Introduction to Toledoth 10 of Genesis, Chapters 37-50

Posted on February 2, 2013. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Introduction to Toledoth 10 of Genesis and

Genesis 37:2-36 “Joseph- Beloved of His Father, Betrayed By His Brothers”

Genesis Class, Sunday, February 03, 2013

Bryan E. Walker




Prayer Requests and Prayer


Review Homework from Genesis 36:1-37:1:

In this chapter, in what ways is Joseph like Christ? Although the NT does not directly say that Joseph was a type of Christ, he fits that description in many ways.

  • Matthew 3:17 and Genesis 37:3
  • John 15:25 and Genesis 37:4
  • Luke 19:14 and Genesis 37:8
  • Mark 15:10 and Genesis 37:11
  • Matthew 27:1 and Genesis 37:18
  • Matthew 27:28 and Genesis 37:23
  • Matthew 26:15 and Genesis 37:28


Read Genesis 37:2-36

            These are the generations of Jacob.

            Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.

            Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

            Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind….

(Genesis 37:2-11 ESV)


Introduction: Last week we covered the 9th toledoth, or the 10th part (counting the introduction in 1:1-2:3) of Moses’ book, Genesis. This week we begin the 10th and final toledoth which is the account, or generations, of Jacob, which focuses on his children as all the toledoths do, but especially Joseph, and surprisingly, Judah. Today we will do the necessary basic Bible study to look at the 10th toledoth as a whole before we move into the details of ch. 37.


Themes: The theme is to show that the covenant with Abraham, God’s promises for descendants, a land, for Abraham to be the father of nations, and to be a blessing, is being worked out and somewhat fulfilled in these 14 chapters, along with some obstacles appearing along the way. One particular way in which the covenant with Abraham is fulfilled in the story is when Joseph, as Prime Minister of Egypt, blesses/feeds the nations ((41:56f and 47:1).  In these chapters we see the 12 sons of Israel in a horrible, sinful series of events, yet reconciled to each other in the end by God’s grace. The story begins with Jacob and his twelve sons, but by the end, there are 70 who enter Egypt (70 being a number of perfection and pointing us back to chapter 10 and the Table of Nations where the sons of Noah have 70 descendants listed).


The major doctrinal themes in these chapters are the Providence of God, and God’s grace. God works through an amazing series of seemingly insignificant details and sinful actions of people to get Joseph to Egypt and in power in time to be the Savior, foreshadowing Christ in numerous ways. Waltke writes (p.492), “The narrative rejects humanism that believes in a God who ‘has no hands but ours to do the work.’ As Bruggemann asserts, ‘The narrative works its subtle way between a primitivism which believes too easily and a humanism which is embarrassed about faith.’” Judah plays a significant role in these “Joseph Stories” and we see the prophecy by Jacob that Judah will be the kingly tribe (from whence Jesus will be born). Another theme that affects today’s Believers’ sanctification is the theme of loving your brothers which dominates these chapters.


In our studies in Genesis we have seen a constant theme of “Obstacles to the Covenant”, whether it was war, foreign rulers, barren wives, or strife within the family. This theme is very pronounced in these chapters. The family discord which began the morning after Jacob woke up from his wedding night to find Leah in his bed continues as the jealous brothers seek to kill Joseph, then sell him to Ishmaelites who take him to Egypt. The covenant is corrupted by Judah who marries a Canaanite. The Land is abandoned due to drought as Israel enters Egypt. The key point in the story is the reconciliation of the brothers in chapters 44-45.


Moses is showing his people that God intervened to save their forefathers, and he intervened to save them. In order to build a nation he must have unity. The love between the brothers that is developed in chapters 44-45 is a much needed point. John 13:34f “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”


There are some differences in how the themes are developed in chapters 37-50 as compared with chapters 12-36. The only theophany in 37-50 is to Jacob in 46:2-4 whereas there are several theophanies in 12-36 including Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Abimelech, Laban, and Jacob. Instead of the dramatic theophanies, God uses a more ambiguous method- dreams. Another difference is that although Joseph is displayed to be morally superior to Isaac and Jacob, he is not seen to build an altar or worship God. His theology is sound (40:8; 41:16,25,28; 50:20), but his worship is hidden.


The theme of Separation is also evident in toledoth 10. This theme was originally brought out in the call of God upon Abram in 12:1-3 where God tells him to “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you”. This theme is developed in ch.24 as Abraham sends his servant to Haran to seek for a wife for Isaac as he forbids him from acquiring a Canaanite wife. Similarly, Jacob in fleeing for his life from Esau, is sent back to the ancient homeland as well, and acquires 4 wives! It is pointed out twice that Esau was wrong to have obtained Canaanite wives. Now in this final toledoth, we see Judah departing from his brothers and marrying a Canaanite in 38. It is probable that one reason God sends this family to Egypt is to preserve them from Canaanite influence which seems to be gaining momentum since the Dinah episode in ch.34. In Egypt Joseph gets Pharaoh to give the land of Goshen to Jacob’s family and the reason given is in 46:34 “…you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”  This insures a time of separation during which Israel grows into a numerous people and they are kept pure from the Canaanite influence.


This theme of separation is of good help for the Christian today. WE are called to be holy, that is, separated for the purposes of God, in Christ. We are  the Chosen, the Elect, in the world but not of the world. As Joseph called his family out of a land of famine into a land of plenty where they could grow and prosper, so God’s people today are called out of the world into the Kingdom of God to grow and prosper spiritually.


Main Point/Gospel Point of Toledoth 10:

In the stories of Joseph and his brothers we see a possible foreshadowing of Christ and his Church (the New Testament authors do not directly use Joseph as a Type). Christ was one of us, a man, who was beloved of his father, betrayed by us, and sent to save his people. In the process we are transformed by his grace into a loving family and gain an understanding that God works all things for his glory and our good. The clearest teaching of these chapters is that God is providentially in control of the details of history and that he used many circumstances to bring about his plan of Redemption. The clearest link to Christ is the prophecy of Jacob concerning Judah, whose tribe would become the royal tribe and his greatest descendant is Jesus.


Literary Analysis of Genesis 37-50:



With 37:2 we begin the tenth and final toledoth of Moses’ book and, counting the Prologue, 1:1-2:3, we have 11 parts to Genesis. An outline of this final toledoth which we shall attempt to follow throughout this semester looks something like this:


XI. The Account of Jacob: Joseph and His Brothers, or, How Israel Came to Live in Egypt Instead of the Promised Land

  1. Joseph’s Beginning: The Beloved Son, Sent By his Father, Providentially Sold Into Slavery inEgypt by His Brothers, 37:2-36
    1. Joseph, Beloved of His Father, and His Dreams, 37:2-11
    2. Joseph Betrayed By His Brothers, Sold into Slavery, 37:12-36

*Note: the rise of Judah

            B.  The Descent of Judah, Foreshadowing God’s Work of Grace 38:1-30

                        1.  Judah Marries a Canaanite, 38:1-11

                        2.  Judah, Deceived by Tamar, Fathers Twins, 38:12-30

            C.  Joseph in Potiphar’s House, Faithfulness in Adverse Circumstances, 39:1-23

                        1.  Joseph’s Faithfulness Leads to Prosperity, 39:1-6

                        2.  Joseph’s Faithfulness in Temptation, 39:6-19

                        3.  Joseph’s Faithfulness in Prison, 36:20-23

            D.  Joseph the Dreamer, Savior of Egypt, 40:1-41:57

                        1.  Interpreting Dreams for Pharaoh’s Officials, 40:1-23

                        2.  Interpreting Dreams for Pharaoh, 41:1-57

            E.   God’s Providence Brings Joseph’s Brothers to Egypt, 42:1-43:34

                        1.  The Brothers: First Journey, 42:1-38

                        2.  The Brothers+Benjamin: Second Journey, 43:1-34

            F.   The Testing of Joseph’s Brothers, 44:1-34

                        1.  Joseph Deceives His Brothers, 44:1-13

                        2.  The Rise of Judah, 44:14-34

            G.   Reconciliation Between Joseph and His Brothers, 45:1-28

                        1.  Joseph Reveals Himself, Reconciliation, 45:1-15

                        2.   Jacob Finds Out Joseph Is Alive! 45:16-28

            H.   The Family Leaves the Promised Land Temporarily, 46:1-27

                        1.  The Journey to Egypt, 46:1-7

                        2.  Jacob’s Family Blessed in Egypt, 46:8-27

              I.   Joseph as the Savior of His Family, 46:28-47:12

                        1.  Joseph and Jacob, 46:28-34

                        2.  Joseph’s Brothers and Pharaoh, 47:1-6

                        3.  Jacob and Pharaoh, 47:7-12

              J.   Joseph Enslaves the Egyptians, 47:13-31

                        1.  Joseph Purchases All of Egypt and the Egyptians for Food, 47:13-26

                        2.  Joseph and Jacob, 47:27-31

             K.   Jacob Blesses His Sons, Judah Shall Rule, 48:1-49:49:28

                        1.  Jacob Adopts and Blesses Manasseh and Ephraim, 48:1-22

                        2.  Jacob Blesses His 12 Sons, Judah Shall Rule, 49:1-28

             L.   Death and Burial of Jacob, 49:29-50:14

                        1.  Jacob’s Last Words and Breathes His Last, 49:29-32

                        2.  Jacob Is Returned to the Promised Land for Burial, 50:1-14

            M.   God’s Goodness & Providence Proclaimed and Joseph’s End, 50:15-26

                        1.  Joseph Proclaims God’s Goodness & Providence, 50:15-21

                        2.  Joseph’s Death & Prophecy of the Exodus, 50:22-26

(Note: I relied heavily upon Kenneth A. Mathew’s outline in NAC, vol.1B, pp.661-665.)


Bruce Waltke, p.21, presents an outline of the tenth toledoth, The Joseph Cycle that demonstrates the chiastic structure that is typical of Genesis with 7 concentric pairings:



A.  Introduction: beginning of Joseph’s story 37:2-11

  B.  Jacob mourns ‘death’ of Joseph 37:12-36

    C.  Interlude: Judah signified as leader 38:1-30

      D.  Joseph’s enslavement in Egypt 39:1-23

        E.  Joseph savior of Egypt through disfavor at Pharaoh’s court 40:1-41:57

          F.  Journeys of brothers to Egypt 42:1-43:34

            G.  Brothers pass Joseph’s test of love for brother 44:1-34

            G1.Joseph gives up his power over brothers 45:1-28

          F1. Migration of family to Egypt 46:1-27

        E1. Joseph savior of family through favor at Pharaoh’s court 46:28-47:12

      D1. Joseph’s enslavement of Egyptians 47:13-31

    C1. Interlude: Judah blessed as ruler 48:1-49:28

  B1. Joseph mourns death of Jacob 49:29-50:14

A1. Conclusion: end of Joseph story 50:15-26

Some would question the value, perhaps, of going into the details of the structure of Genesis. I think it is valuable for several reasons. First of all, this is God’s Word and the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write Genesis in this beautiful, intricate style. Secondly this does not just reveal the genius of Moses and the beauty of this book as literature, although that is enough to warrant praising God; no, this also indicates that perhaps God is doing something beautiful and intricate in history, redemption history. Genesis is theological, no doubt, but it is also historical revealing God’s timing and sovereignty over history; the stories we shall be studying this semester really happened; these are real people and real events. God structures history to reflect His glory and He rules over the events of history with his hidden will which is revealed gradually through his Providence.


Humankind started off in a created place called Paradise, the Garden of Eden, and we who have been saved by God’s grace will end up in Paradise at the end of history as new creatures with our old sin nature purged. At the end of days, I believe we who are redeemed will see and understand history as His-Story and we will see the beauty and intricacies of what God has wrought through all the details of the world’s history. God will be glorified in every culture, every age, in all peoples as his Redemptive  Purposes are made known and his plan is revealed in judgment and redemption. Looking at these kinds of details in Genesis gives us a foretaste of that grand unveiling.


Toledoth 10 is clearly linked with toledoth 8. One of the peculiar things of toledoth 10 is that it includes so much about Jacob. The toledoth of Terah is all about Abraham and the toledoth of Abraham is about Isaac, and the toledoth of Isaac is about Jacob and, to a lesser degree, Esau. In these final 14 chapters of Genesis there are many direct links with what has gone before. Just as parental favoritism played a huge role in toledoth 8, it plays a huge role here along with family conflict in general. One can say that the conflict between Jacob and his two competitive wives has born its fruit in the lives of the sons. In the Jacob stories he has left home and prospers in a far off land, now Joseph has been forced away from home yet eventually prospers. In both cases there is an eventual reunion and reconciliation between brothers. Just as Jacob and Esau team up again to bury Isaac, so Joseph and his brothers team up to honor their father Jacob. In ch.27 the skin of a goat was used to deceive blind Isaac, so in ch.37 the blood of a goat was used to deceive old Jacob. In chapter 31 there is a search for stolen household gods and in chapter 44 there is a search for a “stolen” cup. In chapter 30 Rachel says, “Give me children, or I shall die!” and Jacob’s response is (v.2) “Am I in the place of God…?” while in 50:19b Joseph calms his brothers’ fears and says the same phrase, “am I in the place of God?” (Mathews, p.667).


Overview of /toledoth 10:

Moses tells the stories using a series of  pairings (Waltke, p.495), which, again, I believe to be accurately reflecting the actions of God in history. Chapter 37 begins with his brothers hating him for 2 things- being their father’s favorite and the 2 dreams(sheaves and heavenly bodies) by Joseph and two threats against him by his brothers (death, slavery). The Judah/Tamar story of seduction (ch.38) is matched by Joseph fleeing temptation in Potiphar’s house (39) and while in prison, Joseph interprets two dreams of Pharaoh’s advisors (40) and this is followed by Pharaoh having two dreams which Joseph interprets (ch.41). In 42:14-20 Joseph devises 2 plans for dealing with his brothers and twice (42:25 and 44:1) he puts their silver back in their bags of grain. The brothers make 2 trips to Egypt for Grain (chap.42, 43) and the story of their migration to Egypt as afamily is told twice (46:1-27 and 46:28-47:12). There are two separate blessing given by Jacob to his children, the first is in 48:1-22 to Joseph’s sons, and the second is in 49:1-28 to all his own sons. Genesis ends with the twin deaths of Jacob (49:33-50:13) and Joseph (50:22-26). Jacob is taken to Canaan for burial (50:13) and Joseph made his brothers promise to carry his bones back to Canaan when they leave Egypt (50:25).


Most of us will remember the stories of Joseph from our childhood, but one of the surprising things about studying this toledoth is the subtle way Moses brings Judah to the forefront. Even in the blessings given out by Jacob at the end, while Joseph receives the double portion as Jacob adopts Manasseh and Ephraim, it is Judah who is the lion and whose scepter will reign. This combination gives us a double picture of Christ as Joseph serves as the type, but in Judah we see the prophecy of Christ being in his descendants.


Use of Emotion: Moses is a very emotional writer, including the full range of human emotions in very dramatic ways. This is not mere artistic creativity, I see it as God’s affirmation of human emotions. WE all know that our sin-touched emotions can lead us astray, but denying our God-given emotions is equally bad. We can feel the arrogance of young Joseph as he recounts his dreams and feel the burning hatred of his brothers as they look at daddy’s favorite. The despair of Reuben as he returns to the cistern to find Joseph has been sold and the grief of Jacob as he looks at the bloody robe move us to sympathize with them. We can feel the injustice done to Joseph as he is placed in prison after he rejected the advances of Potiphar’s wife. The joy of the cupbearer and the gloom of the baker come out as their dreams are interpreted.


Waltke, p.496, on the use of dramatic irony: “This masterful tale is replete with dramatic irony. The reader often stands in a position of special knowledge, just as Jospeh stands over his brothers….From fermenting hatred to blood soaked cloaks to a prostitute’s veil to mistaken grief and mistaken identity, the narrator masterfully arranges the details so that the reader is often in the know but never fully aware of how the truth will emerge or how deliverance will be brought. This position of limited knowledge always draws the reader back to the omnipotence of the divine author who knows how he will bring about his good purposes.”


Outline of Genesis 37:2-36


  1. A.     Joseph’s Beginning: The Beloved Son, Sent By his Father, Providentially Sold Into Slavery in Egypt by His Brothers, 37:2-36
    1. 1.      Title: The Generations of Jacob, 37:2a
    2. 2.      Joseph, Beloved of His Father, and His Dreams, 37:2b-11
      1. a.      Joseph the Shepherd: Beloved of his Father, Hated by his Brothers, vv.2b-4
      2. b.      Joseph the Dreamer: “Are you indeed to reign over us?” vv.5-11
    3. 3.      Joseph Betrayed By His Brothers, Sold into Slavery, 37:12-36
      1. a.      Joseph: Sent by His Father, Providentially Delayed  37:12-17
      2. b.      Joseph’s Brothers Conspire Against Him, 37:18-24
      3. c.       The Rise of Judah, Joseph Providentially Sold to Egypt, 37:25-28
      4. d.      Jacob Mourns the “Death” of Joseph, 37:29-35
      5. e.      Epilogue: Joseph Providentially Sold to Potiphar, 37:36


Literary Analysis of Genesis 37-38

Verse 1 is a Janus in that it wraps up the previous toledoth and introduces the next. Waltke links chapters 37 and 38 as both demonstrate how “dysfunctional” or sinful Jacob’s family is. In 37 they threaten to kill their brother Joseph, then sell him to a bunch of slavers and tell a grievous lie to their fathter while in 38 Judah is seen “leaving his brothers” and marrying a Canaanite woman and eventually fathering twins through his own daughter-in-law. These two chapters introduce us to the two main characters for the rest of Genesis, Jospeh and Judah. The plot in ch.37 takes us through 4 actions that lead Joseph’s brothers to hate him (his giving a bad report on his brothers to their dad, Jacob’s favoritism towards Joseph, the two dreams arrogantly told to his brothers). The climax of the chapter is the selling of Joseph to the slavers for 20 pieces of silver. The brother on brother crime points us back to Gen. 4 and the murder of Abel by Cain and forward to the betrayal of Christ by Judas and the desertion of Christ by the other disciples.


Key Words:

Brother(s)- 20X

Son(s)- 9x

Father- 9x

Joseph- 12x

Jacob- 2x, Israel 2x

Dream, dreamed, dreamer- 12x

Love 2x, hate 3x


Reuben 3x

Judah 1x



Jacob- weak, had a favored son, failed to love all his sons. Grieving.

Joseph- good son but perhaps a tattle tale, arrogant in his robe of authority and telling his dreams to his brothers and father, spoiled brat syndrome.

Reuben- weak leader as first born,

Judah- greedy and calculating



The hatred by his brothers points forward to a tragic end for Joseph, however, Judah’s actions in selling his brother provide the means of their eventual redemption and salvation. Joseph’s dreams do point to a time in the future when his family must bow down to him.


Sailhamer, EBC, vol.2, p.226 “Since the story of Joseph is filled with wordplays and reversals, it seems likely that the reference to the ‘bad [ra ah] report’ in v.2 foreshadows the brothers’ intended ‘evil’ (ra ah; NIV ‘harm’) spoken of in 50:20.”….”Joseph recounted to his brothers two dreams, both of which end with the image of his brothers bowing down to him. The picture of the brothers bowing down to Joseph foreshadows the conclusion of the story where, because he is ruler of the land of Egypt, his brothers bowed down to him.”



Jacob had a lot of rocks, stones, pillars, altars or heaps involved in his story (ch.28, 29, 31, 35); Joseph had his robe and clothes (37:3,23,31, 33; 39:12,15; 41:14;)  The coat of many colors is popularly said to point  to Christ who ultimately fulfills the promise to Abraham of being a blessing to all the nations; Rev.5:9 is a verse that accompanies the artwork. Popular artwork portrays the coat being made of the flags of the nations and being worn by Christ. The coat in Gen.37 simply symbolizes that Jacob had chosen Joseph as his “firstborn” heir apparent because it was richly ornamented and had long sleeves representing leadership and not being a laborer like his brothers.


Next week:

WE will begin our verse by verse study of ch.37.



Mathews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary,vol.1B Genesis 11:27-50:26. 2005 (960pp.)*****


Ross, Allen P. Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis. Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI. 1996 (744pp.)



Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis: A Commentary. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI 1991 (656pp.)


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