ESL Lesson 8 – Joseph: Hated by His Brothers

Lesson 8

Joseph: Hated by His Brothers

Genesis 37


Jacob had four wives.  Rachel was his favorite wife.  Jacob’s wives each gave birth to sons until Jacob had twelve sons.  But Rachel’s sons were Jacob’s favorite sons.


Rachel did not have children for many years after she married Jacob.  So her sons, Joseph and Benjamin, were Jacob’s youngest sons.  Jacob loved them best because they were born to him when he was old and because they were Rachel’s sons.


When Joseph was seventeen years old he was helping his ten older brothers take care of the sheep.  His brothers did something wrong.  When Joseph got home that night he told his father about the wrong thing his brothers had done.  This made his brothers very angry at him.


Because Jacob loved Joseph more than his other sons, he gave Joseph a very beautiful coat.  It was a very expensive coat.  When Joseph’s brothers saw this, they knew that their father loved Joseph the best.  They were very jealous of him.  They hated Joseph.  They never said one kind thing about him.


One night Joseph had a strange dream.  In the morning he told his family about it.  “In my dream we were all out in the field tying stalks of grain into bundles,” he said.  “Then my bundles stood up straight and your bundles bowed down to mine.”


The brothers heard about the dream.  They knew the dream meant that some day they would bow down to Joseph.  Then they were even more angry at Joseph.  “Do you think you will rule over us?” they asked.


Soon Joseph had another dream.  He dreamed that the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed down to him.  When he told his family about the dream his father scolded him.  “Do you think your mother and I and your brothers will bow down to you?” he asked.








gave birth to

tie (tying) (v)

wrong (adj)

stalks of grain

coat (n)

bundle (n)

hate (v)

straight (adv)

kind (adj)

bow down

field (n)

scold (v)



1.  Which of Jacob’s sons did he love best?  Why?

2.  What did Jacob give Joseph to show how much he loved him? What did the other brothers think of this?

3.  In Joseph’s first dream, what did the brothers’ bundles of grain do to Joseph’s bundle?

4.  In Joseph’s second dream, who bowed down to him?

5.  What did Jacob think the meaning of this dream was?


One day Joseph’s brothers were taking care of the sheep at a place far from their home.  Jacob sent Joseph to find out how they were doing.


When the brothers saw Joseph coming they said, “Here comes that dreamer!  Let’s kill him and throw him into a dry well.  We can say a wild animal killed him.  Then we’ll see what if his dreams come true.”


When Joseph’s brother Reuben heard this he said, “Let’s not kill him.  Let’s just throw him in the well.”  Reuben planned to rescue Joseph later when the other brothers were not there.


So when Joseph came up to his brothers, they took off his beautiful coat and threw him in the well.  Reuben went somewhere else to do something, and the other brothers sat down to eat.


While they were eating some men came by on camels.  They were taking things to Egypt to sell.  When Joseph’s brother Judah saw them he said, “Let’s sell Joseph to them.  That way we can get rid of Joseph and make money at the same time.”


The other brothers thought that was a good idea.  They took Joseph out of the well and sold him to the men on camels.


When Reuben came back and found out Joseph was gone he was very sad.  “What will I do now?” he asked.  “What will we tell our father?”


Then the brothers killed a goat and put the blood on Joseph’s beautiful coat.  Then they took the coat to their father.  “We found this,” they said.  “Do you think it is Joseph’s coat?”


Jacob said, “It is Joseph’s coat.  A wild animal must have killed him.”


Jacob was so sad because he thought Joseph was dead.  Jacob said, “I will mourn for Joseph for the rest of my life.  I will never be happy again.” 



Names of People





Name of Place




well (n)

rescue (v)

come true

mourn (v)

plan (v)




6.  When the brothers saw Joseph coming, what did they want to do to him?

7.  What did Reuben say they should do to Joseph?

8.  Why did Judah think they should sell Joseph?

9.  What did the brothers do to hide the fact that they had sold him?


To Think About

1.  Jealousy makes people hurt others, steal from people, even kill people.  Can you think of an example when a person hurt another person because of jealousy?


2.  Is it good to be jealous?  When someone treats you unfairly* and treats someone else better than you, what should you do?



unfair (adj)