Joseph Meets His Brothers (Gen 42)
While in Egypt, Joseph became aware that his brothers (and father) were still alive. He recognized who they were, but they didn’t recognize him, since he resembled an Egyptian (a Gentile).
In the end times, Christians, who many of Joseph’s descendants would become according to Genesis 48:14 and 16, have begun to recognize Judah as their brother. Until this time, most of Christianity had either persecuted the Jews, believed that Christians had spiritually replaced the Jews, or were ambivalent toward the Jewish people. This attitude of many Christians toward Jews, however, began to change in the 1960s with the beginning of the “Jews for Jesus” movement which helped Christians to become aware of the need to evangelize the Jews. The result was that many Christians themselves began to become interested in the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith. Beginning in the 1960s, many Messianic Jewish congregations began forming for Jewish believers in Yeshua, but surprisingly often seventy-five percent of the members of those congregations were actually non-Jewish “Gentile” Christians who were seeking to understand and even practice the Jewish roots of their faith!
From the Jews for Jesus or Messianic Jewish Movement of the 1960s came two unexpected results:
- As Messianic Jewish congregations formed, a large percentage were “gentiles” and not Jewish.
- In the early 1980s, the Messianic Israel or “Two-House” Movement was birthed through Angus and Batya Wootten.
In this latter movement, which is occurring in the 21st century church, Christians are beginning to open their eyes not only to the fact that the Jews are their brothers, but that they themselves are Israelites and are descendants from the ancient tribes of Israel (Gen 48:14, 16; Rom 9:24–27). As this is occurring, very few Jews (as was the case with Judah of old) recognize that these “Gentile” Christians (like Joseph) are their long lost kinsman who are returning after they were long ago dispersed throughout the world as Jacob, Moses (Deut 30:3; 32:26), and the other prophets predicted would happen. Yeshua clearly stated that it was his ministry and that of his followers to regather these lost Israelites (Matt 10:6; 15:24).
Many Christians are now seeing the relevance and fulfilment of many biblical prophecies concerning the regathering of the ancient lost tribes of Israel to the land of Israel (Deut 30:4; Isa 56:8; Ezek 34:13; 36:24), and their reunification with their brother Judah (i.e., the Jews; Ezek 37:15–28). They understand this reunification will occur just prior to the return of Yeshua the Messiah (Ezek 37:24–28).
They have also begun to read and understand the mission of Yeshua and his disciples to regather the “lost sheep” of the house of Israel (Matt 15:24; 10:6), and Paul’s clear statements that all those who come to faith in Yeshua are now Israel and are the literal seed or descendants of Abraham (Eph 2:11–19; Gal 3:7, 8, 14, 28, 29).
Furthermore, they have become aware of the fact that it is Israelites who will have a part in the kingdom of Elohim as exemplified by the New Jerusalem, which has only twelve gates that are named after the twelve tribes of Israel. There is no Gentile gate (Rev 21:12)!
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.
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).