Biblical Types and Antetypes
A major key to understanding biblical prophecy is to recognize the relationship between antetypes and types in the Scriptures. This means that an event or a series of events occurred once, was recorded in the Scriptures, and then at a later time a similitude of the event repeats itself, but with different characters and scene.
An antetype is a type or pattern of something that occurs before the actual event occurs (sometimes incorrectly referred to as an antitype, which means opposite rather than before). In other words, the first event predicts or points prophetically to the future event. This is a way for the Creator to give clues and hints about future events that will come to pass. Those who are ardent students of his Word and those “who have (spiritual) ears to hear” will pick up on these clues and be able to have a sense of what the Creator is going to do at some future date. In this way, those who diligently seek him are rewarded with understanding or “inside information” about what he is planning to do in the future. At the same time, his divine plans and purposes will be obscured from those who don’t have a diligent heart to seek him and his truth, and who could possibly misuse the truth, if they were to discover it, for selfish purposes if they were to learn it.
Similarly, the Gospels record that Yeshua explained deep spiritual truths via parables not to make the meaning clear to the general public, but rather to obscure it. His teachings were meant to be understood only by those whom he had called that they might know the mysteries or secrets of the kingdom of Elohim (Matt 13:10–11; Luke 8:9–10).
For thousands of years, the prophets of the Bible, as well as biblical students, scholars and sages have understood the concept of antetypes and types and it has helped them to understand Bible prophecy and future events.
Biblical antetypes are identified in three ways. First, the Scriptures themselves identify events as being antetypical. Examples would be:
- The life of Moses pointed to Yeshua (Deut 18:15–19; Heb 3:3–6).
- The serpent on the pole pointed to Yeshua’s crucifixion (John 3:14).
- The rock from which the Israelites drank prefigures Yeshua (1 Cor 10:4).
- The manna the Israelites ate prefigures the Word of Elohim or flesh of Yeshua (John 6:32, 48–51).
- Aaron as the high priest was antetypical of Yeshua’s high priesthood (Heb 5, 7 and 8).
- The sacrificial system pointed to Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross (Heb 9 and 10).
- Jonah in the whale is a prophetic picture of Yeshua’s death and resurrection (Matt 12:40).
- Melchizedek was an antetype of Yeshua (Heb 7).
- The first exodus (or redemption of Israel out of Egypt) was prototypical of a second exodus or redemption of Israel out of the world in the end times (Isa 11:11; Jer 23:7–8).
The Jewish sages from antiquity have also identified antetypes. Examples would be:
- The difficulties surrounding Jacob’s return to the Promised Land after 20 years of exile in Babylon (under Laban, Gen 31–33) is antetypical of the difficulties surrounding the return of Jacob’s descendants to the land of Israel in the last days, which the Scriptures call “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jer 30:7).
- The life of Joseph prefigured that of a Messiah Son of Joseph, the Suffering Servant.
- The life of David prefigured that of a Messiah Son of David, the Conquering King.
- The seven-day week is antetypical of the seven thousand years of man’s tenure on this earth.
Christian Bible teachers have identified antetypes in the Scriptures as well. Examples would be:
- The Passover lamb was antetypical of Yeshua’s crucifixion.
- Isaac’s near sacrifice and the ram caught in the thicket in Genesis 22 was antetypical of Yeshua’s death.
- The tabernacle of Moses pointed in all aspects to the ministry of Yeshua as Savior and Redeemer.
Finally, Hebrew roots teachers have identified antetypes in the Scriptures. Examples would be:
- The biblical feasts point to the steps in YHVH’s plan of salvation for mankind centering around the first and second comings of Messiah.
- The stages of the biblical wedding point to YHVH’s plan of salvation for mankind.
- YHVH’s judgments on Egypt point prophetically to his judgments on Babylon the Great in the last days.
- In like manner, the story of Joseph’s interacting with his brothers (starting in Genesis chapter 37 through 46) is antetypical of future events that are to happen on a national level with the children of the patriarchs.
In this study, we will examine the events of Joseph and Judah in Egypt to see how they relate to the houses of Joseph or Ephraim (broadly speaking, the Christians) and Judah (broadly speaking, the Jews) in the last days. Remember that although the events and details of antetypes and types correlate, they do not match each other perfectly in every detail. There should, however, be enough similarities between the two that to the rational and biblically astute mind the juxtaposition of the two is not a logical stretch. Some of these parallels the writers of Scripture tell us about, while others we must arrive at through our own diligent and careful analysis of the Scriptures.