Joseph: Antitype of Yeshua the Savior (Gen 42)
Joseph acted as a savior to his brothers and family to save them from death in a time of famine. Prophetically, Christians (who are, at least in part, descendants of Joseph) present Yeshua son of Joseph as the Savior to the world (including to the Jews) to save people from spiritual death.
Viewing Joseph’s role as a savior to the Israelite people in their time of need as a prophetic picture of Yeshua’s similar role as Savior should not seem strange to the reader. In pre-Christian Jewish literature, the Jewish sages identified two Messiahs that were to come: one whose life would resemble Joseph and was referred to as the suffering servant or “Messiah Son of Joseph” (Mashiach ben Yoseph), and a second Messiah whose life and ministry would resemble that of David, and who they referred to as the warrior king or “Messiah Son of David” (Mashiach ben David). This messianic title was prevalent even in Yeshua’s day, for on several occasions, he was asked if he was the [Messiah] Son of David (e.g., Matt 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30–31; 21:9, 15; 22:42). The Jewish sages came to the conclusion that there were two Messiahs because while reading the messianic prophecies in the Tanakh (OT) they saw two different, even conflicting Messiahs whose roles were very different from each other. What was not known by the ancient Jewish sages, which was a subject of much debate, was which Messiah would come first, when he would come, would he be the same person or two different individuals, and how much time would separate their two comings.
For believers in Yeshua, this is not a dilemma, because we can look back in time and clearly see that Yeshua fulfilled the Suffering Servant role at his first coming, and will fulfill the Conquering King role at his second coming. But two thousand years ago, without the benefit of historical perspective, this was not an easy matter to figure out. Even the disciples were at times in a quandary as to which mission Yeshua was to fulfill as evidenced by their last question to him before his final ascension, “Will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).
Allusions to Yeshua the Messiah’s role as the Son of Joseph can be found in the following biblical passages:
- The Suffering Servant will die a martyrs death for the sins of his people (Isa 52:13–53:12).
- In the end of times, the Jews will look upon him whom they pierced and mourn for him as one mourns for his only son (Zech 12:9–10).
- In verse one of Psalm 22 are some of the last words to come out of Yeshua’s mouth while he hung dying on the cross. This psalm predicts certain aspects of the Suffering Servant Messiah’s ministry.
- John 1:45 may be a double entendre allusion to Yeshua as being not only the (adopted) son of Joseph, the husband of Mary, but to his being Messiah Son of Joseph, as well.
In Genesis 45:1–15 when Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers, we see that Joseph, as an antitype of Yeshua, had mercy on his brothers who were now penitent for their sins against him. Joseph wept for joy and embraced his brothers (verse 14) when being reconciled to them. Past hurts and wrongs were forgiven. Prophetically, this points to Yeshua, our Savior and Redeemer, who lovingly accepts the repentant sinner and warmly embraces and welcomes him into Elohim’s spiritual family and kingdom (Ezek 18:27–32 and Ps 103:10–18).
Continuing with our comparison between Joseph and Yeshua, we see that during the remaining years of the famine, all of the Egyptians became indebted to Joseph as he judiciously doled out the stored wheat to those in need. In order to save their lives, the inhabitants of the famine-ravished land gave their lives and land to be servants of Joseph (who was a type of Yeshua) in exchange for food (Gen 45:13–26, 47:23). Yeshua, likewise, has bought us with the price of his blood (1 Cor 6:20; 1 Pet 1:18–19; Rev 5:9). Similarly, in the Apostolic Scriptures, the disciples of Yeshua are called to be his bondservants—a term the apostles apply to themselves numerous times.