“Lesson 36: Genesis 40–41,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Lesson 36,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
While in prison because of the false accusations of Potiphar’s wife, Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker. Two years later, when Pharaoh had dreams that others could not interpret, the butler remembered Joseph. Pharaoh sent for Joseph and described his dreams. Joseph explained that God was warning Pharaoh about an upcoming famine. Pharaoh recognized the Spirit of God in Joseph, and he made him a ruler in Egypt. He also made him responsible for devising a plan to store large amounts of food to prepare the country for the coming famine.
Write the following on the board: How does God communicate with His children?
Invite students to take turns coming to the board to list ways that God communicates with us. After they have listed as many ways as they can think of, invite them to ponder the ways in which they have personally experienced God communicating with them.
Have you ever had an opportunity to help another person recognize that God was communicating with him or her? (Invite students who feel comfortable doing so to share their experiences.)
Invite students to watch, as they study Genesis 40–41, for how the Lord communicated with some individuals in Egypt and how they were able to recognize that the messages were from God.
Invite four volunteers to participate in a role play of the events recorded in Genesis 40, and assign them the following parts: Narrator, Joseph, Butler, Baker. Provide them a copy of the following script. Ask them to bring their scriptures and come to the front of the class. Ask the rest of the class to follow along in Genesis 40 and look for how God communicated with two prisoners in Egypt.
Have the participants remain at the front of the room, and ask the class the following questions:
How did God communicate with the butler and the baker? (God gave them dreams, and Joseph was able to interpret their dreams.)
According to verse 8, to whom did Joseph give credit for the interpretation of the dreams? Why do you think Joseph was so willing to give credit to God for the interpretation of the dreams?
Ask the students playing the Narrator, the Butler, and Joseph to remain at the front of the class. Ask the student playing the Baker to be seated.
Summarize Genesis 41:1–7 by explaining that two years later, Pharaoh also had some troubling dreams.
Continue the role play by asking for a volunteer to play the part of Pharaoh. Provide a copy of the following script to the participants, and invite them to read their parts aloud. Ask the class to follow along in Genesis 41, beginning with verse 8, and look for what Pharaoh discovered about his dreams. (At the appropriate time, you may need to explain that the word kine is another word for cattle and that the phrase “ears of corn” is used to represent several types of grain [see Bible Dictionary, “Corn”].)
Thank the participants, and ask them to return to their seats. Ask the class the following questions:
According to verses 32, 38, and 39, what did Pharaoh discover about the source of his dreams?
According to verse 16, how would Pharaoh know that Joseph’s interpretation of his dreams was from God?
What did Pharaoh do for Joseph because he helped him understand the dreams? (Pharaoh made him second in command over all of Egypt. He also appointed Joseph to oversee storing grain and other food to prepare for the famine.)
Invite students to answer the following question in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:
What principles can we learn from Joseph helping Pharaoh to recognize that God was communicating with him?
Ask a few students to report what they wrote. After students respond, write the following principle on the board: When we help others recognize God’s involvement in their lives, it can inspire them to act in faith.
How often do you think God is influencing your life and the lives of others around you? Why is it sometimes difficult to recognize God’s hand in our lives?
If you could see perfectly how much Heavenly Father is involved in your life, how do you think it would influence your faith in Him?
When has someone helped you see how the Lord is influencing your life? What effect did recognizing this influence have on you?
When have you helped someone else recognize the Lord’s hand in his or her life?
Consider inviting students to look for an opportunity today or this week to help someone recognize the Lord’s hand in his or her life. (You may want to invite a few students to share their experiences when you meet next as a class.)
Invite a student to reread Genesis 41:38. Ask the class to follow along and look for what we need to have in our lives in order to help others recognize God’s hand in their lives. Ask students to report what they find.
Why is it important to have the Spirit with you in order to help others recognize the Lord’s hand in their lives? How does this apply to modern-day missionary work?
Explain that because Joseph lived in a way that enabled the Spirit to be with him, the Lord could use Joseph as a tool to help fulfill His purposes.
Summarize Genesis 41:46–52 by explaining that for seven years Joseph went throughout all of Egypt gathering food until there was more grain in storage than could be measured. Point out that during this time, Joseph and Asenath had two sons. You may want to suggest that students mark the names of these sons in verses 51 and 52.
Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from Genesis 41:53–57. Ask the class to follow along and look for the result of Pharaoh’s decision to follow Joseph’s counsel.
What was the result of Pharaoh’s decision to follow Joseph’s counsel?
In what ways have prophets in our day asked us to prepare for future physical or temporal challenges?
How have latter-day prophets asked us to prepare for future spiritual difficulties or trials of our faith?
What blessings can come to us if we follow the counsel of prophets and inspired leaders to prepare ourselves and our families for the future? (As students respond, you may want to emphasize the following principle: If we follow the counsel of the prophets and inspired leaders, then we will be better prepared to face difficulties.) Encourage students to consider ways they can apply this principle in their efforts to be prepared for difficulties that may come in the future.
Conclude by inviting two or three students to summarize what they have learned today and explain how they plan to apply that knowledge in their lives.
If you have extra time at the end of the lesson, consider using it to review a scripture mastery passage that students are memorizing. Or you could introduce them to new passages and discuss the main doctrines or principles they teach. (Scripture mastery passages like Joshua 24:15, Psalm 119:105, Proverbs 3:5–6, and Amos 3:7 contain principles that relate to this lesson and could be used to support what students have learned in Genesis 40–41.) If you prefer a more visual approach, you could choose a scripture mastery passage and invite students to draw a picture of a situation in which knowing or applying the truths in the passage would be helpful or a picture that would help them remember the main idea and reference of the scripture passage. Invite students to explain their drawings and how the passage relates to them.