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They said, “Your servants are twelve brothers,a the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is with our father today, and one is no longer living.” — Genesis 42:13

The Sons of Jacob

We can learn a few lessons from the brothers of Joseph. The slavery of Israel in Egypt for almost half a millennium began with the folly of Jacob, who showed favoritism as a father toward Joseph, and the sin of Joseph’s brothers and their jealousy. They sold him into slavery, sending him down to Egypt, and it wasn’t long before the entire family of seventy souls had followed along because of the famine in the land, and the whole family lived there. And now they go through some 430 years in the land of Egypt. In the first part of that they were treated very well, but later they began to be afflicted and persecuted.

We are given the names of the twelve sons of Jacob, which you probably know fairly well. If you read the history of these men, you will notice that they are, for the most part, a rather undistinguished group of men. They were hardly fit for the distinguished positions they were later to occupy. But that, of course, is one of the ways God works. He takes people who are nothing and makes them into something, just as He also did with Moses and as He did with these twelve.

I think it is also interesting to notice that we started with one in Egypt, which was Joseph, and then there were the twelve, and then we read that there were seventy who had come down into Egypt, and then we see that there was a whole nation. In the Old Testament Joseph is a type of Christ, because in the New Testament we find that there was the One, then there were the twelve, and then there were the seventy who were sent out, and then there was the new nation of Christianity that was created by God. We constantly see these parallels between the Old and New Testaments.