Joseph to me is an odd story, in part because everyone makes tons and tons of crafts about Joseph’s coat, but to me the focus of the story isn’t Joseph’s coat. That’s why this story makes such a great Sunday School lesson, because there are so many lessons you can pull out of this story. This story is coming right after Jacob having a few too many wives and a whole lot of kids.
Update: I’ve gotten a few disagreements about my thoughts on this story, so I want to add a few things before I get into the meat of the story:
- The whole arc of Joseph’s story is about God’s providence and how God uses the actions of sinful man to achieve HIS plans. But if there was only one lesson from each Bible story I could read the Bible once and be done.
- There are lessons for us to learn from each person’s actions and attitudes, and they are almost all negative examples.
What is the story of Joseph’s Coat?
It’s the brothers and a know-it-all teenage boy. (yes, God gave Joseph the visions, and yes he may not have meant to appear as a know-it-all, but he still lacked wisdom in his statements)
It’s Joseph telling his brothers about his dreams, and telling them “I dreamed you all bowed down to me.” What older brother wants to hear that? Especially since most of his brothers were grown men with families of their own, and Joseph was just a child in their eyes.
It’s about 10 brothers who hate their younger brother so much, they plot to kill him. But, change their mind at the last minute and sell him into slavery. Then LIE to their father for 20 years about this. Can you imagine? Spending 20 years looking at your broken father and not telling the truth? How hard did their hearts have to be?
It’s about a Dad who spent his whole life seeing favoritism tear his family apart and being exiled from his family because of it. Only to repeat the cycle with his own family. (I am going to stand by my opinion that Jacob’s parenting decisions contributed to the decisions his sons made. In ancient times the oldest son was supposed to be the favored son, but it was not so in this family.)
So, now you know where I am on this story, the threads I see as important. Let’s get into the:
Activities we did for Joseph’s coat
First for a fun active game we tried to drop Joseph into the well. We did it at the super easy height of as tall as your arm, but you could obviously make it harder by dropping him in from on top of a chair. It took everyone several tries and there were lots of giggles. This is vaguely based off of Bible Class Creations Joseph in the Well post.
Then we played a couple of rounds of “Poor Kitty,” and “Two truths and a lie,” to think about what the brothers went through. Think about it, they had to keep a straight face when I’m betting they wanted to laugh at the “joke” they were pulling (hence the playing poor kitty). Then they had to tell a convincing enough lie to fool Jacob (who is himself an impressive trickster).
We did a lot of talking about what it was like to be Jacob and the brothers, and about the problems lying creates, and the problems everyone caused in the decisions they made.
More Joseph’s Coat activities
- Joseph and his Brothers <<<<< printable storybook
- Joseph’s coat craft
- Joseph’s coat story bag
To continue Joseph’s story, the next part is: Joseph in jail.
Follow Ticia Adventures in Mommydom’s board Genesis on Pinterest.
For more ideas on Genesis I invite you to: read Genesis posts visit my Genesis pinterest board OR check out the curriculum page
maryanne @ mama smiles says
huh I never thought about the favoritism issues repeating themselves aspect of this story.
It’s one I noticed once I was reading it as a parent. I hadn’t noticed it before then, but as I read it, it’s glaringly obvious and many of the problems that come up in this story all result from mistakes in parenting.
Thanks! This is exactly what I have been looking for. I’m with you on what we often miss in this story. Thank you for sharing 🙂
I vehemently disagree with the contention that Joseph is to blame at all for anything that transpired in Genesis 37, and I also disagree that bad parenting is to blame. Joseph’s relaying the details of his dreams isn’t akin to arrogance or bragging, and nothing in the passage indicates that his behavior was prideful or boastful. He merely told them what he saw. As for the supposedly bad parenting, the passage clearly states why he was loved more (born to Jacob at such an old age). There can be no question that the brothers, and only the brothers, are clearly to blame for everything bad that happens to Joseph at this point, and it is they who eventually find themselves in need of grace, compassion *and* forgiveness. Anything beyond that makes the story something it is not.
I am going to disagree with you.
While it was poor wording on my part, and came about more because I was trying to write in an off hand style, I do not believe Joseph was lording over his brothers. I believe he was telling his dream, but he did not show wisdom in the way he told it. He is 17 years old and some of his brothers are old enough to be his father, and they are not going to like what he said.
I do believe it is bad parenting to love one child more than another, and will cause rivalries and problems. Jacob being a bad parent does not take away from the story, it enhances who Joseph came to be, and how much credit Joseph gives to God. No matter when your child is born (at an old age) or why (to a favorite wife), it is not good to favor one child over another.
All of this just emphasizes the story it is, Joseph is an early Christ figure. He offers redemption to people who did not deserve it, just as Jesus Christ redeemed us when we clearly did not deserve it.
I am sorry you disagree with me, but I still believe those elements are things we can learn from this story.
Glenda Kodrich says
Just because Jacob loved Joseph more does not mean he was a good parent. He actually set up the mood for the other siblings to resent Joseph and for Joseph to feel pride that he was loved more. some parents favor one kid over the other and that is bad parenting. kids should never feel less than another sibling. I think this shows that bad things can happen to good people, but we all make our choices. choices have consequences. The brothers chose to do wrong because they wear jealous, but I believe Joseph could have chosen not to tell his brothers his dreams. He had to know how they felt about him and that those dreams would only add to the jealousy. Joseph in the end chose to do right and to forgive. He matured and that is what we should all do in Christ.
Rachel H says
Looking for stuff for my lesson I’m doing this Sunday. Ran across this and I have to say it’s refreshing to find someone talking about something OTHER than his coat! I was scratching my head wondering WHY this is the only thing people focus on with Joseph – the story is so much more than a stinking coat you can recreate out of a paper bag!
I agree, actually the only reason I used the term “Joseph’s Coat” in my title is because I know EVERYONE (including myself at times) searches that term. I’ve also got two more lessons on Joseph, in case you aren’t covering the whole story in one week.
Your post is refreshing and encourages me to utilize this Bible study for an additional week. I hadn’t planned to ‘focus’ on the coat as the story of Joseph and his brothers is integrated with our ‘Feelings’ Theme as we lead into Thanksgiving. So, I just needed to say thanks. Great resource!
I’m so glad it’s helpful to you.
I do think the coat is an important part of the story (the Bible makes quite a lot of it – but its importance is as a symbol of the favouritism)
However, I agree that there are loads of other very important parts – good to find some activities about those bits!
P.S. Joe’s brothers weren’t all that much older than him. All Jacob’s sons were born in a 7-year window (do-able if they have different mothers!).
Oh, I do agree the coat is an imortant symbolism (and I need to edit the post if that doesn’t come through), just not all the story is about like you said.
You’re right, they weren’t all that much older, but many were, and even if the oldest was only 7 years older, you still don’t want your much younger teen brother telling you what to do.
Anita Lasanowski says
I totally agree that the focus is jealousy , arrogance and favoritism. We are going to play make coats out of crape paper for our game and for our snack I am going to make rice crispie bars using fruity pebbles instead. We are putting them on popsickle sticks and letting each child use different colors of frosting in the tube to draw lines on their bar to represent the coat. Have any ideas for games for the story of Jonah? I have several snack ideas but need game ides.
We haven’t done Jonah formally yet, we did a whale craft similar to this in my Sunday School class, and I’ve got a bunch of ideas pinned on my Prophets pinterest board.
Thank you for this game idea. I was doing this story at Sunday School today, and had thought of this as a wee extra if we had time.
But it turned out the worksheet for the older kids was too easy and got finished really quickly. They don’t like colouring, so I would have had some very bored (and therefore irritating) kids if it wasn’t for this game!
I’m so glad to hear it was a help! My kids really loved the game when we did it.
Charlene Pickart says
Ticia-I love the way the photos and story are told. This will be one of our early lessons, but I need help. Is there a way I could get the first page that recaps all the events in BLACK AND WHITE? The Sunday school kids can color it, along with gluing ribbon (or use glitter paint) to the coat and using spaghetti noodles for the grain. I’ll do it on card stock, but can’t figure out how to do it in black and white. Even though my computer could print it in graytone, that still wasn’t good enough. Please advise me on this, as I’d like to prepare it soon.
Unfortunately I don’t have a black and white version that’s not colored in for this story. You could print it in grayscale and they could color it that way, but it won’t be completely empty. Eventually I plan on doing black and white versions of everything, but that’s still a bit down the road.
I love the ideas of ribbon and spaghetti noodles.
I’m glad to hear that the black and white version idea is in your future plans. It would be so much easier for the kids to color it that way, but I like it well enough that I’ll do in the graytones. The single page version with all of the different parts of the story will be a good review for the kids, rather than just focusing on the pretty colored coat. There is so much more to this story, and I’m glad we can cover all of the other important points. Now to get it on the larger ledger size paper. Thanks for your help. Blessings! Charlene
Samara mom says
I just had to write to say I DO AGREE with you on your thoughts about Joseph. Thanks for your blog.