Who was Yusuf? What was his Sign?

Surah Yusuf (Surah 12 – Joseph) tells the story of Hazrat Yusuf/Joseph.  Yusuf was the son of Hazrat Yaqub (Jacob), the son of Hazrat Ishaq (Isaac), the son of Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham). Yaqub had twelve sons, one of whom was Yusuf.  Yusuf’s eleven brothers plotted against him, and their plans against him form the account of Yusuf.  This story was first recorded in the Taurat of Musa over 3500 years ago.  The full account from the Taurat is here.  Surah Yusuf (Surah 12 – Joseph) account is here.  Surah Yusuf tells us that this was not simply a story but

Verily in Joseph and his brethren are signs (or symbols) for seekers (after Truth).

Surah Yusuf 12:7

What is in the story Yusuf and his brothers that are ‘signs’ for seekers?  We review the story from both Taurat and Surah Yusuf to understand these ‘signs’. 

Prostrate before…?

One clear sign is the dream that Yusuf told to his father Yaqub where

Behold! Joseph said to his father: “O my father! I did see eleven stars and the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrate themselves to me!”

Surah Yusuf 12:4

At the end of the story, indeed we see that

And he raised his parents high on the throne (of dignity), and they fell down in prostration, (all) before him. He said: “O my father! this is the fulfilment of my vision of old! God hath made it come true! He was indeed good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you (all here) out of the desert, (even) after Satan had sown enmity between me and my brothers. Verily my Lord understandeth best the mysteries of all that He planneth to do, for verily He is full of knowledge and wisdom.

Surah Yusuf 12:100

Through the entire Qur’an, ‘prostration’ is mentioned many times.  But they all refer to prostration before Almighty God, in prayer, in the Kaaba, or before miracles of Allah (like the sorcerers of Egypt with Musa).  Here is an exception in that there is ‘prostrating’ before a man (Yusuf).  The only other similar incident is when angels are commanded to ‘prostrate’ before Hazrat Adam (Ta-Ha 116 and Al-Araf 11).  But the angels were not humans, the general rule is humans prostrate only to the Lord.

O ye who believe! bow down, prostrate yourselves, and adore your Lord; and do good; that ye may prosper.

Al-Haj 22:77

What was it about Yusuf that made the exemption so his father Yaqub and his brothers prostrated before him?

The Son of Man

Historical Timeline showing Prophet Daniel and other prophets of Zabur
Historical Timeline showing Prophet Daniel and other prophets of Zabur

Likewise in the Bible we are commanded to only prostrate before, or worship, the LORD, but there is also an exemption.  The prophet Daniel received a vision which looked far forward in time to when the Kingdom of God would be established and in his vision he saw a ‘Son of Man’.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Daniel 7:13-14

In the vision peoples prostrate before the ‘son of man’, as Yusuf’s family prostrated before Yusuf. 

‘Son of Man’ is the title that the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH most often used for himself.  He did display great authority in teaching, healing and over nature while he walked the earth. But he did not come ‘with the clouds of heaven’ as Daniel’s vision foretold.  This is because that vision was looking further into the future, past his first coming to his second coming – his return to earth again to destroy the Dajjal (as foretold to Hazrat Adam) and establish the Kingdom of God. 

His first coming, born through the Virgin Mary, was to redeem people for citizenship in the Kingdom of God.  But even then, he spoke of how he, the Son of Man, would separate people upon his return on the clouds.  He foresaw all nations coming before him in prostration just as Yusuf’s brothers prostrated themselves before Yusuf.  Here is what the Masih taught

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Matthew 25: 31-46

Hazrat Yusuf and Isa al Masih

Along with the exemption that other humans would prostrate themselves before them, Hazrat Yusuf and Isa al Masih underwent a similar pattern of events.  Notice in how many ways their lives were similar.

Events in Hazrat Yusuf’s life Events in Isa al Masih’s life
His brothers, who become the 12 tribes of Israel, hate Yusuf and reject himThe Jews as a nation of tribes hate Isa al Masih and reject him as Masih
Yusuf declares the future prostration of his brothers to Israel (Yaqub’s name
given by God)
Isa al Masih foretells the future prostration of his brothers (fellow Jews) to Israel (Mark 14:62)
Yusuf is sent by Yaqub his father to his brothers but they reject him and plotted against him to take his life Isa al Masih is sent by His Father to his brethren the Jews, but “but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:11) and they “plotted to take his life” (John 11:53)
They throw him into a pit in the earth Isa al Masih descends into the pit of the earth
Yusuf is sold and handed over to foreigners to be disposed of Isa al Masih is sold and handed over to foreigners to be disposed of
He is taken far away so his brothers and father think he is deadIsrael and his brother Jews think that Isa al Masih remains dead still
Yusuf is humbled as a servant Isa al Masih took “the very nature of a servant” and ‘humbled himself’ to death (Philippians 2:7)
Yusuf is falsely accused of sinThe Jews falsely “accused him of many things” (Mark 15:3)
Yusuf is sent as a slave to prison, where he foresaw the freeing of some of the captives from the darkness of the dungeon (the baker) Isa al Masih was sent “… to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” (Isaiah 61:1)
Yusuf ascends to the throne of Egypt, above all other powers, under only Pharaoh himself.  Peoples who come to him prostrate before him “God exalted him (al Masih) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…” (Philippians 2:10-11)
While still rejected and believed dead by his brothers,the nations come to
Yusuf for the bread he could provide them
While still rejected and believed dead by his fellow Jewish brothers, the nations come to Isa al Masih for the bread of life that only he can provide them
Yusuf says of his betrayal from his brothers “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20) Isa al Masih says the betrayal by his fellow Jews was intended by God and will save many lives “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)
His brothers and the nations prostrate before Yusuf Daniel prophesies of the Son of Man that “all nations and peoples of every language
worshiped him”

Many Patterns – Many Signs

Almost all the ancient prophets from Taurat had their lives patterned to Isa al Masih –patterns laid out hundreds of years before His coming.  This was done to show us that the coming of the Masih was indeed God’s plan, not a human idea, since humans do not know the future so far in advance.  

Starting with Hazrat Adam, there was a foretelling of the Masih.  The Bible says that Hazrat Adam

… is a pattern of the one to come (ie Isa al Masih).

(Romans 5:14)

Though Yusuf ends up receiving prostration from his brothers, it is the rejection, sacrifice and alienation from his brothers that is emphasized in his life.  This emphasis on the sacrifice of the Masih is also seen with the pattern of the sacrifice of the Prophet Ibrahim.  After Yusuf, the twelve sons of Yaqub became the twelve tribes of Israel that the Prophet Musa PBUH led out of Egypt.  The way he did so was a pattern foretelling details of the sacrifice of the Masih.  In fact the Taurat had many detailed signs written down thousands of years before the coming of the Masih. The Zabur and other prophets had further details written down hundreds of years before the Masih, with rejection emphasized in the prophecy of the Suffering Servant.  Since no human knows the future hundreds of years ahead, how could these prophets have known these details unless they were inspired by God?  If they were inspired by God then the rejection and sacrifice of Isa al Masih must have been His plan.

Most of these patterns or prophecies dealt with the first coming of the Masih where he offered himself so we could be redeemed and be able to enter the Kingdom of God.   

But Yusuf’s pattern also looks further forward to when the Kingdom will be initiated and all nations will prostrate themselves upon the return of Isa al Masih to the earth.  Since we now live in the time when we are being invited into the Kingdom of God, let us not be like the foolish man in Al-Ma’arij who delayed until The Day to find a Redeemer – and it was too late.  Learn more now of the Masih’s offer of life for you. 

The Masih taught that his return would be like this

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matthew 25:1-30