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Joseph was one of the sons of Jacob (later renamed Israel), who in turn was the grandson of Abraham, the father of the faithful. Israel had fathered twelve sons from whom have sprung the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph was his favourite son for whom Jacob (Israel) had made a coat of many colours. It has been argued that this coat was the robe for the priestly functions performed on behalf of the family. In any case Joseph’s brothers were very jealous of their young brother because of this coat, together with his father’s obvious attentions.
THE EARLY LIFE OF JOSEPH
This is the beginning of the similarities between Joseph and Jesus Christ who had pleased God, his Father in everything. Joseph had not been favoured for petty reasons either. He had qualities that pleased his father above those of his brothers. In fact in the whole story of Joseph there is not one fault recorded against him. Similarly, God said of Jesus after his baptism by the priestly John the Baptist, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17) .
Joseph dreamed that the sheaves of his brothers bowed down to his sheaf, and that the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to him. These dreams were interpreted by the father and his brothers that they would all one day bow down to him. Little did they realise at the time the truth of these interpretations. Likewise the brethren of Jesus rejected his claim that he was the future King of Israel and of the world, as coming from an ambitious crazy impostor.
The jealousy of Jacob’s brothers grew to hatred because of these dreams and when the opportunity arose they assaulted him and imprisoned him, securing him deep in a dry pit intending to kill him. However a camel train of Midianites passed by and they sold him for twenty pieces of silver instead. They stripped him of his coat of many colours and dipped it in the blood of a kid, and sent it to their father who was deeply distressed in receiving the tidings of his faked death. They could not console him and saw that time did not heal the wound caused by that dreadful report.
Five points emerge from this part of the story of Joseph.
· Jesus preached that he would reign over his brethren - Joseph dreamt and said likewise.
· The Jews delivered Jesus up to gentiles in hatred and envy, just like Joseph had been.
· Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver - Joseph for twenty by his brothers.
· Jacob’s grief in the report of Joseph’s death illustrates God’s grief in Christ’s death.
· Joseph, like Jesus had done nothing worthy of death or imprisonment.
JOSEPH IN EGYPT
Joseph was sold to Potipher, an officer of Pharoah, and Captain of the Guard. He served him so well that he was made the overseer of the household. Potipher knew that God had prospered all that Joseph had supervised, both within the house and in the field. However another tragedy came.
The Hebrew terms describing Joseph indicate that he was both handsome, and of good build and presentation. These qualities appealed to the immoral mistress of the household, who repeatedly tried to waylay him in sin. But Joseph resisted, and fled. So, being incensed at
his rejection, the wife of his master turned on Joseph, and complained to her husband who imprisoned Joseph without a trial. Such a treatment was also given Jesus. In the words of Isaiah 53: 8, "He was taken from prison (restraint) and from judgment." There was no justice in the treatment of either one. Jesus received a mockery of a trial that either broke or ignored the restraints of Roman law, whilst Joseph had no trial at all.
After enduring prolonged imprisonment, Joseph was at length restored to favour by interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh, concerning the seven years of famine that was to overtake Egypt, following seven years of plenty. He was made co-regent of all Egypt immediately, with only Pharaoh being greater than he.
So Joseph’s dreams concerning his future status came true. He was made vizier and saviour of all the land of Egypt.
How much like Jesus this is. After Christ’s ill treatment resulting in death and resurrection he ascended to the right hand of his Father in Heaven from whence he will return and establish the Kingdom of God on earth. In the meantime Jesus is the saviour of mainly gentile people until his return to earth in power.
JOSEPH REVEALS HIMSELF TO HIS BROTHERS
The famine affected not only the Land of Egypt, but also Canaan, where Joseph’s father and brothers were sojourning. It was so intense that they sent into Egypt to buy food so they could survive.
There were two journeys to Egypt, when they bowed before Joseph without recognising him. He roughly treated them and sent them away with food and engineered a device whereby they would be compelled to bring his full brother, Benjamin, into Egypt or starve. It so happened that Benjamin came, and Joseph was so overcome that he made himself known to his erring brothers, who trembled with fear before him. But Joseph forgave them for selling him into Egypt, explaining that it was really God’s plan they were fulfilling. They were grieved and repentant, weeping at the unexpected revelation of their brother and saviour.
Being overjoyed to know that his father was still alive he, on reporting the coming of his brothers, Pharaoh ordered him to take provisions and carts to transport his father and brothers and possessions into Egypt. They were given the best of the land for the purposes of raising cattle – the land of Goshen on the Nile delta. There they stayed and enjoyed the nurture of Joseph and Pharaoh.
JESUS WILL REVEAL HIMSELF TO ISRAEL
The story of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers illustrates clearly the surprise of the Jews when Jesus comes again to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. "They will look upon me whom they pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." (Zech 12:10) "And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." (Zechariah 13:6). "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." (Revelation 1:7). These scriptures clearly illustrate that Israel will accept Jesus when He comes again in power and glory, to reign over all nations. Be sure to be also ready when He comes.
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