Q. When Joseph had his dream about the sun and moon and eleven stars surrounding him, his father chided him saying “Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth” My question is, why would he say that, in that apparently Benjamin was already born, and thus Joseph’s mother was dead?
A. You’re referring to Genesis 37:9-11. From the chronology of Genesis it does appear that Rachael had already died when Joseph had this dream. Most scholars think Jacob interpreted Joseph’s dream of the Sun, Moon and 11 stars as referring to him, Rachael and his other sons. But some believe Jacob was actually referring to Leah, who would have assumed the role of Joseph’s mother after Rachael’s death. Others say that the fact that Jacob kept thinking about the dream means he himself didn’t fully understand what his response meant.
At the other end of the Bible, Revelation 12:1-2 depicts a woman about to give birth. She’s clothed with the Sun and has the Moon under her feet, with a crown of 12 stars on her head. Scholars see the woman as a representation of Israel giving birth to the Messiah and believe its a reference to Joseph’s dream. If so then Jacob’s interpretation was prophetic in nature.
It’s one of over 100 instances in the Book of Genesis depicting Joseph’s life as a foreshadowing of the Messiah. Centuries later, this realization led the Essenes, originators of the Dead Sea Scrolls, to describe the coming Redeemer as Messiah, son of Joseph, in what we know as His first coming, and Messiah, son of David, in His second coming. In other words, they saw the prophecies as pointing to two separate Messiahs, not one coming twice.