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The Cloud of Witnesses

Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible



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Lesson 2: Joseph – The Outcast From His Family


Genesis 37:12-36.

The Outcast From His Family

Wisdom does not seem to be the hallmark of the Jacob family at this time in their journey. Not only had Jacob made Joseph his favourite son to the almost exclusion of all the others, but Joseph had capitalised on it by his behaviour and through sharing his dream.

However, Jacob then did something quite remarkable. He sent Joseph off alone to his hateful brothers and guess what – wearing no less a garment than the red-rag-to-a-bull multicoloured tunic? It would announce his coming 500 metres away. His brothers had moved on from the expected place, so by the time Joseph arrived, he was anxious and weary. His brothers, on the other hand, were angry and prepared.

He might be flesh and blood but that was of no consequence – their jealousy and pent-up frustration were to be released. They took him and would have killed him had not Reuben stepped in and changed their plan. Rather than kill him, they just put him in a water cistern. At least that saved Joseph’s life.

However, circumstances changed and so did their resolve. Determined to rid themselves of their brother and the offending dream, they decided to sell him off to the nomadic Ishmaelites who happened to be passing by on their way to Egypt.

Getting 20 shekels in return, they were now better off without him in more ways than one. Reuben was horrified upon his return, realising that Joseph was now as good as dead, never to be seen again. How could he tell Jacob the terrible news? So, together the brothers hatched their callous plan, hoping to cover their shame – but without thinking through the effect on Joseph’s father.

Clever but cruel they gave Jacob the robe dipped in blood and awaited for him to come to his own ‘fatal’ conclusions. We didn’t lie, we just asked the question – is this your son’s robe? What heartless men they were. Jacob, naturally enough, succumbed to their planned deduction and with it began his depression and decease.

Oh, he didn’t die physically, but emotionally he did; he lost all hope of ever seeing Joseph alive again and he lost his will to live. His dreams were extinguished along with Joseph’s.

How easy it is for us to lose hope isn’t it? - Yet how vital a component to our lives. We need to be realistic. Life is hard – bad things happen to good people. Life is not a breeze – only the misguided think so. Every one who has lived will tell you that sometime they would have shouted out – this isn’t fair – life isn’t fair. They are right!

However, no matter how others treat us, we must never lose hope that God still loves us and has a purpose for us. No matter what happens to you – never ever forget this –as a Christian, you are a Prince or Princess of the King of kings.

Joseph would say to us today...

Life is neither easy nor just – get over it.


Jesus, You know how Joseph felt because You went through similar experiences. Please help me to remember that life isn’t easy, and even when family and friends let me down or abuse me, with Your help I can be an overcomer. I can win, because You know what it’s like and can give me the strength to persevere. Please help me today and every day to live in victory. Thank You. Amen.

Additional readings

Psalm 22:1-28; Job 1:1-22; Luke 23:1-25; James 1:2-4.


Why do good people suffer?

What trials are you facing right now?

What issues in your life do you need to let go of?

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