In the early parts of this chapter, Joseph had been called from the dungeon to the palace to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. The dream from God promised dire consequences for Pharaoh and Egypt and all the land around in the form of a famine. God gave the interpretation of the dream to Joseph and, as a result, Pharaoh gave him control over all the land and crops and placed him second in command only to Pharaoh himself.
GENESIS 41:39-58 39: "And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: 40: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. 41: And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. 42: And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; 43: And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. 44: And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. 45: And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnath-paaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt."
Verse 45 records what must have been one of the most important events in the personal life of Joseph, his marriage to a Gentile bride. I think we sometimes overlook the importance of this when we scan the earth shaking events in this story of this true servant of God. “He gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On.”
We dwell more on his mis-fortunes and are touched with both pity and resentment when we read about his bondage in a strange land and the injustice Joseph suffered undeservedly. Then we read of how the Hebrew slave is suddenly given all that power and glory and made lord over all Egypt and we rejoice with him, but we tend to pass over his marriage and we might easily overlook one of the brightest events in his whole career.
The record of this event is so brief that it’s recorded in only one verse, Genesis 41:45, and we may not catch its significance. "And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnath-paa neah" - which means "revealer of secrets," or "savior of the world," which Joseph truly was. Then the record says: "And he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah, priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt." And then in verse 50: "And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath bare unto him; and Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh; for God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil and all my father's house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim; for God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction."
These must have been some of the most important events in Joseph's life, his marriage and the birth of his two sons, even more so than when he was a boy at home and was the apple of his father’s eye and was set apart with favors like his coat of many colors. While still a boy, his dreams, however prophetic and true, alienated his brothers, but all in all, in his home life he enjoyed the fact that he was his father’s favorite of his twelve sons.
Joseph's downward life started when he left home, at his father’s bidding, to seek his brothers. From then on his days were ones of sorrow and rejection. Ever since the day Joseph left his father's house decked out in his coat of many colors, he found nothing to set his heart on. The hatred of his brothers must have really hurt him. He was no longer in his place of safety and affection in his home. He was sold for the price of a slave. He was faithful in all his service to the king but he was falsely accused and ended up in prison where he was forsaken. Yet God, with His divine hand of destiny, had him released and placed in the highest place of honor in all of Egypt.
How closely this parallels the pathway of Christ. He left His Father’s home in heaven at His Father’s bidding and came to earth to seek and save God’s children. Galatians 4:4. “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son.”
He was hated by his brethren, the Jews, and was sold for the price of a slave by one of them. He was falsely imprisoned and convicted without a trial and yet was ever obedient to His Father. His pathway led to the cross where, by His death for our sins, He was exalted to the highest position at the right hand of God.
At thirty years of age, the Hebrew slave, Joseph, was put in charge of the most powerful Gentile nation of the time. How could Pharaoh set a Hebrew prisoner over all Egypt on the basis of the interpretation of a dream that hadn’t yet been fulfilled? [Proverbs 21:1. The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD.] Joseph must have marveled at his own glory and wished those he loved could see him now. Jehovah is the God who moves the hearts of kings, and He arranged for Pharaoh to fill the vacancy in Joseph’s heart, and a wife was presented to him. Proverbs also tells us that a wife is one of the greatest gift that is ever given to any man here in this world.
It takes more than fame and fortune to fill man’s heart’s desires, it takes love. He was given Asenath for his wife and the loneliness and sorrow that filled his heart for many years was gone. The joy of the marriage union was soon increased with the blessing of two children born into this home.
In all of this we see Joseph as the servant of the Lord and man and as a beautiful type of Christ himself. Joseph's bride came on the scene at the time of his exaltation among the Gentiles, and at a time when Joseph was estranged from his own brethren after the flesh and at a time when his name was above every name in Egypt and "Bow the knee" to him was being called in the streets. He was exalted to Pharaoh's right hand. His bride was the daughter of an idol worshipping priest, but she was brought to him by her king to become his companion and share in his exaltation among the Gentiles.
In Ephesians 5, Paul speaks concerning the great mystery of Christ and the church.
Doesn’t this bride that was brought to Joseph at the time of his estrangement from his own brethren portray Christ and His bride, the Church? Asenath was a gift to Joseph from her master, just as the Church is a gift from God to Christ, His Son. The Church has filled His heart with joy at the very time He is grieving over His rejection by His brethren, Israel. We can’t help but see a picture of Christ and His Gentile bride, the Church, in this story of Joseph.
Today is still “the times of the Gentiles;” The Lord Jesus has been rejected by His own brethren after the flesh, the Jews; yet God, who is King over all, has exalted Christ to the right hand of power and glory and given Him “a Name above every name that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow.” This honor and acceptance doesn’t come from the ranks of Israel's race, but from among the Gentiles. The apostle Paul, who was a Jew, wrote this about the Gentiles: Ephesians 2:12: “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:" God has selected a bride for His Son from among the Gentiles mentioned in this scripture.
The brides name is the Church. It’s made up of a company of sinners saved by grace, idolaters who were strangers from the covenants of promise, brought to the Father by the Gospel and presented to Christ for His exaltation among the Gentile nations.
John 17:6 gives us a promise of the church as Christ’s bride. Our Lord said; "I have manifested Thy name unto the men which thou gavest Me out of the world: thine they were and thou gavest them Me." That’s the Church. Then in verse 24 He says "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am that they may behold my glory." Christ wants His bride to be with Him always.
This same truth is echoed by Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles in Ephesians 5:25-27. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it ...... and present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;"
This bride came to Joseph at a time when his earthly brethren had rejected him, and she was taken from the ranks of heathen idolatry, just like the church today is taken from among the Gentile nations. Asenath filled his heart in the day of his exaltation to the right hand of power, and she must have realized a great transition when Pharaoh removed her from her heathen life and presented her, cleansed and sanctified from her Godless life, to Joseph to share in the joy of his exaltation.
God, in His matchless grace, has given us the opportunity to become part of that company called "the Bride" through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We may have been idolaters who claimed to be Christians in name only, yet we can be cleansed and brought to Christ through faith in His finished work on Calvary. He’ll forgive our sins and love us with the love that is symbolized by the love a husband manifests to his wife. There is a day coming when the marriage feast will be all prepared and a voice from heaven will be heard saying: "Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife." Then the Lord will present her to Himself "a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing."
Joseph had two sons in Egypt, the scripture says, "Before the years of famine came;" Manasseh - meaning “for God hath made me forget all my toil and my Father's house:” and Ephraim - meaning “For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affection."
These two sons are distinct types of compensation Christ received in the church today. Manasseh [“for God hath made me forget all my toil and my Father's house:”] might be seen as compensation Joseph received from Jehovah God so that his sorrow at the rejection by his brethren might be forgotten. Note that his sons came to him "before the years of famine came." Timewise this depicts this present hour. The famine is coming, but it isn’t here yet. This is still the day of God’s grace and mercy. The sinner can still come to God before the Great Tribulation Day comes to the earth.
And Ephraim, whose name means “God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affection" points forward to the time when Joseph would take things up with his estranged brethren, but that time was not yet. As far as his true brethren were concerned he was dead and forgotten. This is how it is with the Lord as far as Israel is concerned today. There is a time coming when the Jew will be reconciled back to God but at the time of His earthly trial they said "His blood be on us and our children."
Since the Lord has been rejected by his earthly people, He is now preached among the Gentiles. Peter declared, in Acts 10:35: "In every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness is accepted of Him." And Paul confirms this in Acts:13:47: “For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.”
With verse 46, Joseph’s story continues. He is married and second in command over all Egypt.
Genesis 41:46-57. "And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. 47: And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls. 48: And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same. 49: And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number. 50: And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On bare unto him. 51: And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. 52: And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction. 53: And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended. 54: And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55: And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do. 56: And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. 57: And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands."
Starting in verse 47 and to the end of the chapter, we have the story spelled out in Pharaoh’s dream. As prophesied, there were seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Joseph was in charge of all the grain and wisely stored all that was not immediately needed for food for the days he knew were coming when it would be sorely needed just to survive. The crops were so big and they stored so much grain that they gave up measuring it.
God saw to it that there was enough grain to feed Egypt, Goshen, and all the people and livestock in the surrounding countries until a new crop could come in after another seven years. When anyone needed grain to survive, there was only one stipulation and Pharaoh said “Go to Joseph.” There was grain enough to satisfy every need but you had to “go to Joseph” for that life giving food.
The sinner that is hungry for redemption has only one requirement to meet; God tells us to “Go to Jesus.” He is the One who took our sins on Himself and paid their price with His cleansing blood. “Go to Jesus.” Trust Him for the necessary spiritual food that will save your soul from eternity in hell. It was Jesus who said, in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” In Acts 16:30-31, a desperate man asked; “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
Go to Jesus.
He is the only way of salvation.
He is The Only Way to heaven for eternity.