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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Joseph

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The older of Jacob's two sons by Rachel. Having been long barren, she said at his birth "God hath taken away (asaph ) my reproach"; "the Lord (I regard this son as the earnest that He) will add (yaacaph ) to me another son," a hope fulfilled afterward in Benjamin's birth. Seventeen years old when sold into Egypt (Jacob being 108, and Isaac living 12 years afterward), 30 when made governor (Genesis 30:23-24; Genesis 37:2; Genesis 41:46), Genesis 41:39 before Jacob came into Egypt; so born 1906 B.C. He is called" son of Jacob's old age," as the comfort of his father's declining years, when his elder brothers by misconduct grieved their father, and Benjamin as yet was too young to minister to him. While Jacob was with the aged Isaac at Hebron his sons were tending flocks. Joseph reported their evil doings to Jacob, early manifesting moral courage and right principle under temptation (Exodus 23:2). Jacob marked his love to Joseph by giving him a "coat of many colors" (ketonet pacim ), the distinctive mark of kings' daughters who were virgins (2 Samuel 13:18), strictly a long "tunic reaching to the extremities" or ankles.

These robes generally had a stripe round the skirts and sleeves. On the tomb of Chnumhotep at Benihassan, under the 12th dynasty, the Semitic visitors are represented in colored robes, of pieces sewn together. Jacob probably designed hereby to give Joseph, the firstborn of Rachel who, but for Laban's trick, was his rightful first wife as she was his dearest,the primogeniture forfeited by Reuben (1 Chronicles 5:1; Genesis 35:22; Genesis 49:4). The Arab chief to this day wears an aba or garment of different colored stripes as emblem of office. The more his father loved the more his brethren hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him (Ecclesiastes 4:4; compare the Antitype John 1:11; John 5:17-20; John 7:5; John 15:23-25). The preeminence given him by his earthly was confirmed by his heavenly Father in two successive dreams.

In his simplicity, possibly with some degree of elation, but certainly with the divine approval (for the revelation was given to be made known, Matthew 10:27), he told the dreams to his brethren, which only aggravated their hatred: the first, their sheaves bowing to his sheaf (pointing to his coming office of lord of the Egyptian granaries); the second, the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowing to him (these heavenly bodies symbolizing authorities subject to his chief rule; compare the coming eclipse of the natural luminaries and earthly potentates before the Antitype, Matthew 24:29-30; Revelation 6:12). In the Antitype the Old Testament prophecies answer to Joseph's dreams; the Jewish rulers rejected Him, though knowing, yet practically knowing not, the prophecies concerning Him (Acts 13:27). Leah or else Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid, answers to the "moon," "thy mother," as Jacob to the "sun," and the 11 stars to the 11 brothers (Genesis 37:6-10).

He told his second dream to his father as well as to his brethren, because it affected not merely them but Jacob and his mother also. His father at first was displeased with what seemed at variance with a son's submission to his parent. But, like Mary in the case of the Antitype, he "observed the saying" (Luke 2:19; Luke 2:51). Unbelief, along with a secret misgiving that it might prove true after all, and bitter envy, wrought upon the brothers. So upon their father sending Joseph from the vale of Hebron in the S. to Shechem in the N. to inquire after their welfare and the flocks, when they saw him afar off at Dothan, they conspired to slay him, saying "we shall see what will become of his dreams." So as to the Antitype, Matthew 21:38; Matthew 27:1. Stephen and the apostles evidently contemplated Joseph as type of Jesus (Acts 7:9-14; Acts 3:13-18). Jacob's special love shadows God's love to His Only Begotten (Matthew 3:17).

Joseph's readiness at his father's calls answers to the good Shepherd, the Son of God's volunteering to come securing our eternal welfare at the cost of His life (Psalms 40:6-7; John 10:11). Providence turned aside their first plan. Reuben persuades them to avoid the guilt of blood by casting him into a dry pit or cistern, intending to return and deliver him. In his absence (the narrative with the artlessness of truth never explains why Reuben was absent at the crisis; a forger would have carefully made all plain) they strip off his coat of many colors (type of the human body with its manifold perfections which the Father "prepared" the Son, and which His unnatural brethren stripped Him of: Hebrews 10:5; Philippians 2:6-8); and while he was in the pit "eat bread" (Proverbs 30:20; compare John 18:28; Zechariah 9:11). Ishmaelite or Midianite merchants from Gilead, with spicery, balm, and myrrh (gum ladanum), for Egypt, the land of embalming the dead (Genesis 50:2-3), passed by; and Judah, type of Judas, proposes the new plan of selling their brother for 20 pieces of silver (Leviticus 27:5) to the strangers (compare Matthew 20:19; Luke 18:32; Luke 20:20, the Jews delivering Jesus to the Gentile Romans).

Thus, they thought they had foiled forever the prediction of his elevation, but this was the very means of realizing it, by God's overruling and matchless counsels. Compare the Antitype (Acts 4:25-28; Isaiah 28:29; Proverbs 19:21). Joseph's anguish of soul is noticed incidentally in the brothers' self reproach (Genesis 42:21). Affection for his father is a trait characterizing him throughout, even as the father loved him, so that at his supposed loss through a wild beast (his sons having sent him Joseph's tunic dipped in blood) Jacob refused to be comforted. Severance from his father was the bitterest ingredient in his cup of slavery. So the Antitype, Matthew 27:46. His chief inquiries long afterward were about his father (Genesis 43:7; Genesis 45:13; Genesis 45:28; Genesis 41:51), and the remembrance of "his father" was with him the strongest plea after Jacob's death, that the brothers thought they could urge for their being forgiven (Genesis 50:16-17).

Reuben with characteristic instability forbore to tell his father the truth, while he had not consented to their deed. Jacob's cry, "I will go down into sheol unto my son," implies his belief in a future state, for he thought his son devoured by wild beasts, therefore not in the "grave." The Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar ("one devoted to the royal house"; phar ), an eunuch, i.e. court attendant, of Pharaoh, chief of the executioners (Hebrew, or "commander of the body guard"), the superintendence of executions belonging to the chiefs of the military caste. Potiphar controlled the king's prison (Genesis 39:20), which was in "the house of the captain of the guard" (Potiphar's successor according to some, but Potiphar, where also Joseph was prisoner (Genesis 40:3). (See POTIPHAR.) Joseph at first "prospered" as Potiphar's steward ("Jehovah making all that he did to prosper in his hand"), supervising his gardens, lands, fisheries, and cattle. Farming in Egypt was carried on with the utmost system, as the Egyptian monuments attest; the stewards registering all the operations, to check the notorious dishonesty of the workmen.

Joseph's knowledge of flocks qualified him in some degree for the post, and his integrity made him trustworthy in it, so that his master felt he could safely entrust to his charge his household and all that he had, and "the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake" (as in Jacob's case, Genesis 30:27); Psalms 1:3. But now his virtue encountered a severer test than that of his brothers' bad example; Potiphar's wife, with the lustfulness of Egyptian women, conceived a passion for his beauty and tempted him. Seemingly, his safety was in compliance, his danger if he should provoke her by non-compliance. Had he given way to animal appetite he would have yielded; but his master's absolute confidence in him, which gave him the opportunity with probable impunity ("my master wotteth not what is with me in the house"), was just the reason he gives for not abusing that confidence. Above all, regard for God restrained him instinctively: "how CAN (not merely shall) I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"

So Matthew 7:18; 1 John 3:9, "cannot." Willful sin is impossible so long as one is under the principle of grace. On "against God," the feature of sin which constitutes its chief heinousness, see Psalms 51:4; 2 Samuel 12:13. When she importuned him day by day, he avoided being with her; they who would escape sin should flee temptation and occasions of sin. When she caught his garment he fled, leaving it in her hand. Then she accused him of the very sin to which she tried in vain to tempt him. An Egyptian story, in the papyrus d'Orbiney in the British Museum, The Two Brothers, in later times, seems founded on that of Joseph, the elder brother's wife tempting the younger with almost the same words as Potiphar's wife used to Joseph. The story of Saneha in one of the oldest papyri records his elevation to high rank under a Pharaoh of the 12th dynasty, and his developing the resources of Egypt just as Joseph did. Potiphar's not putting Joseph to death implies that he did not feel sure of his wife's story, and half suspected Joseph might be innocent.

It cannot have been he but another who entrusted the prisoners to Joseph; for if Potiphar believed him innocent, as the committing of prisoners to him would imply, he would not have left him in prison. His doing so was providentially ordered for Joseph's elevation. Joseph's lettering, "the iron entering into his soul," is alluded to in Psalms 105:17-18. The keeper of the prison, however, discovered his trustworthiness, and committed to him all the prisoners, "the Lord giving him favor in the keeper's sight" (Proverbs 16:7). After a time the chief of Pharaoh's cupbearers (Hebrew), and the chief of his bakers or confectioners, were cast into prison by the king; the captain of the guard committed them as men of rank to Joseph's custody. His interpretation of their dreams, the vine with three branches and the pressing the grape juice into Pharaoh's cup, and the three baskets of white bread (the Egyptians being noted for their fancy bread and pastry) out the uppermost of which the birds ate, came to pass; Pharaoh restored the chief cupbearer, and decapitated the chief baker.

The mention of wine is confirmed by the monuments, which make it the beverage of the rich, beer that of the poor, and represent the process of fermenting wines in early times. The chief cupbearer forgot his promise and his benefactor Joseph (Amos 6:6); compare the Antitype, Psalms 31:12, He "remembered" the companion of His suffering (Luke 23:42). After two years Pharaoh's two dreams of the seven fat and seven lean kine out of the river (Nile, yeowr Hebrew, aa Αur Egyptian, "great river": also Hapi, i.e. Apis, the sacred name; appropriately "kine" come out of "the river," fertilizing the land by its overflow in the absence of rain, for grain and pasture of cattle, Apis the god being represented as a bull, and Athor, Isis, or mother earth, as a cow), feeding in a meadow (the sedge or rank grass by the river's edge, achuw ), and the seven rank ears of grain on one stalk, such as still is grown in Egypt, devoured by the seven thin ears which were blasted by the S.E. wind, called Joseph to the chief cupbearer's remembrance.

Having in vain consulted his magicians or "sacred scribes" (chartumim , "bearers of spells"; the "sorcerers" do not occur until Exodus 7:11), Pharaoh through Joseph learned the interpretation, that seven years of famine (doubtless owing to failure of the Nile's overflow) should succeed to and consume all the stores remaining from the seven plenteous years. (See DIVINATION.) Like Daniel in the great heathen worldking's court at the close of Israel's history, so Joseph at its beginning, in like circumstances and with like abstinence from fleshly indulgences, interprets the Gentile monarch's dreams; marking, the immeasurable superiority of the kingdom of God, even at its lowest point, to the world kingdoms. It is an undesigned mark of genuineness that Joseph is represented as "shaving" before entering Pharaoh's presence, for the Hebrew wore a beard, but the Egyptians cut it and the hair close, and represent on the monuments the idea of slovenliness or low birth by giving a beard to a man.

Joseph recommended the king to appoint a chief officer and subordinates to take up by taxation a fifth of the produce in the plenteous years against the famine years. The king raised Joseph as one" in whom the Spirit of God was," to be grand vizier over his house and his people, reserving the throne alone for himself. He put his signet ring (the names of the Pharaohs were always written in an elongated, signet like, ring) on Joseph's hand in token of delegated sovereignty, a gold chain about his neck, and arrayed him in the fine linen peculiar to the Egyptian priests; and made him ride in his second chariot, while the attendants cried "Abrech," ("Rejoice thou") (Egyptian), calling upon him to rejoice with all the people at his exaltation (Canon Cook, Speaker's Commentary) Pharaoh named Joseph "Zaphnath Paaneah." the food of life or of the living. Compare the Antitype (John 6:35) occupying the mediatorial throne with the Father's delegated tower, giving the bread of life first to His own brethren the Jews. then to the world.

Then Joseph, who shrank from adulterous lusts, in righteous retribution received pure wedded joys in union with Asenath ("devoted to Neith and Isis") daughter of Potipherah ("devoted to Ra, the sun god") priest of ON , Heliopolis or Bethshemesh (the city of the sun god), the religious capital. Pharaoh doubtless ordered the marriage, to link his prime minister with the noblest in the land. Pharaoh himself was invested with the highest sacerdotal dignity, and could remove all disqualifications, so as to enable Joseph to be allied to the proud and exclusive priest caste. The Egyptian religion, though blended with superstitions, retained then much of the primitive revelation, the unity, eternity, and self existence of the unseen God. The sun was made His visible symbol, the earliest idolatry (Job 31:26, Sabeanism). Joseph probably drew Asenath to his own purer faith. Joseph certainly professed openly his religion without molestation (Genesis 42:18), and Pharaoh recognizes the God of Joseph and His Spirit as the true God (Genesis 41:32-38-39).

Like the Antitype (Luke 3:23), Joseph was 30 in entering on his public ministry, so that he was 13 years in Egypt, in Potiphar's house and in prison, before his elevation. With characteristic energy as a steward he made an immediate tour throughout Egypt, and laid up grain in immense quantities, all registered accurately by scribes when the granaries were being filled (as Egyptian monuments represent). God gave him two children, to whom he gave Hebrew names, showing he remembered as ever the God of his fathers: Manasseh, "forgetting," "for God," said he, "hath made me forget all my toil and all my father's house" (i.e. not literally forgetting his relatives, for "his father" was uppermost in his affections; but has swallowed past sorrow in present joy; compare Psalms 90:15; Isaiah 65:16-17; Isaiah 61:7; Isaiah 62:4; Revelation 7:14-17; spiritually, Psalms 45:10); and Ephraim, "doubly fruitful," Joseph again attributing all to God, "God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction" (compare Genesis 49:22; John 15:2 ff). (See EGYPT, on Joseph.)

Apophis the last of the shepherd kings was supposed to be the Pharaoh over Joseph. But Apophis was not master of all Egypt, as Joseph's Pharaoh was. "Shepherds were an abomination" in Joseph's time, which could not have been the case under a shepherd king. Osirtasin I, the second king of the 12th dynasty, was perhaps Joseph's Pharaoh. This dynasty was especially connected with On. There still stand Osirtasin's name and title on the famous obelisk, the oldest and finest in Egypt. Chnumhotep, Osirtasin's relative and favorite, is described upon the tombs of Benihassan as possessing the qualities so esteemed in Joseph "When years of famine occurred he plowed all the lands producing abundant food." The tenure under the crown, subject to a rent of a fifth of the increase, could only emanate from a native Pharaoh. Had it been a shepherd king's work, it would have been set aside on the return of the native dynasties. Amenemha III, sixth of the 12th dynasty, established a complete system of dikes, locks, and reservoirs, to regulate the Nile's overflow.

He fitted the lake Moeris for receiving the overflow; near it was Pianeh, "the house of life," answering to Zaphnath Paaueah, "the food of life." If he be Joseph's Pharaoh Joseph was just the minister to carry out his grand measures. In the seven famine years the Egyptians as well as the people of adjoining lands, W. Africa, Ethiopia, Arabia, Syria, which shared in the drought (for the tropical rains on the Abyssinian mountains, on which the Nile's rise depends, have the same origin as the Palestine rains), and which partially depended on Egypt the granary of many countries (Acts 27:6; Acts 27:38), came to buy grain. Pharaoh's one reply to all was: "go to Joseph, what he saith to you, do" (compare the Antitype: John 6:45 ff; John 2:5). His brethren too came and bowed before him, unconsciously fulfilling the dream which they had so striven to frustrate (Acts 4:27-28; Proverbs 19:21; Proverbs 21:30). His speech and manners were Egyptian, so that they knew him not though he knew them.

So the Antitype's brethren shall at last, like all others, bow before Him who is supereminently exalted just because He humbled Himself (Philippians 2:6-11; Psalms 22:22; Psalms 22:26-29). He knows His people before they know Him (John 15:16; John 10:14; Galatians 4:9). Joseph spoke roughly to his brethren, at once to avoid recognition and to bring them to repentance: "ye are spies, to see the nakedness (the assailable, because defenseless, points) of the land ye are come." Egypt was exposed to incursions of Canaanite Hittites and Arabs, and the invasion of the shepherds or Hyksos was already impending. (See EGYPT.) Joseph bartered grain successively for the Egyptian money (the money was in the form of rings not coined but weighed), cattle and land, of which he retained only a fifth of the produce for Pharaoh and took nothing from the priests. Diodorus adds the warriors as possessing land, but this was the king's special favor to them and apparently after Joseph.

Not Joseph but Pharaoh it was who made the exception in behalf of the idolatrous priests, giving them grain without requiring their land (Genesis 47:22). Herodotus mentions the allotment of the soil by the crown among the people. The monuments record several famines and precautions taken against it. Joseph's statesmanship appears in the policy adopted. The Egyptians became the king's servants, and their property his, by their own voluntary act. His generous principle of dealing with them then, asking only a fifth after establishing the right to all, won their universal approval of an evenly distributed instead of an unequal taxation. A fifth was probably the sole tax on them. Joseph's policy was to centralize power in the monarch's hands, a well ordered monarchy being the best in the existing state of Egypt to guard against the recurrence of famines by stores laid by systematically, and by irrigation in the absence of the Nile's overthrow, and by such like governmental works, instead of leaving all to the unthrifty and unenterprising cultivators.

The removal to cities (Genesis 47:19-26) facilitated his providing the people with food. The Egyptians did not regard one fifth as an exorbitant rent, but acknowledged "thou hast saved our lives" (compare the Antitype, Acts 5:31). Joseph's brethren in replying as to their father and family kept up the old lie, "one is not." Joseph required that one of them should fetch the youngest who was they said with his father, and kept them three days in ward, then let them take back grain for their households, but bound Simeon before their eyes as a hostage for their bringing Benjamin and so proving their truthfulness. As they had separated him from his father so he separated one from them, possibly the ringleader in their cruelty to Joseph (compare Genesis 34; Genesis 49:5-7.) As they had seen his anguish of soul so now their souls were in terrified anguish, with the stings of conscience added (Genesis 42:21-22): retribution in kind (Numbers 32:23 ff; Matthew 7:2).

Joseph heard their self reproaching, remorseful cry, "we are verily guilty concerning our brother in that we saw ... and we would not hear" (Proverbs 21:13). Joseph, though cherishing no revenge nay feeding his enemy when hungry (Romans 12:20), saw that temporary affliction was needed to bring them to penitence (Hosea 5:15; Job 36:8-9). He filled their sacks (Hebrew, "vessels") and restored their money (Luke 6:34-35). divine guidance led Joseph to require Benjamin, the surest way of bringing Jacob and the whole family into their Egyptian house of bondage and training. His real kindness to them here shows that the severity was used in the interests of justice and their ultimate good by humiliation, while he retained all a brother's tenderness. The discovery of their money alarmed both the brothers and Jacob; "all these things are against me," but see Romans 8:31. Reuben offered to let his two sons be slain if he did not bring Benjamin back.

At last, when want of grain forced him, Jacob gave a reluctant consent on Judah's undertaking to be surety for Benjamin. So with double money and a present of balm (balsam gum), honey (else grape juice boiled down to syrup, dibs ), spices (storax ), myrrh (ladanum ), and nuts (pistachio nuts), they brought Benjamin. Tremblingly they told the steward as to their money, for they feared on being brought into the house they should be imprisoned there. The steward reassured them and brought forth Benjamin. Again they fulfilled the dream, bowing before Joseph twice to the earth. His tender affection all but burst out at the sight of Benjamin, but as before by turning from them and weeping (Genesis 42:24), so now by entering into a chamber and weeping there, he maintained composure (compare the Antitype's yearning love for His brethren after the flesh: Jeremiah 31:20; Isaiah 63:15). At dinner the Egyptians, dreading pollution from those who killed cows, which were sacred in Egypt, sat apart from the Hebrew, and Joseph sat alone according to his high rank.

Each was served separately; all were ranged according to age, but the youngest had five messes for their one sent from before Joseph. The monuments accord with this representation. They drank freely ("were merry".) On the morrow, by putting his silver cup (bowl from which wine was poured into smaller cups) in Benjamin's sack, and sending his steward after them upon their leaving the city where Joseph lived, he elicited Judah's generous offer to be bondsman and so not bring his father's grey hairs with sorrow to the grave, bound up as Jacob's life was with Benjamin's. (See DIVINATION.) Divining cups were used by gazing into the water as a mirror. The Nile was "the cup of Egypt," the sacred cup symbolized it. Joseph to keep up his disguise spoke as an Egyptian. He was not faultless; here he exceeded legitimate bounds of disguise, and implied his use of divination, which his former disclaiming of all knowledge otherwise than by God's revelation proves he did not practice (Genesis 41:16). Joseph could refrain no longer.

The thought of his father's loving anxiety moved him to make himself known to them. He wept aloud while "they were troubled at his presence"; it was as if the ghost of one whom they had murdered stood before them. They shrank from him, but he said "come near to me" (compare Matthew 14:26; the Antitype and His future comforting of Zion, Isaiah 40:2; Isaiah 61:2-3). Joseph soothes their remorse, "be not angry with yourselves, for God did send me before you to preserve life." So Acts 3:12-18; Acts 4:27-28. He gave them the kiss of reconciliation and wept over them. Above all he tells them: "haste ye ... to my father and say, God hath made me lord of all Egypt, come down and thou shalt dwell in Goshen near me." (See GOSHEN.) Pharaoh and his court were pleased at the arrival of his brethren, and rendered him all help in removing his father and the whole household. His knowledge of his brethren suggested his charge, "see that ye fall not out by the way," one laying the blame of their unnatural conduct on the other.

His filial reverence and love appear in his meeting his father in his own state chariot and escorting him to Goshen, Judah having preceded Jacob to announce to Joseph his approach. Goshen was assigned as a separate settlement to the Hebrew as shepherds, to avoid offense to the Egyptians, who being themselves tillers of the ground looked down on their nomadic neighbours. Already the latter had made inroads on lower Egypt, and after Joseph's time established the dynasty of shepherd kings or Hyksos (Genesis 46:28-34). Jacob gave Joseph "one portion above his brethren, taken from the Amorites with sword and bow," therefore not Shechem (portion) which he bought (see 1 Chronicles 5:1-2). Joseph, though the birthright was transferred to him from Reuben by Jacob, was not entered into the family registers as firstborn, because Judah prevailed above the rest and king David was chosen front his tribe.

Still Jacob the progenitor marked Joseph as firstborn by assigning to his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh two tribal domains according to the law of the firstborn (Deuteronomy 21:15-17); his dying blessing on Joseph beautifully expresses Joseph's "fruitfulness amidst affliction," as his "arms were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob." Jacob's blessing on Joseph once "separate from his brethren" exceeded that of Abraham on Isaac, and of Isaac on Jacob, and lasts as long as "the everlasting hills." The mention of Joseph's "servants the physicians" (Genesis 50:2) accords with the Egyptian usage of great men having many physicians attached to each household, one for each kind of sickness and to embalm the dead. After embalming and burying his father he was accosted by his brethren, who judged him by their own ungenerous and deceitful characters; he reassured them by renouncing vengeance as God's prerogative not his (Romans 12:19), and by speaking kindly.

Joseph lived to 110 years, of which 93 were spent in Egypt; seeing Ephraim's and Manasseh's grandchildren, and showing his faith to the end by still clinging amidst all his grandeur in Egypt to God's promise of his seed's settlement in Canaan and therefore commanding Israel on oath to carry his remains there (Hebrews 11:22). His body was embalmed, and in due time carried by Israel to Shechem his burying place (Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32; Acts 7:16). Ephraim and Manasseh followed the idolatries out of which their mother had come rather than the pure faith of Joseph. He is one of the most faultless human heroes of Scripture. Decision in good, yet versatility in adapting itself to all circumstances, strong sense of duty, strict justice combined with generosity, self-control in adversity and prosperity alike, strength of character with sensitive tenderness and delicacy, modesty and magnanimity, strong filial love, above all abiding faith in God, appear throughout his remarkable history. As a statesman he got men unconditionally into his power that he might benefit them, and displayed extraordinary administrative ability.

2. Numbers 13:7.

3. Ezra 10:42.

4. Nehemiah 12:14.

5. Luke 3:30.

6. Joseph or Josek (Luke 3:26).

7. Another (Luke 3:24).

8. Son of Heli, husband of the Virgin Mary, daughter and heiress of his uncle Jacob. The frequent recurrence of the name in Luke's genealogy and its absence from Matthew's confirm the view that Luke's gives Joseph's line of parentage down from Nathan, David's son, but Matthew's the line of succession to the throne. (See GENEALOGY.) "A just" and yet (Matthew 1:19) merciful and tenderly considerate man. Recognized by his contemporaries as of David's lineage (Luke 2:4; Matthew 1:20; John 1:45). Joseph as well as Mary lived at Nazareth before their actual marriage; probably their common grandfather Matthat had settled there (Luke 1:26-27). His faith appears in his immediate obedience to the divine vision in a dream, no longer fearing to take to him Mary his wife (Matthew 1:24-25). Soon afterward Augustus' decree for the taxation obliged both to go to Bethlehem where Jesus was born (Luke 2). There the shepherds "found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger."

After the wise men's departure another dream from the Lord caused him to flee from Herod's murderous agents by night with mother and Child to Egypt, where he remained until the angel of the Lord in another dream intimated Herod's death, He arose and returned; but fearing Archelaus who reigned in Judaea, and warned of God in a fourth dream (the divine mode of revelation in the early stage of the kingdom of God, less perfect than those vouchsafed in the advance, stages), Joseph turned aside to his old home Nazareth. Joseph is mentioned as with Mary in presenting the Babe in the temple and as "marvelling at those things spoken of" Jesus by Simeon, and as "blessed" by him. Lastly, when Jesus was taken at 12 years of age to the temple and tarried behind, Joseph and His mother knew not of it; and Mary on finding Him said, "Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing."

He replied, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" Henceforward there is no more mention of the earthly father, and the heavenly and true Father is all in all. He was a "carpenter," and doubtless instructed the holy Jesus in this work (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). Mary and Jesus' brethren are occasionally mentioned during His ministry, but Joseph never; evidently he had died previously, which Jesus' committal of the Virgin mother to John (John 19:27) confirms. Tradition has supplied by fiction what the Gospels under the Spirit's guidance do not contain.

9. Of Aramahea. (See ARIMATHEA.) "An honourable counselor," i.e. member of the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43). Joseph "waited for the kingdom of God" (Luke 2:25; Luke 2:38; Luke 23:51), i.e. for Messiah and His kingdom, in accordance with prophecy. "A good man and a just." He had not consented to the Sanhedrin's counsel and deed in crucifying Jesus. Timidity was his failing. Mark was conscious of it; John (John 19:38) expressly records it, "a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews." Hence Mark records it as the more remarkable that "Joseph went in boldly unto Pilate and craved the body" just at a time when the boldest disciples might and did shrink from such a perilous venture. Feeble faith when real sometimes rises with the occasion, to face the most formidable dangers. The undesigned coincidence of Mark and John confirms their genuineness. The mighty signs both Joseph and Nicodemus witnessed at Jesus' crucifixion, and His own divine bearing throughout, changed cowards into brave disciples.

God had foretold ages ago (Isaiah 53:9), "they (His enemies) appointed (designed) His grave with the wicked (by crucifying Him between two thieves), but He was with a rich man at His death," i.e. when He was dead. Up to the end this prophecy seemed most unlikely to be fulfilled; but when God's time had come, at the exact crisis came forward two men, the last one would expect, both rich and members of the hostile body of rulers. The same event which crushed the hopes and raised the fears of the avowed disciples inspired Joseph with a boldness which he never felt before. All four evangelists record his deed. He had the privilege of taking down from the cross the sacred body, wrapping in fine linen which he had bought, and adding spices with Nicodemus' help, and consigning to his own newly hewn rock tomb wherein no corpse had ever lain, and in his own garden near Calvary, and then rolling the stone to the door of the sepulchre. Tradition represents Joseph as sent to Great Britain by the apostle Philip (A.D. 63), and as having settled with a band of disciples at Glastonbury, Somersetshire.


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Joseph'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/j/joseph.html. 1949.

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