Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for April 28

Here’s the Explore the Bible Sunday School lesson commentary for April 28, written by Ben Stubblefield, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile.

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for April 28

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By Dr. Ben Stubblefield
Visiting assistant professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile


Genesis 37:5–8,18–28

A Dream (5–8)

Our study now takes us from the narrative of Jacob to Joseph, but we’ll see some repeated patterns emerge in our section: the folly of the younger brother, the favored younger brother and the bitterness of the older brothers.

Joseph’s dream was real and prophetic of what was to come (42:6). Perhaps he was naive and did not expect his brothers to respond with jealousy, but they certainly did.

Verse 7 contains the third mention of the brothers’ hatred, suggesting an escalating intensity.

It’s not abundantly clear that Joseph was in full control of pride, but the text does suggest that Joseph enjoyed being enjoyed. While it was not right for his brothers to hate him, it is fair to see how sin begets sin.

My family talks about this all the time, namely about how interconnected all our relationships are and about how we impact each other in direct and indirect ways for good or ill. It’s amazing how a kind word, a moment of mercy, a simple apology can stop the cycle of sin. And it’s incredible how a harsh word, a moment of nastiness, an accusation can intensify it. I wonder how different the story would have been if the brothers forgave Joseph or if Joseph had repented from the behavior that infuriated them.

A Plot (18–22)

As the brothers see Joseph approaching “from a distance,” they begin to conspire fratricide and desecration. But Reuben, perhaps trying to recover his father’s good graces after the Bilhah affair (Gen. 35:22), dissuades the rest from bloodshed and convinces them to put Joseph, alive, into a pit.

Anger is a powerful emotion. It overwhelms and rules us, such that we say and do things we’d never do in our right mind. Here, the brothers are plotting the sin of Cain, the rule of the serpent — to cast down what God has exalted.

Church folks are not exempt from the temptation of jealousy, anger and hate. We all feel the surge of that emotion welling up within us from time to time. It wants to rule over us, but, as God told Cain, we “must master it” (Gen. 4:7).

A Pit (23–28)

The brothers set upon Joseph, strip him of his cherished clothing and cast him into the pit. The mob evidently has worked up an appetite. And while their intent for Joseph is to starve him to death, they “sat down to eat” (25). We know that they heard cries, distress and pleading from Joseph, but they remained focused on the task of murder (Gen. 42:21). As the Midianites (a non-covenant people) passed by, they hauled away Joseph, naked and hopeless, to sell him into slavery in Egypt.

It would be reasonable to think that Joseph wanted vengeance upon his traitors. It’s hard to imagine the shame, betrayal, exhaustion, anger and survival instincts he would experience in the coming months. As we journey with Joseph in our study of Genesis, we should start to see some parallels to the ministry of our Lord. His countrymen, like Joseph’s, hated His fatherly favoritism; His fellow Israelites held Him in a pit, stripped Him of His clothes and pawned Him for silver.

But also far beyond the mercy Joseph will later show for his brothers, Jesus will provide a path of salvation, hope and mercy for the very ones for whom and because of He suffered. I’m thankful for the Son of Abraham, who went down into the pit for me.