It is vital that we spend time in God’s Word.
But it’s not always easy.
We read a chapter and we don’t know what to get out of it or even how to start to understand it.
I thought I could try to help you get a little something out of what you are reading by providing you with some questions to ask as you look at the text. Good questions are a good start to understanding. Sometimes there will be more questions, sometimes less.
You can do this!
So, get a notebook, a pen, your Bible, and if you would like some help, take some time to answer the questions, and you may be surprised by all God teaches you.
- What is the first thing we learn about God?
- There are two categories, creator and created. Who is in each category? Why is that significant?
- How did God create the world? Does it seem like it was difficult for him? What does that tell you about God?
- After God creates, what does Moses keep saying that God saw about creation? What does that tell you about God’s original design for this world?
- Why do you think God names things? Can you find what God does not name?
- The text really slows down when it comes to man. What does God say about man? What does God do for man? What does that tell you about God’s plan for man?
- What did God do when he finished creating? What do you think that is supposed to tell us about how the world was supposed to be?
- What does rest mean?
- What does it mean that God made the seventh day holy?
- After each of the first six days what do we hear? What do we not hear on the Sabbath day? Why is it not there?
- How would you summarize what you learned about God and His plan for the world and for us as humans from this chapter?
In this chapter, God zooms in from looking at the universe was created to look especially at His plan for us as humans. We have gotten the big picture, now let’s look at some of the details.
- How exactly did God make man? What do you think is the significance of God breathing into man’s nostrils the breath of life?
- What does the way God created man say about the kind of relationship they have?
- What did God make after creating man?
- Do you know what the word Eden means? Try to find out.
- What was this place like? Note some of the characteristics that Moses shares about it.
- Was this place the whole earth? Yes or no?
- Why are there are these different rivers? What might that tell you about Eden?
- Why did God place man there? What might this teach you about work?
- What did God say man could do? What did God say man could not do?
- What is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? What is the point?
- After giving this command, what does God do for man? What does that say about God?
- What does this teach us about marriage?
- What does man do with the cattle and the birds and the beasts of the field? Who has been naming things up to this point? What does that tell you about man’s role?
- Why does God use Adam’s rib to make Eve?
- What does man say about the woman? What do you think that means?
- What does Moses tell us about marriage at the end of this chapter?
- How does he describe man and woman at the end of this chapter? What do you think is the significance of that statement?
In Genesis 1 and 2, God’s created a very good world for man to enjoy. Obviously, the world is a lot different now. Genesis 3 shows us why.
- What does the writer say about the serpent? What is the significance?
- Why does the Bible mention creatures of the field when talking about the serpent?
- What question does the serpent ask the woman initially? What do you think he is trying to get her to think by asking the question that way?
- What does the woman add to God’s command?
- After the woman answers, how does the serpent respond? What does he want her to doubt about God?
- How do we know the serpent is not just talking to the woman?
- We were supposed to rule over the animals, but here, the animals rule over us. The man and woman listen to the serpent, and what happens?
- God searches them out. Think about that. They sinned and God comes for them. How should they have responded when God spoke to them? How did they respond instead?
- What happens to their relationship with the earth, with each other, and with God as a result of their sin?
- Why do you think Satan chooses to use a snake?
- Is Satan lying when he says that man will be like God?
- What promise does God make in verse 15?
- Why is the fact that God uses the singular to talk about the seed of the woman so significant?
- Can you think of any way that man calling his wife Eve in verse 20 might have been an expression of faith in God’s mercy?
- Why do you think God might not have wanted man to live forever in his condition at the end of verse 22? Is there anyway this might have been a mercy?
God created a very good world. Man rebelled against God. God cursed the world as a result, but also made a promise about the seed of the woman. As we read Genesis 4, we are looking for the promised seed and we are also looking at the consequences of man’s sin.
- What does Eve say after she gives birth to Cain? Why do you think she mentions God here and what connection do you think her statement might have with the promise God made in 3:15?
- She also gave birth to Abel. So we have two “seeds” here. Both of these seeds come to worship God and what happens?
- How does Cain respond? How should he have responded according to God?
- What does God teach Cain about the nature of sin?
- Cain doesn’t listen to God’s warning. What does he do? This is a fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 already. There are those who follow Satan and those who follow God. And, those who follow Satan will hate those who follow God!
- Why do you think Satan might have wanted to use Cain to take out Abel?
- Still God gives Cain a chance to repent. But what does Cain do instead?
- Even when God judges him, does Cain repent? What does he do instead of repenting?
- God shows mercy to Cain, but do things get better? What are Cain’s descendants like by the end of this chapter? Especially notice what Lamech says.
- This chapter might almost seem hopeless until the last two verses. The wicked seed of Satan seems like they have won. But, what happens here that gives hope?
- What does Seth’s name mean?
God’s created a beautiful world. He’s given man an amazing privilege. Not content with that, man’s wanted to be God Himself and rebelled. The result, God’s kept His promise to judge. But surprise! He’s also made a promise to save through one of Eve’s descendants. One of Eve’s descendants has chosen to follow Satan and attacked and killed the descendant who was following God. But hope is not lost! God’s given Eve another son and this son begins a generation of people who are calling upon God. What next?
- Did you notice how verse 1 began? If you quickly go back to 2:4, what do you read there? The only reason I call your attention to that is because you will find these statements throughout Genesis and they function a little like chapter headings might in a book. We have had an introduction in Genesis 1, we have had the first chapter about the beginning of the world and the fall and the consequences of that in 2-4. And now, we are onto chapter 3!
- At the end of verse 1, who did God make man in the likeness of? Who exactly is he talking about according to verse 2? What important truth does that tell you about women specifically? This also tells us something about the doctrine of original sin. Adam was made in the likeness of God, then he sinned, and his son was made in whose likeness?
- What happened to Adam in verse 5? You are going to see that word a lot. What does that tell you about the consequences of sin?
- Everyone dies in this chapter! Well, almost everyone. Who escapes the curse of death and how?
- Who is Enoch’s son? His name means after this comes judgment. Why do you think Enoch might have named him that? Why do you think God allowed him to live so long?
- What does Lamech say when he has Noah? How is what he says connected to Genesis 3? What do you think he is hoping here?
By the time we reach Genesis 6, Moses has fast forwarded through thousands of years of human history.
- The first few verses of this chapter may seem a bit confusing. But let’s start by identifying what we can know for sure. What does verse 5 say about this time?
- What does God say in verse 3? Is this a positive statement or a negative statement do you think?
- So, given those two clues, do you think what’s happening in these verses is going to be something good or something bad?
- Now, I am going to help you “cheat” a bit here. We are going to get a later biblical author’s explanation of this situation. What does Jude 6 say the angels did?
- That’s a bit vague in terms of their sin. So Jude gives an explanation of how the angels sinned in verse 7. What kind of sin did they engage in?
- I had you read that, because I think Jude’s talking about this situation in Genesis 6. The sons of God are angels – demons really, the angelic beings who sided with Satan, and in these verses they are somehow partnering with human women, I think to try to thwart God’s plan for the universe. In Genesis 4 Satan tried to stop it through persecution. Here he tries to stop it through sexual sin. But, it doesn’t work. How does God view the situation according to verse 6? And what does he decide to do according to verse 7?
- So judgment! But one man escapes. What does verse 9 say that Noah did? Who else did that so far in the Bible? Enoch escaped death by walking with God and Noah escapes judgment by walking with God. What do you think Moses is trying to say?
God is judging the world and saving Noah.
- God’s told Noah to make an ark. Why?
- In a sense, God has preached good news to Noah. There’s a problem, judgment is coming and God’s told Noah the means of escape. Obviously Noah believes because by Genesis 7:1, what does he have?
- Now, read Luke 17:26 and 27. Did the people of Noah’s day think that judgment was going to happen? What were they doing immediately before that judgment happened?
- Noah on the other hand believed God and obeyed. He gets in the ark. What happens to the waters while he is in the ark? (What does Moses keep repeating about the waters? What do you think he is trying to say by that?)
- What happens to everyone and everything besides Noah and his family and those that are in the ark? What did God say he was going to do in verse 4? Take careful note of the word used there. Now, what does Moses say God did in verse 23? What does that tell you about God and His promises of judgment?
It’s easy to read Genesis 6 through 8 in a detached way. But, slow down and think about what is happening. God is judging absolutely everything that’s on the earth and rescuing one family from that judgment. Imagine! To this point, there have been very, very few events that have ever compared to the magnitude of this one.
- As we look around, it sometimes feels like God doesn’t take sin seriously. But, what does the flood say about the seriousness of sin? Try to express your answer in a memorable statement.
- How long was Noah and his family in the ark? What do you think would have been some of their fears in the middle of that?
- What is the significance of the statement, God remembered Noah?
- How does Noah know that it is time to leave the ark? What does God say to him? In what way does God’s statement remind you of Genesis 1 and 2?
- Even though Noah was on the ark for a long time, God kept His promise and rescued him. What’s the first thing that Noah does after being rescued from God’s judgment? What do you think that might tell you about the priority of worship?
- What does God promise after enjoying Noah’s offering? How does that promise give hope? In what way do you think that promise contributes to the story of Scripture?
- What are the signs in 8:8-20 that God is restoring creation?
The writer of Genesis is deliberately reminding you of the Creation story as he talks about Noah and the great flood. It is as if God has washed the world of its evil and begins once again with the most righteous man and his family. What will happen?
- How does this chapter begin? What does verse 1 sound like?
- Verse 2 tells us at least one thing has changed. What has happened to man’s relationship with animals? How is this a sign of God’s kindness?
- What does God say about murder in verse 6? What does this tell us about what our attitude should be toward other humans?
- What covenant does God make with Noah and his family and the world? And what is the sign of that covenant?
- What can you learn here about God’s attitude toward creation?
- What proof is there that the Noahic covenant is by grace?
- So we are in a pretty good spot here. Man’s been saved. God’s started over again. He’s made a covenant with the world. Then what happens in verse 20 and following? (Just in general)
- What does Noah plant?
- What happens to Noah? Is there any way you can think of that Noah’s sin here is similar to Adam’s?
- What does Ham do?
- What happens to Ham’s descendants, Canaan, as a result?
- Why is that fair?
- What does God say about Shem?
- Do you have any idea how this blessing and curse might help you understand Exodus through Joshua?
This is going to be a challenging chapter. I mean, a genealogy. And this is only one of the first. But it is here for a purpose. So let’s dig in and see what God has for us.
- What is this according to verse 1?
- What does this provide for us according to verse 32?
- This list of names comes after the flood. What might a list of nations say about the mercy of God and His faithfulness to His promise to Noah?
- Obviously we have here a list of all kinds of different people who live all over the world, but all those different people can trace their ancestry back to who?
- Moses is about to shift his focus to the Israelites throughout the rest of the Pentateuch. But, what do you think the fact that he talks about all these different nations tell you about God’s concern and perhaps even the purpose of why we are going to be reading so much about Israel.
- This chapter will get us ready for the next. What happens in the beginning of chapter 11 actually comes before chapter 10. This chapter tells us that there were different nations, and chapter 11 tells us why. What could be the possible reason God created nations?
- This chapter doesn’t only give us a list of names. There are some comments throughout. What nations does he talk about in these comments? (See verse 8-12, 13, and 19?) What role do these nations play in the rest of the Pentateuch and Israelite history?
- Who is Nimrod and what city did he found?
- There is a list of names in Genesis 10. Who are these names describing? There is a list of names in Genesis 11:10 and following. Who are these names describing?
- In between these two list of names, there is a story. What is this story about?
- What does the author tell us about the whole earth in verse 1?
- The people were migrating from the east, looking for a home. What did they decide to make for themselves in verses 3 and 4? Why did they want to make that according to verse 4?
- If you could summarize simply what motivated them, how would you do it?
- They are trying to build a tower to make themselves as great as God, but what does God have to do in verse 5 even to see the tower?
- God’s plan was to bless man by providing their good, but man rejected God and here we see once again, them rejecting God’s plan and trying to establish their own good. What is the result of their rebellion against God?
- Even after the judgment of the flood, and God starting the world all over again, what have men gathered together to do? What question does that cause you to ask?
- What then might be the significance of a genealogy of Shem coming after this discouraging story of the Tower of Babel? Especially given the promise made to Eve about her seed?
- What important fact did we learn about Sarah in Genesis 11:30?
- So here are all these people having all these children, and here is this woman who is unable to have children. That’s part of the context for Genesis 12. Yet what does God tell Abram to do in verse 1 and what encouragement does God give him to do it?
- What had the people wanted to do regarding their name in the previous chapter? What does God say that He will do for Abram? What does that tell you about how salvation is supposed to work?
- What word is repeated over and over in verses 1-4? After this terrible scene of rebellion in Genesis 11, what is surprising about seeing this word here?
- What specific three promises does God make Abram?
- What connection does God make between Abram and this promise and the nations in verse 4?
- How does this promise better help us understand God’s agenda and the story so far?
- How old is Abram when God tells him to go?
- What places does Abraham visit in verse 6,8 and 9. Hold on to those places in your memory, because we will see them and understand the significance later.
- What does Abram do as he travels that demonstrates he has faith?
- After this great promise, what surprising thing does Abraham do in verses 10 through 16. What does that tell you about Abram and his faith?
- What should Abram have done when a famine came into the land?
- Why is Abram’s wife being taken from him such a problem?
- What does God do in verse 17 and what does that tell you about God’s commitment to His promises?
- What did God promise Abram in Genesis 12:2? How do you see the beginning of that promise being fulfilled in verses 1-4 of Genesis 13?
- What is the problem the writer describes in verses 5-7?
- How does Abram attempt to deal with this problem in verses 8-9?
- Here they are looking at the land God had promised Abram and now Abram is offering that land to Lot. What do you think about that?
- Lot’s descendants were the Moabites. As Moses is writing Genesis, do you know who one of the greatest obstacles to the Israelites entering the Promised Land were? That’s right! The Moabites. But in spite of Abram, God’s going to keep his promise, and Lot chooses a different portion of land than the one God promised Abram. Why does Genesis 13:10- say he chose that land?
- When Lot settles, where does he move his tents? What does the author tell you that makes that seem like a poor choice?
- Ok. Go back to Genesis 10:32. What word do you find there that is repeated in 13:11? So the nations did something, and Lot did something. After reading about the nations doing this, what does 11:2 talk about the people doing? And what does 13:11 say that Lot was doing? (Hint: Look at the direction they are traveling.) Now, after the story about what happened to the people in chapter 11, what comes next at the end of that chapter and the beginning of chapter 12? What comes next in chapter 13 after the story about Lot? Somehow these two stories are connected. Let’s think about them. In chapter 11, we have men prospering and building a city without reference to God and in rebellion to God and what happens? In chapter 13, we find cities that seem to be prospering without reference to God and in rebellion to God and what do we know will happen to them? So, where’s the hope then? It’s found in God’s promise to Abram!
- How many different kings do you read about in verses 1 through 2?
- There’s a lot of war going on in these verses. Who wins the war in verses 9 and 10 and who loses?
- The first 11 verses almost reads like a news report. But verse 12 changes the perspective a bit. Besides taking all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, who do they also take?
- Where is Lot living at this point? What do we know about Sodom from 13:13? What warning do you find there?
- Abram hears what happened. And what does he do? And what happens? Why do you think Abram takes this so seriously?
- Think about this. Abram goes to war against the kings who defeated the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and what is the result?
- What does this tell you about God’s commitment to Abram? What role does this cast Abram in? (If he’s fighting kings, it’s like he is a …)
- After he defeats these kings, what two kings come out to meet him?
- What does the king of Salam say to Abram and how does Abram respond to him?
- But what does the next king say to Abram and how does Abram respond to him and why?
- Why do you think there’s a difference in the way he responded to the two different kings?
- What does God come to Abram and tell him not to do?
- Why should he not do that?
- What question does Abram ask him?
- What specific promise does God make to Abram here?
- How does Abram respond and what does God do as a result?
- How as Abram made right with God?
- God affirms His commitment to this promise by entering into a covenant with Abram. Abram brings animals to God, kills them, and protects them from birds of prey, and then what happened to Abram? Why do you think that is significant for understanding the covenant?
- What does God tell Abram then? How does that help you understand what is going to happen in the rest of Genesis and Exodus? And what does that tell you about God?
- God is the one who makes the covenant and this covenant is one way. It is dependent on God’s action, not Abram. This is going to happen. What does God promise at the end of the chapter?
- Now God’s made a lot of promises. But have any of them happened to Abram yet? God doesn’t always keep His promises right away, but He always keeps His promises. How does understanding that help you understand your life as a Christian?
- Why is the first verse of Genesis 16 surprising in light of what you read in Genesis 15?
- What does Sarai see as the reason she wasn’t having children?
- What solution does she come up with?
- This wasn’t only a sinful solution because of the action, it was sinful because of the heart. What was Sarai not believing?
- What does verse 2 say Abram did? Who does that remind you of from the beginning of the Bible?
- What happened right away when Abram went into Hagar? Just because something works doesn’t mean it is right!
- Why did Abram have Hagar as a servant? (Hint, what country was she from?) Why did Abram originally go down to that country? So, look a lack of faith can have long lasting consequences?
- But how does Sarai respond? Now this is surprising because who wanted this to happen and yet how does she feel when it happens? Sin doesn’t deliver what it promises!
- Not only does Abram fail by listening to his wife here, how does he respond when Sarai tells him she is angry with Hagar? What does Hagar than do?
- Does God see her suffering? How do you know that?
- What promise does he make to her?
- And what does she call God as a result? How is this encouraging to you?
- Abram’s failure here is going to have long lasting consequences. How does this sin create problems for Israel in the future?
- How old is Abram at the beginning of this chapter? How old was he at the end of the last chapter? How many years has it been since the original promise? Has God kept His promise to Abram yet? What do you think about that?
- How does God add to His promise to Abram here? What does he say will come from Abram? What does he do to make it clear that the promise is even getting bigger?
- What about Abram makes this so shocking? What is God going to have to do in order to keep this promise?
- God makes a covenant with Abram and gives him a sign of that covenant. What was the sign?
- What does God say will twice will come from Abram and Sarah?
- How does Abraham respond to God?
- Even though Abraham struggled with his faith what does he do at the end of this chapter that demonstrates he really does have faith?
- Who does the author say appeared to Abraham in verse 1?
- But who specifically does he see in verse 2?
- How does Abraham respond when he sees these men coming? How does he address them? Is it singular or plural? What is a bit unusual about that? And what does that tell you Abraham seem to know about this encounter?
- Somehow these individuals are representing God. Abraham shows them hospitality and then in verse 10, Moses tells us the Lord speaks to Abraham. What does he say?
- Who is listening to him say this? What detail does the author add about Abraham and Sarah in verse 11 that is important for understanding Sarah’s response?
- What does Sarah say when she hears what the Lord says? What do you think the author is trying to help us understand about God’s keeping this promise about Isaac?
- Sarah thinks God keeping HIs promise is impossible. And in a sense it is. Of all people in the world Sarah would be the one who would know this. But how does God respond to her? What hope does that give you about salvation?
- After this scene the men are going to leave in verse 16. But then the author hits a pause button in verse 17. And who is talking here? What does God say to himself about Abraham, His relationship with Abraham and the purpose of Abraham? And because of that, what does God think he should do for Abraham?
- What does God do in verse 21 and what does that tell you about sin and about God?
- Now, in verse 22, the author hits play again and what does he say happened?
- The men somehow represent God but at the same time God’s presence is not limited to the men. This is a strange scene. But perhaps it is a little bit like Moses at the burning bush. God was present in the burning bush, but he wasn’t the burning bush and he wasn’t limited to the burning bush. Now, back to the text here. How many men go down to Sodom? But how many men does Lot see in chapter 19:1? Where’s the third man? Either he is staying and talking to Abraham or he’s gone down to investigate Gomorrah.
- What question does Abraham ask God in this passage? And what is he teaching us about the character of God? How does God respond? What are we learning about God’s justice and compassion here?
- God has said he will spare these two big cities if how many righteous people are found there? But that’s where this chapter stops. So what question are we asking now as we go into chapter 10?
- How is verse 1 of this chapter like verse 1 of the chapter before?
- How is Lot’s response similar to Abraham’s? How is it different?
- Lot shows them hospitality. But what do the men of Sodom do in verse 4 and 5? What does this tell you about this city?
- How does Lot respond? What is good about his response? What is sad about his response?
- Lot is an interesting character. In the New Testament we discover he was righteous. But he doesn’t seem very righteous here. What do you think might be the reason Lot has compromised so much? What spiritual lesson might you learn from this?
- What do the men who have come to investigate Sodom tell Lot in verse 12-13?
- What does Lot then say to his sons in law and how do they respond? What does that tell you about how people respond to God’s proclamations of judgment? And what does that tell you about Lot and his family?
- Even after all this, what do the angels tell Lot in verse 15 and how does he respond in verse 16? What has to happen for him to leave? What was the basis of God’s saving Lot?
- After they get out of the city, what do the angels tell Lot to do? How does he respond? And how does God respond to him? What does that tell you about prayer?
- Moses briefly tells us about the destruction of the cities and then he focuses again on Lot and his family and Abraham. What does Lot’s wife do? Why was that wrong? What does that tell us about her? And what happens? What lesson do you think you can learn from that for your life?
- What does verse 29 tell us about God’s relationship with Abraham? What hope does this give us as we think about escaping from judgment?
- Lot leaves Zoar and goes where? Why is that ironic? Why does he do that?
- What do his daughters do? How is that ironic given what Lot says in verse 8? What previous scene in the Scriptures does this seem a bit similar to?
- What is the result to this sin in verse 37 and 38? And what do these people become to the Israelites later?
- In the previous chapters, Abraham prayed for Lot to escape from God’s judgment and what happened?
- In this chapter Abraham is on the move. He comes to a new region and who is king there?
- What does Abraham say of Sarah his wife?
- Is this the first time he has done this?
- Is this right or wrong for Abraham to do?
- Now this is so strange, because Sarah is old by this point. But what might this tell you about what God has done for Sarah? What does the fact that Abimelech looked at her and wanted her for a wife might say about what miracle God might have been performing in Sarah’s life?
- But what happens in verse 3?
- How does Abimelech respond? What does that say about him? Is he telling the truth? How do you know?
- What has God stopped Abimelech from doing? What does that tell you about God?
- How does God say that Abimelech will be able to live in verse 7?
- How does Abimelech respond to God’s warning?
- What question does he ask Abraham? What is Abraham’s answer in verse 11? How is that answer ironic? He says there is no what in that place and yet who is acting honorably here?
- What happens in verse 14-16?
- And what does Abraham do in verse 17?
- What has God done in verse 18 and why?
- What do you think the events of this chapter are trying to tell us about Abraham, about how God saves, and about how non-Gentiles can be saved?
- What happens in verse 2 of this chapter that is surprising?
- Why did it happen according to verse 1?
- What does this tell you about the birth of Isaac? How might this set you up for understanding the story of how God saves?
- Three times in these verses, we are reminded that what happened is what God had promised and what God had spoken. It has taken a long time. It seemed impossible. But what does the author want us to know that God has done here?
- What does Abraham call him? What does that mean? What does Sarah say about this child? What does she make clear this child is by speaking the way she does?
- We fast forward in verse 8 from the birth of Isaac to when? What is Abraham throwing for Isaac? What does Sarah see? What is she doing? How does she respond? Is she happy or angry at this? What is ironic about her response given what she said back up in verse 6?
- What does Abraham think about the way Sarah is responding?
- What has God told Hagar already would happen to Ishmael in 16:11 and 12? How is this a fulfillment of that?
- In chapter 16, Hagar had wandered away and she learns that God sees her in her trouble. Here she wanders and cries out and what does she learn? What does verse 17 say God did? God sees and God hears those who cry out to Him.
- After providing for Ishmael, Abimelech comes to Abraham with the commander of his army. What does he say to him about God? And what promise does he ask Abraham to make? Now, God has promised Abraham land. But the fact that he is living among these pagans tells us what about that promise? Has it been fulfilled yet or not? And yet, even though it hasn’t been fulfilled, God is still staying faithful to protect Abraham in impossible situations. How might this provide encouragement to us now?
- What does Moses tell us in verse 1 that God was about to do with Abraham? That’s important to remember, because the rest of the chapter is going to be hard to understand without that fact.
- How does God describe Isaac?
- What does God tell Abraham to do with him?
- This is obvious, but what are some of the things that would have made this a difficult command?
- One of the things that would have made this a very difficult command is that it came after years and years of waiting for Isaac, and God made it very clear that Isaac was the fulfillment of His promise to Abraham. So what does it seem like God is doing here?
- What does Abraham do? When does he do it? What do you think is significant about that?
- On what day does Abraham set up the sacrifice of Isaac?
- What does Abraham tell his young men he is going to do?
- What is Abraham confident will happen after he worships? Think about the sentence in verse 5 carefully. What hint is there here that he has faith?
- When Isaac asks about the lamb, how does Abraham respond?
- What stands out to you about Abraham and Isaac’s reactions in verses 9-10? What did Abraham’s actions reveal about him according to God?
- What did God provide in verse 13 for Abraham and what did Abraham call that place?
- Now, put yourself in Abraham’s place. It looks like God is going back on His promise. It looks like God is messing with him. But Abraham obeys in spite of the way things look. Why? How does Hebrews 11:17-19 shed light on what was going on in Abraham’s mind?
- Abraham shows us what faith looks like. True faith trusts God to keep His promises even when everything seems to be telling you the opposite!
- This story is about a Father being asked to sacrifice the promised seed. In what way does this story set you up for a better understanding of what God was doing through Jesus?
- What encouragement does God give Abraham after he has demonstrated his faith in God? Each time God repeats His promise to Abraham, it seems like he adds one extra detail that is important for understanding what God is doing through Abraham. What is the extra detail here at the end of verse 17? And what is going to be the result of that for the rest of the world in verse 18?
- Who dies at the beginning of this chapter?
- What does Abraham want to buy for her? Why do you think Abraham wanted to own the land?
- What do the Hittites say to him?
- Abraham won’t allow them to give him a tomb. Instead, in verse 9, what does he make clear that he must do?
- But Ephron hears this and he says what?
- How does Abraham respond to that?
- When the King of Sodom tried to give Abraham something he refused, when the Hittites try to give him something he refuses. Abraham is demonstrating that he is not relying on man for the fulfillment of the promises, but on whom?
- In the New Testament, God uses Abraham as an example of what faith looks like. What can we learn about faith here?
- How much did the land cost? Was it a lot of money or not?
- This is the land God had promised Abraham. He only has a portion of it now, but he buries Sarah here, in confidence that one day God will fulfill all His promises.
- How confident are you that God will keep all His promises? What in your life demonstrates that confidence?
- In what way does the opening verse of this chapter remind you of God’s faithfulness to His promises?
- Abraham is concerned for his son here. What does he make his servant promise not to do?
- The servant brings up a possible problem. What if the woman doesn’t come? He then asks whether he should take Isaac back to the land from where they came? What is Abraham’s response? Why do you think he responds like that?
- What is Abraham confident God will do in verse 8?
- Where does the servant stop and kneel when he arrives in the city of Nahor?
- What does he pray? What specifically does he want God to do and why? What does the servant want to know about God’s relationship to Abraham?
- What happens before he even finishes praying?
- Why is the request for the woman to bring water for his camels such a big request? (How many camels did he have? How much do camels normally drink? In verse 20, how does Rebekkah go to the well? What word does the author use? Why is that surprising?)
- As the servant is watching this happening, what is he wondering according to verse 21?
- Finally, after the woman has shown hospitality to him, how does the servant respond? What has he learned through this process?
- The servant comes into the relative’s house. He is offered food, but he will not eat until he has spoken. What does he say about Abraham? What does he say about God in this passage?
- How do Laban and Bethuel respond? What do they recognize?
- But they are not quite ready to let Rebekkah go. What do they suggest to the servant and how does he respond?
- When they ask Rebekkah what she wants to do, what does she say?
- What blessing do they give her? What promise is that similar to?
- Isaac is out in the field and he fits up his eyes and what does he see? Rebekkah is coming toward him, she lifts up her eyes, and who does she see?
- What word does the servant use to describe Isaac? What does he see then about Isaac?
- What is Isaac’s attitude toward Rebekkah?
- This is a long story about Abraham finding his son Isaac a wife. But this story tells us alot about God’s commitment to Abraham and his promise. How has God been at work in this story and what comfort can you find from that?
- Abraham is very old at the beginning of this chapter. And yet what happens after Sarah dies?
- But, in spite of the fact that he had many sons, who was the heir? How does this text make that clear?
- What does God do after Abraham dies?
- What did God promise Hagar in Genesis 17:20? What do we learn has happened in Genesis 25:16?
- Ishmael who is not the chosen seed has many children. But what problem does Isaac face in verse 21 in this chapter? How does he respond?
- She is going to give birth to twins, but they are fighting each other in her womb. She asks God what is going on and what does God tell her is happening in verse 23?
- God makes a prophecy. Who is going to be the leader of these two children and eventual nations? Why is that surprising?
- What kind of person is Esau? What kind of person is Jacob? (What does Jacob’s name mean?
- It looks like Esau has everything. He is older. His father loves him. But what happens when they grow older. Esau comes in from the field, and what does he say? What name is he called as a result? What does Jacob want him to do, and how does Esau respond?
- What is a birthright? What does the narrator tell us that reveals about Esau’s attitude towards his birthright?
- Now, that attitude might seem small. But we are talking about the Promised Seed. The one through whom God would bring blessing to the nations. So, despising this birthright is a big deal. He trades the opportunity to be used by God for the salvation of the world for a bowl of soup because he is hungry. In what way does he illustrate here a worldly person’s attitude toward life in this world?
- We are going to see later that Isaac and his mother do some work to get this birthright and blessing. They are deceptive, but this story tells us that ultimately, the reason Isaac received the birthright is because Esau didn’t want it.
- There are some things this chapter has in common with a chapter that we’ve already read in Genesis. How does the writer make it clear in the first verse that he knows those similarities and he’s just not accidentally repeating himself?
- What does God tell Isaac not to do, and what does he tell him to do, and why? What does he promise Isaac that he already promised Abraham? And what does he tell us about Abraham?
- Abraham is a model for us to look back to. And what does he teach us? The importance of trusting and obeying God. This is what God wants!
- What sin does Isaac commit that Abraham also committed? How does Abimelech respond when he finds out Isaac was lying? And why is he bothered about what Isaac did?
- A pagan king named Abimelech protects Isaac. Then God prospers him to the point where the Philistines envy him. Finally Abimelech has to ask Isaac to leave because he is much stronger than they were. What does this have to do with God’s promise to Abraham? What does this tell you about God?
- While Isaac is being blessed, it’s not always easy. What happens in verse 17-20 and verse 26 that demonstrates they are not in the Promised Land yet?
- Finally Abimelech comes to Isaac and he says something about him in verse 29. What does he see about Isaac?
- Isaac is being blessed by God. But what does his son Esau do and what is the result of that?
- God is keeping His promise to Abraham after Abraham is dead and over the course of generations. What important truth does that tell you about God and how can that be an encouragement to you today?
- We are going to read a story about Isaac blessing Jacob. Jacob was the younger son and Esau was the older. Culturally, Isaac should have blessed Esau. On the other hand, what prophecy had God made that indicated he should have blessed Jacob. And yet in verse 1ff, we see that he wants to bless Esau. What does Isaac to tell Esau to do and why does he want him to do it?
- Now what had God said was going to happen back in 25:23?
- So Jacob was going to be exalted over Esau. But it’s not looking like that is going to happen at this moment because Isaac loves Esau. How is God going to fulfill His prophecy?
- It starts with an eavesdropping wife. What does Rebekah do after she hears of Isaac’s plan?
- What is Jacob concerned about when he hears his mom’s plan? He’s not concerned about whether it is right, he’s just concerned about whether it is going to work. And there are parts that seem like it might work, until Jacob speaks and then Esau knows something is funny. But Jacob deceives Isaac and receives the blessing. What is the blessing he gives him in verse 29?
- So this is important, because we are seeing more clearly who the Promised Seed is going to come through. It’s not going to be Esau’s descendants but Jacob’s. Esau hears what Isaac has done, and he gets angry and desperate. Isaac does finally provide a blessing for him, and what is it in verse 40? (That will be important to remember when we get to Obadiah!)
- What does Esau want to do to his brother? How does Rebekah protect the Promised Seed?
- What had Esau done that made his parent’s life so difficult? What does Rebekah hope that Jacob does not do?
- God is busy fulfilling His promise in the middle of the mess of human relationships and sinful people. What an encouragement! There’s deception, there’s brother wanting to murder brother, there’s eavesdropping, and yet behind all this, there’s God getting done exactly what He wants to get done. He did it in Genesis, and be encouraged, He is doing the same thing now!
- This chapter opens up with a fourth warning against intermarriage with the daughters of Canaan. Why do you think Moses might have especially wanted to highlight this for the generation who was entering into the Promised Land?
- After Isaac sends Jacob away, what does Esau do? How would you describe Esau’s attitude toward Jacob and toward his parents at this point? Remember that! Because we are going to see it changing in the chapters ahead.
- Jacob goes on his journey and he falls asleep. What happens when he does?
- What specifically does he see?
- This is a spot where heaven and earth seem to meet. In a sense, that’s what is supposed to happen for Israel! God is going to walk in their midst. At this spot, God makes a promise to Jacob. It’s the same promise He made to Abraham. Now, was Jacob a good guy? Not really. But, even his sinfulness couldn’t stop God’s faithfulness to His promise to Abraham.
- What does Jacob say about the spot he was sleeping when he wakes up and what does he do?
- What promise does he make to God at the end of the chapter? But what do you think about what he says to God? Is this real faith? Or what is Jacob doing? You see Jacob is a schemer. His schemes aren’t usually very smart. Here he is even trying to scheme with God. But in spite of his schemes God keeps pursuing His agenda.
- What is the problem Rebekkah is concerned about back in Genesis 27:46?
- Here we are seeing God’s solution to that problem. What do the shepherds say they can’t do in verse 8? What does Jacob do once he sees Rachel in verse 10? So he doesn’t listen to them and does the opposite of what they say. What might that tell you about Jacob’s attitude toward Rachel?
- What does this story tell us about Rachel and Leah? What does it tell us about Jacob’s attitude towards Rachel?
- How long does Jacob have to serve for Rachel? How did that time feel to him and why?
- What does Laban do that is deceptive?
- Interestingly after Jacob marries Leah, Laban has him marry Rachel the next week. He needs to work 7 more years for her, but he lets him marry her right away. Why do you think Laban might have done that? (Hint: Would you be happy if your husband married someone else a week after marrying you? What problems is that probably going to create in your relationships?)
- Jacob is a deceiver and here he is deceived. What does this passage say Jacob felt about Leah and Rachel after he married her?
- What does God do when he sees Jacob’s attitude toward Leah?
- As Leah has sons she is hoping different things. What is she hoping after she has the first son? What does she say after the second son? What about the third? What does she finally say after she has the fourth son?
- What might this story teach you about suffering and trials?
- What happened when Rachel saw that she had no children?
- Now this is another small illustration that polygamy is really not God’s will. Pretty much everytime we see polygamy in the Bible, it’s connected to something sad. Here, Leah’s not feeling loved. And, the one who is feeling loved is not happy!
- She envies her sister and then she says something to Jacob. What does what she says say about about how she is feeling?
- How does Jacob respond? What does he teach us about God in his response?
- When Rachel heard that God was in charge of the womb, what should she have done? What did she do instead?
- As her servants start having children, what is Rachel really rejoicing in? Is she happy for the children or happy that the children are accomplishing something else?
- How does Leah respond to Rachel? One person sins, another person sins in response, and the cycle just keeps continuing.
- Finally, Rachel has a son. Joseph. As soon as she has this son, what does Jacob ask Laban and how does Laban respond? What has he learned and how? How does this connect back to the promise God made Abraham? In spite of all this family dysfunction, God is keeping His commitments!
- In the next story, Laban tries to cheat Jacob and what happens instead?
- We are seeing alot of sin and bad relationships and poor choices. In other words, we are reading about real life. But behind all this sin and these bad relationships and poor choices, God is on the move, accomplishing exactly what He promised He would. That’s hope!
- What does Laban say is the reason for his success in Genesis 30:27? What do his sons say in Genesis 31:1?
- What does God call Jacob to do at this point?
- How does Jacob describe the reason for his success in Genesis 31:4-7?
- How do Rachel and Leah regard their father in 14-16?
- Jacob flees from Laban. What does Rachel do as they are fleeing? How does Laban respond? What does God tell him to do when he catches Jacob?
- What complaint does Laban have about Jacob’s leaving in verse 30?
- God is protecting Jacob and his family, even as they are stealing and hiding idols. What does that tell you about the nature of God?
- What does Jacob say in verse 42 is the only reason he survived Laban’s mistreatment?
- What interesting name does Jacob give for God here?
- Laban was very angry with Jacob. Jacob had done wrong. But, God protects Jacob and in the end, Laban ends up making a covenant with Jacob and blessing his family. If you were part of the people of God, and you were reading this chapter later, what encouragement do you think you would find here?
- Who met Jacob after he went on his way?
- Why do you think this was important given what Jacob was about to face?
- How many men came with Esau to meet Jacob and how did Jacob feel about that?
- What does he do in response?
- What does Jacob’s prayer tell he us he has learned about God over the years?
- Jacob basically sends everyone ahead of him and verse 24 tells us he is left alone. What happens next?
- What does the man do to Jacob? What does he ask of Jacob? What is Jacob’s response?
- What blessing does he give Jacob and why?
- What does Jacob say about what happened?
- Jacob’s whole life was one of struggle. He even ended up struggling with God. But, in the end, he sees God face to face, and he is blessed by God. God changes his name from Jacob, wrestler, deceiver, schemer to what? And what does that name mean?
- What kind of encouragement might this have been to Israel? And how might this even be an encouragement to all those who love God?
- What surprising things does Jacob do when he sees his brother?
- Why do you think he does this?
- What would you have been tempted to feel seeing Esau like this?
- What is Esau’s shocking response?
- How do you think this connects to Genesis 32:11?
- What does Jacob do now that is so different than how he treated Esau before?
- Jacob though the four hundred men with Esau were soldiers to attack him, but what did Esau want to use them for according to 33:15?
- Jacob did a lot of work to try to protect himself from Esau, but was all that work necessary in the end? How could Jacob have known this would have been the end, even before it happened?
- After leaving Esau, where does Jacob come? God’s kept the promise He made to Jacob back in Genesis 28. The name of the city where Jacob buys land and erects an altar is Shechem. Remember this name as it will come up again and again the story of Israel.
- We’ve been getting to know Jacob and his family. Overall, it’s not been amazing. Jacob has really been a schemer and a deceiver, and yet God keeps being faithful to His promises and accomplishing His plan in spite of Jacob.
- In this chapter, we get a story about one of his daughters. What does Dinah do at the beginning of this chapter? What do you think that means she was doing in your own words?
- Something terrible happens. What does Shechem do when he sees her?
- The writer tells us in verse 3, what surprising thing, however?
- When Jacob hears about what happened to Dinah, what does he do? What should he have done? What does what you are reading tell you about Jacob as a father?
- How is the sons of Jacob’s response different than their fathers?
- What does Hamor tell them he wants them to do and why?
- How did Jacob’s sons answer them?
- What do they promise them they will do if they get circumcised? Look at the end of verse 16 especially.
- What does Hamor think will be the result of this plan? See especially verse 23.
- When Hamor and his people do agree with their plan, what do Jacob’s sons do instead of intermarrying with them? (Which of Jacob’s sons specifically do this?)
- What does Jacob say about what they have done? Why is he upset? What do you think about Jacob’s response?
- This is an intense chapter. There are some really bad things that happen in this chapter. It’s amazing in this sinful world that God is still faithful to His promises, and that He’s able to use people like this to accomplish His promises. If God can take this kind of evil and accomplish good in the end, then you know He can still do that in your life as well.
- God tells Jacob to go to Bethel in verse 1. Why does this verse say Jacob had gone there before?
- In spite of his failures and his family’s sin, God had not abandoned Jacob but was still acting to protect him.
- Jacob takes action finally, and tells his family to do what? Why does the fact that he has to do this so sad?
- How does he describe God in verse 4?
- How do the cities feel about Jacob as Jacob and his family journey to Bethel? Think about the chapter before this one, why do you think they felt this way?
- At Bethel, God appears to Jacob and he does what? Now, he’s already said this to Jacob in Genesis 32:28. So often God has to repeat himself as he’s working with us. Why do you think that is?
- This is all grace. Think about what Jacob’s sons had just done, think about all Jacob’s lying, think about his passivity as a father, and yet God is going to be faithful to His promises. In verse 11, what does he say will come from Jacob? This is key. The promise keeps expanding. God will be them. Nations will come from them. They will receive the land. And there will be kings!
- From Bethel, they journey on and what happens to Rachel?
- What terrible thing does Reuben do at this point? This is important to know as it will come up later, and because of the question, we have as we finish this chapter.
- The chapter ends with a listing of Jacob/Israel’s sons. This is important, because we are wondering at this point, who specifically will be the one through whom the Promised Seed comes? With Abraham who had two sons, it was clear it was not Ishmael but Isaac. With Jacob who has twelve sons, we are still wondering, who is going to be the chosen one? Knowing what we know about Jacob’s first born, Reuben, we have some good reason to think it will not be him. But if not him, then who?
- You may not want to read this chapter just glancing down. I mean a list of names! But, before we move past it too quickly, let’s see what we can learn. He tells us that he is going to give us the account of who in verse 1? And then he immediately gives an explanation, of who that is. What nation is he talking about? What does he say in verse 9 about Esau? And what does he say at the end of verse 40 about Esau? So what does he probably want you to know about Edom?
- Two nations descend from Isaac and Esau. What has he already told you about those nations in 25:23?
- Edom and Israel weren’t just any two nations. They were brother nations. And yet, as Moses is writing these books, what has Edom just done to Israel. Look at Numbers 20:14-21. So, there’s tension in their relationship for sure! But, later in the Bible, in the book of Obadiah, we will see that God has plans for Edom. When the Messiah rules, He is going to rule over the region of Edom, and that is an illustration of how He is going to rule from Israel over all mankind.
- But now, back to Genesis. What does he tell us that Esau did in verse 6 and 7? What story does that remind you of?
- Whether you pay much attention to all the names in this chapter, one thing you should notice is that there are a lot of names. How does this connect back to God’s promises to Abraham and what is this telling you about God’s faithfulness? It may seem tedious, but the reality is, we need to be reminded over and over that God keeps His promises because we have such a hard time believing it.
- In verse 31, what did Edom have before Israel? They weren’t the ones through whom the Promised Seed was going to come, but at first, they seemed to be more powerful than Israel. God always keeps His promises, but sometimes He may seem slower about keeping those promises then we might like.
- Where did Jacob live? How does the author describe his place? What does that tell you about the promise of land? (It’s a little like a hint. Keep reading! There’s more to come.)
- He says these are the generations of Jacob. But then he tells a story about who?
- Now let’s get the setting. How old is Joseph at this point? What is he doing? And what does he do to his brothers specifically?
- What is Jacob’s attitude toward Joseph?
- Now favoritism is a real problem in this family. Who else in Jacob’s past shows favoritism?
- How does he express his love for Joseph? (This will come up several times in this story – see v. 23 and 31-33.)
- What did the brothers feel about the way their father treated Joseph?
- That’s the problem. Now a dream. The story about the dream begins and ends by telling you how his brothers felt about it. How did they feel? (v.5 and 8)
- What do the brothers think is the point of the first dream?
- Their anger doesn’t stop Joseph from telling them another dream with the same point. How does his father and brothers respond to this dream? What is similar and different about their response?
- What might this illustrate to you about the normal human attitude toward authority?
- Joseph’s brothers go to pasture their flock near Shechem. What had they done at Shechem earlier? Joseph’s father sends him to look for them. They are not easy to find but eventually he finds them at Dothan. (We will read about Dothan again in 2 Kings 6:13)
- What do they decide to do when they see Joseph from afar? What do they call him? They are attacking him for his dreams, which we will see are actually revelation from God.
- Now, what is ironic about this decision? They try to stop God’s plan from happening, but what are they doing instead?
- Imagine your own brothers wanting to kill you. Reuben stops them and has them do what instead? Before they throw him in the pit what do they do?
- These men are pretty heartless. After they throw him in the pit, what does verse 25 say they do?
- What does Judah decide they should do and why?
- Judah is not a good guy at this point. That’s very important to understand. We call this the story of Joseph, but in many ways it is a story about Judah.
- What plan do they come up with to deceive their father? How does he respond?
- From a human perspective, this seems about as bad as possible. But, ultimately why is Joseph really going to Egypt?
- We’ve been talking about Joseph, and yet here the writer turns to look at another brother. What brother does he focus on here?
- That may be a hint even as we read the story of Joseph which is going to occupy the rest of the book, that the story of Joseph is not just about Joseph.
- Judah seems to have a friendship with someone from Adullam, and he goes to visit him, and what does he see and do there?
- If you look back at 34:2, there seems to be some hypocrisy here doesn’t there?
- But they have a number of children, and Judah takes a wife for his firstborn.How did the writer describe the woman to whom Judah got “married?” Does he say that about the woman he took for his firstborn? So that tells you what?
- What happens though to his firstborn and why?
- What does this tell you about God?
- What does Judah then tell his next son to do? As you look at verses 8-9, what word is repeated? Why is this particular word important in the context of Genesis?
- So, we know the SEED is supposed to come through Judah, and yet the SEED is in trouble here. But in verse 11, what does Judah do? What does that tell you about Judah? Is he concerned about the great promise God had made?
- Who is concerned about the seed as you read the rest of the chapter?
- Who disguised himself earlier to receive the blessing? Now, what does Tamar do to receive the blessing?
- How does Judah respond when he finds out Tamar is pregnant? What does this tell you about Judah? Does he take responsibility? What does she do then and what does he acknowledge about her then?
- She gives birth to twins. Who had twins earlier? What happened to those twins? And what happens to these twins? What is the surprise we are seeing here?
- Now, for us, this is another strange and sad story. But what is God doing? Behind all the sin and foolishness and quite frankly awful thinks humans are doing, what is God doing? What is God making sure will happen and what hope does that give us?
- The first verse brings us back to the Joseph story. What change has taken place though in the meantime?
- Joseph’s been sold as a slave. But does that mean God has forgotten him? How do you know that?
- How many times in verses 3 through 5 does it say that God was with Joseph or God blessed Joseph? Why do you think he keeps repeating that? What is that telling you that you need to remember as you read the rest of this story?
- Earlier in Genesis, when God’s people were in foreign lands, what happened to their wives? How were their wives rescued from that? Now, in this story it’s an Egyptian wife and Joseph and how is Joseph rescued from the situation he finds himself in?
- What are some reasons Joseph might have been tempted to sin in this situation? What reasons does he give as to why he will not sin?
- We’ve seen a lot of wickedness in God’s people so far, but here we are finally seeing someone who is being faithful to God’s commands. And yet, what happens to Joseph?
- At the end of this story, Joseph has gone from being a slave to being in prison. Has he done anything that “deserves” this?
- But what happens when Joseph is in prison?
- What challenges and encouragements and questions do you have after reading through this part of the story?
- This chapter begins simply, ‘Some time after this.’ We can read over that quickly, but where is Joseph during this time? How does that remind you of the challenges he faced? What questions might you be asking God if you were in his position?
- What happens though while Joseph is in prison? Where are these two men placed? What does the captain of the guard ask Joseph to do?
- God’s rescue plans can seem so strange. God has not forgotten Joseph. He is working through an angry Pharaoh. Pharaoh gets angry at these these men, throws them in prison, but God is even behind that.
- On the same night they had a dream. What did Joseph see? What did Joseph ask? Why is Joseph so confident to ask this? What can you learn about God from this?
- What does Joseph ask the cupbearer to do after he interprets his dream? (How many days by the way before this happens for the cupbearer?)
- Joseph gives the interpretations to both men, good and bad. He communicates revelation when it benefits him and when it is hard for him. And what does verse 20 say happened on the third day?
- This chapter ends very sadly. What happens in verse 22?
- What would you be tempted to be thinking if you were Joseph at this point? How do you think Joseph was able to keep going and keep trusting God?
- How long has Joseph been ‘forgotten’ in prison after the cupbearer left at this point?
- Pharaoh has a dream. Dreams are playing a big part in the Joseph story! He had a couple of dreams himself about the future, and now, this is two times when God has given dreams to unbelievers about the future. At the very least, what does this tell you about God?
- God’s in control of dreams, and he’s in control of people. What had to happen to get the cupbearer to this point where he could tell the Pharaoh about Joseph?
- Pharaoh wants Joseph to interpret the dream, but what does Joseph say in response? What can you learn from Joseph here?
- What does Joseph say about God as he interprets Pharaoh’s dream?
- Pharaoh is a powerful human ruler, but who really is in charge?
- What does Pharaoh say about Joseph after he interprets his dream? And what does Pharaoh do for Joseph?
- Now think about Joseph. He’s gone from what to what, in a moment!
- If you said to someone about Joseph while he was sitting in prison, tomorrow he will be the second in charge of Egypt, what do you think they would say to you? But what does this teach us about God? What lessons can we learn about life from this?
- What were they calling out about Joseph as he sat in the second chariot?
- In a short while, Joseph is married and has children. What does he name those children? Why? What do you think Joseoph has learned about God?
- What picture do you get of Pharaoh and Joseph’s relationship?
- What happens to Egypt in the middle of the terrible famine that was affecting the whole world as a result of Joseph?
- What problem is Jacob and his family experiencing in this chapter?
- What are Jacob’s sons doing about this problem?
- What does Jacob tell them to do?
- Who does Jacob refuse to send to Egypt and why?
- All the world is coming to Egypt for help at this point, but who really is in charge?
- What do Joseph’s brothers do when they appear before him?
- How did Joseph treat them? Why do you think Joseph treated them the way he did?
- What does Joseph do to them for three days? On the third day he gives them a test, what is the test?
- The brothers are obviously experiencing a conviction of sin. This is many years after they sold Joseph into slavery, but what do they think of his request? What do they say is the reason for the request? What do they say Joseph was doing while he was in the pit?
- After Joseph heard them talking to one another, what did he do? Why do you think he did that? Why do you think he chose Simeon? (What had Reuben done back at the time when Joseph was thrown into the pit? Who was next in line after Reuben?)
- What did Joseph put back in their sacks? How did they respond when they found out?
- What does Jacob say to them after he hears what happened in Egypt?
- How does Reuben try to motivate his father to allow them to take Benjamin? Does his suggestion make much sense?
- Do you think the brothers have changed in the years after they sold Joseph into slavery?
- What do you think about Jacob as a father? Does this chapter teach you anything more about his leadership of his family?
- Everybody is suffering here. But God’s behind it, seeking to accomplish something good. It takes years. It is confusing. But God is at work. What in your life causes you to doubt God’s control? Will you trust that God is able to use bad circumstances and confusing situations to accomplish His good purpose today?
- What are some of the difficulties Jacob and his family are experiencing at the beginning of this chapter?
- What does Jacob want his sons to do? Why is it a little surprising for him to make this request given how the previous chapter ended?
- Judah this time says they will not do it unless they send Benjamin with them. But Jacob is suspicious. What question does he ask and how do the brothers respond?
- Reuben has said that his father could kill his two sons if he doesn’t bring Benjamin back alive. What pledge does Judah make his father? What does Judah say his father can do if he doesn’t bring Benjamin back? Why is this surprising coming from Judah?
- Jacob has been stubbornly refusing to send Benjamin. But finally he decides to sends the brothers with some gifts and Benjamin. Where does he place his hope as he does so?
- These men are desperate for food and are willing to make great sacrifices to get it. (Are we this desperate for God’s Word?) The men go down to Egypt, stand before Joseph, and what does Joseph tell his steward to do?
- How do his brothers respond to this offer? What do they think Joseph is up to? So what do they do when they see the steward?
- How does the steward reply? And who does he credit it to? Where do you think he learned this from? What does that perhaps tell you about Joseph?
- What do they do when they see Joseph? How many times does it say they did this? Why do you think it repeats it?
- What does Joseph do when he sees Benjamin? (By the way, Joseph seems to do this alot!) Joseph is a great hero in the Bible, and yet he is not afraid to do this. What does that perhaps tell you about the Bible’s view of masculinity?
- What strange way do they eat this feast? Why do they do it that way?
- What are the men amazed about as they sit down to the feast. What do you think they are thinking as they are experiencing all this?
- What is the difference between Benjamin’s portions and theirs?
- What does Joseph ask his steward to do? Who would be in the most trouble as a result of this test?
- What has Joseph already done at the meal to indicate that he favored the younger brother Benjamin?
- So, the younger brother is favored and Joseph is putting him in a position where he will get in the most trouble if caught. Why do you think Joseph is doing all this to his brothers? What’s he trying to see?
- What question does Joseph have his steward ask the brothers once they chase his brothers down?
- What deal do they make with the steward?
- This deal means essentially that when the steward finds the cup in Benjamin’s sack, the brothers are free. They could go back to their father and tell him what happened and the truth is they had no control over it. But how do they respond instead?
- Judah represents the brothers to Joseph and makes an impassioned appeal. What do we know about the tribe of Judah from later in the Bible? What do you think this story demonstrating God’s transformation of him is intended to help us understand?
- What one word does Judah repeat over and over throughout in his speech?
- What do you think has happened to Judah in the years since his incident with Tamar and then Joseph and as he stands here?
- We might expect Joseph to respond to his brothers with vengeance. What had he gone through because of them? And yet how does he respond here as he sees that they have changed?
- How did Joseph’s brothers respond to all this emotion?
- In fact, it is as if they don’t even hear him. What does Joseph have to say next?
- What encouragement does he give them?
- Ultimately, why did Joseph believe his brothers had sold him into slavery?
- Now think about this. Selling your brother into slavery is an evil act. But, what does this statement Joseph makes tell you about God?
- How many times does Joseph make this statement about God?
- What does Pharaoh do when he hears about Joseph’s brothers?
- This seems impossible, doesn’t it. Here there is a time of terrible famine, and yet God is using a pagan king to demonstrate his extreme generosity to HIs people.
- What does Joesph have to tell his brothers not to do on their way back to get their father? (The Bible is so real. These brothers have changed, but not completely!)
- How did Jacob respond to the report about Joseph at first? After they tell him again what happens and what decision does he make?
- What name for Jacob does the author use in the beginning of this chapter? Can you think of any reasons he might be using this name?
- What encouragement does God give him in the middle of this?
- How does this passage show God using a pagan king to take care of His people?
- What important word does the writer use in verse 7? How does that word connect with a major promise theme in Genesis?
- After reminding us of the ‘seed’ promise, we see God keeping His promise to Abraham. These names may seem boring to us at first, but they are reminders God will do exactly what He says He will do.
- What does Joseph do when he sees his father?
- What does God use to protect His people as a people? In other words, how does God keep them from intermingling and intermarrying with the Egyptians and basically becoming Egyptian themselves?
- Joseph went in and talked to whom? Let’s make sure we don’t miss this. What privilege did Joseph experience?
- Joseph presents his brothers to Pharaoh, they make a request, and how doe Joseph respond? What does he effectively offer them?
- How is God keeping His promise to Abraham?
- After presenting his brothers, Joseph brings in his father. What surprising thing does Jacob do? What do you think is the point? What is the theological truth we might learn from this?
- How does Jacob describe the days of the years of his life? He uses a particular word. God’s kept many of His promises, but what does that word tell you about the aspect of the promise God has not fulfilled yet?
- Jacob’s already blessed Pharaoh. But what does he do again after he gives this answer. What possible reason might the author note this again?
- So, the whole world is going through famine, but where does God have his people living and what are they experiencing?
- Joseph brings blessing to Pharaoh. What happens for Pharaoh as a result of Joseph’s management of this crisis?
- While the whole world is giving their possession to Pharaoh, what does verse 27 say about God’s people, Israel?
- In spite of all the privileges and blessings they were experiencing in Egypt, what promise does Jacob force Joseph to make to him? And, why?
- Joseph comes to visit his father on his death bed. What name does the author use for his father here? Why might that be significant?
- What two things does Jacob say God did in verse 3?
- What does he say God promised in verse 4?
- What words are used here that are also used in the beginning of the Bible’s story? Why do you think he might use the same terms that are in the beginning of the Bible’s story? What is that doing?
- What unusual thing does Jacob then do?
- Joseph then brings his sons to Jacob. What does the author say about Jacob’s vision? Why is that ironic?
- When Jacob goes to bless the boys, what does he do that makes Joseph upset? Why is this not surprising for those of us who have been following along in the biblical story so far? What does this tell us about God?
- Who specifically does Jacob ask to bless the boy? What interesting and somewhat confusing insight does that give you into the nature of God?
- What encouragement does Jacob give Joseph at the end?
- How might knowing all this have been helpful and important for the people to whom Moses was originally speaking?
- What does Jacob say he wants to talk to his sons about in verse 1? (Look at Numbers 24:14; Deuteronomy 4:30 and Deuteronomy 31:29. Do you see anything similar there?)
- Jacob is gathering his sons to bless them. Reuben is the first born. What do you think are some of the things running through his mind as he gets ready to be blessed by his father? What does Jacob tell Reuben he will not have and why?
- Why did this happen? Read Genesis 35:22. Did Jacob confront Reuben about this at the time? But here he reveals what Reuben did. It’s been about 20 years and Reuben probably thought he got away with it. But be sure your sin will find you out!
- Next, Jacob talks to Simeon and Levi. He describes them as what in verse 5? What is funny about calling them that in this context? So why do you think he points that out specifically about these two?
- Jacob highlights what about these brothers? And what story is this connected to in Genesis? What is the consequence of their failure to control their anger here?
- They will not have their own land, in other words. You can read the fulfillment of this prophecy in Joshua 19:1-9 and Joshua 21.
- This prophecy ended up being a curse for Simeon and a blessing for Levi. What was the difference? You can see how the tribe of Levi used their zeal in the proper direction in Exodus 32:25-29 which changed the direction of their entire tribe.
- Judah gets a very long blessing from his father. What four prophecies does he make about Judah?
- It may say in your version that the scepter shall not depart until tribute comes to him. That word is literally Shiloh. See if you can find any other interpretations of this verse.
- How does this prophecy about Judah help you better understand God’s redemptive plan?
- Next come Zebulun and Issachar. What does he say about the future of their tribes? How are these prophecies fulfilled?
- He then prophecies about Dan, saying that he shall judge his people. What famous judge came from the tribe of Dan?
- He then describes Dan as a serpent, a viper. What do we know about serpents from Genesis? What do you think this is saying about the future of the tribe of Dan?
As Jacob talks about Dan’s idolatry, what does he pray?
- What blessing does he give to Gad, Asher and Naphtali. What do you think these could mean?
- How does Jacob describe Joseph? Why was Joseph a success? What does Jacob say will happen to Joseph’s descendants in the future?
- He finishes with Benjamin. What does he say about Benjamin? What do you think this means? Can you think of any famous Benjamites who demonstrate that this prophecy did in fact come true?
- Where does Jacob asked to be buried? And in spite of all his sin, what is he demonstrating that he does in fact have with this request?
- What does Joseph do at the beginning of this chapter? (Joseph sure has done alot of this, hasn’t he?)
- How long did the Egyptians weep over Jacob? Why is that surprising? Why do you think that might be significant?
- What does Joseph ask to do for his father? What problem does that remind us of here at the end of Genesis?
- What a scene this must have been as Joseph and all these other people come back to Canaan to bury his father? What do you think this was teaching the Canaanites about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
- What were Joseph’s brothers afraid of? What do they call what they did to him? Why is that important?
- How does Joseph respond to their request? Why do you think he responds like that?
- Joseph does not respond with vengeance on his brothers? Why?
- This is a key statement. How does this even encourage you as you think about what’s happened in Genesis? Man broke the world, but what do we know about God? How does this encourage you as you look to the future?
- Joseph lives a long time, and he’s been in Egypt most of his life, but what does he make his descendants promise him? What does that say about Joseph?