Joseph (Old Testament)
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The Old Testament character Joseph grew up in a family which had been dysfunctional for several generations.
The great grandfather of Joseph, Abraham, was a God-fearing man. According to Judeo-Christian theology, Abraham drove one son, Ishmael, into the desert with his mother, Hagar, and came close to sacrificing the other son, Isaac, to Yahweh. Muslims believe that Ishmael was the intended sacrifice.
Isaac, Joseph's grandfather, having escaped his father's sacrificial knife by a hair's breadth, lives a low-key PTSD life on the edge of the desert. As classic case of monotheist-flavored passive aggressive behavior, he promotes the son who marries polytheistic women from other tribes (Esau) and ignores the one who is faithful to the ancestral god, El (Jacob). To the great relief of monotheists, Jacob successfully deceives his father and brother, gaining the tribal patriarchal blessing from Isaac and fathering another generation of viciously competitive sons, one of whom is Joseph the Dreamer.
Joseph's father, Jacob, loved Joseph's mother Rachel and Joseph more than he loved his other wives and sons. Furthermore, Joseph was a fortune teller. He could also interpret dreams. Joseph had two dreams predicting that his father Jacob and two brothers would bow down to him. Despite this, Jacob loved Joseph and gave him an Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat™. All his bad brothers envied Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat™. They envied the prediction that they would have to bow down to him. The bad brothers attacked Joseph. He was sold as a slave in Egypt.
Joseph became an overseer to an important Egyptian called Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife wanted to have an affair with Joseph, but Joseph loved Yahweh more than Potiphar’s wife (or so we are told, after all, you know, who really knows?).[note 1] Potiphar's wife was humiliated that Joseph liked Yahweh more than he liked her. She had Joseph thrown into prison.
Joseph's fortune telling got him released, and he became an overseer to Pharaoh. Joseph foresaw that there would be seven years of plenty. Afterwards, lovable Yahweh planned seven years of famine. Joseph got to oversee storing corn to last the seven years of famine. The famine affected Canaan, where Jacob and his family were, as well as Egypt. The family found out that there was corn in Egypt. Joseph, as overseer to Pharaoh, got to see his brothers when they came to buy corn.
The brothers did not recognize Joseph and bowed and grovelled. It looks like Joseph was feeling vindictive. He hid a silver cup among the belongings of his younger brother, Benjamin. Then he accused his innocent brother of theft and threatened to enslave him. Such things happen in dysfunctional families. Later, Joseph revealed his true identity, and they all forgave the wrongs that they had done to each other.
Four separate men called "Joseph" are relevant to Abrahamic religions:
- Joseph (husband of Mary), one of several possible fathers of Jesus
- Joseph of Arimathea, who may have buried Jesus, if he was dead
- Josephus, a Romanised Jewish historian misquoted by Christians.
- Some wingnuts believe that Joseph was Imhotep.
- Moses is the next important character.
Don't see also
- The Ballad of Little Joe – the story of Joseph turned into a Western with the characters turned into produce.
- This take on the story by Jack Chick. Notice Panel 15.
- This was a bit paradoxical, as Yahweh was inclined to do things like drowning most of mankind, including innocent children and babies, because he thought they were sinners.