As Joseph turns Egypt into a vast grain story, it’s said that he “stored grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring, for it was beyond measure” (Genesis 41:49).

That “sand of the sea” reminds us of promises made to the patriarchs about the people of Israel (Genesis 22:17; 32:12), promises ultimately fulfilled in the time of Solomon (1 Kings 4:29). He “numbers” (saphar) grain until it cannot be numbered, another reference to the promises to the patriarchs (Genesis 15:5; 16:10). 

Joseph’s gathering of grain anticipates his later gathering of his family to Egypt, and the later numbering of the people after the exodus.

That gives us a glimpse of the purpose of Israel. Israel is to be like grain abundant as sand, gathered from Egypt but then spread out to the corners of the earth. 

Jesus is the true Israelite, grain for the world, but in Him so is the church, gathered by the greater Joseph to be ground and baked into loaves to feed hungry nations.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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