Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Shechem
Race or Ethnicity: Middle Eastern
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: Ancient Palestine
Executive summary: Possessed multicolored dreamcoat
In the Old Testament, the son of the patriarch Jacob by Rachel; the name of a tribe of Israel. Two explanations of the name are given by the Biblical narrator (Genesis 30:23 [E] and 30:24 [J]); a third, "He (God) increases", seems preferable. Unlike the other "sons" of Jacob, Joseph is usually reckoned as two tribes (hence his "sons" Ephraim and Manasseh), and closely associated with it is the small tribe of Benjamin, which lay immediately to the south. These three constituted the "sons" of Rachel (the ewe), and with the "sons" of Leah (the antelope?) are thus on a higher level than the "sons" of Jacob's concubines. The "house of Joseph" and its offshoots occupied the center of Palestine from the plain of Esdraelon to the mountain country of Benjamin, with dependencies in Bashan and northern Gilead. Practically it comprised the northern kingdom, and the name is used in this sense in 2 Samuel 19:20; Amos 5:6 and 6:6 (note the prominence of Joseph in the blessings of Jacob and Moses, Genesis 49, Deuteronomy 33). Originally, however, "Joseph" was more restricted, possibly to the immediate neighborhood of Shechem, its later extension being parallel to the development of the name Jacob.
The dramatic story of the tribal ancestor is recounted in Genesis 37 to 50. Joseph, the younger and envied son, is seized by his brothers at Dothan north of Shechem, and is sold to a party of Ishmaelites or Midianites, who carry him down to Egypt. After various vicissitudes he gains the favor of the king of Egypt by the interpretation of a dream, and obtains a high place in the kingdom. Forced by a famine his brothers come to buy food, and in the incidents that follow Joseph shows his preference for his young brother Benjamin (cf. the tribal data above). His father Jacob is invited to come to Goshen, where a settlement is provided for the family and their flocks. This is followed many years later by the exodus, the conquest of Palestine, and the burial of Joseph's body in the grave at Shechem which his father had bought.
The history of Joseph in Egypt displays some familiarity with the circumstances and usages of that country. An interesting parallel to the story of Joseph in Genesis 39 is found in the Egyptian tale of The Two Brothers, which dates from about 1500 BC, but the differences are not inconsiderable compared with the points of resemblance, and the tale has features which are almost universal. A strong possibility exists that portions of this tale were embroidered into the story of Joseph. It may be added that the Egyptian names in the story of Joseph are characteristic of the XXII and subsequent dynasties.
Wife: Asenath (dau. priest of On)
Sold into Slavery
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