The story of Joseph is the capstone of the book of Genesis, but it also points to many things to come, including the story of Daniel and Christ’s death on the cross.
In this episode, Cole is joined by Dr. Sam Emadi to talk about his book “From Prisoner to Prince: The Joseph Story in Biblical Theology”. They discuss the role of Biblical theology, how to see the big theme of Scripture, and the important role Joseph’s story plays in the overall narrative of the Bible.
What Is Biblical Theology?
When we read Scripture, we must read it on its own terms and in its own context.
Many unbelieving scholars think that Joseph came out of the “wisdom tradition” of Solomon that explained how Israel came from Canaan to Egypt and is filled with moral lessons in its own isolated unit. This takes the story of Joseph out of the context of Genesis and, therefore, out of the overall story of Scripture leading to gross misinterpretation.
Read Scripture in light of Scripture.
Why is Joseph so Important?
The Old Testament focuses on mainly five or six people in theological detail: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and David. God makes convenants with all of these characters. The rest of Scripture teaches us how to understand Scripture in light of God’s interactions with humanity in the form of covenants.
Joseph can be considered a “sub-point” within the Abrahamic covenant. Joseph does not get a lot of mentions in the Old and New Testaments, but those mentions are significant (example in Acts 7 referring to Joseph as a type of Christ). The pattern of Joseph’s life is used to explain how God interacts with individuals throughout Biblical history.
Joseph is a type of Messiah (See Genesis 49:8).
Big Picture: What is the Point?
Joseph brings fulfillment and resolution.
The theme of famine to feast
The theme of brother killing brother to forgiveness
The theme of land, king, and blessing
The role of Joseph within the Abrahamic covenant is that he is the fulfillment character—Joseph shows us how God fulfills the covenant promises.
The Promise and Genealogies
The linear genealogies in Genesis identify a single seed that is the recipient of the promise.
In the case of Jacob’s children, all 12 of Jacob’s children belonged to the Abrahamic covenant. The promised seed has now spread to the entire Israelite nation. The promise is no longer traced through a single individual, but now through 12 tribes.
Types of Josephs
Israel’s history in exile is filled with individuals who resemble Joseph, including Daniel, Esther, and Mordecai. Some languages used to describe these individuals can be pulled directly from Joseph’s story.
Why this multiplication of Joseph-like figures?
Josephs is a picture of how God saves his people in exile—how God uses the worst of situations for Israel’s good. God does this by sending a “righteous seed of Abraham” that is raised up in power as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to his people to preserve them in exile. The parallels to the gospel message are hard to miss.
Stephen’s Speech in Acts 7
Stephen is showing how the righteous prophet (deliverer) throughout Israel’s history always gets rejected by Israel. This culminates in Stephen referencing Christ as the one who was ultimately rejected.
Joseph is part of the pattern that is culminated in Jesus Messiah.
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas and is a writer and content manager for So We Speak.