Joseph, son of Jacob, led an extraordinary life:
- He was his father’s favorite son
- He was given a dream that he would rule over his family
- He was sold into slavery by his brothers
- He became a beloved slave of his Egyptian master
- He was unjustly imprisoned because his master’s wife was angry he wouldn’t sleep with her
- He was exalted to the right hand of Pharaoh
- He was able to use his power to provide for his family during a seven year famine
Of the things just listed, his exaltation to the side of Pharaoh is our focus. It should be considered no small thing that a lowly foreigner attained a high position within the Egyptian government. He did not achieve that position through hard work, but because of God. While Joseph was imprisoned, God gave him the gift of dream interpretation, and it was his ability to interpret dreams that caused Pharaoh to notice him.
God gave Joseph the ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, and Pharaoh was so impressed he appointed Joseph to a high position. Joseph used his power to bring his family to Egypt, keeping them well fed during a seven year famine. Included in Joseph’s family, included amongst those who may have starved to death if not for Joseph’s provision, was Judah, ancestor of Christ. Therefore, it is not inaccurate to say that through Joseph God preserved the Messianic line.
It is also not inaccurate to say that the starting point of the plotline to get Judah and the Messianic seed into the haven of Egypt was Joseph’s interaction with the cupbearer, while in prison. This interaction, in which Joseph interpreted the cupbearer’s dream, was the basis of Joseph’s future audience with Pharoah, and “coincidentally” involved a three day span of time. Thus Joseph can be added to the list of Old Testament saints who typified Christ’s third day resurrection. For just as Jesus’ promise of resurrection was validated on the third day, so was Joseph’s interpretation of the cupbearer’s dream. The entire account is documented in Genesis 40:
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.