February 14, 2021 – Genesis 42 – 44

Lesson Date: February 14, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Genesis 42:1-8, 13, 19-24, 38; 43:1-2, 8-9, 16, 26-28; 44:14-17, 32-33

AIM: To lead students to recognize and describe the changes God produced in the lives of Joseph’s brothers, and to humbly ask Him to change their lives, as well.


Before class: Read the notes on Genesis 42 – 44 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the words “Humility,” “Sacrifice,” and “Surety” on the marker board or chalkboard.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the word “Humility” written on the board. Ask them to suggest definitions for the word.

Ask everyone to turn to Genesis 37. Ask: “What happened in that chapter?” (Jacob made a special coat for Joseph, Joseph told his brothers about his dreams, and Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery). Ask: “Would you describe Joseph’s brothers as being humble men?” (no). Ask: “When Joseph told them about his dreams, how did they feel about the idea of humbling themselves before him?” (they thought it was absurd and they hated Joseph).

Direct the class’ attention to the word “Sacrifice” on the board. Ask: “Were any of Joseph’s brothers willing to sacrifice their life to save Joseph?” (no: they callously threw him in a dry pit to die and later ignored his cries for help as they sold him to slave traders).

Remind the students that after spending years as a slave serving Potiphar, Joseph was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife. He was sent to prison where he spent several more years. Eventually he was brought out of the prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. In last week’s lesson Joseph was elevated to a position of ruling over Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself. Joseph led the Egyptians to stockpile food during the seven years of plenty. When the terrible famine began, people from surrounding countries came to Egypt to buy food from Joseph.

Direct the students’ attention to the three words on the board. Tell them in today’s lesson we will see Joseph’s formerly proud and hateful brothers exhibit both “Humility” and “Sacrifice.” We will also learn about the word “Surety” and see an example of that.



  1. Review.
    • Tell the class that we are nearing the end of our study of the book of Genesis.
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Col. 3:23).
  2. Jacob Sent His Sons to Egypt to Buy Food.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 42:1-5.
    • Ask: “Why did Jacob send his sons to Egypt?” (because the famine was severe and he learned that there was grain in Egypt).
    • Ask: “Who went on this journey?” (Joseph’s ten older brothers).
    • Ask: “Who stayed home?” (Benjamin).
    • Ask: “Why did Jacob keep Benjamin at home?” (Benjamin was his favorite and he was afraid some harm might come to him).
    • Summarize: Because the famine was severe, Jacob sent his ten older sons to Egypt to buy food.
  3. Joseph’s Brothers Bowed Before Him.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 42:6-8.
    • Ask: “Who was the Egyptian official responsible for food distribution?” (Joseph).
    • Ask: “What did Joseph’s brothers do when they came before him?” (they bowed down, just as Joseph saw in his dream 22 years earlier).
    • Ask: “Why do you think the brothers did not recognize Joseph?” (they never expected to see him alive again; he was now grown, dressed as an Egyptian, talked like an Egyptian, and had an Egyptian name; also, they sold him as a slave so they did not expect to see him as a ruler).
    • Summarize: Joseph’s brothers came before him to buy food. They bowed down to him, in fulfillment of his dream. They did not recognize Joseph.
  4. Joseph’s Harsh Treatment of His Brothers.
    • Tell the class that Joseph accused his brothers of being spies (verses 9-12).
    • Read Genesis 42:13.
    • Ask: “What did they tell Joseph about their family?” (they were the sons of one man in Canaan; their youngest brother was home with their father and another brother was dead).
    • Tell the students that Joseph put his brothers in prison for three days (verses 14-18). Remind them that he spent years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 42:19-20.
    • Ask: “What two demands did Joseph make upon them?” (leave one brother there as a prisoner; go home and bring their youngest brother back to him).
    • Read Genesis 42:21-24.
    • Explain the following:
      • The brothers talked among themselves, not realizing that Joseph understood them.
      • They recalled how badly they had treated Joseph and said this problem had come upon them because of their guilt.
      • Joseph put Simeon in prison.
      • He sent the other brothers home with the grain they had purchased, but secretly returned each man’s money to their grain sacks.
      • The brothers went home and told their father what had transpired.
    • Read Genesis 42:38.
    • Ask: “How did Jacob feel about sending Benjamin to Egypt?” (he refused to let him go).
    • Summarize: Joseph accused his brothers of being spies. He kept Simeon in prison and sent the others home, demanding that they bring Benjamin to him.
  5. Judah Offered to be Surety for Benjamin.
    • Tell the class that several weeks or months passed.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 43:1-2.
    • Explain the following:
      • Jacob told his sons to go back to Egypt to buy more food.
      • Judah reminded his father they could not go back to Egypt unless they took Benjamin with them.
      • Jacob still did not want Benjamin to go.
      • Remember that Simeon was a prisoner in Egypt all this time.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 43:8-9.
    • Direct the students’ attention to the word “Surety” written on the board.
    • Explain the following:
      • The word surety means a pledge or something of value given to guarantee future payment, somewhat like collateral or a down payment.
      • Judah guaranteed Benjamin’s safety with his own life!
      • Remember that Judah was the very brother who suggested selling Joseph into slavery (Gen. 37:26-27).
      • Now he was willing to lay down his life to guarantee the safety of another brother.
    • Tell the students that Jacob finally agreed to this plan; all the brothers, including Benjamin, traveled back to Egypt to buy more grain.
    • Summarize: Jacob’s family needed more food, but they couldn’t go back to Egypt without Benjamin. Judah became surety for Benjamin, pledging with his life to return Benjamin safely.
  6. A Family Meal and a “Stolen” Cup.
    • Explain that the brothers made the long journey back to Egypt. Once again, they stood before Joseph. They still did not know he was their brother.
    • Read Genesis 43:16.
    • Tell the students that Joseph told his servant to take his brothers home for a great meal. The brothers told the servant their story.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 43:26-28.
    • Ask: “What did the brothers do when Joseph came home?” (they bowed before him).
    • Explain the following:
      • Joseph asked about their father’s welfare.
      • The brothers bowed before Joseph again.
      • Joseph was almost overcome with emotion at the sight of Benjamin, but he continued playing the role of an Egyptian ruler.
      • He seated his brothers in birth order around the table, but showed favoritism to Benjamin by giving him more food than all the rest.
      • The next morning Joseph sent his brothers away with the grain they wanted, but he secretly hid his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack.
      • When the men had barely gotten outside the city, Joseph sent his steward to catch them and search for the supposedly “stolen” cup.
      • When the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack, they all went back to Joseph.
      • The brothers were terrified.
    • Read Genesis 44:14.
    • Ask: “What did the brothers do when they came before Joseph?” (they bowed down).
    • Read Genesis 44:16-17.
    • Ask: “What did Judah say in verse 16?” (they were Joseph’s servants and would all remain as slaves in his house).
    • Ask: “Who did Joseph say would have to remain as a slave?” (Benjamin – the one in whose sack the “stolen” cup was found).
    • Explain the following:
      • In verses 18-31 Judah told Joseph their story.
      • He explained why Benjamin was so important to their father.
      • Judah said if Benjamin did not return their father would surely die.
    • Summarize: Joseph’s once proud and hateful brothers bowed down before him multiple times. Joseph accused Benjamin of stealing his cup and was going to make him his slave.
  7. Judah Offered to Remain as a Slave in Benjamin’s Place.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 44:32-33.
    • Ask: “What did Judah tell Joseph in verse 32?” (he had made himself surety for the safe return of Benjamin).
    • Ask: “What did Judah ask Joseph in verse 33?” (to be allowed to stay as Joseph’s slave in exchange for allowing Benjamin to return home to their father).
    • Stress the fact that Judah kept the promise he had made to his father: even though he had a wife and children back home, he was willing to stay in Egypt forever as a slave so that Benjamin could go free. Judah was willing to lay down his life for his brother.
    • Summarize: Judah offered to remain as a slave forever in Egypt so that Benjamin could return home safely to their father.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Hold up a copy of the Sunday School Member Quarterly and direct the students’ attention to the title: God Changes Lives. Tell them that today’s lesson reveals some big changes God made in Joseph’s brothers. Ask the students to name some of those changes. They should name some or all of the following:

  • Twenty-two years earlier the older brothers hated Joseph and wanted to kill him.
  • They sold him into slavery and thought they would never see him again.
  • They never intended to bow before their younger brother, but in this lesson they did just that four times (Gen. 42:6; 43:26, 28; 44:14).
  • Previously the brothers were selfish, envious, and murderously hateful.
  • Twenty-two years later they were much more humble.
  • Judah – the very one who suggested selling Joseph into slavery (Gen. 37:26-27) – was now willing to sacrifice his own life to spare the life of his youngest brother.
  • Far from being selfish, Judah was now more concerned about the welfare of his younger brother and aged father than his own.
  • God changed Joseph’s brothers from jealous, murderous, hateful men into humble, self-sacrificing servants.

Ask: “Who was Judah’s most famous descendant?” (Jesus Christ). Tell the class that 4,000 years ago in Egypt Judah was willing to lay down his life for his brother, just as 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem Jesus willingly laid down His life to save those who come to Him by faith.

Tell the students that God changed lives 4,000 years ago, and He still changes lives today. The greatest change is when He comes into a life, redeeming a lost sinner, and making him or her His child. The Bible says those who come to Jesus Christ in faith are transformed into new creatures: “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

Ask: “Has God ever changed your life like that?” Encourage any who have never accepted Christ as their Savior to do so now. Briefly share the plan of salvation and then lead a closing prayer of commitment.


CONCLUSION: Urge any who have just trusted Christ for the first time to tell you or someone else right away. Tell everyone to thank God daily for the ways He has changed their lives.

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