Dave Burnette's Commentary

Genesis Chapter 37

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Moses
Date Penned: (1450-1410 BC)
Overview: The Record of God's Chosen People (c 23-50)
Theme: The Story of Joseph (c 37-50)
Message: Joseph is Sold into Slavey (v 1-36)

Genesis 37 Commentary

(37:1-3) Joseph gets a Coat - In Joseph's day, everyone had a coat, or cloak. Cloaks were used to warm oneself, to bundle up belongings for a trip, to wrap babies, to sit on, or even to serve as security for a loan. Most cloaks were knee length, short sleeved, and plain. In contrast, Joseph's coat was probably of the kind worn by royalty--long sleeved, ankle length, and colorful. The coat became a symbol of Jacob's favoritism toward Joseph, and it aggravated the already strained relationship between Joseph and his brothers. Favoritism in families may be unavoidable, but its divisive effects should be minimized. Parents may not be able to change their feelings toward a favorite child, but they can change their actions toward the others.

(37:6-11) Joseph brothers Jealousy - Joseph's brothers were already angry over the possibility of being ruled by their little brother Joseph then fueled the fire with his immature attitude and boastful manner. No one enjoys a braggart. Joseph learned his lesson the hard way. His angry brothers sold him into slavery to get rid of him. After several years of hardship, Joseph learned an important lesson: Since our talents and knowledge come from God, it is more appropriate to thank him for them than to brag about them (41:16). 37:19, 20 Could jealousy ever make you feel like Killing someone? Before saying, "Of course not," look at what happened in this story. Ten men were willing to kill their brother over a coat and because of his dreams. Their deep jealousy had grown into ugly rage, blinding them completely to what was right. Jealousy can be hard to recognize, because our reasons for it seem to make sense. But left unchecked, jealousy grows quickly and leads to serious sins. The longer you cultivate jealous feelings, the harder it is to uproot them. The time to deal with jealousy is when you notice yourself keeping score of what others have.

(37:26, 27) The Brothers Decision - The brothers were worried about bearing the quilt of Joseph's death. Judah suggested an option that was not right, but would leave them guiltless of murder. Sometimes we jump at a solution because it is the lesser of two evils, but it still is not the right action to take. When someone has a seemingly workable solution, first ask yourself "is it right?"

(37-28)  The Brothers Sin - Although Joseph's brothers didn't kill him outright, they probably didn't expect him to survive for long as a slave. They were quite willing to let cruel slave traders do their dirty work for them. Joseph faced a 30-day journey through the desert, probably chained and on foot. He would be treated like baggage, and once in Egypt, would be sold as a piece of merchandise. His brothers thought they would never see him again. 

(37:30) Reuben's Guilt - Reuben returned to the pit to find Joseph. but his little brother was gone. His first response, in effect, was "What is going to happen to me?" ("Whither shall I go?") rather than "What is going to happen to Joseph?" in a tough situation, are you usually concerned first about yourself? Consider the person most affected by the problem, and you are more likely to find a solution for it. 

(37:31-35) The Brothers Deception - To cover their evil action, Jacob's sons deceived their father into thinking Joseph was dead. Jacob himself had deceived others many times (including his own father; 27:35). Now, though blessed by God, he still had to face the consequences of his sins. God may not have punished Jacob immediately for his sins of deceit, but the consequences came nevertheless and stayed with him for the rest of his life. 

(37:36) Joseph Experiences Egypt - Imagine the culture shock Joseph experienced upon arrival in Egypt. Joseph had lived as a nomad traveling the countryside with his family, caring for sheep. Suddenly he was thrust into the world's most advanced civilization with great pyramids, beautiful homes, sophisticated people, and a new language." While Joseph saw Egypt's skill and intelligence at their best. He also saw the Egyptians' spiritual blindness. They worshiped countless gods related to every aspect of life. 

Dave Burnette's Life Application


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. There are many applications we can make from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Genesis with Chapter 37, and in today's text, we see our focus on the children of Jacob, now named Israel. Joseph was the apple of his father's eye, and Israel showed his affection with a coat of many colors. The Lord blessed him also with dreams that caused his brothers to hate him more. In making an application, we see the progression of jealousy. The brothers of Joseph allowed a simple showing of their father's favor, a gift of a coat of many colors, and the God-given ability of dreams to allow a seed of bitterness to grow into envy that they harbored into jealousy. When they acted on their jealousy, they plotted his death but settled for selling Joseph as an enslaved person. What catches my eye is how the brothers allowed their jealousy to consume them to the point of performing this sinful act. It makes me think of times when I harbored terrible feelings for others that made me jealous. The root of jealousy is the coveting of what someone else possesses. If we acknowledge and respect others as ourselves, we can identify and rebuke the thought when it is just a seed. If not, our jealousy will grow into this destructive force. How about you? Do you get jealous? If so, let us learn from our text today and the example of Joseph's brothers to remind us that jealousy starts as a spark but can quickly become a deadly forest fire consuming everything in its path. Rebuke this sin before it leads to destruction in your life. 


Genesis 37

Genesis 37

 1And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.

 2These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.

 3Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.

 4And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

 5And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

 6And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

 7For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.

 8And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

 9And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

 10And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

 11And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

 12And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem.

 13And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.

 14And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

 15And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?

 16And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.

 17And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.

 18And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.

 19And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.

 20Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

 21And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.

 22And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.

 23And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;

 24And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.

 25And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.

 26And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?

 27Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.

 28Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.

 29And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.

 30And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?

 31And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood;

 32And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no.

 33And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.

 34And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.

 35And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.

 36And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard.