Joseph was the eleventh of the twelve sons of Jacob, later named Israel. He was Rachel’s first born in a dysfunctional, nomadic family of four wives (two of which were maids). This favored son, even as a young teenager had the sense of right and wrong, honesty and bold frankness. This boldness got him into deep trouble after sharing his odd but compelling dreams that his brothers and parents would one day bow down to him in authority.
Good Man Done Wrong
As his story unfolds he is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and is transported to Egypt. We are twice told that “the Lord was with Joseph” – once when he gains the trust of his master, Potiphar” and then again after he is cast into prison with slanderous false accusations by Potiphar’s wife. Joseph is given success (“the Lord caused all he did to prosper in his hand” – Gen. 39:3), as well as love and human favor (“the Lord showed him steadfast love, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” – Gen. 39:21).
In addition to being a good and righteous young man, Joseph was amazingly patient, steadfast and forgiving. Over these roller-coaster years, Joseph could hardly have known that God was orchestrating circumstances which would make possible the fulfillment of his dreams. He stayed in Potiphar’s house and in prison for 13 years. We know that he was in prison for at least 2 years – scripture tells us he stayed in prison 2 years after his successful dreams interpretation of the chief butler and baker (Gen. 41:1).
His God-led interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream is what catapults him from prisoner to second-in-command over all the land of Egypt. He was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Gen 41:46). An incredible ride of fortune and righteousness further played out in his revelation to his brothers and father after over 20 years since they had last seen him.
The Lord blessed Joseph further until his death at age 110 (Gen. 50:26). His extended 70-member family who arrived into Egypt would eventually become, after 400 years, the Hebrews (Israel) enslaved by a later Pharaoh and delivered by another patient and righteous man. Read the story of Moses in Exodus.
Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers…and Joseph brought an ill report of them to their father. (Genesis 37:2)