Prophetic Types and Shadows in the Life of Joseph (Pt 1)

Joseph and Judah (the Two Houses of Israel)

In what follows, we will see types and shadows that point to the end-time reunification of the two houses of Israel (Joseph/Ephraim and Judah/the Jews), and to Yeshua the Messiah whose role it would be to regather and reunite the two houses of Israel by laying his life down as a ransom or substitute for his brothers. In this study, we will discuss the following themes:

  • reuniting lost family members
  • reconciliation and healing of wounds and offenses between families
  • forgiveness of past wrongs, offenses and misunderstandings
  • prophetic shadows of Yeshua the Messiah

Let’s now analyze the events in the life of Joseph (and to a lesser degree, Judah) as they occurred chronologically to see how they pointed forward to events that would occur in the future including the end times.

Joseph Taken as Captive to a Gentile Nation (Gen 37)

Joseph was sold into slavery and taken as a captive to Egypt. Similarly and prophetically, Joseph’s descendants (Ephraim and Manasseh), along with their fellow tribesmen of the northern kingdom of Israel (or house of Israel), were taken as captives into Assyria (ca. 723 B.C.). From there they were scattered around the world (into spiritual “Egypt,” ) where the  biblical prophets predicted they would remain until the final regathering at the end of the age (just prior to and at the coming of Messiah). We will understand this more as we proceed.

Joseph: From Slave to Ruler (Gen 37, 41)

At first, Joseph was a slave and a prisoner in Egypt, but then he prospered and was elevated to a position of leadership there. Likewise, in the future, Joseph’s descendants (Ephraim, Manasseh, and the rest of the house of Israel) would start out as slaves and captives in Assyria (in the eighth century b.c.), but would later become leaders and rulers in their captive nations and would actually have their own nations just as Jacob prophesied would occur to Ephraim and Manasseh (that they would become a multitude of nations, Gen 48:19). We believe that these nations have become the primary Christian nations (of which America is the leader). As we shall see below, the ancient Jewish sages, based on their understanding of the Scriptures, foresaw that the nations of the ten tribes would spread the truth of Messiah Son of Joseph, the Suffering Servant (Yeshua the Messiah at his first coming) around the world. This would help to prepare the way for the Messiah Son of David (Yeshua the Messiah at his second coming).

How do we know that many people in the major Christian nations would be the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh? The answer is found in understanding the prophecy that Jacob made on his death bed over Joseph’s two sons. In Genesis 48 while prophesying over Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob crossed his hands over their heads making the symbol of the paleo-Hebrew letter tav  (like the letter t or x in our English alphabet), which resembles a cross and pictographically means in that ancient Hebraic script “sign of the covenant.” Jacob then spoke of the Heavenly Messenger of YHVH (the Hebrew word malak being mistranslated as “angel” in most Bibles), understood to be the preincarnate Yeshua, who had redeemed him from all evil and who would bless the lads (see Gen 31:11–13). Jacob then prophesied that the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh would become like “fish in the midst of the land.”

In light of this prophetic symbolism, which religious group on earth today fulfills the religious symbolisms in Jacob’s prophecy as to who the descendents of Ephraim and Manasseh would be? Which religion on earth today uses the fish as their symbol, speaks of a Messenger from YHVH as their Redeemer, and has the sign of the paleo-Hebrew letter tav, which looks like a cross? The Buddhists? The Moslems? The Hindus? Even the Jews? No! Only Christianity fits this enigmatic criteria. Many Christians are without a doubt the literal descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh. Those who are not, according to the Apostle Paul, in some unique sense become the descendants of Abraham once they come to saving faith in Yeshua (e.g., Gal 3:7,29).

Prophetic Understanding from the Jewish Sages

The Jewish sages from antiquity have understood the prophetic implications of the events and prophecies surrounding Genesis chapters 37 through 49. For example, in Genesis 48:18 Jacob prophesies that the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh would become “a multitude of nations.” What do the Jewish sages say about this prophetic verse as pertaining to the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh?

Ibn Ezra declares that many nations will descend from him (i.e., the word TKN [melo], “fullness,” connotes “abundance,” the phrase meaning: And his seed will become the abundance of the nation [Neter; Karnei Or].)

R. Avraham ben HaRambam states that the expression denotes abundant profligacy to a point that they will have to inhabit lands of other nations. This is an allusion to Ephraim’s expansive territory.

Radak says that this refers to the exile when the lands of others will be filled with his scattered descendants.… See also Hos 7:8: “Ephraim shall be mingled among the nations.

The ArtScroll Bereishis/Genesis Commentary says of this verse, “What kind of blessing was this prediction that one day [Jacob’s] descendants—the Ten Tribes—would be scattered among the nations? R[abbi] Munk explains: while it is true that the dispersion was caused by the unfaithfulness and sinfulness of Ephraim’s descendants (Hos 7:8ff), Jacob’s blessing was not in vain for “they will return to God” and will have their share in the world to come ([Talmud] Sanhedrin 110b). And R. Eliezer adds: ‘Even the darkness in which the Ten Tribes were lost will one day become as radiant as the day’ (according to the version of Avos d’Rabbi Nosson 36). And in the perspective of history, did not these exiled children of the Patriarchs enlighten the nations among whom they were scattered? They did so by teaching their conquerors the fundamental ideas of the knowledge and love of God, ideals they had never forsaken. Hence they too have a messianic vocation and their Messiah the … Messiah son of Joseph (Succah 52a), also called Messiah son of Ephraim (Targum Yonasan on Exodus 40:11), will play an essential role in humanity’s redemption, for he will be the precursor of the … Messiah Son of David….” (emphasis added, especially note part in bold type).

There is more…so stay tuned.


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