Resources for Christian Education logo
Free Workshop Rotation Model Lessons - Season 2

 A lesson for

Middle School Sunday School   |    Youth Group    |     High School Sunday School

Curriculum > Youth > Year 1 > Lesson 3


  • Give background on Jacob/Israel leading up to this story
  • Note the similarities between this lesson's story and the story of Jacob stealing the blessing from Esau and Isaac.
  • Do activity that highlights how information gets passed to us from those who go before us, both intentionally and unintentionally.


  • Note that there are 18 files in the zipped folder you just downloaded. To unzip it, create a new folder and name it something like “Lesson 3 files.” Next, open the zipped folder, hit the "ctrl" and "a" keys at same time to select all the files, then hit the "ctrl" and "c" keys at same time to copy all the files. Finally, open the new folder and type "ctrl" and "v" to paste the copied files into the new folder.
  • In the “Lesson 3 files” with the unzipped files, simply double-click the "Double Click HERE to begin.html" file. The "program" will open in your browser. Since the files are on your computer, you will NOT have to be online to run this program.
  • A laptop/computer to run the Choose Your Own Adventure web pages
  • A TV/monitor that displays the Choose Your Own Adventure web pages to the class



  • We start today’s class with the opening question. One of the teachers will ask the question and then to give you some time to think of an answer, the teacher asking the question will also answer first to give you some time to think.
  • Once the teacher answers the question, we'll go around the circle.
  • When it's your turn, start with your name and then answer the question to the best of your ability.
  • Here's this week's question: What's one thing that you and a family member tend to argue about?


  • In the last 2 lessons, we've learned quite a bit about Jacob.
  • First, with the help of his mom, he deceived his old, blind father into thinking that Jacob was his brother Easu, which then meant Jacob received Esau's blessing.
  • This created much tension and separation in the family. Esau promised to kill Jacob and Jacob ran away for 20 years.
  • When Jacob finally returned, due to God's direction, Jacob was very afraid of seeing Esau again.
  • In his angst, he wrestled with God
  • In this wrestling, Jacob's hip was permanently injured, his name was changed to Israel, and he received a blessing.
  • The next day, Jacob bravely went in front of his family and possessions to meet his brother.
  • It was a joyful reunion, and Jacob gave gifts instead of trying to grab at things.
  • Jacob acted like a different person - like Israel, one who seeks God's way.  
  • In today's story, we mostly hear about Jacob's children.
  • And sadly, most of them act like sons of Jacob, not like sons of Israel.
  • Which means, they don't all get along with each other and they grab at things
  • To help us get started, we're going to watch a clip from the movie, "The Incredibles."
  • The Incredibles are a family of super heroes with super-abilities. But guess what? They fight with each other, too.
  • Let's see what they fight about



  • What were all the points of contention? (mom making faces at baby, brother eating his meat without cutting it, dad not paying attention to what's going on at the table, dad breaking a plate, brother teasing sister, and then brother and sister fight)
  • How did the mom and then the dad attempt to stop the fight? (physically -- with their own super powers)
  • What actually stopped the fight? (a doorbell / visitor -- which was really their fear of their super powers being discovered)
  • Do you think the conflict was solved or do you think the conflict was delayed for another day? (delayed - there was no resolution)
  • So in today's scripture story, we see Jacob's family having some of the same sorts of things happen as the Incredibles did – only much worse.
  • Let's see what happens


Recommend class reads it out loud; one person per verse

Genesis 37:1 1 Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. 2 This is the story of the family of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him. 5 Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, "Listen to this dream that I dreamed. 7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf." 8 His brothers said to him, "Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?" So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words. 9 He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, "Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me." 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, "What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?"

So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. 18 They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19 They said to one another, "Here comes this dreamer. 20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams." 21 But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, "Let us not take his life." 22 Reuben said to them, "Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him"-that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; 24 and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

25 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26 Then Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers agreed. 28 When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt. 29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. 30 He returned to his brothers, and said, "The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?" 31 Then they took Joseph's robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, "This we have found; see now whether it is your son's robe or not." 33 He recognized it, and said, "It is my son's robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces." 34 Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, "No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning." Thus his father bewailed him.

ASK – answers are in parenthesis

  • Is there anything you find interesting or weird about this story? [to teachers: You don't necessarily need to answer what they notice or have questions about - sometimes just agree with a, "yep, that's interesting" or a, "Yeah, I find that to be weird, too" works]
  • End of verse 2, what does Joseph do? (he tells on his brothers to his dad, "brought a bad report")
  • Verse 3 - what son does Israel (remember that Israel is Jacob) love the most? (Joseph)
  • Verse 3 - and what did Joseph receive from Israel? (a nice/special coat)
  • Verse 4 - how do the other brothers respond to Joseph? (not very well. They can't even speak to him in a civilized manner)
  • Verse 5 - 7 and verse 9: Joseph has two dreams - what do the dreams seem to be saying? (that Joseph will someday be in charge of his family)
  • Just like in the video clip, we see all these minor conflicts that keep stacking on top of each other. In verse 20 - what do the brothers finally decide to do? (kill Joseph)
  • Seems extreme. What do you think about this decision?
  • Verse 27 - Judah and Reuben both try to keep Joseph alive. What do the brothers finally do instead of killing Joseph? (sell him into slavery)
  • Two lessons ago, we read the story of Jacob and his mom killing a goat and using that goat to trick Jacob's dad into believing Jacob was Esau. In verse 31 - what do the brothers slaughter? (a goat)
  • Verse 31 and 32 - how do the brothers deceive their father, Jacob/Israel? (they put the goat's blood on Joseph's robe and then showed the robe to Jacob. Jacob thinks the blood on the robe is Joseph's blood and thinks Joseph has been killed by wild animals)
  • Verse 34 - what is Jacob's response to this "news?" (he's very upset)
  • Do any of the characters talk to or listen to God in this story? (nope, not a one; it's another godless story)


  • The promise that God made to Abraham was that Abraham's family would be a light unto the nations.
  • What we see in Abraham's family, though, is that they have to learn how to be God's light.
  • For the most part, they appear to be really slow learners
  • In fact, mostly what we see them learning are how to repeat the same mistakes of the previous generation.
  • Unfortunately, we see that happening with Jacob and his family in this story. For instance:
  • Remember how Isaac (Jacob's dad) favored one son, Esau, more than another? Well, now Jacob favors one son more than his other sons.
  • Remember that neither Jacob or his mom, Rebekah, asked God to help them figure out what to do next in their family situation. We see the brothers do the same thing. They have a problem and then solve it without any conversation with God.
  • Remember that Jacob deceived his father (with the help of a dead goat). Jacob's sons then deceive Jacob (with the help of a dead goat)
  • In both stories (Jacob as a son; Jacob as a father) the deception leads to the family being physically split apart
  • A useful thing about seeing these mistakes being repeated throughout generations is that it challenges us to learn from the mistakes of others so that we do NOT repeat the same mistakes.
  • Is it possible to learn from the mistakes of others?
  • I think so and I think that is a gift of these Bible stories - they help us see the mistakes and the results of those mistakes when others do not pay attention to God or invite God into their lives and decisions.
  • The third thing we're going to note about this story is that, as we learn about the beginnings of the family/nation of Israel, we start to see how the grabbing/grasping is learned first (it almost seems innate) and then how the wrestling/holding on to God is then learned later on.


  • As a way for us to see and think about how we can learn from other people's mistakes, let's do a "Choose your own adventure" activity.
  • In this activity, you are part of an archaeological team that will explore an underground structure together, but the hallways are very narrow. This means, that as a team, you can only progress through the structure in a single file line.
  • Whoever is at the front of the line is the team leader and will make the decisions that confront him/her for the entire team.  If that person makes a wrong decision and meets an untimely end, then the next person in line will become the team leader.
  • Let's see if the team can make it inside the structure and discover what it contains.
  • [Note to teacher: If all students "die" during class, feel free to "resurrect" them and have them keep going]



  • Did you learn anything as you journeyed through this "Choose Your Own Adventure" activity? If so, what were they? (A number of answers could be given, the two you are listening/looking for, though, are: 1. What the secret to the riddle was and 2. To not pick the same option as the leader who just died. )
  • I like this activity we just did because it really highlights some important aspects about how a faith journey can work when we are with others in it.
  • One important way that this activity is like a faith journey is that you are much more likely to be successful if you don't do it on your own. How lucky would you have to be to make it all the way to the end of the activity by yourself with only one life? Pretty super-duper lucky!
  • But, because you worked as a team, information was passed from those who went first to those who followed.
  • Those who followed were able to learn from the mistakes and sacrifices from those who went first.
  • This happened two ways:  
  • Unsaid things that were learned sort of automatically (don't click the same link the now dead person just clicked!)
  • Intentionally trying to figure out the riddle.  
  • Eventually, some of the members of the team made it to the destination and learned the secret to the riddle.
  • The same thing happens with us and God.
  • Learning about God takes time and effort, just like with anything else.
  • On our own, we're not going to discover very much. We might not even know where to start.
  • But, if we understand our faith journey to be a community event, then we can recognize that there are people who went before us/went ahead of us. Some of those people are represented in the stories in the Bible.
  • By reading and talking about these stories, we can learn things about life with God and life without God.
  • So, for instance, what we've learned about life with and without God from these three Jacob stories is mostly what not to do.
  • In terms of the activity: Jacob teaches us what links are best for us to NOT click.
  • We see in two out of the three stories that grabbing what we want and living without paying attention to God leads to family dysfunction, separation, hurt, betrayal and fear.
  • But last class, we DID see how paying attention to God led to eventual bravery (on Jacob's part) and a happy reunion between him and his brother, Esau
  • In our next lesson, we'll start a new session on Joseph and we'll see if Joseph and his brothers will learn anything about God from past mistakes or if they'll just keep randomly clicking links.


This material is the copyrighted property of and Nathanael Vissia. It is also free. Please use, improve and share this material. But you may not sell it or require any personal information for it.

Genesis 37:1-35

Jacob's Sons Deceive Him


View Video

Print PDF