Today’s Reading: Genesis 47-50
While the book of Genesis covers a period of thousands of years, the bulk of the book focuses on the lives of two men that cover no more than 200 years – Jacob and Joseph.
In my post Jesus Is the Key to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I wrote about Jacob and his name change to Israel. His name change is one of the few in the Bible that is not permanent. The post shows how this is one way we see Jacob as a type of the believer who grows, with stops and starts along the way, from carnal to spiritual.
Joseph is widely regarded as the most explicit and complete type of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Nearly every facet of and event in his life reveals Jesus.
Throughout the second half of Genesis, there is a contrast between the life of Jacob, or the believer, and the life of Joseph, or Jesus. In the last four chapters of Genesis, today’s reading, Jacob is associated with the number 130 while Joseph is associated with the number 110. And, the number 17 connects them both.
What are these numbers telling us about Jacob and Joseph, the believer and Jesus, the connection between the two?
In Genesis 47, Joseph brings Jacob before Pharaoh. Pharaoh asks Jacob how old he is? In verse 9, Jacob answers Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.”
Jacob had lived 130 years, and he recognized that that the years of his life had been few and evil. Jacob’s entire life was either trying to deceive others to get what he wanted or being deceived by others to keep him from getting what he wanted.
This is not the first use of the number 130 though. Genesis 5:3 says, “When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.” At the end of Genesis 4, when Eve bore a son for Adam, she called his name Seth because God had appointed for her another offspring.
Seth was the son through which the promise of Eve’s offspring, or seed, would crush the head of the serpent. Seth is now the son that will bring forth the promised son, Jesus. And, it is not hard to imagine that Adam viewed the time between his creation/fall and Seth’s birth, 130 years, as a period of sojourning marked by evil. Therefore, the relationship between Adam and Seth is somewhat analogous to the relationship between Jacob and Joseph.
To truly understand Jacob and the number 130 though, I believe we need to see it as the number ten and 13 (10 x 13 = 130).
In the Bible, the number ten symbolizes God’s law, commandments, complete order and responsibility. We are all familiar with Moses receiving the ten commandments from God on Mt. Sinai. According to John 1:17, the law was given through Moses. Through the Mosaic covenant, Israel agreed to accept responsibility for keeping the law. Another example of the connection between the number ten and law or commandments is found in Genesis 1. God created the heavens and the earth with ten commands – “God said…” Thus, God brought complete order to the creation through his ten commandments.
Ten represents the law and commandments of God, but the number 13 is rebellion to the law and commandments of God. Abram had a son, Ishmael, when he 86 years old in his rebellion to God’s command and promise. Thirteen years later, when Abram was 99 years old, God made a covenant with Abram. God changed his name to Abraham and said that every male among his household must be circumcised. Abraham’s rebellion lasted 13 years until God changed his name, in effect breathing God’s spirit into him, and commanded him to circumcise his the flesh of his foreskin, or die to him self. Therefore, after 13 years, Abraham’s rebellion was over.
More evidence of 13 as rebellion is found in the genealogies of Genesis. Noah was the tenth man, the man of the law and commandments. Genesis 6:9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generations.” Who was the 13th man?
- Adam begat Seth
- Seth begat Enosh
- Enosh begat Kenan
- Kenan begat Mahalalel
- Mahalalel begat Jared
- Jared begat Enoch
- Enoch begat Methuselah
- Methuselah begat Lamech
- Lamech begat Noah
- Noah begat Ham
- Ham begat Cush
- Cush begat Nimrod
Nimrod was the 13th man. Genesis 10:10-12 says, “The beginning of his [Nimrod’s] kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah, that is the great city.” Nimrod was the founder of man’s first kingdom Bablyon, which is the city pictured throughout the Bible, not just in Genesis 11, in complete rebellion to God.
Additionally, Genesis 36 tells us that there were 13 chiefs of the sons of Esau. Esau is a type of the natural man, the man in rebellion to God. And the Greek word drakon, which means dragon, is found 13 times in the New Testament, all in the book of Revelation. Of course, the dragon is Satan, from whom all rebellion comes.
So, when we read that Jacob’s sojournings were 130 years, we should understand that the 130 years represents the period of Jacob’s life where he is in rebellion to the laws and commands of God.
The number 17 connects the lives of Jacob and Joseph.
Genesis 37:2 says, “Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers.” It was at 17 years of age that Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers.
But, after his 130 years of sojourning where his days were few and evil, Jacob is reconnected with Joseph in Egypt. Genesis 47:28 says, “And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were 147 years.”
So, Jacob was with Joseph the first 17 years of Joseph’s life. And, Jacob lived the last 17 years of his own life with his son Joseph.
So, what does the number 17 represent?
The first mention of 17, actually the 17th, is in Genesis 7:11, 13, which says, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened…On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark.” The next mention of the 17th is at the end of the flood. Genesis 8:4 says, “And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.”
So, the flood starts and Noah’s family enters the ark on the 17th. The flood ends and the ark lands on the mountains of Ararat on the 17th. The ark then represents victory over the flood. When we see the ark as a type of Jesus, seventeen speaks to the victory of Jesus.
Jesus, the Passover lamb, the Lamb of God, was selected according to the law on the 10th day of the month. He was crucified, in complete fulfillment of the law, on the 14th day of the month. But, Jesus rose from the grave, was resurrected, won the victory over Satan, sin, and death, three days later on the 17th day of the month.
Also, we can see the number 17 as ten and seven (10 + 7 = 17). We know that the number 10 represents the law and commandments of God. In yesterday’s post, 66, 2, 70, 33, 16, 14, 7 – They’re Jesus not Lotto Numbers, I wrote about the seven as the number of completion and rest. Therefore, we can see 17 as the perfect fulfillment of the law and the bringing of rest from our works by Jesus as well.
Jacob lived with Joseph the first 17 years of his life. In other words, Jacob saw Joseph’s life and how it was in perfect fulfillment of the law of God. This is why Jacob made Joseph a robe of many colors, a beautiful robe, a richly embroidered tunic, or a special robe with long sleeves. Jacob saw Joseph’s righteousness.
But, when Jacob’s son, the sons of Israel, sold Joseph into slavery, they dipped his robe in blood (significantly, the blood of a goat) and gave it to their father. Jacob thought Joseph had been devoured by an animal, his flesh torn to pieces. Jacob believed Joseph had died.
However, when Jacob is 130 years old, at the end of his rebellion to God, he is reunited with Joseph in the land of Egypt. Jacob lives the last 17 years of his life with Joseph. To Jacob, it was as if Joseph had died and been resurrected. After his 130 years, days that were few and evil, Jacob lived in victory with Joseph for 17 years. Jacob is no longer living by his works but in the victory of Jesus. From this point, he is called Israel far more often than he is called Jacob. In fact, the last mention of him in this earthly life was in Genesis 50:2, which says, “So the physicians embalmed Israel.”
We’ve seen that 17 connects Jacob and Joseph through Jesus’ victory on the cross and his resurrection. But, what is the meaning of the number 110?
Genesis 50:22 says, “Joseph lived 110 years.” As I said above, Joseph is probably the preeminent type of Jesus Christ. But, perhaps the second most important type of Jesus in the Old Testament was Joshua. Joshua 24:29 says, After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being 110 years old.” So, two of the most important types of Christ both died at the age of 110.
To understand the significance of this, we need to see 110 the same way we did 130 above. The number 110 is ten and 11 (10 x 11 = 110).
We already know that 10 represents God’s law and commandments. So, what is the number 11?
Eleven is mentioned the first time in Genesis 32 when Jacob flees from Laban with his wives and 11 children. Jacob sends them across the stream and is left alone. He then wrestles with God and his name is changed to Israel. In this story, Jacob was judged by Laban and then judged by God. So, 11 is associated with judgment.
We see this more clearly in the tabernacle. In Exodus 26 and 36, we are told that the tabernacle was made of 11 curtains of goat’s hair. The goat was the animal that was judged on the day of atonement. Jesus was judged on the cross on our behalf to atone for our sin. We could say that we judged Jesus according to the law and put him to death even though he was the perfectly innocent and sinless lamb of God.
Joseph’s life of 110 years represents a life that was lived in judgment of or by the law. Jesus was continually judged by Israel according to the law.
So, Jacob and Joseph are connected by the numbers 130, 17, and 110.
But, what a wonderful picture this is of our relationship to Jesus. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law (17), and allowed himself to be judged by us (110), so that he could have the victory (17) over Satan, sin, and death, thereby redeeming us from our period of rebellion (130) to the law of God.