The story of Jacob’s eleventh son is a tale of epic proportion. The firstborn of barren Rachel, Joseph was his father’s favorite child, and Jacob never hesitated to display his feelings of preference. Joseph is noted as having been an extremely handsome youth who was naive as to how his actions (and the favoritism of Jacob) affected his older brothers.

Additionally, Joseph never hesitated to share his dreams with them, which his brothers interpreted as Joseph’s desire to rule over them.

Joseph was so unaware of the impact of his behavior, that he was completely surprised when his brothers threw him in a pit and ultimately sold him to passing merchants to be enslaved in Egypt.

In Egypt, Joseph worked hard, and rapidly rose through the ranks of his owner, Potifar’s servants. But his handsome looks caught the attention of Potifar’s amoral wife. When the rest of the household went to celebrate a holiday, she tried to seduce him. Joseph refused to lie with another man’s wife, so she accused him of trying to rape her.

Joseph went to prison, where he correctly interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s butler and baker. Two years later, when Pharaoh had a dreadful nightmare, the butler told Pharaoh about the talented dream interpreter he’d met in prison. Brought to Pharaoh from prison, Joseph explained Pharaoh’s dream as a warning of famine and outlined a plan to stave off disaster.

Joseph soon became the Viceroy (Prime Minister) of Egypt. Anyone wishing to buy grain went to him. Thus, Joseph was able to intercept his brothers when they came to Egypt to buy food. Hiding his identity, Joseph insisted that his brothers not return to Egypt to buy food again without their youngest brother (and Joseph’s full brother), Benjamin. When they eventually returned with Benjamin, Joseph had his younger brother framed for theft in order to see his brothers’ reactions. When they defended Benjamin, Joseph revealed himself, offered his forgiveness and beseeched them to bring their father, Jacob, to Egypt.

When Jacob came to Egypt, he met Joseph’s wife, Osnat, and their two sons, Menashe and Ephraim.

Due to the space limitations of Jewish Treats, this is a mere outline of Joseph’s extraordinary life.

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