“They stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colors that was on him.” Genesis 37:23 KJV
“They stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him.” Genesis 37:23 NASB
“To all of them he (Joseph) gave each man changes of raiment” Genesis 45:22 KJV
“To each of them he gave changes of garments…” Genesis 45:22 NASB
The story of Joseph and his brethren can be appreciated on many levels. In God’s dealings with him, we see the skill of the Potter, shaping His vessel for His purposes. The cauldron of suffering produced a man of sterling character.
In his dealings with his brothers, we see Joseph’s kindness and care. They enjoyed the fruit of his suffering without ever experiencing them personally. In Joseph, we see one of the most complete and delightful pictures of the Lord Jesus found in Scripture. While never called a “type” of Christ, his suffering and glory prefigured the Lord Jesus in remarkable ways. Anyone reading the story of his life without being drawn to Christ would be suffering from spiritual myopia.
But in Joseph’s forgiveness of his brethren, we see the grace of God in a marvelous display. While Joseph sought his brethren and their welfare, they sought his destruction. When he approached them in the field, we are told that they stripped him of his coat of many colors. The coat that symbolized the favored position he held in his father’s affections was a constant reminder to them of his moral superiority. In stripping him of it, they were venting their rage and expressing their spite at him. The stripped coat was the display of their hatred and a measure of their sin. In using the coat to deceive their father, it also was a reminder of their guilt.
The touching scene of chapter 45 depicting Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers is deeply moving, reminding each of us of the grace which we have known. Had the scene ended with the expressions of forgiveness and the embrace of reconciliation, Joseph would have to receive high marks for his kindness and love. But farther down the chapter, there is an act which exceeds and shows “grace abounding” to his brothers. For the return journey to their father, the brothers were supplied with provisions for the way; and they were all given changes of garments.
They took his garment from him, attempting to strip him of honor and dignity, of his place of distinction in his father’s esteem. He gave them garments to honor them. We sought to, and did, dishonor the Lord Jesus Christ (Ps 69:19). What has He done in return? He has, as a result of His death and resurrection, made it possible for us to be dignified as sons; He has made it possible for us to be “called … unto His eternal glory” (1 Peter 5:10). He has given us the “best robe” (Luke 15:23). Grace has abounded to us!
While there is danger in over spiritualizing in comparing Old and New Testament incidents, what else in Joseph’s treatment of his brothers can you find which parallels how the Lord Jesus has dealt with us?