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Joseph, son of Jacob

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The most recognized story of Joseph is when he was sold into Egypt by his brothers.

GUIDE TO THE SCRIPTURES [1]

Joseph, Son of Jacob

See also Israel; Jacob, Son of Isaac

Joseph and Potiphar Wife Mormon
In the Old Testament, the firstborn son of Jacob and Rachel (Gen. 30: 22-24; 37: 3).

Joseph obtained the birthright in Israel because Reuben, the firstborn son of Jacob’s first wife, lost the privilege by transgression (1 Chr. 5: 1-2). Because he was worthy, Joseph, as the firstborn son of Jacob’s second wife, was next in line for the blessing. Joseph also received a blessing from his father shortly before Jacob died (Gen. 49: 22-26). Joseph was a man of great character, an individual “discreet and wise” (Gen. 41: 39). His rejection of Potiphar’s wife is an example of faith, chastity, and personal integrity (Gen. 39: 7-12). In Egypt, when Joseph revealed his true identity to his brothers, he thanked instead of blamed them for how they had treated him. He believed their actions had helped to accomplish God’s divine will (Gen. 45: 4-15). Latter-day revelation reveals the larger mission of the family of Joseph in the last days (2 Ne. 3: 3-24; 3 Ne. 20: 25-27; JST, Gen. 50). Jacob loved Joseph very much and gave him a coat of many colors, Gen. 37: 3. Because of jealousy Joseph’s brothers grew to hate him and plotted to kill him, but instead sold him to merchants, who were on their way to Egypt, Gen. 37: 5-36. In Egypt, the Lord prospered Joseph and he became ruler of Potiphar’s house, Gen. 39: 1-4. Potiphar’s wife lied, saying that Joseph attempted to seduce her; Joseph was wrongly condemned and put into prison, Gen. 39: 7-20. Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s chief butler and baker, Gen. 40. Pharaoh began to favor Joseph because Joseph had interpreted one of Pharaoh’s dreams; he made Joseph a ruler over Egypt, Gen. 41: 14-45. Ephraim and Manasseh were born, Gen. 41: 50-52. Joseph was reunited with his father and brothers, Gen. 45-46. Joseph died in Egypt at the age of 110 years, Gen. 50: 22-26.



BIBLE DICTIONARY [2]

Joseph

Son of Rachel, Jacob’s second wife (Gen. 30: 22-24; Gen. 37: 3). An extensive account of his life is given in Gen. 37 - 50. The story is especially instructive in showing the discipline of misfortune and also that the Lord rewards his obedient children according to their faithfulness. The story of Joseph is also an illustration of the way in which God works in history, preserving his people. Joseph’s valor in resisting the allurements of Potiphar’s wife is an unequaled example of faith, chastity, and personal purity. His protection was his faith, as illustrated by his words: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God” (Gen. 39: 9). In the N.T. Joseph is mentioned only once (Heb. 11: 21-22), as an example of faith. Joseph obtained the birthright in Israel because he was worthy and because it was his natural right. When Reuben, the actual firstborn, lost the privilege by transgression (1 Chr. 5: 1-2), Joseph, as the firstborn son of Jacob’s second wife, was next in line for the blessing. Joseph was a visionary man, a dreamer and interpreter of dreams, “a man in whom the Spirit of God is” (Gen. 41: 38). Special blessings and prophecies on the head of Joseph and his posterity are found in Gen. 48: 1-22; Gen. 49: 1, 22-26; and Deut. 33: 13-17. When Joseph died in Egypt at age 110, he was embalmed; but, in keeping with his own previous request, he was kept from burial until Moses and the children of Israel took his bones to Canaan, to be buried near his father and other ancestors (Gen. 50: 22-26; Ex. 13: 19; Josh. 24: 32). Latter-day revelation confirms many of the biblical details about Joseph and adds other important facts (see 2 Ne. 3: 4-22; 2 Ne. 4: 2; Alma 10: 3; Alma 46: 23-27; JST Gen. 50). It is through latter-day revelation that the larger mission of the family of Joseph in the last days is illustrated. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s children, were among the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and thus among the “lost tribes.” Also, one portion of Joseph’s descendants came to America about 600 B.C. and established two great peoples. The record of their doings is called the Book of Mormon. It has also been primarily Joseph’s descendants whom the Lord has called upon first in these last days to carry the gospel to the nations of the earth, in compliance with the covenant God made with Abraham.


Joseph: The Power of Preparation [3]


(8-1) Introduction “The story of Joseph, the son of Jacob who was called Israel, is a vivid representation of the great truth that ‘all things work together for good to [those] who loved God.’ (See Rom. 8:28.) Joseph always seemed to do the right thing; but still, more importantly, he did it for the right reason. And how very, very significant that is! Joseph was sold by his own brothers as a slave and was purchased by Potiphar, a captain of the guard of Pharaoh. But even as an indentured servant, Joseph turned every experience and all circumstances, no matter how trying, into something good.

“This ability to turn everything into something good appears to be a godly characteristic. Our Heavenly Father always seems able to do this. Everything, no matter how dire, becomes a victory to the Lord. Joseph, although a slave and wholly undeserving of this fate, nevertheless remained faithful to the Lord and continued to live the commandments and made something very good of his degrading circumstances. People like this cannot be defeated, because they will not give up. They have the correct, positive attitude, and Dale Carnegie’s expression seems to apply: If you feel you have a lemon, you can either complain about how sour it is, or you can make a lemonade. It is all up to you.” (Hartman Rector, Jr., “Live above the Law to Be Free,” Ensign, Jan. 1973, p. 130.)

NOTES AND COMMENTARY ON GENESIS 37–50

(8-2) Genesis 37:3. What Was the Coat of Many Colors?

There is some question as to what Joseph’s coat actually was. The Hebrew word denotes “a long coat with sleeves . . . i.e. an upper coat reaching to the wrists and ankles, such as noblemen and kings’ daughters wore” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 1:1:335; note also 2 Samuel 13:18, which says that the daughters of King David wore similar coats). The coat may have been of different colors, but its significance seems to have been far more than its brightness and beauty. One noted scholar suggested that it was “a tunic reaching to the palms of the hands and soles of the feet; the long tunic with sleeves worn by young men and maidens of the better class; in the case of Joseph, supposed by Bush . . . to have been the badge of the birthright which has been forfeited by Reuben and transferred to Joseph” (Wilson, Old Testament Word Studies, s.v. “colour,” p. 82).

If indeed this coat signaled that Joseph held the birthright, which may have been in question among the brothers because there were four firstborn sons in Jacob’s family, this fact would explain the intense hostility and jealousy the coat provoked among the other sons of Jacob. The following brothers could easily have thought that they should have had the birthright.

Reuben. He was the firstborn of all the sons. Although he had lost the right (see Reading 7-28), he may not have accepted that fact.

Simeon. Since he was the second son of Leah and next in line following Reuben, he could have assumed the birthright would come to him after Reuben lost his right to it.

Judah. He could have argued that not only Reuben had lost the right, but so had Simeon and Levi, through the massacre of the Shechemites (see Genesis 34). The disqualification of these sons would make him the rightful legal heir.

Dan. Because his mother, Bilhah, was considered Rachel’s property, he could argue that he was Rachel’s firstborn, not Joseph, and therefore should have received the birthright when Reuben lost it.

Gad. He was the firstborn son of Zilpah and therefore could easily have thought he should have taken the birthright after Reuben forfeited it.

Joseph’s dreams (see Genesis 37:5–11), which clearly signified future leadership, only added to the resentment among the brothers.

(8-3) Genesis 37:28

The price received for Joseph, twenty pieces of silver, is the same price specified later in the Mosaic law for a slave between the ages of five and twenty (see Leviticus 27:5). Typically, the price for a slave was thirty pieces of silver (see Exodus 21:32).

(8-4) Genesis 37:32

Mormon recorded in the Book of Mormon that when Jacob saw that a remnant of the “coat of many colours” (v. 32) had been preserved, he prophesied that so also would a remnant of Joseph’s seed be preserved (see Alma 46:24).


The family of Jacob went into Egypt.


(8-5) Genesis 37:36. What Was Potiphar’s Position?

The Hebrew phrase which is translated as “captain of the guards” literally means “chief of the butchers or slaughterers.” From this meaning some scholars have thought that he was the chief cook or steward in the house of the pharaoh, but other scholars believe that butcher or slaughterer is used in the sense of executioner, and thus Potiphar was the “commanding officer of the royal body-guard, who executed the capital sentences ordered by the king” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 1:1:338). Either way, Potiphar was an important man, but the latter position especially would give him great power and status in Egypt.