New Defender's Study Bible Notes
37:1 Jacob dwelt in the land. This is the termination of the long record of Jacob, which began at Genesis 25:19, and ends with Genesis 37:2: “These are the generations of Jacob.” He had evidently continued the account up to the burial of his father Isaac (Genesis 35:28-29). His brother Esau joined with him in the burial service, and evidently gave Jacob his own records at this time. Jacob incorporated these “generations of Esau” (Genesis 36) in his own record before he closed it.
37:2 generations of Jacob. This is the last time the formula, “these are the generations of...,” is used in Genesis. This verse probably represents the signature of Jacob at the conclusion of the section originally written by Jacob (beginning at Genesis 25:19b). The information in the rest of Genesis must have come originally from Joseph and the other sons of Jacob. Possibly Moses recognized this by affixing a similar formula at its conclusion, in Exodus 1:1.
37:2 feeding the flock. Literally, “was shepherd over the flock.” Though he was slightly younger than the four brothers with him, he was very capable and had been placed in charge by his father. In this capacity, he was expected by his father to make full reports, and these necessarily included a record of the poor work of his brothers. Evidently the six sons of Leah had been assigned other duties in another place. Benjamin, his younger brother, was still a child, at home with his father.
37:10 he told it. Whether Joseph’s two dreams were from God or a product of his own pride is a question. They were only fulfilled in part–his father and deceased mother never bowed down to him. In any event, it was unwise and rather arrogant of him to tell them to his family. It was specifically because of these dreams that his brothers decided to slay him (Genesis 37:19-20). Nevertheless, God worked all this together for good (Romans 8:28). Joseph’s pride, as well as the anger and carnality of his brothers, all needed to be changed before God would deem them ready to found his chosen nation.
37:28 Midianites. These traders are called both Midianites (here and in Genesis 37:36) and Ishmaelites (here and in Genesis 37:25). These two tribes were both descended from Abraham (he was father of both Ishmael through Hagar and Midian through Keturah), both lived in the same region, and undoubtedly both were associated closely in many ways. The result was the interchangeable use of their names.
37:28 twenty pieces of silver. Twenty pieces of silver was the going price of a slave. In the time of Zechariah (and of Christ) it was thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-15).
37:35 the grave. The word translated “grave” is actually the Hebrew sheol, the great pit in the center of the earth where the spirits of the dead are confined after death, awaiting future resurrection and judgment. This is its first occurrence, and it is significant that righteous Jacob would go there, along with other spirits of the righteous dead, until Christ would take them with Him to paradise after His resurrection. See notes on Luke 16:22-23. The spirits of the lost will remain there until the time of final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).
37:36 Potiphar. Archaeological research shows that Potiphar, like Pharaoh, was a title in Egypt rather than a personal name.