When Joseph became vizier of Egypt, second only to Pharoah and wearing his ring of authority, he also got a new name that doesn’t exactly roll off our English-speaking tongues. What it lacks in clarity, it more than makes up in its meaning which is “savior of the world.”
You can also find the podcast on the following platforms: Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Castbox, Overcast, Pocket Casts, PodBean, RadioPublic, and Stitcher .
When Joseph became vizier of Egypt, second only to Pharoah and wearing his ring of authority, he also got a new name that doesn’t exactly roll off our English-speaking tongues. It is Zaphnath-paaneah and what it lacks in clarity, it more than makes up in its meaning which is “savior of the world.” Yes, his starving family will come from Canaan, hoping to buy the corn that Joseph has stored in Egypt, but his name signifies even more than that. We’ll tell you today.
Hello. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast where today we’ll study Genesis 42-50 about Joseph saving his family in Egypt. The transcript for this podcast is at latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast, that’s latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast. While you are there check out the remarkable content on the magazine. Meridian is updated Monday through Friday with articles from some of the top Latter-day Saint writers. You’ll find scripture insights, inspiring stories and learn about your fellow Latter-day Saints’ lives. If something new happens in the Church, we’ve got it! Tell your friends about our podcast and Meridian Magazine. You can sign up for the daily executive summary of the magazine that will come to your inbox each day for free.
The seven-years of plenty that Joseph had described from Pharoah’s dream were now at an end, and for two years the world had been in the desperate plight of famine. Joseph opened the granaries of Egypt, and surrounding nations came for food, including some familiar faces from Canaan—ten of Joseph’s brothers. The last time he had seen them was when he was the anguished 17-year-old sold as a slave to Egypt. Joseph was now forty years old, when his brothers “came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth” (v. 6), a fulfillment of the dreams Joseph had as a youth.
We will tell this story in more detail in a few minutes, but something beyond the story details begs to be mentioned. We have talked in former podcasts that the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are specifically crafted to teach us about the power, protection, prosperity, and much more about the covenants—as if history was designed to demonstrate the unique blessings of being bound to the Lord in covenant. I will be your God, and you will be my people. Let us show you what that means in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Joseph’s story gives us another key to understanding the Old Testament. Scripture is written with types and shadows. What does that mean? If you cast a bright light on an object, it will cast a shadow that looks very much like it. It won’t have every detail of the original, of course, but will be similar enough that you can see something of what the original is. You will get a sense that it points to something larger and more tangible.
Types are patterns, templates or molds that repeat themselves through scripture and also point to larger spiritual realities. Types and shadows point to Christ and his doctrine.
In Moses 6:63, we read, “And behold, all things have their likeness and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath; all things bear record of me.”
Reality and history are organized to bear record of him. The more you understand that scriptures are told in types and patterns, the more they jump out at you. You can see that events, people, places and more all resonate together to invite you to see a larger picture of the way things really are. They testify of Christ.
Let’s look at a couple of those patterns. A pattern that undergirds so much of scripture is departure from home, a mission abroad and then a happy homecoming. We know, of course, that that is our story, but it is also the story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. We left the protection and shelter of our heavenly home to undertake a mission whose difficulties would be designed to purify us, and we head back to home, sanctified and changed. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph have stories that mirror this idea—only with Joseph, home comes to him.
Another type that we have seen is that when Abraham is asked to sacrifice Isaac, it will be a similitude of what will happen in the future when God, the Father, allows his Son to atone and be crucified. This event also demonstrates God’s goodness, who provided a ram in the thicket as a means of deliverance. We see here that both the ram and Isaac were types of Christ. The Bible makes it clear that the righteous are protected again and again, in every type of situation.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks noted, “Bible stories such as these do not mean that the servants of God are delivered from all hardship or that they are always saved from death. Some believers lose their lives in persecutions, and some suffer great hardships as a result of their faith. But the protection promised to the faithful servants of God is a reality today as it was in Bible times.
“All over the world, faithful Latter-day Saints are protected from the powers of the evil one and his servants until they have finished their missions in mortality. For some the mortal mission is brief, as with some valiant young men who have lost their lives in missionary service. But for most of us the mortal journey is long, and we continue our course with the protection of guardian angels.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Bible Stories and Personal Protection” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1992/10/bible-stories-and-personal-protection?lang=eng )
So, types, shadows and repeated patterns in scripture are powerful to see and understand, because they reveal the underlying meaning of reality. Ask when you are reading the scriptures: Is this idea part of a larger pattern? Is there something this teaches me that I have seen in other scriptures? Are these all just random stories, or is there a message or thread that is continuous?
We have to work to think this way, because unlike other generations, symbols and types are not a natural language for us.
One of my great personal discoveries came when I was contemplating Joseph and wondering if his life in some way was a type of his posterity, was a type for me. Many church members learn in their patriarchal blessings that they are of the lineage of Ephraim or Manassah, so Joseph is their grandparent. Does his life prefigure ours in some way?
It was one of those moments when the answer leaped at me, a moment of true revelation. I could see it all at once. Joseph had been sent away from home, to a land where he was a stranger, in order to later save his family, the Children of Israel, when the world was starving. If he had not been sold away, he would have not had the power to save his family later. The Children of Israel and their covenant promise to bless the world through their lineage would have been nullified in the arms of death and starvation.
Joseph acknowledges this to his brothers when they are fearful in his presence.
“And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near…Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve your life…to preserve you a posterity in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (Gen. 45: 4,5,7).
Joseph is not tangled in resentments and anger, but has been given, obviously through revelation, the bigger picture, the grand view. He was called to be a “savior of the world.”
What I saw is that the posterity of Joseph have a similar calling. When Jacob blesses all the brothers, he gives Joseph this special blessing, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall” (Gen. 49: 22). Joseph is told, “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills” (v. 26).
The term “whose branches run over the wall” refers to Joseph’s posterity, Lehi, and his family, who are called to leave their homeland and make a journey 2/3 of the way around the globe to a promised land. This sturdy branch will run over the wall—that is, in this case, the ocean, and they will keep records of their dealings with God, and this record will be the Book of Mormon.
Those, in the last days, who are the posterity of Joseph and who have Joseph’s record—the Book of Mormon-have the same calling as Joseph. They were sent away to save a starving world with their record. We, too, are to use this book to save a starving world.
How is the world starving? In this time, when so many of us deal with the problems of abundance, it may be hard to think of us as starving, but we do have our own kind of famine and it is just as grievous, if not more so. We have lost our way. We have lost our moorings. We have lost the ability to hear the Lord—and we are starving. Amos said it this way:
“Behold the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine for bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And [people] shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, and shall run to and fro to seek after the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).
Joseph’s life prefigures ours. We are to bring a starving world the word of God.
Joseph’s life is also a type of Christ. Joseph Fielding McConkie in his book Gospel Symbolism listed 28 similarities between Joseph and the Savior. We’ll quote him on these:
1. Both Jesus and Joseph are granted a new name. Zaphnath-paaneah was Joseph’s new name. For Jesus, “Christ” constituted a divinely given title.
2. Both were good shepherds. Joseph, of course, was a shepherd, and became the recipient of the hatred of his brothers. “In this he can be likened to the Good Shepherd who was hated of the world because he testified that their deeds were evil.
3. “Both were known as the most loved of their father. Few verses in the Old Testament seem more strangely inconsistent with the great patriarch Jacob serving as a model to emulate than the announcement that he “loved Joseph more than all his children” (Genesis 37:3) and that Joseph was favored above his brothers. Those lacking spiritual insight have freely criticized Jacob for this behavior, yet it perfectly represents the favoritism shown by the eternal Father to his firstborn, of whom he has repeatedly said, ‘Thou art my beloved Son’ (Mark 1:11; 9:7; 3 Nephi 11:7; JS-H 1:17).
4. “Both were clothed in authority and power by their father.” Joseph was given the “coat of many colors”, which is apparently a priesthood garment. The authority and power of Jesus also came from his father.
5. Both were revelators. In Joseph’s case he dreamed dreams that revealed the future to his family and Christ taught of future events.
6. “Both were fully obedient to the will and wishes of their father and responded to their call to serve, saying, ‘Here am I.’ The type is rather remarkable. Joseph‘s brothers were tending their father’s flock, yet they had broken off communication with him. Joseph was sent with word from their father, only to find that they had wandered from Shechem (“the place of the burden”) to Dothan. Such was the experience of Christ, who found that those of his brothers charged with tending his Father’s flock, the children of Israel, had also wandered far from their original pastures.”
McConkie reminds us:
7. “Both were promised a future sovereignty. It may be worthy of notice that the two recorded dreams of Joseph hinted at a double sovereignty. The first dream concerned ‘the field” (Genesis 37:7), thus pointing to an earthly dominion; the second dream was occupied with the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 37:9), suggesting a heavenly rule. This would be in imitation of Christ’s ultimate triumph, which will be both temporal and spiritual.
8. “Both were betrayed by their brothers. It was essential to the story that Joseph’s brothers in their betrayal first strip him of the coat or garment given him by his father. Be it remembered that Christ was also stripped of his seamless coat, which was the symbol of his high priestly office.
9. “Both were cast into a pit—Christ to the world of spirits, Joseph into an empty cistern, where he remained according to Jewish tradition for three days and three nights (Ginzberg, Louis. The Legends of the Jews. 7 vols. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909.2:14; Genesis 37:24; Isaiah 24:22).”
10. “Both were betrayed with the utmost hypocrisy. “Let us sell him to the Ishmeelites,” said Joseph’s brothers, “and let not our hand be upon him” (Genesis 37:27). When Pilate told the Jews to take Christ and judge him according to their law they responded, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death” (John 18:31).
11. “Both were sold. It was Judah that sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver (Genesis 37:26-28), as it was Judas (Greek for Judah) who sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15).
12. “The blood-sprinkled coat of each was presented to his father. “And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; and they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father” (Genesis 37:31-32). The blood of Jesus Christ as the blood of a scapegoat, a sin offering, was symbolically presented to the Father.”
13. “Both blessed those with whom they labored in prison (Genesis 39:21-23; Isaiah 61:1; D&C 138).
14. “Both were servants, and as such all that they touched were blessed.
15. “Both were tempted with great sin and both refused its enticements (Genesis 39; Matthew 4:1-11).
16. “Both were falsely accused: Joseph by Potiphar’s wife, Christ by false witnesses. (Christ did not defend himself against the false charges, and there is no record of Joseph doing so, either.)”
17. “Both stood as the source of divine knowledge to their day and generation. All the wisdom of Egypt had failed to interpret the king’s dreams before Joseph was sought and successfully did so. So it was with Christ—in him and him alone were the truths to be found by which man could be saved.
18. “Both were triumphant, overcoming all.
19. “Both were granted rule over all. To Joseph, Pharaoh said, “According unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou” (Genesis 41:40). Christ, in like manner, was welcomed in the royal courts on high, where he sits on the right hand of the Father with “angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:22).
20. “Both were thirty years old when they began their life’s work. “And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Genesis 41:46). And of the time when Christ commenced his public ministry we read, “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23).
21. “Both were saviors to their people, giving them the bread of life.
22. “The rejection of both brought bondage upon the people. ‘Just as a few years after his brethren had rejected Joseph, they were forced by a famine (sent from God) to leave their land and go down to Egypt, so a few years after the Jews had rejected Christ and delivered Him up to the Gentiles, God’s judgment descended upon them, and the Romans drove them from their land, and dispersed them throughout the world’ (Pink, Arthur W. Gleanings in Genesis. Chicago: Moody Press, 1950., p. 391).”
23. “Both were unrecognized by their people. When Joseph’s brothers came seeking the bread of life, they failed to recognize that it was Joseph who extended the blessing that they sought. Only after he had identified himself did they know him. ‘I am Joseph,’ he said. ‘Come near to me…(Genesis 45:3-5). Do not our scriptures prophesy of that day when the Jews shall look upon the Savior and say: ‘What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God. And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king.’ (D&C 45:51-53.)
24. “Both would be recognized and accepted by their brothers only at the ‘second time.’ Such was the testimony of Stephen, who declared to a corrupt Sanhedrin that it was only ‘at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren’ (Acts 7:13); and so it would be with Christ.”
25. “As Joseph’s brothers bowed to him in fulfillment of prophecy, so all will yet bow the knee to Christ (Genesis 43:26-28; D&C 76:110).”
26. “Through both, mercy is granted to a repentant people. As Joseph’s brothers sought forgiveness of him, so Christ’s brothers will eventually seek forgiveness of him. In both instances the mercies of heaven are freely given.
27. “After the reconciliation, Israel is gathered. Having manifest himself to his brothers, Joseph charged them to return and bring their father and families to Egypt. So it shall be in the last days. After Israel have returned to their God, they, like Joseph’s brothers, shall be given a change of raiment (Genesis 45:22) and sent to bring all the family of Israel into the kingdom ruled by Christ.
28. “To ailing Jacob, then nearly blind, the Lord said: ‘Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes’ (Genesis 46:4). Through him you shall see, through him you shall be gathered, through him you shall be introduced to the king and granted a land from whence you shall increase endlessly.”
Again, we thank Joseph Fielding McConkie and his book Gospel Symbolism for these parallels between the life of the Savior and the life of Joseph. Aren’t they striking? This pattern of types and shadows, and comparing a life or an event to the Savior, is one of the most salient features of scripture. It is your pattern for understanding the Old Testament.
Now, in the beginning of Genesis 42, we see that Joseph’s ten brothers come to Egypt to buy corn. Their position is truly humble. In fact, they bow to the ground before Joseph in seeking his mercy. They are starving and Joseph has storehouses full of grains.
Are they humbled just because they are compelled to be by their circumstances? Joseph really needs to know. At heart, are they still the murderous brothers who almost slayed him, but sent him off as a slave instead?
Alma tells us in the Book of Mormon, “Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty” (Alma 32:15).
So have these brothers been compelled to be humble or have they, instead, changed and repented at their very core? Have they spent a lifetime, watching their father, Jacob, mourn away his years, grieving for the loss of Joseph, and known with guilt how wrong they had been to bring such sorrow to their family and wish somehow they could make amends?
It is clear from Joseph’s life and his spiritual power in the Lord, that he has not spent his lifetime boiling with anger toward his brothers, but frankly forgiven them a very long time ago. Remember he reminds them. “Be not grieved nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5). Two points are interesting here: 1) that our sins do not thwart the work of God, and that He can even use them for his greater purposes and 2) Joseph, who is a type of Christ, urges that they forgive themselves. Surely the Lord insists that we do the same.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes—our own or other people’s—is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist…”
He said, “Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, “Hey! Do you remember this?” Splat!
“Well, guess what? That is probably going to result in some ugly morsel being dug up out of your landfill with the reply, ‘Yeah, I remember it. Do you remember this?’ Splat.
“And soon enough everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what God, our Father in Heaven, pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing.”
If this is necessary in the world, how much more necessary it is within the bounds of our own families where our long knowledge of each other and our proximity makes hurting each other a likely possibility. As covenant people, we are to follow our covenant father, Joseph, who forgave in the most difficult and impossible circumstances. If you have a child who forsakes the Church, and tramples on the values you taught them, we must forgive. If your most heartfelt political idea is trampled on by your brother-in-law, we must forgive them. The Lord can give us the strength to do that, even if we can’t find one cell of forgiveness in our body toward one who has deeply wronged us.
If we are divided, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, mile by mile from those who have hurt us, we will eventually live in a world of empty streets with only a light showing here and there where someone lives, as we seek to make distance between us. God wants more than that for us. He wants Zion.
When Joseph’s brothers came, they did not recognize him. He was 40, no longer 17. He was the vizier of Egypt, dressed, undoubtedly with the trappings of his high position, and he spoke in Egyptian to them. To prove that they have truly repented, he accuses them of being spies. This becomes a complicated ruse, which reminds the brothers at every turn that the difficulty they find themselves in might be God’s punishment to them for selling their brother, Joseph.
They say to themselves, “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” (Gen. 43:21). Joseph, who did not let them know he understood their language. listened to their conversation and sometimes turned and wept. He had lived that anguish of his soul.
Joseph tells them that to prove they are not spies, they should return with Benjamin, their younger brother, whom Jacob had kept at home lest some evil should befall him. He took Simeon, bound him, and kept him. Then their sacks were laden with corn and they left for home. Yet, oh, the distress when they realize that each of them also had their original money in their pack.
Jacob is agonized at the request to take Benjamin to Egypt. “Me ye have bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me” (v. 36). But Reuben steps forward and says “Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee” (v. 37). This is a pledge of fidelity and loyalty, and we see here a changed Reuben from the man he once was.
The famine worsens, and at last there is no choice. They surely must go again to Egypt for food, and they have been told not to come without Benjamin. Judah steps forward to guarantee the boy’s safety with his life, saying that if he brings Benjamin not home, “let me bear the blame forever” (Gen.43: 9). So they leave with their brother Benjamin, bearing gifts for the Egyptians, and double the money, that they might pay back what was in their pack.
They were brought into Joseph’s own house, treated with great hospitality, and Joseph asked, “Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?” (v. 27). Looking at Benjamin, he asked, “Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me?” (v. 29). This is a revealing scene that moves our souls all these centuries later. “And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep and he entered his chamber and wept there” (v. 30).
The next day, the brothers are sent away, laden with food, but Joseph secrets a silver cup and money into Benjamin’s sack. Joseph sent men after them, saying that a cup is missing, and why have they returned evil for good? The brothers answered to search their bags, and “with whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s bondmen” (Gen.44:9).
Of course, the silver cup is found in Banjamin’s sack and the entire group is brought back to Joseph. Judah—that same Judah who had suggested that Joseph be sold into Egypt—steps forward to plead. He speaks of their father, who is an old man, and that if something should happen to Benjamin, he would die of shock and grief. Judah spoke of what the loss of Joseph had meant to their father, and one more loss, according to Jacob, “will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave” (v. 29). Judah says “let the lad go up with his brethren” (v. 33) and he would take the punishment instead. His repentance and change of heart is complete. He is not the same brother who sold Joseph away.
Now Joseph can’t step away to weep. He cries. He wails, so loud that “the Egyptians and the house of Pharoah heard” (Ge. 45: 2). Joseph tells his brothers who he is and that “God did send me before you to preserve life” (v.5)…to preserve you a posterity in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. What a scene—this reuniting of a broken family, this profound forgiveness of a great soul. Since this is only the second year of a famine that will last seven years, Joseph invites them to go get their father and bring the entire family to Egypt to preserve their lives. “And there I will nourish thee,” (v. 11) Joseph said. Pharoah says to Joseph’s family, “the good of all the land of Egypt is yours” (v. 20).
When Jacob and the 70 souls of the Children of Israel come to Egypt, Joseph takes a chariot out to meet his father and “he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while” (Ge. 46: 29). His family is settled in the prime land in the Nile delta called Goshen.
With these scenes in our mind, let’s tie back to the Book of Mormon, which we sometimes refer to as the stick of Joseph. Remember in Alma 46 how Moroni rents part of his garment and raises it as a title of liberty with this writing on it: “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children” (Alma 46:12). The people rally to him, joined together to defend themselves against the evil Amalickiah. They are doing this in the name of the covenant and say, “We covenant with our God”. In this they are calling upon those covenant promises of protection in their promised land, and they know that with it comes their obligation to Let God Prevail in their lives. They rent their “garments in token, or as a covenant, that they will not forsake the Lord their God: or, in other words, if they should transgress the commandments of God, or fall into transgression, and be ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ, the Lord should rend them even as they had rent their garments” (V. 21). It’s like saying, may we be trampled if we break our covenants.”
Then Moroni says a curious thing. “Behold, we are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; yea we are remnant of the seed of Joseph, whose coat was rent by his brethren into many pieces; yea, and now behold, let us remember to keep the commandments of God, or our garments shall be rent by our brethren, and we be cast into prison, or be sold, or be slain” (v. 23). In other words, this story of Joseph’s coat being torn by his brothers is topmost in their minds, and, they see it as a symbol for their covenants. If they don’t keep their obligations in the covenant at this crucial juncture when so much is at stake, they will be rent as Joseph’s coat.
What’s more, they also see themselves as a remnant of Joseph. Just as a remnant of his coat was brought back to Jacob by his brothers when he was sold into Egypt, so they are a remnant of his posterity who have survived in a new promised land.
They say: “Yea, let us preserve our liberty as a remnant of Joseph; yea, let us remember the words of Jacob, before his death, for behold, he saw that a part of the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and had not decayed. And he said—Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God, and be taken unto himself, while the remainder of the seed of Joseph shall perish, even as the remnant of his garment” (Alma 46:24).
This refers back to an old story that is in an ancient document, but not in the Bible. It is written by Thaclabi, according to Hugh Nibley, and this is what he says. “And when Joseph made himself known to his brethren, he asked them about his father. ‘What happened to our father, Jacob?’…They said, ‘He lost his eyesight from weeping.’ Then Joseph gave them the garment so their father would know he lived. He had the good half of the garment with him…it never rotted” or decayed. The other which the brothers took to their father when Joseph was sold into Egypt was smeared with blood, became rotten and perished. (See Hugh B. Nibley, “Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3, Lecture 62.)
This story is not like this in the Bible, but clearly Moroni’s people had access to information on Joseph’s coat, that we don’t have, but is still preserved in ancient documents. Here’s another bullseye for the Book of Mormon and demonstrates also the great impact of this story on the sensibilities and covenant understandings of the Nephites.
Which leads us to two interesting questions—one easy and one hard. For their scriptures, the Nephites had the Plates of Brass. What language were they written in? That’s easy, because the Book of Mormon tells us they were written in Egyptian. They were bigger and more inclusive than our current Old Testament. This might give us a clue for the second question which is, who wrote them? Who could have supervised the making of them? Here’s a strong possibility. Perhaps is was our Joseph of Egypt, whose many words are recorded on them. He was in Egypt for 93 years, coming when he was 17 and dying at age 110. Serving in the courts of Pharoah, he had access to the wealth of Egypt. He could have done anything, including easily ordering the forging of plates upon which holy records would be inscribed. He was completely faithful to God, and like Nephi, taught in both Hebrew and Egyptian.
What do we know for certain is that when Lehi blessed his son, Joseph, he told him that Joseph of Egypt “truly saw our day.” He had seen his posterity, the Nephites, and knew both that they would obtain a promised land and that they would raise up a righteous branch of the house of Israel.
His vision expanded further, right into our day to latter-day covenant Israel. When Joseph Smith was born Dec. 23, 1805, in a freezing Vermont winter, this event had been anticipated and seen by Joseph of Egypt. This ancient Joseph had his eye on our day.
“For Joseph [of Egypt] truly testified, saying: A seer shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins…and he shall be esteemed highly…and unto him will I give commandment that he shall do a work for…his brethren, which shall be of great worth unto them, even to the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers…
“Behold, that seer will the Lord bless, and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise, which I have obtained of the Lord…shall be fulfilled. Behold, I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise.
“And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing , which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation” (2 Nephi 3: 7, 14-15)
Thus we have access to the ancient covenants today because the Lord restored them through Joseph Smith, that the whole world may be saved and blessed if they would. Joseph of Egypt saw this and knew this—and so his story is fresh to us. His prophecy ties that ancient world to this very moment.
That’s all for today. Thanks so much for joining us. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this has been Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. Transcripts are available at latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast. Come visit Meridian Magazine daily for articles you’ll love and the latest news on the church. Thanks to Paul Cardall for the music and to Michaela Proctor Hutchins, our producer. See you next week.