By Kevin R. Williams, B.Sc.
Another past life of Jesus apparently is Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel in the Old Testament. Joseph is an important figure in the Book of Genesis and also in Islam’s Quran. Joseph’s father was Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. Jacob fathered twelve sons from whom have sprung the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Because of this, Jacob’s name was later changed to Israel. Joseph was Rachel’s firstborn and Jacob’s eleventh son. Of all the sons, Joseph was preferred by his father, and this is represented by a “long coat of many colors.” When Joseph was seventeen years old he had two dreams that made his brothers plot his demise. In the first dream, Joseph and his brothers gathered bundles of grain, of which those his brothers gathered, bowed to his own. In the second dream, the sun (father), the moon (mother), and eleven stars (brothers) bowed to Joseph himself. These dreams, implying Joseph’s supremacy, angered his brothers who sold him into slavery. But Joseph rose to become the second most powerful man in Egypt next to Pharaoh, where his presence and office caused Israel to leave Canaan and settle in Egypt. Joseph, the Hebrew Prince of Egypt, has some of the most interesting parallels to the life of Jesus suggesting Joseph was a previous incarnation of Jesus. In Judaism, the Messiah was thought of as the “son of Joseph” (Messiah ben Joseph) as well the “son of David.”
Jewish tradition actually alludes to four messianic figures. Called “the Four Craftsmen” discussed in Babylonian Talmud, each will be involved in ushering in the Messianic age. They are mentioned in the Talmud and the Book of Zechariah (Zechariah 2:1-17). Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (aka “Rashi”) in his commentary on the Talmud gives more details. His commentaries which covers nearly all of the Babylonian Talmud has been included in every edition of the Talmud since its first printing. Rashi explains that Messiah ben Joseph is called a craftsman because he will help rebuild the temple. Nahmanides also commented on Messiah ben Joseph’s rebuilding of the temple.The roles of the Four Craftsmen are as follows. Elijah will be the herald of Jewish eschatology. If necessary, Messiah ben Joseph will wage war against the evil forces and die in combat with the enemies of God and Israel. According to Saadia Gaon the need for his appearance will depend on the spiritual condition of the Jewish people. In the Sefer Zerubbabel and later writings, after his death a period of great calamities will befall Israel. God will then “resurrect the dead” and usher in the Messianic Era of universal peace. Messiah ben David will reign as a Jewish king during the period when God will resurrect the dead. With the ascendancy of Rabbinic Judaism the Righteous Priest (Melchizedek) has largely not been the subject of Jewish messianic speculation. Most Jews believe that the Third Temple will be built during this era.
Table of Contents
- Parallels Between the Lives of Joseph and Jesus
- Scriptural Comparisons Between Joseph and Jesus
- Edgar Cayce Affirmed Joseph and Jesus were Different Incarnations of the Same Soul
- Parallels Between the Lives of Joseph and Jesus
The following are the amazing parallels between Joseph and Jesus which suggests a karmic link between them and another past life connection of Jesus.
Jesus and Joseph were both born through miracles. Jesus through the virgin birth (Matthew 1:18-23) and Joseph through Rachel’s barren womb which was opened by God (Genesis 30:22-24).
Joseph’s father loved him more than his brothers. Jesus is the beloved son and preferred one of the Father.
Both are described in the Bible to be very pious men who received revelations from God. The Bible records no sin in the life of either Joseph or Jesus.
Jesus and Joseph both went to Egypt in their youth. Both began their life’s work at the age of thirty (Genesis 41:46, Luke 3:23). This parallel was noted by Origen in his Homilies on Genesis (II,5).
The course of the lives of Joseph and Jesus were dramatically changed by the power of dreams. Joseph became an interpreter of his own dreams and the dreams of others which he used to save everyone’s life including his own. It was also a dream which led Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, to flee Israel for their lives to Egypt. In the same way, it was a dream of Joseph while acting as prince of Egypt which led his family out of Israel and into Egypt. After the danger was over, God called both Joseph’s family and Jesus’ family out of Egypt and back to Israel as an act of salvation. (Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15).
Joseph and Jesus were hated because of their greatness. Joseph had a dream which made it clear that he would rule over his brothers some day and for this they hated him:
“Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it. His brothers said to him, Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us? And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.'” (Genesis 37:5-8)
Jesus encountered the same reaction from his brothers and everyone in town. After preaching in his own hometown, Jesus received the following response:
“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things? And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” (Matthew 13:55-57)
While the religious leaders were rejecting Jesus, even some of Jesus’ own family rejected him. In John 7:5, his own brothers asked Jesus for more signs because:
“Even his own brothers did not believe in him.” (John 7:5)
But ultimately, Joseph and Jesus attained great authority and inspired confidence in those around them. When the famine arrived and the grain ran out in Egypt, the Pharaoh told the Egyptians:
“Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.” (Genesis 41:55)
Likewise, Jesus’ mother told the servants at the marriage feast in Cana to do what Jesus tells them to do when the wine runs out:
“Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5)
Joseph miraculously gave bread to the people around him because he received God’s revelation which saved the people from dying during the famine. Jesus miraculously gave bread to the people around him because he received God’s revelation which saved the people from the spiritual famine.
Joseph and Jesus were both sent by their fathers to their brothers who hated them and rejected their claim to preeminence. In the seventh chapter of Acts in the New Testament, the martyr Stephen gives a speech before he is stoned to death. In it, Stephen draws a parallel between Joseph and Jesus:
“The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, and rescued him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him governor over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan and great affliction and our fathers could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent forth our fathers the first time. And at the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. And Joseph sent and called to him Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five souls.” (Acts 7:9-14)
The purpose of Stephen’s speech was to show how the enemies of Jesus were jealous of him in the same way that Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him. This theme of jealousy is also used in three other places in Acts and they always describe the jealousy of the apostle’s opponents due to the success of the apostle’s gathering around them more people who become believers. (see Acts 5:17, Acts 13:45, Acts 17:5).
Because of envy, Joseph’s brothers conspired to kill Joseph:
“So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. ‘Here comes that dreamer!’ they said to each other. ‘Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.’ (Genesis 37:18-19)
In the same way, the religious leaders hated Jesus because through his actions and words demonstrated that he was greater than them. Jesus’ claims to come from heaven, be greater than Abraham, have God as his own Father, and be the one of whom Moses wrote about, caused hatred and envy which caused them to conspire to kill him:
“Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him.” (Matthew 26:3-4)
Joseph was sold into Egypt on the advice of his brother Judah. Jesus was handed over to the Romans by the hand of his disciple Judas.
Joseph did not utter a word to his brothers when they sold him. Jesus did not utter a word to the judges when they judged him.
Joseph asked the imprisoned chief cup bearer not to forget him when he is released and reinstated at court. He said:
“Be sure to remember me when things go well for you.” (Genesis 40:14)
In the same words, the thief on the cross said in karmic fashion to Jesus:
“Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)
One could even extend this parallel to include the fact that Jesus was bearing the “cup” which his Father gave him to drink in the same way the cup bearer did for the Pharaoh.
Two other prisoners were with Joseph suffering the same punishment. Two other prisoners were with Jesus suffering the same punishment. In Joseph’s case, it is written: “Two other prisoners were with Joseph suffering the same punishment.” Two other prisoners were with Jesus suffering the same punishment. In Joseph’s case, it is written:
“After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men – the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison – had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.” (Genesis 40:4-5)
The two prisoners told Joseph their dreams for which Joseph interpreted. As a result of these two dreams, death would come to one of the prisoners but release and exaltation for the other. In Jesus’ case, it is written that:
“Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.” (Matthew 27:38)
As it was in Joseph’s case, one prisoner would be condemned while the other prisoner would be released and find salvation:
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him, ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him, ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'” (Luke 23:39-43)
In persecution, Jesus and Joseph were stripped of their robes and placed in a pit for three days where they ultimately arose victorious to be great princes and became exalted by God for their great suffering. In the pre-Christian apocryphal Jewish text called “Testament of Joseph,” Joseph’s suffering is described in a way that could easily apply to Jesus as well:
“My brothers hated me but the Lord loved me. They wanted to kill me but the God of my fathers preserved me. Into a cistern they lowered me, the most High raised me up. They sold me into slavery, the Lord of all set me free. I was taken into captivity, the strength of His hand set me free. I was overtaken by hunger, the Lord Himself fed me generously. I was alone and God came to help me. I was in weakness and the Lord showed His concern for me. I was in prison and the Savior acted graciously on my behalf. I was in bonds and He loosed me. Falsely accused, and He testified on my behalf. Assaulted by bitter words of the Egyptians, and He rescued me. A slave, and He exalted me.” (Testament of Joseph 1:4-7)
Both Joseph and Jesus were persecuted because of false witnesses. The wife of Potiphar bears false witness against Joseph before the members of her household and before her husband (Genesis 39:14-19). Witnesses falsely accused Jesus before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:60-62, Mark 14:55-59) and before Pilate (Matthew 27:12-14, Mark 15:3-5). Joseph went to prison because of the false witnesses. Jesus went to hell after being crucified because of false witnesses. The words “prison” and “hell” are often used interchangeably in the Bible.
Joseph becomes a model of sexual purity in the early Church as found in the early Christian apocryphal texts of the Protevangelium of James and the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew. They record how Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was falsely accused of having had sexual relations with the virgin Mary before their marriage and how he was arrested by the religious authorities and forced to submit himself to a test to prove his purity. In the same way, Joseph refused the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife and this made him a model of the sexual purity praised by many Church Fathers such as Origen who wrote:
“Joseph, refused to give in to passion, despite the entreaties and threats of the one who was legally his mistress Joseph preferred prison to the loss of his chastity.” (Against Celsus IV,46 ).
In this sense, Joseph is shown as a man who resisted the seduction of a woman and reversing the karmic debt for the sin of Adam who was tempted by Eve. Origen credited Joseph’s ultimate rule over Egypt to Joseph’s mastery over his own body:
“Joseph, whom no sensual passion was able to vanquish, became lord and master of all Egypt,” (Homilies on Genesis XV,3)
Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, was also seen as a model of this same purity as was the virgin Mary whose purity reversed the karmic transgression of Eve thereby attaining perfection as a mother.
Joseph’s brothers smeared his robe with goat’s blood in order to blame Joseph’s demise on wild animals. On the day of Jesus’ death, it was Passover and a goat is sacrificed for the atonement of sins.
Both Joseph and Jesus were men among many brothers who rejected them but was saved by God and raised to be the judge of their brothers. This same theme can be found in Jesus’ parable of the murderous tenants in the vineyard. It is a parable which can be found in all three synoptic gospels. The parable is an important key to understanding how Jesus’ rejection and death is to be understood (see Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-11, Luke 20:9-19). In the parable, evil men plot to kill the son of the vineyard owner, saying:
“This is the heir; come let us kill him and the inheritance will be ours.” (Matthew 21:38, Mark 12:7, Luke 20:14).
These words are even similar to the words of Joseph’s brothers when they plotted to kill Joseph:
“Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns” (Genesis 37:20)
Both were sold for the price of a slave. Joseph was sold for 20 shekels of silver and Jesus was sold for 30 pieces. Both were assigned with two other prisoners. Church Father Tertullian (145-220 AD) wrote explicitly about the parallels between Joseph and Jesus and their suffering:
“Joseph himself was made a figure of Christ in this point alone, that he suffered persecution at the hands of his brethren, and was sold into Egypt on account of the favor of God. Likewise, Christ was sold by Israel according to the flesh, by his brethren, when he is betrayed by Judas.” (Tertullian 7,10 )
In the Treatises of Aphrahat the Persian, a Father of the Syriac tradition, stated: Joseph persecuted is the image of Jesus persecuted (Treatises of Aphrahat the Persian 21,9).
The stories of Joseph and Jesus are both a kind of “rags to riches” story. Joseph was brought out of the pit and prison to be exalted to the Pharaoh’s right hand:
“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you. So Pharaoh said to Joseph, I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as His second in command.” (Genesis 41:39-41)
Jesus was brought out from the pit after death and exalted to the Father’s right hand:
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8-11)
Forgiveness and reconciliation are the major aspects concerning the lives of both Joseph and Jesus. Caesar of Arles, in his Sermon XC, drew this parallel between Joseph and Jesus:
“He [Joseph] embraced them one by one and shed tears over each one of them. Watering the neck of each one of them, who feared him, he washed away the hate of his brothers by the tears of his love.” (Caesar of Arles XL,4).
The actual Bible verse referred to here is Genesis 45:14 when Joseph’s dramatic revealing of his true identity to his brothers and their reconciliation and his forgiveness is the dramatic climax of the story of Joseph:
“Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you … So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God … Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.” (Genesis 45:5-14)
In a similar vein, Jesus was revealed as the Son of God while on the cross when he forgives his brothers:
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
When Mary announced Jesus’ resurrection to the disciples, they didn’t believe it:
“But these words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them.” (Luke 24:11)
Likewise, Joseph’s father is unbelieving when his sons announce to him that Joseph is alive:
“But he was as one stunned for he did not believe them.” (Genesis 45:26)
When Joseph’s father finally did see Joseph, he stated he is now ready to die:
“Now I can die, now that I have seen you again, and seen you still alive.” (Genesis 46:30)
The same thing was said by Simeon the Elder, awaiting the Messiah in the Temple when he meets Jesus and recognized him as the long awaited Messiah. He exclaimed:
“Lord, let your servant now depart in peace according to your word. My eyes have seen your salvation.” (Luke 2:29-30)
The brothers of Joseph recovered his bones from Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land. God the Father of Jesus resurrected his body from Hades and brought him to heaven.
Even more interesting parallels between Joseph and Jesus can be found at this website.
- Scriptural Comparisons Between Joseph and Jesus
[Biblical Parallels Between Joseph and Jesus chart]
- Edgar Cayce Affirmed Joseph and Jesus were Different Incarnations of the Same Soul
Edgar Cayce identified Joseph, the son of Jacob, as one of the incarnations of the Jesus-entity soul. According to Cayce, Joseph’s escape from the pit was not only a literal event, but a symbolic anticipation of Jesus’ resurrection. In John Van Auken’s excellent article entitled “Toward a Universal Christ” he wrote:
Edgar Cayce asked us, “What will you do with this man Jesus of Nazareth Jeshua of Jerusalem, Joshua in Shiloh, Joseph in the court of Pharaoh, Melchizedek as he blessed Abraham, Enoch as he warned the people, Adam as he listened to Eve?” In a reading for a person who had both Jewish and Christian training and was wrestling to decide which religion he preferred, the Source of Cayce’s readings asked, “Have you not found that the essence, the truth, the real truth is ONE? Mercy and justice; peace and harmony. For without Moses and his leader Joshua (that was bodily Jesus) there is no Christ. Christ is not a man. Jesus was the man; Christ the messenger; Christ in all ages, Jesus in one, Joshua in another, Melchizedek in another; these be those that led Judaism! These be they that came as the child of promise, as to the children of promise; and the promise is in you, that you lead as He has given you: Feed my sheep.” (John Van Auken)