Joseph: Bible Character Study

joseph old testament bible

  • The Meaning of Joseph – “God adds”.
  • He was the eleventh son of Jacob and the elder of two sons of Rachel (Genesis 30:24). Joseph’s life can be divided into five phases of his life.

Joseph, the Beloved Son of Jacob: I –  Genesis 37: 1-4

Q. What can we learn about Joseph from Genesis 37:1-4?

  • Joseph was seventeen years old. He was a shepherd.
  • He did not participate in his brothers’ misconducts. In fact, he brought the reports of their mischief to his father, Jacob.
  • He was the favorite son of Jacob. Jacob loved him more than all his brothers. Jacob made a coat of many colors for him.
  • His brothers hated him for this reason and could not even talk with him well.
  • Joseph was rather naive to tell his dreams to his brothers about his future supremacy and his brothers’ submission to him. That intensified their hatred towards him.
  • So, when the opportunity came at Dothan, they planned to kill him. But Rueben tried to rescue him by persuading them not to kill him. His brothers sold him to the caravan of Ishmaelite going to Egypt.
  • His life was changed in a moment, from being the beloved son to the slave in an unknown land, Egypt.
  • Joseph was sold to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard.

Joseph at the Potiphar’s House: II – Genesis 39:1-20

Q. What can we learn about Joseph from this passage?

  • He was a good administrator.
  • He was a hard working and faithful servant.
  • He was fair and handsome. (Gen 39:6)
  • God was with him and made him prosper and successful.
  • God blessed his master through him. (Gen 39:2) (check out Blessed is the Man – Psalm 1 Bible Study)
  • Potiphar, his master had entrusted him with charge of all of his house affairs.

Temptation of Joseph:

  • He was a young and handsome. He was the head of the house. None would have known if he’d have given in to the temptation by Potiphar’s wife.
  • But, he had a healthy fear of God.

Gen 39:9 – No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

  • His temptation period was long.
  • He tried to resist her as much as he could, but when time came, he had to flee from the place. (Also check out, How to overcome temptation and Temptation of Jesus Christ in the Wilderness)
  • Due to false accusation of Potiphar’s wife, he was cast into prison. (Gen 39:20)
  • Once again, he paid the price for being righteous!

Joseph in the Prison: III – Genesis 39:20 – 41:37

  • Once again, God was with him in all his trials.
  • One may argue, why did God not rescue him from his troubles? But God’s plan and purpose are higher than ours. We may see the immediate, but God sees at our future.
  • Joseph continued to be faithful.
  • The Lord again blessed him in all his work. The Jailer gave him charge of all the other prisoners.
  • In prison, he helped the chief butler (cup-bearer) to restore his position in Pharaoh’s office.  But the cupbearer forgot his promise to mention about Joseph’s innocence to the Pharaoh.
  • After two years, when Pharaoh had two dreams, the cupbearer remembered Joseph and his skills to interpret dreams.
  • So when Joseph was brought to Pharaoh, he interpreted dreams about seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.
  • He suggested the preparation for the famine by storing food during the good harvest years. (Also check out Jesus feeding the five thousand)

Joseph: The Chief Minister (Governor) of Egypt: IV – Genesis 41:41-56

  • The Pharaoh liked his proposal. And he made Joseph the Head of state to implement his plans for upcoming famine.
  • He was given egyptian name and was married to a egyptian priest’s daughter.
  • He was 30 years old. So after 13 years of suffering and struggle, God made him the most influential person in all known world at that time.
  • His wisdom and planning saved lives of people from not only Egypt but many other nations.

Joseph’s Life: The Unusual Family Reunion: V – Genesis 42-50

  • The famine brought all people from different nations to Egypt for help, including his brothers from Israel.
  • They could not recognize him, but he knew them. He remembered the dream he had, when he was a young boy.
  • Joseph, after testing them in different ways, made him known to them. (Gen 45:1-15)
  • He forgave them and persuaded them to settle in Egypt with their father, Jacob during the time of famine.
  • Joseph lived for 110 years. (Gen 50:26)

Lessons learnt from Life of Joseph:

  • God’s plans and purpose are greater and better than ours!
  • God provides and blesses those who persevere to follow Him.
  • Suffering to God’s people is not always bad! God can use the most painful time of our life for His good.
  • Joseph teaches us
    • the value of self control in the temptation of the youth.
    • Patience and perseverance in the time of troubles.
    • Honesty, strong work ethics.
    • Fear of God and Faithfulness to God.

Key-verse for Life of Joseph:

“The Lord was with Joseph”. (Gen 39:2, 39:21)

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen 50:20)

Joseph in the Bible as the Type of Christ:

The Old Testament often represents metaphors, symbols or characters which points to Jesus Christ and God’s plan of Salvation, these are called ‘Type of Christ”. (Check out Moses as Type of Christ) Life of Joseph in many ways resembles to the life of Christ.  Here are some of the type of Christ in Joseph’s life.

  • He was loved by his father.
  • Rejected by his brothers
  • Turned to gentiles
  • Unjustly tried
  • Suffered
  • Was exalted with honor and glory
  • Married a gentile bride
  • Returned to his family and was accepted
  • Delivered his people from death

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  1. B says

    Joseph is a great example of someone that grows stronger in their faith, because of the trials they go through. I think enduring trials knowing that God is still with you is one of the hardest things a Christians does. I think that Christians always come out stronger and more faithful with facing these trials, by trusting and staying true to their faith.

    At some point you realize that all you can do is to continue following God and trusting in your faith. When you have done everything you can to preserver, the only thing you can keep doing is continue to act righteous and stay true to the narrow path.

    For many people, hard times causes them to stray from any righteousness they have, but a Christian uses hard times to dig deeper into their faith and grow stronger in their faith. It is much easier to go astray from the righteous path, but much more honorable and rewarding to grow your faith to endure tuff times.

  2. Emma Jacob says

    I am really encouraged and blessed when going through these studies. I have shared Christian Discipleship with some of my sisters that I usually share with and encouraged. I have even shared the fellowship with God with my kids and encouraged them too. I would request if you could email me some messages regarding life of women in the bible both in the old testament and new testament. Women like Deporah, the widow that fed Elijah, Eunice & Louis (mother and grand mother of Timothy) and others.

    Thank you so


  3. focus says

    was looking for a bible characters to teach my teenager in church , when i come across this wonderful, explicit passage, am happy, would like to have more of this write ups on other bibilical characters men and women that teenagers can emulate as role model.
    thank you for this great job. as i wait in anticipation for your reply.
    God bless you,

  4. says

    I like this lesson about Joseph. I watched the film called Life of Joseph Film on YouTube. I recommend watching it.

  5. Bible Student says

    Found the outline on Joseph quite useful. Not quite sure how the following two types of Christ have been established from Joseph’s life:

    ?Married a gentile bride
    ?Returned to his family and was accepted

  6. tearzajoy says

    Thankyou so much for this study. I am just starting to study men in the Bible with my 3 teenage boys in family devotions. There are so few role models these days. I have known Christian men and women who drink alcohol! I am a single Mom and wish I could find men and women who really believe the Bible and are living out their faith to be examples to my boys. To the faithful Godly men out there- Keep being faithful to God and tell God’ truths. We need the truth not watered down half-truths.Thankyou!

  7. Oviangbede temini joy says

    Is great,we hardly see a man like joseph today,every youth will like to give the body what neede,if all our youth can learn from joseph we would all live a successful life,one of the things @ sin that destroy youth today is fonication.i really thank God am change first.

  8. Fola says

    @Bible Student- here is the analogy to Christ you were looking for:
    – Married a gentile bride – We are the bride and Christ is the Bridegroom. While we were yet sinners, he love us as Gentiles.

    – Returned to his family and was accepted – after Christ was crucified, he died and resurrected and the same people who crucified him now accepted him as the true son of God.

  9. robert says

    joseph also was very good forgiver,he was trying to punished his brothers and then forgive then to be learn that their act was wrong.

  10. Philip says

    This is higly great & educative to million of those taste for approval.may the gud Lord continually enriched u & ur minitry.

  11. Tee says


    I hope you are well.

    We were asked to study about Joseph in my cell meeting (a small part of Church) and to share with the group.. and all I knew about Joseph was everywhere… This just made it VERY easy and in one place..Oh and the references really helped. Thank you very much – very much appreciated.

    Kind Regards,


  12. Steve Ngoloh says

    The life of Joseph is a perfect model for a today’s young person. It brings about the real truth in Jeremiah 29:11 and much more there is a conspicuous message of hope to us who are believers. Thanks and God bless you much.

  13. R Garza says

    I’m 53 and facing some serious “Down Time” due to medical reasons.
    Today’s news programs and the world’s entertainment leaves me unsatisfied
    and empty. I grave helpful, Biblical knowledge. I have to admit that sometimes I get confused with who was who in regards to the Bible characters Daniele and Joseph, so is where I came for a clear distinction and understanding.


    He is a life example of any christian who desires to win the battle and reign again with christ .

  15. arnold fabillar says

    Joseph’s life is a good example of unquestioning obedience. Despite the many dangers and inconveniences he suffered, he was steadfast in his faith in God. The ups and downs of his life can be summarized as follows:

    1. From pit to pinnacle
    2. From slave to supervisor
    3. From prisoner to prime minister

    God has yet to see a person like Joseph who is fully yielded to God no matter what!

  16. ewusie says

    the life of joesph very blessing for us a wil serves us good to imitate it and also tells God will never reject a true servant.

  17. says

    I have enjoyed all the Bible studies, that you have too offered and I know this will lead the people to learn and grow in the Lord! Thank you and Bless you richly!

  18. SK.Namkhon says

    I really like the story of Joseph.I am trying to be like him.Lot of thanks for the life summary of Joseph.Amen!

  19. James Manley says

    I believe there was so much significance in the multicolored coat of Joseph. He was born blessed with spiritual gifts and talents. Every color represented a special gift that would be manifested throughout his life. Anyone who is used in so many different ways by God will certainly come under attack. So was the life of Joseph. But, no matter the trials he experienced, Nothing could stop the intentions of God in Joseph. Wear your coat in the face of the enemy and fulfil God’s plans to use you in diverse ways for His Kingdom.

  20. P.Bryant says

    Not fainting in the midst of trying circumstances is most difficult because it is easy to become depressed and give up give on God. Knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us, must remind us that we have to be like that tree in Psalm #1; that is planted by the rivers of water that we will not be moved! His strength not ours sustains us; Glory.
    PMHB from New Jersey

  21. N ARUL DHAS says

    The brief notes about Moses and Joseph gives me more knowledge with divine nature and bring the blessings of enlarge the Bible studies.

  22. Amit Christian says

    Story of Joseph is always very powerful and inspiring. It is a constant reminder that when we put our trust in God, God works out good for us.

  23. shimray says

    Very inspiring message. Hope you won’t mine if I use the same material to teach to my congregation…..! Thank u, may God use u powerfully in the days to come also


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