“Fruitful in the Land of My Affliction”
Joseph interprets the dreams of the butler, the baker, and Pharaoh. Pharaoh
makes Joseph ruler over all Egypt.
Joseph makes himself known to his brothers and forgives them.
A study of this lesson will help us understand that if we are faithful and
obedient, God will consecrate our afflictions for our good.
Scripture references for study: Genesis
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 12 Handout (PDF
The Dreams Of The Butler, The Baker, & Pharaoh
Joseph Interprets Dreams.
In Lesson 11
we discussed the challenges faced by Joseph.
After Joseph received the coat of many colors, his brothers "hated
him, and could not speak peaceably unto him" (Genesis 37:4).
In spite of the animosity of his brothers, Joseph was obedient to his father
and followed his brothers to Dotham. He was to report back to his
His brothers sold him to a caravan of Ishmeelites headed for Egypt. In Egypt, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain
of the guard.
Joseph was a obedient and faithful servant to Potiphar. "...the
Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand" (Genesis 39:3). Joseph was made the overseer of Potiphar's household and had complete control
over Potiphar's possessions.
Once again Joseph faced adversity when Potiphar's wife attempted to seduce
Joseph. When he "fled" from the house, rather than put himself in
a compromising situation, he was accused by Potiphar's wife. Joseph
was arrested and thrown in prison.
Once again, Joseph turns lemons into lemonade.
Joseph is one of the original positive thinkers. Rather than sulk
in his misery and curse God for his bad luck, he remained faithful to the
"But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him
mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And
the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that
were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it."
Consider these words from Paul: "And we
know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them
who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
The Seeds of Righteousness.
Pharaoh's butler and baker were put into prison. These two servants
were put under the charge of Joseph while serving their sentence.
While in prison these men each had dreams which Joseph, through the power
of God, accurately interpreted.
Joseph taught these men that "interpretations
belong to God" (Genesis 40:8).
The butler was shortly restored to the service of Pharaoh.
Two years later - two years - Pharaoh dreamed two dreams and sought the
interpretation. This was thirteen years after Joseph had been
sold into slavery. Did Joseph have patience?
"Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he
shall strengthen thine heart" (Psalms 27:14).
DO WE HAVE THE PATIENCE OF JOSEPH?
Pharaoh called the wise men and magicians of Egypt, but none could interpret
The butler then reported his experience with Joseph in prison two years
Joseph was summoned by Pharaoh and told that God would give him an answer.
WHAT DID PHARAOH DREAM?
He dreamed of seven fat cows and seven lean cows (Genesis 41:1-4).
He also dreamed of seven good ears of corn and seven thin ears (Genesis
WHAT WAS JOSEPH'S INTERPRETATION?
After hearing of these dreams, Joseph explained to Pharaoh that the dreams
represented seven years of plenty and seven of famine (Genesis
Joseph counseled Pharaoh about preparation for the years of famine (Genesis
Pharaoh was pleased with Joseph and the interpretation. He elevated
Joseph to second in command in all Egypt (Genesis 41:37-43).
"And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God
hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people
be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said
unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt."
HOW CAN WE FOLLOW JOSEPH'S EXAMPLE IN DEALING WITH OUR OWN CHALLENGES AND
HOW HAVE NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES IN YOUR LIFE BEEN TURNED TO BLESSINGS?
Joseph was willing to abide by the law of the harvest. Planted seeds
do not grow and ripen overnight. They often take time as they did
in the life of Joseph. The eventual harvest put Joseph in a position
to give great service that would eventually result in the physical salvation
of an entire nation, along with his own family.
The following account by Brother Todd A. Britsch helps illustrate another
important principle that father Joseph lived by: "It
is important to know that God's promises of the ultimate triumph of goodness
and righteousness are valid. I would like to illustrate this point with
an analogy from football. I do this with a bit of an apology to my colleagues
who can't understand how someone who makes his living teaching about poetry,
music, and painting could be such a fanatic about this slightly rough sport.
"A few years ago, before
the time that all BYU games were televised live, I landed at the Salt Lake
airport just as a BYU 'away' game was concluding. I rushed around the terminal
until I finally found someone who could assure me that we had won, although
by a very close score. That evening, after returning to Provo, I went downstairs
to watch the replay of the game on KBYU. My demeanor was amazingly serene.
When we fumbled or had a pass intercepted, I hardly reacted. My wife could
even let our children get around me. Usually I feel obligated to help my
brethren in striped shirts by pointing out their errors in judgment. Because
my seats are on row 25, such correction often requires a rather high decibel
level. This loudness has carried over to watching football on television.
But on that day I remained absolutely calm, even when I had the benefit
of instant replay to verify my claim that their defensive back clearly
arrived early and that the ground had obviously caused our running back
to lose the ball. I was a veritable model of football decorum, never becoming
unduly upset or ill behaved.
"The cause of my improved
behavior was obvious: I already knew the outcome of the game--BYU would
win. It is amazing how that knowledge changes things: cornerbacks can get
beat, running backs can fumble, linebackers can miss tackles, offensive
guards can blow blocking assignments, and other things can go wrong. But
when we know the final score, such things can be endured and sometimes
"We also know the final
score for the history of this world and for the life of the righteous.
The Lord and his people will triumph. It is true that the sorrows of this
world and the strength of Satan's forces will win a number of the skirmishes.
I am reminded of a wonderful cartoon that appeared in the New Yorker magazine
many years ago. It depicts on a baseball scoreboard the battle between
the optimists and pessimists. Each inning the pessimists are ahead, sometimes
by rather large scores. But at the end of the game, the score reads, 'Optimists
1, Pessimists 0.' So it is with the history of this world. Satan and his
followers, as well as the natural circumstances of mortal life, will inflict
many bruises and win many battles. But God, who knows the end from the
beginning, has promised that those who serve him will receive the fullness
of his blessings. When we realize that righteous living puts us on the
winning side, we can learn to trust him during trying times."
(BYU Devotional Addresses: "Trusting God When Things Go Wrong", by Todd
A. Britsch, BYU professor of humanities. This devotional address was given on September 30, 1997 at the Marriott
Joseph & His Brothers
Joseph was a type of the Savior.
While ruling in Egypt, Joseph married Asenath, the daughter of a priest
of On (Genesis 41:45).
Joseph rose from the depths without compromise, the rewards of righteousness
were realized, and God then put him in a place where he could bless the
lives of many. Consider the parallels to Jesus Christ (see Old Testament
Student Manual, p97):
Joseph was the favored son of his father, as was Jesus.
Joseph was rejected by his brothers, the Israelites, as was Jesus.
Joseph was sold by his brothers into the hands of the Gentiles, as was
Judah, the head of the tribe of Judah, proposed the sale of Joseph. Certain leaders of the Jews in Jesus' day turned Jesus over to the Romans.
Judas (the Greek spelling of Judah) was the one who actually sold Jesus.
Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver, the price of a slave his age.
Christ was sold for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave his age.
In their attempt to destroy Joseph, his brothers actually set up the conditions
that would bring about their eventual temporal salvation. Jesus,
by his being given into the hands of the Gentiles, was crucified and completed
the atoning sacrifice and became the Deliverer for all mankind.
Joseph began his mission of preparing salvation for Israel at age thirty,
just as Jesus began his ministry of preparing salvation for the world at
When Joseph was finally raised to his exalted position in Egypt, all bowed
the knee to him. All will eventually bow the knee to Jesus.
Joseph provided bread for Israel and saved them from death, all without
cost. Jesus, the Bread of Life, did the same for all men.
Joseph directed the storage of food during the seven years of plenty.
When the famine deepened, Joseph sold grain from the storage that had been prepared.
Elder Mark E. Peterson: "Inasmuch as Asenath
was offered to him in marriage and he accepted her, the question arises,
did he marry out of the proper bloodline? Did he marry a native Egyptian,
this daughter of Potipherah? Was Potipherah an Egyptian by descent? ....
"Asenath's father, as the
scripture indicates, was a priest in the city of On, and no doubt a sun
worshipper, since, as a priest, he would conduct that sort of worship.
But in officiating in this manner, he would do so in total ignorance of
the true God. He was not as yet a believer in Joseph's religion, for at
this point he and Joseph had never met. Joseph would have had no opportunity
to teach him about the true God, who was unknown to the idolators.
"So Potipherah was not
as yet a believer in Joseph's religion. But neither was anyone else who
lived in Egypt at that time. Joseph alone was a believer in the true God.
All Egypt was idolatrous.
"Potipherah was obviously
a Semite and not of Egyptian blood at all. That is the point here. His
blood had not been mixed with the Egyptians, and his daughter, Asenath,
was therefore herself a Semite without any restriction on her bloodline.
Therefore, no barrier would be raised against the marriage from this standpoint."
(Joseph of Egypt, pp37-38)
Prior to the famine Asenath bore two sons: Manasseh & Ephraim
Upon arriving in Egypt, Joseph's brothers came and kneeled before Joseph
seeking to buy grain. They did not recognize Joseph (Genesis
The famine extended throughout that part of the world, including Canaan.
When Jacob learned that there was food in Egypt he sent his ten oldest
sons to buy grain. Benjamin remained home with Jacob (Genesis 42:1-4).
Upon their return to Canaan, they asked Jacob to let Benjamin return with
them to Egypt (Genesis 42:29-43:14).
Joseph accused them of being spies.
He sent them back to bring their youngest brother, Benjamin.
The brothers were still feeling guilty about having sold Joseph into slavery
20 years earlier. "We are verily guilty
concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he
besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon
"And they knew not that Joseph understood them;
for he spake unto them by an interpreter. And he turned himself about
from them, and wept" (v23-24).
Simeon remained in Egypt as insurance that they would return.
Back in Egypt, the brothers went to the house of Joseph. The sons
of Israel still did not recognize Joseph (Genesis 43:15-34).
Jacob refused since he had already lost his beloved Joseph and now Simeon
was left behind in Egypt.
He finally gave in when the famine became more sore.
Judah said that he was willing to take full responsibility for Benjamin.
It appears that that Joseph's brothers matured some since they sold Joseph
to the slave traders. Their guilt for that act was displayed in Egypt. Now Judah, the one who led the brothers to sell Joseph, was willing to
take full responsibility for Benjamin's safe return.
Before Joseph's brothers left with their grain, he had a silver cup planted
in Benjamin's sack (Genesis 44:1-45:1).
Joseph inquired of their father.
When Joseph saw his brother "he entered into his
chamber, and wept there" (Genesis 43:30).
Benjamin was given special treatment.
Shortly after the departure of his brethren, guards were sent and out searched
the sacks of the eleven brothers and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
The sons of Israel were returned to the house of Joseph.
Joseph ordered that Benjamin be left behind and that they bring their father
down to Egypt.
They pleaded for Benjamin, "The lad cannot
leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die"
Judah plead for Benjamin and his father:
"...when he seeth that the lad is not with us,
that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy
servant our father with sorrow to the grave" (Genesis 44:31).
Judah offered to stay behind in Benjamin's place.
Again we see displayed the tremendous change of heart of Judah. Years
before he was concerned about his pride and selfish-ambitions and sold
his brother into slavery. Now he is more concerned about his father
and brother than he is his own life.
The emotion of the moment was too much for Joseph. "Then
Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and
he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with
him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren." (Genesis
WHAT IMPRESSES YOU MOST ABOUT JOSEPH'S FORGIVING HIS BROTHERS?
Joseph sends his brothers home and to bring their father, Jacob, down to
WHAT DOES THE WORLD TELL US TO DO WHEN SOMEONE HAS WRONGED US, AS JOSEPH'S
BROTHERS DID HIM?
WHAT DOES THE LORD TELL US TO DO?
HOW CAN WE DEVELOP HEARTS THAT ARE MORE FORGIVING?
As we understand the life of Joseph, we learn that no matter what adversities
we encounter, it is for our own blessing.
Live worthy of the Spirit. We cannot have both the Spirit of God
and an unforgiving heart.
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN BLESSED WHEN YOU HAVE DEALT KINDLY WITH OTHERS WHO HAVE
Jacob Blesses His Sons & Grandsons
Near the end of Jacob's life, Joseph brought his two sons to see their
grandfather (Genesis 48).
Ephraim and Manasseh were adopted by Jacob as if they were his own.
Jacob asked for the boys and Joseph guided the first born, Manasseh, to
Jacob's right hand and Ephraim to the left.
Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim and the left
Joseph tried to lift his father's hands and correct the blessing.
Jacob refused and gave Ephraim the birthright blessing.
Joseph learned that it is God who gives the blessing.
In Genesis 49 Jacob blessed his twelve sons:
They each received a share of the inheritance of Israel, thus Joseph received
two shares (Genesis 48:22).
Growing out of the birthright and inheritance Ephraim "was
to assume the leadership responsibilities for the House of Israel in the
last days." (The Millennial Messiah, p.189)
As Joseph gathered Israel for their temporal salvation in his day, in the
last days Ephraim will direct the latter-day temporal and spiritual gathering.
"And when Jacob had made an end of commanding
his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost,
and was gathered unto his people." (Genesis 49:33)
The blessing to Judah was that he would be the forebear of the Messiah.
The reference to Shiloh is that of the Messiah or Jesus Christ (Genesis
Brother Daniel H. Ludlow: "This prophecy
concerning Shiloh has been subject to several rabbinic and Christian interpretations
and the object of considerable controversy. The interpretation given this
passage by the Mormon Church is one based on revelation to modern prophets,
not on scholarly commentary. It was revealed to Joseph Smith that Shiloh
is the Messiah. . . ." (Companion To Your Study of the Old Testament,
Genesis 50:24: "And
Joseph said unto his brethren, I die, and go unto my fathers; and I go
down to my grave with joy. The God of father Jacob be with you, to deliver
you out of affliction in the days of your bondage; for the Lord hath visited
me, and I have obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of
my loins, the Lord God will raise up a righteous branch out of my loins;
and unto thee, whom my father Jacob hath named Israel, a prophet; (not
Messiah who is called Shilo;) and this prophet shall deliver my people
out of Egypt in the days of thy bondage."
With the exception of the blessing to Judah about the Messiah, the blessing to
Joseph transcended all others.
Joseph's posterity would be numerous, "a
fruitful bough" (v22).
Some of his posterity would go to other lands, "branches
to run over the wall" (v22).
In spite of persecution, he would be strengthened by the
He would receive great spiritual and temporal blessings (v25).
His blessings would be greater than those of his forefathers (v26).
After Jacob died, his sons feared that Joseph might take revenge upon them.
Jacob's body was embalmed and taken back to Canaan where it was buried.
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Throughout his many trials, Joseph remained faithful. He even forgave his
brothers for selling him into slavery. Because of his righteousness, Joseph
received great blessings. If we are faithful, like Joseph, God will bless
us by making all things work together for our good.
Elder Mark E. Peterson: "Joseph of Israel,
who dwelt in Egypt, is a prime example of a man raised up by the Lord to
correlate and tie together the divine purposes of two widely separated
periods of time, one ancient and the other strictly modern.
"Like Abraham, he was one
of those preexistent spirits who was foreordained before he was born to
occupy a strategic position anciently, but who would likewise greatly influence
events of the latter days.
"He began his life in the
depths of obscurity like so many of the prophets of God, but was catapulted
suddenly into a position of world prominence, for both ancient and modern
"He ascended from an Egyptian
jail to become the governor of the land, second only to Pharaoh. It was
a position of international importance, because he was made administrator
of the only food supply available in the entire Middle East during a seven-year
"He became a prophet who
was instrumental in bringing ancient Israel into Egypt, where the tribes
could develop into a great nation required for their ultimate destiny.
"And now his modern descendants—the
Latter-day Saints —as members of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph's
sons, preside in the last dispensation of the gospel, in preparation for
the second coming of the Christ." (Joseph of Egypt, p6)
- Record your thoughts on Joseph, his patience and his willingness to
forgive. How can you follow the example of Joseph?
Resources Used In This Lesson
A Companion To Your Study of the Old Testament by Daniel H. Ludlow.
BYU Devotional Addresses.
Joseph of Egypt by Mark E. Peterson.
Old Testament Student Manual - Religion 301.
The Millennial Messiah by Bruce R. McConkie.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
21 February 2014