Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
JOSEPH ( Ἰωσήφ).— 1 . The patriarch, mentioned only in the description of the visit of Jesus to Sychar ( John 4:5).— 2. 3 . Joseph son of Mattathias and Joseph son of Jonam are both named in the genealogy of Jesus given in Lk. ( Luke 3:24; Luke 3:30).* [Note: Joseph the son of Juda in v. 26 (AV) becomes Josech the son of Joda in RV.] — 4 . One of the brethren of the Lord, Matthew 13:55 (Authorized Version Joses, the form adopted in both Authorized Version and Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 in Matthew 27:56, Mark 6:3; Mark 15:40; Mark 15:47. See Joses).
5 . Joseph, the husband of Mary and the reputed father of Jesus ( Luke 3:23), is not mentioned in Mk., and only indirectly in Jn. ( John 1:45; John 6:42). He was of Davidic descent; and, though Mt. and Lk. differ in the genealogical details, they connect Jesus with Joseph and through him with David ( Matthew 1:1 ff., Luke 3:23 ff.). Joseph, who was a carpenter ( Matthew 13:55) and a poor man, as his offering in the temple showed Luke 2:24), lived in Nazareth ( Luke 2:4) and was espoused to Mary, also of Nazareth ( Luke 1:26). By their betrothal they entered into a relationship which, though not the completion of marriage, could be dissolved only by death or divorce. Before the marriage ceremony Mary was ‘found with child of the Holy Ghost,’ but the angelic annunciation to her was not made known to Joseph. He is described as a just man ( Matthew 1:19), a strict observer of the Law. The law was stern ( Deuteronomy 22:23-24), but its severity had been mitigated and divorce had taken the place of death. Divorce could be effected publicly, so that the shame of the woman might be seen by all; or it could be done privately, by the method of handing the bill of separation to the woman in presence of two witnesses.† [Note: Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, i. 154. Dalman asserts that Edersheim is incorrect in stating that public divorce was possible (see Hastings’ DB, art. ‘Joseph’).] Joseph, not willing to make Mary a public example, ‘was minded to put her away privily’ ( Matthew 1:18). An angel, however, appeared to him in a dream, telling him not to fear to marry Mary, as the conception was of the Holy Ghost, and also that she would bring forth a son, whom he was to name Jesus ( Matthew 1:20 f.). The dream was accepted as a revelation,‡ [Note: cit. i. 155.] as a token of Divine favour, and Joseph took Mary as his wife, but did not live with her as her husband till she had brought forth her firstborn son ( Matthew 1:24 f.).
Before the birth of Christ there was an Imperial decree that all the world should be taxed, and Joseph, being of the house and lineage of David, had to leave Nazareth and go to Bethlehem, to be taxed with Mary.§ [Note: On the question of the visit to Bethlehem see Ramsay’s Was Christ born at Bethlehem?] In Bethlehem Jesus was born; and there the shepherds, to whom the angel had announced the birth of the Saviour, found Mary and Joseph and ‘the babe lying in a manger’ ( Luke 2:16). At the circumcision, on the eighth day after the birth, the child received the name ‘Jesus’ which Joseph had been commanded to give Him; and on a later day, when Mary’s purification was accomplished (cf. Leviticus 12:2-4), she and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem ( Luke 2:22), to ‘present him to the Lord’* [Note: ‘The earliest period of presentation was thirty-one days after birth, so as to make the legal month quite complete’ (Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, i. 193).] and to offer a sacrifice, according to the requirements of the law ( Exodus 13:2, Leviticus 12:8). Joseph fulfilled the law as if he were the father of Jesus; and after the ceremonies in the temple he must have returned with Mary and her son to Bethlehem, which was 6 miles distant from Jerusalem. In Bethlehem the Wise Men who had come from the East saw Mary and ‘the young child’ and worshipped Him; and after their departure the angel of the Lord appeared again to Joseph, bidding him take Mary and the child and flee into Egypt on account of Herod, who would seek to destroy Him ( Matthew 2:13). Joseph was quick to obey, and rising in the night he took the young child and His mother and departed for Egypt, where Herod had no authority ( Matthew 2:14). In Egypt they were to remain till the angel brought word to Joseph ( Matthew 2:13); and there they dwelt, possibly two or even three years, till the death of Herod, when the angel again appeared in a dream to Joseph. The angel commanded him to take the young child and His mother and go into the land of Israel. Obedience was at once given by Joseph, but he became afraid when he learned that Archelaus was reigning in Judaea. Again the angel appeared in a dream, and after a warning Joseph proceeded to Nazareth, which was not under the rule of Archelaus, who had an evil reputation, but under that of the milder Antipas ( Matthew 2:14-23).
It is recorded of Joseph that he and Mary went every year, at the Passover, to Jerusalem, and that when Jesus was twelve years of age He accompanied them. On that occasion Jesus tarried in Jerusalem, after Joseph and Mary, thinking He was with them in the company, had left the city. When they had gone a day’s journey they found He was not with them, and they turned back to Jerusalem. After three days they found Him in the temple among the doctors, and they were amazed. Mary’s words, ‘Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.’ called forth an answer which Joseph and Mary did not understand. But after the incident in Jerusalem, Jesus went with them to Nazareth and ‘was subject unto them’ ( Luke 2:41-51). Mary’s words and the record of the subjection of Jesus to her and Joseph indicate that Joseph stood to Jesus in the place of an earthly father. How long that relationship continued is unknown, since the time of the death of Joseph is not stated in the Gospels. It may be accepted as a certainty that he was not alive throughout the period of the public ministry of Jesus, seeing that he is not directly or indirectly mentioned along with His mother and brothers and sisters ( Mark 3:31; Mark 6:3).
6 . Joseph of Arimathaea (Ἰωσὴφ ὁ ἀπὸ Ἀριμαθαίας, see Arimathaea).—A rich and pious Israelite ( Matthew 27:57), a member of the Sanhedrin ( Mark 15:43), who, secretly for fear of the Jews, was Jesus’ disciple ( John 19:38). He had not consented to the death of Jesus ( Luke 23:51), and could not therefore have been present at the Council, where they all condemned Him to be guilty of death ( Mark 14:64). The timidity which prevented him from openly avowing his discipleship, and perhaps from defending Jesus in the Sanhedrin, fled when he beheld the death of the Lord. Jewish law required that the body of a person who had been executed should not remain all night upon the tree, but should ‘in any wise’ be buried ( Deuteronomy 21:22-23). This law would not bind the Roman authorities, and the custom in the Empire was to leave the body to decay upon the cross (cf. Hor. Ep . i. xvi. 48; Plautus, Mil. Glor . II. iv. 19). But at the crucifixion of Jesus and of the two malefactors, the Jews, anxious that the bodies should not remain upon the cross during the Sabbath, besought Pilate that the legs of the crucified might be broken and death hastened, and that then the bodies might be taken away ( John 19:31). According to Roman law, the relatives could claim the body of a person executed ( Digest , xlviii. 24, ‘De cadav. punit.’). But which of the relatives of Jesus had a sepulchre in Jerusalem where His body might be placed? Joseph, wishing the burial not to be ‘in any wise’ (cf. Joshua 8:29), but to be according to the most pious custom of his race, went to Pilate and craved the body. The petition required boldness ( Mark 15:43), since Joseph, with no kinship in the flesh with Jesus, would be forced to make a confession of discipleship, which the Jews would note. Pilate, too, neither loved nor was loved by Israel, and his anger might be kindled at the coming of a Jew, and the member of the Sanhedrin be assailed with insults. Pilate, however, making sure that Jesus was dead, gave the body. Perhaps he had pity for the memory of Him he had condemned, or perhaps the rich man’s gold, since Pilate, according to Philo ( Op . ii. 590), took money from suppliants, secured what was craved. Joseph, now with no fear of the Jews, acted openly, and had to act with speed, as the day of preparation for the Sabbath was nearly spent. Taking down the body of Jesus from the cross (and other hands must have aided his), he wrapped it in linen which he himself had bought ( Mark 15:46). In the Fourth Gospel it is told how Nicodemus, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight, joined Joseph, and how they took the body and wound it in linen clothes with the spices ( John 19:40). Near the place of crucifixion was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre, which Joseph had hewn out in the rock, doubtless for his own last resting-place; and in that sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid, was placed the body of Jesus prepared for its burial ( Matthew 27:60, John 19:41). In the court at the entrance to the tomb, the preparation would be made. All was done which the time before the Sabbath allowed reverent hands to do; and then Joseph, perhaps thinking of the pious offices that could yet be done to the dead, rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre and departed ( Matthew 27:60). On late legends regarding Joseph of Arimathaea see Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, vol. ii. p. 778.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
jō´zef ( יוסף , yōṣēph , "He will add"; Septuagint Ἰωσήφ , Iōsḗph ). The narrative ( Genesis 30:23 , Genesis 30:14 ) indicates not so much a double etymology as the course of Rachel's thoughts. The use of אסף , 'āṣaph , "He takes away," suggested to her mind by its form in the future, יוסף , yōṣēph , "He will add," "And she called his name Joseph, saying, Yahweh add to me another son"):
I. The Joseph Story , A Literary Question
1. An Independent Original or an Adaptation?
2. A M onograph or a Compilation?
(1) An Analytical Theory Resolving It into a Mere Compilation
(2) A N arrative Full of Gems
(3) The Argument from Chronology Supporting It as a Monograph
II. The Story Of Joseph , A Biography
1. A B edouin Prince in Canaan
2. A B edouin Slave in Egypt
3. The Bedouin Slave Becomes Again the Bedouin Prince
5. The Patriarch
The eleventh son of Jacob. The Biblical narrative concerning Joseph presents two subjects for consideration, the Joseph story, a literary question, and the story of Joseph, a biography. It is of the first importance to consider these questions in this order.
Cheyne in Encyclopedia Biblica reaches such conclusions concerning the Joseph story that the story of Joseph is mutilated almost beyond recognition as a biography at all. Driver in Hdb holds that the Joseph story was "in all probability only committed to writing 700-800 years" later than the time to which Joseph is attributed, points out that Joseph's name was also the name of a tribe, and concludes that "the first of these facts at once destroys all guarantee that we possess in the Joseph narrative a literal record of the facts," and that "the second fact raises the further question whether the figure of Joseph, in part or even as a whole, is a reflection of the history and characteristics of the tribe projected upon the past in the individual form." But he draws back from this view and thinks it "more probable that there was an actual person Joseph, afterward ... rightly or wrongly regarded as the ancestor of the tribe ... who underwent substantially the experience recounted of him in Genesis." In the presence of such critical notions concerning the literature in which the narrative of Joseph is embodied, it is clear that until we have reached some conclusions concerning the Joseph story, we cannot be sure that there is any real story of Joseph to relate.
I. The Joseph Story, a Literary Question.
1. An Independent Original or an Adaptation?:
This literary problem will be solved, if satisfactory answers may be found to two questions: Is it an independent original or an adaptation? Suitable material for such an adaptation as would produce a Joseph story has been sought at either end of the line of history: Joseph the progenitor and Joseph the tribe. The only contestant for the claim of being an early original of which the Joseph story might be an adaptation is the nasty "Tale of Two Brothers" ( Rp , series I, volume II, 137-46). This story in its essential elements much resembles the Joseph story. But such events as it records are common: why not such stories?
What evidence does this "Tale of Two Brothers" afford that the Joseph story is not an independent original? Are we to suppose that because many French romances involve the demi-monde , there was therefore no Madame de Pompadour? Are court scandals so unheard of that ancient Egypt cannot afford two? And why impugn the genuineness of the Joseph story because the "Tale of Two Brothers" resembles it? Is anyone so ethereal in his passions as not to know by instinct that the essential elements of such scandal are always the same? The difference in the narrative is chiefly in the telling. At this latter point the Joseph story and the "Tale of Two Brothers" bear no resemblance whatever.
If the chaste beauty of the Biblical story be observed, and then one turn to the "Tale of Two Brothers" with sufficient knowledge of the Egyptian tongue to perceive the coarseness and the stench of it, there can be no question that the Joseph story is independent of such a literary source. To those who thus sense both stories, the claim of the "Tale of Two Brothers" to be the original of the Joseph story cannot stand for a moment. If we turn from Joseph the progenitor to Joseph the tribe, still less will the claim that the story is an adaptation bear careful examination. The perfect naturalness of the story, the utter absence from its multitudinous details of any hint of figurative language, such as personification always furnishes, and the absolutely accurate reflection in the story of the Egypt of Joseph's day, as revealed by the many discoveries of which people of 700-800 years later could not know, mark this theory of the reflection of tribal history and characteristics as pure speculation. And besides, where in all the history of literature has it been proven that a tribe has been thus successfully thrown back upon the screen of antiquity in the "individual form?" Similar mistakes concerning Menes and Minos and the heroes of Troy are a warning to us. Speculation is legitimate, so long as it does not cut loose from known facts, but gives no one the right to suppose the existence in unknown history of something never certainly found in known history. So much for the first question.
2. A M onograph or a Compilation?:
Is it a monograph or a compilation? The author of a monograph may make large use of literary materials, and the editor of a compilation may introduce much editorial comment. Thus, superficially, these different kinds of composition may much resemble each other, yet they are, in essential character, very different the one from the other. A compilation is an artificial body, an automaton; a monograph is a natural body with a living soul in it. This story has oriental peculiarities of repetition and pleonastic expression, and these things have been made much of in order to break up the story; to the reader not seeking grounds of partition, it is one of the most unbroken, simply natural and unaffected pieces of narrative literature in the world. If it stood alone or belonged to some later portion of Scripture, it may well be doubted that it would ever have been touched by the scalpel of the literary dissector. But it belongs to the Pentateuch. There are manifest evidences all over the Pentateuch of the use by the author of material, either documentary or of that paradoxical unwritten literature which the ancients handed down almost without the change of a word for centuries.
(1) An Analytical Theory Resolving It into a Mere Compilation.
An analytical theory has been applied to the Pentateuch as a whole, to resolve it into a mere compilation. Once the principles of this theory are acknowledged, and allowed sway there, the Joseph story cannot be left untouched, but becomes a necessary sacrifice to the system. A sight of the lifeless, ghastly fragments of the living, moving Joseph story which the analysis leaves behind (compare Eb , article "Joseph") proclaims that analysis to have been murder. There was a life in the story which has been ruthlessly taken, and that living soul marked the narrative as a monograph.
(2) A N arrative Full of Gems.
Where else is to be found such a compilation? Here is one of the most brilliant pieces of literature in the world, a narrative full of gems: (a) the account of the presentation of the brothers in the presence of Joseph when he was obliged to go out to weep ( Genesis 43:26-34 ), and (b) the scene between the terrified brothers of Joseph and the steward of his house ( Genesis 44:6-13 ), (c) Judah's speech (Gen 44:18-34), (d) the touching close of the revelation of Joseph to his brothers at last ( Genesis 45:1-15 ). The soul of the whole story breathes through all of these. Where in all literature, ancient or modern, is to be found a mere compilation that is a great piece of literature? So far removed is this story from the characteristics of a compilation, that we may challenge the world of literature to produce another monograph in narrative literature that surpasses it.
(3) The Argument from Chronology Supporting It as a Monograph
Then the dates of Egyptian names and events in this narrative strongly favor its origin so early as to be out of the reach of the compilers. That attempts at identification in Egyptian of names written in Hebrew, presenting as they do the peculiar difficulties of two alphabets of imperfectly known phonetic values and uncertain equivalency of one in terms of the other, should give rise to differences of opinion, is to be expected. The Egyptian equivalents of Zaphenath-paneah and Asenath have been diligently sought, and several identifications have been, suggested (Brugsch, Egypt under the Pharaohs , 122; Budge, History of Egypt , V, 126-27). That which is most exact phonetically and yields the most suitable and natural meaning for Zaphenath-paneah is by Lieblein ( Psba , 1898,204-8). It is formed like four of the names of Hyksos kings before the time of Joseph, and means "the one who furnishes the nourishment of life," i.e. the steward of the realm. The name Asenath is found from the XIth Dynasty on to the Xviii th. Potiphar is mentioned as an Egyptian. Why not of course an Egyptian? The narrative also points distinctly to conditions obtaining under the Hyksos kings. When the people were like to perish for want of food they promised Joseph in return for help that they would be "servants of Pharaoh" ( Genesis 47:18-25 ). This suggests a previous antagonism to the government, such as the Hyksos kings had long to contend with in Egypt. But the revolution which drove out the Hyksos labored so effectually to eradicate every trace of the hated foreigners that it is with the utmost difficulty that modern Egyptological research has wrested from the past some small items of information concerning them. Is it credible that the editor of scraps, which were themselves not written down until some 700-800 years later, should have been able to produce such a life-story fitting into the peculiar conditions of the times of the Hyksos? Considered as an independent literary problem on its own merits, aside from any entangling necessities of the analytical theory of the Pentateuch, the Joseph story must certainly stand as a monograph from some time within distinct memory of the events it records. If the Joseph story be an independent original and a monograph, then there is in reality to be considered the story of Joseph.
II. The Story of Joseph, a Biography.
It is unnecessary to recount here all the events of the life of Joseph, a story so incomparably told in the Biblical narrative. It will be sufficient to touch only the salient points where controversy has raged, or at which archaeology has furnished special illumination. The story of Joseph begins the tenth and last natural division of Gen in these words: "The generations of Jacob" ( Genesis 37:2 ). Up to this point the unvarying method of Gen is to place at the head of each division the announcement "the generations of" one of the patriarchs, followed immediately by a brief outline of the discarded line of descent, and then to give in detail the account of the chosen line.
There is to be now no longer any discarded line of descent. All the sons of Jacob are of the chosen people, the depository of the revelation of redemption. So this division of Gen begins at once with the chosen line, and sets in the very foreground that narrative which in that generation is most vital in the story of redemption, this story of Joseph beginning with the words, "Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren" ( Genesis 37:2 ). Joseph had been born in Haran, the firstborn of the beloved Rachel, who died at the birth of her second son Benjamin. A motherless lad among the sons of other mothers felt the jealousies of the situation, and the experience became a temptation. The "evil report" of his brethren was thus naturally carried to his father, and quite as naturally stirred up those family jealousies which set his feet in the path of his great career ( Genesis 37:2-4 ). In that career he appears as a Bedouin prince in Canaan.
1. A B edouin Prince in Canaan:
The patriarchs of those times were all sheiks or princes of those semi-nomadic rovers who by the peculiar social and civil customs of that land were tolerated then as they are to this day under the Turkish government in the midst of farms and settled land tenure. Jacob favored Rachel and her children. He put them hindermost at the dangerous meeting with Esau, and now he puts on Joseph a coat of many colors ( Genesis 37:3 ). The appearance of such a coat a little earlier in the decoration of the tombs of Benichassan among Palestinian ambassadors to Egypt probably indicates that this garment was in some sense ceremonial, a token of rank. In any case Joseph, the son of Jacob, was a Bedouin prince. Did the father by this coat indicate his intention to give him the precedence and the succession as chieftain of the tribe? It is difficult otherwise to account for the insane jealousy of the older brethren ( Genesis 37:4 ). According to the critical partition of the story, Joseph's dreams may be explained away as mere reflections or adaptations of the later history of Joseph (compare Pentateuch ). In a real biography the striking providential significance of the dreams appears at once. They cannot be real without in some sense being prophetic. On the other hand they cannot be other than real without vitiating the whole story as a truthful narrative, for they led immediately to the great tragedy; a Bedouin prince of Canaan becomes a Bedouin slave in Egypt.
2. A B edouin Slave in Egypt:
The plot to put Joseph out of the way, the substitution of slavery for death, and the ghastly device for deceiving Jacob ( Genesis 37:18-36 ) are perfectly natural steps in the course of crime when once the brothers had set out upon it. The counterplot of Reuben to deliver Joseph reflects equally his own goodness and the dangerous character of the other brothers to whom he did not dare make a direct protest.
Critical discussion of "Ishmaelites" and "Midianites" and "Medanites" presents some interesting things and many clever speculations which may well be considered on their own merits by those interested in ethnology and etymologies. Many opinions advanced may prove to be correct. But let it be noted that they arc for the most part pure speculation. Almost nothing is known of the interrelation of the trans-Jordanic tribes in that age other than the few hints in the Bible. And who can say what manner of persons might be found in a caravan which had wandered about no one knows where, or how long, to pick up trade before it turned into the northern caravan route? Until archaeology supplies more facts it is folly to attach much importance to such speculations (Kyle, The Deciding Voice of the Monuments in Biblical Criticism , 221).
In the slave market in Egypt, Joseph was bought by Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, "an Egyptian." The significant mention of this fact fits exactly into a place among the recovered hints of the history of those times, which make the court then to be not Egyptian at all, but composed of foreigners, the dynasty of Hyksos kings among whom an "Egyptian" was so unexpected as to have his nationality mentioned.
Joseph's native nobility of character, the pious training he had received in his father's house, and the favor of God with him gave him such prosperity that his master entrusted all the affairs of his household to him, and when the greatest of temptations assails him he comes off victorious ( Genesis 39 ). There is strong ground for the suspicion that Potiphar did not fully believe the accusation of his wife against Joseph. The fact that Joseph was not immediately put to death is very significant. Potiphar could hardly do less than shut him up for the sake of appearances, and perhaps to take temptation away from his wife without seeming to suspect her. It is noticeable also that Joseph's character soon triumphed in prison. Then the same Providence that superintended his dreams is leading so as to bring him before the king ( Genesis 40; 41 ).
3. The Bedouin Slave Becomes Again the Bedouin Prince:
The events of the immediately preceding history prepared Joseph's day: the Hyksos kings on the throne, those Bedouin princes, "shepherd kings" (Petrie, Hyksos and Israelite Cities ), the enmity of the Egyptians against this foreign dynasty so that they accounted every shepherd an "abomination" ( Genesis 46:34 ), the friendly relation thus created between Palestinian tribes and Egypt, the princely character of Joseph, for among princes a prince is a prince however small his principality, and last of all the manifest favor of God toward Joseph, and the evident understanding by the Pharaohs of Semitic religion, perhaps even sympathy with it ( Genesis 41:39 ). All these constitute one of the most majestic, Godlike movements of Providence revealed to us in the word of God, or evident anywhere in history. The same Providence that presided over the boy prince in his father's house came again to the slave prince in the Egyptian prison. The interpretation of the dreams of the chief butler and the chief baker of Pharaoh ( Genesis 40:1 ) brought him at last through much delay and selfish forgetfulness to the notice of the king, and another dream in which the same cunning hand of Providence is plainly seen (Genesis 41) is the means of bringing Joseph to stand in the royal presence. The stuff that dreams are made of interests scarcely less than the Providence that was superintending over them. As the harvest fields of the semi-nomadic Bedouin in Palestine, and the household routine of Egypt in the dreams of the chief butler and the chief baker, so now the industrial interests and the religious forms of the nation appear in the dreams of Pharaoh. The "seven kine" of the goddess Hathor supplies the number of the cows, and the doubling of the symbolism in the cattle and the grain points to the two great sources of Egypt's welfare. The Providence that had shaped and guided the whole course of Joseph from the Palestinian home was consummated when, with the words, "Inasmuch as thou art a man in whom is the spirit of God," Pharaoh lifted up the Bedouin slave to be again the Bedouin prince and made him the prime minister.
4. The Prime Minister:
The history of "kings' favorites" is too well known for the elevation of Joseph to be in itself incredible. Such things are especially likely to take place among the unlimited monarchies of the Orient. The late empress of China had been a Chinese slave girl. The investiture of Joseph was thoroughly Egyptian - the "collar," the signet "ring," the "chariot" and the outrunners who cried before him " Abrech ." The exact meaning of this word has never been certainly ascertained, but its general import may be seen illustrated to this day wherever in the East royalty rides out. The policy adopted by the prime minister was far-reaching, wise, even adroit ( Genesis 41:25-36 ). It is impossible to say whether or not it was wholly just, for we cannot know whether the corn of the years of plenty which the government laid up was bought or taken as a taxlevy. The policy involved some despotic power, but Joseph proved a magnanimous despot. The deep and subtle statesmanship in Joseph's plan does not fully appear until the outcome. It was probably through the policy of Joseph, the prime minister, that the Hyksos finally gained the power over the people and the mastery of the land.
Great famines have not been common in Egypt, but are not unknown. The only one which corresponds well to the Bible account is that one recorded in the inscription of Baba at el Kab, translated by Brugsch. Some scarcely justifiable attempts have been made to discredit Brugsch in his account of that inscription. The monument still remains and is easily visited, but the inscription is so mutilated that it presents many difficulties. The severity of the famine, the length of its duration, the preparation by the government, the distribution to the people, the success of the efforts for relief and even the time of the famine, as far as it can be determined, correspond well to the Bible account (Brugsch, Egypt under the Pharaohs , chapter vi). The way in which such famines in Egypt come about has been explained by a movement of the sudd , a sedgelike growth in the Nile, so as to clog the upper river (Wright, Scientific Confirmations , 70-79).
Joseph's brethren came "with those that came," i.e. with the food caravans. The account does not imply that the prime minister presided in person at the selling of grain, but only that he knew of the coming of his brethren and met them at the market place. The watchfulness of the government against "spies," by the careful guarding of the entrances to the land, may well have furnished him with such information. Once possessed with it, all the rest of the story of the interviews follows naturally (compare traditions of Joseph, Jewish Encyclopedia).
The long testing of the brethren with the attendant delay in the relief of the father Jacob and the family ( Genesis 42 through 45) has been the subject of much discussion, and most ingenious arguments for the justification of Joseph. All this seems unnecessary. Joseph was not perfect, and there is no claim of perfection made for him in the Bible. Two things are sufficient to be noted here: one that Joseph was ruler as well as brother, with the habits of a ruler of almost unrestrained power and authority and burdened with the necessity for protection and the obligation to mete out justice; the other that the deliberateness, the vexatious delays, the subtle diplomacy and playing with great issues are thoroughly oriental. It may be also that the perplexities of great minds make them liable to such vagaries. The career of Lincoln furnishes some curious parallels in the parleying with cases long after the great president's mind was fully made up and action taken.
The time of these events and the identification of Joseph in Egypt are most vexed questions not conclusively settled. Toffteen quite confidently presents in a most recent identification of Joseph much evidence to which one would like to give full credence (Toffteen, The Historical Exodus). But aside from the fact that he claims two exodi, two Josephs, two Aarons, two lawgivers called Moses, and two givings of the law, a case of critical doublets more astounding than any heretofore claimed in the Pentateuch, the evidence itself which he adduces is very far from conclusive. It is doubtful if the texts will bear the translation he gives them, especially the proper names. The claims of Rameses II, that he built Pithom,. compared with the stele of 400 years, which he says he erected in the 400th year of King Nubti, seems to put Joseph about the time of the Hyksos king. This is the most that can be said now. The burial of Jacob is in exact accord with Egyptian customs. The wealth of the Israelites who retained their possessions and were fed by the crown, in contrast with the poverty of the Egyptians who sold everything, prepares the way for the wonderful growth and influence of Israel, and the fear which the Egyptians at last had of them. "And Joseph died, being 110 years old," an ideal old age in the Egyptian mind. The reputed burial place of Joseph at Shechem still awaits examination.
5. The Patriarch:
Joseph stands out among the patriarchs in some respects with preeminence. His nobility of character, his purity of heart and life, his magnanimity as a ruler and brother Patriarch make him, more than any other of the Old Testament characters, an illustration of that type of man which Christ was to give to the world in perfection. Joseph is not in the list of persons distinctly referred to in Scripture as types of Christ - the only perfectly safe criterion - but none more fully illustrates the life and work of the Saviour. He wrought salvation for those who betrayed and rejected him, he went down into humiliation as the way to his exaltation, he forgave those who, at least in spirit, put him to death, and to him as to the Saviour, all must come for relief, or perish.
Commentaries on Genesis; for rabbinical literature, compare Seligsohn in Jewish Encyclopedia, some very interesting and curious traditions; Ebers, Egypten und die Bucher Moses ; "The Tale of Two Brothers," Rp , series I, volume II, 13746; Wilkinson-Birch, The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians ; Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt .