Joseph, Son of Jacob

In the Old Testament, the notion of the “twelve tribes of Israel” is used to speak of the peoples who were born of the twelve sons of Jacob. Among these sons, the Bible tells the story of Joseph, son of Rachel, who eventually became governor of Egypt. How did he arrive in Egypt? Here are some biblical passages that tell the history of Joseph, son of Jacob and the exceptional heart he developed.

Who is Joseph in the Bible?

Joseph and his brothers

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him." (Genesis 37:3-4) As this biblical passage shows us, Joseph was his father's favorite son. This brought the jealousy of his brothers upon him, especially when Joseph told them the great visions that God had shown him. “His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.” (Genesis 37:8)

Joseph is sold by his brothers

The jealousy of Joseph's brothers even led them to want to kill their brother. Indeed, one day, when they were far from their father and Joseph came to them, they said: “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. ‘Let’s not take his life,” he said.” (Genesis 37:20-21) Thanks to the benevolence of Reuben, they did not kill Joseph. When he turned his back, however, they sold him as a slave to the Midianites. “Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.” (Genesis 37:36)

Joseph and the wife of Potiphar

Joseph then ended up in the house of Potiphar where the grace of God being with him made all the difference. Joseph became the administrator of all his master’s property. However, the situation became more complicated when Potiphar's wife began to make advances on Joseph. He responded: "No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9) In the end however, she falsely accuses Joseph, and so, “Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden." (Genesis 39:20-21)

Joseph in Egypt

Thanks to his gift for dream interpretation, Joseph explained the dreams of two of the Pharaoh’s administrators while he was in prison. The same gift allowed him to give an interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream. This way, Joseph become the governor of Egypt. Joseph advised Egypt to prepare for famine, which it did. Other peoples, including the Hebrews, came to Egypt to find food. The brothers of Joseph were among these and when he saw them, he said to them: "But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.” (Genesis 45:7-8)

Joseph’s Good Heart

Joseph, the hardworking son

“Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.” (Genesis 37:2)

Joseph, attentive to the needs of others

"So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, ‘Why do you look so sad today?” (Genesis 40:7)

Joseph is able to control his emotions

Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there. After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, ‘Serve the food.” (Genesis 43:30-31)

Joseph, able to forgive

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!” And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Genesis 45:4)

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