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Joseph in the Bible: How He Was a Type of Christ

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

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There is more than one Joseph in the Bible. However, this article is about the first son of Jacob and Rachel. The Old Testament story of Joseph is covered in Genesis 37-50.

Joseph's brothers hated him because their father favored Joseph. Besides, Joseph was a dreamer, and he told his brothers how he would be exalted and they would have to bow down to him. The brothers became jealous and attempted to kill Joseph when he was 17 years old. They put him in a pit, but they decided to sell him into slavery to some Ishmaelites who passed by.

While in Egypt, Potiphar's wife falsely accused the young man and he was imprisoned along with two criminals. He used his gift of interpreting dreams to help Pharaoh. He was released from prison and promoted to second in command in Egypt.

When a famine occurred, the brothers traveled to get grain. They did not recognize their brother at first, but Joseph recognized them, and he wept. After Joseph reconciled with his brothers, he sent for his father and the rest of the family to move to Egypt. Joseph was now 30 years old. He had not seen his father since he was 17 years old.

A Type of Christ: Meaning

People in the Old Testament are usually referred to as a type of Christ when they are seen as foreshadowing the characteristics and actions of Jesus before Jesus came to the face of the earth. The study or interpretation of types is known as typology.

Examples of Types of Christ

Most types of Christ are in the Old Testament because they had the characteristics of Jesus before He came to earth as a human. Even so, there are a few people who were types of Christ in the New Testament because some people shared some of the same qualities as Jesus.

This article describes how Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel, was a type of Christ because he had the most examples. In fact, there are over one hundred similarities between Joseph and Jesus thousands of years before Jesus was born. Some of those similarities are highlighted below.

Joseph and Jesus

Miraculous Birth

  • After Rachel was barren, God opened her womb and she conceived Joseph (Genesis 30:22-23).
  • God overshadowed Mary with the Holy Spirit while she was still a virgin (Matthew 1:18).

Family

  • Joseph and Jesus were deeply loved by their fathers.
  • Joseph's own brothers hated him, tried to kill him, and sold him into slavery.
  • Jesus' own people rejected Him.
  • Joseph and Jesus were hated by the words they spoke.

Home

  • Joseph left his home for 13 years to serve in another land.
  • Jesus left his home in heaven for 33 years to serve on earth.

Betrayals

  • Joseph was betrayed by his brothers.
  • Jesus was betrayed by Judas, one of His disciples.

Falsely Accused

  • Potiphar's wife falsely accused Joseph.
  • Jesus was falsely accused by the chief priests and elders.

Promotions

  • Joseph was promoted to Pharaoh's right hand on his throne.
  • Jesus was elevated to the right hand of God and His throne.

Age

  • Joseph was 30 years old when he started his new position as second in command in Egypt (Genesis 41:46).
  • Jesus was 30 years old when he began His ministry on earth (Luke 3:23).

Clothes

  • Joseph was stripped of his precious coat of many colors (Genesis 37:23).
  • Jesus was stripped of His seamless robe (John 19:23-24).

Similar Words

  • Joseph's brothers said, "Let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and let our hands be upon him."
  • Pontius Pilate said he washed his hands on the matter.

Being Sold

  • Joseph's brother Judah suggested selling Joseph for 20 pieces of silver, the price of a slave at that time (Genesis 37:26-28).
  • Jesus was betrayed by Judas for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave at that time (Matthew 1:2-3).

Rescue Attempted

  • Reuben, Joseph's older brother tried to rescue him from the brothers who wanted to kill him (Genesis 37:21).
  • The governor Pontius Pilate tried to rescue Jesus, but he was outnumbered (Matthew 27:24; John 19:12).

Egypt

  • Joseph was taken to Egypt when his brothers sold him (Genesis 37:28)
  • Jesus was taken to Egypt as a youth to escape King Herod (Matthew 2:14).

Chains

  • Joseph was bound in chains (Genesis 39:20).
  • Jesus was bound in chains (Matthew 27:2).
Joseph put in pit by his brothers

Joseph put in pit by his brothers

Being Innocent

  • Joseph, though innocent, was put in prison in Egypt.
  • Jesus, though innocent stood trial all night and was crucified.

Approval

  • Joseph's master was well pleased with Joseph.
  • God said He was well pleased with Jesus.
  • Joseph found favor with God and the officials.
  • Jesus grew in favor with God and men (Luke 2L?/)

Gained Respect

  • Joseph gained the respect of the jailer while in prison.
  • Jesus gained respect when the centurion said, "Surely, this was a righteous man" (Luke 23:47)

With the Guilty

  • Joseph was in prison with two criminals: the cupbearer and the baker.
  • Jesus was crucified between two thieves.

Remembrance

  • Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him when he was released from prison.
  • One thief on the cross asked Jesus to remember him.
  • Jesus said to remember Him whenever we celebrate Holy Communion.

Hair Removal

  • Joseph shaved himself (Genesis 41:14) before meeting with Pharaoh.
  • Jesus' beard was plucked out by those who mocked Him.

Gifts

  • The brother took gifts to Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 43:11).
  • Wise men took gifts to Jesus when He was a baby (Matthew 2:11).
  • Pharaoh gave Joseph his ring and arrayed him with fine linen, and put a gold chain around his neck (Genesis 40:42).
  • Jesus received honor when He returned to His Father in heaven.

Marriage

  • Pharaoh gave his daughter to Joseph to be his wife.
  • God gave the church to Jesus as His bride.

Bread

  • Joseph gave grain for bread during a famine in the land (Genesis 41:57).
  • Jesus says He is the "bread of life" (John 6:35).

Savior

  • Joseph became the savior for his people.
  • Jesus became the savior of His people.

Not Recognized

  • Joseph was not recognized by his brother when he went to get grain in Egypt.
  • Some people did not and still do not recognize Jesus as the Savior of the world.

Fear Not

  • Joseph told his brother to "fear not."
  • Jesus tells those who follow Him to "fear not."

Weeping

  • Joseph wept seven times when he saw His brothers.
  • Jesus wept twice in the Bible; once at the grave of Lazarus and once over Jerusalem.

Forgiveness and Comfort

  • Joseph forgave his brothers for the evil they did to him (Genesis 45:4; Genesis 14-15).
  • Jesus' first words on the cross were words of forgiveness for those who wronged Him (Luke 23:34).
  • Joseph comforted his brothers who felt guilty about betraying him (Genesis 50:21).
  • Jesus' disciples were comforted from the guilt of abandoning Jesus at the cross (John 20:19).

Invitation

  • Joseph invited his brothers to "Come near to me" (Genesis 45:4).
  • Jesus invites us to "Come unto me" (Matthew 11:28).

Seed

  • Joseph gave his brothers seed to sow.
  • Jesus gave seed to the sower.

Number 12

  • Joseph was one of the twelve sons of Jacob.
  • Jesus had twelve disciples.

Feet Washing

  • The stewards gave Joseph's brothers water to wash their feet (Genesis 43:24).
  • Jesus took water and washed His disciples' feet.

Without Sin

  • Joseph was tempted, but no record of him sinning (Genesis 39:6-20).
  • Jesus was tempted, but He was without sin (Matthew 4:1-11).

Feeding

  • Joseph told the servants to feed his brothers.
  • Jesus told His disciples to feed the multitude.

Back From the Dead

  • Jacob was told his son was dead. Jacob discovered later that he was alive.
  • People knew Jesus was dead on Friday, but three days later they knew He was alive.

With Two Criminals

  • Joseph was in prison with two criminals, a cupbearer and a baker (Genesis 40:1-3).
  • Jesus was crucified with two criminals (Luke 23:32-33).

Both Honored

  • All will pay homage and every knee will bow (Genesis 41:40-43).
  • Every knee will bow before Jesus (Philippians 2:10; Hebrews 1:6).

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:20).

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Comments

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on November 12, 2020:

That was really interesting to read. I've the story of Joseph in the Bible many times, but never saw the similarities between him and Jesus until I read your hub. Very interesting!