Week 3 Reading Guide (Chapter 3 – Joseph: From Slave to Deputy Pharaoh)

General Resources:

Week 3 Resources:

The Story – Chapter 3

Introduction

We’re already into Chapter 3 this week – Joseph: I Dreamed a Dream. Many of us know Joseph’s story from the musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, but the biblical story is even more fascinating.  (Note that this chapter is called Joseph: From Slave to Deputy Pharaoh in the book, but we’re calling it Joseph: I Dreamed a Dream which sounds more fun. It’s chapter 3 regardless of what we call it.)

If you don’t have The Story book, you can read Genesis chapters 37, 39, 41-48, and 50. (Those of you reading The Story actually come in right after the Technicolor coat part, so if you want the whole story, you’ll want to go back and read Genesis 37: 1-11.) Remember, The Story is easier to understand because it has eliminated chapter and verse numbers and some of the more confusing parts, but it’s exactly the same wording as in the NIV Bible.Chapter 3 – Joseph

In chapter 2, we looked at how God called one couple (i.e., Abraham and Sarah) to travel to a place God would tell them. God promised to make their descendants into a great nation, to give this nation a land in which to dwell, and to bless all other nations through them. God then continued to use Abraham’s son and grandson (Isaac and Jacob), to accomplish God’s unbreakable promises.

In Chapter 3, God continues to partner with people to carry out God’s redemptive plan. Here we look closely at the story of Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, who is betrayed by his jealous brothers and sold into slavery. Joseph ends up in Egypt with a job as manager of Potiphar’s household. God blessed Potiphar (one of Pharaoh’s officials) because of Joseph, and Potiphar was therefore pleased with him.

It turns out Potiphar’s wife was also pleased with Joseph, but for different reasons. After rejecting her advances and refusing to sleep with her, she accused him of rape and Joseph was sent to prison.

But even in prison, God was with Joseph. Joseph’s good character was noted and, once again, he was promoted to manager within the prison. He ended up interpreting some dreams for two of Pharaoh’s court officials who were in prison with him. Pharaoh eventually hears of Joseph’s talents and summons him to interpret one of his own dreams. When Joseph successfully does so, Pharaoh promotes him to second-in-command of all of Egypt. 

Joseph’s first task – to implement a plan to storehouse food and sustain Egypt during a coming worldwide famine. This famine also impacted Joseph’s family in Canaan, and most of brothers went to Egypt to buy food. After some testing to see if his brothers had changed at all from the men who had sold him into slavery 20 years ago, Joseph ultimately revealed his identity.  Then Joseph’s father Jacob, his brothers, and all the extended family moved to Egypt where they would survive the famine, and God would in fact safeguard his people and his promises. Indeed, as Joseph points out to his brothers at the end of the story, even though their act of betrayal was meant for evil, God used it for something good.

Discussion Questions

As you read, remember there are discussion questions for each chapter beginning on page 473 of the book and also questions that can be found on The Story bookmark (which are also on our website). Also, feel free to consider some of the questions below:

Joseph and his Family

In Chapter 2, we saw how parental favoritism can be very damaging. If Jacob had learned from his parent’s mistakes, he might not have torn his family apart by showing Joseph favoritism. What are ways that parents can combat rivalry among their children? What are some practical lessons families can learn from their stories? Are there any “family history” issues you need to overcome or avoid?

How was it possible for Joseph to forgive his brothers? Is there someone in your life that has betrayed you or caused you an injustice? How can you move toward forgiveness? Alternatively, is there someone whose forgiveness you need to seek?

Here’s something I hadn’t thought of before when reading this story:  Joseph’s brothers had been lying about his disappearance for 20 years, and were afraid of how he might react, especially after their father’s death. They told Joseph a made-up story saying that Jacob had asked them to request that Joseph not harm them. Could it be that they were having trouble forgiving themselves? Is there a mistake you have made where you’ve found it difficult to forgive yourself?

Joseph in Egypt

Think about the injustices and betrayals Joseph suffered. If you had been him, are there places in his life when you would have been tempted to surrender your hope and trust in God? How do you keep hope and trust afloat in your own hard times?

What sustains you? 

What character traits do you see in Joseph that made Potiphar and the head jailer trust him? How might your boss or others close to you describe your character? What things can you do in your professional or personal life to increase others’ trust in you? 


Overall

Looking back on his life, Joseph said that what others intended for evil, God worked out for good. Can you think of a time when an evil has been done to you and it has turned out for good? How can you use this to help you in the future? What does this reveal about God?

Reflect back on the first three chapters of The Story. What family cycles emerge? What life lessons can you apply to your own life from observing these cycles?

What questions came up for you while you were reading this chapter?

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