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Joseph (/ˈdʒoʊzɪf, -sɪf/; Hebrew: יוֹסֵף meaning "Increase", Standard Hebrew Yosef, Tiberian Yôsēp̄; Arabic: يوسف Yūsuf or Yūsif; Ancient Greek: Ἰωσήφ Iōsēph) (died 1444 or 1445 BC) is an important figure in the Bible's Book of Genesis. He had twelve brethren.
Book of Genesis
- And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
- And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.
And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?
False Accusation of Rape by Potiphar's wife
- And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and, having him, he knew not aught save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was of beautiful form, and fair to look upon. And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said: 'Lie with me.' But he refused, and said unto his master's wife: 'Behold, my master, having me, knoweth not what is in the house, and he hath put all that he hath into my hand; he is not greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?' And it came to pass, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. And it came to pass on a certain day, when he went into the house to do his work, and there was none of the men of the house there within, that she caught him by his garment, saying: 'Lie with me.' And he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. [...] And she laid up his garment by her, until his master came home. And she spoke unto him according to these words, saying: 'The Hebrew servant, whom thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me. And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment by me, and fled out.' And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke unto him, saying: 'After this manner did thy servant to me'; that his wrath was kindled. And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, the place where the king's prisoners were bound; and he was there in the prison.
- When Joseph said to his father: O my father, I saw eleven stars and the sun and the moon -- I saw them making obeisance to me.
He said: O my son, relate not thy dream to thy brethren, lest they devise a plan against thee. The devil indeed is an open enemy to man.
- Surah Yusuf, Verse 4-5
Legends of the Jews
- Zuleika saying, "If it be thy wish that I forsake idol worship, then fulfil my desire, and I will persuade that Egyptian husband of mine to abjure the idols, and we shall walk in the law of thy God."
Joseph replied, "The Lord desireth not that those who fear Him shall walk in impurity, nor hath He pleasure in the adulterer."
- Another time she came to him, and said, "If thou wilt not do my desire, I will murder the Egyptian and wed with thee according to the law."
Whereat Joseph rent his garment, and he said, "O woman, fear the Lord, and do not execute this evil deed, that thou mayest not bring destruction down upon thyself, for I will proclaim thy impious purposes to all in public."
- His mistress, or, as she was called, Zuleika, pursued him day after day with her amorous talk and her flattery, saying: "How fair is thy appearance, how comely thy form! Never have I seen so well-favored a slave as thou art."
Joseph would reply: "God, who formed me in my mother's womb, hath created all men."
Zuleika: "How beautiful are thine eyes, with which thou hast charmed all Egyptians, both men and women!"
Joseph: "Beautiful as they may be while I am alive, so ghastly they will be to look upon in the grave."
Zuleika: "How lovely and pleasant are thy words! I pray thee, take thy harp, play and also sing, that I may hear thy words."
Joseph: "Lovely and pleasant are my words when I proclaim the praise of my God."
- She would say, "I will bring false accusations against thee before thy master,"
and Joseph would reply, "The Lord executeth judgment for the oppressed."
Or, "I will deprive thee of food;"
whereupon Joseph, "The Lord giveth food to the hungry."
Or, "I will have thee thrown into prison;"
whereupon Joseph, "The Lord looseth the prisoners."
Or, "I will put heavy labor upon thee that will bend thee double;"
whereupon Joseph, "The Lord raiseth up them that are bowed down."
Or, "I will blind thine eyes;"
whereupon Joseph, "The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind."
- Joseph said: "Though thou coverest up the eyes of the idol, remember, the eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the whole earth. Yes," continued Joseph, "I have many reasons not to do this thing for the sake of God. Adam was banished from Paradise on account of violating a light command; how much more should I have to fear the punishment of God, were I to commit so grave a sin as adultery! The Lord is in the habit of choosing a favorite member of our family as a sacrifice unto Himself. Perhaps He desireth to make choice of me, but if I do thy will, I make myself unfit to be a sacrifice unto God. Also the Lord is in the habit of appearing suddenly, in visions of the night, unto those that love Him. Thus did He appear unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I fear that He may appear unto me at the very moment while I am defiling myself with thee. And as I fear God, so I fear my father, who withdrew the birthright from his first-born son Reuben, on account of an immoral act, and gave it to me. Were I to fulfil thy desire, I would share the fate of my brother Reuben."
- she said to Joseph: "Why dost thou refuse to fulfil my wish? Am I not a married woman? None will find out what thou hast done."
Joseph replied: "If the unmarried women of the heathen are prohibited unto us, how much more their married women? As the Lord liveth, I will not commit the crime thou biddest me do."
- When he was on the point of complying with the wish of his mistress, the image of his mother Rachel appeared before him, and that of his aunt Leah, and the image of his father Jacob. The last addressed him thus: "In time to come the names of thy brethren will be graven upon the breastplate of the high priest. Dost thou desire to have thy name appear with theirs? Or wilt thou forfeit this honor through sinful conduct? For know, he that keepeth company with harlots wasteth his substance."
Astonished at the swift change in his countenance, Zuleika said, "My friend and true-love, why art thou so affrighted that thou art near to swooning?
Joseph: "I see my father!"
Zuleika: "Where is he? Why, there is none in the house."
Joseph: "Thou belongest to a people that is like unto the ass, it perceiveth nothing. But I belong to those who can see things."
- By way of punishment for having traduced his ten brethren before his father, Joseph had to languish for ten years in the prison to which the wiles of traducers had in turn condemned him. But, on the other hand, as he had sanctified the Name of God before the world by his chastity and his steadfastness, he was rewarded. The letter He, which occurs twice in the Name of God, was added to his name. He had been called Joseph, but now he was called also Jehoseph.
- "This and that outrage have I executed against thee, but, as thou livest, I will put yet other outrages upon thee if thou dost not obey me."
But Joseph replied, "The Lord executeth judgment for the oppressed."
Zuleika: "I will push matters so far that all men will hate thee."
Joseph: "The Lord loveth the righteous."
Zuleika: "I will sell thee into a strange land."
Joseph: "The Lord preserveth the strangers."
- Then she would resort to enticements in order to obtain her desire. She would promise to release him from prison, if he would but grant her wish. But he would say, "Better it is to remain here than be with thee and commit a trespass against God."
Quotes about Joseph
Muhammad (Prophet of Islam)
Narrated Abu Hurairah
- Some people asked the Prophet: "Who is the most honorable amongst the people?" He replied, "The most honorable among them is the one who is the most Allah-fearing." They said, "O Prophet of Allah! We do not ask about this." He said, "Then the most honorable person is Yusuf, Nabiyyullah (Arabic: نَـبِيُّ الله, Prophet of Allah), the son of a Nabiyyillah, the son of a Nabiyyillah, the son of Khalilillah (Arabic: خَـلـيـلِ الله, "Friend of Allah")."
- Sahih al-Bukhari collected by Imam Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 55, Hadith No. 572