ARTHUR W. PINK
[*From the author’s book: ‘Gleanings in Genesis’, pp. 341-408.]
JOSEPH AS A YOUTH
In the first of our articles upon Jacob we called attention to the fact that each of the great Israelitish patriarchs illustrated some basic spiritual truth and that the chronological order of their lives agrees with the doctrinal order of truth. In Abraham we have illustrated the doctrine of election, for he was singled out by God from all the heathen and chosen to be the head of the Jewish nation. In Isaac we have foreshadowed the doctrine of Divine sonship: Abram’s firstborn, Ishmael, represents the man born after the flesh, the old nature; but Isaac, born by the miraculous power of God, tells of the new man, the spiritual nature. In Jacob we see exemplified the conflict between the two natures in the believer, and also God’s gracious discipline which issued, slowly but surely, in the triumph of the spirit over the flesh. Joseph, typically, speaks to us of heirship preceded by “suffering,” and points forward to the time when the sons and heirs shall reign together with Christ. There is thus a beautiful moral order in the several leading truths illustrated and personified by these men. And it should be observed that here, as in everything which pertains to God’s Word, its orderliness evidences its Divine Authorship; everything is in its proper place.
Joseph, then, speaks of heirship and, as another has beautifully expressed it, “And consistently with this, in Joseph, we get suffering before glories. * * * For while discipline attaches to us as children, sufferings go before us as heirs; and this gives us the distinction between Jacob and Joseph. It is discipline we see in Jacob, discipline leading him as a child, under the hand of the Father of his spirit, to a participation of God’s holiness. It is sufferings, martyr-sufferings, sufferings for righteousness, we see in Joseph, marking his path to glories. And this is the crowning thing! and thus it comes as the closing thing, in this wondrous book of Genesis - after this manner perfect in its structure, as it is truthful in its records. One moral after another is studied, one secret after another is revealed, in the artless family scenes which constitute its materials, and in them we learn our calling, the sources and the issues of our history, from our election to our inheritance” (Mr. J. G. Bellett).
Joseph is the last of the saints which occupies a prominent
position in Genesis. In all there are
seven - Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. More space is devoted to the last of these
seven than to any of the others. There
are several reasons for this which appear on the
surface. In the first place, the history
of Joseph is the chief link which connects Exodus with Genesis; the earlier
chapters of Exodus being unintelligible without the last ten chapters of
Genesis. It is Joseph’s life which
explains the remarkable development of the Hebrews from a mere handful of
wandering shepherds to a numerous and settled colony in
“Joseph was the elder son of Rachel (30: 24). Of his early life nothing is recorded. He could not have been more than five or six
years old when his father left
“These are the generations of
Jacob. Joseph being seventeen years old,
was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of
Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought
unto his father their evil report. Now
There are perhaps few portions of Holy Writ with which we are more familiar than the one now before us. From earliest childhood many of us have listened to this beautiful but pathetic narrative. The aged patriarch, his favourite son, the coat of many colours, Joseph’s dreams, the envious brothers, their wicked conduct - all so true to life - have been indelibly impressed upon our memories since we first learned them on our mother’s knee, or from the lips of our Sunday School teacher. Many are the lessons which may be drawn, and pointed are the warnings which are found here. But we shall pass from these to something deeper and even more precious.
As we read thoughtfully the books of the Old Testament our study of them is but superficial if they fail to show us that in divers ways and by various means God was preparing the way for the coming of His Son. The central purpose in the Divine Incarnation, the great outstanding object in the life and death of the Lord Jesus, were prefigured beforehand, and ought to have been rendered familiar to the minds of men. Among the means thus used of God was the history of different persons through whom the life and character of Christ were to a remarkable degree made manifest beforehand. Thus Adam represented His Headship, Abel His Death, Noah His Work in providing a refuge for His people. Melchizedek pointed to Him as priest, Moses as prophet, David as King. But the fullest and most striking of all these typical personage was Joseph, for between his history and that of Christ we may trace fully a hundred points of analogy! Others before us have written upon this captivating theme, and from their writings we shall draw freely in the course of these papers on the typical significance of Joseph’s history.*
* We take this occasion to acknowledge our indebtedness to Dr. Haldeman and Mr. C. Knapp.
In the verses quoted above from Genesis 37 there are seven points in which Joseph prefigured Christ, each of which is worthy of our attention, namely, the meaning of his name, the nature of his occupation, his opposition to evil, his father’s love, his relation to his father’s age, his coat of many colours, and the hatred of his brethren. Let us consider each of these in turn:
1. The Meaning of his Name.
It is most significant that our patriarch had two names - Joseph, and Zaphnath-paaneah (41: 45) which the rabbins translate “Revealer of secrets.” This latter name was given to him by Pharaoh in acknowledgment of the Divine wisdom which was in him. Thus, Joseph may be said to be his human name and Zaphnath‑paaneah his Divine name. So, also, the one whom Joseph foreshadowed has a double name – “Jesus” being His human name, “Christ” signifying “the Anointed” of God, or, again, we have his double name in “Son of Man” which speaks of His humanity, and “Son of God” which tells of His Deity. Let us note how the meaning of Joseph’s names were typical in their significance.
“Joseph” means adding (see 30: 24). The first Adam was the great subtractor, the last Adam is the great Adder: through the one, men became lost; by the other, all who believe are saved. Christ is the One who “adds” to Heaven’s inhabitants. It was to this end that He came to this earth, tabernacled among men for more than thirty years, and then died on the Cross: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (Jno. 12: 24). The ultimate result of His Death will be “much fruit,” and at His return this will be gathered into the Heavenly garner (Jno. 14: 3).
But Joseph’s second name means “Revealer
of secrets.” This was a most
appropriate name. Revealer of secrets
Joseph ever was, not merely as an interpreter of dreams, but in every scene of
his life, in every relation he sustained - when with his brethren in Potiphar’s
household, in prison, or before Pharaoh - his words and his works ever tested
those with whom he had to do, making manifest their secret condition. How
strikingly this foreshadowed Christ, of whom it was said in the days of His
infancy, “Behold this Child is set for the fall and rising again of
In the incident now before us Joseph is seen as the Revealer of secrets in a double way. First, he revealed his father’s heart, for he is here seen as the special object on which Jacob’s affections were centered. Second, he revealed the hearts of his brethren by making manifest their wicked “hatred.” In like manner, our blessed Saviour revealed the Father's heart, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” (Jno. 1: 18). And in like manner, the Lord Jesus also revealed what was in the hearts of men. One of the most striking and prominent features presented in the four Gospels is the fact that everywhere He went the Lord Jesus exposed all. He made manifest the secret condition of all with whom He came into contact. He was truly “the Light of the world,” shining in “a dark place” - detecting, displaying, uncovering, bringing to light the hidden things of darkness. Well, then, was Joseph named the one who added, and the one that revealed.
2. By Occupation Joseph was a Shepherd, “feeding the flock.”
This is one of the prominent lines which is found running through
several of the Old Testament typical personages. Abel, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, were each
of them “shepherds,” and a close study of what is recorded of each one in this
particular relation will reveal that each pointed forward to some separate and
distinctive aspect of our Lord’s Shepherd-hood.
No figure of Christ is more beautiful than this: our favourite Psalm
(the twenty-third) presents Him in this character. One of our earliest conceptions of the
Saviour, as children, was as the Good Shepherd.
The figure suggests His watchful care, His unwearied devotion, His
tender solicitude, His blessed patience, His protecting grace, His matchless
love in giving, His life for the sheep.
Above, Joseph is seen “feeding the flock,” pointing to the earthly ministry of
Christ who, sent unto “the lost sheep of the
3. His Opposition to Evil.
“And Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.” It is truly pathetic to find how this action of Joseph has been made an occasion for debate, some arguing that in doing what he did Joseph acted wrongly; others defending him. But it is not as a tale bearer that Joseph is here viewed, rather is he seen as the truth-speaker. Not by - cowardly silence would he be the accomplice of their evil-doing. And here too we may discern a clear foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will quote but one verse, but it is sufficient to establish the type: “The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil” (Jno. 7: 7).
4. His Father’s Love.
- his taking of that long journey into Egypt that he might again look upon his favourite son ere death overtook him - all tell out the deep love of Jacob for Joseph. And how all this speaks to us of the Father's love for His only begotten Son! Through Solomon the Spirit of prophecy, speaking of the relation which existed between the Father and the Son in a past eternity, said, “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way before His works of old;” and again, “Then I was by Him, as One brought up with Him, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him” (Prov. 8: 22, 30). How sweetly was this illustrated by Jacob’s love for Joseph! Again, when the Son of God became incarnate, and was about to begin His public ministry, the heavens were opened and the Voice of the Father was heard saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mat. 3: 17). So, also, when His public ministry neared its close, once more the Father’s Voice was heard, upon the Mount of Transfiguration, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him” (Mat. 17: 5). The Son, too, affirmed the Father’s love for Himself – “Therefore doth My Father love me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again” (Jno. 10: 17). And when the Son had finished the Work given Him to do, when He had laid down His life and had risen again from the dead, the Father displayed His love by removing Him from the scenes of His sufferings and shame, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name” (Phil. 2: 9). And not only did God highly exalt His blessed Son, but He also seated Him upon His own throne (Rev. 3: 21)*, that during these centuries when the Church is being built Christ might be near to the Father!
[* A-Millennialists take note. The throne which Christ will share with overcomers during the coming “age” (Rev. 3: 21; Luke 20: 35), is not His Father’s throne in heaven where He is presently seated! The promise of Rev. 3: 21 is to overcomers, whom He will give the right to sit with Him on His throne during the millennium - as He “overcame and sat down” with His Father on His throne in heaven after resurrection; and this event still awaits the time of the resurrection of saints and the return of “the Son of Man” to this earth – (when the time comes for His Father to “make the nations” His inheritance, the “ends of the earth” His possession) - and He will “rule them (the nations) with an iron sceptre,” and “dash them to pieces like pottery:” (Psalm 2: 8, 9).]
5. His Relation to his father’s Age. “He was the son of his old age.”
No line in this picture is without its own meaning - how could it be, when none other than the Spirit of God drew it! Every word here is profoundly significant. We quote from the words of another: “Old age, translated into spiritual language and applied to God, signifies ‘eternity.’ Jesus Christ was the Son of God’s eternity. From all eternity He was God’s Son. He was not derived, He was eternally begotten; He is God of God, very God of very God, equal with, and of the same substance as, the Father.” As the opening verse of John’s Gospel declares, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” And again, in His high-priestly prayer the Lord Jesus said, “And now, 0 Father, glorify thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (Jno. 17: 5). The Lord Jesus Christ is no creature, He is Creator (Jno. 1: 3); He is no mere emanation of Deity, He is the One in whom dwelleth “all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2: 9). He is far more than a manifestation of God, He is Himself “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3: 16). He is not a person who had His beginning in time, but is Eternal in His being; as the true rendering of Micah 5: 2 declares, the One who was born in Bethlehem of Judea was none other than He “whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of Eternity.” Christ then was, in the language of our type “the Son of (His Father’s) old age” - the eternal Son of God.
6. His Coat of Many Colours.
Thus far the interpreting of the type has been simple, but here, we encounter that which is not quite so easy. How gracious of God for providing us with help on this point! We are not left to our own imaginations to guess at the meaning of the many coloured coat. No; guesswork is not only vain, but altogether needless in regard to God’s blessed Word. Scripture is its own interpreter. In Judges 5: 30, we read, “Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?” Here we learn that such garments were to be worn as a mark of distinction. Again in 2 Samuel 13: 18 we read, “And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the King’s daughters that were virgins apparelled.” Here again we get the same thought: This was the attire of unmarried princesses; it was a mark of honour, singling out the wearer as one of noble birth. This, no doubt, was Jacob’s object to distinguish Joseph (born of Rachel) from his half brothers (born of the slave-wives).
How appropriate was this as an adumbration of Christ! He, too, was marked off from all His brethren
according to the flesh, marked off as one of noble birth, marked off by outward
signs of peculiar distinction and honour.
It is blessed to behold what care and pains God took to manifest this
coat of many colours, in connection with His blessed Son. The “virgin’s” Babe was distinguished from all
others born by the Angelic Song o'er
7. The Hatred of his Brethren.
“They hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.” It was Jacob’s love which brought out the heart’s enmity of these men. Joseph then, made manifest both his father’s love and his brethren’s hatred. So when Christ came to the earth He did these two things. He revealed the Father’s heart and He exposed, man’s enmity. And one of two things always followed: either men hated Him for exposing them, or they accepted such exposure and took refuge in the Grace which He revealed. When Christ exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees they hated Him; but when He exposed to the woman at the well her sinful life and condition, she welcomed it, and availed herself of God’s grace. So it is now: those who hear the truth of God faithfully preached, the lost and guilty condition of the natural man fearlessly proclaimed, either they hate it, and seek to hide behind the filthy rags of their own self-righteousness, or they come out into the light, bow to God’s verdict, and casting themselves in the dust before Him as Hell-deserving sinners, believe in the Saviour which the Gospel makes known. In which class are you found, dear reader? Are you, like the brethren of Joseph who hated the son of the father’s love, “despising and rejecting” Christ? Friend, make no mistake here. You either love or you hate the Lord Jesus Christ! and it is written, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be accursed” (1 Cor. 16: 22). 0 heed now this solemn admonition of God, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him” (Ps. 2: 12).
Before we turn to consider the special subject of this article we must first notice three or four points in the first eleven verses of Genesis 37 which, through lack of space, we omitted from our last.
“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood around about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying” (verses 5-11).
Continuing our numeration we may note:
8. Joseph is hated because of his Words.
There are two lines which are, perhaps, made more prominent than others in this first typical picture: the love of Jacob for his son, and the hatred of the brethren. Three times over within the compass of these few verses reference is made to the “hatred” of Joseph’s brethren. In verse 4 we read, “they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.” Again, in verse 5 we are told, “and they hated him yet the more.” And again in verse 8: “And they hated him yet the more for his dreams and for his words.” It will be seen from these references there was a twofold occasion for their wicked enmity. First, they hated Joseph’s person, because of Jacob’s special love for him; second, they hated him because of “his words.” They hated him because of what he was, and also because of what he said. Thus it was, too, with the One whom Joseph typified.
As we turn to the four Gospels it will be found that those who were our Lord’s brethren according to the flesh hated Him in this same twofold way. They hated Him because He was the beloved Son of the Father, and they also hated Him because of His teaching. As illustrations of the former we may note the following passages: “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God” (Jno. 5: 18). “The Jews then murmured at Him, because He said, I am the Bread which came down from heaven” (Jno. 6: 41). “I and My Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him” (Jno. 10: 30, 31). Such was their wicked hostility against His person. And it was just the same, too, in regard to His teaching: “And all they in the synagogue when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong” (Lu. 4: 28, 29). “The world cannot hate you., but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil” (Jno. 7: 7). “But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God” (Jno. 8: 40).
9. Joseph was to enjoy a remarkable future.
These dreams of Joseph intimated that this favoured son of Jacob was the subject of high destinies: they were Divine announcements of his future exaltation. There can be little doubt that Jacob and his sons perceived that these dreams were prophetic, otherwise the brethren would have regarded them as “idle tales,” instead of being angered by them. Note, too, that “his father observed the saying” (verse 11).
So, too, of the Antitype.
A remarkable future was promised to the One who first appeared in lowliness
and shame. Concerning the Child that was
to be born unto
10. Joseph foretold his future Sovereignty.
It is worthy of notice that the two recorded dreams of Joseph contemplated a double sovereignty: the first dream concerned “the field,” which pointed to the earthly dominion of our Lord; but the second dream was occupied with the sun, the moon and the stars, and tells, in type, of the Heavenly dominion of Christ, for all power (or authority) has been given to Him in heaven and on earth.
Joseph’s announcement of his future exaltation only served to fan the fires of enmity, and gave intensity to his brethren’s hatred. And so it was with the Saviour. The more our Lord unfolded the glory of His person, the more He spoke of His future exaltation, the more did the Jews - His brethren according to the flesh - hate Him. The climax of this is to be seen in Matthew 26: 64: “Nevertheless, I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Here was the announcement of His future sovereignty, and mark the immediate effects of His words on those that heard Him: “Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy.”
11. Joseph was envied by his brethren.
“When his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him” (verse 4). In these words are found the key to what followed. That which was the prime cause of the brethren’s hatred was envy: as verse 11 tells us, “And his brethren envied him.” They were jealous of the partiality shown by Jacob to their half-brother. This is a sin which has characterized human nature all down the ages: the difference between envy and covetousness is this - we envy persons, we covet things.
Here, too the type holds good. Christ was “envied” by those who were His brethren, according to the flesh. This comes out in His parable of the Wicked Husbandman, “Having yet therefore one son, His well-beloved, He sent Him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence My Son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the Heir; come, let us kill Him, and the inheritance shall be ours” (Mk. 12: 6, 7). Again, “For this cause the people also met Him, for that they heard that He had done this miracle. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after Him” (Jno. 12: 18, 19). How that utterance manifested the jealousy of their hearts! But even plainer is the testimony of Matthew 27: 17, 18, for there the very word “envy” is found, “Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered Him.” In our next we shall consider, Joseph betrayed by his brethren.
* * *
JOSEPH BETRAYED BY
“And his brethren went to feed their
father’s flock in Shechem. And
12. Joseph sent forth by his father.
The verses just quoted above introduce to us the second of these marvellous typical scenes in which Joseph shadows forth the Lord Jesus. Here the brethren of Joseph are seen away from their father. Jacob says to his beloved son, “Come, and I will send thee unto them.” How this reveals the heart of Jacob to us. He was not indifferent to their welfare. Absent from the father’s house as they were, Jacob is concerned for the welfare of these brethren of Joseph. He, therefore, proposes to send his well beloved son on an errand of mercy, seeking their good. And is it not beautiful to mark the promptness of Joseph’s response! There was no hesitancy, no unwillingness, no proffering of excuses, but a blessed readiness to do his father’s will, “Here am I.”
One cannot read of what passed here between Jacob and Joseph without seeing that behind the historical narrative we are carried back to a point before time began, into the eternal counsels of the Godhead, and that we are permitted to learn something of what passed between the Father and the Son in the remote past. As the Lord God with Divine omniscience foresaw the fall of man, and the alienation of the race from Himself, out of the marvellous grace of His heart, He proposed that His beloved Son should go forth on a mission of mercy, seeking those who were away from the Father’s House. Hence we read so often of the Son being sent by the Father, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jno. 4: 10). And blessed it is to know that the Beloved of the Father came forth on His errand of love, freely, willingly, gladly. Like Joseph, He, too, promptly responded, “Here am I.” As it is written of Him in Hebrew 10: 7, “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, 0 God.”
13. Joseph seeks the welfare of his brethren.
“And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks, and bring me word again” (37: 14). Joseph could not have been ignorant of his brethren’s “envy”; he must have known how they “hated” him; and in view of this, one had not been surprised to find him unwilling to depart on such a thankless errand. But with gracious magnanimity and filial fear he stood ready to depart on the proposed mission.
Two things are to be particularly observed here as bringing
out the striking accuracy of this type: First, Joseph is sent forth with a
definite object before him - to seek his brethren. When we turn to the Gospels we find the
correspondence is perfect. When the
Beloved of the Father visited this world, His earthly mission was restricted to
His brethren according to the flesh. As
we read in John 1: 11, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not”: His “own” here refers to His own people, the
Jews. Again, in Matt. 15: 24, it is recorded that the Lord Jesus
Himself expressly declared, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House
of Israel.” And again, in
In the second place, observe the character of Joseph’s mission: said Jacob, “Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren.” He was sent not to censure them, but to inquire after their welfare. So, again, it was with the Lord Jesus Christ. As we read in John 3: 17, “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”
was sent forth from the vale of
“So he sent him out of the vale of
The peaceful vale of
15. Joseph came to Shechem (37: 14).
The word “Shechem” means “Shoulder,” being taken
from “the position of the place on the ‘saddle’ or
‘shoulder’ of the heights which divide the waters there that flow to the
Mediterranean on the west and to the Jordan on the east” (Smith’s Bible Dictionary). The meaning of this name conforms strictly to
the Antitype. The “shoulder” speaks of burden-bearing and suggests the
thought of service and subjection. The moral meaning of the term is Divinely
defined for us in this very book of Genesis – “and bowed his shoulder to bear
and become a servant unto tribute” (49: 15).
How striking it is to read, then,
that on leaving his father in the vale of
And again in Gal. 4: 4, “When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” Verily, “Shechem” was the place that the Beloved of the Father came to.
Moreover, is it not significant that Shechem has been mentioned before in the Genesis narrative - see 34: 25-30 - especially when we note what occurred there. Shechem was the place of sin and sorrow, of evil passions and bloodshedding. Little wonder that Jacob was anxious about his sons in such a place, and that he sent Joseph to them there to inquire after their welfare. And how what we read of in Gen. 34 well depicts in terse but solemn summary the history of this earth. How aptly and how accurately the scene there portrayed exhibited the character of the place into which the Lord Jesus came. The place which He took was that of the Servant; the scene into which He came was one of sin and strife and suffering.
16. Joseph now became a Wanderer in the field.
“And a certain man found him,
and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him: saying, What
And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed
their flocks” (37: 15, 16). In His interpretation of the Parable of
the Tares, the Lord Jesus said, “the field is the world” (Matt. 13:
38). Like Joseph, the Beloved of the Father became
a Wanderer, a homeless Stranger in this
world. “The foxes had holes, and the
birds of the air had their nests, but the Son of man had not where to lay his
head.” What a
touching word is that in John’s Gospel, “And every man went unto his own
house: Jesus went unto the
17. Joseph seeks until he finds his brethren.
“And the man said, They are departed
hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to
“And Joseph went after his brethren.” How these words gather up into a brief sentence the whole
story recorded in the four Gospels! As
the Redeemer went about from place to place, one end only was in view - He was going
after His brethren. He enters the
synagogue and reads from the prophet Isaiah, and with what object? That His
brethren might be reached. He walks by
“And found them in
18. Joseph conspired against.
“And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him” (37: 18). The hatred of the brethren found opportunity in the love that sought them. It is striking to notice how that a conspiracy was formed against Joseph “before he drew near unto them.” How this reminds us of what happened during the days of our Saviour’s infancy. No sooner was He born into this world than the enmity of the carnal mind against God displayed itself! A horrible “conspiracy” was hatched by Herod in the attempt to slay the newly born Saviour. This was in the days when He was “afar off.” Thirty years before He presented Himself publicly to the Jews. The same thing is found again and again during the days of His public ministry. “Then the Pharisees went out and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him” (Matt. 12: 14), may be cited as a sample.
19. Joseph’s words disbelieved.
“And they said one to another, Behold this dreamer cometh. Come now, therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him; and we shall see what will become of his dreams” (37: 19, 20).
The prophetic announcement of Joseph seemed unto his brethren as idle tales. They not only hated him, but they refused to believe what he had said. Their scepticism comes out plainly in the wicked proposal, “Let us slay him ... and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” Thus it was with the Christ of God. After He had been nailed to the cross, “they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyed the temple and buildest it in three days, save Thyself. If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise, also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, And we will believe Him” - which was an admission that they did not believe. The Jews believed Him not. His teaching was nothing more to them than empty dreams. So, too, after His death and burial. “The chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore, that the sepulchre be made sure” (Matt. 27). When the stone was sealed and the watch was set, the sceptical Pharisees were but saying in effect, “We shall see what will become of His dreams.”
And is it any different
now in modern Christendom? How do
men and women today treat the words of
the Faithful and True Witness? Do
those who listen to the Gospel give credence to what they hear? Do they set to their seal that God is
true? Do they really believe as true
the Lord’s own words, “He that believeth not is condemned already” (John 3: 18)? Ah, unsaved reader,
dost thou believe that, that even now
the condemnation of a Holy God is resting upon thee? You do not have to wait until the last great
day; you do not have to wait until the judgment of the great white throne. No; God’s condemnation rest upon thee
now. Unspeakably solemn is this. And there is but one way of deliverance. There was but one way of escape for Noah and
his family from the flood, and that was to seek refuge in the
20. Joseph is insulted.
“And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him” (37: 23). How this brings out the wicked hatred of these men for the one who had come seeking only their welfare. Like beasts of prey they immediately spring upon him. It was not enough to injure him; they must insult him too. They put him to an open shame by stripping him of his coat of many colours. And how solemnly this agrees with the Antitype. In a similar manner the Lord of Glory was dealt with. He, too, was insulted, and put to shame: “Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto Him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped Him” (Matt. 27: 27. 28). The same horrible ignominy is witnessed again at the Cross: “Then the soldiers when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments” (John 19: 23).
21. Joseph is cast into a pit.
“And they took him, and cast him into a pit; and the pit was empty, there was no water in it” (37: 24). We quote now from Dr. Haldeman: “The pit wherein is no water, is another name for Hades, the underworld, the abode of the disembodied dead: of all the dead before the resurrection of Christ. ‘The pit wherein is no water’ (Zech. 9: 11). ‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’ (Matt. 12: 40). It was here our Lord, as to His Soul, abode between death and resurrection.”
22. Joseph was taken out of the pit, alive, in his body.
“And they lifted up Joseph out of the pit” (37: 28). “The actual order of the occurrence is that Joseph was first cast into the pit and then sold; but the moral order of the type is not deranged by the fact; it is in the light of the Anti-typical history that we make the type to be verified, as well as to verify it. The lifting out of the pit is one of those Divine anticipations of the resurrection scattered all through the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi” (Dr. R).
23. Joseph’s brethren mingle Hypocrisy with their Hatred.
“And they sat down to eat bread.
But mark now this hypocrisy: “Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him.” The parallel to this is found in John 18: “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment; and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled” (verse 28). Such deceptions will men practice upon themselves. And again, how remarkable, in this connection, are the words found in John 18: 31: “Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye Him and judge Him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death!”
24. Joseph is sold.
“They drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites” (37: 28). Is it not exceedingly striking to note that from among the twelve sons of Jacob Judah should be the one to make this horrible bargain, just as from the twelve apostles Judas (the Anglecized form of the Greek equivalent) was the one to sell the Lord!
25. Joseph’s blood-sprinkled coat is presented to his father.
“And they took Joseph’s coat and killed a kid of the goats,
and dipped the coat in the blood; and they sent the coat of many colours, and
they brought it to their father.” “The anticipation of the type is self evident. The blood of Jesus Christ as the blood of a
scapegoat, a sin offering, was presented to the Father” (Dr. K).
In our next, D. V., we shall consider Joseph in
* * *
GENESIS 39, 40
Genesis 37 closes with an account of Jacob’s sons selling their brother
Joseph unto the Midianites, and they, in turn selling
It is remarkable that Gen. 38 records the history of
Genesis 39 is more than a continuation of what has been before us in Gen. 37, being separated, as it is, from that chapter by what is recorded in 38. Genesis in 39 is really a new beginning in the type, taking us back to the Incarnation, and tracing the experiences of the Lord Jesus from another angle. Continuing our enumeration (see previous article), we may observe:
26. Joseph becomes a Servant.
“And Joseph was brought down to Egypt;
and Potiphar an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, brought
him out of the hands of the Ishmaelites, which had brought him down thither”
(39: 1). What a contrast from
being the beloved son in his father’s house to the degradation of slavery in
27. Joseph was a Prosperous Servant.
“And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man, and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand” (39: 2, 3). Observe, particularly, it is here said, the Lord made all that Joseph did “to prosper in his hand.” How these words remind us of two prophetic scriptures which speak of the perfect Servant of Jehovah. The first is the opening Psalm, which brings before us the “Blessed Man,” the Man who walked not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful; the Man whose delight was in the Law of the Lord, and in whose Law He did meditate day and night; the Man of whom God said, “And He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth His fruit in His Season; His leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever He doeth shall prosper” (Psa. 1: 3). Manifestly, this spoke, specifically, of the Lord Jesus, in whom, alone, the terms of the opening verses of this Psalm were fully realized. The second scripture is found in that matchless fifty-third of Isaiah (every sentence of which referred to the Son of God incarnate, and to Him, expressly, as Jehovah’s “Servant,” see 52: 13), we read, “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” How marvellously accurate the type! Of Joseph it is recorded, “The Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand” (Gen. 39: 3). Of Christ it is said, “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand” (Isa. 53: 10).
28. Joseph’s master was well pleased with him.
“And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand” (39: 4). How could it be otherwise? Joseph was entirely different from any other servant that Potiphar ever had. The fear of God was upon him; the Lord was with him, prospering him; and he served his master faithfully. So it was with the One whom Joseph foreshadowed. The Lord Jesus was entirely different from any other servant God ever had. The fear of the Lord was upon Him (see Isa. 11: 2). And so faithfully did He serve God, He could say, “I do always those things that please Him” (John 8: 29).
29. Joseph, the servant, was made a blessing to others.
“And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house and in the field” (34: 5). So, too, the Father entrusted to the Son all the interests of the Godhead - the manifestation of the Divine character, the glorifying of God’s name, and the vindication of His throne. And what has been the outcome of the Beloved of the Father taking the Servant place, and assuming and discharging these onerous responsibilities? Has not the Lord “blessed” the antitypical “Egyptian’s house,” for the sake of that One whom Joseph foreshadowed? Clearly, the “Egyptian’s house” symbolized the world, and how bountifully has the world been blessed for Christ’s sake!
30. Joseph was a goodly person.
was a goodly person, and well favoured” (39:
6). How carefully has the Holy Spirit here
guarded the type! We must always distinguish
between the person and the place which he occupies. Joseph had entered into the
degradation of slavery. He was no longer
at his own disposal, but subject to the will of another. He was no longer dwelling in his father’s
So, too, on the Cross, where, supremely, God’s Servant was seen in the place of shame, God caused Him to be owned as “the Son of God” (Matt. 27: 54)! Truly, was He a “goodly person, and well favoured.”
31. Joseph was sorely tempted, yet sinned not.
“And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand. There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife; how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? And it came to pass as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out” (39: 7-12).
It is surely not without design that the Holy Spirit has
placed in juxtaposition the account of the un-chastity of
Beautiful is it to mark how Joseph resisted the repeated temptation – “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” This is the more striking if we link up this utterance of Joseph’s with Psa. 105: 19, “The Word of the Lord tried him.” So it was by the same Word that the Saviour repulsed the Enemy. But notice here one point in contrast: “And he (Joseph) left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out” (39: 12). So, the Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, enjoined him to “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2: 22). How different with the Perfect One! He said, “Get thee hence, Satan” (Matt. 4: 10), and we read, “Then the Devil leaveth Him.” In all things He has the pre-eminence.
32. Joseph was falsely accused.
“And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me. And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out” (39: 16-18). There was no ground whatever for a true charge to be brought against Joseph, so an unjust one was preferred. So it was, too, with Him who was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” His enemies “the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put Him to death. But found none.” Yet, at the last, “came two false witnesses” (Matt. 16: 59, 60), who bore untruthful testimony against Him.
33. Joseph attempted no defence.
“And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me: that his wrath was kindled” (39: 19), though notice, it does not add, “against Joseph.” In Gen. 37, we beheld Joseph’s passive submission to the wrong done him by his heartless brethren. So here, when falsely and foully accused by this Egyptian woman, he attempts no self-vindication; not a word of appeal is made; nor is there any murmuring against the cruel injustice done him, as he is cast into prison. There was no recrimination; nothing but a quiet enduring of the wrong. When Joseph was reviled, like the Saviour, he reviled not again. And how all this reminds us of what we read in Isa. 53: 7, with its recorded fulfilment in the Gospels, “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth!”
34. Joseph was cast into prison.
“And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound; and he was there in the prison” (39: 20).
“Taking the garment that Joseph had left behind him in his flight, she used it as a proof of his guilt, and first to the servants, and then to her husband. She made out a case against the Hebrew slave. The way she spoke of her husband to the servants (verse 14) shows the true character of the woman, and perhaps also the terms of her married life; while the fact that Potiphar only placed Joseph in prison instead of commanding him to be put to death is another indication of the state of affairs. For appearance’ sake Potiphar must take some action, but the precise action taken tells its own tale. He evidently did not credit her story” (Dr. G. Thomas).
Just as Joseph, though completely innocent, was unrighteously cast into prison, so our Lord was unjustly sentenced to death by one who owned repeatedly, “I find no fault in Him.” And how striking is the parallel between the acts of Potiphar and Pilate. It is evident that Potiphar did not believe the accusation which his wife brought against Joseph - had he really done so, as has been pointed out, he would have ordered his Hebrew slave put to death. But to save appearances he had Joseph cast into prison. Now mark the close parallel in Pilate. He, too, it is evident, did not believe in the guilt of our Lord or why have been so reluctant to give his consent for Him to be crucified? He, too, knew the character of those who accused the Saviour. But, for the sake of appearances - as an officer of the Roman Empire, against the One who was charged with being a rebel against Caesar, for political expediency - he passed sentence.
35. Joseph thus suffered at the hands of the Gentiles.
Not only was Joseph envied and hated by his own brethren, and sold
by them into the hands of the Gentiles, but he was also treated unfairly by the
Gentiles too, and unjustly cast into prison.
So it was with his Antitype, “The kings of the earth stood up, and
the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His
Christ. For of a truth against thy holy
child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with
the Gentiles, and the people
36. Joseph, the innocent one, suffered severely.
In Stephen’s speech we find a statement which bears this
out. Said he, “And the
patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into
37. Joseph won the respect of his jailor.
“But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (39: 21). Is not the antitype of this found in the fact that the Roman centurion, the one who had charge of the Crucifixion of the Saviour, cried, “Certainly this was a Righteous Man” (Luke 23: 47). Thus did God give His Son favour in the sight of this Roman who corresponded with Joseph’s jailor.
38. Joseph was numbered with transgressors.
“And it came to pass that after these
things, that the butler of the king of
39. Joseph was the means of blessing to one, but the pronouncer of judgment on the other.*
[* NOTE. Here we have a judgment before the time of
Resurrection. See Heb. 11: 35b; Luke 20: 35;
Luke 14: 14; Phil. 3: 11. cf.
His fellow prisoners had each of them a dream, and in
interpreting them, Joseph declared that the butler should be delivered from
prison, but to the baker he said, “Within three days shall Pharaoh lift
up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree, and the birds shall eat thy flesh from
off thee” (40: 19). It is not without good reason that
the Holy Spirit has seen fit to record the details of these dreams. Connected with the spared one, the butler, we
read of “the cup” into which the grapes were pressed (49: 10-12), suggesting to us the precious Blood
of the Lamb, by which all who believe are delivered. Connected with the one who was not delivered,
the baker, were baskets full of bakemeats (40: 16, 17), suggesting human labours, the works
of man’s hands, which are powerless to deliver the sinner, or justify him
before God: for all such there is only the “Curse,” referred to here by the baker being “hanged on a
tree” (cf. Gal. 3: 13). So it was at the
Cross: the one thief went to
40. Joseph evidenced his knowledge of the future.
In interpreting their dreams, Joseph foretold the future destiny of the butler and the baker. But observe that in doing this he was careful to ascribe the glory to Another, saying, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (40: 8). So the One whom Joseph foreshadowed, again and again, made known what should come to pass in the future, yet did he say, “For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12: 49).
41. Joseph’s predictions came true.
“And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand. But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them” (40: 20-22). Just as Joseph had interpreted so it came to pass. So shall it be with every word of the Son of God, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but His words shall not pass away. And 0, unsaved reader, just as the solemn announcement of Joseph concerning the baker was actually fulfilled, so shall these words of the Lord Jesus be found true – “he that believeth not shall be damned!”
42. Joseph desired to be Remembered.
Said Joseph to the butler, “But think on me when it shall be well with thee” (40: 14). So, in connection with the Supper, the Saviour has said, “This do in remembrance of Me.”
As we admire these lovely typical pictures, like the queen of
* * *
3. JOSEPH’S EXALTATION
Our present chapter opens by presenting to us the king of
First, we are shown that “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of waters. He turneth it whithersoever He will” (Prov. 21: 1). It was no accident that Pharaoh dreamed as he did, and when he did. God’s time had come for Joseph to be delivered from prison and exalted to a position of high honour and responsibility, and these dreams were but the instrument employed by God to accomplish this end. Similarly, He used, long afterwards, the sleeplessness of another king to lead to the deliverance of Mordecai and his fellows. This truth has been expressed so forcefully and ably by C. H. M. in his “Notes on Genesis,” we cannot refrain from quoting him:
“The most trivial and the most important, the most likely and the most unlikely circumstances are made to minister to the development of God’s purposes. In chapter 39 Satan uses Potiphar’s wife, and in chapter 40 he uses Pharaoh’s chief butler. The former he used to put Joseph into the dungeon; and the latter he used to keep him there, through his ungrateful negligence; but all in vain. God was behind the scenes. His finger was guiding all the springs of the vast machine of circumstances, and when the due time was come, he brought forth the man of His purpose, and set his feet in a large room. Now, this is ever God’s prerogative. He is above all, and can use all for the accomplishment of His grand and unsearchable designs. It is sweet to be able thus to trace our Father’s hand and counsel in everything. Sweet to know that all sorts of agents are at His sovereign disposal; angels, men and devils - all are under His omnipotent hand, and all are made to carry out His purposes” ,(p. 307: italics are ours). How rarely one finds such faith-strengthening sentiments such as these set forth, plainly, by writers of today!
Second, we are shown in the early part of Genesis 41 how that the wisdom of this world is
foolishness with God. As it
is well known,
Third, the man of God was the only one that had
true wisdom and light. How true it is that “the
of the Lord is with them that fear
Him!” These dreams of Pharaoh
had a prophetic significance: They respected the future of
Fourth: That “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose,” is writ large across our lesson. And well for us if we take this to heart. But the trouble is, we grow so impatient under the process, while God is taking the tangled threads of our lives and making them “work together for good.” We become so occupied with present circumstances that hope is no longer exercised, and the brighter and better future is blotted from our view. Let us bear in mind that Scripture declares, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof” (Ecc. 7: 8). Be of good cheer, faint heart; sorrow may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. So it was with Joseph. For a season he suffered wrongfully, but at the last God vindicated and rewarded him. Remember Joseph then, troubled reader, and “let patience [perseverance] have her perfect work.” But we must turn from these moralizings and consider the typical bearings of our chapter. We continue our previous enumeration.
43. Joseph, in due time, was delivered from prison.
Joseph had been rejected by his brethren, and treated unjustly and cruelly by the Egyptians. Through no fault of his own he had been cast into prison. But God did not suffer him to end his days there. The place of shame and suffering was to be exchanged for one of high dignity and glory. The throne was to supplant the dungeon. And now that God’s time for this had arrived, nothing could hinder the accomplishment of His purpose. So it was with our blessed Lord. Israel might despise and reject Him, wicked hands might take and crucify Him, the powers of darkness might rage against Him; His lifeless body might be taken down and laid in the tomb, the sepulchre sealed and a watch set, but “it was not possible that He should be holden of death” (Acts 2: 24). No; on the third day, He rose again in triumph o’er the grave, leaving the cerements of death behind Him. How beautifully this was prefigured in the case of Joseph. “Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon; and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh” (41: 14). Compare John 20: 6, 7!
44. Joseph was delivered from prison by the hand of God.
It is evident that, apart from Divine intervention, Joseph had
been suffered to languish in the dungeon to the end of his days. It was only the coming in of God – Pharaoh’s
troubled spirit, the failure of the magicians’ to interpret his dream, the
butler’s sudden recollection of the Hebrew interpreter - that brought about his
release. Joseph himself recognized this,
as is clear from his words to his
brethren, at a later date: “And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity
in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me hither, but
God: and He hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and Lord of all
his house, and ruler throughout all the
* There are other Scriptures which show that the Lord Jesus raised Himself (John 2: 19 ; 10. 17. 18, etc.). But, above, we have quoted those which emphasized the fulfilment of the type.
45. Joseph is seen now as the Revealer of secrets.
Like the butler and baker before him, Pharaoh now recounted to Joseph the dreams which had so troubled his spirit, and which the “wise men” were unable to interpret. It is beautiful to mark the modesty of Joseph on this occasion, “And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (41: 16). So, in a much higher sense, the Lord Jesus said, “I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me” (John 17: 8). And again, “As the Father hath taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8: 28). Once more, “For I have not spoken of Myself: but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12: 49).
Having listened to the king’s dream, Joseph said, “God hath showed Pharaoh what He is about to do” (41. 25), and then he made known the meaning of the dreams. How close is the parallel between this and what we read of in the opening verse of the Apocalypse! Just as God made known to the Egyptians, through Joseph, what He was “about to do,” so has He now made known to us, through Jesus Christ, the things He will shortly do in this world. The parallel is perfect: said Joseph, “What God is about to do He showeth unto Pharaoh” (41: 28), and the Apocalypse, we are told, is “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass.”
46. Joseph warned of a coming danger, and urged his hearers to make suitable provision to meet it.
Joseph was no honied-mouthed “optimist,” who spake only smooth and pleasant things. He fearlessly told the truth. He shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God.
He declared that, following the season of Divine blessing and privilege, there would come a time of famine, a famine which should consume the land, and be “very grievous.” And in view of this, he warned them to make ready and be prepared. So also was Christ the faithful and true Witness. He made known the fact that death does not end all, that there is a life to come. He warned those who trusted in their earthly possessions and who boasted of how they were going to enjoy them, that their soul’s would be “required” of them, and that at short notice. He lifted the veil which hides the unseen, and gave His hearers a view of the sufferings of the damned in Hell [i.e., Gk. ‘Hades’ - in the underworld of the souls of the dead, (Acts. 2: 27. R.V.; Luke 16: 19-31. cf. Rev. 6: 9-11)]. He spake often of that place where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched,* and where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. He counselled men to make provision against the future. He bade men to prepare for that which lies ahead of all - a face to face meeting with God.**
[* NOTE. It is a well known fact that there are two words in the Greek Testament which in the English Authorized King James Version of 1611, are rendered ‘Hell’ – (1) ‘Hades’= Heb.‘Sheol’ LXX., and (2) ‘Gehenna’. In the New Testament, our Lord is represented as employing the former of these only three times – in reference to the humiliation of Capernaum (Matt. 11: 23; Luke 10: 15); to the deliverance of the ‘Church’ from its power (Matt. 16: 18); and to the imprisonment of the disembodied souls of Dives, (Luke 16: 23) – albeit in a separate compartment from Lazarus and Abraham. When He uttered His fearful threatenings concerning the casting of both body and soul into ‘Hell’, into unquenchable fire, the term employed by Him was ‘Gehenna’; see Matt. 5: 22, 29, 30; 10: 28; 18: 9; 23: 15, 33; Mark 9: 43-47; Luke 12: 5.
** Therefore, “the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1: 9, N.I.V.), has to do with “the goal of your faith” (verse 9); and it points forward to the time of Reward and Resurrection - (yet future, see Luke 14: 14; 20: 35. cf. Rev. 6: 9-11) - “when Jesus Christ is revealed” (verse 13). ]
47. Joseph appeared next as the Wonderful Counsellor.
Having interpreted to Pharaoh the meaning of his dreams,
Joseph then undertook to advise the king as to the wisest course to follow in
order to meet the approaching emergency, and provide for the future. There were
to be seven years of plenty, which was to be followed by seven years of
famine. Joseph, therefore, counselled
the king to store up the corn during the time of plenty, against the need which
would arise when the season of scarcity should come upon them. Thus did Joseph manifest the wisdom given to
him by God, and display his immeasurable superiority over all the wise men of
48. Joseph’s counsel commended itself to Pharaoh and his officers.
“And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants. And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art” (41: 37-39). Pharaoh recognized that the wisdom manifested by this Hebrew slave had its source not in occult magic, but in the Spirit of God. Joseph had spoken with a discretion and wisdom far different from that possessed by the court philosophers, and this was freely owned by the king and his servants. So, too, the words of the Lord Jesus made a profound impression upon those who heard Him. “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine. For He taught them as One having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mat. 7: 28, 29). “And when He was come into His own country, He taught them in their synagogues, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom?” (Mat. 13: 54). Just as Pharaoh and his servants were struck by the wisdom in Joseph. So here, those who listened to the Lord Jesus marvelled at His wisdom. And just as Pharaoh confessed, “Can we find such a one as this is? ... there is none so discreet and wise,” so the auditors of Christ acknowledged, “Never man spake like this Man” (John 7: 46) !
49. Joseph is duly exalted,
and set over all
“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art. Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou” (41: 39, 40). What a blessed change this was: from shame to glory, from the dungeon to the place of rule, from being a slave in fetters to being elevated high above all, Pharaoh alone being excepted. This was a grand reward for his previous fidelity, and a fitting recognition of his worth. And how beautifully this speaks to us of the One whom Joseph foreshadowed! He was here in humiliation and shame, but He is here so no longer. God has highly exalted Him. He is “gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him” (1 Pet. 3: 22).
50. Joseph was seated on the throne of another.
How marvellously accurate is the type. Joseph was not seated upon his own throne,- he was not in the place of rule over his brethren. Though he was placed over Pharaoh’s house,
and according to his word was all
“Today our Lord Jesus Christ shares the throne of the Father as Joseph shared the throne of Pharaoh. As Joseph ruled over Pharaoh’s house with his word, so today our Lord Jesus Christ rules over the Father’s household, the household of faith, the Church, by and through His Word. And today, while the Lord Jesus Christ is on the throne of His Father, He is not on His own throne. Read the passage just quoted in Revelation again, and it will be seen that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself makes a distinction between His own throne and the Father’s throne, and promises reward to the overcomer, not on the Father’s throne, but on His own; and we know, according to the promise of the angel made to Mary, and the covenant made to David, and the title He wears as the King of Israel, ‘the Son of David, the Son of Abraham,’ that His throne is at Jerusalem, ‘the city of the great King.’ On His Father’s throne He sits today as the Rejected Man, the Rejected Jew” (Dr. Haldeman).
51. Joseph was exalted to the throne because of his personal worth.
“All this is typical of the present exaltation of Christ Jesus the Lord. He who was once the Crucified is now the Glorified. He whom men once put upon a gibbet, has been placed by God upon His throne. Joseph was given his place of exaltation in Egypt purely on the ground of his personal worth and actual service rendered by him to the country and kingdom of Egypt” (Mr. Knapp). And what a lovely parallel to this we find in Phil. 2 - yet as far as our Lord excelled Joseph in personal worth and service, so far is His exaltation the higher – “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him” (Phil. 2: 6-9).
52. Joseph was invested with such insignia as became his new position.
“And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck” (40: 42). And thus we read of the Antitype: “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince, and a Saviour” (Acts 5: 31). And again, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour” (Heb. 2: 9). Compare, too, the description of our glorified Lord as given in Revelation 1. There we behold Him, “clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle” (5: 13).
53. Joseph’s authority and glory are publicly owned.
“And he made him to ride in the second
chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee; and he made him
ruler over all the land of Egypt” (41: 43).
On the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the Jews who had condemned and
crucified the Saviour, “Therefore let all the House of Israel know assuredly, that
God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2: 36).
And it is the part of wisdom, dear reader, to recognize and own
this. Have you recognized the exalted dignity of
Christ and by faith seen that the One who died on
54. Joseph received from Pharaoh a new name.
“And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-paaneah” (41: 45), which signifies, according to its Egyptian meaning, “the Saviour of the world.” So, to quote once more from Phil. 2, we read, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him - the Name which is above every name ... Jesus” (Phil. 2: 9, 10). This name He bore while on earth, but at that time it was held as pledge and promise, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Mat. 1: 21) said the angel. But He could not “save His people from their sins,” until He had borne them in His own body on the tree, until He had risen from the dead, until He returned to heaven and sent forth the Holy Spirit to apply the benefits and virtues of His finished work. But when He ascended on high He became Saviour in fact. God exalted Him with His right hand “to be a Prince and a Saviour” (Acts 5: 31), and therefore did God Himself then give to His beloved Son the Name which is above every name, even the Name of “Jesus,” which means the Saviour; just as after the period of his shame was over, and Joseph had been exalted by Pharaoh, he, then, received the name which signifies “the Saviour of the world!”
Reader, have you an interest, a personal one, in the value and saving efficacy of that Name which is above every name? If not, receive Him now as your own Saviour. If by grace, you have, then bow before Him in adoration and praise.
* * *
JOSEPH THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD
55. Joseph has a wife given to him.
“And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaplinath‑paaneah (the Egyptian meaning of which is ‘Saviour of the world’); and he gave him to wife Asenath, the daughter of Potipharah priest of On” (40: 45). It is with some hesitation and much reluctance that at this point the writer finds himself differing from other students and commentators. Many whom we respect highly have regarded Asenath as here prefiguring the Church. Their principal reason for doing this is because Joseph’s wife was a Gentile. But while allowing the force of this, we feel that it is more than counterbalanced by another point which makes against it. Believing that everything in this inspired narrative has a definite meaning and typical value, and that each verse has been put into its present place by the Holy Spirit, we are confronted with what is, to us, an insuperable difficulty if Asenath prefigures the Church, namely, the fact that in the very next verse which follows the mention of Pharaoh giving a wife to Joseph, we are told, “And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt” (41: 46). Had this statement followed immediately after 41: 14, which records Joseph being brought out of prison to appear before Pharaoh, and after this we had been told Joseph received his wife, we should be obliged to regard Asenath as a type of the Church; but as it is, we believe the typical application must be sought elsewhere, as we shall now proceed to point out.
The Holy Spirit has here (we are assured, with definite
design) made mention of Joseph having a wife before his “age” is referred to, and before his life’s work began. That the age of Joseph at the time his real work started, pointed to the age of
the Lord Jesus when His public ministry commenced, is too obvious to admit of
dispute. The fact, then,
that the Holy Spirit speaks of Joseph’s wife before the mention of him being thirty years
of age, suggests to the writer that the typical significance of Asenath
must be sought at some point of time before the Lord Jesus entered upon His life’s mission. And that, of course, takes us back to Old
Testament times. And there, we do learn of Jehovah (the Lord Jesus)
possessing a “wife,” even
But against this it will be objected, How
could Asenath, the Egyptian, wife of
The issue from Joseph’s marriage appears to us to fit in with the
interpretation suggested above much better than with the common application of
the type of Asenath to the Church. “Unto Joseph
were born two sons” (41: 50), and does not this correspond with
the history of
56. Joseph’s marriage was arranged by Pharaoh.
How perfectly this agrees with what we read of in Matthew 22: 2! “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for His Son.” The fact that Asenath is mentioned before we are told that Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh and began his life’s work (type of Christ as He began His public ministry), and that the birth and naming of his sons occurred afterward, suggests (as is so often the case, both in types and prophecies) that there is here a double foreshadowment. This Gentile wife of Joseph points backward, first, to Israel’s condition before Jehovah separated her from all other peoples and took her unto Himself; and, second, the type seems to point forward to the time when the Lord shall resume His dealings with her, see Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Ezekiel 16: 62, 63; Hosea 2: 19-23; Isaiah 54: 5-8*). Then, too, shall the names of Joseph's two sons be found to possess a double significance, for God will “forget” Israel’s past, and Israel shall then, as never before, be found “fruitful.”
* The spiritual and dispensational condition of Israel at the moment when God shall resume His dealings with His ancient people, is, again aptly figured by a Gentile, for they are termed by Him now, and until then “Lo-ammi” (Hosea 1: 9), which means “Not My people.”
57. Joseph was thirty years old when he began his life’s work.
“And Joseph was thirty years old when
he stood before Pharaoh king of
58. Joseph went forth on his mission from Pharaoh’s presence.
“And Joseph was thirty years old when
he stood before Pharaoh king of
59. Joseph’s service was an active and itinerant one.
“And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went
throughout all the
60. Joseph’s exaltation was followed by a season of plenty.
“And in the seven plenteous years the
earth brought forth by handfuls. And he
gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the
We doubt not that the saved of this dispensation are far in excess of any previous one. How few were saved during the centuries which
passed from the days of Abel up to the Flood!
How few appear to have been saved during the times of the
patriarchs! How few among
61. Joseph’s exaltation was also followed by a period of famine.
“And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the
62. Joseph is now seen dispensing bread to a perishing world.
“And when all the
“Joseph was sent by his father to his
brethren that he might be a blessing unto them, and they refused; then God
turned their sin so that while it should remain as a judgment to them, it might
become a blessing to others. In sending
His Son to fulfil the promises made to the fathers, God would have brought
covenant and numberless blessings to
63. Joseph alone dispensed the Bread of Life.
It is beautiful to observe here how Pharaoh directed all who
cried to him for bread to go unto Joseph: “And when all the
64. Joseph became a Saviour to all peoples.
“And all countries came into
65. Joseph had illimitable resources to meet the need of all.
“And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number” (41: 49). How abundant was God’s provision! He provided with no niggardly hand. There was to be amply sufficient for every one that applied for the alleviation of his need. And how this reminds us of those blessed expressions which we meet with so frequently in the Epistles! There we read of “the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1: 7), yea, “the exceeding riches of His grace” (Eph. 2: 7). There we read of God being “rich in mercy” (Eph. 2: 4), and, again, of His “abundant mercy” (1 Pet. 1: 3). There we read of “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3: 8), for “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2: 9). And again we are told, “The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him” (Rom. 10: 12).
Thank God, the Saviour He has provided for us is possessed of illimitable resources. There is no shortness or strainness in Him. There is infinite value in that precious blood which He shed upon the Cross to make an atonement for sin. There is infinite pity in His heart toward sinners. There is infinite readiness and willingness on His part to receive all who will come to Him. There is infinite power in His arm to deliver and keep that which is committed unto Him. There is no sinner so depraved that Christ’s blood cannot cleanse him. There is no sinner so bound by the fetters of Satan that Christ cannot free him. There is no sinner so weary and despondent that Christ cannot satisfy him. The promise of the Saviour Himself is, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mat. 11: 28). 0, sin-sick soul, put Him to the test for yourself, and see. Come to Christ just as you are, in all your wretchedness and need, and He will gladly receive you, blot out all your iniquities, and put a new song into your mouth. May God, in His grace, cause some despondent ones to prove for themselves the infinite sufficiency of His Son.
* * *
JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN
Since we left Gen. 37-38 nothing more has been heard of the family of Jacob. Joseph is the one upon whom the Holy Spirit
has concentrated attention. In Gen. 37 we saw how Joseph was sent by his
father on an errand of mercy to his brethren, inquiring after their welfare;
that Joseph came unto them and they received him not; that, instead, they
envied and hated him, and sold him into the hands of the Gentiles. Then, we
have followed his career in
All of this is deeply significant, and perfect in its typical application. Joseph foreshadowed the Beloved of the Father, sent to His brethren according to the flesh, seeking their welfare. But they despised and rejected Him. They sold Him, and delivered Him up to the Gentiles. The Gentiles unjustly condemned Him to death, and following the crucifixion, His body was placed in the prison of the tomb. In due time God delivered Him, and exalted Him to His own right hand. Following the ascension, Christ has been presented as the Saviour of the world, the Bread of Life for a perishing humanity. During this dispensation the Jew is set aside: it is out from the Gentiles God is now taking a people for His name. But soon this dispensation shall have run its appointed course and then shall come the tribulation period when, following the removal of the Holy Spirit from the earth, there shall be a grievous time of spiritual famine. It is during this tribulation period that God shall resume His dealing, with the Jews - the brethren of Christ according to the flesh. Hence, true to the antitype, Joseph’s brethren figure prominently in the closing chapters of Genesis. Continuing our previous enumeration we shall now follow the experiences of the brethren from the time they rejected Joseph.
66. Joseph’s brethren are driven out of their own land.
In Gen. 37 the sons of Jacob are seen delivering up Joseph into
the hands of the Gentiles, and nothing more is heard of them till we come to Gen. 42.
And what do we read concerning them there? This: “Now when Jacob saw that there was
67. Joseph was unknown and unrecognized by his brethren.
“And Joseph was the governor over the
land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down
themselves before him with their faces to the earth. And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew
not him” (42: 6, 8). Joseph had been exalted over all the
house of Pharaoh, but Jacob knew it not.
All these years he thought that Joseph was dead. And now his family is
suffering from the famine, the scourge of God, and his sons, driven out of
Canaan by the pangs of hunger, and going down to
68. Joseph, however, saw and knew his brethren.
“And Joseph saw his brethren, and he
knew them” (42: 7).
Yes, Joseph “saw” his brethren, his eye was upon them, even though they knew him not. So the eye of the Lord Jesus has been upon
the Jews all through the long night of their rejection. Hear His words (as Jehovah) through Jeremiah
the prophet, “For mine eyes are, upon all their ways: they are not hid from My face, neither is their iniquity hid from Mine ‘Eyes’” (16: 17).
So, too, through Hosea, He said, “I know Ephraim, and
69. Joseph punished his brethren.
“And Joseph saw his brethren, and he
knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them
… and he put them all together into ward three days”
(42: 7, 17).
We quote here from the impressive words of Dr. Haldeman: “Joseph
was the cause of their troubles now.
Joseph was punishing them for their past dealing with himself. The secret of all
70. Joseph made known to them a way of deliverance through Substitution.
“And he put them all together into ward three days. And Joseph said unto them the third day, this do, and live, for I fear God. If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison; go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses. ... And he took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes” (42: 17-19, 24). Once more we quote from Dr. Haldeman’s splendid article on Joseph:-
“On the third day he caused Simeon to be bound in the place of his brethren, and declared that by this means they might all be delivered, in the third day era, that is to say, on the resurrection side of the grave. On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter presented our Lord Jesus Christ as the risen one whom God had exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour unto Israel, declaring that if the latter should repent of their evil and sin toward Him whom He had sent to be Messiah and King, He would accept His death as the substitution for the judgment due them; that He would save them and send His Son again to be both Messiah and Saviour.”
71. Joseph made provision for his brethren while they were in a strange land.
“Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way; and thus did he unto them” (42: 25). Although they knew not Joseph, and although he spoke roughly unto his brethren and punished them by casting them into prison, nevertheless, his judgments were tempered with mercy. Joseph would not suffer his brethren to perish by the way. They were here in a strange land, and he ministered unto their need. So it has been throughout this dispensation. Side by side with the fact that the Jews have been severely punished by God, so that they have suffered as no other nation, has been their miraculous preservation. God has sustained them during all the long centuries that they have been absent from their own land. God has provided for them by the way, as Joseph did for his erring brethren. Thus has God fulfilled His promises of old. “For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee; but I will correct thee in measure, and I will not leave thee altogether unpunished” (Jer. 30: 11). And again; “Thus saith the Lord God; although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come” (Ezek. 11: 16).
72. Joseph was made known to his brethren at the second time.
This was emphasized by Stephen in his parting message to
It is significant that the Holy Spirit has singled out this
highly important point, and has repeated it, again and again, in other
types. It was thus with Moses
It was thus with Joshua and
The same principle is illustrated, again, in the history of David. David
was sent by his father seeking the welfare of his brethren;
“And Jesse said unto David his son, take now for
thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these
ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren. And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain
of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge”
(1 Sam. 17: 17-18).
But when he reached them, they resented his kindness, and their “anger was
kindled against David” (See 1 Sam. 17: 28), and it was not until years later that
they, together with all
Each of these was a type of the Lord Jesus. The first time He appeared to
73. Joseph’s brethren confess their Guilt in the sight of God.
74. Joseph’s brethren were also, at first, troubled in his presence.
“And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am
Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his
brethren could not answer him, for they were troubled at his presence”
(45: 3). How perfectly does
antitype correspond with type! When
Israel shall first gaze upon their rejected Messiah, we are told, “And they
shall look upon Me whom they have 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 first born” (Zech. 12: 10). As
75. Joseph acted toward his brethren in marvellous grace.
“And Joseph said unto his brethren,
Come near to me, I pray you. And they
came near, And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into
76. Joseph was revealed as a Man of Compassion.
“And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren, And he wept aloud” (45: 1-2). Seven times over we read of Joseph weeping. He wept when he listened to his brethren confessing their guilt (42: 24). He wept when he beheld Benjamin (43: 30). He wept when he made himself known to his brethren (45: 1-2). He wept when his brethren were reconciled to him (45: 15). He wept over his father Jacob (46: 29). He wept at the death of his father (50: 1). And he wept when, later, his brethren questioned his love for them (50: 15-17). How all this reminds us of the tenderheartedness of the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom we read so often, He was “moved with compassion,” and twice that He “wept” - once at the graveside of Lazarus, and later over Jerusalem.
77. Joseph revealed himself to
So, too, we are told in Zech. 12:
7, “The Lord also shall save the tents of
78. Joseph then sends for Jacob.
79. Joseph’s brethren go forth to proclaim his glory.
“Haste ye, and
go up to my father, and say unto him, thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made
me lord of all
80. Joseph makes ready his chariot and goes forth to meet Jacob.
made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Jacob his father” (46: 29). Says
“This is really the epiphany of Joseph. He reveals himself
in splendour and Kingliness to his people.
81. Joseph settles his brethren in a land of their own.
82. Joseph’s brethren prostrate themselves before him as the Representative of God.
“And his brethren also went and fell before his face; and they said, Behold we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not; for (am) I in the place of God?” (50: 18, 19). The prophetic dream of Joseph is realized. The brethren own Joseph’s supremacy, and take the place of servants before him. So in the coming Day, all Israel shall fall down before the Lord Jesus Christ, and say, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us; this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Is. 25: 9).
We close at the point from which we started. Joseph signifies “Addition,” and Addition is Increase, and “increase” is the very word used by the Holy Spirit to describe the dominant characteristic of the Kingdom of Him whom Joseph so wondrously foreshadowed. “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His Kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever” (Is. 9: 7).
* * *
JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN
We have grouped together again the last nine chapters of Genesis, which treat principally of Joseph and his brethren, and have singled out from them the most prominent and significant of their typical teachings. In our last article, we contemplated the dispensational bearings of the type, and this is, no doubt, its primary application. But there is also a secondary one, one which we may term the evangelical, and it is this we shall now consider. Joseph here strikingly prefigures Christ as the Saviour of sinners, while his brethren accurately portray the natural condition of the ungodly, and in the experiences through which they passed as their reconciliation with Joseph was finally effected, we have a lovely Gospel representation of the unsaved being brought from death unto life. Continuing our previous enumeration, note.
83. Joseph’s brethren dwelt in a land wherein was no corn.
They dwelt in Canaan, and we are told, “the famine was in the
84. Joseph’s brethren wished to pay for what they received.
“And Joseph’s ten brethren went down
to buy corn in
85. Joseph’s brethren assume a self-righteous attitude as they come before
the lord of
When they appeared before Joseph he tested them. He “spoke roughly unto them” (42: 7). He said, “Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come” (42: 9). And what was their response? They answered him, “Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. We are all one man’s sons; we are true men; thy servants are no spies” (42: 10, 11). It is thus when God begins His work with the sinner. He wounds before He heals, He wounds in order that He may heal. By His Spirit He speaks “roughly.” He sends forth the arrow of conviction. He speaks that which condemns the natural man. And what is the sinner’s first response? He resents this “rough” speaking. He repudiates the accusations brought against him. He denies that he is totally depraved and “dead in trespasses and sins.” He attempts to vindicate himself. He is self-righteous. He boasts that he is a “true man”!
86. Joseph’s brethren were cast into prison for three days.
“And he put them all together into ward three days” (42: 17). This was not unjust, nor was it harsh treatment. It was exactly what they deserved. Joseph was putting these men into their proper place, the place of shame and condemnation. It is thus God deals with the lost. The sinner must be made to realize what is his just due. He must be taught that he deserves nothing but punishment. He must be shown that the place of condemnation and shame is where he, by right, belongs. He must be abased before he can be exalted.
87. Joseph’s brethren were now smitten in their Conscience.
“And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us” (42: 21). Notice they said this “one to another,” not yet were their consciences active in the presence of God! The analogy holds good in the experience of the unregenerate. As God’s work goes forward in the soul, conscience becomes active, there is deep “distress,” and there is an acknowledgment of sin, but at this stage the awakened and troubled one has not yet come to the point where he will take the place of a lost sinner before God.
88. Joseph makes it known that deliverance is by Grace.
“Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them” (42: 25). What a lovely touch to the picture is this! The Bread of Life cannot be purchased. It must be accepted as a free gift, if it is received at all. The terms of the Gospel are “without money, and without price.” And how beautifully was this shown forth here, when Joseph, as the type of Christ, orders the money to be restored to those who came to “buy the corn.” Clearly, this was a foreshadowing of the blessed truth, “By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2: 8, 9).
89. Joseph’s brethren now enjoy a brief respite.
“And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence” (42: 26). They had been brought out of prison, the desired corn was obtained, and they were returning home. Their minds were now at rest, and we may well conclude that their recently disturbed consciences were quiet again. But not yet had they been brought into their true rest. Not yet had they been reconciled to Joseph. Only temporary relief had been obtained after all. Deeper exercises lie before them. And how strikingly this prefigures the experiences of the awakened sinner! After the first season of conviction is over, after one has first learned that salvation is by grace and not by works, there generally follows a season of relief, a temporary and false peace is enjoyed, before the sinner is truly and savingly brought into the presence of Christ.
90. Joseph’s brethren soon had their superficial peace disturbed.
“And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack’s mouth. And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored, and lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?” (42: 27, 28). How true to life again! The type is easily interpreted. God will not allow the awakened soul to rest until it rests upon Christ alone. And, so, He causes the experiences of the way to dispel the false peace. What do we read of next? “And the famine was sore in the land. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food” (43: 1, 2). And again, the analogy is easily traced. The hunger of the Soul becomes more acute in the one with whom the Spirit of God is dealing; the sense of need is deepened; the “famine” conditions of this poor world are felt more keenly. And there is no relief to be obtained until, once more, he comes into the presence of the true Governor of Egypt.
91. Joseph’s brethren continued to manifest a legal spirit.
“And their father
92. Joseph’s brethren are now made happy again.
“And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marvelled one at another. And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him” (43: 33, 34). Ah, what is man! Not yet had sin been told out. Not yet had a right relationship been established. Nevertheless, they could be “merry.” A superficial observer would have concluded that all was now well. It reminds us of the stony ground in the parable of the Sower - he “heareth the Word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself” (Matt. 13: 20, 21). It is greatly to be feared that there are many such to-day. God’s saving work goes much deeper than producing evanescent emotions.
93. Joseph is determined to bring his brethren out into the light.
“And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men’s sacks with food as much as they can carry, and put every man’s money in his sack’s mouth. And put my cup in the sack’s mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken” (44: 1, 2). There could be no settled or real fellowship between Joseph and his brethren until the wrong had been righted. There could be no communion of heart until full confession of guilt had been made. And this is the goal God has in view. He desires to bring us into fellowship with Himself. But He is holy, and sin must be confessed and put away, before we can be reconciled to Him.
94. Joseph’s brethren, at last, take their true place before God.
They had been in the presence of Joseph, though they knew him
not; they had been “merry” before him, and they were now going on their way light-heartedly. Joseph, then, sent his “steward” after them, saying, “Up, follow
after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?” (44: 4). In like manner, the Lord sends His
Holy Spirit to follow up His work in the heart of the awakened soul. The “steward” brought back the brethren into the
presence of Joseph once more. Thus, too,
does the Holy Spirit bring the convicted sinner back into the presence of God. And mark the
sequel here: “And
95. Joseph made himself known to his brethren.
“Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him, and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren” (45: 1). How blessed to note the opening word here – “Then.” Now that his brethren had acknowledged their guilt, there was no delay. That which had hindered Joseph from revealing himself sooner was now gone.
Notice, particularly, that as Joseph made himself known unto his brethren he cried, “Cause every man to go out from me.” Thus it is when Christ reveals Himself to the self-confessed and needy sinner. None must come between the needy soul and the Redeemer. Away, then, ye priests, who pose as mediators. Away, ye ritualists who would interpose your ordinances as conditions of salvation. Away, all ye human interferers, who would get the poor sinner occupied with any but Christ alone. Let “every man go out.”
96. Joseph invites his brethren to come near to him.
“And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near” (45: 4). Unspeakably blessed is this. There is no aloofness here. All distance is done away with. So, too, in marvellous grace, the Saviour bids the poor trembling sinner “Come near” unto Himself. Joseph did more. He proclaimed in their ears a wondrous message; he said, “God hath sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (45: 7).
“It is a great salvation, mark. It is not the limited, partial, mean salvation that some men would make it out to be - saving only those who help to save themselves, or saving them for a time, and allowing them to lapse and be lost again. Oh no, thank God, it is a salvation worthy of Himself, and such a salvation as only could result from that finished, faultless work of Christ on the Cross. And, what but a great salvation could avail for sinners such as we? We are all of us great sinners; our guilt was great, our need was great, and nothing but a great salvation could be of any use to us. I hope you have it, friend. Don’t neglect it. ‘How shall we escape,’ the Spirit asks, ‘if we neglect so great salvation?’ (Heb. 2: 3)” (Knapp).
97. Joseph tells his brethren of full provision made for them.
He said, “And thou shalt dwell in the
98. Joseph gives proof that he is fully reconciled to his brethren.
“Moreover, he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them, and after that his brethren talked with him” (45: 15).
The “kiss” betokened the fact they were forgiven. It speaks, too, of love. Thus was the Prodigal greeted after he returned from the far country and owned himself as a sinner. Notice, it was Joseph who kissed them, and not the brethren who kissed Joseph. So, also, it was the Father who kissed the Prodigal. God always takes the initiative, at every point. How blessed, too, the words which follow, “and after that his brethren talked with him.” Their fears were all gone now. Reconciled to Joseph, they could now enjoy his fellowship and converse with him. So it is with the saved sinner and his Saviour.
99. Joseph’s joy was shared by others.
“And the fame thereof, was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come, and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants” (45: 16). “This is the Old Testament fifteenth of Luke. Sinners are received and reconciled; the lost is found; it is, as it were, ‘life from the dead’ with souls. ‘And there is joy in the presence of God.’ God and the angels, like Pharaoh and his servants, rejoice when sinners are brought to repentance. There is joy all around. Joseph rejoices; his brethren rejoice; Pharaoh rejoices; his servants rejoice” (Mr. Knapp).
100. Joseph’s brethren now go forth seeking others.
Joseph gave to his brethren an honourable commission. He had said to them, “Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy
son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all
marvellous grace, the Lord commissions those whom He saves. He bids them go forth seeking others who know
Him not. Joseph bade his brethren tell
Jacob that he was alive, that God had made him “lord of
101. Joseph gives his brethren a word of admonition as they go forth.
“So he sent his brethren away, and they departed and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way” (45: 24). And how much we need this word of exhortation. The flesh is still in us. The Devil seeks to stir up a spirit of rivalry and jealousy. But says the apostle, “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all” (2 Tim. 2: 24). If each of us were to heed this, there would be no “falling out by the way”!
We leave the reader to trace out for himself
the typical application of the sequel. Oseph’ brethren were faithful to the commission given
them. hey did
not invent a message of their own as they approached Jacob. They had no need to do so. Joseph had told them what to say; their
business was to repeat the words of