Joseph was a favored son that found himself quickly living a nightmare due to the jealousy of his brothers. Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob, but he was Jacob's favorite son. There was great jealousy and resentment among Josephs brothers. Not only was Jacob a favorite of their father's, but he was also a bit of a tattle-tale. He would often report his brother's wrongdoings to his father.
Like his brothers, a teenage Joseph was a shepherd. Due to his favorite status, Joseph was given an ornate coat, or robe, by his father. The jealousy and resentment from his brothers grew even worse when Jacob had two prophetic dreams that turned his brothers completely against him. In the first, Joseph dreamt that he and his brothers were collecting grain, and the brothers turned to Joseph's bundle and bowed before it. In the second, the dream had the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing to Joseph. The sun represented his father, the moon was his mother, and the eleven stars symbolized his brothers. The resentment was not helped by the fact that Joseph was only their half-brother, born to Jacob and Rachel.
After the dreams, the brothers plotted to kill Joseph. Yet the oldest son, Reuben, could not bear the idea of killing his half-brother, so he convinced the other brothers to take his coat and throw him into a well until they could decide what to do with him. It was Reuben's plan to rescue Joseph and bring him back to Jacob. However, a caravan of Midianites came, and Judah decided to sell his brother to them for 20 shekels of silver.
As the brothers brought the coat (that they dipped in goat's blood to his father) and allowed Jacob to believe that his youngest son has been killed, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, a captain of the Pharaoh's guard.
Joseph spent 13 years in Potiphar's home and in prison. Joseph worked well in Potiphar's home, becoming Potiphar's personal servant. All was good until Joseph was promoted to overseer and Potiphar's wife became determined to have an affair with Joseph. When he declined, despite the fact no one would know, she made a false claim against him, stating that he made advances toward her. His decline came from a fear of sinning against God, but it did not stop him from being thrown into prison.
While in prison, Joseph's prophetic dreams were the reason he was released. Pharaoh was having some dreams that no one could appropriately interpret. Joseph was able, and he saved Egypt from a famine that could have been devastating. He became Egypt's Vizier. Eventually his brothers came before him again, and did not recognize him. He threw them in prison for three days, and upon hearing their repentance for what they had don'e to him Joseph released them.
Eventually, Joseph forgave his brothers, and he returned to visit his father. Joseph lived until he was 110 years old.
Lessons from Joseph as a Teenager:
- How you treat others matters. One of the reasons Joseph wasn't very well liked by his brothers is that Joseph wasn't always a nice kid. He flaunted his father's favoritism in their faces. He often told on them. He wore the coat his father gave him into the fields, which was like shoving his favorite son status in their faces (you wouldn't wear a tux to mop floors, right?). It doesn't justify how his brothers treated him, but we cannot expect people to see God's light in our hearts when we don't act with humility. Pride can be a dangerous thing, as Joseph quickly found out.
- Parent's are people, too. No, it wasn't right of Jacob to favor Joseph in such a blatant way, but we learn from this story that our parents can make mistakes, too. In this case, it almost cost Joseph his life, but God used this parental mistake to further His plans.
- We can overcome injuries. Physical injuries can often be overcome through medicine, but it's emotional injuries that often run so much deeper. Joseph could have easily been discouraged when his brothers sold him to the Midianites. He could have been angry and walked away from God when he was falsely imprisoned. Instead, he kept his heart and eyes on God, and he found the strength to overcome adversity.
- We can overcome temptations. Potiphar's wife is an example of temptations we all face on a daily basis. We may not all be tempted by another man's wife, but we do face other temptations that lead us away from God. By having a relationship with God, he didn't want to disappoint Him. He knew that giving in to Potiphar's wife would mean turning his back on God by sinning. It could not have been an easy decision, but it was a wise decision.
- Forgiveness is in all our hearts. Joseph had a lot of forgiving to do, and the choice to forgive could not have been a simple one. Throughout Genesis, you see Joseph struggling to hold onto the grudge against his brothers. In high school we know so many people who harm us, and we think we'll hate them forever. Yet letting go of the resentment and anger frees us in so many ways. Joseph learned that it was harder to hold onto his anger than to forgive his family.