Types may be described as parallel truths about Messiah, biblical events or people. Joseph is such an incredible type of Yeshua (Jesus) and there is an astonishing number of events and similarities between them, that for the sake of brevity, it is not possible to list even half of the parallels in their respective lives here.
Therefore, we will only in outline look at Joseph as a shepherd, his relationship with his brothers, his betrayal and the false accusations against him, his promotion in Egypt and the reconciliation and recognition with his brothers.
Joseph’s story commences with him feeding the flock since he was a shepherd. Yeshua described Himself as the good shepherd who gives Himself for His sheep who know Him and hear His voice (John 10:7-30). He is also the great shepherd of our souls and came to seek and save that which was lost and goes after the lost sheep (1 Peter 2:25).
In Genesis 37:3 ‘Israel loved Joseph more than all his children.’ Yeshua is God’s only begotten Son in whom He was well pleased (Matthew 3:17). In Joseph’s dreams, his brother’s sheaves in the field bowed down to his sheaf and the sun, moon and stars bowed to him also. His family finally came to him in humility when they were reunited in Egypt. Like Joseph, Yeshua was humbled and then exalted. As the hymn writer Charles Wesley explained, ‘Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man’ and ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those in earth and of those under the earth.’ (Philippians 2:10)
Joseph Sold and Betrayed
As we trace the story of Joseph’s life, he is sold by his brothers for twenty pieces of silver. Yeshua was also betrayed by one of the twelve disciples, Judas Iscariot, and sold for thirty pieces of silver.
Preceding that event Joseph was stripped and thrown into a pit whilst his brothers sat down to have a meal. At the scene of the crucifixion Jesus was stripped before they gambled for His clothes and sitting down, they kept watch over him.
The Midianites then took Joseph to Egypt. In Matthew Chapter 2 Joseph is warned in a dream to take the child and His mother to Egypt.
When Pharaoh’s officer purchased Joseph as a slave from the Midianites, he observed that ‘the Lord made all he did prosper in his hand.’ (Genesis 39:3) In Isaiah 53 that remarkable chapter that speaks of Messiah making atonement for the nations, it is also prophesied concerning the Messiah ‘And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.’ Furthermore, in that chapter, Messiah is innocent, yet he suffers to bring salvation for others.
Joseph Falsely Accused
Like Yeshua, Joseph was falsely accused and faced persecution though he lived an upright life. When Pharaoh esteemed Joseph because of his ability to interpret dreams, Joseph remarked that ‘It is not in me, God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace (Genesis 41:16).’ This can be compared with Yeshua’s words ‘The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what he sees the Father do;’ In John Chapter 15:5 Jesus said He is the True Vine and ‘without me you can do nothing.’ Critical events occurred in Joseph’s and Yeshua’s life when they were thirty years of age such as Joseph’s royal position in Egypt and Yeshua’s formal ministry (Genesis 41:46; c.f. Luke 3:23).
Joseph Provides Bread
Before the famine occurred in Egypt and the surrounding nations, God gave Joseph wisdom and time to prepare. Joseph made provisions for seven years and people from all over the earth came to buy grain. This explains why Joseph needed to be in Egypt at that time although the things that he endured up until that point must have been a mystery.
Yeshua is the Bread of Life and whoever comes to Him will never hunger or thirst (John 6:35). On two separate occasions, Jesus fed the five thousand and the four thousand demonstrating that it wasn’t a one- time miraculous event, but He is continually able to provide for our needs. Messiah was supposed to be able to perform miracles (c.f. Isaiah 35:4-6). Similarly, Joseph opened all the storehouses providing bread for his brothers, Egypt and many others.
Joseph is Recognised
Joseph’s brothers were also forced to purchase grain from him, without being aware of his true identity. After testing his brothers with a series of intriguing trials, Joseph finally makes himself known to them. ‘I am Joseph your brother who sold you into Egypt.’ (Genesis 45:4)
Following the resurrection it took a while for the disciples to recognise who He was ‘then their eyes were opened and they knew Him.’ (Luke 24:31). His brothers were troubled at his presence when Joseph appeared to them. Zechariah 12:10-14 speaks of a great mourning concerning the house of David and Jerusalem as they recognise the One, they pierced. It is worthwhile reading through the whole chapter to gain the context. One day many Jewish people will recognise that Messiah has come and is coming again and the Messiah they are waiting for has already come. He is Yeshua Messiah and He is coming again (c.f. Zech. 12:10-14; John 19:37; Rev. 1:7). The question is, will you be ready when He comes, and have you turned to Him, and are you trusting in Him?