Links Between Joseph and Daniel

The resemblance between the story of Joseph and the story of Daniel should be of interest to all who study Bible characters. Though they lived many years apart, yet they had very similar experiences. Both played an important roll in the history of Israel: one, before the nation came into being, the other, at the close of its kingly glory. Joseph could trace his ancestry to Abraham, and Daniel was a descendent of King David, so both were of noble birth. When Joseph was in his late teens he was carried into Egypt, and when Daniel was about the same age he was carried to Babylon, each finding themselves in a foreign land, with a strange language, and with entirely different habits. What was even more serious than this is that both landed in centers of idolatry. Joseph knew the God of his fathers, and Daniel, in spite of the dark days in which he lived, had learned the ways of David, and worshiped the God of Heaven. It was a new experience for them to be launched into the great centers of idolatry, where the Lord, whom they worshiped, was unknown. The names of both were changed, so that all their thoughts of their relationship with the Lord could be removed from them. Neither ever called himself by the new name, but Joseph remained Joseph and Daniel remained Daniel.

It was not too long that Joseph was in Egypt until he was confronted with a severe test. Potiphars wife tempted him to have unlawful relations with her. He refused and suffered years in jail for his faithfulness. After Daniel arrived in Babylon, he too was confronted with a severe test. He had been offered the kings meat and wine, but politely refused because he knew that such food had been offered to idols. No doubt any young man would enjoy a meal of flesh and a drink of the best wine in Babylon. Had he accepted the offer and his countenance and general health had improved, the honor for this would have gone to the gods to whom the meat had been offered. The pulse and water were a poor substitute for the meat and wine. With Gods blessing, however, the paltry diet requested by these youths improved their appearance beyond expectations. All can learn the vital importance of overcoming the desires of the flesh, and to see this virtue as an absolute necessity in the life of every servant of God.

When Joseph was in prison, two of his fellow prisoners, the butler and the baker, had dreams which they shared with Joseph. They were so upset by their dreams that their faces showed signs of distress. Joseph let them know that God could interpret dreams. He, Gods servant, could tell them what they longed to know. He told them what would be their lot within three days, and what he said came to pass. Thus Joseph earned the reputation of being able to interpret dreams, and, what was more important, that he did this by Gods help. The voice of God reached not only prisoners, but also Pharaoh the king, for he too had a serious time of dreams. Like all others, especially those in high places, he was anxious to know the interpretation of these strange dreams. The magicians in Egypt were unable to solve his problem, but the butler came to his help and told him of Joseph. Joseph was called before the king and the king told him his dreams. Joseph interpreted these and solved his serious problem. As a reward for his services, the king made him the second ruler in Egypt. From prison to palace, and from prison garments to fine linen and a gold chain around his neck was no small wonder for him to enjoy. This ability to interpret dreams was also bestowed upon Daniel. Not long after he arrived in Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, and demanded that the magicians not only interpret it, but also tell him what he had dreamt. Their lives were involved, for failure to do what he demanded would be fatal for them. This crisis brought Daniel into the matter, for he was numbered amongst those who were expected to be able to tell the dream and give the interpretation. He soon produced, by the good hand of God upon him, the answer to the Kings problem. His reward for his remarkable revelation was his exaltation to be ruler over the province of Babylon. The proud king became aware that he had in his realm a man who was in touch with the unseen God. When the king had another dream, Daniel was again summoned to give the interpretation, but this time the news was not good for the king. However, Daniel told him the facts, It was an onerous duty for a young man like Daniel to tell the proud king that soon he would be humiliated to the level of a beast. At the close of the empire of Babylon, when Belshazzar ruled, Daniel was again summoned to the kings court, but this time it was not to interpret a dream, but to read a strange writing upon the wall. Again the news was sad for the king, for he heard of the end of his kingdom. For the second time Daniel was honored, but this time with royal robes and a gold chain around his neck. He was given the highest position the king could offer for he was made the third ruler of the kingdom. Thus the experience of Joseph was repeated even in the detail of the gold chain.

In the matter of suffering, Joseph had all of his in his early life, but Daniel had his severest trial at almost the close of his days. The former was sent to prison for his faithfulness, the latter was cast into the den of lions for his devotion to God. The one was delivered after years of suffering, the other after only one night. No action was taken against Josephs false accuser, but the men who cast Daniel into the den were themselves cast into it and were devoured by the beasts. All Gods servants have experienced sufferings, some at the beginning of life, and some at almost its close. God is sovereign as to when these are endured, but can succor and strengthen whenever they have to be faced.

Just before Joseph died he gave orders regarding his bones and prophesied that his people would be delivered from Egypt and return to their own land. Possibly he had learned this from the disclosure by God to Abraham of the future of his children (Gen 15). In a far greater measure Daniel, too, tells of the future of his people and was assured that he would stand in his lot when the day of their deliverance from every foe would arrive. One man had his mind directed to his burial; the other had his directed to the time when he would be raised from the dead.

That two remarkable men should have such a close parallel in their experiences teaches the important lesson that the passing of centuries changes the tests of the faithful very little. The path will always be marked by trial, for this is Gods way of proving His sufficiency for every circumstance. Despite the changes of the past century, those truly devoted to God find themselves confronted with the same temptations that were faced by men many ages ago.

Apart from the practical lessons that can be learned we see that God will ever penetrate the high circles of earth with evidence of His supremacy. The two great empires involved were the supreme world powers in their time. To them, God sent His ambassadors with His own messages, and convinced the rulers in both cases that He was the living God, in contrast to the dead idols they worshiped.