JOSEPH THE PATRIARCH: Oldest son of Jacob and Rachel. The name "Joseph" (Hebr. Yoseph) was probably originally Joseph-el, "may God add" (Gen. xxx. 24; see JACOB).

The Sources.

The relation of the sources of the story of the patriarch as given in the Book of Genesis (xxx. 22-24, xxxvii., xxxix. 1) is similar to that in the history of Jacob (q.v.). E and J predominate, P being used more extensively only toward the end (Gen. xlvi. 1). The attempt to distinguish between E and J is without convincing success. It is asserted that J calls the traveling Arabian merchants Ishmaelites, while E calls them Midianites; that E (Gen. xxxvii. 28) makes them take Joseph out of the pit without the complicity of his brothers and so "steal" him (Gen. xl. 15) while, according to J, he was sold by his brothers (also according to Gen. xlv. 4); that for J Joseph's Egyptian master was a wealthy private citizen, for E, the captain of the guard and keeper of the prison. In all essential points, however, the story must have been told in the same way by both E and J. Joseph's character justifies Jacob's especial love. Its fundamental quality was his earnest fear of God (Gen. xxxvii. 2, xxxix. 9, xli. 16, xlii. 18, xlv. 8, l. 19-20), who showed him grace both in his own sight and before men, making him appear the purest and the noblest of the sons of Jacob.

Historicity of the Narrative.

In considering the historical value of the tradition of Joseph, the references to Egypt, its customs, manners, etc., are of especial importance. Modern investigation of the monuments has explained and justified the recital. While formerly many scholars thought to find in Joseph's story erroneous statements of Egyptian conditions, Hengstenberg and the Egyptologists Ebers and Brugsch have shown that the story is almost entirely concordant with the monuments of Egypt. Caravan trade was carried on by the Arabs from the most remote times between Syria, Palestine, and the country of the Nile; precisely the three spices mentioned in Gen. xxxvii. 25 (cf. xliii. 11) were always staple articles of commerce between Gilead and Egypt; the caravan route, after crossing the Jordan at Beth-shan, passed by Dothan; there was a good market for young slaves in Egypt; Potiphar bears a genuine Egyptian name ("devoted to Ra"); such stewardships as that with which Joseph was entrusted by Potiphar appear frequently in the Egyptian inscriptions and on the monuments; the scene between Joseph and Potiphar's wife is practically duplicated in a story preserved in the D'Orbiney Papyrus ("The Tale of Two Brothers"), written down for Seti II. when he was crown prince (cf. H. Brugsch, Aus dem Orient, Berlin, 1864, pp. 7 sqq.; Eng. transl. in W. M. F. Petrie, Egyptian Tales, London, 1894-95; cf. A. H. Sayce, Higher Criticism and the Monuments, London, 1894); dreams were matters of intense interest in Egypt; the two court officials of Gen. xl. 1 appear as representatives of the court butlers and the court bakers, even the title "chief of the bakers" has been found; an illustration of the dream of the court baker is given in a representation of the court bakery of Rameses III. (J. G. Wilkinson, Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, ii. 385, London, 1837), wherein a load of freshly baked bread on a board or mat (elsewhere a basket, Wilkinson, ii. 393) is borne away on the head; according to the Rosetta stone and the Decree of Canopus, Egyptian kings on their birthdays were accustomed to issue amnesties; the double dream of the Pharaoh (Gen. xli.) is thoroughly Egyptian; the very words ye'or, "stream" (=Nile) and ahu, "reed-grass," are Egyptian; the number seven was significant in the land; the kine, that is, the good and the lean years, quite properly come up out of the stream which was the object of divine honors as the fructifier of the entire country; the cow is symbolical of Isis-Hathor, the female principle of fertility, and therefore especially appropriate for the representation of the productivity of the land; the "magicians" of chap. xli. 8 correspond to the sacred scribes who, besides devoting themselves to the arts of writing, mensuration, and astronomy, were also entrusted with the task of explaining portents; the shaving of the hair and the changing of clothing on the occasion of an appearance before the Pharaoh (Gen. xli. 14) was required by ancient Egyptian custom, while among the Israelites baldness was regarded as an infirmity; the ceremonies accompanying the conferral of his new dignities upon Joseph (Gen. xli. 42) are all faithfully represented on the monuments; the cry abrech (Gen. xli. 43<.scripRef id="iii.lvii.cxxiv.p2.9">, E. V. margin) which was shouted by a runner appears, indeed, to have been an Assyrio-Babylonian title, but the names given in xli. 45 are clearly Egyptian. As master of the granaries, Joseph really held the place in the kingdom next after that of the Pharaoh; hence he properly calls himself (xlv. 8) Pharaoh's father, lord over his whole house, ruler of all the land of Egypt; in chap. xlii. 6 he is called "governor" over the land; the designation adhon, "lord," has even found its way into Egyptian and the title ab-en-pira'o in the sense of "counselor of the Pharaoh" occurs often in the papyri. The economic regulations promulgated by Joseph must be judged according to the standard of Egyptian conditions. The tax imposed (xli. 34) was, in the rich land of Egypt, neither hard to bear nor unusual, and the fact that the State assumed possession of all landed property, with the exception of that belonging to the priests, was a result of the centralizing tendency, more necessary and therefore more justifiable in that land than elsewhere. Two cases of this kind are given in H. Brugsch, Geschichte Aegyptens, Leipsic, 1877, pp. 130, 244 sqq., Eng. transl., London, 1879. The fact that Canaan suffered from a drought at the same time is also in accord with


natural conditions, and the Amarna Tablets record that Canaan imported corn from Egypt (cf. H. Brugsch, Die biblischen sieben Jahre der Hungersnot, Leipsic, 1891; Sayce, ut sup., pp. 217-218). Since Egypt was the great producer of wheat, the Semitic tribes in times of scarcity naturally migrated thither, where they were not seldom received with justifiable suspicion (xlii. 9). The settlement of the Hebrews in the land of Goshen (q.v.) is in accord with the conditions, since this territory had for a long time been the resort of invading Semites and was adapted to the nomadic manner of life. Finally, the embalming of Joseph and the seventy days mourning for him (l. 1 sqq.) are thoroughly Egyptian. Taking all these facts together, it is impossible to escape the conviction which Ebers expresses: "The whole of Joseph's history, even in its smallest details, must be regarded as in accord with the actual conditions in Egypt." To be sure, this general agreement with Egyptian conditions and manners does not of itself positively establish the historic character of the recital; but the assertion that the author or compiler was not familiar with Egyptian conditions is equally pure assumption. It is true that several things, especially the mention of the "Land of Rameses" (Gen. xlvii. 11), a name which could scarcely have been used before the nineteenth dynasty, make it unlikely that Joseph's story is from a nearly contemporaneous source. It seems probable that the account was written about the time of the Exodus (A. H. Sayce, ut sup., pp. 212-213).

The Date of Joseph.

The determination of the period of Egyptian history to which the Hebrew immigration belongs depends upon the relations of the Hebrews with the Hyksos. Josephus' supposition (Apion, i. 14) that this nomadic people of Semitic race was identical with the Hebrews does not agree with the modest position the Hebrews occupied in the land according to the Biblical narrative. But Joseph's activity must have fallen in the Hyksos period. The 430 (or 400) years of the Egyp tian bondage (Ex. xii. 40; Gen. xv. 13), even if the Exodus took place under Merneptah and certainly if it took place earlier, point to that period. Georgius Syncellus gives Aphophis as the name of the Pharaoh of the Exodus, that is, the Apepi of the monuments, who, according to Brugsch, reigned shortly before the beginning of the eighteenth dynasty. To this time belongs also, in the opinion of Brugsch, the famine of many years mentioned in his Geschichte Aegyptens, pp. 243 sqq. The Hyksos kings may have been as anxious to attract Semitic settlers as the first rulers of the New Empire (eighteenth dynasty) were to hold them aloof or to oppress them. The darkness, however, which enshrouds the period of the Hyksos, especially the ruthless destruction of their monuments by a later dynasty, may have obliterated all definite information of Joseph and his family. In general, in the memory of the Egyptians, this tribe was confused with the other Semitic inhabitants of the Delta, and consequently separate features of the history of Joseph and Moses appear confusedly interwoven with other events in Egyptian tradition. Among Jews and Mohammedans the tale of Joseph's fate was especially fancied, and it has been embellished with much legendary matter, especially by the Mohammedans (cf. Koran, surah xii.).


BIBLIOGRAPHY: The sources are: Gen. xxx. 22-24, xxxvii., xxxix. 1. The best condensed treatment of the subject is either the article by Driver in DB, ii. 767-775, or the article in EB, ii. 2583-2594. There is a monograph by H. G. Tomkins, Life and Times of Joseph in the Light of Egyptian Lore, London, 1891. Consult further, besides the literature mentioned in the text: E. W. Hengstenberg, Die Bücher Moses und die Aegypter, Berlin, 1841; C. von Lengerke, Kanaan, pp. 331 sqq., Königsberg, 1844; G. Ebers, Die Aegypter und die Bücher Moses, vol. i., Leipsic, 1868; A. H. Sayce, Patriarchal Palestine, pp. 200 sqq., London, 1895; W. Staerk, Studien zur Religions- und Sprachgeschichte, ii. 21 sqq., Berlin, 1899. For the bearing of research in Egypt on the Joseph story see the literature cited under Egypt. Some parallels to the story and to that of the "Two Brothers" are given in A. Lang, Myth, Ritual and Religion, ii. 303-308, London, 1887. On the general relations of archeology cf. the article by Driver in D. G. Hogarth, Authority and Archaeology, London, 1899.


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