In Gen 37.1 through 50.26 we are going to tell the story of Joseph, one of the most interesting pictures of the Messiah we have in the Scriptures. He will be a picture of the suffering servant and the redemption. We will also look at what happened to him in a more detailed way later in this teaching, such as the concept of the two fathers; the procession to Canaan after Jacob dies being a picture of the Exodus with Moses; why didn’t Joseph let his family know he was safe after all those years, and many other questions.
Joseph was 17 years old and pasturing his father’s flocks with his brothers. He will be a type of the “Good Shepherd.” He brought back a “bad report” about his brothers, which alludes to the evil conduct of Yeshua’s “brothers.” Jacob loved Joseph more than the others because of his mother Rachel, and his disposition was different. Onkelos in his Targum says he was the “son of wisdom, a wise son before his years.” He made a multi-colored cloak that marked his as “head of the tribes” at Jacob’s death and his brothers hated him for that, which is one of the traits Jacob noticed in them.
Joseph has a dream and he told his brothers. They were binding wheat sheaves in the field. Joseph’s sheave stood erect and the sheaves of his brothers bowed down to Joseph’s sheave. His brothers said, “Are you actually going to rule over us?” And they hated him even more. Later, he has a second dream (Job 33.14-17, 29). The sun (Jacob) and the moon (Rachel) and 11 stars were bowing down before him (alluded to in Rev 12.1) Even his father questioned him about this dream, and his brothers were really jealous and hateful now. However, Jacob kept this dream in his heart and didn’t outright dismiss it totally.
Later, the brothers were shepherding their fathers flock (Messiah’s flock). Jacob sends him to Shechem, and Joseph says “I will go.” This was a very dangerous trip for a 17 year old boy to go on by himself. This alludes to Yeshua being sent to check oh the flock of his father, the flock of Israel, in the First Century. Joseph was sent from Hebron as the “shaliach” (sent one, agent-John 3.16-17; 1 John 4.10; Matt 15.24). Hebron was seen as a type of heaven, and it means “communion.” Yeshua left “communion” with the Father in heaven to check on the flock of his father, which was the people of Israel.
As he was looking for them (because they had moved from Shechem), a man found him wandering around. Joseph told the man he was looking for his brothers and the flocks. The man said they had moved to Dothan, which means “law or decree.” This teaches us that when Yeshua came, he was looking for his brothers and how the “shepherds” in Yeshua’s day had moved from the Torah to the Oral Law of the Rabbis, man’s decrees that were found in the 18 Edicts of Shammai.
Joseph found them and they mocked him. The brothers wanted to kill him, but Reuben interceded and said “No.” He suggested they put him into a pit because he wanted to rescue him later. They stripped him of his multi-colored coat (like Yeshua) and put him into the pit (like Yeshua). The ate a meal, like the leaders in Yeshua’s day ate Passover. They looked and saw a caravan from afar of Ishmaelites (long distance traders) coming down the road from Gilead to Egypt. Judah suggested that it would be better to sell him (37.26-27). Judah is a type of Judas, bearing the same name, who sold Yeshua. The brothers agreed not to kill him, but to sell him to the Ishmaelites.
As they were discussing this, Midianite traders (the local guys) passed by the pit and heard Joseph, and pulled him out. They sold him to the Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of silver. This alludes to how the priests of Caiaphas (Midianites) sold Yeshua to the Romans (the Ishmaelites). All along, the brothers never knew this was going on. Reuben returns to the pit to get Joseph out of the pit and finds that he was not there, and he told the others. So, they took Josephs tunic of many colors and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood. They still don’t know what really happened at this point. All they knew was he was last seen in the pit. They show Jacob the coat and lead him to believe that Joseph was killed by wild beasts. Meanwhile, the Ishmaelites take Joseph to Egypt. Joseph doesn’t know what is happening. Did his brothers sell him to these traders without even a goodbye? Did his father send him on this journey to get him out of the family? It had been done before by Abraham to Ishmael, whose descendants these were, and Jacob was favored over Esau, and even Joseph was favored over Reuben. Was he being disowned by his own family?
The Ishmaelites arrive in Egypt and sell Joseph to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer of the Bodyguard (meaning “executioners” or “watch”). The KJV and the NASB says the “Midianites” sold him and that is because they were the ones who took him out of the pit and started this whole scenario, but the literal meaning is obviously the Ishmaelites.
In Gen 38 1-30 we have another story interjected into the story of Joseph, but it has messianic implications. Judah has several sons who died, and they had no heirs. Tamar was married to both sons, and was promised another son of Judah named Shelah when he came of age. She wasn’t going to wait that long for an heir, so she devises a plot to have children by Judah. She poses as a prostitute, and Judah has relations with her, not knowing it was Tamar. Three months later Tamar is found to be pregnant, and Judah accuses her of being a harlot. She is sentenced to death. However, she is able to prove that Judah is the father, and Judah realizes that she did what she did because he would not give his son Shelah to raise heirs for his dead sons.
From Gen 38.27-30 we have a picture of the redemption. Tamar learns that she is going to have twins, and as she is giving birth, one puts out his hand and the midwife took a scarlet thread and put it on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” But, he drew his hand back and his brother broke through the birth canal, and the midwife said, “What a breach you have made for yourself.” As a result, that child was named “Poretz” or “Perez” in English Bibles, which means “breach maker.” Afterward, his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand, and he was called “Zerah” which is a form of “Zeroah” meaning “arm” (a term for Messiah-Isa 53.1).
So, eschatologically, what is this saying? Adam’s sin caused a “breach.” This also alludes to the “voice” of Isa 40.3, which is Elijah and Yochanon Ha Matvil (John the Baptist), who were the ones who came before Messiah and removed the stones and made a “breach” (Micah 2.12-13; Isa 62.10-12). The first Adam caused a breach (sin), but the second Adam came and brought redemption (the scarlet thread). The name Zerah is related to the word Zeroah, as we have said. So, a breach was made by Adam and the Messiah came with his blood (scarlet thread). The “Poretz” comes first (the breach maker) and makes a path for the coming of the Zerah (Zeroah/Messiah).
In Part 17, we will pick up in Gen 39 with the story of Joseph.