There are many spiritual parallels between Joseph and Jesus. Many of the things that Joseph did in the physical realm foreshadow what Jesus has done or will do on a Joseph Daher much larger scale in the spiritual realm. Let’s take a look at some of these. (If are not real familiar with the story of Joseph you may want to read article titled Joseph and the Economy first).
Before we begin to look at their lives, let’s look at their names. The Hebrew name for Joseph is Yowceph, which means “let him add”. Jesus full name was Yeshua ben Yowceph; Jesus, son of Joseph. Jesus purpose for His sinless life, crucifixion, burial and resurrection was to add souls to God’s kingdom, which he is doing every day.
The Early Years
When we consider the birth of the two men, they were both born through miracles. Jacob’s wife Rachel was not able to bear children. It wasn’t until after Jacob already had ten sons by other wives that God opened Rachel’s barren womb and Joseph was born (Gen. 30:22-24). Likewise, Jesus birth was an even greater miracle as he was brought into the world through the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit.
In their youths, both went to Egypt. After the Magi came to visit Jesus an angel appeared to Joseph (Jesus earthly father) in a dream and told him to take his family to Egypt. Herod, king of the Jews, had devised a vicious plan to kill all boys two years old and under in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi that Jesus may have been born. Joseph, on the other hand, was sold into slavery by his brothers and taken to Egypt when he was about seventeen.
Dreams were an important part in the lives of both Joseph and Jesus. Joseph had dreams in his youth showing God’s purpose for him. He also interpreted the Cupbearer’s, the Baker’s and Pharaoh’s dreams that led to a change in the entire lifestyle of the nation Egypt. The interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams resulted in the sparing of misery and death for many people. Jesus’ earthly father had a dream in which he was told to get his family out of Israel so that their lives would be saved. Jesus also had visions of the future as recorded in Matthew 24. By His life, the course of all of humanity will be changed and a grand multitude of people’s lives are spared from misery and suffering.
When Joseph was about seventeen he was told to go and search for his brothers, who were out tending sheep and to see if all was well. Jesus searches for all who are willing to accept Him and receive salvation.
Joseph’s own brothers conspired to kill him. In Gen. 37:18-34 we read how they threw him into a cistern and said that a ferocious animal devoured him. In the same way the religious leaders detested Jesus. Jesus’ statements such as “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58) caused hatred and envy beyond compare. Fellow Jews, Jesus’ own kin, plotted to kill him as well.
Their Works, Their Ministry
God sent both Joseph and Jesus to save people. Joseph saved the Egyptians as well as his own family from starvation – physical life. Jesus offers eternal life to people of all genealogies. They both became servants. Joseph became a servant for Potiphar and in a sense a servant for all of Egypt and Israel later in his life. Jesus made himself nothing. The very God and Creator became human and took on the nature of a servant. Jesus told us thatt the greatest among us would be our servant.
Both Joseph and Jesus began their intense ministry or life’s work at the age of thirty. They were both despised because of their righteousness. Joseph’s brothers responded very harshly when he told them of his dreams of the sheaves of grains and the stars. When Jesus came into his hometown the peoples response toward Him was not kind either:
“Then they scoffed, He’s just the carpenters son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers-James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things? And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, ‘A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.’ And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief” (Matt. 13:55-57).
Joseph, through his wise advice saved multitudes from starvation and suffering. Jesus miraculously fed five thousand people. Joseph stored grain which is used to make bread products. Jesus told the crowd that it was not Moses that gave the bread from heaven but His Father who gives the true bread of life. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry” (John 6:35 NIV). They both remained humble and unspoiled by the glamour and wealth that could have been theirs. They showed love and compassion to Jew and Gentile alike.
Both Joseph and Jesus were persecuted by false witnesses and overcame great temptations. Potiphar’s wife, who laid an intriguing trap of adultery in front of Joseph, was denied with no questions asked. She also made malicious false charges against him which resulted in his imprisonment. This was all a part of Gods plan for Joseph, Egypt, and Israel and worked out for the best. After fasting for forty days, when Jesus was at his weakest point physically, He had the strength to resist and overcome the wiles and temptations of the devil. Jesus was falsely accused by the chief priests and the elders. Both, though persecuted and hated by some returned evil with good.
If the ministry and works of Joseph and Jesus could be summed up in two words they could be forgiveness and reconciliation. When the eleven brothers were standing before Joseph in Egypt, fearing for their lives, Joseph told them not to be concerned or angry at themselves. He forgave them with the realization that it was all according God’s purpose. Regardless of the suffering he had to go through, he forgave. Jesus, as he was hanging on the cross near death cried out “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV). Joseph married an Egyptian wife. The bride of Jesus is His church, which is comprised of mostly Gentiles.