Joseph, favourite son of Jacob, was chosen to be the recipient of the Birthright blessings which were usually reserved for the firstborn son. Jacob’s eldest sons though, Reuben, Simeon and Levi all disqualified themselves. Even so, Levi was chosen to be the Priestly tribe and even after his own personal misdemeanours, Judah was selected to receive the blessings of the throne, orb and sceptre of Royal rulership.
Though Joseph was the eleventh of twelve sons, he was still a firstborn son of Jacob and his wife Rachel. When we first meet Joseph, Rachel was feeling the pressure as Leah was seven nil ahead when it came to children, or nine to two if the hand maiden’s sons are included.
English Standard Version
Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!”
Abarim Publications – emphasis & Bold mine:
‘The name Joseph meaning: ‘Increaser, May He Add’ from the verb (yasap), to add, increase, repeat or do again.
The name Joseph means Increaser, Repeater or Doubler, and even the fulfillment of his name is dual: Benjamin becomes Joseph’s younger brother, and Joseph himself becomes father of two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (see Ezekiel 47:13).
For a meaning of the name Joseph, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads two meanings: (1) May He (Yahweh) Add (assuming that the “He” of our name is YHWH), and (2) Increaser. Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads He Shall Add. And BDB Theological Dictionary has He Adds, Increases. Spiros Zodhiates (The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament) translates the name Joseph with May God Add, but note that the “God” part is implied and not actually incorporated in the name Joseph.’
From Genesis chapter thirty-seven through to chapter fifty, the narrative is dominated by Joseph’s life. Of which twelve chapters representing twenty-four percent of Genesis are devoted to Joseph. Slightly less than for Abraham from chapter twelve through to twenty-five, with twenty-six percent. Even Adam and Noah only have three chapters devoted to each of them, or six percent each of the Genesis story. Jacob on the other hand, ostensibly the most flawed of all the Patriarchs has eight chapters, or sixteen percent devoted to him and he also figures, though less than Joseph, prominently in the final thirteen chapters of Genesis; with over forty percent of the Book of Genesis devoted to Jacob’s life.
We have discussed in previous sections regarding the brother’s betrayal of Joseph and selling him to the Ishmaelite traders at the behest of Judah. The early part of Genesis chapter thirty-seven is of interest as it provides the factors that led to his brothers hatred.
English Standard Version
Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad [H7451 – ra] report of them to their father.
We learn that Joseph was with certain ones of his brothers. Specifically: Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. We also learn that Jacob married Rachel and Leah’s handmaids, for they were not concubines of Jacob [Genesis 29:24, 29]. For whatever reason not divulged these four brothers were up to no good and Joseph told on them. At first reading, one would easily assume that Joseph was a tattle tale and acting like a spoilt brat, belying his youthful age.
Though two reasons suggest otherwise. First, the Bible does not label him as such. If the charge of youthful foolishness were considered, it would have to be quickly dropped for when Joseph was harshly rejected by his brothers and while he served Potiphar in Egypt, Joseph for a young man was focused, efficient and honourable. Far from a spoilt brat. In fact, he accepted his brutal injustices with immeasurable maturity.
Second, the bad report Joseph made of his brothers was not merely a superficial thing, it was a very serious matter. The Hebrew word ra is translated by the KJV as evil , wickedness , mischief , affliction , adversity  and harm . It includes a wide range of negative meanings: ‘misery, distress, calamity, malignant’ and ‘grievous.’
As we have yet to discuss Jacob’s son Dan, more detail will be investigated in the next chapter. Though it can be stated that Dan is the bad boy or black sheep of the family and if he was involved, he may well have been leading the other three bothers down a dark path that Joseph had no choice but to divulge [refer Chapter XXXIV Dan].
Support for Joseph being honourable in this incident is revealed by the fact that Joseph is rather unique in the scriptures and part of a very select band of people who do not have one word writ against them. Of all the prominent people in the Bible, not including peripheral characters, it is only Daniel and Christ whom have nothing negative recorded and for prominent women, only Ruth, Esther and Mary are included in this exceptional group. Recall that Daniel is also one of the three men described as most righteous in the Bible with Noah and Job. This may have some bearing on why the Eternal revealed the most profound and biggest impacting prophecies of all the prophets to Daniel; for the prophecies of the Book of Revelation through John are in may cases, amplifications of those originating in Daniel.
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.
With what we have just learned about Jospeh and the view the Creator had of him, it is clear that Jospeh didn’t act like the favoured son, it was Jacob who created the issue as verse four says. As Jacob is guilty of innumerable unwise decisions this should not come as a surprise; yet one would have thought that growing up in a family with a pronounced and marked divide between parents and sons as Jacob and Esau had with Isaac and Rebecca, that Jacob would have shied away from repeating this tragic scenario.
As touched upon, for the want of a better explanation, the understanding that Joseph’s coat was tartan or plaid is interesting. Particularly, when we consider the two nation’s that have upheld this pattern more than any other, are Scotland – the tribe of Benjamin – and the United States.
5 Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: 7 Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
One would have to assume with what we know of Joseph’s character that he was being matter of fact and not boasting. Of course, what the brothers were not to know, is that the dream foretold of Joseph being their servant in saving his brothers from starvation in a few short years hence. Though regarding the distant future into our present time, Joseph as the preeminent brother, serves as the protector for all his brothers.
A component of this story not readily touched upon, is that Joseph had the Holy Spirit and was one converted to the truth. His brothers were not and so could not understand spiritual matters the same way. This would have put considerable distance between himself and his brothers. It also explains why Jacob favoured Joseph over Judah, the son actually most like himself in character, for the son who was like himself spiritually. Recall that the Eternal had a different view from Jacob, in that though the Bible reveals Joseph’s people are special to the Creator, it is in fact Judah that He loves [Psalm 78:68]. In His mind, giving the royal sceptre of rulership for the very throne that His Son will return to sit in, was the greater blessing of favour.
9 Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” 11 And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.
Jacob did not like hearing this from Joseph, yet considered the matter and deduced that it was of future importance with a positive outcome.
Genesis 39:1-10, 21-23
English Standard Version
Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. 6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.
This is an incredible occurrence and shows it was more to do with the Eternal’s intervention on Joseph’s behalf, though of course, the Eternal was only able to bless Joseph and Potiphar’s household because Joesph was not only capable but obedient to the Creator. This enhances the case we have built regarding Joseph’s spirituality. To be clear, it is not that Jospeh was perfect, for all sin, but rather some people are more blameless than others and Joseph was such an individual. Potiphar was the captain of the Pharaoh’s personal retinue of soldier’s and thus a high ranking official who had a palatial residence adjacent to the actual palace of the Pharaoh. Joseph was merely seventeen when he arrived in Egypt in 1709 BCE.
Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.
The Hebrew words here say that Joseph was not just handsome but also had a good physique. Notice his spiritual mindset; Joseph say’s it would be sinning against God to sleep with Potiphar’s wife, not just that he would be betraying his employer. It is a simple case of sexual harassment committed by Potiphar’s wife. Though Joseph could not divulge the reason, could Joseph have requested a transfer or found a way to move? When the opportunity arose and the house was empty, she made her move, grabbing his outer garment. Joseph flees, leaving it behind.
Potiphar’s wife then frames Joseph for an indecent proposition and Potiphar in understandable anger sends Joseph to the prison reserved for the Pharaoh’s enemies circa 1702 BCE at the age of twenty-four. Though Satan had tried to tempt Joseph and thwart the Creator’s plan, it was not to be.
21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23 The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.
In Genesis chapter forty we read of the Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker who are put into Joseph’s prison for misdemeanours circa 1698 BCE, when Joseph was twenty-eight. They both have dreams of which Joseph interprets them. He requests that the cupbearer who’s dream is favourable, remembers him to the Pharaoh, though he does not and Joseph remains in prison. Two years later, Pharaoh has a dream. None of his wise men or magicians can interpret it. Pharaoh’s cupbearer, then recalls his encounter with Joseph and finally remembers him to Pharaoh.
Genesis 41:14-16, 25-32, 37-57
English Standard Version
14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes [after six years in prison], he came in before Pharaoh. 15 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. 27 The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind are also seven years of famine. 28 … God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, 30 but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will consume the land, 31 and the plenty will be unknown in the land by reason of the famine that will follow, for it will be very severe. 32 And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about.
Joseph then suggests Pharaoh appoints a wise and discerning person to oversee the storing of twenty percent of grain for each year of plenty and its division during the seven years of famine so that Egypt did not perish.
37 This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this,there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. 43 And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!”Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah. And he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.
From this account we can appreciate that the Eternal moved Pharaoh further beyond just appointing an overseer but actually elevating Joseph to Vizier of all his kingdom; while recognising that God’s spirit was working in Joseph. It was a wise decision on Pharaoh’s part and showed a level of humility in his character. Aside from Joseph having the Creator blessing him and Joseph being mature as well as good looking, it becomes apparent that Joseph must have been very personable and charismatic. The jealousy exhibited by his brothers makes more sense now we have a clearer picture of Joseph. It is Joseph’s integrity that makes him a good candidate as saviour of Egypt and thus a type of the Messiah himself, and so it is at the same age as Christ when he began his ministry at thirty, that Joseph embarks on his own ministry of service [refer Chapter XXIX Esau].
English Standard Version
16 When he summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, 17 he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. 18 His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron;19 until what he had said came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. 20 The king sent and released him; the ruler of the peoples set him free; 21 he made him lord of his house and ruler of all his possessions…
Joseph received a new Egyptian name, thus looking for the name Joseph in Egyptian records would be fruitless. There is considerable debate on what the name Zaphenath-paneah means. Of all the definitions I have found, the two that resonate the most are: ‘the man to whom secrets are revealed’ or ‘the Nourisher of the Two Lands, the Living One.’ Either way, it was through Joseph’s God and His revelation that life in Egypt was preserved.
Joseph’s wife Asenath is unlikely to be an Egyptian as descended from Ham’s son Mizra [refer Chapter XXIV Mizra] but rather the Egyptian ruling elite. The Priest of On may have had a link with the same order as Moses’s father-in-law Jethro, the Priest of Midian [refer Chapter XXVII Abraham] and the one true God.
The city of On, known as Heliopolis – the City of the Sun – was a centre of worship of the sun god Ra. The priests of On were considered the most intelligent, cultured and learned people in Egypt. The High Priest of On held the title, Greatest of Seers. When Joseph married into this family, he joined a social class befitting a national leader. Implied is that the marriage was selected by Pharaoh because of his confidence that Joseph too, was a seer or prophet of the highest calibre. If this was the case, then Asenath must have embraced her husband’s faith in the God of Israel as nothing negative is mentioned of the marriage in the Bible. This high profile marriage ordained by Pharaoh, also removed any doubt about the shocking story circulating throughout Egypt, of a former prisoner legitimately rising to second in command of the whole of Egypt.
The question remains, who was this unusually accommodating, good-hearted Pharaoh? In exact antithesis to the later hard-hearted Pharaoh of the Exodus. According to an unconventional chronology, not only are the Egyptian king lists misinterpreted by conventional chronology – as exposed by the revised chronology of David Rohl; in that dynasties can be hundreds of years out of alignment with the correct time frame – various Egyptian dynasties have been misunderstood as chronologically falling one after the other and not recognised as being concurrent.
Revising the Egyptian Chronology: Joseph as Imhotep, and Amenemhet IV as Pharaoh of the Exodus, Anne Habermehl, 2013 – emphasis & bold mine:
‘From previous discussion it is clear that if the plagues and the Exodus caused the collapse of the concurrent 6th and 12th Dynasties, we need to look for our Exodus pharaoh at the end of one of these dynasties. The 12th Dynasty, ruling Lower Egypt in the north, is the one which would produce our Exodus pharaoh because the Children of Israel lived in the Delta there (the 6th Dynasty would have ruled Upper Egypt in the south).
We suggest that Dynasties 3 to 12 cannot have reigned one after the other in the order that Manetho listed them. Dynasties 5 & 6 may have run concurrently with Dynasties 11 & 12. The First Intermediate Period (at the end of the 6th Dynasty) and Second Intermediate Period (at the end of the 12th Dynasty), both times of great disorder in Egypt, appear to be the same period, as mentioned earlier.Dynasties 7, 8, 9 and 10 would therefore have reigned after the Exodus at the same time as Dynasties 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17. Versions of this scheme have been offered by various revisionists (e.g., Courville, 1971, volume 1, page 101; Ashton & Down, 2006, page 206). This alone could potentially remove close to 500 of the 675 years by which we wish to shorten the secular timeline.’
I agree with the author’s proposal, in that the end of the twelfth dynasty matches the time of Moses, though I would differ on the Pharaoh of the Exodus as one that was in the thirteenth dynasty instead. This means the Pharaoh of Joseph’s dream interpretation is a king from the third dynasty. The first king of the third dynasty was Pharaoh Djoser or Netjerikhet. Records are unclear to his length of reign, from either 19 years according to Manetho; 28 or 29 years according to the royal annals; and 37 or 38 years according to other lists and historians. Lists for the dynasty have a variance of the number of kings, with either four, five or eight kings. I propose the middle number for the reign and the lower for the number of kings – which fits the chronology of Pharaohs until the time of Moses – and a date of reign for Joseph’s pharaoh circa 1700 to 1672/71 BCE. The Saqqara Tablet is viewed by this writer as the most accurate as it lists Djoser as the first of four kings and was found in a tomb near the Djoser Pyramid in Saqqara.
Duplication, short reigns and doubt leave two realistic rulers of either Djoser or the final dynastic ruler of Huni or Qahedjet, who ruled for 24 years as the Pharaoh in question, as both had Viziers. The other three, six or most probably two rulers sandwiched between these two Pharaohs are not realistic candidates. As there was a turbulent transition from Huni to Amenemhet I, not matching the peaceful reign of Joseph, Huni is ruled out. Djoser was the son of the last 2nd Dynasty king, Pharaoh Khasekhemwy from 1718 to 1700 BCE, and his wife, Queen Nimaathap or Nimaethap, “Mother of the King of the Two Lands.”
Djoser is derived from the Djed symbol for stability and is also associated with the god Osiris and appears on numerous monuments built during his reign. Though it was common for Pharaohs to have a Queen and lesser wives, Djoser only had one wife, who was his half-sister, Hetephernebti. They had a daughter called, Inetkawes.
His passion was building projects, something he continued non-stop as soon as he assumed the throne. Cities had begun to grow in Egypt during the 1st Dynasty, though under Djoser they became widespread throughout Egypt, with architecture becoming more ornate. During his reign, the borders of Egypt were made secure and expansion into the Sinai was achieved through military expeditions. This led to lucrative turquoise and copper mining in the Peninsula, which created great wealth for Egypt.
Djoser also defeated the Libyans or Phut [refer Chapter XIII Cush & Phut] and annexed parts of their lands. Overall, his reign was marked by great technological innovation and whereby, agriculture, the arts, trade and Egypt’s civil administration all flourished.
There were a number of Viziers in Egyptian history, though it can be no coincidence that the first known Vizier as well as the most famous one was Imhotep, Vizier to Djoser. Not only chancellor to the Pharaoh, Imhotep was reputed to be an architect, engineer, physician as well as possibly a high priest at Heliopolis. Imhotep is credited to be the designer of the Step or otherwise named, Djoser Pyramid at Saqqara. This pyramid contains a large vertical shaft under it and the complex has many similar structures that appear to have been used to store grain. The name or title, Imhotep means: ‘he that comes in peace.’ Imhotep was a renowned scholar, contributing greatly to Egyptian society. Apart from Amenhotep, he is the only other Egyptian to be deified.
Joseph, son of Jacob (Israel), was Imhotep, of Egyptian History, Nigel Hawkins, 2012 – emphasis & bold mine:
‘It is also interesting to note that circumcision was widely practiced among Egyptians from the third dynasty onward. Although Abraham did visit Egypt, it seems more likely that this practice was introduced by Joseph-Imhotep in the third dynasty.Egyptian records show that before Imhotep, the bodies of Egyptian royalty were not embalmed.
Instead, they were entombed in early Egyptian structures called mastabas, (or mastabahs), oblong structures with flat roofs and sloping sides built over the opening of a mummy chamber or burial pit .
Djoser appears to be the first king to have be embalmed, Jacob (Israel) was embalmed by Joseph and buried in a coffin and Joesph himself was embalmed and given a royal Egyptian burial. The Biblical account suggests that only Joseph’s bones were preserved as was the practice in the early dynasties of the Old Kingdom. Preservation of the whole body was not practiced until the Era of King Tut (New Kingdom).’
46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, 48 and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it. 49 And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.
50 Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. 51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
Abarim Publications – emphasis & bold mine:
‘The name Manasseh meaning: ‘Forgetting, Evaporating’ from the verb (nasha), to forget.
The name Manasseh is generally seen as derived from the verb… to forget but forgetting due to “evaporation” of a memory the way water evaporates due to solar heat, or the way a principle evaporates due to interest… [describing] an upward motion, generally of something that is being pulled up and out so as to remove it. This verb occurs very often and can usually be translated with (1) to lift or lift up, (2) to bear or carry, and (3) to take or take away. An identical verb (or rather the same one used in a specialized way) means to loan on interest. The practice of loaning on interest causes the principal sum to slowly but surely evaporate and was prohibited under Mosaic law. A third identical verb (or again the same one) means to deceive or beguile.
The name Manasseh is probably due to a grammatical form in Hebrew that is comparable to the English present continuous. It fixes the letter (mem) to the root. That would give the name Manasseh the meaning of Forgetting. Another reason why a mem may occur in front of a root is when it comes from a particle that means “from”. Hence the name Manasseh may also mean From A Debt. This is significant because Manasseh’s brother is named Ephraim, a name with a distinctly bitter secondary meaning. Perhaps Joseph named his son From A Debt, because he figured that besides his gratitude for being rescued, he felt that either God or his family owed him a debt for tearing him away from his father.
For a meaning of the name Manasseh, Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Forgetting, Forgetfulness. NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Making To Forget.
The name Ephraim meaning: ‘Two-fold Increase, Doubly Fruitful, Exhausted, Ashes’ from the verb (para), to be fruitful. From the verb (‘pr), to be depleted.
We would expect the people from Ephraim to be called (Ephraimites), but that word does not occur in the Bible. Instead, the Bible mostly speaks of sons of Ephraim (Numbers 1:32, Joshua 16:5, 1 Chronicles 9:3). But on occasion, the Ephraimites are referred to as (Ephrathites), for instance in Judges 12:5, where the men of Gilead capture strongholds opposite Ephraim arrest fugitives of Ephraim and asks them if they are Ephrathites.
The meaning of the name Ephraim is somewhat debated: Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and NOBSE Study Bible Name List go after Genesis 41:52, “…For […] God has made me fruitful..”. and take the name from the Hebrew verb (para), meaning to bear fruit or be fruitful:
The verb (parar) means to split, divide and usually make more, expand or multiply. This root belongs to an extended family that also contains (paras,) to break (through), (paras and parash), to spread out or declare, (paras), to break in two or divide, and (pa’ar) means to branch out or to glorify.
Noun (par) means young bull and (para) means young heifer. Note that the first letter (aleph) is believed to denote an ox-head, while its name derives from the verb, to learn or to produce thousands. The second letter, (beth) is also the word for house (or temple or stable). The familiar word “alphabet,” therefore literally means “stable of bulls” or “house of divisions” or “temple of fruitful learning”.
It’s not clear what the unused verb (‘apar) might have meant but it’s clearly not very positive and possibly has to do with being exhausted or depleted of inner strength and inherent merit. Noun (‘eper) means ashes, which is what remains when all useful energy is extracted from a fuel. Noun (‘aper) means covering or bandage, which is what is applied over a limb when its inherent strength is broken.
Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Two-fold Increase. NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Doubly Fruitful. Taking the aleph from the Qual imperfect first person singular would yield a meaning of I Am Twice Fruitful.
It’s true that the aleph is quite a weak letter which is applied often without essentially changing the meaning of a word. But it’s perfectly conceivable, and perhaps even preferred, that father Joseph casts a wry word play in the naming of his sons.
He names his first born Manasseh (Making To Forget), because, “God has made me forget all my toil and all of my father’s house”. When his father’s house finally shows up, it becomes clear that Joseph had a hard time forgetting them and was in fact happy to see them. His second son he names Ephraim, a name with a strong connection to the word fruitfulness but equally so to the word for ashes, the symbol of worthlessness and grief.
Perhaps Joseph was not at all happy for having been made to forget his father’s house, and deemed ‘fruitfulness in the land of affliction,’ the golden bars of a still dismal cage. Perhaps the duality of the name Ephraim does not denote a double portion of the same, but rather as a reminder that thecoin of his wealth and status had two sides.
53 The seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. There was famine in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do.”
56 So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.
Jospeh’s son Manasseh was born circa 1691 and Ephraim 1690 BCE. The seven years of plenty ran from 1696 to 1689 BCE, with the following years of famine during 1689 to 1682 BCE. Fourteen years of Joseph’s life from age thirty to forty-four years of age. This was no ordinary famine but a disaster of very serious consequence. The Famine Stela or Stele is an inscription in hieroglyphs, located on Sehel Island in the Nile River, which is near Aswan, Egypt. It records this very disaster and tells of a seven year period of drought and famine during the reign of Pharaoh Djoser of the third dynasty.
The stele is inscribed into a natural granite block with forty-two columns. There are three Egyptian deities on the top with Djoser facing them, with offerings in his outstretched arms. The account is set in the eighteenth year of 1682 BCE of Djoser’s reign, in the seventh year of the famine that had gripped Egypt and testifying of Djoser’s deep concern as the suffering and desperation of the people had grown to breaking point.
This, in light of Joseph’s forward planning. What if none or little grain had been stored? It is at the end of seven years that the drought finally breaks and the river Nile begins to flow again.
A well known online Encyclopaedia – italicisation theirs:
‘The Famine Stela is one of only three known inscriptions that connect the cartouche name Djeser (“lordly”) with the serekh name Netjerikhet (“divine body”) of king Djoser in one word. Therefore, it provides useful evidence for Egyptologists and historians who are involved in reconstructing the royal chronology of the Old kingdom of Egypt.’
The stress that Djoser would have felt would make sense if after seven years, Egypt had been selling grain worldwide and not just locally. Even though Joseph had stored a consecutive yearly twenty percent of the vast abundance during the seven years of plenty, the demand in the next seven years may have meant it was a close run thing regarding dwindling grain supplies as the seventh year of famine ran its course. An extension of this period into an eighth year would then have been catastrophic and would support Djoser’s alarm as evidenced on the Famine Stela.
The World Famine Verified, Lujack Skylark – emphasis & bold mine:
‘Shang Dynasty emperor Cheng Tang [of which] some Chinese historians stated his reign began in 1747 B.C. There are others who believe his reign began in 1675 B.C. Chinese emperor Cheng Tang [1st king of the dynasty]… very early in the dynasty recorded a 7 year famine verifying Joseph’s account of the 7 year global famine in Egypt [1689-1682 BCE]. (Genesis 41:57)
Grant Jeffery wrote a book called “Signature of God” where he said the Yemen marble tablet inscription [reputed to be written at the time of the famine] about people living in a Yemenite castle during the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine confirm[s] the Genesis account.
He also wrote about the Yemen stone found in a rich woman’s tomb where this woman sends her [servants] to meet Joseph [who is apparently mentioned by name]!
The pygmy Woolly Mammoths on Wrangel island die out [circa] 1700 B.C…’
“Wrangel island is north of Russia… The migrations of people’s during the worldwide famine is fascinating. Some archaeologist have given the migrations of these people’s from 1700-1500 B.C. window. The migrations at 1700 B.C. makes sense since people were migrating in search of food.”
‘The Kushite kingdom in eastern Africa arises [circa] 1700 B.C. as Africans fleeing famine come together living in close knit community along the Nile river south of Egypt. Some Black tribes migrate from central Africa and settle in southern Africa fleeing from famine. Archaeologist dated their artifacts to [circa] 1700 B.C. Nordic Bronze culture in northern Europe becomes established [circa] 1700 B.C. where bronze weapons are produced used in hunting wild game. Starving Indo-Europeans from western Russia migrate to central Europe and produce bronze weapons to hunt wild game [circa] 1700 B.C. Starving Indo-European tribes invade Dravidan dominated India [circa] 1700 B.C… [and] destroy the Dravidan Mohenjo-Daro civilization… Olmecs migrate into the Yucatan Peninsula [circa] 1700 B.C. Archaeologist[s] state the Olmecs invented plumbing and the Olmecs were interested in water conservation at this time in world history.’
As the famine was worldwide it impacted Jacob and his family in Canaan. He sent all his sons, except Benjamin to Egypt to purchase grain. We have discussed Genesis forty-two to forty-six and the highly charged meetings between Joseph and his estranged brothers of twenty-two years and then seeing his father Jacob, when studying Jacob, Judah, Reuben, Simeon and Benjamin [refer Chapter XXX Judah & Benjamin and Chapter XXXI Reuben, Simeon, Levi & Gad]. For the year now is 1687 BCE, two years into the famine. One cannot forget the bitter-sweet first meeting with his little brother Benjamin and the poignant jolt of a reminder, that Joseph would never see his mother Rachel again.
The one resounding point that beams very bright is that even though Joseph toys with his brother’s and father’s emotions; making them sweat a lot – of which the Creator does not condemn, for does He not put us through our paces when we are in the wrong? – none was done from bitterness, revenge or hatred. There is a hint of a sense of humour on Joseph’s part for dragging out the eventual reunion and the suspense created in so doing. No, what leaps out is Joseph’s profoundly all consuming emotion of ecstatic joy at finally being reunited with his family. He harboured only love and forgiveness towards his brothers who did not really know him. Here was truly a converted man, filled with the spirit of God. Joseph was a worthy type of the future deliverer and Saviour of all humankind. With his grandfather Isaac and his distant cousin Moses, he is in a select group of people to have been given a saviour’s role in imitation of the true Saviour.
In Genesis forty-five, Joseph finally reveals himself. It says in verse three, that his brothers ‘could not answer him.’ The understatement of the Book of Genesis and perhaps the whole Bible. The word dumbstruck comes to mind. It also says the brothers were ‘dismayed at his presence.’ I bet they were. Here was a ghost that had risen before them. A man who should have either been dead, at the bottom of some hideous mine or looking like skin and bone of a man twice his age, as part of a tortuous slave gang. Yet here he was; here was their long lost brother Joseph. Brother Joseph who just won’t go away. As a youngster following them, albeit at their father’s behest and here he was again, a shadow from if not the grave, a shadow from the past following them still. A phantom who was second in power and authority of at least Lower Egypt, if not all the land.
It is testament to Joseph that he didn’t try to punch or slap any of them, considering the looks on their faces at that moment. Joseph instead alerts them to the five years remaining of famine and invites them to live in the land of Goshen in the Nile delta, where he can provide for them and nurture their flocks and wealth. Pharaoh learns of Joseph’s brothers and provides gifts and provisions for their return journey. Joseph’s sense of humour is exhibited in verse twenty-four, when his last words to his departing brothers are: “Do not quarrel on the way.” He knew them all too well. Jacob in verse twenty-six believing Joseph to be dead, understandably became numb and fainted from the shock of what his sons told him.
Did Jacob ever find out what his sons had done to Joseph? Did the sons of Jacob dare to divulge their crime and did Joseph’s honour mean he would not hurt his father in such a way, nor exact any kind of revenge on his brothers. It must have always been that slight bit awkward for the brothers when in Joseph’s presence and therefore, punishment enough. Until such time* that it did come to light…
On the journey down to Egypt, the Creator speaks to Jacob reassuring him, for Jacob must have known what had been said to his grandfather Abraham [Genesis 15:13].
English Standard Version
2 And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” 3 Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. 4 I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”
In Genesis forty-seven, Pharaoh Djoser meets five of Joseph’s brothers and Jacob. It is interesting to learn of Jacob’s view of his own life.
English Standard Version
9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.” 10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from the presence of Pharaoh [as one king to another].
It was an important observation to Jacob that his life in comparison with his father Isaac of 180 years and his grandfather Abraham of 175 years had been shorter and more difficult. Jacob does live longer, though he dies younger at age 147. The difficulties in his life had in large part been caused by himself and here he does seem to be in contrast again, with his family.
We also learn that the famine was so severe that when Egyptians ran out of money, they then had to purchase grain with their livestock and when that ran out, they then sold their lands to Pharaoh. After that, they were tenant farmers as Jospeh gave them seed to plant with the agreement they would give twenty percent of their harvests to Pharaoh. Skipping to the final chapter of Genesis, we learn of the respect towards Joseph and Jacob and their status as rulers and kings shown to them from the lands of Egypt and Canaan.
Genesis 50:1-3, 7-11, 15-26
English Standard Version
Then Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him. 2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 Forty days were required for it, for that is how many are required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days.
7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8 as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen. 9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen. It was a very great company.
10 When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and grievous lamentation, and he made a mourning for his father seven days. 11 When the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning on the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning by the Egyptians.”
Joseph’s brothers ask for his forgiveness, concerned for their own safety after Jacob dies.
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression* of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
The New Egyptian Chronology – A revised Egyptian chronology results in startling new archeological discoveries which authenticate Old Testament histories, David Reagan – emphasis & bold mine:
‘Perhaps the most amazing revelation to be found in Rohl’s book relates to Joseph. The excavations at Tel ed-Daba (Avaris in Bible times) have revealed a large Egyptian-style palace dating from the early 13th Dynasty… Rohl concludes that this must have been the retirement palace of Joseph, built in the midst of his people. In 1987 the excavators began to uncover a large pyramid-style tomb adjacent to the palace. They discovered that the tomb had been carefully emptied in antiquity. There was no evidence of the ransacking that characterizes the work of grave robbers. Further, they discovered the head of a very large statue of the man who had been buried in the tomb. The head is most unusual in that it displays very un-Egyptian type features like a mushroom shaped coiffure or wig. The figure is also clean shaven. Most remarkably, this person is wrapped in a coat of many colors! Rohl concludes that this is a statue of Joseph…’
22 So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s house. Joseph lived 110** years. 23 And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation. The children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph’s own.24 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
Joseph died in 1616 BCE. Most of his brothers had already died shortly before him, beginning with Simeon in 1630 BCE; with only three remaining brothers who died not long after Joseph, namely Naphtali, Benjamin and lastly, Levi in 1611 BCE.
English Standard Version
18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.”
There is an interesting parallel between Joseph and his descendant born exactly one hundred and fifty years later, Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim, the successor to Moses.
English Standard Version
… from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea [Joshua] the son of Nun;
English Standard Version
29 After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being 110** years old. 30 And they buried him in his own inheritance at Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. 31 Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel.
32 As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph [located in Samaria of the tribe of Ephraim].
Jacob and Joseph are included in the faith chapter of the Bible. The importance of Jacob’s blessing for Joseph’s sons was the beginning and fulfilment of the special birthright blessing of great national prosperity and preeminence for Abraham’s descendants that was filtered to his son Isaac, over Ishmael, then Jacob over Esau, then Joseph instead of Reuben and Simeon and split between his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Destiny did not decree for the peoples of Germany, the Jews, Northern Ireland or Wales to be the recipients of the principal birthright blessing.
English Standard Version
21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.
Edited excerpt from Chapter XXXIII, Manasseh & Ephraim
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