Joseph was the son of Jacob (Israel). His name means Jehovah increases. He seems to have been his father’s favourite son and this caused relationship problems with the other brothers. His story is told in great detail Genesis chapters 37 to 45. this is one of the Bible’s most complete biographies, as he was obviously considered to be an important figure as it was through him his family, and so the whole people of Israel, were ultimately saved from starvation.
He seems in the first instance to have been an innocent victim betrayed by his brothers, but at the same time he must have been aware of the possible impact his dream stories would have. Jacob also was guilty of over favouring him above his brothers and of using the boy to check up on his older siblings and of course giving him the famous multi coloured coat, as the Bible records in Genesis 37.
The brothers become so fed up that they plot to rid themselves of Joseph once and for all and at the same time deceive their father into believing he is dead. The Bible goes into great detail – Reuben the oldest son was absent and it is Judah, the ancestor of Christ who leads the conspirators. They don’t kill him, but instead sell him into slavery to a group of nomadic Ishmaelites who were on their way to Egypt. He worked hard for his Egyptian master, who makes Joseph his most powerful servant. However, when he rejects the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife, she is so angry that she makes false accusations and Joseph ends up in prison. After a long period of wrongful imprisonment Joseph is released and later elevated by the pharaoh to become his right hand man. God then brings a famine upon Canaan and the brothers travel to Egypt in order to buy grain. Joseph has the perfect chance to exert revenge, but he resists the temptation to do so. Joseph’s dealings with his brothers eventually bring them to a state of repentance, and the whole family is reconciled and moves to Egypt.
Jacob’s 12 sons were borne by four different women, two wives and two concubines. The story of the rivalries and squabbles this caused is told in the chapters preceding Genesis 37. Joseph and his younger brother Benjamin were the only children of Jacob’s favourite spouse, Rachel. They were born in his old age. She had at first been barren and gave him the name Joseph because she hoped for another son.
Additional World Events at this point on the Bible Timeline
At about this time in history, just before 1700 B.C. Egypt was an important power in the ancient world and the Hittites were established in Anatolia ( modern Turkey) and with them the Assyrians had trading connections. In Britain people traveled across Salisbury Plain to great gatherings at Stonehenge. Important centres such as Carthage and Rome were still to come into being. In Africa, according to recent research, metal working was already established At Egaro, west of Termit, in sub Saharan Africa material has been dated as being from earlier than 2500 BC, which means that African metalworking was contemporary with of regions further north and east an developed spontaneously rather than the skill being transferred from elsewhere. .