[b-hebrew] The Name "Joseph"

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Dec 31 14:37:22 EST 2007

Pere Porta:
You wrote:  “You are mistaken at saying that the meaning ‘gathered, added’ 
is odd.  It is not odd;  it is just the meaning of the word ‘Joseph’.”
1.  I did not mean to imply that there is anything odd or amiss concerning 
the Hebrew grammar involved in the name “Joseph”.
Rather, I am asking why Rachel would have decided to call her firstborn son a 
name that means “gathered, added”.
2.  To me, at first glance it seems odd that Rachel did not give a triumphant 
name to her firstborn son, perhaps a name that means “finally the right son”
, or “this son shall prevail”, or some other name that openly proclaims that, 
in Rachel’s opinion, Rachel’s son is Jacob’s best son.
3.  The primary meaning of the name “Joseph” seems to be “added”.  The site 
you referenced seems to suggest:  “he will cause to add”.  Why would Rachel 
give her son a name that means “added”, or “he will cause to add”, or “add”?
And why, at Joseph’s birth, does Rachel explicitly refer to “another son”?  
This is Rachel’s only son (at this point).  Why on earth is Rachel trying to 
position her only son as being just “another son”?  This newborn infant is, 
according to its mother, just “another son”, who has been “added” to the 
already large “gathering” of sons that its father, Jacob, already has:  “Joseph”.
4.  Rachel does not seem to be an understated type of individual.  Here is 
how Rachel dealt with her prior years of barrenness:
“And when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her 
sister [Leah];  and she said unto Jacob:  'Give me children, or else I die.'  And 
Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel;  and he said:  'Am I in God's stead, 
who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?'  And she said:  'Behold my 
maid Bilhah, go in unto her;  that she may bear upon my knees, and I also may 
be builded up [“sonned”] through her.'”  Genesis 30: 1-3
Yet when feisty, strong-willed Rachel actually bears a son, she explicitly 
refers to the newborn infant as being just “another son”.  And Rachel gives him 
the name “Joseph”, meaning that this newborn infant has now been “added” to 
the already large “gathering” of Jacob’s many other sons.  The name “Joseph”
 means “gathered, added”, and on top of that, Rachel refers to Joseph as 
being just “another son”.  Why?  Why is Rachel acting this way?  Why does Rachel 
give her firstborn son the name “Joseph”?
5.  It is my opinion that if we can understand the rational reasons why 
Rachel shrewdly chose to call her firstborn son “Joseph”, meaning “gathered, added”
, and why she makes a point of referring to her firstborn son as just “
another son”, we will understand much of the mindset of the Patriarchal narratives.
If we pay close attention to the explicit puns on the names of Jacob’s sons, 
we can figure out what is going in the Patriarchal narratives.  Rachel is very 
smart, in my opinion, and she is obviously aggressive.  Naturally, Rachel 
loves her firstborn son, and certainly one would think that Rachel wants her 
blood son to be the winner.  Why then does Rachel call her firstborn son an 
unassuming  (if not “odd”) name that means “gathered, added”?
That is the topic that we are exploring on this thread.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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