Genesis 37:5
Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.
Ambition's Brilliant DreamsJ. D. Davies, M. A.Genesis 37:5-11
How to Judge of a DreamGenesis 37:5-11
Joseph has Clear Intimations of His Future GreatnessE. DaltonGenesis 37:5-11
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 37:5-11
The Dreams of JosephHomilistGenesis 37:5-11
The Favourite SonW. S. Smith, B. D.Genesis 37:5-11
The Sanguine Temperament of YouthT. Gibson.Genesis 37:5-11
The Representative ManR.A. Redford Genesis 37
Joseph, being seventeen years old, &c. Picturesque scene is the encampment of Jacob. How well the dark camel-hair tents harmonize with the general character of the spots in which they are pitched. Peace and purity should dwell there. Ten men of the tribe of Jacob are most depraved, but their characters only threw into brighter prominence that of Joseph. It is probable that Jacob gave greater attention to the training of Joseph than to that of his brethren. He showed favoritism also. His act of giving him a garb of varied color may not altogether have been so foolish and weak as sometimes it has been supposed to be. It was simply an ordinary Eastern way of indicating that Joseph was to be the future leader and sheik of the encampment. Think of Joseph's home life, and learn -

I. THAT AT HOME WE SHOULD, LIKE JOSEPH, LEARN TO PREPARE FOR FUTURE LIFE. Doubtless Jacob would tell Joseph of the promises of God to Abraham, of the tradition of the Deluge and the Fall; probably also of his own fleeing from home, and his dream in the desert, when he saw "the great altar-stair sloping through darkness up to God," and the angels ascending and descending. Joseph always afterwards has great faith in dreams. No book had he. The Bible was not written. Traditions and oral teaching formed his mental training.

II. AT HOME WE SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE SOME EMPLOYMENT. His father loved him too dearly to allow him to grow up in habits of idleness. He learned to handle the crook and to become a faithful messenger. No work is to be despised, for all may be a preparation for future usefulness.

III. AT HOME WE SHOULD NOT WILLINGLY BE WITNESSES OF WRONGDOING. The lives of Joseph's brethren were sinful, and their doings deceitful. Some things he is obliged to know about of which it is dangerous to keep silence. The welfare of the whole tribe was being risked by the elder brothers, and Joseph, fearing that, tells his father, or seeks counsel that he may be strengthened to resist evil influence.

IV. AT HOME WE MAY HAVE GLOWING VISIONS OF THE FUTURE. The two dreams concerning the sheaves, and the sun and moon and stars, brought hate from his brethren, but they had an influence on Joseph's after life. They were remarkably fulfilled. We all have some such visions. We build "castles in the air." The stern realities of life tone down our dreams. It is well to have some such dreams. Without them few make any advance in life. We are not to be like mere senseless stones, but growing plants. Better is it to bear fruit than to wait to become only the sport of circumstances. - H.

Joseph dreamed a dream.
Destined superiority to brethren and parents is the one grand idea that comes out in the strange visions of the night recorded here.

1. This idea was evidently a Divine communication.

2. This idea was expressed at different periods and in different symbols.

3. This idea was felt by all to have a Divine significance.

I. THE VISIONS OF YOUTH. The young generally create bright visions of the future. This tendency serves —

(1)To increase the amount of man's happiness on this earth.

(2)To supply a mighty stimulus to our mental powers.

(3)To intimate what human nature would have been had there been no sin.

II. THE JEALOUSIES OF SOCIETY. Jealousy is a passion that springs from the fear of a rival enjoying advantages which we desire for ourselves.

1. It is very general.

2. It is an unhappy feeling.

3. It is unchristian.


1. There is much in a virtuous life itself to ensure advancement.

2. Advancement is pledged by God Himself to a virtuous life.Learn:

1. The fate of eminence. To encounter jealousy. Heed it not. March on.

2. The path of glory. Virtue. The beginning may be difficult, but the end will be everlasting life.





1. He was separate by a superior destiny, of which his youthful dreams were permitted to give a dim, indefinite glimpse.

2. He was separate by reason of the fondness of his father for aim, on the one side, and by the envy and enmity of his brethren, on the other.

3. He was separate by the banishment from his home in Canaan to the land of Egypt, where the Midianites sold him to an officer high in the service of the Egyptian king.

4. And over all the chances and changes of his life God ruled. Joseph's history remarkably illustrates Paul's saying in Romans 8:28. Let us remember this, and try from our earliest youth to serve God faithfully, and to suffer our trials patiently, as Joseph did.

(W. S. Smith, B. D.)

1. Good souls whom men hate for their goodness, God chooseth to reveal His mind more graciously to them.

2. God hath by dreams, in time past, revealed His future providences about His Church unto men.

3. Young years, addicted to godliness, are made capable of great and sweet discoveries from God (ver. 5).

4. It is duty to declare God's will revealed concerning His purposes to His Church, though it please not men (ver. 6).

5. Dark, but certain, have been the revelations of God in times past, concerning His providence to His Church (ver. 7, 9).

6. God in bringing about the salvation of His Church, makes parents and brethren stoop to His instruments. Superiors to inferiors.

7. God maketh persons in themselves adverse to His providences, yet to be interpreters of His revelations (ver. 8).

8. The Lord hath usually foretold the salvation and advancement of His Church, but not the way; Joseph dreams not of prisons.

9. Carnal relations are apt to hate and envy their very brother, when God sets him up above them.

10. The way and means of comfort which man despiseth, God useth yet to do them good who hate it. So here.

11. Gracious souls that wait for the Church's delivery may yet have regret against the means discovered (ver. 10).

12. Grace in those souls checks their regret, and makes them observe, and keep God's discoveries to them (ver. 11).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

When a person told his dream in relating religious experience, Rowland Hill said, "we do not despise a good man's dreams, but we will judge of the dream after we have seen how you act when you are awake."

A youth of rare promise was Joseph. From his aptitude in creating and divining dreams, we may infer his fondness for quiet contemplation. His mind was active; he lived much in the future; he loved to roam amid unseen realities. Yet Joseph was not a perfect man. As every rose has its attendant thorn, so blemishes appear on his young soul. A sense of superiority and self-importance was fast springing up, under the unwise partiality of his father It was a tiny rift which would soon spoil the music of his life; a little cloud that would soon cover the whole horizon.

I. OBSERVE THE RAW MATERIAL OF THESE DREAMS. Every part of the history proceeds in a manner the most natural. It was the season of summer, and Joseph had been sharing with his brethren the labours of the harvest-field; for in Syria corn comes to maturity much earlier than in England. Overwearied with the excitements of the harvest, what more natural than that a busy imagination would weave into his dreams the stirring scenes in which he had just played a part? Touching the second dream, we must remember that, in the East the vocation of shepherds require their presence, in turn, during the hours of night, when wild beasts seek their prey. In that translucent atmosphere, and amid those cloudless skies, the lamps of heaven gleam with a brilliance unknown in Western climes. Again, by the natural processes of human thought, such a scene would furnish fit elements for the young man's dreams. Even nature moulds a man.

II. OBSERVE THE ARTIFICER OF THESE DREAMS. Not only does mystery appertain to heavenly things, there is mystery unfathomed within ourselves. Who can expound to us the philosophy of our dreams, yet these are full of significance. Aspirations, ambitions, projects, which during the day were kept in reserve, locked in secret by the monarch Will, now freely disport themselves, and the man's real self is seen in the mirror of his dreams. The prospect of eminence and rule rose before his eye, awake or asleep, like a glittering imperial crown, until that which at first was a vague possibility grew into a mental certainty. The conviction was rooting itself that he was to be a king.

III. OBSERVE THE OVER-RULING PURPOSE OF GOD. Although Joseph was conscious that he was free to choose his own course in life, free to frame ambitions, yet he was free only within certain limits, within a fitting circle: choice and will could act. Nevertheless the will of God encompassed and controlled the whole. There is no such thing as fatalism. We are moulding our own destiny, both temporal and eternal. We can catch at times a whispering of God's voice even in our dreams.

(J. D. Davies, M. A.)

We are told in these verses that Joseph had intimations given him of his future greatness; that God revealed to him by dreams that, notwithstanding his brethren's present hatred and envy, they should one day come and bow themselves down before him. The happy end of all his troubles was thus mercifully made known to him, that he might be supported under them, and be strengthened to endure the depths of affliction into which his brethren were soon to plunge him. These dreams would doubtless often recur to his memory as he lay in the Egyptian prison, and cheer and comfort him as he felt the iron enter into his soul. And Joseph, in thus having his high destiny revealed to him at the commencement of his career, was a type of our dear Saviour. In all his sufferings on earth he was sustained and cheered by the joy that was set before him. The Father gave him this for the same reason that He gave Joseph early intimations of his future dignity, to cheer and solace his depressed spirit while rudely buffeted and tossed to and fro on the billows of earthly sorrow. We have thus seen, that the Father made known to Jesus as He did to Joseph the greatness that awaited Him, in order to sustain Him as He passed through the dreary waste of trouble that stretched far away between Him and the promised glory. We have seen also that Jesus, as well as Joseph, made mention of His coming dignity to His brethren. We shall now see that the result was the same in both cases. They hated him yet the more for his words, and said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? So far from receiving Jesus as the Saviour when He clearly intimated to them that He was the Messiah, and proved it most convincingly by a thousand miracles, they despised and rejected Him.

(E. Dalton)

It is worthy of remark, that Joseph's visions were such as predicted only advancement and honour; his perils and imprisonment formed no part of his dreams. At this stage of the history, we are reminded of the sanguine hopes and lively anticipations which usually animate the minds of the young.

(T. Gibson.)

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