The Cross and its Shadow

Joseph received one of the three portions of the birthright. It is interesting to note that each part of that birthright has been immortalised.

Judah, in his home life, perfected such a character that the honour of being the progenitor of Christ was bestowed upon him; and before the throne of God in heaven, holy beings point to Christ and say, Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Revelation 5:5

Levi triumphed in the time of a great crisis in the cause of God, and thus perfected a character which entitled him to the priesthood, whose work was a shadow of that of the great High Priest in heaven. Hebrews 8:1-5

Joseph, separated from his brethren, surrounded by idolaters in a strange land, gained a victory which entitled him to the double portion of the inheritance. Two portions of the promised land were given to the family of Joseph; and throughout eternity, these two divisions of that distinct company, - the one hundred and forty-four thousand, - bearing the names, one of Joseph and the other of Manasseh, the son of Joseph, will be a reminder of his faithfulness. Revelation 7:6,8 This was prophetically announced in the blessing given by his father:

The blessings of thy father and of thy mother
Have prevailed beyond the blessings of the eternal mountains, 
Beyond the glories of the everlasting hills
They shall rest upon the head of Joseph, 
And upon the crown of the head of him 
Who was separated from his brethren.
Genesis 49:26, Spurrell

Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob, and the first-born of Rachel, the beloved Wife. Genesis 30:22-24 The first seventeen years of his life were spent with his father's household. Genesis 37:2

The principal points recorded in the early life of Joseph were the great love of Jacob for the lad, the coat of many colours, Joseph's dreams, and his being sold into Egypt.

There was evidently a marked significance to that coat of many colours, Joseph was not a child when given the coat, but a young man seventeen years of age, with an exemplary character. The old father knew that Reuben had forfeited his right to officiate as priest of the household; and as the patriarch watched the godly life of Joseph, it would be only natural that he should select him as the one worthy to fill the holy office, It is possible that in vision he may, have been permitted to see the great heavenly Priest; and that he made the coat as a faint representation of the priestly robe to be worn by his descendants.

But God sees not as man sees; from that group of envious, jealous sons, plotting murder in their hearts, the Lord took one, and purified and refined him until his descendants were fitted to fill the holy office of the priesthood.

The dreams of Joseph, revealing that the family would bow down before him, were more than the jealous hearts of the ten brothers could endure. Benjamin, the twelfth son, was but a child at this time.

When Joseph came to his brothers in the field, at a distance from their father, it would seem that all but Reuben had murderous designs against him. Jewish tradition states that Simeon bound Joseph before they lowered him into the pit, designing that he should perish there; otherwise he might have climbed out, and escaped.

When the dreams of Joseph's childhood were fulfilled, and his brothers bowed with their faces to the earth before him, then he remembered his dreams. Genesis 42:6-9 May we not conclude that Joseph, when he commanded the officers to take Simeon and bind him before their eyes, remembered how Simeon once bound himself, unmindful of his cries for mercy, while these same men looked on without any pity for him? Simeon must also have remembered it, for Reuben had just reminded the brothers of their cruelty to Joseph. Genesis 42:21-24

Joseph had no resentment in his heart; he could say to those men, It was not you that sent me hither, but God. Genesis 45:8  Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good. Genesis 50:20 Joseph saw only the Lord's hand in it all. When sold as a slave to Potiphar, he realised he was in God's hands. His faith took hold of God; and while serving Potiphar, the muscles of his hands were strengthened through the power of the Mighty One of Jacob. Genesis 49:24, Spurrell.

The psalmist says, The word of the Lord tried Him. Psalms 105:19 He believed the word of God that had been taught him in childhood. It was that word which kept him courageous in prison, and humble when ruling Egypt. His strength, both in adversity and in prosperity, came from the mighty God of Jacob.

When considering the strict integrity of Joseph in the midst of Egyptian darkness, we must not forget that Rachel, his mother, lived until he was about sixteen years of age. After she had, by her godly instruction, fortified her son for the great life-work before him, God in mercy laid Rachel to rest before Joseph was sold into Egypt, so she was spared that great sorrow. And throughout eternity she will see the fruit of her training; for it was no doubt his mother's godly instruction that enabled Joseph to connect with God so closely that his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the bands of the mighty God of Jacob. Genesis 49:25

The Septuagint translation of Gen. 49:26 joins the mother's name with the father's in the blessing: The blessings of thy father and thy mother, it has prevailed above the blessing of the lasting mountains and beyond the blessings of the everlasting hills. The dying patriarch, as he thought of the character of Joseph, remembered the years of faithful instruction which Rachel had given him from his birth until death separated them. The mothers of the other sons are not mentioned in the blessings.

Happy the mother that gives, and thrice happy the child that receives, such instruction. There is a power in godly training in childhood, that moulds the character. It places a diadem of grace on the head of the one who receives it. Proverbs 1:7-9

Joseph saw the hand of God in all the events of his life. Job manifested the same spirit; for after God had permitted the devil to take away, all his earthly possessions, he left the devil out of the reckoning entirely, and said, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21 This spirit cherished in the heart to-day will make a man great, the same as in the days of Job and Joseph.

The first years of Joseph's life in Egypt were passed in the house of Potiphar, who made him overseer of all his interests. Genesis 39:4-6. His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. Genesis 39:3

Joseph's personal appearance is spoken of as goodly and well favoured. The wife of his master tried to entrap him; but his reply, How ...can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? Genesis 39:9 showed his strict integrity; but it cost him his position. From a place of honour he was cast into prison. Again God vindicated Joseph, and he was honoured by being placed in charge of all the prisoners. Genesis 39:20-23 He accepted his position in the prison as from the hand of the Lord.

After several years of prison life, at the age of thirty, Genesis 41:46 he stood before Pharaoh and interpreted the king's dreams, but he was careful to attribute all the honour to God. Then he was exalted to the second place in the kingdom, Genesis 41:43 where he taught the Egyptian senators wisdom. Psalms 105:21,22

During the seven years of plenty, Joseph laid up large quantities of grain for use during the seven years of famine. He married an Egyptian wife, and his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, were born during these seven years of plenty. Genesis 41:45,50-52

Joseph had been chief ruler in Egypt nine years, Genesis 41:46,47; 45:6 when his brothers came to Egypt to buy food. It is interesting to note that when Joseph told his brothers that he would keep Benjamin as an hostage, he had the satisfaction of hearing Judah, the very one who, years before, had suggested selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, offer to become his bondman for life, in place of Benjamin. Genesis 44:33

Joseph had the privilege of sustaining his father and his brothers many years, and of seeing the fulfilment of his youthful dreams.

During Joseph's long life of one hundred and ten years, we have no record of his ever proving untrue to God in any way. He died with a firm faith in the promise made to Isaac, and Jacob. His last words were, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. Genesis 50:25  His body was embalmed, and when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, they fulfilled his dying charge. Exodus 13:19

When the voice of Christ shall call the sleeping saints from their dusty beds, Joseph will spring forth clad in glorious immortality, to greet the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel, Genesis 49:24 through faith in whom he gained all his victories.


Two large tribes sprang from the two sons of Joseph. Gen, 46:27.
When the children of Israel entered Egypt, the descendants of Joseph numbered 85,200. Num. 26: 34-37; Gen. 49: 22.

Joseph received one part of the birthright,- the double portion of the inheritance. 1 Chron. 5 : 1.
This portion of the birthright is perpetuated throughout eternity by two divisions of the one hundred and forty-four thousand, representing the family of Joseph. Rev. 7:6, 8.