Gleanings In Genesis
42. Joseph In Egypt
Genesis 39, 40
Genesis 37 closes with an account of Jacob’s sons selling their brother Joseph unto the Midianites, and they, in turn selling him into Egypt. This speaks, in type, of Christ being rejected by Israel, and delivered unto the Gentiles. From the time that the Jewish leaders delivered their Messiah into the hands of Pilate they have, as a nation, had no further dealings with Him; and God, too, has turned from them to the Gentiles. Hence it is that there is an important turn in our type at this stage. Joseph is now seen in the hands of the Gentiles. But before we are told what happened to Joseph in Egypt, the Holy Spirit traces for us, in typical outline, the history of the Jews, while the antitypical Joseph is absent from the land. This is found in Genesis 38.
It is remarkable that Genesis 38 records the history of Judah, for long before the Messiah was rejected by the Jews, Israel (the ten tribes) had ceased to have a separate history. Here, then, Judah foreshadows the history of the Jews since their rejection of Christ. "And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in to her"(Gen. 38:2). How striking this is! "Canaanite" signifies "the merchantman," and "Shuah" means "riches." How plainly the meaning of these names give us the leading characteristics of the Jews during the centuries from the Cross! No longer are they the settled husbandmen and quiet shepherds as of old; but, instead, travelling merchants. And "riches" has been their great pursuit. Three sons were born to Judah by Shuah, and the "Numerical Bible" suggests as the meaning of their names: "Er"—enmity; "Onan"—iniquity; "Shelah"—sprout. Deeply significant, too, are these names. "Enmity" against Christ is what has marked the Jews all through the centuries of this Christian era. "Iniquity" surely fits this avaricious people, the average merchant of whom is noted for dishonesty, lying and cheating. While "sprout" well describes the feeble life of this nation, so marvellously preserved by God through innumerable trials and persecutions. The chapter terminates with the sordid story of Tamar, the closing portions of which obviously foreshadowing the end-time conditions of the Jews. In the time of her travail "twins were in her womb" (Gen. 38:27). So in the tribulation period there shall be two companies in Israel. The first, appropriately named "Pharez," which means "breach," speaking of the majority of the nation who will break completely with God and receive and worship the Antichrist. The second, "Zerah," that had the "scarlet thread" upon his hand (Gen. 38:30), pointing to the godly remnant who will be saved, as was Rahab of old by the "scarlet cord." But we must turn now to Genesis 39.
Genesis 39 is more than a continuation of what has been before us in Genesis 37, being separated, as it is, from that chapter by what is recorded in 38. Genesis in 39 is really a new beginning in the type, taking us back to the Incarnation, and tracing the experiences of the Lord Jesus from another angle. Continuing our enumeration (see previous article), we may observe:
26. Joseph becomes a Servant. "And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, brought him out of the hands of the Ishmaelites, which had brought him down thither (Gen. 39:1). What a contrast from being the beloved son in his father’s house to the degradation of slavery in Egypt! But this was as nothing compared with the voluntary self-humiliation of the Lord Jesus. He who was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant (Phil. 2:6, 7). "Bond-slave" expresses the force of the original better than "servant." It is to this the prophetic language of Psalm 40 refers. There we hear the Lord Jesus saying, "Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; Mine ears hast Thou digged; burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required. Then said I, lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of Me. I delight to do Thy will, O My God." These words carry us back to Exodus 21:5, 6. "And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free. Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him for ever." The Lord Jesus was the Speaker of that prophecy in Psalm 40, and the fulfiller of this type in Exodus 21. He was the One who took the Servant place, and voluntarily entered into the degradation of slavery. And it is this which Joseph here so strikingly typified.
27. Joseph was a Prosperous Servant. "And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man, and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand" (Gen. 39:2, 3). Observe, particularly, it is here said, the Lord made all that Joseph did "to prosper in his hand." How these words remind us of two prophetic scriptures which speak of the perfect Servant of Jehovah. The first is the opening Psalm, which brings before us the "Blessed Man," the Man who walked not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful; the Man whose delight was in the Law of the Lord, and in whose Law He did meditate day and night; the Man of whom God said, "And He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth His fruit in His Season; His leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever He doeth shall prosper" (Ps. 1:3). Manifestly, this spoke, specifically, of the Lord Jesus, in whom, alone, the terms of the opening verses of this Psalm were fully realized. The second scripture is found in that matchless fifty-third of Isaiah (every sentence of which referred to the Son of God incarnate, and to Him, expressly, as Jehovah’s "Servant," see Genesis 52:13), we read, "The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand." How marvelously accurate the type! Of Joseph it is recorded, "The Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand" (Gen. 39:3). Of Christ it is said, "The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand" (Isa. 53:10).
28. Joseph’s master was well pleased with him. "And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand" (Gen. 39:4). How could it be otherwise? Joseph was entirely different from any other servant that Potiphar ever had. The fear of God was upon him; the Lord was with him, prospering him; and he served his master faithfully. So it was with the One whom Joseph foreshadowed. The Lord Jesus was entirely different from any other servant God ever had. The fear of the Lord was upon Him (see Isaiah 11:2). And so faithfully did He serve God, He could say, "I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:29).
29. Joseph, the servant, was made a blessing to others. "And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house and in the field" (Gen. 34:5). So, too, the Father entrusted to the Son all the interests of the Godhead the manifestation of the Divine character, the glorifying of God’s name, and the vindication of His throne. And what has been the outcome of the Beloved of the Father taking the Servant place, and assuming and discharging these onerous responsibilities? Has not the Lord "blessed" the antitypical "Egyptian’s house," for the sake of that One whom Joseph foreshadowed? Clearly, the "Egyptian’s house" symbolized the world, and how bountifully has the world been blessed for Christ’s sake!
30. Joseph was a goodly person. "And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored" (Gen. 39:6). How carefully has the Holy Spirit here guarded the type! We must always distinguish between the person and the place which he occupies. Joseph had entered into the degradation of slavery. He was no longer at his own disposal, but subject to the will of another. He was no longer dwelling in his father’s house in Canaan, but instead, was a bond slave in an Egyptian’s house. Such was his position. But concerning his person we are told, "Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored." So, too, the Son of God took a lowly place, the place of humiliation and shame, the place of submission and servitude. Yet, how zealously did the Father see to it that the glory of His person was guarded! No sooner was He laid in the manger (the place He took), than God sent the angels to announce to the Bethlehem shepherds that the One born (the person) was none other than "Christ, the Lord." A little later, the wise men from the East prostrate themselves before the young child in worship. As soon as He comes forth to enter (the place of) His public ministry—serving others, instead of being served—God causes one to go before Him and testify that he was not worthy to stoop down and unloose the shoe-latchet of the (person) of the Lamb of God. So, too, on the Cross, where, supremely, God’s Servant was seen in the place of shame, God caused Him to be owned as "the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54)! Truly, was He a "goodly person, and well favored."
31. Joseph was sorely tempted, yet sinned not. "And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand. There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife; how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? And it came to pass as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out" (Gen. 39:7-12).
It is surely not without design that the Holy Spirit has placed in juxtaposition the account of the unchastity of Judah in Genesis 38 with the chastity of Joseph here in Genesis 39. And how significant that the unfaithfulness of the one is placed before the faithfulness of the other! Joseph’s temptation foreshadowed the temptation of the Lord Jesus, the last Adam, and His faithfulness in refusing the evil solicitations of Satan, which was in marked contrast from the failure of the first Adam, before Him. The marvelous accuracy of our type may be further seen by observing that Joseph’s temptation is here divided into three distinct parts (as was that of our Lord), see Genesis 39:7, 10, 12. So, again, it should be remarked, that Joseph was tempted not in Canaan, by his brethren, but in Egypt (symbol of the world), by the wife of a captain of Pharaoh’s guard. And the temptation suffered by the Lord Jesus emanated, not from His brethren according to the flesh, but from Satan, "the prince of this world."
Beautiful is it to mark how Joseph resisted the repeated temptation—"How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" This is the more striking if we link up this utterance of Joseph’s with Psalm 105:19, "The Word of the Lord tried him." So it was by the same Word that the Savior repulsed the Enemy. But notice here one point in contrast: "And he (Joseph) left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out" (Gen. 39:12). So, the Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, enjoined him to "Flee youthful lusts" (2 Tim. 2:22). How different with the Perfect One! He said, "Get thee hence, Satan" (Matthew 4:10), and we read, "Then the Devil leaveth Him." In all things He has the pre-eminence.
32. Joseph was falsely accused. "And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me. And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out" (Gen. 39:16-18). There was no ground whatever for a true charge to be brought against Joseph, so an unjust one was preferred. So it was, too, with Him who was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." His enemies "the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put Him to death. But found none." Yet, at the last, "came two false witnesses" (Matthew 16:59, 60), who bore untruthful testimony against Him.
33. Joseph attempted no defense. "And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me: that his wrath was kindled" (Gen. 39:19), though notice, it does not add, "against Joseph." In Genesis 37, we beheld Joseph’s passive submission to the wrong done him by his heartless brethren. So here, when falsely and foully accused by this Egyptian woman, he attempts no self-vindication; not a word of appeal is made; nor is there any murmuring against the cruel injustice done him, as he is cast into prison. There was no recrimination; nothing but a quiet enduring of the wrong. When Joseph was reviled, like the Savior, he reviled not again. And how all this reminds us of what we read in Isaiah 53:7, with its recorded fulfillment in the Gospels, "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth!"
34. Joseph was cast into prison. "And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound; and he was there in the prison" (Gen. 39:20). "Taking the garment that Joseph had left behind him in his flight, she used it as a proof of his guilt, and first to the servants, and then to her husband. She made out a case against the Hebrew slave. The way she spoke of her husband to the servants (verse 14) shows the true character of the woman, and perhaps also the terms of her married life; while the fact that Potiphar only placed Joseph in prison instead of commanding him to be put to death is another indication of the state of affairs. For appearance’ sake Potiphar must take some action, but the precise action taken tells its own tale. He evidently did not credit her story" (Dr. G. Thomas).
Just as Joseph, though completely innocent, was unrighteously cast into prison, so our Lord was unjustly sentenced to death by one who owned repeatedly, "I find no fault in Him." And how striking is the parallel between the acts of Potiphar and Pilate. It is evident that Potiphar did not believe the accusation which his wife brought against Joseph—had he really done so, as has been pointed out, he would have ordered his Hebrew slave put to death. But to save appearances he had Joseph cast into prison. Now mark the close parallel in Pilate. He, too, it is evident, did not believe in the guilt of our Lord or why have been so reluctant to give his consent for Him to be crucified? He, too, knew the character of those who accused the Savior. But, for the sake of appearances—as an officer of the Roman Empire, against the One who was charged with being a rebel against Caesar, for political expediency—he passed sentence.
35. Joseph thus suffered at the hands of the Gentiles. Not only was Joseph envied and hated by his own brethren, and sold by them into the hands of the Gentiles, but he was also treated unfairly by the Gentiles too, and unjustly cast into prison. So it was with his Antitype, "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate. with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were gathered together" (Acts 4:26, 27).
36. Joseph, the innocent one, suffered severely. In Stephen’s speech we find a statement which bears this out. Said he, "And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt," and then, referring to his experiences after he had become a slave, he adds, "but God was with him, and delivered him out of all his afflictions" (Acts 7:9, 10). How much, we wonder, is covered by these words! What indignities, trials and pains, was he called on to suffer? In Psalm 105 there is another word more specific," He (God) sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: whose feet they hurt with fetters; he was laid in iron" (verses 17, 18). How these references remind us of that Blessed One, who was mocked and spat upon, scourged and crowned with thorns, and nailed to the cruel tree!
37. Joseph won the respect of his jailor. "But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison" (Gen. 39:21). Is not the antitype of this found in the fact that the Roman centurion, the one who had charge of the Crucifixion of the Savior, cried," Certainly this was a Righteous Man" (Luke 23:47). Thus did God give His Son favor in the sight of this Roman who corresponded with Joseph’s jailor.
38. Joseph was numbered with transgressors. "And it came to pass that after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt, and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers and against the chief of the bakers. And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound" (Gen. 40:1-3). What a marvelous line is this in our typical picture. Joseph was not alone in the place of shame and suffering. Nor was the Lord Jesus as He hung on the heights of Calvary. And just as there were two malefactors crucified with Him, so two offenders were in the prison with Joseph! But the analogy extends ever further than this.
39. Joseph was the means of blessing to one, but the pronouncer of judgment on the other. His fellow prisoners had each of them a dream, and in interpreting them, Joseph declared that the butler should be delivered from prison, but to the baker he said, "Within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree, and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee" (Gen. 40:19). It is not without good reason that the Holy Spirit has seen fit to record the details of these dreams. Connected with the spared one, the butler, we read of "the cup" into which the grapes were pressed (Gen. 49:10-12), suggesting to us the precious Blood of the Lamb, by which all who believe are delivered. Connected with the one who was not delivered, the baker, were baskets full of bakemeats (Gen. 40:16, 17), suggesting human labors, the works of man’s hands, which are powerless to deliver the sinner, or justify him before God: for all such there is only the "Curse," referred to here by the baker being "hanged on a tree" (cf. Galatians 3:13). So it was at the Cross: the one thief went to Paradise; the other to Perdition.
40. Joseph evidenced his knowledge of the future. In interpreting their dreams, Joseph foretold the future destiny of the butler and the baker. But observe that in doing this he was careful to ascribe the glory to Another, saying, "Do not interpretations belong to God?" (Gen. 40:8). So the One whom Joseph foreshadowed, again and again, made known what should come to pass in the future, yet did he say, "For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak" (John 12:49).
41. Joseph’s predictions came true. "And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand. But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them" (Gen. 40:20-22). Just as Joseph had interpreted so it came to pass. So shall it be with every word of the Son of God, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but His words shall not pass away. And O, unsaved reader, just as the solemn announcement of Joseph concerning the baker was actually fulfilled, so shall these words of the Lord Jesus be found true—"he that believeth not shall be damned!"
42. Joseph desired to be Remembered. Said Joseph to the butler, "But think on me when it shall be well with thee" (Gen. 40:14). So, in connection with the Supper, the Savior has said, "This do in remembrance of Me."
As we admire these lovely typical pictures, like the queen of Sheba, there is no more strength left in us, and we can only bow our heads and say, "How precious are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!"