“Fruitful in the Land of My Affliction”, Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual,
To help class members understand that if we are faithful and obedient, God will consecrate our afflictions for our good.
1. Prayerfully study the following scriptures:
a. Genesis 40–41. In prison, Joseph correctly interprets the dreams of Pharaoh’s servants. He then interprets Pharaoh’s dreams about cattle and corn. Joseph is made ruler over all Egypt under Pharaoh and prepares the people for the coming famine.
b. Genesis 42–45. Jacob twice sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph makes himself known to his brothers and forgives them, and they rejoice together.
2. Additional reading: 2 Nephi 2:2; Doctrine and Covenants 64:8–11; 22:5–9.
3. You may want to ask a class member to prepare to present a brief summary of Genesis 42–43.
4. You may want to show a brief excerpt from “Joseph’s Brothers” or “Reconciliation,” parts 3 and 4 of the Joseph and His Brothers videocassette (53152), as part of the lesson.
Suggested Lesson Development
You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.
Ask class members to imagine that they have died and entered the spirit world and are now reviewing their experiences in mortality. Explain that you will ask four questions to help them think about how adversity has shaped their lives. After asking all four questions, invite class members to comment on whichever questions they want.
• What were some of the trials you faced in mortal life?
• What lessons have you learned from life’s trials?
• If you could live your life over, what would you change about the way you dealt with your trials?
• How could you have taken better advantage of life’s experiences?
Explain that this lesson is about Joseph, son of Jacob, and how he was faithful and obedient even during great trials.
Scripture Discussion and Application
As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.
1. Joseph interprets the dreams of the butler, the baker, and Pharaoh. Pharaoh makes Joseph ruler over all Egypt.
Teach and discuss Genesis 40–41.
Have class members review the previous lesson by naming some of the trials Joseph experienced in the early part of his life (Genesis 37; 39). You may want to list class members’ responses on the chalkboard. Answers may include:
a. He was hated by his brothers (Genesis 37:4).
b. His brothers conspired to kill him, then sold him as a slave instead (Genesis 37:18–28).
c. He was unjustly put in prison after refusing to do evil (Genesis 39:20).
• How did Joseph respond to his trials? How did the Lord bless Joseph for being righteous even in times of trial?
• Joseph was joined in prison by Pharaoh’s butler and baker, both of whom had had dreams they did not understand. When Joseph interpreted the butler’s dream, what did he ask of the butler in return? (See Genesis 40:14–15.) What happened when the butler was released from prison? (See Genesis 40:21, 23.) Why was this another trial for Joseph? (See Genesis 41:1, 14. He remained in prison for two more years.)
• Why was Joseph finally let out of prison? (See Genesis 41:1, 8–15.) What was Joseph’s response when the Pharaoh said he had heard that Joseph could interpret dreams? (See Genesis 41:16.) How can we give proper acknowledgment to the Lord for our talents and gifts? (We can use them to glorify God and bless others, not for our own glory.)
• What did Pharaoh dream? (See Genesis 41:1–7, 17–24.) What was the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream? (See Genesis 41:25–32.) After Joseph gave the interpretation, what did he suggest Pharaoh do? (See Genesis 41:33–36; see also the second additional teaching idea.) How did Pharaoh respond to Joseph’s suggestion to prepare for a famine? (See Genesis 41:37–43.)
2. Joseph makes himself known to his brothers and forgives them.
Teach and discuss Genesis 42–45. You may want to have an assigned class member briefly summarize Genesis 42–43.
• Why did Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt the first time? (See Genesis 42:1–3.) Why did they return to Egypt a second time? (See Genesis 42:33–34; 43:2.) Why was Jacob reluctant to let Benjamin go to Egypt with his brothers? (See Genesis 42:36, 38.) Why did he finally agree to let Benjamin go? (See Genesis 43:3–5, 11–14.)
• In sending Benjamin to Egypt with his brothers, Jacob felt that he would be losing another son (Genesis 42:36). How did the Lord turn this perceived trial into a blessing for Jacob?
• When Joseph was young, he had a dream foretelling that his brothers would eventually bow down to him (Genesis 37:5–11). How was this dream fulfilled? (See Genesis 42:6; 43:26–28.) How did this fulfillment, which the brothers had thought would be a great trial to them, turn out to be a blessing?
• More than 20 years after they sold Joseph into slavery, his brothers still felt guilty about their action (Genesis 42:21). How can guilt be a positive force in our lives? How can it be a negative force? How does complete repentance affect feelings of guilt? (See Enos 1:4–6.)
• How did Joseph’s brother Judah show that he had become a kinder person since he had last seen Joseph? (See Genesis 44:18, 30–34. Remind class members that it had been Judah’s idea to sell Joseph as a slave.)
• Why do you think Joseph’s brothers were worried when Joseph revealed his identity to them? (See Genesis 45:1–3.) How did Joseph show that he had forgiven his brothers? (See Genesis 45:4–11, 14–15.) How do you think Joseph’s forgiveness helped lift his brothers spiritually?
• 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? (See D&C 64:8–11.) How have you been blessed when you have dealt kindly with others who have mistreated you? How can we become more forgiving?
• How did Joseph’s imprisonment in Egypt, which was a trial for him, become a blessing for him, his family, and all Egypt? (See Genesis 45:4–8.) How can we follow Joseph’s example in dealing with our own challenges and trials?
• In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul told the Romans that “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). How has this been true in your life? Invite class members to share personal experiences in which an event that at first appeared negative later became a blessing.
Remind class members that throughout his many trials, Joseph remained faithful. He even forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery. Because of his righteousness, Joseph was greatly blessed. Testify that if we are faithful, God will bless us by making all things work together for our good.
Additional Teaching Ideas
The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.
1. The great latter-day Joseph
The Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 50:24–38 contains prophecies that Joseph made about one of his descendants who would become a “choice seer.” The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi restated these prophecies in 2 Nephi 3:5–15. The descendant referred to in these prophecies is the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Discuss how the following prophecies made by Joseph of Egypt were fulfilled in the life of Joseph Smith:
a. One of Joseph’s descendants would be a “choice seer” (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:26; 2 Nephi 3:6).
b. This seer would be greatly respected by the other descendants of Joseph (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:27; 2 Nephi 3:7).
c. He would teach them of the covenants that God had made with their ancestors (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:28; 2 Nephi 3:7).
d. He would be obedient to God (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:28; 2 Nephi 3:8).
e. He would be a great prophet, like Moses (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:29; 2 Nephi 3:9).
f. He would be the means for bringing forth new scripture (the Book of Mormon) that would support and work with existing scripture (the Bible) (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:30–31; 2 Nephi 3:11–12).
g. Although he would be weak, the Lord would make him strong (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:32; 2 Nephi 3:13).
h. Both he and his father would be named Joseph (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:33; 2 Nephi 3:15).
2. Preparing for famine
• Joseph counseled Pharaoh to use the seven years of plenty to prepare Egypt for the seven years of famine that would follow (Genesis 41:29–30, 34–36). What counsel do our Church leaders give us about preparing for times of famine or other difficulty?
Elder L. Tom Perry taught:
“Just as it is important to prepare ourselves spiritually, we must also prepare ourselves for our temporal needs. … We have been instructed for years to follow at least four requirements in preparing for that which is to come.
“First, gain an adequate education. Learn a trade or a profession to enable you to obtain steady employment that will provide remuneration sufficient to care for yourself and your family. …
“Second, live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Incorporate in your lives the discipline of budgeting that which the Lord has blessed you with. As regularly as you pay your tithing, set aside an amount needed for future family requirements. …
“Third, avoid excessive debt. Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice. We need the discipline to stay well within our ability to pay. …
“Fourth, acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life [if local laws permit such storage]. Obtain clothing and build a savings account on a sensible, well-planned basis that can serve well in times of emergency. As long as I can remember, we have been taught to prepare for the future and to obtain a year’s supply of necessities. I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over. With events in the world today, it must be considered with all seriousness” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 46–47; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 36).
• During the famine, “all countries came into Egypt to Joseph” to buy food because Egypt was the only country that had prepared for the famine (Genesis 41:54–57). How can being prepared provide us with opportunities to serve others?
3. Joseph’s sons
• After Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt, Joseph married a woman named Asenath, and they had two sons (Genesis 41:45, 50). What did Joseph and Asenath name their sons? (See Genesis 41:51–52.) Why were these appropriate names for sons of Joseph? (You may need to tell class members that Manasseh means “forgetting” and Ephraim means “fruitful.” See the Bible Dictionary, pages 666 and 728
39:21-23; 40:1-23 the Lord was with Joseph . . . and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper
71Certainly Joseph was rewarded by the Lord for doing right; he soon was made a leader in the prison. There again he performed exemplary acts such as giving aid, advice, and comfort; and he brought blessings from the God whom he served. One blessing from God enabled him to interpret the revelatory dreams of two fellow prisoners—and eventually helped get him out of prison.
71Patient service for two more years in prison was yet required of Joseph, however, until the butler whom he had helped finally mentioned him to Pharaoh (Gen. 40:14). Pharaoh’s own troublesome dreams provided the opportunity.
72Joseph shaved and groomed himself before appearing before Pharaoh. He immediately corrected Pharaoh’s impression that Joseph of himself could “understand a dream to interpret it.” Fulfilling a part of the responsibility of Abraham’s seed, Joseph bore testimony of the Lord’s name “in a strange land” (Abr. 2:6). He said that it was not he but God who could give an interpretation of the dreams. After giving the interpretation, Joseph explained that God had indeed shown what He was about to do in Egypt. Thus Pharaoh should understand that the idols of Egypt were bringing neither the plenty nor the dearth.
72In recommending that Pharaoh select and appoint “a man discreet and wise” (Gen. 41:33) to collect one-fifth of the crops in the seven plenteous years to store up food against the famine years, Joseph did not suggest that he wanted the job for himself; it was Pharaoh who was impressed that they could not find another “such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is” (Gen. 41:38).
72Pharaoh believed that the Spirit of the God Joseph served had shown Joseph truths that made him more “discreet and wise” than anyone else; therefore Joseph was made chief minister, appropriately attired, decorated, acclaimed, and given a new name, Zaphnath-paaneah—usually interpreted to mean “he who reveals that which is hidden” (BD, “Zaphnath-paaneah”).
72In view of the emphasis placed on proper marriage in previous generations of the seed of Abraham, it is likely that Joseph’s wife also was chosen for him through the Lord’s influence. It may be assumed that the priests were of the same lineage as the kings of the dynasty; thus, Asenath, daughter of the priest of On, who was given to Joseph as a wife, could have been Semitic (see commentary on Gen. 39:1-6; cf. Gen. 24:1-5; 28:1-5; D&C 86:8). Joseph and Asenath became the parents of Manasseh and Ephraim (commentary on Gen. 41:50-52).
72Joseph’s wise implementation of his prophetic advice caused food to be stored throughout the land of Egypt during the seven good harvest years. The food was stored in cities in the farming areas (Gen. 41:48) and not all in one great central storage area for the whole country, as has sometimes been assumed.
72″Corn” (Gen. 41:49) in King James English means “grain,” not the American “maize” (BD, “Corn”).
73Joseph’s work, his position of trust with Pharaoh, his marriage, and his children must have been a comfort, a joy, and a blessing to Joseph after all his years of lacking family love and appreciation. The name of his first child, Manasseh, may mean “causing to forget,” as Joseph’s comment suggests. Ephraim is from the Hebrew word for “fruit,” with a dual suffix, suggesting double fruitfulness.
73Note that Joseph retained control of distribution. Although at first glance his selling the grain rather than giving it away might seem unjust, anyone experienced in distributing aid knows of the problems and dangers inherent in a dole.
73Like many other foreigners who needed grain (Gen. 41:57), Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt, where they bowed themselves before him, unknowingly fulfilling the old prophetic dream (Gen. 42:6b). Recognizing them and understanding their language, Joseph apparently seized the opportunity to test their integrity before divulging his identity. He challenged their claim that they were not spies but ten of one man’s twelve sons—one of whom was at home “and one is not” (Gen. 42:13). Three days in jail with the prospect that only one would be allowed to return home must have terrified them. Then Joseph’s release of all but one must have amazed them, as also his explanation that he did so be-cause he had reverence for God. In addition, they had a new challenge: to return with their youngest brother to prove their veracity.
73Note how guilty they felt regarding the lost brother, how Reuben chastised them, and how Joseph reacted—obviously not enjoying their suffering. Joseph may have held Simeon rather than Reuben, the firstborn son and natural leader, because he appreciated Reuben’s attitude and remembered Reuben’s effort to frustrate his brothers’ violent intent and lack of compassion when they sold him (Gen. 42:21-24; 37:22, 29-30).
74Back home again, Reuben offered a sure pledge in order to persuade their aged father to entrust him and his brothers with Benjamin on their return trip to get more food and redeem Simeon, but Jacob was afraid.
74The brothers did not go back to Egypt to obtain Simeon’s release until their acute need of food persuaded their father to let them go in spite of his fear of losing Benjamin in addition to Simeon and Joseph. So Judah also volunteered to be surety for Benjamin. Recall that it had been Judah’s suggestion years before that Joseph be sold so that his blood would not be shed (Gen. 37:26-27).
74How in a famine could any food or spices be available in Canaan for Israel’s sons to take to Egypt? Cyclical droughts that may cause crops of grain and other annuals to fail do not ordinarily kill the trees that produce figs, dates, olives, nuts, and balm; shrubs and vines ordinarily survive and bloom, so some honey also is produced. Spices such as sage, oregano, or rosemary are produced by shrubs that survive most droughts.
75When the ten brothers, including Benjamin, returned to Egypt, they must have been amazed at being treated as honored guests, even having their feet washed before a noon meal and being seated according to rank in age. The money they brought back was not accepted by the steward: he said he had received it (he had indeed received it but had not kept it). Then what must they have thought of Benjamin’s receiving a portion at dinner five times that of anyone else! If the brothers noticed that Joseph hurriedly left the room for a time, they could not likely have guessed he went out to weep—a second such occurrence (Gen. 43:30; 42:24). But he had one more test to perform before confessing his identity and reassuring them.
75In the final test, Joseph contrived to cause Benjamin to be detained in Egypt. Judah proved true to his pledge—and more compassionate than he had been years before: he volunteered to take Benjamin’s place rather than risk bringing down the gray head of their father in sorrow to the grave.
75Joseph was so gratified that he wept again (Gen. 45:1-2; 43:30). Assured that they would not abandon their youngest brother and that they apparently were better men than they had been some twenty-five years before, Joseph divulged his identity. He hastened to reassure them that God had thus brought good out of that otherwise evil situation. Through Joseph, God had provided for the whole clan of Israel in the last five years of the famine. Father Jacob was to be brought, and all of his extended family could dwell in the good pasture lands of Goshen. Tender was their reunion.
76Pharaoh and his people were gracious to Joseph’s family, but they had ample reason to be grateful: Joseph had not only saved the nation from the famine but had unified the whole land under a strong monarch (an achievement like that of the New Kingdom, in the Eighteenth Dynasty; but Joseph’s time was much earlier than that).
76Generously, Pharaoh urged Joseph to send for his father and all of his family and to have no concern about their goods in Canaan, “for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours” (Gen. 45:20). His generosity was shown in the goods and wagons he sent to help them move to Egypt. Pharaoh was solicitous, saying, “See that ye fall not out by the way” (Gen. 45:24).
76It was understandably overwhelming to Jacob to learn that Joseph was not only alive but “governor over all the land of Egypt.” Only when he heard what Joseph had said to his brothers and saw the Egyptian wagons could the aged father believe it.