Genesis Chapter 42  Providence of God

            The picture of God’s providence in the affairs of men to accomplish God’s purpose is continued in this chapter.  As you recall, God had promised Abraham that his seed would sojourn in Egypt for 400 years before they would be delivered into the promised land of Canaan.  Likewise God had promised through two dreams to Joseph that his brethren would come and do obeisance to him. 

            In this chapter we see the famine in the land in that part of the world had become so severe that Jacob and his family and the families of his children had no food to eat.  God had sent the famine on the land and this famine would be a tool that God would use to bring Jacob and his descendants into Egypt where they and their descendants after them would spend the next 400 years: Gen. 42:1 “Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? 2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. 3 And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.”

            Unknown to the brethren of Joseph, Joseph had become the ruler in Egypt and through God’s providence God had brought him to that position and had brought them to seek corn in Egypt and they would have to deal with a disguised Joseph: Gen. 42:6 “And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth. 7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. 8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. 9 And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.”  Joseph sees the first of two fulfillments of the dreams that he had as his brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him.   


Genesis Chapter 42 Parallels between Joseph and Christ

             Joseph is one of the strongest types of Christ in the scriptures.  There are numerous parallels between the life and events surrounding Joseph and the life and events surrounding Christ.  We continue in this chapter to show several of the parallels between Joseph and Christ:

                        1.  In this time of famine, Joseph had control of the only source of corn available to the people in this region of the world.  Likewise, for the spiritually famished children of God, the only source of spiritual food is the scriptures.  Jesus provides us the spiritual food as according to 2 Tim. 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  As the Son of God, Jesus gave us the scriptures.  He also opens to us the meaning and application of the scriptures (he blesses and breaks them as he did the loaves in the wilderness) so that we can feast upon them.

                        2.  Joseph knew his brethren before they knew him:  v. 8 “And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.”  According to Rom. 8:29 and Eph. 1:4 Jesus  knew all his brethren and chose them before the foundation of the world.  This was a long time before they ever knew Him.

                        3.  Joseph was not satisfied that most of his brethren came to him, but would have all of them to come to him.  Likewise, we read of Jesus in John 6:37 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

                        4.  v. 6 “And Joseph was the governor over the land…”  Isa. 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”

                        5.  v. 6 “Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.”  Rom. 14:11 “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”

                        6.  Joseph sold to all the people food and to his brethren he sold but it ultimately was without price as he returned the money to them.  We read of this prophecy concerning the interaction of Christ with his brethren: Isa. 55:1 “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

                        7.  Joseph made himself strange unto his brethren that they did not recognize him: 7 “And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them…”  After his resurrection Jesus made himself as a stranger to a couple of his brethren: Lk. 24:13 “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.” 

                        8.  Joseph spake roughly to his brethren: 7 “And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.”  At times, Jesus spake roughly to his brethren as illustrated in the following verses:

                                    a.  Matt. 16:23 “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

                                    b.  Matt. 17:17 “Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.”

                                    c.  Matt. 8:26 “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”

                        9.  Joseph accused his brethren: v. 9 “Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.”  Similarly, Jesus accuses all mankind as follows: Rom. 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” and Rom. 3:9 “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;”

                        10. Joseph’s action brought conviction to his brethren: v. 21 “And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.”  Similarly, we see Jesus words bringing conviction to some: John 8:7 “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”

                        11. v.23 “And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.”  They did not know that Joseph understood what they spoke.  Likewise, we see where there were Jews who did not realize that Jesus knew what they spoke in their hearts: Matt. 9:3 “And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.”

                        12. v. 29 we read where Joseph wept.  Likewise we read in John 11:35 “Jesus wept.”  


Genesis Chapter 42 Other Lessons

            In addition to the parallels between the life of Joseph and the life of Christ and the providential workings of God, we are also taught other lessons in this chapter:

                        1.  God has a way of directing or guiding us to do things when often we are not even aware that he is doing so.  This was true concerning Jacob and his descendants leaving the land of Canaan and coming to dwell in Egypt.  This began to be manifest when a famine came upon the land and Jacob sent ten of his sons into Egypt to buy corn: 42:1 “Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? 2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.”

                        2.  Our secret sins are sometimes brought to light in unexpected ways.  The brethren of Joseph had sold Joseph into bondage.  They had no idea that Joseph would come to be the ruler or governor of Egypt and they would have to answer unto him and do obeisance unto him.  While the knowledge that it was Joseph was hidden from them, they saw one of their brethren held as a captive prisoner until they brought Benjamin unto Joseph, which they knew that their father, Jacob, would not approve of.

                        3.  God’s children often are convicted of their sins through the procession of events in their lives: 42:21 “And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. 22 And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.”

                        4.  Jacob also did not believe the dreams of Joseph were from God.  Because of this he believed the false report that Joseph was dead and he mourned many years for his son, Joseph, thinking he was dead.  Had he believed that God had given Joseph the dreams, then he would have realized that his other sons were lying to him: 42:36  “And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.”

                        5.  Just as Joseph was gracious and merciful towards his brethren even though they had done evil to him, so also is God gracious and merciful towards his children even though they have done evil towards him: 42:35 “And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.”