Faith Quest

Joseph: Forgiveness and Redemption

May 22 – June 12, 2005

Antioch Arcade


Scripture:  Genesis 37, Genesis 45:4-15, Genesis 50:15-21 (emphasis on chapters 45 and 50


Memory Verse:  “Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.”

Romans 12:21 (CEV)

Offering:  PC USA - Sudan



  • God is the one who will punish wrongdoing, not us.
  • We are called to forgive those who hurt us as Joseph forgave his brothers.
  • Forgiveness can lead to reconciliation.



1.      Older children will locate the story of Joseph in their Bibles. Younger children will learn that the story is in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament.

2.      The children will hear the story, with an emphasis on Joseph’s reunion with his brothers.

3.      The children will play a game that reinforces their knowledge of chapters 45 and 50.

4.      The children will consider Joseph’s forgiveness toward his brothers, and their own call to forgive others.



Welcome and Introductions:  (10:00)

1.      Greet the children and introduce yourself.  Wear your name-tag. Make sure the children are wearing name-tags. If not, ask the shepherd to supply a temporary badge. Remember you are interacting with a different group of students each week who may not know you.


2.      Open with a brief prayer (optional, as they have just prayed in Great Hall).


3.      Explain the purpose of this workshop. Today we’ll learn the story of Joseph and play a game to see how well we know the story.


Scripture/Bible Story: (10:05)

1.      Grades 1-2 will not use Bibles, but do open yours to show them where the story is. For grades 3-5, make sure everybody has a Bible. The shepherds will have extra Bibles.  Help the students to find the book of Genesis. (The shepherds can go around the room and help if necessary.) Remind them that “Genesis” means “beginning” and it is the first book in the Bible.


2.      After they’ve found Genesis, help them find chapter 37. Some of the children will confuse chapters and verses. Show them that chapter numbers are the big ones, and also are at top of every page.


3.      Tell the class that the story of Joseph begins with chapter 37 and continues all the way to the end of Genesis. Tell the story, using your Bible (CEV) or the summary below as a guide. Be brief with the early part of the story (this part will get more attention in other workshops). Emphasize the end of the story, starting with Joseph’s revelation of his identity.


This is a long story and it will be a challenge to hold the kids’ attention. Be dramatic! Consider using props or a Bible story book with pictures. Ideas for reviewing the story in later weeks of the rotation:


·         Review the first part of the story by playing “Parrot Talk” (see Downright Upright and 50 Bible Games for Elementary Kids), then tell the end of the story straight.


  • For older kids, copy Genesis 45:4-15 and Genesis 50:15-21. Use the CEV (also available online at and remove verse numbers. Cut it up and see if they can put it back together correctly. Let them work in pairs or teams.


Story Summary

(Based on retellings by Amy Crane, © 2003 and 2004)
Joseph and His Brothers

Jacob lived in the land of Canaan. (Show children Canaan on a map.) He had 12 sons, but he loved his son Joseph the most. Joseph took care of the sheep with his brothers, and he was always telling his father bad things about his brothers. When Joseph was seventeen years old Jacob gave him a special gift — a beautiful robe. It was not the usual sort of thing that shepherds wore. Joseph wore it everywhere.


Joseph’s brothers hated him because their father liked Joseph the best. They couldn’t say a kind word to Joseph.


One day, Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers who were tending the sheep in some faraway fields. When Joseph arrived, his brothers pulled off his fancy coat and threw him into an empty pit. When a caravan of camels and traders came by, they pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him to the traders for twenty pieces of silver. They killed a goat and dipped Joseph's fancy coat in its blood and took it to their father. When Jacob saw the coat, he said, “Joseph has been torn to pieces and eaten by some wild animal." From then on, Jacob mourned for Joseph, and no one could comfort him.

Joseph in Egypt

The traders took Joseph to Egypt (show children Egypt on the map) and sold him to an officer of the Pharaoh (the king). As time passed, some terrible things happened to Joseph and he spent years in prison, but God was always with him. Joseph came to be known for interpreting dreams. When the Pharaoh had a strange dream, Joseph was called to interpret it. Joseph told the Pharaoh that his dream meant there would be seven years of good harvests, then seven years of terrible famine. The Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of a program to collect and store food during the seven good years. Then there would be enough to eat in the seven hard years.

So food was stored up for seven years. When, the seven good years came to an end. Joseph opened the storehouses and people came from Egypt and also from surrounding lands to buy grain, for the famine was severe throughout the world.

Back in Canaan, Jacob sent his sons (Joseph’s brothers) to Egypt to buy grain. When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but they did not recognize him. Joseph waited and put his brothers through some hard tests before he was convinced that they had reformed.

Now, pay close attention because we’re going to play a game where you’ll need to know what happens next in the story.

When Joseph was ready to tell his brothers who he was, he couldn’t control his feelings in front of the Egyptian servants, so he sent them out of the room. Then Joseph told his brothers, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt." But he cried so loudly that the Egyptians heard him anyway and told about it in the king's palace.

The brothers were too terrified to speak. But Joseph told them Don't worry or blame yourselves for what you did. As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. God brought me to the high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people.

“Now hurry back and tell my father, “Come here as quickly as you can. You will live near me in the region of Goshen with your children and grandchildren, as well as with your sheep, goats, cattle, and everything else you own.’

Joseph and his younger brother Benjamin hugged each other and started crying. Joseph was still crying as he kissed each of his other brothers.

Jacob and all of his family came to live in Egypt. The Pharaoh gave them the best territory in the land of Egypt. Before long, they began to prosper there.


After their father Jacob died, Joseph's brothers said to each other, "What if Joseph still hates us and wants to get even with us for all the cruel things we did to him?"

So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before our father died, he told us, ‘You did some cruel and terrible things to Joseph, but you must ask him to forgive you.’ Now we ask you to please forgive the terrible things we did. After all, we serve the same God that your father worshiped.”

When Joseph heard this message, he started crying.

Right then, Joseph's brothers came and bowed down to the ground in front of him and said, "We are your slaves."

But Joseph told them, "Don't be afraid! I have no right to change what God has decided. You tried to harm me, but God made it turn out for the best, to save all these people. Don't be afraid! I will take care of you and your children." After Joseph said this, his brothers felt much better.


Application: (10:15)

(See teacher preparation section for details of how to operate the buzzer box. See end of lesson plan for questions.)


1.      Line the children up into four lines at a table holding the buzzer box (one of the round tables from the main room is good for this). Give the player at the head of each line a buzzer. There are two buzzers for each color, (red, orange, green, purple) and all 8 must be plugged in, but make sure only one buzzer of each color is used.


2.      Explain that you will call out a question and players who think they know the answer should press their buzzer. The first to buzz gets to give the answer. (If you don’t know who buzzed first, look for the color with both lights on.) After each question, the player at the head of ach line moves to the end, and the next people in line take a turn. Make sure everybody gets to play.


Grades 1-2: Don’t keep score. Just keep the game moving. First-graders sometimes take a while to master the mechanics of operating the buzzers – they especially get confused about turning off the sound. You can turn the sound off entirely if you prefer.


Grades 3-5: I prefer not to keep score, but if you want to you can do so with the older kids. Each line is a team. Ask the shepherd keep score on the white board. Award 5 points for a correct answer. No points for a wrong answer; let anyone who knows the correct answer tell it. (You can use a different scoring system if you prefer, but keep it simple.)


Tips: Try not to let one knowledgeable or fast-fingered child dominate the game. If one child is answering every time he/she plays, mix the lines up so that child doesn’t play against the same group every time. OR, announce that anybody who answers three questions correctly will be retired as permanent champion (with a big round of applause) to give everybody else a chance to compete. Also, don’t let non-playing team members help the players; this in effect lets the fast kid answer by proxy.


Be sure they know the answer before buzzing. If they are buzzing and then taking too long to think of the answer, use the timer in the supply bin and give 5 seconds to answer after buzzing (this has not been a problem in the past).


Reflection Time: (10:30)

1.      Gather the children on the floor in a circle. Recite the Bible memory verse learned in

the Great Hall. “Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.”  Romans 12:21


2.      Discuss:

When Joseph told his brothers who he was, how did the brothers respond? They didn’t say anything — they were too scared.


I wonder why they were scared? They had done a terrible thing to Joseph and he was in a position to punish them.


While Joseph was telling his brothers who he was, what was he also doing? Crying. When Joseph hugged his brother Benjamin and kissed his other brothers, what was he also doing? Crying. When Joseph’s brothers asked him to forgive them, what did Joseph do? Cried.


I wonder why Joseph kept crying. Accept all answers but emphasize that he must have loved his brothers in spite of the past.


I wonder how Joseph was able to love and forgive his brothers. Accept all answers but emphasize that Joseph trusted God and saw everything that happened as part of God’s plan. God is the one who will punish wrongdoing, not us.


I wonder what Joseph’s forgiveness means for us. We are called to forgive those who hurt us the same way Joseph forgave his brothers. When someone does something bad to us, this story reminds us to leave punishment to God and that God wants us to be forgiving like Joseph.


I wonder if the brothers also needed to forgive Joseph for anything. Accept all comments but note that Joseph had done things to make his brothers mad in the first place. Maybe it was easier for Joseph to forgive his brothers if he recognized that he had given them reasons to resent him. Sometimes it’s easier for us to forgive if we realize that we share some of the blame for what happened.


What happened after Joseph forgave his brothers? The whole family moved to Egypt and lived there and prospered. Forgiveness led to reconciliation between Joseph and his family, and forgiveness can also lead to reconciliation for us and other people.


Let’s say the memory verse again: “Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.” 


Journals (10:35)

Pass out the journal pages and ask the shepherds to pass out pencils/markers. Optional: Give the children a sticker or some other memento to paste in their journal as a reminder of the workshop. Read the prompt out loud and offer suggestions if needed. If they don’t know how to spell a word, write it on the white board. Those who finish early can turn the page over and do the activity on the back.


At 10:45 ask the students to close their journals and sit quietly.


Closing: (10:45)

Encourage the children to bring an offering next week. Remind them that the offering from this rotation will go to the Presbyterian Church’s efforts to help people in Sudan who have had to leave their homes and everything they own because of the conflict there.


Prayer:  Close with a brief prayer. Suggestion: God, help us to love and forgive the way Joseph did. Amen    


Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to help collect pencils, Bibles, etc. When the room is tidy, dismiss the class.


Teacher preparation in advance:

1.      Read the scripture passages and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study.

2.      Prepare opening and closing prayers.

3.      Write the scripture verse on the white board or display it in the room some other way.


Supply List

Extra Bibles


Journal pages

Dry-erase marker

Buzzer system

Map showing Canaan and Egypt



Amy Crane, River Community Church, Joseph lesson sets. Joseph and His Brothers,
© 2003. <
1506088121&m=893605406>. Joseph in Egypt, © 2004. <http://rotation.infopop.
cc/eve/ubb.x?a=tpc&s= 1206067121&f=1506088121&m=539609756>.


Parrot Talk, Downright Upright and 50 Bible Games for Elementary Kids. Abingdon, 2000.


 Questions for buzzer game

1.      When Joseph was ready to tell his brothers who he was, why did he send the servants out of the room? He didn’t want them to see him cry.

2.      Did this work? No, he cried so loudly that the servants heard him anyway.

3.      When the brothers found out who Joseph was, what did they say? Nothing — they were too terrified to speak.

4.      True or false: Joseph told his brothers: You’ll pay for what you did to me! False — he said, Don't worry or blame yourselves for what you did. God turned into good what you meant for evil.”

5.      What did Joseph tell his brothers to say to their father? “Come here and bring the whole family to live.”

6.      What did Joseph and his younger brother Benjamin do? Hugged each other and cried.

7.      What did Joseph do to his other brothers? Kissed them and cried.

  1. True or false: Jacob decided to stay in Canaan. False — he and his family came to live in Egypt.
  2. True or false: The Pharaoh gave Jacob’s family the best territory in the land of Egypt, and they prospered there. True.
  3. After Jacob died, why were Joseph's brothers worried? They thought Joseph might still hate them and be ready to punish them now that their father was dead.

11.  True or false: Joseph’s brothers sent him a message. True.

12.  What was the message? “Before our father died, he told us was must ask you to forgive us. Now we ask you to please forgive the terrible things we did. After all, we serve the same God that your father worshiped.”

13.  When Joseph heard the message, what did he do?  Started crying.

14.  After sending their message, Joseph's brothers came to see him. What did they do? Bowed down to the ground and said, "We are your slaves."

15.  True or false: Joseph told his brothers, "Don't be afraid!” True

16.  True or false: Joseph told his brothers, “You hurt me, now I have the right to punish you.” False — he said, “I have no right to change what God has decided.”

17.  True or false: Joseph told his brothers, “I will take care of you and your children." True.