The “Death” Of Joseph

“Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.” (Genesis 37:27)

Last time, we began to consider some of the parallels between the life of Joseph and the life of the Lord Jesus. Perhaps nowhere in the story of Joseph do we see those parallels so clearly as in the incident of his brothers’ selling him into slavery. Let’s take a closer look:

Delivered Up Out Of Envy

“And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,” (Acts 7:9)
“Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.” (Matthew 27:17-18)
Both Jesus and Joseph were delivered up by their “brothers” out of envy. The man of the flesh cannot stand the mere sight of one who is pure and morally upright. One upon whom the favor and approval of God rests serves as a constant reminder to the lost and unrepentant of all that they are not. Men sought to kill both Joseph and Jesus because they envied the positions they had with God.

Placed Within The Earth

“And they took [Joseph], and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.” (Genesis 37:24)
“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40)

Stripped Of Their Clothing

 “And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;” (Genesis 37:23)
“And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.” (Mark 15:24)

Sold For Pieces Of Silver

“Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.” (Genesis 37:28)
“And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” (Matthew 26:15)

Left An Empty “Tomb”

“And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.” (Genesis 37:29)
“And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.” (Luke 2:2-3)


For all intents and purposes, the brothers of Joseph had sentenced him to die. “Let not our hand be upon him…”, Judah remarks (Gen. 37:27). They were leaving the actual moment of his death in someone else’s hands. Just as it was not the Jewish leaders themselves who carried out the execution of the Lord Jesus; they, too, put that into the hands of others. But there are some very crucial differences between this incident with Joseph and the crucifixion of Jesus. First of all, Joseph does not actually die. Although the brothers must have sincerely believed that his days were numbered and that the idea of their ever seeing him again was inconceivable, Joseph remained alive. Second, we notice that Joseph is sold for twenty pieces of silver, not thirty. I don’t think this is accidental. Joseph’s being sold by his brothers is a picture of the selling of Jesus, but obviously, it is not a duplicate event. The price of thirty pieces is unique to the Lord alone.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,


[This post was originally published September 8, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]