoh had a dream. Seven fat-fleshed kine were devoured by seven lean-fleshed kine. The butler, who had been restored to Pharaoh’s service, told the king that Joseph could interpret the dream which the king did not understand.

“Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Genesis 41:14 to 16.

Then Joseph interpreted the dream of the fat and lean-kine; that in Egypt there would be a bountiful harvest of grain for seven years and this would be followed by seven years of crop failure and famine (very grievous). Joseph advised Pharaoh to gather the surplus during the seven years and put it away into storehouses to take care of the seven lean years.

Note what Pharaoh said to Joseph: “Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art.” Genesis 41:39.

Pharaoh set Joseph over the Egyptians:

“And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck: And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 41:42 and 43.

Joseph became ruler at the age of thirty:

Genesis 41:49

“And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.”

Genesis 41:57

“And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph, for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.”

Genesis 42:1 to 4 and 23

“Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt, get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.”

“And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.” Joseph, unknown to his brethren, gave them grain to take back to Jacob. Joseph told them when they returned for more grain to bring Benjamin with them.

Genesis 43:1 and 2 and 15

“And the famine was sore in the land. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food.”

“And the men took that present, and they took double money in their hand, and Benjamin; and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.”

Note the fulfillment of Joseph’s dream

“And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth.” Genesis 43:26.

Then note how Joseph made himself known :

Genesis 45:1 to 5 and 15

“Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.”

“Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.”

Then the brethren went back to tell Jacob the facts about Joseph:

Genesis 45:25 to 28

“And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father, And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.”

Genesis 46:6

“And they took their cattle and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob and all his seed with him.”

Genesis 46:28 to 30

“And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.”

Genesis 47:11

“And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.”

Genesis 48:3 to 5, 13, 14, 20 and 21

“And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession. And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt, before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.”

“And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him. And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger. and his left. hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the first-born.”

“And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die; but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.”

Genesis 49:33

“And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.”

Genesis 50:1, 4, 5, and 6

“And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.”

“And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore, let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again. And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.”

Genesis 50:14 to 26

“And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father. And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said. Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them. And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph’s knees. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die; and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he aware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”

In many respects Joseph was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph was his father’s favorite son. He wore the coat of many colors. His brethren through envy, despised him, sold him and he became the world’s saviour.

The Lord Jesus Christ was God’s well-beloved Son. He was despised and rejected by Israel. Some day they will bow before Him and He will be their King and the Ruler of the world.


1. Who was Ishmael?

2. How was Ishmael born according to Galatians 4:23?

3. What people came from Esau?

4. State the allegory taught by the bondwoman, her son, and the free woman and her son?

5. How is a believer justified according to Romans 3:28?

6. What is said about Israel’s love for Joseph?

7. What was the significance of Joseph’s coat of many colors?

8. Give the details of Joseph’s dream which he described to his brethren.

9. How did they receive the dream?

10. Did Joseph’s dream come true? Quote the Scripture.

11. Who bought and sold Joseph?

12. Who became Joseph’s master in Egypt?

13. Who conspired against Joseph and had him cast in jail?

14. Whose dreams did Joseph interpret in jail and how did they come true?

15. Who told Pharaoh that Joseph could interpret his dream?

16. What dream of Pharaoh’s did Joseph interpret? Did it come true?

17. What caused Joseph’s brethren to go to Egypt? When did they recognize Joseph?

18. Describe Jacob’s visit to Egypt and his meeting with Joseph?

19. Describe Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh and the death of Jacob and Joseph.

20. What is the last that we hear of their bodies?

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.