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A Brief Overview Of The Life Of Joseph

by Rik Charbonneaux  
7/22/2017 / Christian Living

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20 NIV

If you have heard of and wondered about the God of the Jews and Christians, you might really enjoy hearing about Joseph, a man whose life was filled with both undesirable and wonderful circumstances, but who always remained faithful to God. If you are just not very likely to read the Bible at all, please take the time to read the following brief topic about Joseph and of how God worked through him all of his life. If you might be interested in reading more about Joseph, read of him in the Book of Genesis of the Holy Bible.

Joseph - Chosen by God to save many, including the House of Israel.

Joseph was the first son of Patriarch Jacob and his wife Rachel and the eleventh of twelve brothers. He was not well liked by his brothers after he revealed his two dreams to them that basically indicated he was superior to them. Adding insult to injury was the gift of a multi-colored coat to Joseph from his father which further indicated to the brothers that their father seemed to always favor Joseph. They looked for a way to rid themselves of Joseph and they ended up throwing him down into a cistern and then sold him to a caravan of merchants as a slave, who took him away. To cover their crime, they put goat's blood on Joseph's multi-colored coat and told his father that wild beasts had killed Joseph, showing Jacob the bloody coat. This would be the first of many unjust actions taken against Joseph that had a specific purpose to later enable a specific outcome.

Joseph ended up being sold in Egypt to a man named Potiphar, who was the captain of the guard that protected the Pharaoh of Egypt. As Joseph matured, he became personal servant to the captain and then became the manager of the household. He was then falsely accursed by Potiphar's wife of having sexually assaulting her, a charge which lead to his being unjustly imprisoned. His ability to organize and administrate enabled him to later be put in charge of the other prisoners by the prison warden. While in this capacity, Joseph was able to interrupt the dreams of two of Pharaoh's servants who had been sent to prison for offending the ruler. Joseph was able to determine that the chief cup-bearer was innocent of any wrong doing, but the chief baker was guilty of the charges. Before the cup-bearer was returned to service, Joseph asked him to directly tell the Pharaoh how Joseph had interpreted these dreams and get him released from the prison. The chief baker was hanged and the chief cup-bearer promptly forgot all about Joseph until two years later when Pharaoh had a remarkable dream that no one else could interpret. Remembering Joseph's ability with interpreting the cup-bearer's dreams earlier, he told the ruler about Joseph.

Pharaoh's dream that no one could interpret was about seven skinny cattle eating seven fat cattle and about seven shriveled ears of grain eating seven fat ones. When Joseph was realized from prison and brought before the ruler, Joseph interpreted the dream as being seven years of great harvest followed by seven years of famine, and told the ruler that Egypt should store up any surplus grain from the good years to offset the famine that would be caused by the lean years to follow. Again Joseph's strong organizational skills came to the forefront as the ruler appointed him to the title of Vizier and given charge of doing this huge grain storage and management effort. He would make sure that all grain storage facilities were full, with contents weighed and recorded. Through the later seven bad years, people from the surrounding countries would come to Egypt to buy surplus grain from Joseph. Most Egyptians ended up trading their properties to the government for grain to eat and Joseph set an official mandate that any crops now harvested on this now "government" ground would have one-fifth of the total crop sent directly to Pharaoh. It was during the period of plenty and then famine that Joseph was given the name Zaphnath-Paaneah and also when he took a wife named Asenath, the daughter of an Egyptian priest, who would give him two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.

In the second year of the lean period, local famine motivated Jacob to send his sons to Egypt to buy grain. They had to appear before the Vizier like everyone else, but they did not recognize their brother Joseph. Joseph, knowing who they were, accused them of being spies and asked how many more were there of them. When they told him of a younger brother Benjamin still at home. The Vizier ordered them to bring their brother Benjamin as a sign of their not being spies and then had his brothers sent to jail for three days to think about it. When he had the brought back before him, he held his brother Simeon hostage and listened to the brothers speaking among themselves, not knowing Joseph understood the Hebrew language. They were talking about how they had treated their own brother Joseph so long ago and that they did not want to leave Simeon, but they had no choice. Joseph sent them on their way with the needed grain and seven hid the Jacob's payment money in the grain.

When Jacob was told about the money returning with them and of how the Vizier wanted Benjamin to return with them to Egypt, Jacob was broken-hearted. He had already lost his son Joseph and his wife Rachel when she died giving birth to Benjamin. He did not want to lose Benjamin too. When all of the grain had been eaten, Jacob consented that his sons take Benjamin with them to Egypt with a double measure of money to buy more grain and to make up for any mistake concerning the original money. Upon arriving in Egypt with Benjamin, the brothers were taken directly to the house of the Vizier. Because of the money that was found in the bags of the first grain they returned home with, they were afraid that they were going to be accused of stealing and told the household manager this. He told them not to fear about that and led them into see the Vizier. When Joseph saw his brother Benjamin he could hardly contain himself, but was able to continue the masquerade and offered them a meal.

Joseph ordered his household manager to load all of his brothers donkeys with grain that also had all of the money hidden in it that they had brought with them from Jacob to buy more grain. He also put a silver cup in one of Benjamin's grain bags. After the brothers had started home, Joseph had his manager go after the party and ask them about them missing cup, then searched and found it in Benjamin's bag. The brothers agreed to return to answer for this to the Vizier and when they were being questioned by Joseph, he told them that Benjamin would have to become his slave for stealing the silver cup. His brother Judah offered to take Benjamin's place as being the slave because losing Benjamin would break his father's heart. Joseph would no longer contain his emotions and revealed to them that he was their brother Joseph. The brothers were stunned and feared for their lives, but Joseph told them not to fear from him. He told them what they had done to him long ago was meant by God to produce good for others and for his family. He then told his brothers to return home and bring his father Jacob and his entire household of seventy people to Egypt, and gave them all they needed to do this. When they returned and were directed to the providence of Goshen, Joseph meet them there. Both father and son were overjoyed at seeing each other again after twenty years and later, even the Pharaoh would honor Jacob as being the father of his great administrator Joseph.

Jacob's [Israel] household increased in wealth, possession and people while living in Goshen and when Jacob was near blind and close to death he asked Joseph to promise to bury him in Canaan after he died and he also wanted to bless all of his sons and also to bless the two sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim so that these two would also be heirs included in the House of Israel. When Israel died, Joseph saw that he was buried in Canaan as he had promised. With the death of their father, Joseph's brothers were afraid that Joseph would take revenge upon them for what they had done to him earlier. Joseph told them that they had nothing to fear from him as what they had done to him was for Gods purpose that he fed and many through the famine, including his own family. When Joseph himself died at the age of 110 years, he made all of the House of Israel swear to bury him in the land to where they would someday be going. When God provided for them to leave Egypt during the Exodus, Moses took Joseph's bone with him and they were buried at Shechem, in the land of the Tribe of Ephraim, of the House of Joseph.

In conclusion, Joseph was a man who suffered greatly, was unjustly treated and was abandoned and forgotten. Through it all, he never lost his faith in God to protect him and bring him through all trials with the patience and skills God gave him. He knew that God had a purpose for him and had confidence in his God that this purpose would be accomplished so as to save many from famine, including his own family, the House of Israel.


Rik Charbonneaux is a retired NE Iowan who loves all of God's creatures.

Article Source: WRITERS

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