Skip to content

Skip to table of contents

Teach Your Children

Are You Ever Jealous? Joseph’s Brothers Were

Are You Ever Jealous? Joseph’s Brothers Were

LET’S talk about what it means to be jealous. Have you ever found it hard to like a person because others said that he is good, handsome, or smart? *— Well, that is what can happen when you are jealous of someone.

Jealousy can occur in a family if parents favor one child over another. The Bible tells about a family in which jealousy caused a big problem. Let us consider the trouble it led to and the lesson we can learn from what happened.

Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob, and Joseph’s half brothers were jealous of him. Do you know why?— It was because their father, Jacob, favored Joseph. For example, Jacob had a beautiful striped coat made for Joseph. Jacob especially loved Joseph “because he was the son of his old age” and the first child by his beloved wife, Rachel.

The Bible says that ‘when Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him the most, they hated Joseph.’ Then one day Joseph told his family that in a dream, all of them bowed down to him, including his own father. “His brothers grew jealous of him,” the Bible says, and even Joseph’s father scolded him for telling about such a dream.​—Genesis 37:1-11.

Some time later, when Joseph was 17, his brothers were many miles away caring for the family’s sheep and goats. So Jacob sent Joseph to see how his brothers were. Do you know what most of them wanted to do when they saw him coming?— They wanted to kill him! But two of them, Reuben and Judah, did not want to.

When some merchants passed by on their way to Egypt, Judah said: “Let us sell him.” So they did. Then they killed a goat and dipped Joseph’s coat in its blood. Later, as they showed the coat to their father, he cried out: ‘A vicious wild beast must have eaten Joseph!’​—Genesis 37:12-36.

In time, Joseph came to be favored by Pharaoh, Egypt’s ruler. This was because with God’s help he was able to explain the meaning of two of Pharaoh’s dreams. The first was of seven healthy cows followed by seven sick ones. The second dream was of seven healthy ears of grain and then of seven shriveled ones. Both dreams, Joseph said, meant that there would be seven years of good harvests followed by seven years of famine. At Pharaoh’s direction, Joseph was put in charge of storing up food in the years of plenty to prepare for the famine.

When the famine came, Joseph’s family, who lived many miles away, needed food. Jacob sent Joseph’s ten older brothers to Egypt to get food. They came before Joseph, but they did not recognize him. Without revealing who he was, Joseph tested his brothers, and he learned how sorry they were for having treated him so badly. Then Joseph told them who he was. How they hugged one another and rejoiced!​—Genesis, chapters 40 through 45.

What can you learn about jealousy from this Bible story?— Jealousy can lead to big trouble, even causing a person to want to hurt his own brother! Let us read Acts 5:17, 18 and Acts 7:54-59 and see what jealousy caused people to do to Jesus’ disciples.— After reading this, can you see why we must be careful about becoming jealous?—

Joseph lived to be 110 years old. He raised children, who bore him grandchildren, and then he had great-grandchildren. We can be sure that Joseph often taught them to love one another and to avoid giving in to jealousy.​—Genesis 50:22, 23, 26.

^ par. 3 If you are reading with a child, the dash provides a reminder to pause and encourage the child to express himself.