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The Joseph of Genesis (chapters 37-50) — made popular in the delightful Broadway musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat — is a “type” of Jesus. In many ways, the life of the Old Testament Joseph foreshadows aspects of Christ’s life.
Joseph was the favorite of his father Jacob … which made his brothers hate him. Like Jesus the Good Shepherd, Joseph was a shepherd. God the Father sends his Beloved Son to us in the Incarnation; the father of Joseph says, “Your brothers are tending our flocks. Get ready; I will send you to them” (Gn 37:13). But the sight of the beloved son causes the brothers’ jealousy to flare. Referencing Jesus’ Passion, the Gospel of Matthew states, “It was out of jealousy that the people had handed Jesus over” (Mt 27:18).
Joseph’s brothers conspire and sell him into slavery for 20 pieces of silver. But owing to an astonishing series of events — all driven by divine providence — Joseph acts to rescue the nation of Egypt from a seven-year famine. Pharaoh says to his servants, “Can we find such a man as this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” (Gn 41:39). Were the 5,000 saying something similar at Christ’s multiplication of the loaves?
Through the inscrutable mercy of God, Joseph becomes the savior of the very brothers who betrayed him, delivering them and all of Israel from starvation. And then later, when the brothers are overcome with remorse for the evil they exacted on their innocent brother, Joseph tells them, “Have no fear. Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good to achieve his present end: the survival of many people. Have no fear. I will provide for you and for your children.” As soon as he can speak, the consoling words of the Incarnate Son of God will surpass even those breathtaking ones of Joseph.
[The Aleteia community is joining the journey of an Old Testament pilgrim each day this Advent, as they lead us to the Christ Child in this holy season. Find the daily reflections here.]