Genesis 42–50

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 58–63


Joseph’s brothers betrayed him and sold him into slavery. He lost much, including his association with his family. Left to himself in a strange land, he developed traits that preserved and nurtured his character.

Sidney B. Sperry wrote: “The Joseph stories are magnificent for the simple reason that they deal with a great man—a prince among men—and are told in a manner that befits the beautiful character of the hero. Above everything else, we see in them the integrity, chastity, honesty and sterling worth of Jacob’s favorite son. They will remain undimmed for all ages to come” (The Spirit of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. [1980], 34).

As you study Genesis 42–50, note the traits Joseph developed and how they blessed him. Decide which ones might benefit you and apply them in your life.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

weekly icon Genesis 37–50. All prophets testified and taught of Jesus Christ (see Jacob 7:11). (40–45 minutes)

Note: This teaching suggestion might best be used at the conclusion of Genesis to review the life of Joseph, focusing on how he was a disciple of the Savior and what we learn from his example.

Have students read 3 Nephi 27:27 and ask them if they think the Lord intended this admonition only for men. Ask them to think of a person, male or female, in their ward, branch, or school whom they consider to be Christlike. Ask:

  • What does that person do that reminds you of the Savior?

  • How does that person’s behavior affect other people?

Explain to the students that the lives of the prophets often remind us of the Savior. Share the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

Moses (like Isaac, Joseph, and so many others in the Old Testament) was himself a prophetic symbol of the Christ who was to come” (Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 137).

The similarities that can be found between Joseph and the Savior seems more than coincidental (see the commentary for Genesis 45:4–8 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, pp. 96–97). Give each student a copy of the following chart with only the scripture references filled in. Working as a class, individuals, or groups, have them read the scripture references and write the similarities in the middle column.

References for Joseph

Similarities between Joseph and Christ

References for Christ

Genesis 37:3

Both were the birthright sons and the most beloved son.

Mormon 5:14; Moses 4:2

Genesis 37:4

Both were hated by some of their father’s other children.

Luke 4:16, 28–29

Genesis 37:2–11

Both understood their missions in life at an early age.

Luke 2:46–49

Genesis 37:18

Conspiring men united against both of them.

Matthew 26:3–4

Genesis 37:23–24

Both were betrayed by someone very close to them who should have loved and protected them.

Matthew 26:46–47

Genesis 37:23

Both were stripped of their clothing.

Matthew 27:28

Genesis 37:26

Both were betrayed by men named Judah (Judas is the Greek spelling of the Hebrew name Judah).

Matthew 27:3

Genesis 37:28

Both went to Egypt.

Matthew 2:14

Genesis 37:28

Both were sold for the price of a slave in their day—Joseph for twenty pieces of silver and Christ for thirty.

Matthew 27:3

Genesis 37:29

Joseph’s oldest brother looked for him in an empty pit; Christ’s senior Apostle looked for him in an empty tomb.

John 20:3–6

Genesis 39:10

Both overcame great temptation.

Hebrews 4:15

Genesis 39:12–18

Both were falsely accused of wickedness.

Matthew 26:59

Genesis 40:8; 41:16

Both gave God the glory for the good things they did.

John 8:28–29

Genesis 45:3–5

Both willingly forgave those who repented.

Mosiah 26:30

Genesis 42:35; 45:7

Both were saviors to their people and provided them with saving bread.

John 4:42; 2 Nephi 9:50–51

Genesis 42:8; 45:3–5

Both were not recognized by those who should have known them.

Luke 5:17–21

Ask students how it helps them to know that other mortals have Christlike traits. Give them some time to think about how they can develop these same traits. Invite them to identify one area of their lives in which they are trying to be like the Savior.

Genesis 42–45. We can learn many significant lessons from the life of Joseph, son of Jacob. (90–120 minutes)

You may find it effective to read major portions of Genesis 42–45 with students and discuss lessons taught as the account of Joseph unfolds. This could be done by selecting students to read the parts of Joseph, his brothers (one or two students could take the role of all eleven brothers if necessary), Jacob, and Pharaoh. Also have a student read the narration between the dialogue.

Once you complete the overview, read Genesis 42:1–8 and ask students why they think Joseph’s brothers did not recognize him (see the commentary for Genesis 42:8 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, p. 96). Read Genesis 42:9–13, 17–24 and ask what reason the brothers gave for their being thrown into prison.

Twenty years after Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery, they still felt guilt. Ask: What does this teach us about the effects of sin? Read and discuss the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Sin will always, always, result in suffering. It may come sooner, or it may come later, but it will come” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 46; Ensign, Nov. 1990, 36).

Review Genesis 42:21–38 and ask:

  • Why do you think Joseph wept?

  • Joseph sent his brothers home with sacks of grain, in which he hid their money. What effect did that have on the brothers? (see v. 35).

  • How did Jacob feel about letting Benjamin go to Egypt in order to free Simeon from prison? (see vv. 36–38).

  • How might the brothers have felt about Benjamin because of Jacob’s feelings?

  • If you had been Simeon, how would you have felt when your brothers did not return to rescue you?

  • How was Simeon’s experience similar to Joseph’s? (see v. 21).

Review the rest of the account by asking the following questions:

  • Why did Jacob let Benjamin go to Egypt? (see Genesis 42:1, 9).

  • What was Joseph’s response when he saw his brother Benjamin? (see vv. 29–30).

  • Why do you think Joseph seated the brothers in order from the oldest to the youngest? (see v. 33).

  • Why do you think Joseph showed special favor to Benjamin and then made him appear to be a thief? (see Genesis 43:34–44:12).

  • If the brothers had resented Benjamin like they once resented Joseph, what might they have done after the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack?

  • Compare what Judah did in Genesis 44:16–34 with what he did in Genesis 37:26–28. What differences do you see? Why do you think he acted differently?

  • Read Genesis 45:1–8. Why do you think Joseph chose to reveal himself when he did?

  • Why do you think the brothers “were troubled at his presence” (Genesis 45:3)?

Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote:

Forgiveness and recovery are dependent upon the offender’s repentance, which begins with recognition of the sin and acceptance of personal responsibility for it” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 84).


  • What evidence is there that Joseph’s brothers recognized their sin?

  • What indications are there that they accepted responsibility for what they did to Joseph?

  • Read Genesis 45:5–8 and look for Christlike qualities in Joseph (see also Matthew 6:14–15; D&C 64:9–11). How might Joseph’s brothers have felt about what he said?

  • Why was Joseph able to be so forgiving? (He had fulfilled God’s purposes in Egypt.)

Genesis 48:1–22. It is important to understand how and why Ephraim and Manasseh became tribes in the place of the tribe of Joseph. (15–20 minutes)

Ask students how many tribes make up the house of Israel. (Twelve.) Divide students into two groups. Assign one group to search Genesis 49:1–27 and the other group to search Numbers 10:14–27. Have each group list on the board the names of the tribes. Compare the two lists and identify the differences. Explain that the tribe of Levi is represented in Numbers 10 as “the sons of Aaron” (v. 8) and as “the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari” (v. 17).

Ask students if they know what happened to the tribe of Joseph. Read Genesis 48:1–6 and share with them the commentary for Genesis 48:22 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel (pp. 97–98). Joseph, as the birthright son, received a double portion, which was divided between his two sons (see Genesis 48:22).

Jacob blessing Ephraim and Manasseh

The Joseph Smith Translation restores some significant insights Jacob had regarding Joseph (see JST, Genesis 48:5–11; see also the commentary for Genesis 48:5–11 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, p. 97). You could emphasize the following points:

  • Jacob declared that Joseph, because of the covenant the Lord made with him, was specifically raised up to save the house of Israel from extinction (see JST, Genesis 48:7–9).

  • Because of Joseph’s faithfulness, his tribe would be blessed above his brothers—even above his father (see JST, Genesis 48:9–11; compare with Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:9–11).

  • At some future time, the tribe of Joseph (through the tribes of his sons Ephraim and Manasseh) would again bring salvation to the house of Israel—not from famine, but from the bondage of sin (see JST, Genesis 48:11; see also JST, Genesis 50:24–38 and 2 Nephi 3:1–22 where Joseph in Egypt prophesied of the work of latter-day salvation that would come through one of his descendants, the Prophet Joseph Smith).

Genesis 49. A patriarchal blessing contains personal revelation given through a patriarch from a loving Heavenly Father to help His children. (50–60 minutes)

Note: Reading patriarchal blessings in class is not appropriate. You may want to invite an ordained patriarch to class to help answer questions students have about patriarchal blessings.

Draw on the board a representation of the Liahona and ask students:

  • What was the Liahona?

  • What was it used for?

  • What would be the personal benefits of having such a director?

Read 1 Nephi 16:10, 27–29 and Alma 37:38–40 and look for how the Liahona led Lehi’s family. Ask: How would you like to have your own Liahona to safely guide you throughout your life? Share the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson, then Second Counselor in the First Presidency:

“The same Lord who provided a Liahona to Lehi provides for you and for me today a rare and valuable gift to give direction to our lives, to mark the hazards to our safety, and to chart the way, even safe passage—not to a promised land, but to our heavenly home. The gift to which I refer is known as your patriarchal blessing. Every worthy member of the Church is entitled to receive such a precious and priceless personal treasure” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 81; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 65).

Ask students how a patriarchal blessing is like a personal Liahona.

Read Genesis 49 and study the blessings Jacob gave to his sons. Use the commentaries for Genesis 49:1–20; 49:8–12; and 49:22–26 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel (p. 98) to help with difficult passages. Ask how patriarchal blessings are similar to and different from Jacob’s blessings.

Be prepared to answer questions like the following:

  • How old should we be before we receive our patriarchal blessing? (There is no set age, but the recipient should be old enough to understand the meaning and importance of the blessing.)

  • How can a patriarchal blessing guide and bless us?

  • How should we prepare to receive one?

  • How do we arrange to get one? (Get a recommend from the bishop or branch president and make an appointment with the patriarch.)

  • Does a patriarchal blessing mention every important event of our lives?

  • What is the importance of the declaration of lineage?

Use the following statements to help you answer questions:

  • President Gordon B. Hinckley told priesthood leaders:

“I hope we are encouraging those who are mature enough to understand the importance of a patriarchal blessing to receive one. I count my patriarchal blessing as one of the great sacred things of my life. A patriarchal blessing is a unique and sacred and personal and wonderful thing that may be given to every member of this Church who lives worthy of it” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 423).

  • President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said:

“Patriarchal blessings should be read humbly, prayerfully, and frequently. A patriarchal blessing is very sacred and personal, but it may be shared with close family members. It is a sacred guideline of counsel, promises, and information from the Lord; however, a person should not expect the blessing to detail all that will happen to him or her or to answer all questions. The fact that one’s patriarchal blessing may not mention an important event in life, such as a mission or marriage, does not mean that it will not happen. In order to receive the fulfillment of our patriarchal blessings, we should treasure in our hearts the precious words they contain, ponder them, and so live that we will obtain the blessings in mortality and a crown of righteousness in the hereafter. …

“Our blessings can encourage us when we are discouraged, strengthen us when we are fearful, comfort us when we sorrow, give us courage when we are filled with anxiety, and lift us up when we are weak in spirit. Our testimonies can be strengthened every time we read our patriarchal blessings” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1995, 82, 84; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 63–64).

  • In that same address, President Faust said:

“Manasseh, the other son of Joseph, as well as the other sons of Jacob, has many descendants in the Church. There may be some come into the Church in our day who are not of Jacob’s blood lineage. No one need assume that he or she will be denied any blessing by reason of not being of the blood lineage of Israel. The Lord told Abraham, ‘And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father’ [Abraham 2:10].

“Nephi tells us that ‘as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord’ [2 Nephi 30:2]. Therefore it makes no difference if the blessings of the house of Israel come by lineage or by adoption.

“Some might be disturbed because members of the same family have blessings declaring them to be of a different lineage. A few families are of a mixed lineage. We believe that the house of Israel today constitutes a large measure of the human family. Because the tribes have intermixed one with another, one child may be declared to be from the tribe of Ephraim and another of the same family from Manasseh or one of the other tribes. The blessing of one tribe, therefore, may be dominant in one child, and the blessing of another tribe dominant in yet another child. So children from the same parents could receive the blessings of different tribes” (in Conference Report, 83; or Ensign, 64).

Encourage your students to prepare to receive their patriarchal blessings. Share your testimony of the great blessing a patriarchal blessing can be to them throughout their lives.

Genesis 49:28. We should seek to receive a father’s blessing, as needed, for healing, comfort, and guidance. (15–20 minutes)

Note: This teaching suggestion is a follow-up to the suggestion for Genesis 49. It may be taught separately, but you will need to use the commentaries for Genesis 49:1–20; 49:8–12; and 49:22–26 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel (p. 98) to help your students understand Jacob’s blessings to his sons before proceeding with this suggestion. Be sensitive to students whose fathers may not be members of the Church or do not hold the priesthood.

Tell students that in addition to a patriarchal blessing there is another kind of blessing we can receive. Fathers who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood may use that priesthood to give family members a father’s blessing. Ask if any of them have ever had a father’s blessing. Ask: What are some times in a person’s life when it might be appropriate to receive a father’s blessing?

Share the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Persons desiring guidance in an important decision can receive a priesthood blessing. Persons who need extra spiritual power to overcome a personal challenge can receive a blessing. Expectant mothers can be blessed before they give birth. Many LDS families remember a sacred occasion where a worthy father gave a priesthood blessing to a son or daughter who was about to be married. Priesthood blessings are often requested from fathers before children leave home for other purposes, such as school, service in the military, or a long trip.

“Newly called missionaries often request a father’s blessing before they depart. …

“What is the significance of a priesthood blessing? … A priesthood blessing is a conferral of power over spiritual things. Though it cannot be touched or weighed, it is of great significance in helping us overcome obstacles on the path to eternal life. …

“Do not be hesitant to ask for a priesthood blessing when you are in need of spiritual power. Fathers and other elders, cherish and magnify the privilege of blessing your children and the other children of our Heavenly Father. Be prepared to give priesthood blessings under the influence of the Holy Ghost whenever you are requested in sincerity and faith” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 44–45, 48; or Ensign, May 1987, 36–37, 39).

Ask students:

  • Who can you ask for a blessing? (If possible, they should ask their fathers first, then a relative, home teacher, bishopric member, teacher, and so on.)

  • When are times you might ask your father for a blessing?

Share the following story from President Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Some time ago, a young man came to my office requesting a blessing. He was about eighteen years of age and had some problems. …

“I said to him, ‘Have you ever asked your father to give you a blessing? Your father is a member of the Church, I assume?’

“He said, ‘Yes, he is an elder, a rather inactive elder. …’

“I said, ‘How would you like to talk to him at an opportune time and ask him if he would be willing to give you a father’s blessing?’

“‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I think that would frighten him.’

“I then said, ‘Are you willing to try it? I will be praying for you.’

“He said, ‘All right; on that basis, I will.’

“A few days later he came back. He said, ‘Brother Benson, that’s the sweetest thing that has happened in our family. … He gave me one of the most beautiful blessings you could ever ask for. … When he got through there was a bond of appreciation and gratitude and love between us that we have never had in our home’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1977, 45–46; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, 31–32).

Encourage students to consider asking their fathers for a blessing, not just when they are sick but whenever they are in need of comfort or direction. Encourage the young men to prepare now to be ready and worthy to bless their families when they become fathers.

Genesis 50. Physical death is part of the plan of happiness. (15–20 minutes)

Ask students:

  • Have you lived in more than one place during your lives?

  • If so, was one place your favorite? Is there one place you would call “home”? Why?

  • Read Genesis 46:1–4 and 47:29–31. Why was it so important to Jacob to be buried in Canaan?

  • What does Jacob’s desire teach us about his faith in God’s promises?

  • Read Genesis 49:29–50:9. What effect did Jacob’s death have on Joseph, his family, and the Egyptians?

  • Though there was much mourning at Jacob’s death, where might there be rejoicing?

  • What would you say about Jacob if you were asked to speak at his funeral?

Jacob asked to be buried in Canaan, the land of promise. In a spiritual sense we also have a land of promise. Like Jacob, we also should want to return to the land of our inheritance—the celestial kingdom. Read 1 Nephi 17:13–14 and discuss the joy and understanding the righteous will experience as they return to Heavenly Father. You could review the part of the plan of happiness that teaches of our leaving Heavenly Father’s presence to come to earth and how, through our faithfulness, we can return to Him (see “The Great Plan of Happiness,” pp. 13–19).

Remind students that families can draw closer together because of a death or they can drift apart. Read Genesis 50:15–21 and ask:

  • Why were Joseph’s brothers fearful after Jacob died?

  • What did Joseph do to calm their fears?

  • What do the scriptures tell us that indicates how Joseph felt about his family?

Genesis 50:24–26; JST, Genesis 50:24–38. Prophecies of Joseph that were lost or removed were restored through the Joseph Smith Translation of the King James Bible. We learn that the Lord revealed to Joseph truths about Moses’ mission, the Restoration of the gospel, the calling of Joseph Smith as a prophet, and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. (25–35 minutes)

Help students discover the prophecies of Joseph by having them do activities B, C, and D for Genesis 50 in their student study guides (p. 41). Have them work in pairs or groups. When they finish, have them share their responses with the class, and invite questions and discussion.