Searching for the Second Adam: Typological Connections between Adam, Joseph, Mordecai, and Daniel
Those who champion orthodoxy rightly eschew doctrinal deviations in favor of proven, tested theological conclusions, but also demand that each new generation of Christian thinkers read the Scriptures afresh. Conservative theologians live, readily and occasionally happily, in such a tension. It is, after all, part of what it means to receive, maintain and pass on the faith. While the complexity of this process in practice may be “new” to those just beginning theological reflection, such calibrated newness that faithfully reclaims the old is a feature also found within the biblical text.
Specifically, the Pentateuch’s claim that one must not add to or take away from Moses’ words requires a biblical author to create that which is new and yet not new. We might call this a developing continuity between the Pentateuch and subsequent biblical reflection on Moses’ writing.1 Part of what it means to be a biblical author, in other words, is to receive, maintain and pass on the faith in the very act of composition and canonization. In composition, the author forms a whole book that shares the traits of cohesion and coherence, that sticks together to create meaning, by the author selecting, adapting and arranging his material into one.2 In canonization, on the other hand, the “author(s)” of the canon form(s) a book and not just an anthology by at least selecting and arranging them into a cohesive and coherent whole, a book in its own right. These twin processes depend upon the author of the book and the author(s) of the canon believing that the book’s existence and inclusion yield a message that passes this test of developing continuity. Indeed, we might say that this tension compels the formation of Scripture as the unfolding of the new within the old and the old within the new.3 More specifically, to see beyond the Pentateuch, one must look more closely within it.
This essay examines one way in which biblical authors display this developing continuity by examining a particular typological use of repetition. Specifically, we seek to demonstrate here a figural pattern of Adam within the Pentateuch that then stretches into Esther and Daniel, before being picked up by the NT authors. We do so in light of the central question of whether such typology stands merely as an act of reading or as a part of composition and canonization. In our analysis, we will propose two main approaches to typology or figuration and then demonstrate the nature of the repetitions within the Pentateuch that anticipate the usages in Esther and Daniel.4 In doing so, we hope to show that such typology exists within the OT as an act of writing and not merely a way of reading. If correct, this analysis will thus reinforce the possibility that NT authors also proved to be reasonable and careful interpreters of the OT and its eschatological and messianic focus.
Typological Reading vs. Typological Writing
Embedded in this unfolding canonical conversation are the lingering, related issues of defining literal meaning and the identity and role of large-scale figuration in a biblical book or the OT canon. Should an interpreter consider figuration, the use of a common figure to link texts or portions of texts, as a part of the literal meaning of the original? Evangelicals mostly agree that patterns of significant repetitions can be found or at least “read into” individual OT books and/or the OT canon at large, but the agreement stops there because most of these same scholars follow varying approaches to literal meaning and, therefore, to what sense of meaning is legitimately bound to the work of the author.5 Literal meaning in some approaches can end up filling a very narrow interpretive space, such as in the medieval rabbinic invention of the Peshat, which stripped the concept of literal meaning down to its historical referent.6 Approaches that mirror aspects of the Peshat, among others, can have a literal meaning with little or no bandwidth for figuration, especially for what modern scholars deem “typology” across the canon. For our purposes, we will settle on a broad understanding of “literal” meaning that equates it with the biblical author’s intention while also avoiding setting such meaning in constant opposition to other concepts of meaning: spiritual, moral, anagogical, etc. That is, “literal” meaning should reflect the priorities of the making of the whole book by its author because evangelicals should on some level aim for such a meaning.7 It must be found in the text, but it must not neglect meaning created by features that stretch across the whole book. As a category of repetition, therefore, typology creates such relationships with common word “images” across a book or across the canon by employing prominent, common textual features that anticipate a messianic and eschatological focus.
As we ponder the role of typology as a form of figuration, some view it as a way of reading and others understand it as a way of writing. For the first group, typology is not a part of the meaning intended by the author, especially the human author. Instead, later authors, guided by the Spirit and in concert with progressive, revelatory salvation history, were only subsequently able to read “rightly” the Pentateuch in a new way. They see a pattern that was not obvious in composition and may not have been obvious in canonization. In this view, the original text exhibits on its own no direct anticipation of what later texts say about it within its textual imagery. More precisely, the typological connections and the “new” way of reading the older text exist for the later author because he has found correspondences to revelatory events, not directly between texts.8 Typology, therefore, for many evangelicals is not exegesis of the text but a later application of the OT text to the reality of history’s central event, that Christ has come and that the new has begun.9 Typological Reading allows the Christian to reclaim the OT according to the intentions of the divine Author without having to do strict exegesis. This is because, on this view, Typological Reading is simply the recognition of God’s intervention in history rather than the exegesis and re-appropriation of textual patterns placed there by the original author.
For the second group, however, typology exists as a technique employed in composition or canonization. A biblical author intentionally casts features of his own book with the words, phrases, situations, narrative techniques and themes initiated in the Pentateuch to create a book that is new and yet not new. He places his book “within the Pentateuch” by depicting his subject matter in the language of Moses’ book and its narrative world, linking the past, present and future into one story. In so doing, he sees the Pentateuch’s world as encompassing his own and sets his story as a progression of revelation that can join the canon because of the relationship he has established with and within Moses’ work. That is, Typological Writing allows the Christian to reclaim the OT according to genuine exegesis.
Recently, Brevard Childs surveyed the recycling ebb and wane of post-Reformation typology to expose its shifting foundations.10 Eventually, he turned to the early church and contended that the church fathers saw no distinction between typology and allegory because they both grant figuration a normal sense in the biblical book and the overarching canon.11
The one component common to all the Church Fathers was the application of figurative meanings, call it allegory. I became convinced that unless one could gain a new understanding of allegory, the enterprise of recovering a useable exegetical Christian tradition seemed doomed from the start. To put it bluntly: for better or worse allegory is constitutive of patristic exegesis (emphasis added).12
For Childs, the early church interpreters sought to exegete biblical texts, but they were not opposed to a figuration that would violate the strictest of modern historical-critical and historical-grammatical approaches. Hans Frei echoes this insight about the patristic interpreters in his analysis of Calvin and Luther, who both employed figuration as a natural part of the text, albeit in a sense that is often distinct from the literal meaning.13 Turning back to the early church, Childs found the recent definitions of typology and its distinctions from allegory as the Fathers understood it to be misguided and counterproductive.14 For Childs, the NT and patristic evidence rejects setting typology as a form of figuration superior to allegory because it has been tamed by historical criticism and salvation history.15 In the same manner, he rejects setting typology as a non-historical alternative to literal meaning because the logic and reference of figuration sends the interpreter from that question of historicity to “determining the theological substance to which it points metaphorically.”16 More precisely, figuration binds the careful reader’s interpretation to connected parts of a book or a canon, not to historical references and questions.17 Many fear that such an openness to figuration’s genuineness leaves uncontrolled interpretation behind it, but Childs describes the early church limiting such to use “within a rule of faith.”18 Surprisingly, Childs notes that even Antioch has room for allegory, done well. “[T]he Antiochenes resisted a type of allegory that destroyed textual coherence, that is to say, which distorted the overarching framework (its theoria) and thus failed to grasp its true subject matter, its hypothesis (emphasis original).”19
Orthodoxy may not require figuration or typology, but genuine orthodoxy is obviously not opposed to it, either.20 In fact, when we turn to not just the early church but the biblical authors themselves, we find that figuration is a common literary technique.21 NT authors, at least, read OT texts with typological analysis in mind since NT books “re-deploy” OT imagery. One of the dominant ways they do so is through the new Adam motif.22 In particular, the Gospel writers draw on this OT connective tissue in their depiction of Jesus; Paul recognizes this typological thread in Romans 5:12–21 and 1 Corinthians 15,23 among other passages; and John alludes to it in his depiction of Jesus at the center of the new heavens and new earth in Revelation 21 and 22.24 The NT canon revels in this paradigm.
One of the key OT persons who stands in many ways as the fountainhead of this type is Joseph. Interestingly, though, no NT writer explicitly picks up on this particular person as one of the progenitors of Adamic typology in the OT.25 Why would Joseph commonly be seen as a central “type” while having no direct claim of such in the NT? NT authors, we contend, draw on the Adam typology as a whole instead of citing particular “new Adams” in the OT. While there are many ways in which Adamic typology is present in the OT, we will review one particular Adamic thread that runs through Joseph and stretches through the exilic figures of Mordecai and Daniel. Doing so may help us see if Typological Reading or Typological Writing is a stronger explanation of the biblical evidence.
Adam Typology within the Pentateuch
Adam’s brief time in the biblical text proves to be more significant than the number of words devoted to him because of its placement at the beginning of the Pentateuch and its reverberation throughout the rest of it. Christians for better or worse have claimed a number of types that flow downstream from Adam in the Pentateuch: Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and Moses.26 He is the initial type because the author compares him not only to these men who reflect him directly but to all humanity.
There are several key aspects to the author’s limited and intentional description of Adam that set the stage for patterns within Moses’ book. First, God creates and makes Adam in God’s image and likeness (תומד םלצ Gen 1:26–27; 5:3) as the forerunner for all men. The new Adam will be a man who will more fully reflect God’s image. Second, God establishes both the man by himself and the man with his woman by his side as man, humanity (1:27). God, also, forms her from the man. The bride of the new Adam will be a part of him, come from him and be bound to him (2:23–2:24). Third, God sets Adam as His king to rule its creatures (הדר 1:26, 28) and subdue the creation itself (שׁבכ 1:28). Such opposition appears in Genesis 3. The new Adam must be a king who will face opposition. Fourth, God establishes Adam as His prophet who walks with him in at least two ways: 1) by rightly naming all of the animals (Gen 2:19–20a) and 2) by rightly describing his bride. The new Adam must speak God’s word. Fifth, God commands Adam to serve and work in God’s presence as his priest (רמשׁ דבצ Gen 2:15; Num. 3:7, 8; 8:26; 18:7; Deut. 13:5).27 The new Adam will be a priest who mediates God’s presence. Sixth, God commands a blessing on Adam that he “be fruitful and multiply” (הרפ הבר 1:28). The new Adam will fill the creation with his family and his kingdom. Seventh, God provides his word to Adam and Eve to provide his good wisdom for real life, in blessing, command, provision and work (1:26–30; 2:16–17). The new Adam will be exceedingly wise. Eighth, God takes Adam from the dust of the ground (המדא 2:7) and sets him in the garden (2:8, 15), the land where God dwells. That is, Adam starts outside, but God sets him in the place prepared for him: exile and “return.” The new Adam will find himself in exile, but he will return to the place prepared for him.
After the fall, God sends Adam into his exile to work the ground from which he was taken (3:23). He still serves as a prophet, naming his wife as “life,” even after death enters (3:20). Perhaps, more critically, God provides a tunic (כתנת) for Adam and his wife. His priesthood in exile continues with a covering that Joseph and Aaron share (Gen 3:21; 37:3–33; Exod. 28:4–40; 29: 5–8; 39:27 40:14; Lev. 8:7–13; 10:5; 16:4). Finally, it seems that Adam’s access to life and divine wisdom will find limits defined by death. His reign as king will be short and floundering, its fruitfulness and multiplying shortened and conflicted. Indeed, by God’s design he has stationed a messenger to keep him from the way to the tree of life. He reigns, therefore, anticipating and waiting for a greater king to lead the way back to this tree of life.
The inclusion of Adam’s failure into one typological paradigm along with his prior triumphs sets the typological pattern itself as one of ultimately rejecting each of these types, such as Adam and Noah, until the final anti-type appears without failure. Their limits expose 1) that they are not the new Adam and 2) that the new Adam will need to surpass these same failures and overcome the same limits. An expectation of someone greater emerges, therefore, from these failures when the new Adam typology combines with other structural features of the Pentateuch. Namely, the poetic seams’ messianic and eschatological hope (Genesis 49; Numbers 23–24; Deuteronomy 32–33)28 and the longing for a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18; 34)29 position this new Adam typology for “the end of the days” when he comes as the “same” and yet more, as a “mirror” of the past but better.30 While one could propose reading the continual “failure” of each type as an anticipation of only more failure, its well-orchestrated overlap with the book’s other strategies remove such pessimism. The failures of the past stand as the dark background to see the brightness of the new Adam more clearly.31 Therefore, the author depicts subsequent types not as partial fulfillments of this expectation but as failures to be its fulfillment.32 The types are not the end of the story. But, where is Joseph’s failure and limit?
Indeed, Joseph’s typological role in the Pentateuch seems unique and important because despite being a regular man with failings like Adam and the recapitulation of many of the elements listed above, the author does not depict such moral failings. His seeming “perfection” begins with Joseph’s role as a shepherd and his conflict with his brothers, echoing Adam’s conflict with the serpent and Abel’s with his brother.33 Alongside this starting point, of course, the biblical author clothes both Adam and Joseph with the “same” tunic (כתנת) as Aaron and depicts his brothers’ betrayal of him in sacrificial language consistent with Mt. Sinai’s sacrifices.34 In other words, the author depicts the brothers’ betrayal of Joseph in his priestly tunic as a “sacrifice,” and he suggests a possible link between the new Adam typology with the tabernacle. In the meantime, however, Joseph’s exile is a “death,” especially from the perspective of Jacob who sees his descent to Egypt as a descent to Sheol that he himself will take (Gen 37:35).
In addition to these features, Joseph rules as second in command of Egypt, echoing patterns from Adam’s rule in the garden. He functions as second in command for his father who loves and blesses him as he reports on his brothers (Gen 37:2–3). Then, he repeats the same in Potiphar’s house and in prison because God remains with Joseph so that the Egyptians might see God’s blessing through his life. Each betrayal and exile reveals that God remains with him for the benefit of others, a theme Genesis 50 emphasizes. Of special importance to our task, however, is the ascension of Joseph alongside Pharaoh in Genesis 41.
Genesis 41, in particular, shows Pharaoh turning his signet ring (טבעת סור) to Joseph. The author pairs these two terms only here, Exodus 25 and Esther 3, 8. Such an assumption of power also includes Joseph putting on (לבשׁ) his royal attire (בגדי־שׁשׁ רבד הזהב Gen 41:42). He becomes an image bearer of Pharaoh accordingly, and he rides through Egypt in the second chariot with all the land bowing before him (Gen 41:43). As Adam rules a land, so now Joseph does. In this land, God provides him a new name, a wife whose priestly background mirrors Eve’s, and two sons who together reinforce the God has made him fruitful in the land of affliction and in so doing made him forget his toil. Reversing Adam and Eve’s knowledge of good and evil, Joseph brings the knowledge of good to those in his land, even to his own family in “Goshen.” In the same manner, Joseph subdues the land by his interpreting of dreams, especially in the arrival of his brothers. The dreams were true.
The typological pattern of duplicating dreams in Genesis 37, 40, and 41 forms, therefore, another connection to the composition of the Pentateuch. Specifically, Genesis 37 offers two dreams that find fulfillment within the Joseph narrative. They bow down to him because the dreams, like Scripture itself, reveal “that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.”35 Genesis 40, then, yields two dreams in prison that find immediate fulfillment, even three days later. Genesis 41, finally, provides two more dreams that also find fulfillment in the Joseph narrative.
Returning to our earlier question, three key limits advance the search for the new Adam beyond him and his sons at the end of Joseph’s life. First, he misreads the blessing that Jacob gives to his younger son, echoing a pattern of surprising twists in who will receive inheritances (Genesis 48). Second, the new Adam will come from Judah’s line, not his own (Genesis 38, 49). The jarring insertion of Genesis 38 into the Joseph narrative stands in a very revealing place. At the point of exile, the author turns the focus to the seed of Judah, which sets the scene for the seed of Judah’s surprising prominence in Genesis 49 over all his brothers, even Joseph’s seed (Gen 49:8–12).36 This poetic seam recovers aspects of the new Adam found in Joseph’s story, such as his brothers bowing down to him, and directs them to a terminus: the seed of Judah, who has no faults or limits. A careful reader cannot disentangle the new Adam typology from the hand that put together this other pattern of the Pentateuch.37 Third, he must wait for God to visit Israel to return his bones to the promised land since when he dies no one remains like Joseph to lead God’s people to the promised land (Genesis 50).
The Pentateuch, accordingly, establishes a pattern in Adam that finds repetition and conveys a sense of anticipation for a future return to the garden, but each of these types pass the baton to the future, even the end of the days. We wait for someone greater than Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and Moses in the yet-to-come son of Judah whose credentials as prophet, priest and king will return to these images. We find our future hope in returning to the beginning.
New Adam Typology through Joseph in Esther and Daniel
Both the book of Esther’s depiction of Mordecai and Daniel’s self-portrayal build on the story of Joseph, and thus on this expectation of a new Adam. Like Joseph, sent by his brothers in slavery to Egypt, Mordecai and Daniel are both exiled in Babylon. While they are not in slavery, the OT consistently presents the exile as bondage to the foreign nation of Babylon, not unlike Israel’s bondage to Egypt (cf. Jer 16:14–5; 20:4–6; Ps 137; Dan 9). Like Joseph fleeing from Potiphar’s wife, both Mordecai and Daniel face temptation to sin and flee from it. Mordecai refuses to bow down to Haman the Agagite (Esther 3:1–6),38 and Daniel refuses to obey the edict that no one can pray to anyone except Darius (Daniel 6). It is our argument that these inner-biblical allusions to Joseph’s faithfulness in exile heighten our canonical awareness of repetitions as anticipation for the new Adam from Joseph’s narrative. Mordecai and Daniel suffer and rule as “new” Josephs in exile, and therefore also “new” Adams, awaiting the true Second Adam who will redeem Israel.
Joseph and Mordecai
This exilic tale draws the reader into a biblical book without an explicit reference to God. The absence of God’s name, however, does not indicate God’s absence in the story. Instead, the only way to “see” God in the story is to see him according to the language of the Pentateuch and other parts of the OT. Specifically, Jonathan Grossman persuasively argues for a number of intentional repetitions to other biblical books between Esther’s primary figures, Mordecai, Esther and Haman with Joseph and Daniel, Jacob and Esau, Ahab and Jezebel, Joshua, Solomon, Moses and Aaron.39 His analysis, however, moves beyond just a simple listing of similarities to the recognition of an intentional literary strategy that binds the multiple references into a larger effort to destabilize and overwhelm the reader: “dynamic analogy.”40 The text, for Grossman, short-circuits a simple or straight-line analogy between characters and situations. The analogies reverse upon each other, as the author moves from one comparison to the next. Such transitions frame the author’s conversation about his own story. The resulting intertextual web across Esther, however, does far more than just tell a new story in an old way.41 The typology with Joseph, for example, fits into the book’s other strategies because the book’s argument flows from these patterns, pointing to its theme and message: “[t]he principle of reversal is also important in its narrative from a theological perspective: it is possible to prevail over the “lot”, the fate decreed by Haman.”42
the reality is full of confusion, and only with a broad perspective is it possible to begin interpreting the significance of each individual event and its role in the overall development (emphasis added).43
That is, just as Alfred Hitchcock leads the audience of Psycho into a reasonable but naïve assumption that Janet Leigh will be the film’s heroine before her death, so Esther’s author follows an introduction with no Jewish characters to a “simple” link between Hadasseh (Esther) and Joseph that then reverses into a connection between Joseph and Mordecai. The straight line is gone. Before and after this reversal, the text conveys a common connection to Joseph. For example, Hegai and the king show favor to Esther (Est 2:9, 15, 17) that recycles the favor that Joseph received with Potiphar, the Jailer and the Pharaoh (Gen 39:4, 21; 41:37).44
At the same time, in the very next chapter the reader is required to build a different model of comparison. The language that the narrator uses to report Mordecai’s refusal to bow down to Haman … alludes to Joseph’s refusal to lie with Potiphar’s wife.45
The logic of comparisons twists into new forms, plot-point after plot-point. The author requires his reader, therefore, to follow a trail of comparisons from the book’s opening with one king’s grandiose party filled with tabernacle language (Est 1:6)46 to its culmination in Mordecai’s final praise in seeking the good of his people and the peace of his seed. In Esther 10:3, more precisely, the author’s emphasis on Mordecai’s rank as second (משׁנה) in command recalls Joseph’s parade through Egypt in the second (משׁנה) chariot (Gen 41:43).47 The Joseph imagery is not the only image at work, but it occupies key space within it.
Grossman’s complex approach contends that 1) the whole book provides surprising reminders of other parts of the OT canon and that 2) the use of typology cannot be separated from the overall composition of the book. Indeed, just as Adele Berlin argues that parallelism “overrides the other functions” of a poetic text to convey meaning,48 so allusion and typology stand as overriding factors in creating meaning within the book of Esther. That is, Grossman’s work suggests an overt attempt by Esther’s author to depict Mordecai as a new Joseph, even as he appears to be doing similar things with Esther and, surprisingly, Haman.
For our purposes, the text’s specific ascension imagery of Genesis 41:40–43 proves compelling in showing that the depiction of Mordecai as Joseph is genuinely a part of the book’s composition. This particular imagery of Joseph takes deep roots in three connected sections of the book, Esther 3, 6, 8, that bind together Haman’s ascension (Est 3), Haman’s desire for more glory and its reversal to Mordecai (Est 6) and Mordecai’s ascent in Haman’s place with the new decree (Est 8).
|גדל כסא||41:40 greater + throne (Joseph)||גדל כסא||3:1 promoted + throne (Haman)|
סור טבעת יד
|41:42 turned + ring + hand (Joseph)||
סור טבעת יד
|3:10 turned + ring + hand (Haman)49
8:2 turned + ring (Mordecai)50
|41:42 clothe + gold (Joseph)||
|8:15 clothing + gold (Mordecai)|
|41:42 clothe||לבושׁ||6:8, 9, 10, 11; 8:15 clothing (Haman’s desire, Mordecai’s fate)51|
|רכב קרא||41:43 ride + call (Joseph)||
|6:9, 11 ride + call (Haman’s desire, Mordecai’s fate)|
The validity of these connections proves more compelling when seen together, side by side:
|ויסר פרעה את־טבעתו מעל ידו||Gen 41:42 And Pharaoh turned his signet ring from upon his hand.|
|ויסר המלך את־טבעתו מעל ידו||Est 3:10 And the king turned his signet ring from upon his hand.|
ויסר המלך את־טבעתו אשׁר העביר מהמן
|Est 8:2 And the king turned his signet ring which had been taken from Haman.|
It seems that the only way to understand Mordecai’s eventual rise is to understand him in light of Haman’s reversal. When the other contextual factors are combined with the reality that only these verses in the OT and Exodus 25:12 contain the collocation ofסור טבעת (to turn, signet ring), then we can see that Esther’s author crafts both Esther 3:10 and Esther 8:2 in light of Genesis 41:42.52 The mirrored language and syntax between Genesis 41:42 and Esther 3:10 suggest that the author uses Joseph’s image to depict Haman’s momentary triumph so that this interaction might emphasize larger points in the book. When God seems silent, when evil seems unstoppable, remember the Pentateuch and Joseph; God is there in surprising, silent ways. In the end, Haman’s house finds judgment, and the author passes his honor, riches and glory to Mordecai. His victory brings life to many others (Est 10:3),53 just as Joseph’s suffering and exaltation prepared a way for life (Gen 47:13–26; 50:20).54
As such, the key moment in comparing Joseph and Mordecai surrounds the reversal scene, Esther 6, in which Haman’s desire for glory, finds its fulfillment in Mordecai. This surprising twist draws together Esther 3:10 and 8:2 through, especially, Esther 6:11’s use of Joseph’s imagery from Genesis 41:42–43.
ויסר פרעה את־טבעתו מעל ידו
ויתן אתה אל־יד יוסף
וילבשׁ אתו בגדי שׁשׁ
וישׂם רבד הזהב על־צוארו
|Gen 41:42 And Pharaoh turned his signet ring from upon his hand. And he set it upon the hand of Joseph. And he clothed him with clothes of fine linen. And he set the chain of gold around his neck.|
וירכב אתו במרכבת המשׁנה אשׁר לו
ויקראו לפניו ארבך
ונתון אתו על כל ארץ מצרים
|Gen 42:43 And he had him ride in the second chariot that was his. And they called before him, “Bow the knee!” And he set him over all the land of Egypt.|
ויקח המן את־הלבושׁ ואת־הסוס
וירכיבהו ברחוב העיר
ויקרא לפניו ככה יעשׂה לאישׁ
אשׁר המלך חפץ ביקרו
|Est 6:11 And Haman took the clothing and the horses. And he clothed Mordecai. And he had him ride in the streets of the city. And he called, “Thus will be done to the man in whom the king delights to honor.”|
One final aspect of all of these commonalities has yet to be explored: the implications of the possible connections to Exodus 25:12. Exodus 25:12’s context of instructions for building the ark of the covenant prove very different from the texts in Genesis and Esther because the standard criteria for noting commonalities rightly places a common context as a key feature.55 However, the initial linkage of Adam and Joseph through Aaron’s priestly garment should at least make the question possible. This reminder proves useful when we recognize that Esther’s author employs tabernacle imagery (תכלת ארגמן כסף עמודי שׁשׁ Est 1:6) for the king’s opening feast that sets up Esther 8:15 and the triumphant exaltation of Mordecai.56
חור כרפס ותכלת אחוז בחבלי־בוץ וארגמן
|Est 1:6 There was white linen and violet attached by cords of fine linen and purple along rods of silver and pillars of marble. Couches of gold and silver were along the pavement with costly stone, alabaster, mother of pearl and paving stones.|
ומרדכי יצא מלפני המלך בלבושׁ מלכות תכלת וחור ועתרת זהב גדולה ותכריך בוץ וארגמן והעיר שׁושׁן צהלה ושׂמחה
|Est 8:15 And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king with royal clothes of violet and white, a great gold crown and a robe of fine linen and purple. And the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced.|
Thus, it remains possible that Esther’s author employs this tabernacle imagery in Esther 1:6 to depict the Joseph-like ascendency of Mordecai in Esther 8:15 in corresponding tabernacle imagery.
The final part of our typological pattern should provide a limit that encourages the reader to look beyond Mordecai. What is Mordecai’s limit or failure? The limit stems from the lack of a return to the land. As Joseph had to wait for his bones to return to the land when God visits His people, so Mordecai also must wait for the return. God is present with His people, but the return has yet to begin. Mordecai, like Joseph, needs a greater Joseph for this final act.
Joseph and Daniel
We find many of the same links in the story of Daniel that we did in Mordecai’s narrative. As Jim Hamilton has put it, there are both linguistic correspondences and sequential event correspondences57 that create a typological thread between Joseph and Daniel, and indeed between Mordecai and Daniel. Much of this work has already been done elsewhere, so here we only wish to highlight the main features that tie these stories together.58 Perhaps the most obvious connection between these narratives is the fact that Daniel and Joseph are both 1) Jews in a foreign land who are 2) punished for obeying Yahweh rather than the Gentile authorities,59 but nevertheless 3) rise to prominence in the king’s court. This narrative pattern is also found in Mordecai’s story, thus providing a bond with the book of Esther as well. What links Daniel and Joseph particularly, though, and what is not included in Mordecai’s story, is that the former two individuals are able to interpret dreams. Both Joseph and Daniel rise to prominence in their respective exilic states precisely because God gives to them the ability to interpret the king’s dreams.
The linguistic correspondences, while more difficult to discern after Daniel shifts from Hebrew to Aramaic in Daniel 2:4b,60 heighten these narrative correspondences. For instance, the reaction of Pharaoh (Gen 41:8, פעם troubled) and Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:1–3, פעם troubled) to their respective dreams is similar not only in the narrative pattern but also in how the respective biblical authors describe them (e.g., they “were troubled in spirit”).61 We could add to this the fact that Daniel, after successfully assisting Nebuchadnezzar in his dream interpretation, placed in high command of this Gentile land. Additionally, in a second story of Daniel’s assistance to a Gentile king, Beltheshazzar declares that, because Daniel read the writing on the wall, he is to be “… clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom” (Dan 5:7; cf. 2:48; 5:29; 6:3). This sounds remarkable similar to Genesis 41:42 –43, where Joseph is clothed in fine linen, receives the king’s signet ring and a gold chain around his neck, and is made to ride throughout the kingdom. While the linguistic connections are somewhat obscured by the move from Hebrew to Aramaic, there can be no doubt that Daniel looks and acts in Babylon like Joseph did in Egypt.
Canonical Placement and Typological Connections
One final piece of evidence for this Joseph typology in Esther and Daniel comes in their placement in the Hebrew canon.62 Since, given the evidence above, it appears that Mordecai and Daniel are presented as new Josephs, what might the reader expect to come next? In the Joseph narrative, the arrival of Moses and the exodus of Israel from Egypt follow it immediately. In other words, Moses and the Exodus follow Joseph in the Pentateuch; an alert reader will thus expect these new Josephs to be followed by a new Moses and a new Exodus in the Writings section of the Hebrew Bible. This is, in fact, exactly what we find: the next book, Ezra-Nehemiah, presents Ezra as a new Moses and the return from exile as a new Exodus. Of course, like the rest of Israel’s history, these stories are not intended to say that salvation has finally and fully arrived, but that these leaders and events in Israel’s history point forward to the climactic event of salvation that comes in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Hermeneutical and Theological Implications
If the evidence given above is taken as sufficient for acknowledging the Joseph-Daniel-Mordecai typological motif, a number of conclusions follow. First, we may take this typological motif as sufficient rationale for affirming not only Typological Reading but also Typological Writing. While we would affirm, along with those who approach typology from what we have called a Typological Reading perspective, that the basic correspondence between these events is rooted in the providence of God over human history, we also believe this Joseph-Adam test case provides sufficient grounds for affirming Typological Writing. While of course more evidence would have to be marshaled to prove that this type of literary approach exists not only in the Adam-Joseph-Mordecai-Daniel nexus but also throughout the Hebrew Bible, we believe that much good work has already been done and this test case proves, rather than provides an exception for, the rule of Typological Writing. Furthermore, we believe the evidence given for Typological Writing also provides warrant for rejecting the argument that we can only acknowledge a particular type if and when the NT explicitly draws upon that same type. The evidence presented here suggests that we reject this position. The NT does not draw upon Daniel’s story when presenting Jesus as a new Adam. The apostles do not cite Joseph as an example of a new Adam, or as a type of Christ at all (at least not explicitly). The NT authors certainly do not draw upon the figure of Mordecai, either as a new Adam or in any other way.
Yet we have seen that Joseph, Daniel, and Mordecai are presented as new Adams, and the Gospels, Paul, and John pick up that new Adam typological strain. Yet they do so without citing explicitly Joseph, Daniel, or Mordecai. How do we account for this? One option would be to go back to the earlier position, that only types acknowledged by the NT are types. In this case, Jesus as the “new Adam” type is clearly warranted, but seeing Jesus as a new Joseph, Daniel, or Mordecai is unwarranted. Yes, Joseph, Daniel, and Mordecai are proleptic “new Adams,” given the evidence above, but to call Jesus a “new Joseph” is nevertheless unwarranted in this view.
One wonders, though, why the NT authors would draw upon “new Adam” typology if the typological intensification throughout the OT is not part of their rationale for doing so. In other words, if we disavow Jesus as the new Joseph, we have cut one of the links, indeed the main link, in the “new Adam” chain that gives credence to the NT authors seeing Jesus as the new Adam in the first place. It is for this reason that we think it is better to say that Jesus is the recapitulation, to use Irenaeus’ term,63 of the entire Old Testament, including individual typological motifs. He is the end of the Adam-Joseph-Daniel-Mordecai chain of the OT, a chain that eschatologically intensifies over the course of the Hebrew Bible. For this reason, we are warranted in saying Jesus is not only a new Adam but also a new Joseph, Daniel, and Mordecai.
This leads to a second hermeneutical implication: the OT is an eschatological, messianic book,64 and one that relies on typology to produce that eschatological messianic expectation. Through a complex web of inner biblical allusions, the OT authors look back to Israel’s history in a way that points forward to her future. By looking back to Joseph through the lens of Adam, Moses demonstrates Israel’s hope for the future—a new and better Adam. The books of Esther and Daniel do the same with Daniel and Mordecai, and draw Joseph into their Adamic eschatological typology as well.
Third, when we acknowledge the eschatological intensification of the OT, we are aided in reading these individual books. Particularly with Esther—hardly viewed as an eschatological text—the theme of reversal is seen in a new light. Esther 9, especially, is punctuated by instances of Hebrew terms for reversal, namely 9:1, 22 (הפך, “reversal”), and9:25 (שׁוב, “return”). The latter term is also used throughout the Hebrew Bible to indicate return from exile.65 In other words, the return from exile the book of Esther anticipates is pre-figured, in part, by Mordecai, the (failed) new Joseph and new Adam. Mordecai embodies reversal, namely in his interaction with Haman; indeed Haman and Mordecai switch places—they are reversed—in the book (e.g., 3:1 + 10:3; 3:7 + 9:24-25; 3:8 + 7:4; 3:10 + 8:2; 3:11-15 + 8:8-15; and 4:3 + 8:17). While many biblical scholars note the connection between these thematic elements and Israel’s awaited return from exile—these are exilic books, after all—what we can say further here is that the Joseph-Daniel-Mordecai type helps us refine our description of that hope. Israel is awaiting their return from exile, yes. Israel is waiting for the Messiah to return them, yes. But what this typological motif does is refine even further the fact that this Messiah is the new Adam, the second Adam, the one to whom Joseph and Daniel and Mordecai point. In other words, the return from exile that Israel anticipates—a reversal of their current situation—is pictured in miniature in the book of Esther, and that picture in many ways centers on Mordecai, who reverses his situation through swapping with Haman and who is also a new Joseph and new Adam. To put it succinctly, a main part of the message of Esther is that Israel’s reversal of situation depends on the coming of the second Adam. Of course, this connection between Israel’s awaited Messiah and a new Adam is not new, but it may be a point of emphasis that has been overlooked in these particular exilic books. Noticing this type brings the new Adam motif in Esther and Daniel back into focus.
A fourth hermeneutical implication relates to canonical shape. While we do not wish to imply the divine inspiration of a particular order of the Bible, we do want to emphasize here how the shape of the ketuvim66affects not only our understanding these books in general but also our ability to notice the Joseph type particularly. Ezra-Nehemiah’s emphasis on the New Moses and New Exodus motifs begs us to ask the typological question of both Daniel and Esther. Is there a Joseph motif to precede this Exodus motif? The answer, as seen above, is yes. (We could also say the reverse: noting the Joseph type in Esther and Daniel begs us to ask about the Exodus motif in Ezra-Nehemiah.). This is how literary shape works: the order of literary material affects our ability to notice certain emphases within that material.67
Of course, if we were to extrapolate forward and ask how Chronicles fits in, we would see two other Adamic types, David and Solomon. Further, we see the succession of David, the New Moses, by Solomon, a new Joshua.68 In this way, we have moved in the Writings section of the Hebrew Bible from Joseph (Esther and Daniel) to Moses (Ezra-Nehemiah) to Joshua (Chronicles). But Chronicles’ ending, the repetition of Cyrus’ edict that begins Ezra-Nehemiah, provides this entire final section of the Writings with its ultimate message: while the events and persons in these books point to the hope of Israel’s redemption and return from exile, they ultimately do not provide it. We still await Israel’s return from exile, much like Joseph awaited his family’s return to Egypt even while the LORD provided for them in a foreign land.69
A final hermeneutical and theological implication related to our study of the Joseph typology is that typology is one of the means whereby we can acknowledge and defend the unity of the OT and NT. Far from reading NT authors in a way that is suspicious of their use of the OT, and especially claiming that they radically redefine what the OT authors meant, typology is a means whereby we can explain the NT authors’ hermeneutical logic. Subsequently, we can also positively affirm the Scripture’s inherent unity. The Bible’s unity, to put it theologically, is both ontological and hermeneutical. That is, it is a unity because of its divine authorship, but this is not antithetical to its hermeneutical unity. In fact, the opposite is the case: because of the Bible’s divine authorship, its varied human authors stand in theological and hermeneutical continuity with one another. For our purposes, one small way we have demonstrated this is through the Joseph-Daniel-Mordecai New Adam typology. This typological motif is one piece of evidence that Paul did not pull his Second Adam Christology out of hermeneutical thin air, but rather found it through a careful reading of the OT. Of course, this is not to say that we can reduplicate Paul’s exegesis, or even claim that he was thinking of this Joseph-Daniel-Mordecai motif when writing Romans 5 or 1 Corinthians 15. But it is to say that his description of Christ as the Second Adam is not hermeneutically unfounded; far from it.