Joseph (Old Testament)

Son of Jacob who rose to prominence in Egypt

Joseph Bowing

Joseph became powerful in Egypt
and his brothers bowed before him

Egyptian relief 14th cent. B.C.

Joseph was born to Jacob and Rachel.  He was his father's eleventh son.  As a boy, Joseph received an elegant coat from his father. He also dreamed that the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down before him, which indicated that some day Joseph's family members would bow down before him.  His brothers became jealous, sold the boy into slavery in Egypt, and placed blood on his elegant coat to deceive their father into thinking that Joseph was dead.  In Egypt Joseph rose to a position of influence, but was imprisoned on false charges of making advances on the wife of Potiphar, his master. After interpreting Pharaoh's dreams which portended famine, he was released and given responsibility for Egypt's food stores.  When famine struck, Joseph's brothers came to Egypt for food. Joseph disguised his identity, held one of his brothers hostage in prison, and demanded that the rest of them bring their youngest brother Benjamin to Egypt. Joseph also put his brothers' money back in their sacks of grain. When they returned Joseph revealed his identity and brought his father Jacob to live in Egypt. After Jacob died, Joseph's brothers wondered if he would hold a grudge against them, but Joseph replied, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to preserve many lives" (Gen 50:20).

Gen 37:1-11 -       Coat and dreams
Gen 37:12-28 -     Sold into slavery
Gen 41:14-36 -     Interpreting pharaoh's dreams
Gen 50:20            What you intended for evil, God used for good

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Photo by Craig Koester.