But they did not recognize him

Genesis 42.9

Everything about the life of Joseph is prophetic. We see this both in the history of Israel and in the life of the Messiah Himself. In this note, let's look at the initial meeting between Joseph and his brothers after more than twenty years of separation.

We all know the story, Joseph was rejected and 'killed' by his brothers. (Not literally murdered, of course, but gone from his people and esteemed dead by his father.) He was sold into slavery in Egypt where he was eventually raised to became viceroy of Egypt. It was then that his brothers came before him to buy grain so that they and their families might not perish because of a world wide famine.

In the Hebrew understanding of the Scriptures, there are two messiahs, one the son of Joseph and the other the son of David. It is understood that Messiah ben Joseph will preceed and prepare the way for Messiah ben David and that he will die in an act of self sacrifice.1

We who are Messianics believe that Y'shua is the Messiah. That He came some 2000 years ago in the role of Messiah ben Joseph. Those Jews who are not Messianic believe that He was not. These traditional Jews have a number of well thought out reasons for this belief; the chief one of which perhaps, is that He died.

If we believe that physical death is but a translation point between this world and eternity, then the physical death of Y'shua should be no barrier to belief. After all, the understanding that physical death is in no sense permanent is well known and accepted. Thus, the death of Y'shua should not prevent any rabbi from accepting Him as Messiah, but it does.

That is where the brothers' inability to recognize Joseph comes into the picture. This scene is prophetic and important for our discussion. If we believe, as the Scriptures teach, that Y'shua's first coming was in the role of Messiah ben Joseph, then the inability of His Jewish brothers to recognize Him takes on a different dimension.

Just as the ten brothers were unable to recognize Joseph until he was ready, Y'shua's Jewish brothers will not recognize Him until He assembles them in front of Himself and announces, "I am G'd".

Then everything will be clear.

(Notice, by the way, that Joseph 'saved' his brothers even after they had rejected and 'killed' him.)

1 The Beauty of Joseph by Rabbi Ari Kahn on Aish.com