A character Study of Joseph (Jacob’s son)

Although we meet Joseph when he is a baby, we start to learn about him when he is 17. We know that Rachel, his mother, has died and that he is Israel’s (Jacob’s) favorite son. The first we hear of him is in Genesis 37:2, where we are told that Joseph felt the need to bring a “bad report of his brothers” to Jacob while they were tending the flock. This did not endear him to them. They hated him and would not listen to anything he said. While his brothers were getting angrier and angrier at him, his father Israel loved him so much that he made Joseph a special coat of many colors. This did nothing to help his relationship with his brothers. The Lord then sent Joseph two dreams. He shared both with his brothers and the second with his father. Jacob rebuked him by saying in Genesis 37:10b and 11”   10 …….‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you’” 11 And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.”

Doing research online and in my study bible, I found that most commentators think that Joseph, at this point in his life, was protected by his father and was rather naïve. Upon reading these verses originally, I felt that Joseph was full of himself and extremely prideful. He was his father’s favorite, even though Rachel had also given Benjamin to Jacob. The NKJV Life Application Bible has an article on Joseph on page 75. The article states:

“As a youngster, Joseph was overconfident. His natural self-assurance, increased by being Jacob’s favorite son and by knowing of God’s designs on his life, was unbearable to his 10 older brothers, who eventually conspired against him. But this self –assurance, molded by pain and combined with a personal knowledge of God, allowed him to survive and prospe where most would have failed. He added quiet wisdom to his confidence and won the hearts of everyone he met—Potiphar, the keeper of the prison, other prisoners, the king, and after many years, even those 10 brothers.”

To be rid of their annoying brother, his older brothers sold him as a slave. He ended up in the house of Potiphar. Scripture tell us in Chapter 39:2a “The Lord was with Joseph and he was a successful man.” Joseph used this time to allow the Lord to start working in his life. Whether he was a spoiled brat or a naïve teen, he saw that the Lord was with him and allowed the Lord to start changing him. Potiphar also saw that the Lord was with Joseph and gave him charge of his house. Joseph was also developing a very strict sense of right and wrong. Scripture doesn’t tell us if he learned it as a youth, or if God impressed it upon him in Egypt. When Potiphar’s wife repeatedly tried to seduce him, he repeatedly refused her. One day, despite his protests, she was able to frame him for being with her. Potiphar was so angry that he immediately threw Joseph into prison.

Verses 21 and 22 tell us “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing.”At both Potiphar’s house and in the prison, Joseph chose to work as if working unto the Lord. We have no indication that he was angry with Potiphar or his wife. The keeper of the prison also put most of the control of the prison under Joseph and trusted him, because the keeper knew that God was with Joseph.

At one point of Joseph’s stay in prison, both Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker were thrown in prison. Each had a dream and the next morning Joseph saw them and saw that they were sad. Chapter 40 verses 7 and 8 state: So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, ‘Why do you look so sad today?’ And they said to him, ‘We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it’ So Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.’”. Joseph was becoming more and more aware that God was in control. He interpreted the two dreams and then asked the butler to remember him to Pharaoh, which he forgot to do. Again, there is no record that Joseph was angry or upset. He was still allowing the Lord to work in and through him.

Two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams that no one could interpret. This is when the butler finally remembered Joseph. Joseph was brought before Pharaoh and asked to interpret his dreams. In Chapter 41 verse 16 Joseph tells Pharaoh “16 So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Joseph, through the power of the Holy Spirit tells Pharaoh what his dreams mean and that he needs to appoint someone he can trust to store up supplies for the seven lean years that will be coming. Pharaoh appointed Joseph as the man he could trust, because he recognized that God was with Joseph. Scripture tells us that Joseph was 30 when this happened, so that means he spent 13 years allowing the Lord change him into the person the Lord needed him to be.

The famine that plagued Egypt was not contained only in Egypt. Canaan, where Joseph’s family still dwelt was also afflicted by the famine. Jacob sends his 10 older sons to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph, as Governor, was responsible for selling all the grain, to make sure that it was fairly given out. This meant that Joseph’s brothers had to meet with him to get the grain. He recognized them, but they didn’t recognize him. Joseph decided to test his brothers to see if they had changed in the intervening years. He made them promise to bring Benjamin and kept Simeon as ransom. Jacob did not want to let Benjamin go, but Rueben and Judah both said they would take responsibility for Benjamin. The first thing they did when they saw Joseph was confess that they found the money they had brought to pay for the first portion of grain, back in their sacks. Joseph continues to test them by putting his cup in Benjamin’s pack. As punishment, Joseph was going to have Benjamin stay with him as his slave, but Judah pleaded with Joseph to let Benjamin go and let him be his slave instead. This was a true turn-around for Judah who had been the one to instigate his brothers to sell Joseph in the first place.

At this point, Joseph knows that his brothers have changed and he reveals himself. Scripture tells us in Chapter 45 verses “So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” It also appears that the dreams that the Lord sent Joseph when he was 17 came true. The Lord’s Word is Truth,

Jacob decided to elevate Ephraim over Menasseh when he blessed them. Due to his heightened sense of right and wrong, Joseph didn’t think this was right. He should have known, because the Lord chose his grandfather Isaac, who was not the first born and his father Israel, also not the first born, to fulfill some of His promises to Abraham.

The Lord used Joseph mightily and during all the circumstances that one would judge as being negative in a worldly way, God grew Joseph to become the man He needed him to be during the crisis in Egypt. This was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s prophesy to Abram in Genesis 15:13 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.

Works Cited

Bible Gateway, New King James Version, Holy Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com, accessed 7/08-7/10/17

ARTICLE ON JOSEPH on page 75 in the “ Life Application Study Bible – New King James Version”. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, Wheaton, IL 1989, 1996 (Notes). Print.


The Role of Israel In The Book Of Romans

Many casual readers of Romans believe that Paul’s writing of chapters 9, 10, and 11 is parenthetical, in the Book of Romans; just as Tamar’s story is parenthetical in Genesis 38. While Tamar’s story is indeed parenthetical, Paul’s discussion of the Jews is not. These are the same people who assume that these 3 chapters in Romans are the only time Paul discusses the Jews in the Book of Romans. Galatians 3:28 states: 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” While it is true that both Jews and Gentiles are equal before Christ, there are lessons that can be learned by looking at Israel’s relationship with God that are applicable to both.
The beginning of chapter 2 appears to be a continuation of Chapter 1, which speaks of the Gentiles and their guilt. Warren W. Wiersbe, however, in his book, BE RIGHT (A NEW TESTAMENT STUDY – ROMANS), tells us on page 25: “Bible scholars do not agree on whom Paul was addressing in Romans 2:1-6”. Further down the same page he states: “But it seems to me that Paul was addressing his Jewish readers in this section. To begin with his discussion of the Law in 2:12-16 would have been more meaningful to a Jew than a Gentile. And in 2:17, he openly addressed his reader as ‘“a Jew”’.
Paul then admonishes the Jews by saying that they teach the Law, but asks if they follow it. Chapter 2:21-24 states:
21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.
Paul goes on to tell us in verses 28-29: “28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” In Chuck Smith’s book, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO GRACE, he tells us on page 19 that “The Jews were trusting in the Mosaic ritual of circumcision for their salvation, but their disobedience of the spirit of the Law invalidated the ritual.”
Paul starts Chapter 3 by stating “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Paul then goes on to explain why this wasn’t enough.
Paul summed up the argument and refuted those Jews who tried to debate him. They raised three questions. (1) “What advantage is it to be a Jew?” Reply: Every advantage, especially possessing the Word of God. (2) “Will Jewish unbelief cancel God’s faithfulness?” Reply: Absolutely not–it establishes it. (3) “If our sin commends His righteousness, how can He judge us?” Reply: We do not do evil that good may come of it. God judges the world righteously. (Wiersbe pg 29-30)
Scripture tells us that all have sinned and Paul then goes on to quote the Old Testament to show that this is not just a First Century problem.
Although not speaking directly of Israel, Paul uses the Old Testament figures of Abraham and David to show that we are justified by faith, not by works. Abraham is one of the most highly revered figures in Judaism, and considered the father of the Jewish people. Chapter 4 starts out in verses 1-4 to state:
What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness” 4Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
Paul also quotes Psalm 32:1-2 to show that David understood that righteousness is by faith, not by works.
As I previously stated, many Christians consider Romans 9, 10 and 11 to be parenthetical to the Book. They think that Paul is speaking only to the Jewish Believers in Rome. Without further study, it might appear that way. While Paul is speaking to the Jews, it is not just for the benefit of the Jews but also the Gentiles.
Paul starts out with a very interesting comment in Romans 9:1-5:
I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen[a] according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
Paul is mirroring Moses’ intercession after the Israelites built the golden calf in Exodus 32:32 “32Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” I have to admit that on a trip to Israel in 2001, I was able to pray the same prayer as Paul. It’s a deep prayer, but I made it in the knowledge that no one can be “snatched” out of Jesus’ hand, according to John 10:28:” 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” I’m not sure that Paul had that same assurance when that he prayed his prayer.
When Romans was written, Israel has corporately rejected God.
At this point in his letter Paul explains that God has removed the national privileges and blessings from Israel. The Jews had enjoyed a most-favored-nation status with God. However, by rejecting the righteousness proved for them through Jesus, the Messiah, the “natural branch” of Israel has been cut off for a time.
In matters of salvation, Israel no longer retains a privileged status. Jew and Gentile alike must come to Jesus, for He is God’s answer to every man’s sin. “All have sinned, and come sort of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption this is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24 – Smith pg 77)
Paul goes on to explain that not all the children of Abraham will be considered Israel. The line goes through his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob (Israel). God uses Chapter 9 to show the different says that Israel has rejected Him. First they rejected Christ, then God’s purpose and justice. He concludes Chapter 9 thusly:
30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.[n] 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.[o] For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,
And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
Chapter 10 reiterates Paul’s desire that all of Israel should be saved and
one of the reasons that Israel has rejected God.
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel[a] is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Paul was trying to show his beloved Israel that Christ was the only way to God. Using the Law and being circumcised were never enough to impute righteousness on anyone. Only through Christ, or for the Old Testament Saints, the belief that He was coming, can one obtain righteousness and salvation
This brings us to chapter 11. Israel’s rejection was not total. There was, and still is a remnant that remained true to God. “To be sure, there was a faithful remnant in the nation of that looked for His arrival such as Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38); but the majority of the people were not ready when He came. (Wiersbe pg 113)” The same remnant has always existed, but until the early 20th century, those who professed Christ as savior were at times required to deny their Jewish heritage Today it is possible to “be Jewish” and accept Jesus as Messiah.
Paul uses chapter 11 to explain his lineage and proclaim that while Jewish, he is accepting of Jesus as Messiah. In verses 1-6 Paul states:
I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 3 “LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”?[a] 4 But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”[b] 5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace.[c] But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
This is also the chapter where Paul tells us that Israel’s rejection is not final.
God will restore the Jews to His love and favor when He opens their eyes and they receive Christ. The fullness of the glorious kingdom of God will then come. Zachariah testified to this day, saying, “And one shall say to him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zechariah 13:6)…..One day the Jews will realize their blindness and folly. They’ll accept Jesus Christ, and the glorious national restoration of these people will bring in the Kingdom Age (Smith pg 100).
Paul uses Romans to highlight the blessings and follies of Israel as they tried to follow the Lord. He successfully shows that only reliance on the Lord, through faith, brings salvation. By showing what the Jews did correctly and incorrectly, he educated not only the Jews who wanted to believe in Messiah Y’shua (Jesus), but also the Gentiles.

Works Cited

Smith, Chuck, Pastor. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO GRACE Costa Mesa CA The Word for Today 1981, Print.

Wiersbe, Warren W. BE RIGHT (A NEW TESTAMENT STUDY – ROMANS) Colorado Springs, CO, Cook Communications Ministries, 2004, Print

Bible Gateway, New King James Version, Holy Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com, accessed 3/10-3/14/17