Joseph's father was Jacob, his grandfather Isaac, and his great grandfather was Abraham. Jacob, who was also called Israel, had twelve sons. From these sons came the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
GENESIS 37:3-10 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
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 round 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?
This dream of Joseph's was not a dream like we hear men dream today. In this age of enlightenment, we all are told we must have dreams and goals. We are told that we must see ourselves successful, we must picture ourselves victorious. Some call it visualization and tell us we will never go places if we don't see ourselves there first. Others call it positive believing but it all falls short of HIS purpose.
What they would have us do is find our pursuits within ourselves. That only ends in self! GOD would have us find our pursuits in HIS purpose. Then we find ourselves in HIM, which is our destiny. Only then will we be truly fulfilled. Only in pursuing GOD's purpose for our lives will we ever see our full potential blossom.
It was not Joseph's goal to rule over his family as such. Rather, it was all "according to the purpose of GOD" as we shall see, for the purpose of man was all the other way. No man or group of men carried Joseph to the throne. Instead they all worked against him. Joseph is even overpowered and carried off to a distant land, yet we shall see it is all according to HIM who works all things according to the counsel of HIS own will.
By over-ruling, GOD has arranged all to fulfill HIS own purpose. Far be it from Joseph's envious brethren to think they were doing GOD's will when they "conspired against Joseph to slay him". They were only in pursuit of their own purpose and sought to fulfill their own desires, yet all of their efforts worked against them so as to accomplish GOD's purpose.
GENESIS 37:23-24 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; and they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
When Yeshua (Jesus) came to the nation of Israel, how did they treat Him? Didn't they also strip Him of His robe, and wasn't He then cast into the grave as Joseph was into the pit? Yeshua was the antitype of which Joseph was the type. This word of GOD is so rich, so full, so deep. All these details that we often casually read over are filled with great truth. All point to Him who was coming to redeem mankind. The great price is to be paid. The purchaser of our souls was fast approaching from the distance of many years, but first, until then, another cometh.
GENESIS 37:25-28, 31 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ismeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh.
And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt...And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood.
As another Judas would later sell Yeshua for thirty pieces of silver, here this Judah sells Joseph for twenty. Then in an attempt to hide their crime, Joseph's brethren killed a kid of the goats and dipped his "coat of many colours" in the blood to make it look like an evil beast had devoured Joseph. As with Joseph's coat of many colors, Christ's vesture was also dipped in blood. As with the type, so with the anti-type.
The Ishmeelites who bought Joseph might have thought they had gained a good bargain. Joseph's brethren might have thought they were wise in their disposing of this dreamer, for surely from Egypt he would never be heard from again. But not so! Instead, they had only helped to accomplish GOD's purpose. Not even Joseph himself willed to bring to pass this chain of events, and to sight all hope that he would rule over anything was lost. However, our walk is not of sight, for whatsoever is of sight is not of faith (2 CORINTHIANS 5:7).
GENESIS 39:1-8 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. 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. 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....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....
The master's wife was attempting to seduce Joseph but he refused! He was a goodly person, but that was not going to keep him out of the soup. Joseph's life is about to take a dramatic turn for the worse. Everything he has tried to rebuild he is about to lose, and then be imprisoned on top of that.
How often have we been asked, that if GOD is so good how come there is so much evil in the world? If our perception of GOD and HIS ways are only from within our tiny box, it is no wonder we so easily stumble with doubts. Some things can't be explained until we have more fully matured. Life involves growth and learning. We should never be too quick to think that just because we don't understand something, therefore it can't be.
I've learned that if we have a mental shelf, so to speak, then when we come across something in the Bible that we don't understand, then we can place it upon that shelf until we do get an understanding. That way we can move on and not be bogged down with things we don't understand. The answers come. Sometimes soon but even if it takes years that's okay. It's important that we keep moving ahead and not keep looking back at things we don't yet understand.
From being cast into the pit to becoming overseer of Potiphar's house, Joseph had climbed to prosperity and respect. Suddenly he seems to have lost it all. Yet in truth he lost only temporal things. The one really vital thing he still had. The one thing that all others revolve around he had not lost, for "the LORD was with Joseph".
GENESIS 39:19-21 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. 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. But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
The LORD was with Joseph and gave him favor, with means grace. Joseph spent more than two years in that Egyptian prison and to sight, this Hebrew's future looked pretty bleak. But GOD was over-ruling and soon GOD's time would come and then HIS purpose would be fulfilled. In psalms we find this testimony of GOD's purpose in Joseph:
Psalm 105:16-24 Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread. he sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.
The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free. He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance: to bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom. Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies.
Just because we may not see any future ahead of us worth living for, that doesn't mean GOD doesn't have one mapped out for us. We must refuse to allow the circumstances of the hour to eclipse our future. Things can change very quickly, especially when GOD is involved.
Joseph happen to share the prison cell with Pharaoh's chief butler and baker of whom each had a dream. Upon telling Joseph their dreams, he gave them each the interpretation. The chief butler was to be restored unto his former manner, but the chief baker was to be hanged on a tree. Within three days, according to Joseph's interpretation, Pharaoh restored the chief butler and hanged the chief baker. Then we read:
GENESIS 40:23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.
Our good deeds often fall to thankless souls and forgetful hearts. That's why when our goodness is directed towards our fellow man, it should not be because of their goodness to us, but rather because of GOD's goodness to us. As we receive from GOD, we thus give to others as the LORD directs.
There is a truth in scripture that what goes around comes around. If we are hurtful to others, we may get hurt, but if we are loving and forgiving to others, that's what we'll receive. What one sows he eventually reaps.
GENESIS 41:1a, 8-16 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed... And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.
Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day: Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard's house, both me and the chief baker: and we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream. And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret. And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.
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. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.
So Joseph gives Pharaoh GOD's interpretation of his dreams. There are to be seven years of great plenty but then seven years of famine. Joseph then advises Pharaoh to set a discreet and wise man over the land to steward the plenteous years so that they perish not during the famine.
GENESIS 41:37-46 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 shewed 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.
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. 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; 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. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph. I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.
And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnath-paaneah [which means bread of life]; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt. And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.
Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. Why thirty? Because GOD was over-ruling. Joseph was foreshadowing the antitype. Is this not connected with Yeshua when He stood before His LORD at about thirty years of age? (LUKE 3:22-23). In addition, as Joseph was called by Pharaoh from the dungeon to rule over Egypt, was not Yeshua called by GOD from the grave to rule His kingdom?
Pharaoh said, Only in the throne will I be greater than you. Similarly Paul wrote that GOD put all under Christ, except GOD himself:
1 CORINTHIANS 15:27b NIV Now when it says that "everything" has been put under Him, it is clear that this does not include GOD himself, who put everything under Christ.
Pharaoh had Joseph ride in the second chariot because the herald rode in the first chariot announcing Joseph's coming, just as the archangel with the trump of GOD will announce our Lord's second coming when He returns (1 THESSALONIANS 4:16). And then Pharaoh changed Joseph's name to bread of life. Amazing isn't it? The anti-type is complete.
Joseph is established as ruler over all Egypt, but this is not the end that GOD has prepared Joseph for, just as Christ's ascension into heaven was not the end GOD had prepared Him for. Joseph's rise to the throne was no more difficult for GOD than was his being cast into the pit by his brethren. Neither proved to be the end, because GOD had greater purposes in store.
GOD wanted Joseph to rule Egypt so that he could save his family from starvation and make of them a great nation. This coming nation would point to and usher in the coming Redeemer. It's all about Him. GOD's purposes all end in Him. The birth of the Redeemer was still centuries away, and GOD would use the nation of Israel to carry that precious seed. That nation began with Abraham, then his son Isaac, and now his son Jacob whom we now find facing starvation with his remaining eleven sons back in the land of Canaan.
GENESIS 42:1-9 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live and not die.
And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.
And the sons of Israel [Jacob] came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 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 saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them...
Joseph now knew that the day had come for the fulfillment of the dreams his brethren scoffed at and for which his father had rebuked him. He knew that GOD had delivered him from their betrayal and his slavery to his ruling for their salvation. What a humbling and yet joyful place to be. To realize that GOD has blessed us with so much so that we can be a helping hand to others. Words are not found to express the humility and the peaceful security that this realization brings.
But oh! what of the others? The ones who neglect or abuse their brothers in pursuit of their own purpose? It was rightly stated once that the wheels of GOD's judgment grind slowly, but they grind finely. Joseph accused them:
GENESIS 42:9b ...ye are spies...
They knew that they were not spies. What a dreadful mistake they feared was being made. They frantically tried to explain that they were simply "twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan". They told him that the youngest was with their father, one had died and that they were the remaining ten. They were not spies but just came to buy some corn because of the famine.
Joseph instructed them to prove this by going home and returning with their youngest brother. In the meantime, Simeon would stay with him in Egypt. They agreed because they had no choice. They feared that their evil deed against their brother Joseph many years ago, had finally caught up with them.
GENESIS 42:21 NIV They said to one another, "Surely we are being punished because of our brother [Joseph]. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that's why this distress has come upon us."
They returned home and told their father all that had befallen them. He at first refused to allow them to return to Egypt with their brother Benjamin saying that he had first lost Joseph, now Simeon and could not endure the loss of another.
They were in a most frightful situation. Not to go to Egypt meant probable starvation, but to return meant possibly prison or even death. What to do! Their souls must have wrestled with the dilemma for days if not weeks or months. And there was really no need, for GOD Almighty had already provided for them. HE had orchestrated all to take care of their every need.
Just as HE had brought Joseph out of his dilemma in prison, so HE would now bring Jacob and his sons out of their grief and torment which had persisted since Joseph's carrying away into Egypt. GOD is only good continually! It is when we act out of envy or grieve out of guilt that we miss HIS goodness.
As the famine worsened and their supplies dwindled, Jacob had little choice but to send them back to Egypt. He finally consented, after Judah assured him that he would be surety for Benjamin.
GENESIS 43:9 I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bare the blame for ever.
So they returned, not knowing what lay ahead for them. As an additional precaution they prepared a gift for Joseph to hopefully secure his favor. When they arrived in Egypt all seemed to go well. Simeon was presented to them, they received their supplies and after a special dinner with Joseph, they were dismissed.
However, Joseph had his steward hide his personal silver cup in Benjamin's sack and after they had gone out of the city, Joseph sent to have them arrested as thieves. They were apprehended, the cup found and all were returned to Joseph.
We do not with lightness realize the emotions these men are struggling under. These brethren are facing the most powerful ruler in the land, accused as thieves. One or all of them are looking at prison or even death. Their father, Jacob, is not only depending on the food they went after to keep their families alive, but also is dealing with the possibility of losing his remaining sons. If that would happen, Jacob said it would "bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave".
The story is brought to a climax when Judah explained to Joseph how he had promised his father Jacob that he would be surety for Benjamin. Judah offered his life in place of his brother's.
At this point, Joseph was no longer able to hide his identity from his brethren in their desperate hour. Bursting into tears, he reveals that he is indeed their brother.
GENESIS 45:1-15 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. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. 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.
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 Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. 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 that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say to him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: and thou shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shall be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: and there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.
And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither. And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.
What unspeakable relief, what amazing forgiveness, what surpassing compassion these shared with each other. How GOD had so speedily turned their greatest torment into a wonderful blessing, "exceeding abundantly above all they could ask or even think".
"It was not you that sent me hither, but GOD." They thought it was they, but GOD was over-ruling. "GOD hath made me lord of all Egypt." It was all to do with the Christ-line, for the thread that travels through the Hebrew Bible from Adam to Christ ran right through Jacob and Judah, Joseph's father and brother. By GOD, Joseph would keep that thread intact by saving his family from a very severe famine.
Now to move out and carry the message of this incredible blessing home to their families.
GENESIS 45:25-28 And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father, and told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not.
And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: and Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.
Our hearts too, though often faint can be revived. What wonderful blessings must await us over the next hill or around the next bend in the road as we continue to pursue HIS purpose for our lives.