Joseph


Joseph
Biblical person.
    The story of Joseph is preserved in the Biblical Book of Genesis (Ch. 37-50): the son of Jacob, he was sold into slavery by his jealous half-brothers and was sent down to Egypt where he entered the household of a wealthy Egyptian, Potiphar. His master came to respect him and made him overseer of the household, but the lies of Potiphar's wife finally brought Joseph to prison. He was subsequently released to interpret Pharaoh's dream and eventually he acquired great power, prestige and wealth, becoming vizier of the country.
    His family—the tribe of Israel—were brought to Egypt to share in his good fortune, and his descendants remained there for some four hundred and thirty years, until a later king (probably one of the Ramesside rulers) forced them to work on building sites. Finally, *Moses led these people out of Egypt and they settled in a new homeland. When he died, it is said that Joseph was embalmed and buried in a coffin in Egypt, according to the traditions of the land.
    There is no existing reference in the Egyptian records to either the sojourn in Egypt or to the Exodus, and therefore no conclusive dates can be established for these events. According to the historian *Josephus, the arrival of the *Hyksos in Egypt and their subsequent expulsion by the princes of Thebes could be identified with the arrival of the tribe of Israel and their Exodus. This theory has a major discrepancy for the *Hyksos were driven out whereas the Children of Israel made every effort to escape from the country and from pharaoh.
    It has been suggested that Joseph may have entered Egypt at some time between the Old Kingdom (c.2340 BC) and the *Hyksos period (c.1650 BC), when it is known that groups of Semitic people were arriving and settling there, in the eastern Delta and in Upper Egypt. There has also been an intriguing attempt to identify Joseph with *Yuya, the father-in-law of *Amenophis III.
BIBL. Redford, D.B. A study of the Biblical story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50). Leiden: 1970; Vergote, J. Joseph en Egypte, Genese, 37-50, A la lumiere des etudes egyptologiques recentes. Louvain: 1950; Rowley, H.H. From Joseph to Joshua. London: 1950; The Bible, Book of Genesis, chs. 37, 39-50.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David
* * *
   Biblical hero, son of Jacob and Rachel, who was sold into slavery in Egypt and rose to the position of king’s chief minister or vizier. He later welcomed his father and family to settle in Egypt. The story exhibits knowledge of Egyptian customs, but it is debatable whether Joseph represents a historical figure. The background of the story may refer to the period when the Hyksos had gained power in Egypt.
   See also Exodus; Iraelites.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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