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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

In itself the story of Joseph is an interesting and moving history; but when we read it as though we were reading of Christ instead of him, the narration assumes an importance which highly commends itself to the student of the Word.

Jacob had resided seventeen years in the land of Canaan after leaving Laban: Joseph was then seventeen, and Isaac one hundred and sixty-eight.

It was, therefore, when Jacob was one hundred and twenty, and twelve years before the death of Isaac, that Joseph had his remarkable dreams.

These are the first examples on record of symbolic prophecy.

They represented to Joseph that he should be lord over his brethren; and when repeated to them, they as clearly understood them to indicate his supremacy and their subjection, as though it had been ever so literally predicted.

I mention this to show that prophecy by symbols and symbolic action is as intelligible as prophecy in the plainest words.

Joseph was the beloved of his father, and the envied and hated of his brethren, whose conduct caused him to give his father an "evil report" of them.

He dreamed that he and they were binding sheaves in the field, and that his sheaf stood upright, and theirs also round about, and that they made obeisance to his sheaf.

When he told them his dream, they caught at the meaning at once.

"Shalt thou," said they, "indeed reign over us?

or, shalt thou indeed have dominion over us?

And they hated him yet the more for his dreams and for his words".

In his second dream, "the sun and the moon, and the eleven stars, made obeisance to him"; which Jacob interpreted, saying, "Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

And his brethren envied him: but his father observed the saying.

Now in these little incidents we read, not only Joseph's exaltation, but the treatment Christ would afterwards receive from the sons of Joseph's brethren and his subsequent exaltation to reign over them, when Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and his family shall bow down before him to the earth.

Jesus gave an evil report of his brethren, who saw that he was beloved of God; he troubled them with his parables and reproofs; and they envied him and hated him for his words.

The fate of Joseph awaited him; for as the eleven conspired against Joseph to kill him, and actually sold him to the Ishmaelites of Midian for twenty pieces of silver, so was the Lord Jesus sold for thirty, and subjected to a violent death by the rulers, thinking thereby to falsify his words, and extinguish his pretensions to lordship over them.

Joseph, having become the property of the Midianitish merchants, was "separated from his brethren," and as good as dead to them.

They lost sight of him entirely, and at length forgot him altogether.

Their conspiracy to all appearance had perfectly succeeded; they had got rid of "the master of dreams"; and had imposed upon Jacob the falsehood that he had met with a violent death from a savage beast.

But "God was with him"; and though they had made everything sure, their sin was certain to overtake them.

Joseph was carried into Egypt when he was seventeen years old; and he was thirty-nine when he was made known to his brethren at their second interview; hence, he was separate from his father's house for twenty-two years.

During this time his fortunes were varied, but always tending to the promotion of God's purpose through him.