Jacob blesses Joseph and gives him the coat.JPG
Title Joseph receives the coat of many colors from Jacob. 19th century illustration by the British artist Owen Jones.
Gender Male
Religion Judaism

Joseph was the first son of Jacob and Rachel. He was the first son of Rachel, but the second-to-last son of Jacob. Jacob, however, treated him as a favorite. This favoritism created much animosity between Joseph and his brothers. After he had two dreams depicting his brothers bowing to him, they threw him in a pit. He was later sold into slavery and bought by Potiphar. After he was framed for attempting to rape Potiphar's wife, he was imprisoned where he interpreted the dreams of two of Pharaoh's servants, one of whom went free, and, after Pharaoh had a mysterious dream, told Pharaoh about Joseph's prowess at interpreting dreams. Joseph was freed from prison and, after interpreting Pharaoh's dream, became Viceroy of Egypt. When Joseph's brothers came later to get food at the command of their father, they did not recognize him. He framed Benjamin for stealing his goblet, and imprisoned him. Later, he revealed himself to his brothers.

Early life

Joseph was born as the first son of Rachel, the second, but dearest, wife to Jacob (and fourth mother of Jacob's children). He was shown obvious favoritism by Jacob and this brewed animosity within his brothers. His father used to spend time with him alone, more that any of his brothers. Jacob even gave Joseph the Coat of many colors. After a while Joseph had a dream in which his brothers were subservient to him. After hearing of this, the brothers decided to kill him, but Reuben, the oldest brother, suggested that they throw him in a pit instead. They stripped him of his Coat of many colors and cast him down into the pit. Then they dipped his Coat into goat's blood and showed it to their father who mourned, believing his son dead.

Sold into slavery

Joseph was found in his pit by a passing caravan of Midianites, who sold him to Potiphar the captain of Pharaoh's palace guard. He worked for Potiphar for a while and Potiphar's house prospered. After a while, on a holiday, the household emptied out to worship, with the exception of Joseph, and Potiphar's wife. After the house was empty Potiphar's wife tried to seduce Joseph, but when he resisted she tried to rape him. He slipped out of his jacket and escaped from her. When Potiphar returned home, she changed the story and accused Joseph of attempting to rape her and Joseph was imprisoned.

Joseph in prison

Joseph interpreting the dreams of the butler and the baker.

Joseph found favor with the prison warden so he was appointed in charge of all the other prisoners. Before long Pharaoh's chief butler, and chief baker were imprisoned along with Joseph. The butler, for serving Pharaoh a drink with a fly in the cup, and the baker for serving a loaf of bread with a stone in it. Both the butler and the baker had dreams that they could not understand. Joseph interpreted the butler's dream that he would get out of prison and resume his position as chief butler. The baker, on the other hand, would be put to death. A short while later his interpretations were proved true. Before the butler returned to the palace Joseph requested he mention his name to Pharaoh. The butler resumed his post in the palace but forgot about Joseph. Because of this Lack of faith in God Joseph was punished with an extra two years in prison.

Release from prison

One night when Pharaoh had some dreams that frightened him, he searched the palace for someone who could interpret it for him. Although nobody was able to help him, the butler remembered Joseph and mentioned him to Pharaoh. Joseph was brought from prison and placed before Pharaoh. Pharaoh related his dreams to Joseph and Joseph interpreted both of them for him; there will be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Joseph then advised Pharaoh to collect the extra grain during the seven years of plenty and store them away for the seven years of famine. Pharaoh was quite pleased with this turn of events and appointed Joseph as Viceroy over Egypt. Joseph married Asenath.

Meeting the brothers

Joseph revealing himself to his brothers

During the famine Jacob, who knew that Egypt had grain, sent his remaining sons to get food from there. After arriving in Egypt the brothers came before Joseph, whom the did not recognize, to plead their case. Joseph then sat them down to a meal and treated them to many delicacies. At the end of the meal, as his brothers were leaving Joseph slipped his goblet into Benjamin's bag, and then accused him of stealing it. Joseph had Benjamin sentenced to an imprisonment to the horror of his brothers who had promised their father that no harm would come to him. Judah offered to serve Benjamin's sentence instead, but Joseph would not let. Then Joseph, who could not not hold it back any longer, sent all of his servants away, and, when he was alone with his brothers revealed who he was. Joseph made his servants laden his brothers with gifts and sent them on their way.

Jacob goes to Egypt

When the brothers returned to their father they told him that Joseph was alive. Jacob came down to Egypt with 69 companions. After reaching Egypt he purchased the land of Goshen. Jacob made Joseph swear that when he died he would be buried in the Cave of Machpelah.

Death of Joseph and legacy

Joseph lived to be 110. Before he died he made the children of Israel swear that when they leave Egypt, they would take his bones with him. Later, when the Jews did leave Egypt they remembered him and took his bones with them. He was buried in Shechem.

See also

External links