“They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.”

Today’s well-known story from Genesis finds the brothers of Joseph conspiring against him because their father, Israel (Jacob), the grandson of Abraham, favors him.  First they want to kill him, then one brother, trying to save him, suggests that they throw him in a well.  Finally, their greed, mixed with their envy, with a dash of guilt it seems, drives them to sell him to a caravan of Ishmaelites.

To anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Gospels, Joseph clearly anticipates Jesus.  Jesus, as Son of God, apparently is worth ten pieces of silver more for His being sold (Mt 26:14-16).  Yet both bring redemption to their people.  Joseph by, through God’s providence, gaining a high position in Egypt and thus saving his people from famine; Jesus by, through the Father’s benevolent mercy, taking a high position upon the cross and thus saving His people from sin, Satan, and eternal death.

Old Testament Joseph was called a “master dreamer” by his brothers (v. 19).  One wonders if he dreamed of the coming Messiah.  New Testament Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, had the most important dreams in history, accepting Mary (and Jesus) into his home and then being warned to flee to Egypt, the same place where Joseph bar Israel ended up.  One wonders if he dreamed of His Son’s public ministry and demise.

With this reading, we are invited to continue our preparation for Passion Week by considering Jesus’ upcoming betrayal, but also to remember why He came in the first place and the trials and travails He faced even as a toddler.

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