Joseph, Moses & Jesus

As a rule of thumb, whenever I encounter a type of the Lord Jesus I try to take as many exegetical precautions as I can in order to avoid silliness. After reading about some of the stuff that the early church fathers came up with and tried to counter, I prayed about it and felt that such safety measures would be helpful guides in assessing how a particular narrative presents us with a type of Christ.

One limit that I felt was necessary to impose on myself was that of keeping to the narrative at hand. In a word, this means that while an entire book  may be read typologically (e.g. Genesis)*, examining the smaller full narratives of a given chapter or selection of chapters would probably yield results that are immediately recognizable as types, and usually running narratively parallel the life of Christ (e.g. The Sacrifice of Isaac in Gen. 22:1-18). Because of the possibility of mangling the clear teaching of doctrine (as some early church fathers did), therefore, overlapping narratives or books in an attempt to see an even more complex type, was not allowed…

Until recently.

Digging through the Joseph Narrative, verse by verse, I began to see that the Joseph Narrative is not only parallel with the life of our Lord, but also with the life of Moses. So I began to jot down the similarities shared by all three…

until I was stuck by the fact that the Joseph Narrative is the positive image of the Exodus Narrative, while both narratives run parallel to the life of our Lord Jesus!

Here’s what I mean.

On the one hand, the Joseph Narrative (Gen. 41-47:26) and the Exodus Narrative (Ex. 1-15:21) share some pretty significant details, including:

1. Egypt: For both stories, Egypt is central.

2. A Divinely Appointed Hebrew/Egyptian Savior: Both Joseph and Moses almost died in their youth, were then humbled in isolation (Joseph in slavery, Moses in the desert as a shepherd), stood before Pharaoh and petitioned him on behalf of Israel’s well-being (appealing to their own natural relationship to them), and were raised to power (by God’s power) for the sake of redeeming God’s people.

3. An Exodus Led by Hebrew Saviors: The nation of Israel is saved by both Joseph and Moses by an act of God.

On the other hand, the two narratives also contain very different, in fact opposite, deails. Some of these opposite details include:

1. Egypt: Egypt is a good place, a place of Salvation, peace, willful slavery and just rule in the Joseph Narrative; however, in the Exodus Narrative it is a place of oppression, wickedness, forced slavery.

2. A Divinely Appointed Hebrew/Egyptian Savior: Respectively, Joseph and Moses. Joseph had no dealings with the Egyptian kingdom until he suffered alone and was eventually raised to the status he acquired. Also, he freely accepted such a position of authority in the Egyptian kingdom without raising any protest against the Pharaoh and his ways, using his position to save God’s people. Moses, on the other hand, rejected the glories of Egypt, choosing to fight against Pharaoh and his armies in order to liberate God’s people. Joseph’s exaltation in Egypt is the positive image of Moses’ humiliation in Egypt.

3. An Exodus Led By Hebrew/Egyptian Saviors: The exodus in the Joseph Narrative is that of Israel leaving Canaan and going into Egypt; the Exodus Narrative is that of Israel leaving Egypt to enter into Canaan.

What was confusing for me was that the major details of each story seemed to make them inconsistent with each other, as types…

Until I thought about Jesus.

These two Narratives are typologically consistent with each other when we look at the Lord Jesus.

1. Two Kingdoms: (1.) The Kingdom of God where the resurrected and glorified Christ reigns and men willingly become His servants (Good Egypt where Joseph reigns and men willingly sell themselves to him out of thankfulness for their salvation), and (2.) The Kingdom of Darkness where men are slaves to sin, serving Satan and the world rather than the one true God (Bad Egypt, where Moses lives but is not a part of, and from which he seeks to deliver the children of Israel/God’s people).

2. A Divinely Appointed God-Man: (1.) After suffering, the Lord is resurrected and ascends into glory, bringing His people with Him, reigning as Sovereign over all the kingdoms of the earth (Joseph), (2.) Being born into the world, as a man under the law, the Lord Jesus rejects Satan and the world system (cf. Matthew 4:1-11) in order to lead His people out of the kingdom of darkness and into God’s kingdom (Moses).

3. An Exodus Led by the Only God-Man Savior: (1.) Jesus brings His people into the Kingdom of God (Joseph/Good Egypt), (2.) He also simultaneously takes His people out of the kingdom of darkness (Moses/Bad Egypt).

The two stories are two typological portraits that find unity in the perfect work of the Lord Jesus. And while there are many many more details that could touched upon (e.g. Moses, Joseph, and Jesus all have a dual nature which gives them certain privileges in their role as Savior), I’m short on time. :(

Leave me a note.

And whatever you do:

Tolle, lege!


*This is still a possibility I don’t reject. I’m just waiting for the opportunity to have an indepth study in Heaven with the Lord ;)


5 thoughts on “Joseph, Moses & Jesus

  1. Doug Oakland says:

    Hiram: I tend to have a bit of a problem wrapping my tiny little brain around most of your material, but I really enjoy reading it! Thanks for stretching me. Keep it up!


  2. Tami says:

    Thanks for the good thinking! I’m starting a short paper on how thoroughly Jewish Jesus was and was asked to look at the stories of Moses and Joseph for ideas to get started. I was going to look at how each of them have times of ‘going out’ and then ‘returning.’ You’ve given me lots to think about, too. Thanks!


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