Posted by: biblestudyseattle | November 21, 2014

Joseph in prison

“Then it came about after these things, the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt.  Pharaoh was furious with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. So he put them in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, in the jail, the same place where Joseph was imprisoned.  The captain of the bodyguard put Joseph in charge of them, and he took care of them; and they were in confinement for some time.  Then the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt, who were confined in jail, both had a dream the same night, each man with his own dream and each dream with its own interpretation.  When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected.  He asked Pharaoh’s officials who were with him in confinement in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?”  Then they said to him, “We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.”

So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream, behold, there was a vine in front of me; and on the vine were three branches. And as it was budding, its blossoms came out, and its clusters produced ripe grapes.  Now Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; so I took the grapes and squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.”  Then Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: the three branches are three days; within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you will put Pharaoh’s cup into his hand according to your former custom when you were his cupbearer.  Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house.  For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”

When the chief baker saw that he had interpreted favorably, he said to Joseph, “I also saw in my dream, and behold, there were three baskets of white bread on my head; and in the top basket there were some of all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”  Then Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh off you.”

Thus it came about on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants.  He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand; but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them.  Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.”  Genesis 40

What does this mean?  If we take Joseph to represent Jesus, he has already been ‘killed’ by lowering him into a pit, then ‘raised from the dead’ by raising him out of the pit.  He was then taken to a far country (heaven).  He became a servant in a prominent home (God’s).  He does such a good job that Potiphar puts him in charge of his house.  But then he is tempted by Potiphar’s wife.  Here’s where the analogy seems to break down.  Was Jesus tempted in heaven even after he rose from the dead?  We can’t know; it seems a little far fetched.  Or does Joseph at this point represent the church still on earth?  The church was faithful after Jesus left.  But the church was also sorely tempted and tried.  It was in this temptation that Joseph was unjustly thrown in prison.  That matches the experience of the church.  But still the church is faithful.  Here the church comes into contact with two classes of people – the good and the bad.  The church prophecies that the good will be restored to fullness of life within three days – within three thousand years.  Likewise, the bad are prophecied to die within three days – three thousand years.  The feast when this happens is Pharaoh’s birthday.  Does God have a birthday?  Or is it the day he gave birth?  Perhaps the Day of Atonement is that day – the day of the Fall, and the day of Jubilee; complete restoration.  After two years in prison, Jospeh is made ruler of Egypt.  Now the interpretation returns to Joseph as Jesus, but also the church.  Within two thousand years of the crucifixion, Jesus is reigning, but the Israelites know it not.  And so it is now.  His revealing cannot take place until Israel has been returned from the dead, and they completely repent of their betrayal of Jesus.

Some interpret Joseph’s experience in prison with Jesus hanging between the two prisoners.  One is promised paradise, and the other is left for judgment.  This interpretation fits also.

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