Parallels between Joseph of Egypt, Adam, and Christ
There are a lot of parallels between Joseph of Egypt, Adam and Jesus Christ. Since nearly all Old Testament figures have parallels and are symbolic to other figures (most commonly symbolic of Christ) I looked into which figure Joseph of Egypt tracked better with. I would say that the evidence favors Joseph being more Christlike than Adamic, but there are striking parallels between both of them that I found interesting:
|Being the firstborn (of a particular wife)*||Gen 1:27 (First on Earth)||Gen 30:22-24 35:24 (First of Rachel)||Matt 1:25; John 1:1; Moses 4:2 (First of Father and Mary)|
|Being shepherd*||Gen 37:2,12, 47:3 (Family of shepherds)||Matt 26:31; John 10:11 (Christ the Good Shepherd)|
|Significant Coat||Gen 3:21 (Coat of skin from God)||Gen 37:3 (Coat of many colors from Israel)||Psa 22:18; Matt 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:24 (Parted garments fulfilled prophesy)|
|Favored of Father, brothers sought to harm*||Rev 12:7; D&C 27:11, 107:54, 88:112-115 (Michael an archangel, fought with Lucifer)||Gen 37:3-5,11 (Joseph the favorite, brothers jealous)||Matt 3:17, 12:18, 17:5; Mark 1:11,13 4:3-10, 7:9; Luke 3:22, 9:35, 20:13, 22:3-4; John 7:3-5, 15:18-19; 2 Pet 1:17; 3 Ne 11:7 (Christ the beloved Son, rejected by His own)|
|Having dominion*||Gen 1:26 (over creatures of earth)||Gen 37:5-11 (over Egypt and brothers)||Isaiah 9:6; Dan 7:13-14; Micah 4:7, 5:2 (over all)|
|Others viewed actions as taking authority**||Gen 37:8,10 (Brother, Father rebuke for claiming dominion||Matt 21:23; Luke 20:1-2 (Chief Priests question Christ’s authority)|
|World entrance orchestrated by God||Moses 5:9-12; 2 Ne 2:15-16,22-26 (part of creation plan)||Gen 37:13-14, 45:8 (God had His hand in Joseph’s departure)||Matt 2:13-14; John 3:16 (God inspired Joseph fleeing to Egypt, God sent Christ to Earth)|
|Being sent by Father*||Gen 37:13-14, 45:8 (Joseph sent by Father to brothers)||John 3:16 (Christ sent by Father to Israelites and everyone)|
|Children of Israel conspired**||Gen 37:18-20 (Joseph’s brothers conspire to kill him)||Mark 11:18 (Chief Priests seek how to destroy Christ)|
|Having a weak advocate*||Gen 37:21-22 (Reuben made some effort to save Joseph)||Matt 27:17-24; Mark 15:9-14; Luke 23:4,13-24; John 18:38-40, 19:1-16 (Pilate tried to release Christ)|
|Judah/Judas sells person at issue**||Gen 37:26-27 (Judah suggests the sale)||Matt 26:15-16,45-49; Mark 14:42-45; Luke 22:47-48; John 18:2-4 (Judas betrays Christ)|
|Going to the World (represented by Egypt)||Gen 3:23-24 (Adam kicked out of Garden)||Gen 37:28 (Joseph sent to Egypt)||Matt 2:13-14; John 1:14; Rev 12:5-6; Alma 7:9-13 (Christ came to Earth)|
|Being sold for slaves*||Gen 37:28 (Joseph sold as a slave)||Exo 21:32; Zech 11:12-13; Matt 26:15 (Christ sold for price of a slave)|
|Rejected and put to death by own people*||Gen 37:28, 42:21-22 (Brother killed Joseph for all they knew)||Matt 27:20; Mark 15:10-14; Luke 23:21-23; John 19:15; Acts 2:22-23; 3 Ne 27:14 (Christ died for all)|
|Acting as slaves*||Gen 37:36, 39:1 (Joseph a slave to Potiphar)||Philip 2:7 (Christ made Himself a servant)|
|Enslaved by an officer in the world||Gen 39:1 (Potiphar a captain of the guard)||Gal 4:3-5; 2 Ne 2:26-27; John 11:48 (Christ bound from fall of Michael, an archangel — or Israelite bondage to Romans)|
|Attempts at “espousal” and subsequent accusations||Gen 39:7-20 (Potiphar’s wife–note that Potiphar may symbolize the Romans)||Matt 15:7-9, 26::57-68; Mark 11:18, 12:12; John 18:28-31 (Pharisees claimed to espouse Christ’s gospel, condemned Christ when unable)|
|Being falsely accused*||Gen 39:7-20 (Falsely accused with Potiphar’s wife)||Matt 26:59-66 (Falsely accused on many charges)|
|Condemned with two others, saving one*||Gen 40:8-22 (Joseph saves butler but not baker)||Luke 23:39-43 (Christ says to one criminal that he would be with Him in paradise)|
|Prophesied about another who could release him from prison||Moses 5:9-11 (prophesied of Christ)||Gen 40:13-15 (prophesied for butler)|
|Shaving and changing raiment before going before a ruler||Matt 22:11-14; Eph 5:27; Heb 9:14 (Adam and posterity need to come clean before God)||Gen 41:14 (clean before Pharaoh)|
|Seven years of plenty, followed by famine||Gen 41:25-32,53-54 (Pharaoh’s dreams)||Matt 24:2; Luke 21:6; John 6:35 (Christ brings spiritual feast, followed by destruction of Jerusalem and apostasy)|
|Having God’s Spirit*||Moses 5:9-12 (Holy Ghost falls upon Adam)||Gen 41:38 (Pharaoh’s servants recognized the Spirit in Joseph)||Luke 4:1; Acts 10:38 (Christ had the Spirit)|
|Brought low as a criminal, rose to right hand of ruler*||Gen 41:41-44 (Joseph sent to prison, becomes #2 to Pharaoh)||Matt 27:38, 28:18; Acts (2:32-33; 1 Cor 15:27-28 (Christ killed as criminal, rose to right hand of Father)|
|All knees bowing*||Gen 41:43 (All told to bow the knee)||Rom 14:11; Philip 2:10 (Al knees shall bow)|
|Names meaning salvation*||Gen 41:45 (“Savior of the World” or “Sustainer of Life”)||Matt 1:21 (“Yahweh is Salvation”)|
|Gentile brides*||Gen 41:45 (Joseph received wife from Pharaoh)||2 Cor 11:2 (Christ received the gentiles as a whole symbolically)|
|Age when starting saving work||Gen 41:46 (Joseph 30 when starting work for Pharaoh)||Luke 3:23 (Christ 30 when starting His ministry)|
|Innumerable foods||Gen 41:49 (Joseph brought in food without number)||Matt 15:32-38; Mark 6:37-44; Luke 9:13-17; John 4:10-14, 6:35 (Christ makes bread appear, is bread of life, can stop thirst)|
|Having 2 sons||Gen 4:1-2, Moses 22:11-14 (Cain and Able)||Gen 41:50-52 (Manasseh and Ephraim)|
|Troubled times come during rule*||Gen 41:54-55 (7 years of famine)||Mark 13:8; Jer 30:7 (Nation against nation)|
|King appointed them to be sole sources of life (bread of life)*||Gen 41:55, 42:6 (Joseph managed all food distribution)||John 3:16; Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:11-12 (Christ brings eternal life)|
|Those closest to saving person not brought forth until last||Gen 42:4 (Benjamin not sent the first time)||Matt 19:30; Mark 10:31; Luke 13:30; 1 ne 13:42 (First shall be last, last shall be first)|
|Kin not recognizing them*||Gen 42:8 (Joseph’s brothers don’t recognize him)||John 1:10, 8:14; 3 Ne 9:16 (Christ’s people don’t recognize who He is)|
|Speaking through another||Gen 42:23 (Joseph spoke to kin through interpreter)||Amos 3:7 (Christ and the Father make their will known through prophets)|
|Food bought without price||Gen 42:28 (Money returned in their sacks)||Isa 55:1; Jer 15:13-14 (Receive food, treasure without price)|
|Famine||Gen 43:1 (The famine continues to be sore, must go to Joseph for relief)||Amos 8:11 (Lord will send a famine of the word of God)|
|Asking directly of state||Gen 3:11 (God asks directly how they knew naked)||Gen 43:7 (Joseph asks direct questions of their state)||Psa 9:8; Rom 14:10 (all will stand before God to be judged)|
|Having their feet washed||Gen 43:24 (Joseph has his brother’s feet washed)||John 13:4-5 (Jesus washes the Apostle’s feet)|
|Weeping||Gen 45:2 (Joseph wept and all heard)||Matt 27:51; 3 Ne 8:5-25 (Very earth wept upon Christ’s death, all felt it)|
|Offered opportunity to repent**||Gen 42:14-20 (Brothers allowed to prove their honorability/truthfulness)||John 3:16-17; 3 Ne 27:13-15 (Christ provides us with ability and opportunity to repent and return)|
|Revelation to kin*||Gen 45:3-4 (Joseph revealed self on second visit)||Isa 40:5,23 52:10; Zech 12:10; Matt 24:30-31; Rev 1:7 (Christ to be plainly revealed on second coming)|
|Going to the World necessary for ultimate salvation*||2 Ne 2:25 (Adam fell that men might be)||Gen 45:5-8, 50:20 (Joseph’s actions saved everyone from starving)||John 3:16-17; Acts 3:12-18 (Christ overcomes death by sin for us)|
|Forgiving wrong-doers*||Gen 45:5-8, 50:15-21 (Joseph forgave brothers)||Luke 23:34 (Christ forgave soldiers)|
|Bringing humanity into world, another bringing them out||Gen 3:6,22-24; Moses 5:9 (Adam and posterity brought out by Christ)||Gen 45:9-10; Exo 12:31 (Joseph’s posterity brought out by Moses)|
|Ruler’s favor for kin a result of Joseph/Christ, not of themselves*||Gen 45:16-20 (Joseph’s brothers favored because of Joseph)||John 17:19-21; Eph 2:4-8; Philip 4:19 (We’re favored through Christ, not as much ourselves)|
|Shepherds an abomination to the world/Egypt||Gen 46:34 (Shepherds an abomination to Egyptians)||John 17:14-16 (Christ, the Good Shepherd, taught doctrine not favorable to world)|
|Bringing all under King’s rule*||Gen 47:14-26 (Joseph brought all possessions under Pharaoh’s rule)||Isa 45:23; Eph 1:10-12 (Christ to bring all under God’s rule)|
|Bringing people back to our promised place||Gen 47:27-31 (Joseph promises to return Israel to place of fathers)||Ecc 12:7; John 14:2; Alma 40:11 (We return before God)|
|Gentile sons brought into family*||Gen 48:5 (Manasseh and Ephraim brought in)||Acts 10:34-48, 28:28; Heb 2:13 (Faithful gentiles brought in)|
|Seeking blessings for their children from the Father||Gen 48:9 (Joseph asks Jacob to bless his sons)||John 17:9-26; 3 Ne 17:15-18, 19:19-24 (Christ prays for followers)|
|Younger brother being greater||Gen 4:4 (Able was younger and greater in God’s eyes)||Gen 48:19 (Ephraim put before Manasseh)|
|Ultimately brought from the “world” to something greater by subsequent Christ figure||Moses 5:9 (Adam learns of redemption through Christ)||Gen 50:25; Exo 13:19 (Joseph’s bones to be brought to promised land by Moses)|
|Future generations not knowing their past and falling into trouble||Gen 4:8,16 (Cain and his posterity knew not God)||Acts 7:18 (Later Pharaoh caused trouble)||Acts 4:1-3, 5:17-18, 7:58; 4 Ne 1:24 (People fell into apostasy)|
|Sinlessness*||Joseph doesn’t have any sins written about him||1 Pet 2:22 (Christ is sinless)|
Highlights and Commentary
This whole idea to study this came from noticing that Adam and Joseph were both given some sort of coat just before they got kicked out from the presence of their Fathers. For whatever it’s worth, the same Hebrew word (Kthnuth or כְּתֹנֶת) is used to describe the coat of skins that Adam received in the Garden, as well as the coat that Joseph received from Jacob.
Christ had a notable coat as well. All four gospels refer to the Roman soldiers casting lots for Christ’s garments, but John gets the most specific, noting that
The coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
Where the other Gospels use some form of the Greek word “himatia” to describe Christ’s garments, John identifies Christ’s robe using the word “chitOn.” “Himatia” is usually translated to “garments” in English, while “chitOn” is translated to the word “coat.” It’s hard to go too far in interpreting any parallels between Christ’s coat, Joseph’s coat, and Adam’s coat when it passes through so much translation detail and when clothing shows up as an extremely common theme throughout the scriptures, but there might be opportunities there.
One thought being the fact that Christ’s coat and Joseph’s coat were both made quite bloody. Gen 37:31 explicitly mentions the brothers dipping Joseph’s coat into the blood of a goat. Although the New Testament doesn’t contain a phrase explicitly saying that Christ’s clothing was made bloody, they put his raiment back on Him after scourging Him (Matt 27:31). Isaiah also includes prophecy relating to the second coming in Isa 63:2-3, pointing out that Christ’s robes will be red with His “garments like him that treadeth the winefat.”
I’m not sure what new things to learn from the fact that both had significant coats made bloody, but sometimes it seems that parallels exist to help us gain context. If we have evidence like this to show us that Joseph may be a Christ figure, then it provides some justification to see if other aspects of his life provide additional insights into the significance of Christ.
Egypt as the World
Many of the parallels require Egypt to represent the world. Just as Joseph may be a tad ambiguous in what he symbolizes depending on the instance, Egypt has many potential meanings attached to it throughout scripture. Some of these include being a place of refuge, as well as of oppression; a place of deliverance as well as of bondage; a place of wisdom as well as of false knowledge (see Bible Study Tools or LDS.org).
I find the “Egypt as the world” symbolism legitimate as well since it seems to be a place that the patriarchs, as well as the children of Israel in general, seem to go to for a time and then return to the “land of their Fathers.” Just as how all of us leave the presence of our Heavenly Father to come to the world with the goal of returning, Egypt can play the role of Earth. This make Joseph a bit more of an Adamic figure since he and Adam both lead God’s children to a very terrestrial realm, only to be later extracted with the help of God’s power and One sent by Him. This creates an analogy that Joseph is to Adam where Moses is to Christ.
Reading the story of Joseph, as well as that of the Exodus, become far more interesting and pertinent to our day in that light. You have to be careful extrapolating too far, but this idea lends itself to the story of Moses being a foreshadowing narrative of the Second Coming. The Book of Revelation already made it clear that plagues would be a thing, but will we also be in a sort of bondage to worldly rulers when that time comes? Will the words of God’s prophets make things harder and cause us to disdain God’s word (Exo 5:19-23)? What will be our “red sea” that we have to cross?
Bringing All Under King’s Rule
This is one of the parallels I found most interesting. When I first read how Joseph first brought in all the money, then all the cattle, then all the land (which pretty much bought the people themselves) I initially thought that it sucked to be the people. Looking at the parallels, it makes more sense as a symbol of Christ. Although I have also heard this story used to point out how governments only give their people goodies as a way of gaining more power over them, it’s worth noting the potential symbolism here, since Christ will certainly be bringing all things under the rule of the Father. Although it may not have been the ideal situation for the people in Joseph’s time to be fully ruled by the kingdom, it will be much better under God’s rule.
Adam with God
For my analysis, I used the Latter-day Saint understanding of Michael the Archangel referred to in Revelation 12:7–that Michael is Adam, the same that was the first man on the earth. Different sects and religions have different interpretations for who Michael is, so you may have to ignore certain parallels that rest on my assumptions here.
Moses, D&C, And Other New Books
You may notice some references to books that you haven’t heard of in the chart. You have probably figured out that I’m a Mormon (LDS) by now, and I have made use of all of the scriptures I believe are true (which include the Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants (D&C), and the Pearl of Great Price, together often called The Standard Works). Once again, if you don’t ascribe to LDS beliefs, you may need to ignore parallels that depend on such assumptions.
Keep seeking truth.
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