This final post in this series on the life of Joseph is a little longer than the others, but stay with it to the end. It’ll be worth the time to read it in that your understanding of end-times prophecy with regard to the Jewish and Christian people will be greatly expanded. Enjoy!
Joseph’s Brothers Didn’t Recognize Him as Their Brother (Gen 42:6, 8)
Joseph’s brothers did not recognize him, though he recognized them. This is prophetic of what would happen between the brothers in the future—they again wouldn’t recognize each other.
To understand how this scenario would play out prophetically, we have to know who Joseph’s descendants would become. Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons (Gen 41:50–52) would not only become whole nations or people-groups, but would become the leaders of other nations as well (see Ezek 37:16; Hos 6:10; 11:12; 2 Chr 30:1, 10–11).
Prophetically speaking, as Judah (the leader and spokesman of the brothers and whose descendants are the modern-day Jews didn’t recognize Joseph, so the Jews have not recognized Joseph’s descendants—the house of Ephraim—who constitute a major portion of the lost sheep of the house of Israel today (Matt 10:6; 15:24). The Jewish sages have long recognized that their Ephraimite brothers (along with those from the other tribes who had forgotten their identity) are scattered and will someday return by the divine hand of the Almighty and in fulfillment of numerous biblical prophecies. For example, Jewish teacher Jacob Immanual Schochet acknowledges that through the efforts of the Messiah, the ingathering of the exiles, including the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom, will occur, and they will be reunited with Judah and together the whole house of Israel will serve YHVH as stated in Ezekiel 20:32–37, 40–42. The Talmud (the Jewish oral law) confirms this view position and states that the ten lost tribes will return to the land of Israel at the end of the age in conjunction with the coming of the Messiah to be reunited with their Jewish brothers.
Joseph’s Brothers Didn’t Recognize Him as Their Savior (Gen 42–44)
Joseph’s brothers didn’t recognize that Joseph was their savior (from famine). Prophetically, and in our time, most Jews neither recognize Christians (the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh) as their brothers, nor that the Jesus of Christianity is their Savior who will supply spiritual food for which their hearts are longing (but not finding in rabbinical Judaism), but that he died to redeem them from their sins.
The Scriptures prophecy that this spiritual blindness would occur to many of the children of Israel, including the Jews. We read about this in Isaiah 8:14 and Romans 11:25.
The Concept of Deliverance Through Substitution (Gen 42:17–19, 24)
Joseph made known to his brothers a way of deliverance through substitution in that they would all be saved if Simeon were held back for ransom.
Continuing our comparison between Joseph and Yeshua, what religious people-group in the last two thousand years has been making known to the world the way of deliverance through the substitutionary (sacrificial, blood atonement) work of Messiah Yeshua the Son of Joseph at the cross of Calvary? The Jews or the Christians?
Interestingly, even though Joseph suggested that substitution be made so that the brothers might live (verse 19), it was Judah who ended up laying down his life as a ransom for Benjamin, his youngest brother, by becoming surety for him (Gen 44:32–34). In prophetic fulfilment of this antitype, we see that it was Yeshua the Messiah, son of Joseph, who descended from Judah, and who offered to lay down his life that his brothers (you and me) might live.
Judah’s actions are antitypical of those of Yeshua the Messiah in the following areas:
- Both sought to please their fathers.
- Both acted out of unconditional love for their younger brother.
- Both stood to gain nothing personally, but rather stood to lose much, if their plan did not work. Judah, a prince, would become a slave in Egypt; Yeshua would become a slave to death and hell, if he sinned.
- Both Judah and Yeshua were willing to lay down their lives for their brethren because of their love for their father (Gen 44:18–34; John 8:28; chapter 17).
It is interesting to note that classic Christian commentator, Matthew Henry, draws a similar analogy between Judah’s actions here and Messiah Yeshua, as well.
Additionally, Judah’s love for his father and Benjamin, and his willingness to lay down his life as a ransom to become a slave in Egypt to Joseph, is analogous to Messiah Yeshua’s love for the lost sheep of the house of Israel to whom he came to reach out and to ransom in order to bring them back into the sheepfold of Israel (John 10:15–16; Matt 10:6; 15:24).
Judah Approaches Joseph (Gen 44:18)
Judah came near to Joseph willing to lay down his life for his younger brother (Gen 44:18–34). This is another prophetic picture of the future Messiah who would come to this earth in willingness to give his life as a ransom to save his brothers. The Scriptures call Yeshua the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev 5:5) who initiated the process in seeking to save his brothers who were spiritually lost (Rom 5:8; Luke 19:10; Matt 18:11; ), and who Yeshua referred to as the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 10:6; 15:24).
Joseph Had to Reveal Himself (Gen 45)
The brothers didn’t recognize Joseph because he resembled an Egyptian; he had to reveal himself to them. Today, Christians (the descendants of Joseph according to Gen 48:16, 18 and Rom 9:24–27 and the descendants of Abraham according Eph 2:11–19; Gal 3:7, 14, 28, 29), are revealing themselves to their brother Judah through several ways:
- Through donating money to Jewish relief agencies.
- Through Christian tourism of Israel.
- Through Christian interfaith organizations (Bridges for Peace, Christians United for Israel, Christian Friends of Israel, etc.).
- Through the Messianic Jewish Movement
- Through the Messianic Israel Movement.
- Through America’s (and Britain’s) military, political and economic support of the nation of Israel.
The Family of Israel Is Finally Reunited/Regathered (Gen 46:1–7)
These verses recount the move of Jacob and his family to Egypt where they were reunited with Joseph and his family. This event prophetically foreshadows a time in the future that the Jewish sages call the final redemption, which is to occur at the coming of Messiah Son of David as he comes to establish the Messianic Era (Millennium). The sages teach that part of that final redemption includes the reunification of the two houses of Israel into one kingdom under Messiah Son of David, which is prophesied in Ezekiel 37:15–28. Interestingly, from antiquity, the Jewish sages have chosen Ezekiel’s prophecy as the corresponding scripture passage from the biblical prophets (called the Haftorah) which, in their understanding, best correlates to the Torah portion (parashah) that includes Genesis 46. These sages understood that the events recorded here in the lives of the patriarchs are indications of future events that would occur in the lives of their descendants.
The final redemption or regathering and then the reuniting of Judah and Ephraim at Messiah’s return is mentioned numerous times in the Scriptures (e.g., Hos 5:15–6:4; 1:11; Acts 3:21; Ezek 37:25). This will be a supernatural work of the Spirit of Elohim (Ezek 36:19–32).
Life in the Land of Goshen (Gen 46:34)
After the reunification of the divided family, the Israelites settled in Goshen, which was in the Nile River delta area and was, and to this day is, the prime farm land of Egypt. It was a veritable promised land compared to the arid regions of Canaan.
Prophetically, could Israel’s settling in Goshen after being reconciled and reunited be a spiritual shadow picture of the Millennium? I believe so.
The Jewish sages have long taught that history for the people of Israel is continually repeating itself in cyclical patterns as YHVH accomplishes his purposes among his people over and over again. He is continually endeavoring to reveal his plan of redemption and reconciliation to those who have eyes to see. He is continually reaching out the loving hand of redemption to the next generations of Israelites. This cycle, like a wheel that keeps turning around and around, will turn one more time in the last days in what the sages refer to as the final regathering of the exiles or the final redemption of Israel. This will involve not only the resurrection of the dead, but the reuniting of the divided kingdom of Israel, the regathering of the Israelite scattered exiles back to the land of Israel, and the coming of the Messiah who will set up his reign over this earth called the Messianic Era. This is even better known in Christians circles as the Millennium. The Jewish sages have taught this for thousands of years—and still teach it—because they had read and believed what the biblical prophets have written in this regard.
I believe that the story of the reuniting of Joseph with his brothers a prophetic antitype speaking to the future reunification and redemption of the two houses of Israel with the Messiah as the initiator and focal point of this redemptive process. This process began to occur at the first coming of Yeshua and will culminate at his second coming and it involves the regathering of the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This process will climax at the end of the age where the children of Israel will be regathered and reunited to worship YHVH in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) under the rulership of King Yeshua the Messiah, Son of Joseph/David (Ezek 37:15–28) during the one-thousand-year-long Millennium.