Bones of Joseph


One of the most beloved stories in the Old Testament is the story of Joseph. The family went through trials and turmoil for many years but the story did have a happy ending. The story tells of a young man named Joseph, who was favored by his father. He had visions or dreams in which he was exalted above his father, mother, and his brothers. He let his dreams be known to the family members and they were not pleased at all. Not only was he a favorite son, but his father made him a coat of many colors. One day, his father asked him to go and check on his brothers who were shepherding their flocks in the field and to bring back a report.

       This was a perfect opportunity for Joseph’s brothers, who were jealous and hated him, to do him harm. They conspired to dip Joseph’s coat of many colors in blood and bring the coat back to their father pretending that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Before bringing the coat back to their father, they sold Joseph to a band of traveling merchants.

       He was then unjustly imprisoned in Egypt for thirteen years but because of his wisdom and perseverance while in Egypt, he was elevated to be second in authority under Pharaoh, King of Egypt. He was elevated because of his visions and his knowledge, given by Divine revelation, of  how to deal with the threat of famine that would be a plague to the people of Egypt. The beginning of the book of Exodus opens with:

       Exodus 1:8, now there rose up a king over Egypt who knew not Joseph.

How is it possible for Joseph to be forgotten so easily after the many blessings God bestowed upon the Egyptians because of him? What is to be learned from this king who knew nothing of Joseph? We can read of an important request made by Joseph to his brothers.

       Genesis 50:24, And Joseph said unto his brothers, “I die, and God will surely visit you and bring you out of this land unto the land He sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and Jacob”. 25, and Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you and ye shall carry up my bones from hence”.

We can read of the hard bondage the Israelites suffered while under the new king of Egypt. Sure enough, God did visit them and led them out of the land of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. This is the famous Exodus of old that we are familiar with. But what happened to the bones of Joseph?

       Exodus 13:19, And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away from hence with you”. 

Joshua continues the exodus of Joseph’s bones.

       Joshua 24:32, and the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in the parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of silver; and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

Joseph’s Bones Represent God’s Strength And God’s Law

Joseph’s bones represent God’s law. Egypt, under Joseph was prosperous as the King and the people were following all the directions given by Joseph. What would happen if it were possible to remove all the bones of an individual? Of course the individual would not be able to stand and he would fall to the ground like a blob. Our bones are the foundation for our human body. The foundation of any person or nation is it’s laws. Just as the human body would fall without laws/bones, so will any nation fall without laws/bones. But whose laws are we talking about here? Of course, the same laws of God who initiated the creation of our bones. The king who did not know Joseph, didn’t know anything about Divine laws.  He ruled from his own reason and wit, never realizing as to the consequences of his action, so the nation became lawless,

This was the cause of the anguish and misery that caused the people to cry  out to God for their deliverance. Any king must rule and discipline himself before he will be able to rule over others. A leader needs to learn self discipline and lead with sensible laws when ruling a nation.

1st Timothy 3:5, For if a man knows not how to rule his own house, (or nation), how shall he take care of the church of God?

Even in this nation, USA, we see the removal of the bones, Gods law, from our society. Little by little we can see the lawlessness creeping in like a cancer all around the nation. If the trend were to continue, we would need to cry out to God for our own Exodus.

The Exodus of old is a type of what happens to any nation or individual who is governed by someone’s whim or reasoning and lacking common sense. Any nation or individual will be exalted by respecting natural law and Divine law, but any nation or individual not respecting natural law and Divine law will fall.

So we read again of the king of Egypt.

Exodus 1:8, Now there arose a new king who knew not Joseph.

The name Joseph means to add. But what will be added?

Genesis 30:24, And she ,(Rachel), called his name Joseph; and said, “The Lord shall add to me another son”.

Joseph was the son of Jacob and Rachel. Another son would be added to the family and he would be called Benjamin, whose father was Jacob. But at the time of the conception of Benjamin, Jacob is a new man called by a new name Israel, compare Genesis 35:10 with Ephesians  4:24. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel which means to prevail, rule over or to overcome his flesh nature and his own selfish desires, Genesis 32:28. Joseph represents the law, and Benjamin represents the spirit and intent of the law. Christ fulfilled both the law and the spirit of the law.

Ezekiel gives us more teachings on the topic of bones.

Ezekiel 37:1, The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley of dry bones. 4, Again He said to me, “prophesy unto these bones and say to them”, ‘O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”. 5, Thus saith the Lord unto these bones; behold, I will cause breath to enter you and ye shall live”.

       Bones are the foundation of the human body but there is more that must be added if an individual or nation is to be flexible and mobile.

Ezekiel 37:6, “And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live: and ye shall know that I am the Lord”.

Bones by themselves are hidden within the flesh and produce a foundation for the human body, a skeleton. Bones by themselves are hard and rigid with no flexibility.  Skin, flesh, and sinews add flexibility to the bones.

When we examine both Old and New Testaments together, we see that the Old Testament gives us the pictures and the New Testament gives us the explanation.

We read in Psalms 34:20, He keepeth all His bones, not one of them is broken. The Psalm refers to Jesus and His being crucified. The two thieves had their legs broken but Jesus did not, John 19:33. Jesus never broke the law or the spirit of the law. The book of Matthew, tells us that Jesus came to fulfill the law, Matthew 5:18. We can understand the bones and law question but what does it mean to fulfill the law? The Apostle Paul gives us the answer.

Hebrews 8:6, But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much more also He is a Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Because of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection, everything of the old creation, was eliminated. When on the cross Jesus as the last Adam,1st Corinthians 15:45, said, “It is finished”, meaning the old creation had to give way to the new creation. Jesus, the promised  Seed of the woman, Genesis 3:15 will germinate as a new beginning into an endless life to be dispensed into His disciples, John 20:22. To be in spirit, as Jesus was, is to bring the law and the intent of the law to a higher level through resurrection. Joseph was a type of Christ. He and the law were a stepping stone to a higher and Godly purpose through Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us that the letter of the law kills but the Spirit gives life, 2nd Corinthians 3:6.


We read earlier where Jacob and Rachel produced Joseph, and his bones represented strength and God’s law. But bones are hard and brittle with no flexibility.

Another time Rachel says that God will add to her another son, his name was Benjamin. Benjamin was born after God had changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Jacob was born after the flesh, but Israel was born after the Spirit. This is very significant when a name change occurs. Moses was the giver of the law under the 1st covenant which kills, as the apostle Paul says. Jesus came, not taking away the law, but to add to the law, which is the spirit of the law. This Paul calls the new covenant, 2nd Corinthians 3:6. Christ added flexibility to the law.

We see this during Christ’s ministry, when the religious leaders brought a woman caught in adultery, John 8:3.The law under Moses says she should be stoned or put to death, Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22-24. Christ says that she sinned but gave her the opportunity to repent. This is an example of the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law.

The bones that the children of Israel carried out of Egypt became their inheritance. Joshua 24:32. Whoever Israel is today has inherited the bones of Joseph and will be keeping the law and the spirit of the law. This should mean to us that all those who are born of the spirit will not only apply the Law, Joseph, in their lives as a foundation, but add to the foundation the spirit and intent of the law, Benjamin.