[b-hebrew] The Name "Joseph"

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Jan 3 09:57:07 EST 2008

Here is the second level of meaning of the name “Joseph”.  As always, the 
name “Joseph” means what it is explicitly stated to mean at Genesis 30: 23-24:  
“gathered, added”.
2.  Level #2:  This Son’s Most Important Action Later in Life
The most dramatic thing that Joseph does is to “gather” all the grain in 
Egypt from the 7 feast years, and “add” it to a huge stockpile of grain in 
Egypt, so that Egypt can feed the entire world during the 7 famine years.  “
Gathered, added.”
Though that story is doubtless an exaggeration, that is what the text says:
“And he gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of 
Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities;  the food of the field, which was 
round about every city, laid he up in the same.  …And the famine was over all 
the face of the earth;  and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto 
the Egyptians;  and the famine was sore in the land of Egypt.  And all 
countries came into Egypt to Joseph to buy corn; because the famine was sore in all 
the earth.”   Genesis 41: 48, 56-57
Joseph heroically saves the Hebrews in particular, and the whole world in 
general, or at least both the Egyptians and many foreigners, from starving to 
death in a terrible 7-year famine.  Joseph accomplished that heroic feat by “
gathering” Egypt’s grain during the 7 feast years and “adding” it to Egypt’s 
huge storehouses of grain, to be doled out wisely by Joseph as Pharaoh’s vizier 
during the 7 famine years.
(Are these puns nifty or what?)
*       *       *
But if the meaning of “Joseph” ended at Level #2, something huge would be 
missing.  Why isn’t Joseph named the leader of the next generation of the new 
monotheists?  Joseph is the firstborn son of Jacob’s favorite main wife 
(Rachel).  Joseph is Jacob’s favorite son (who alone receives the “coat of many colors
”).  Joseph seems to have by far the most individual merit of all 12 of Jacob’
s sons, based on the facts that Joseph runs the country of Egypt and saves 
the world from starvation.  Yet in the end, Jacob will pick Judah, not Jacob’s 
favorite son Joseph, to be the leader of the next generation of monotheists.  
Why?  And is the key clue to understanding this key issue right there in the 
explicit puns on the name “Joseph”?
Why did Rachel give her firstborn son the peculiar name “Joseph”, which 
means “gathered, added”, with the accent on “added”?
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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