Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online
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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; 37:2; 41:46), 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 werevirgins (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; 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; 5:17-20; 7:5; 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 2:19,51). 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; 27:1. Stephen andthe apostles evidently contemplated Joseph as type of Jesus (Acts 7:9-14; 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 (Psalm 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; 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; 45:13,28; 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 (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 see POTIPHAR ), where also Joseph was prisoner (Genesis 40:3). 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): Psalm 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.
Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'joseph' Fausset's Bible Dictionary". - Fausset's; 1878.

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