3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.

5 Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. 6 So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: 7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.” (GEN. 37:3-7)

As we enter this character sketch of Joseph we must take into account one of God’s attributes – His omniscience. In Isaiah 46:10 we read of God, “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my Counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.” God knows how everything is going to play out. He is not nervous about it. He is not sweating it out hoping that His plans come through. We live in a space, time continuum where we only know and see the past and the present. God lives in eternity and not only does He know and see the past , present, and future, He’s in all three places at the same time (I guess that would include His omnipresence also).

God placed all types of clues in the Old Testament to reveal the New Testament when the time had come. St. Augustine accurately said, “The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.”


Therefore, as we examine the life of Joseph, one would have to be blind not to see the similarities between the events in Joseph’s life and those in the life of Christ. Consider the following:

  • Joseph is born of a womb that has to be opened miraculously. Gen. 30:22-24
  • Jesus is born of a virgin. Luke 1:26-38
  • Joseph’s father favors him above his brothers. Gen. 37:3
  • God the Father said about Jesus, “This is My beloved Son…” Matt. 3:17
  • Joseph’s brothers despise him. Gen. 37:4-5
  • The Jews did not believe in Christ (Jn. 7:5) and they hated Him. Jn. 15:24
  • Joseph’s brothers conspired against Joseph. Gen. 37:23
  • The religious leaders took counsel against Jesus. Matt. 27:1
  • Joseph was sold for silver. Gen. 37:28
  • Jesus was sold for silver. Matt. 26:15
  • Joseph’s own brothers did not recognize him. Gen. 42:8
  • The Jews did not recognize their Messiah. Jn. 1:11
  • Joseph did not sin when tempted. Gen. 39:9
  • Jesus lived his entire life without sin though tempted in all things. Hebr. 4:15
  • Joseph was condemned with two criminals. Gen. 40:2-3
  • Jesus was crucified with two criminals. Luke 23:32
  • Joseph’s brothers bowed their knee to him. Gen. 41:43
  • “At the Name of Jesus every knee will bow.” Phil. 2:10
  • God planned the suffering of Joseph in advance to save many. Gen. 50:21
  • “God so loved the world…” Jn. 3:16 (See also Rev. 13:8)
  • Joseph married a gentile. Gen. 41:45
  • Jesus married the Church, the Bride of Christ, which is largely Gentile. Rom. 11:25; Eph. 5:23-32; Rev. 19:9
  • When Joseph’s family is in tribulation, he and only he chooses the time and place to reveal himself to them. Gen. 45:3
  • “And they shall look upon Me whom they pierced…” Zech. 12:10

There are many more similarities, but that will do for now. Let’s get to the story.


Joseph is the 1st born of the woman that Jacob truly loved. Reuben is the actual 1st born but he profaned his birthright and Jacob gave it to Joseph instead. Jacob gives him a multi-colored coat that sets him apart from his brethren. They know in no uncertain terms that Joseph is their father’s favorite.


Joseph receives dreams from God that speak of his future dominance over his brothers and even his father and mother. In the first of these dreams he sees 11 sheaves bowing to his one sheath. He gets so excited that he goes and tells his brothers that one day he will rule over them which engenders much affection from them towards him. Not! He has another dream where he sees the sun, moon and 11 stars bowing to his star indicating that not only were his brothers going to bow to him, but his mother and father also. You have to understand that Joseph became a very wise man, but his actions here were not too bright.  In Gen. 37:11 it reads that his brothers were jealous of him, but his father didn’t totally dismiss it.


One day, Jacob sends Joseph to his brothers, who were tending the flock, to check on their welfare. Judah sees him coming from a distance and says to his brothers, “Let’s kill him.” Reuben objects and says, “Let’s throw him in this pit instead.” So they strip him of his coat and put him in the pit. About that time a group of Ishmaelites come passing by and they decide to sell Joseph to them for 20 pieces of silver. They dipped Joseph’s coat in some goats blood and took it back to their father convincing him that Joseph was dead. Talk about your dysfunctional family, this was it!


The Ishmaelites end up selling Joseph to the chief executioner in Egypt, Potipher. Potipher eventually puts Joseph in charge of his whole house because of his wisdom. Unfortunately, Potipher’s wife develops the hots for Joseph to the point that Joseph has to make a hasty exit. To make matters worse Potipher’s wife grabs his garment which stays behind with her. Furious that Joseph would not lie with her, she uses the garment that identifies him as a Hebrew, and tells everyone that Joseph tried to make advances towards her. So, of course, Potipher has Joseph thrown in prison. Joseph must be thinking, “twice now what I was wearing has gotten me in trouble.” He’s probably wondering if God really did speak to him through those dreams he had.


Eventually, Joseph’s wisdom and talents impress the prison keeper to such a degree that he put’s Joseph in charge over all the prisoners. One night the Pharaoh’s butler and baker, who Pharaoh threw in jail, each had dreams. Consequently, disturbed by these dreams, they tell Joseph about them. Joseph interprets the dreams for them and tells the baker that he is going to be executed and that the butler will be restored to his position. These things happened just like Joseph said and as the butler is leaving Joseph asks him to speak favorably to Pharaoh on his behalf so he can get out of there. And of course, the butler forgets all about it.


But after 2 years, Pharaoh has a couple of dreams that he can’t figure out. All of a sudden the butler remembers poor Joseph and tells Pharaoh about him. So Pharaoh summons Joseph to appear before him. Notice what Joseph does. He cleaned himself, changed clothes, and then shaved. So what? A Hebrew man would not have shaved. In fact, most commentators believe that Joseph shaved his entire body which is what an Egyptian would do. Some even believe that Joseph painted his eyes after the manner of the Egyptians. He must be thinking, “Twice before the way I looked has gotten me in trouble. I’m not taking any chances.” The prison has made Joseph wiser.

So, Joseph appears before Pharaoh and interprets Pharaoh’s dreams. In Pharaoh’s first dream he dreamed of seven fat and healthy cows rising up from the Nile followed by seven skinny and malnourished cows which eat the seven healthy ones. In Pharaoh’s second dream seven plump and good ears of corn appear followed by seven thin and scorched ears of corn which swallow up the seven good ears of corn. Joseph told Pharaoh that seven very plentiful years would occur followed by seven years of lack so bad that they would make them forget about the seven good years. Joseph also told him that he needed to find someone wise to begin to store up during the plentiful years against the years of lack and famine that were to come. Pharaoh looks at Joseph and says, “Tag, you’re it!


Some very startling changes start taking place in Joseph’s life after this. First of all, Pharaoh gives him a new name, “Zaphenath-paneah” which has multiple meanings. It can mean “the one who reveals secrets,” but more likely it means “One who provides the bread of life” or “Savior of the world.” They actually all fit Joseph in this situation. If this new name isn’t a type and shadow of Christ then I don’t know what is! Then Pharaoh gives Joseph some new clothing, takes the signet ring off his finger and puts it on Joseph’s, and sets a gold chain about his neck. This is basically telling everyone that Joseph has the same authority as Pharaoh does to conduct business in the kingdom. He also gives him a wife; the daughter of the high priest of sun worship in Egypt. Our virtuous, righteous, Hebrew Joseph is married into the most powerful family on the face of the earth that also leads Egypt in idol worship. And his job is to see that this pagan, idolatrous culture survives. And God is the One responsible for putting him there! Amazing!


Joseph has two sons while he’s in Egypt; the first one is Manasseh which means to forget, because he said, “I have forgotten all of my toils and all my father’s house.” He’s putting those dreams he had in the past behind him. His second son is Ephraim which means fruitful, “because God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” He’s putting the past behind him because only when his brothers show back up does he remember the dreams. Our Hebrew Joseph, at the end of the day, looks more like an Egyptian than he does a Hebrew.

{I really intended for this to be all on one post but there is just too much material here for that. Since I don’t won’t to short change you on this sketch, we will continue this in part two.}

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. I love the story of Joseph’s life and the fact that he is a type and shadow of our Lord Jesus Christ makes him even more interesting. This writer is very good at bringing out the parts of his life that we, as laypeople, might miss in the reading. I love that Joseph can forgive his family for what they did to him. His life is certainly worth studying.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: