08 Joseph in the Pit

UNIT #: 
Lesson Theme: 
God cares for you even in the deepest darkest pit

God is the giver of all good things. He will give you according to His will.

Bible Passage: 

Genesis 37:1-36

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Joseph Dreams of Greatness

37 Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. This is the story of the family of Jacob.

Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to 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 children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.

He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, “What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?” 11 So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Joseph Is Sold by His Brothers

12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” He answered, “Here I am.” 14 So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.

He came to Shechem, 15 and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” 16 “I am seeking my brothers,” he said; “tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” 17 The man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. 18 They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. 20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” 21 But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” 22 Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; 24 and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

25 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed. 28 When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. 30 He returned to his brothers, and said, “The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?” 31 Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, “This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not.” 33 He recognized it, and said, “It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father bewailed him. 36 Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Teacher’s Preparation: 

Joseph is one of the most exciting and vibrant characters in the Bible. His story is rich in mystery (the dreams), family tension (the brothers), emotion (jealousy, betrayal, loss, passion, loyalty, love), victory (rises from the pit to be ruler), forgiveness and reunion. Help the children to form an intimate bond with Bible characters such as these. They will be learning more in the coming years. Share your own lessons learned from the story of Joseph.


Main Ideas: 

Joseph was a little dreamer. His father loved him and made a special robe for him. His elder brothers however did not like him. One day Joseph came upto his family really excited and said, “Listen to this dream I dreamed. We were out in the field binding sheaves. Suddenly my sheaf rose and your sheaves bowed to mine.”  Don’t you think this would have made his brothers who were already jealous of him mad?

Joseph came up to them once again another day and said, “I had another dream. The sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to me!” Now Jacob was angry. He was worried and confused as to why Joseph was having these dreams. He kept his thoughts to himself.

One day out in the fields while they were tending their sheep the brothers plotted to get rid of Joseph. They thought their father would love them if Joseph was not around. How wrong they were. When Joseph came out to find out how they were doing, the brothers took away his robe and threw him into a pit. Some time later, the brothers noticed a traveling caravan. They decided to sell Joseph to the arabs who were headed towards Egypt.

Reuben had a soft heart. He thought he’d come back after dark and take Joseph home. He knew his brothers were angry at Joseph but would soon forget about their feelings and love him again. But when he came to the pit and saw that it was empty, he was afraid. What would he tell his father? The brothers decided to kill a goat, smear Joseph’s beautiful robe and tell Jacob that wild animals had gotten their baby brother.

Back home Jacob was getting worried that Joseph was not home yet. When the older brothers came and told him what had happened to Joseph, he was heart broken and wept.

* The brothers did mean things to Joseph because they were jealous of him. Jealousy can make us do bad things. We should pray about how we feel. Ask God to help us feel good about the blessings and gifts given to others. Be thankful for what we have. Then we will be happy and joyful. We will also be able to share the gifts that God has given us and others.

* God was preparing Joseph for bigger things. Joseph and his family did not know of God’s plans. God revealed it to Joseph in dreams. But Joseph was not ready to understand and interpret those dreams.

* The memory verse “Proverbs 16:28 A perverse person spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends” talks about what happens when we do and say something with evil thoughts in our heart. Jealousy creates these evil thoughts. The bible tells us that we can break friendship and family just as we see in the story of Joseph.

* Joseph must have been afraid and sad in the pit. He must have been torn and felt betrayed when he was dragged away as a slave. Yet, as we read on about the story of Joseph we learn that he never doubted God’s plan. Joseph led a life that was pure and holy. He became a blessing to his family. He did rule over them just as he had dreamt. Many years later he even forgave his brothers and was reunited with his father.



Values for Life: 

God gives us what we need. Ask him for direction and wisdom to handle your feelings. Do not be jealous. It will harm you and your loved ones.

Life Response/My Decision: 

I know that God will provide all my needs. I do not need to own what my friend or brother has because I know that God can talk to them and ask them to share it with me. 


Memory Verse: 

Proverbs 16:28

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

28 A perverse person spreads strife,
    and a whisperer separates close friends.

Closing Prayer: 

Dear Lord,

Help me not be jealous. Teach me to trust you and know that your blessings are sufficient for me. Help me to be brave and faithful as Joseph even in the darkest pit.



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