Joseph is a favorite biblical character for a lot of people. And he was clearly Moses’ favorite, if the amount of ink he got is any indication. Moses wrote more about Joseph than he did about Abraham, the father of faith and the friend of God! Or Jacob, the man who wrestled with God and was named Israel, the “prince of God.” Why is Joseph such an important figure? I like what David Guzik wrote about the godly men in Genesis:
Enoch shows the walk of faith. Noah shows the perseverance of faith. Abraham shows the obedience of faith. Isaac shows the power of faith. Jacob shows the discipline of faith. Joseph shows the triumph of faith.
Joseph will have to overcome many trials and much suffering, but he triumphs because God’s hand is on him, and his faith is in God. This story has been called a masterful narrative and volumes of books have been written about it. Even Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice got excited about the story and wrote a musical for a school chorus, suggested by friends, in 1968. Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat later became a smash hit in London and then around the world. It was one of my favorite shows I performed in with the Gallery Players in the 80’s.
Typology refers to historical people, places, even objects in the Old Testament which point us to the life and work of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Noah’s ark was a type of Christ because all who went into it were saved. Joseph is a type of Christ as well. The world will come to him during the famine to be saved. But more than that, James Boice wrote, “He was loved and hated, favored and abused, tempted and trusted, exalted and abased. Yet at no point in the one-hundred-and-ten-year life of Joseph did he ever seem to get his eyes off God or cease to trust him. Adversity did not harden his character. Prosperity did not ruin him. He was the same in private as in public. He was a truly great man.” Joseph was certainly not perfect, but his life is a powerful picture that points to the sacrifice and suffering and ultimate triumph of the one who was and is perfect, Jesus Christ.
Others have pointed out that the genealogy of Christ includes a Joseph. The earthly father of Jesus was Joseph, and his father was Jacob! Roland Warren wrote about the two Josephs in Jesus’ life, one who was present at his birth, and the other who was present at his death. Both of the Josephs adopted one who was considered illegitimate. Joseph of Nazareth adopted Mary’s son as his own and raised him to be a carpenter. And Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body down from the cross. In that culture, if someone was crucified and no one claimed his body, it was as if that person was illegitimate from birth.
Joseph the dreamer may not be written about much in the Bible after Genesis. But he and his namesakes later, three Josephs, each played very important roles in the story of redemptive history.