2 Josephs: Many Dreams

Joseph, New Testament, Old Testament, dreams, God's work, parallels between the Josephs, Gospel of Luke, nativity, Jesus,

Joseph Dreams of Stars by Owen Jones (Wikipedia Commons)

God often uses dreams in the lives of Biblical characters.

Two Josephs were the most famous dreamers: Joseph of Nazareth and, Joseph, the son of Jacob.

(Joseph of Nazareth, by the way, also was the son of a Jacob).

Dreams are what prompted the comparison, but a closer inspection showed many other similarities between the two men.

(I’m grateful to the Rev. Francis J. Peffley for many of these observations. You can read his post here.)

The Old Testament Joseph’s story appears in the second half of the book of Genesis (chapters 37-50). Joseph of Nazareth is the hero in the New Testament books of Luke and Matthew.

OT Joseph is perhaps best remembered as the next to youngest son of the patriarch, Jacob/Israel, while the NT Joseph was the step-father of Jesus. Both played significant roles in Christianity.

Joseph, New Testament, Old Testament, dreams, God's work, parallels between the Josephs, Gospel of Luke, nativity, Jesus,

Benjamin Cuyp: Joseph Interprets Dreams

OT Joseph and Dreams

OT Joseph’s dreams began early. As a young man, he dreamed his ten older brothers would one day bow down to him. With the brashness of nearly the baby youth, he told them of this dream.

The brothers didn’t like their pipsqueak younger brother lording things over them, so they arranged to have him sold into slavery.

What those brothers meant for evil, God ultimately used for good in their lives. Joseph had to go through a number of difficulties first, however.

Through it all, he worshiped the God who knew him and his family well. God provided other dreams–though not explicitly to Joseph.

While in prison, Joseph correctly interpreted the dreams of two fellow prisoners. Years later, he was called to do the same for Pharaoh–correctly interpreting his dream.

Pharaoh rewarded Joseph with the role of vizier, which is why Joseph could care for his family years later during a famine.

NT Joseph and Dreams

God used an angel sent to NT Joseph in dreams to direct Joseph into steps needed to care for the coming Messiah.

Different from the OT Joseph who heard from God, NT Joseph listened to an angel. Joseph ultimately had four dreams: the first confirming Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, the second after a visit by the Wise Men sent the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt.

Years later following King Herod‘s death, NT Joseph was visited again by an angel in a dream and told they could return to Israel. While on the way home, God sent a fourth dream advising them to return to the Galilee region.

NT Joseph didn’t need to be told twice by those angels!

Father Peffley noted both Josephs came from royal lineage, descending from Abraham. God asked both to trust his word in unusual events.

OT Joseph waited many years to see the fulfillment of his dreams–and spent time in prison for choosing to follow’s God’s path and not sleep with his employer’s wife.

NT Joseph coped with an unexpected pregnancy, the murderous threat of a blood-thirsty King and the unlikely parallel of being sent to Egypt for shelter.

Both Josephs’ families flourished as a result of their time in Egypt.

While the OT Joseph ended up saving his clan’s lives as a result of being vizier of Egypt and thus having food during a famine, the NT Joseph assisted in preparing the Messiah: to save the world.

And what does their name mean?

Joseph = God will add.

For the OT Joseph, God added power, might, food, and a family.

God used the NT Joseph to add a savior to the world.


Surprising comparisons of the OT and the NT Josephs Click to Tweet

What did the OT and NT Josephs have in common? Click to Tweet

Two Josephs, 2 dreams, one God’s glory. Click to Tweet

Leave a comment


  1. Interesting parallels. I’ve never put much stock into dream interpretation, largely because I prefer to leave nightmares on the other side of sleep.

    But it seems that God does not share my prejudice, so I may have to rethink this.

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