white. (1.) The son of Bethuel, who was the son of Nahor,
Abraham's brother. He lived at Haran in Mesopotamia. His sister
Rebekah was Isaac's wife (Gen. 24). Jacob, one of the sons of
this marriage, fled to the house of Laban, whose daughters Leah
and Rachel (ch. 29) he eventually married. (See JACOB
(2.) A city in the Arabian desert in the route of the
Israelites (Deut. 1:1), probably identical with Libnah (Num.
weary, the eldest daughter of Laban, and sister of Rachel (Gen.
29:16). Jacob took her to wife through a deceit of her father
(Gen. 29:23). She was "tender-eyed" (17). She bore to Jacob six
sons (32-35), also one daughter, Dinah (30:21). She accompanied
Jacob into Canaan, and died there before the time of the going
down into Egypt (Gen. 31), and was buried in the cave of
ewe, "the daughter", "the somewhat petulant, peevish, and
self-willed though beautiful younger daughter" of Laban, and one
of Jacob's wives (Gen. 29:6, 28). He served Laban fourteen years
for her, so deep was Jacob's affection for her. She was the
mother of Joseph (Gen. 30:22-24). Afterwards, on Jacob's
departure from Mesopotamia, she took with her her father's
teraphim (31:34, 35). As they journeyed on from Bethel, Rachel
died in giving birth to Benjamin (35:18, 19), and was buried "in
the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar
upon her grave". Her sepulchre is still regarded with great
veneration by the Jews. Its traditional site is about half a
mile from Jerusalem.
This name is used poetically by Jeremiah (31:15-17) to denote
God's people mourning under their calamities. This passage is
also quoted by Matthew as fulfilled in the lamentation at
Bethlehem on account of the slaughter of the infants there at
the command of Herod (Matt. 2:17, 18).
the art of, was early practised among all nations. Various
materials seem to have been employed by the potter. Earthenware
is mentioned in connection with the history of Melchizedek (Gen.
14:18), of Abraham (18:4-8), of Rebekah (27:14), of Rachel
(29:2, 3, 8, 10). The potter's wheel is mentioned by Jeremiah
(18:3). See also 1 Chr. 4:23; Ps. 2:9; Isa. 45:9; 64:8; Jer.
19:1; Lam. 4:2; Zech. 11:13; Rom. 9:21.
house of bread. (1.) A city in the "hill country" of Judah. It
was originally called Ephrath (Gen. 35:16, 19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11).
It was also called Beth-lehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2),
Beth-lehem-judah (1 Sam. 17:12), and "the city of David" (Luke
2:4). It is first noticed in Scripture as the place where Rachel
died and was buried "by the wayside," directly to the north of
the city (Gen. 48:7). The valley to the east was the scene of
the story of Ruth the Moabitess. There are the fields in which
she gleaned, and the path by which she and Naomi returned to the
town. Here was David's birth-place, and here also, in after
years, he was anointed as king by Samuel (1 Sam. 16:4-13); and
it was from the well of Bethlehem that three of his heroes
brought water for him at the risk of their lives when he was in
the cave of Adullam (2 Sam. 23:13-17). But it was distinguished
above every other city as the birth-place of "Him whose goings
forth have been of old" (Matt. 2:6; comp. Micah 5:2). Afterwards
Herod, "when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men," sent
and slew "all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all
the coasts thereof, from two years old and under" (Matt. 2:16,
18; Jer. 31:15).
Bethlehem bears the modern name of Beit-Lahm, i.e., "house of
flesh." It is about 5 miles south of Jerusalem, standing at an
elevation of about 2,550 feet above the sea, thus 100 feet
higher than Jerusalem.
There is a church still existing, built by Constantine the
Great (A.D. 330), called the "Church of the Nativity," over a
grotto or cave called the "holy crypt," and said to be the
"stable" in which Jesus was born. This is perhaps the oldest
existing Christian church in the world. Close to it is another
grotto, where Jerome the Latin father is said to have spent
thirty years of his life in translating the Scriptures into
Latin. (See VERSION ¯T0003768.)
(2.) A city of Zebulun, mentioned only in Josh. 19:15. Now
Beit-Lahm, a ruined village about 6 miles west-north-west of
a mountain of Samaria, about 3,000 feet above the Mediterranean.
It was on the left of the valley containing the ancient town of
Shechem (q.v.), on the way to Jerusalem. It stood over against
Mount Ebal, the summits of these mountains being distant from
each other about 2 miles (Deut. 27; Josh. 8:30-35). On the
slopes of this mountain the tribes descended from the handmaids
of Leah and Rachel, together with the tribe of Reuben, were
gathered together, and gave the responses to the blessing
pronounced as the reward of obedience, when Joshua in the valley
below read the whole law in the hearing of all the people; as
those gathered on Ebal responded with a loud Amen to the
rehearsal of the curses pronounced on the disobedient. It was
probably at this time that the coffin containing the embalmed
body of Joseph was laid in the "parcel of ground which Jacob
bought of the sons of Hamor" (Gen. 33:19; 50:25).
Josephus relates (Ant. 11:8, 2-4) that Sanballat built a
temple for the Samaritans on this mountain, and instituted a
priesthood, as rivals to those of the Jews at Jerusalem. This
temple was destroyed after it had stood two hundred years. It
was afterwards rebuilt by Herod the Great. There is a Samaritan
tradition that it was the scene of the incident recorded in Gen.
22. There are many ruins on this mountain, some of which are
evidently of Christian buildings. To this mountain the woman of
Sychar referred in John 4:20. For centuries Gerizim was the
centre of political outbreaks. The Samaritans (q.v.), a small
but united body, still linger here, and keep up their ancient
(Matt. 2:18), the Greek form of Ramah. (1.) A city first
mentioned in Josh. 18:25, near Gibeah of Benjamin. It was
fortified by Baasha, king of Israel (1 Kings 15:17-22; 2 Chr.
16:1-6). Asa, king of Judah, employed Benhadad the Syrian king
to drive Baasha from this city (1 Kings 15:18, 20). Isaiah
(10:29) refers to it, and also Jeremiah, who was once a prisoner
there among the other captives of Jerusalem when it was taken by
Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 39:8-12; 40:1). Rachel, whose tomb lies
close to Bethlehem, is represented as weeping in Ramah (Jer.
31:15) for her slaughtered children. This prophecy is
illustrated and fulfilled in the re-awakening of Rachel's grief
at the slaughter of the infants in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:18). It is
identified with the modern village of er-Ram, between Gibeon and
Beeroth, about 5 miles due north of Jerusalem. (See SAMUEL
(2.) A town identified with Rameh, on the border of Asher,
about 13 miles south-east of Tyre, "on a solitary hill in the
midst of a basin of green fields" (Josh. 19:29).
(3.) One of the "fenced cities" of Naphtali (Josh. 19:36), on
a mountain slope, about seven and a half miles west-south-west
of Safed, and 15 miles west of the north end of the Sea of
Galilee, the present large and well-built village of Rameh.
(4.) The same as Ramathaim-zophim (q.v.), a town of Mount
Ephraim (1 Sam. 1:1, 19).
(5.) The same as Ramoth-gilead (q.v.), 2 Kings 8:29; 2 Chr.
son of my right hand. (1.) The younger son of Jacob by Rachel
(Gen. 35:18). His birth took place at Ephrath, on the road
between Bethel and Bethlehem, at a short distance from the
latter place. His mother died in giving him birth, and with her
last breath named him Ben-oni, son of my pain, a name which was
changed by his father into Benjamin. His posterity are called
Benjamites (Gen. 49:27; Deut. 33:12; Josh. 18:21).
The tribe of Benjamin at the Exodus was the smallest but one
(Num. 1:36, 37; Ps. 68:27). During the march its place was along
with Manasseh and Ephraim on the west of the tabernacle. At the
entrance into Canaan it counted 45,600 warriors. It has been
inferred by some from the words of Jacob (Gen. 49:27) that the
figure of a wolf was on the tribal standard. This tribe is
mentioned in Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3:5.
The inheritance of this tribe lay immediately to the south of
that of Ephraim, and was about 26 miles in length and 12 in
breadth. Its eastern boundary was the Jordan. Dan intervened
between it and the Philistines. Its chief towns are named in
The history of the tribe contains a sad record of a desolating
civil war in which they were engaged with the other eleven
tribes. By it they were almost exterminated (Judg. 20:20, 21;
21:10). (See GIBEAH ¯T0001476.)
The first king of the Jews was Saul, a Benjamite. A close
alliance was formed between this tribe and that of Judah in the
time of David (2 Sam. 19:16, 17), which continued after his
death (1 Kings 11:13; 12:20). After the Exile these two tribes
formed the great body of the Jewish nation (Ezra 1:5; 10:9).
The tribe of Benjamin was famous for its archers (1 Sam.
20:20, 36; 2 Sam. 1:22; 1 Chr. 8:40; 12:2) and slingers (Judge.
The gate of Benjamin, on the north side of Jerusalem (Jer.
37:13; 38:7; Zech. 14:10), was so called because it led in the
direction of the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. It is
called by Jeremiah (20:2) "the high gate of Benjamin;" also "the
gate of the children of the people" (17:19). (Comp. 2 Kings
one who follows on another's heels; supplanter, (Gen. 25:26;
27:36; Hos. 12:2-4), the second born of the twin sons of Isaac
by Rebekah. He was born probably at Lahai-roi, when his father
was fifty-nine and Abraham one hundred and fifty-nine years old.
Like his father, he was of a quiet and gentle disposition, and
when he grew up followed the life of a shepherd, while his
brother Esau became an enterprising hunter. His dealing with
Esau, however, showed much mean selfishness and cunning (Gen.
When Isaac was about 160 years of age, Jacob and his mother
conspired to deceive the aged patriarch (Gen. 27), with the view
of procuring the transfer of the birthright to himself. The
birthright secured to him who possessed it (1) superior rank in
his family (Gen. 49:3); (2) a double portion of the paternal
inheritance (Deut. 21:17); (3) the priestly office in the family
(Num. 8:17-19); and (4) the promise of the Seed in which all
nations of the earth were to be blessed (Gen. 22:18).
Soon after his acquisition of his father's blessing (Gen. 27),
Jacob became conscious of his guilt; and afraid of the anger of
Esau, at the suggestion of Rebekah Isaac sent him away to Haran,
400 miles or more, to find a wife among his cousins, the family
of Laban, the Syrian (28). There he met with Rachel (29). Laban
would not consent to give him his daughter in marriage till he
had served seven years; but to Jacob these years "seemed but a
few days, for the love he had to her." But when the seven years
were expired, Laban craftily deceived Jacob, and gave him his
daughter Leah. Other seven years of service had to be completed
probably before he obtained the beloved Rachel. But "life-long
sorrow, disgrace, and trials, in the retributive providence of
God, followed as a consequence of this double union."
At the close of the fourteen years of service, Jacob desired
to return to his parents, but at the entreaty of Laban he
tarried yet six years with him, tending his flocks (31:41). He
then set out with his family and property "to go to Isaac his
father in the land of Canaan" (Gen. 31). Laban was angry when he
heard that Jacob had set out on his journey, and pursued after
him, overtaking him in seven days. The meeting was of a painful
kind. After much recrimination and reproach directed against
Jacob, Laban is at length pacified, and taking an affectionate
farewell of his daughters, returns to his home in Padanaram. And
now all connection of the Israelites with Mesopotamia is at an
Soon after parting with Laban he is met by a company of
angels, as if to greet him on his return and welcome him back to
the Land of Promise (32:1, 2). He called the name of the place
Mahanaim, i.e., "the double camp," probably his own camp and
that of the angels. The vision of angels was the counterpart of
that he had formerly seen at Bethel, when, twenty years before,
the weary, solitary traveller, on his way to Padan-aram, saw the
angels of God ascending and descending on the ladder whose top
reached to heaven (28:12).
He now hears with dismay of the approach of his brother Esau
with a band of 400 men to meet him. In great agony of mind he
prepares for the worst. He feels that he must now depend only on
God, and he betakes himself to him in earnest prayer, and sends
on before him a munificent present to Esau, "a present to my
lord Esau from thy servant Jacob." Jacob's family were then
transported across the Jabbok; but he himself remained behind,
spending the night in communion with God. While thus engaged,
there appeared one in the form of a man who wrestled with him.
In this mysterious contest Jacob prevailed, and as a memorial of
it his name was changed to Israel (wrestler with God); and the
place where this occured he called Peniel, "for", said he, "I
have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved"
After this anxious night, Jacob went on his way, halting,
mysteriously weakened by the conflict, but strong in the
assurance of the divine favour. Esau came forth and met him; but
his spirit of revenge was appeased, and the brothers met as
friends, and during the remainder of their lives they maintained
friendly relations. After a brief sojourn at Succoth, Jacob
moved forward and pitched his tent near Shechem (q.v.), 33:18;
but at length, under divine directions, he moved to Bethel,
where he made an altar unto God (35:6,7), and where God appeared
to him and renewed the Abrahamic covenant. While journeying from
Bethel to Ephrath (the Canaanitish name of Bethlehem), Rachel
died in giving birth to her second son Benjamin (35:16-20),
fifteen or sixteen years after the birth of Joseph. He then
reached the old family residence at Mamre, to wait on the dying
bed of his father Isaac. The complete reconciliation between
Esau and Jacob was shown by their uniting in the burial of the
Jacob was soon after this deeply grieved by the loss of his
beloved son Joseph through the jealousy of his brothers (37:33).
Then follows the story of the famine, and the successive goings
down into Egypt to buy corn (42), which led to the discovery of
the long-lost Joseph, and the patriarch's going down with all
his household, numbering about seventy souls (Ex. 1:5; Deut.
10:22; Acts 7:14), to sojourn in the land of Goshen. Here Jacob,
"after being strangely tossed about on a very rough ocean, found
at last a tranquil harbour, where all the best affections of his
nature were gently exercised and largely unfolded" (Gen. 48). At
length the end of his checkered course draws nigh, and he
summons his sons to his bedside that he may bless them. Among
his last words he repeats the story of Rachel's death, although
forty years had passed away since that event took place, as
tenderly as if it had happened only yesterday; and when "he had
made an end of charging his sons, he gathered up his feet into
the bed, and yielded up the ghost" (49:33). His body was
embalmed and carried with great pomp into the land of Canaan,
and buried beside his wife Leah in the cave of Machpelah,
according to his dying charge. There, probably, his embalmed
body remains to this day (50:1-13). (See HEBRON ¯T0001712.)
The history of Jacob is referred to by the prophets Hosea
(12:3, 4, 12) and Malachi (1:2). In Micah 1:5 the name is a
poetic synonym for Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes. There
are, besides the mention of his name along with those of the
other patriarchs, distinct references to events of his life in
Paul's epistles (Rom. 9:11-13; Heb. 12:16; 11:21). See
references to his vision at Bethel and his possession of land at
Shechem in John 1:51; 4:5, 12; also to the famine which was the
occasion of his going down into Egypt in Acts 7:12 (See LUZ
¯T0002335; BETHEL ¯T0000554.)
abounded in the Holy Land. To the rearing and management of them
the inhabitants chiefly devoted themselves (Deut. 8:13; 12:21; 1
Sam. 11:5; 12:3; Ps. 144:14; Jer. 3:24). They may be classified
(1.) Neat cattle. Many hundreds of these were yearly consumed
in sacrifices or used for food. The finest herds were found in
Bashan, beyond Jordan (Num. 32:4). Large herds also pastured on
the wide fertile plains of Sharon. They were yoked to the plough
(1 Kings 19:19), and were employed for carrying burdens (1 Chr.
12:40). They were driven with a pointed rod (Judg. 3:31) or goad
According to the Mosaic law, the mouths of cattle employed for
the threshing-floor were not to be muzzled, so as to prevent
them from eating of the provender over which they trampled
(Deut. 25:4). Whosoever stole and sold or slaughtered an ox must
give five in satisfaction (Ex. 22:1); but if it was found alive
in the possession of him who stole it, he was required to make
double restitution only (22:4). If an ox went astray, whoever
found it was required to bring it back to its owner (23:4; Deut.
22:1, 4). An ox and an ass could not be yoked together in the
plough (Deut. 22:10).
(2.) Small cattle. Next to herds of neat cattle, sheep formed
the most important of the possessions of the inhabitants of
Israel (Gen. 12:16; 13:5; 26:14; 21:27; 29:2, 3). They are
frequently mentioned among the booty taken in war (Num. 31:32;
Josh. 6:21; 1 Sam. 14:32; 15:3). There were many who were owners
of large flocks (1 Sam. 25:2; 2 Sam. 12:2, comp. Job 1:3). Kings
also had shepherds "over their flocks" (1 Chr. 27:31), from
which they derived a large portion of their revenue (2 Sam.
17:29; 1 Chr. 12:40). The districts most famous for their flocks
of sheep were the plain of Sharon (Isa. 65: 10), Mount Carmel
(Micah 7:14), Bashan and Gilead (Micah 7:14). In patriarchal
times the flocks of sheep were sometimes tended by the daughters
of the owners. Thus Rachel, the daughter of Laban, kept her
father's sheep (Gen. 29:9); as also Zipporah and her six sisters
had charge of their father Jethro's flocks (Ex. 2:16). Sometimes
they were kept by hired shepherds (John 10:12), and sometimes by
the sons of the family (1 Sam. 16:11; 17:15). The keepers so
familiarized their sheep with their voices that they knew them,
and followed them at their call. Sheep, but more especially rams
and lambs, were frequently offered in sacrifice. The shearing of
sheep was a great festive occasion (1 Sam. 25:4; 2 Sam. 13:23).
They were folded at night, and guarded by their keepers against
the attacks of the lion (Micah 5:8), the bear (1 Sam. 17:34),
and the wolf (Matt. 10:16; John 10:12). They were liable to
wander over the wide pastures and go astray (Ps. 119:176; Isa.
53:6; Hos. 4:16; Matt. 18:12).
Goats also formed a part of the pastoral wealth of Israel
(Gen. 15:9; 32:14; 37:31). They were used both for sacrifice and
for food (Deut. 14:4), especially the young males (Gen. 27:9,
14, 17; Judg. 6:19; 13:15; 1 Sam. 16:20). Goat's hair was used
for making tent cloth (Ex. 26:7; 36:14), and for mattresses and
bedding (1 Sam. 19:13, 16). (See GOAT ¯T0001509.)
image-worship or divine honour paid to any created object. Paul
describes the origin of idolatry in Rom. 1:21-25: men forsook
God, and sank into ignorance and moral corruption (1:28).
The forms of idolatry are, (1.) Fetishism, or the worship of
trees, rivers, hills, stones, etc.
(2.) Nature worship, the worship of the sun, moon, and stars,
as the supposed powers of nature.
(3.) Hero worship, the worship of deceased ancestors, or of
In Scripture, idolatry is regarded as of heathen origin, and
as being imported among the Hebrews through contact with heathen
nations. The first allusion to idolatry is in the account of
Rachel stealing her father's teraphim (Gen. 31:19), which were
the relics of the worship of other gods by Laban's progenitors
"on the other side of the river in old time" (Josh. 24:2).
During their long residence in Egypt the Hebrews fell into
idolatry, and it was long before they were delivered from it
(Josh. 24:14; Ezek. 20:7). Many a token of God's displeasure
fell upon them because of this sin.
The idolatry learned in Egypt was probably rooted out from
among the people during the forty years' wanderings; but when
the Jews entered Israel, they came into contact with the
monuments and associations of the idolatry of the old
Canaanitish races, and showed a constant tendency to depart from
the living God and follow the idolatrous practices of those
heathen nations. It was their great national sin, which was only
effectually rebuked by the Babylonian exile. That exile finally
purified the Jews of all idolatrous tendencies.
The first and second commandments are directed against
idolatry of every form. Individuals and communities were equally
amenable to the rigorous code. The individual offender was
devoted to destruction (Ex. 22:20). His nearest relatives were
not only bound to denounce him and deliver him up to punishment
(Deut. 13:20-10), but their hands were to strike the first blow
when, on the evidence of two witnesses at least, he was stoned
(Deut. 17:2-7). To attempt to seduce others to false worship was
a crime of equal enormity (13:6-10). An idolatrous nation shared
the same fate. No facts are more strongly declared in the Old
Testament than that the extermination of the Canaanites was the
punishment of their idolatry (Ex. 34:15, 16; Deut. 7; 12:29-31;
20:17), and that the calamities of the Israelites were due to
the same cause (Jer. 2:17). "A city guilty of idolatry was
looked upon as a cancer in the state; it was considered to be in
rebellion, and treated according to the laws of war. Its
inhabitants and all their cattle were put to death." Jehovah was
the theocratic King of Israel, the civil Head of the
commonwealth, and therefore to an Israelite idolatry was a state
offence (1 Sam. 15:23), high treason. On taking possession of
the land, the Jews were commanded to destroy all traces of every
kind of the existing idolatry of the Canaanites (Ex. 23:24, 32;
34:13; Deut. 7:5, 25; 12:1-3).
In the New Testament the term idolatry is used to designate
covetousness (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13; Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5).
The first burial we have an account of is that of Sarah (Gen.
23). The first commercial transaction recorded is that of the
purchase of a burial-place, for which Abraham weighed to Ephron
"four hundred shekels of silver current money with the
merchants." Thus the patriarch became the owner of a part of the
land of Canaan, the only part he ever possessed. When he himself
died, "his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of
Machpelah," beside Sarah his wife (Gen. 25:9).
Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, was buried under Allon-bachuth, "the
oak of weeping" (Gen. 35:8), near to Bethel. Rachel died, and
was buried near Ephrath; "and Jacob set a pillar upon her grave"
(16-20). Isaac was buried at Hebron, where he had died (27, 29).
Jacob, when charging his sons to bury him in the cave of
Machpelah, said, "There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife;
there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried
Leah" (49:31). In compliance with the oath which he made him
swear unto him (47:29-31), Joseph, assisted by his brethren,
buried Jacob in the cave of Machpelah (50:2, 13). At the Exodus,
Moses "took the bones of Joseph with him," and they were buried
in the "parcel of ground" which Jacob had bought of the sons of
Hamor (Josh. 24:32), which became Joseph's inheritance (Gen.
48:22; 1 Chr. 5:1; John 4:5). Two burials are mentioned as
having taken place in the wilderness. That of Miriam (Num.
20:1), and that of Moses, "in the land of Moab" (Deut. 34:5, 6,
8). There is no account of the actual burial of Aaron, which
probably, however, took place on the summit of Mount Hor (Num.
Joshua was buried "in the border of his inheritance in
Timnath-serah" (Josh. 24: 30).
In Job we find a reference to burying-places, which were
probably the Pyramids (3:14, 15). The Hebrew word for "waste
places" here resembles in sound the Egyptian word for
Samuel, like Moses, was honoured with a national burial (1
Sam. 25:1). Joab (1 Kings 2:34) "was buried in his own house in
In connection with the burial of Saul and his three sons we
meet for the first time with the practice of burning the dead (1
Sam. 31:11-13). The same practice is again referred to by Amos
Absalom was buried "in the wood" where he was slain (2 Sam.
18:17, 18). The raising of the heap of stones over his grave was
intended to mark abhorrence of the person buried (comp. Josh.
7:26 and 8:29). There was no fixed royal burying-place for the
Hebrew kings. We find several royal burials taking place,
however, "in the city of David" (1 Kings 2:10; 11:43; 15:8; 2
Kings 14:19, 20; 15:38; 1 Kings 14:31; 22:50; 2 Chr. 21:19, 20;
2 Chr. 24:25, etc.). Hezekiah was buried in the mount of the
sepulchres of the sons of David; "and all Judah and the
inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death" (2 Chr.
Little is said regarding the burial of the kings of Israel.
Some of them were buried in Samaria, the capital of their
kingdom (2 Kings 10:35; 13:9; 14:16).
Our Lord was buried in a new tomb, hewn out of the rock, which
Joseph of Arimathea had prepared for himself (Matt. 27:57-60;
Mark 15:46; John 19:41, 42).
The grave of Lazarus was "a cave, and a stone lay on it" (John
11:38). Graves were frequently either natural caverns or
artificial excavations formed in the sides of rocks (Gen. 23:9;
Matt. 27:60); and coffins were seldom used, unless when the body
was brought from a distance.
remover or increaser. (1.) The elder of the two sons of Jacob by
Rachel (Gen. 30:23, 24), who, on the occasion of his birth,
said, "God hath taken away [Heb. 'asaph] my reproach." "The Lord
shall add [Heb. yoseph] to me another son" (Gen. 30:24). He was
a child of probably six years of age when his father returned
from Haran to Canaan and took up his residence in the old
patriarchal town of Hebron. "Now Israel loved Joseph more than
all his children, because he was the son of his old age," and he
"made him a long garment with sleeves" (Gen. 37:3, R.V. marg.),
i.e., a garment long and full, such as was worn by the children
of nobles. This seems to be the correct rendering of the words.
The phrase, however, may also be rendered, "a coat of many
pieces", i.e., a patchwork of many small pieces of divers
When he was about seventeen years old Joseph incurred the
jealous hatred of his brothers (Gen. 37:4). They "hated him, and
could not speak peaceably unto him." Their anger was increased
when he told them his dreams (37:11).
Jacob desiring to hear tidings of his sons, who had gone to
Shechem with their flocks, some 60 miles from Hebron, sent
Joseph as his messenger to make inquiry regarding them. Joseph
found that they had left Shechem for Dothan, whither he followed
them. As soon as they saw him coming they began to plot against
him, and would have killed him had not Reuben interposed. They
ultimately sold him to a company of Ishmaelite merchants for
twenty pieces (shekels) of silver (about $2, 10s.), ten pieces
less than the current value of a slave, for "they cared little
what they had for him, if so be they were rid of him." These
merchants were going down with a varied assortment of
merchandise to the Egyptian market, and thither they conveyed
him, and ultimately sold him as a slave to Potiphar, an "officer
of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard" (Gen. 37:36). "The Lord
blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake," and Potiphar
made him overseer over his house. At length a false charge
having been brought against him by Potiphar's wife, he was at
once cast into the state prison (39; 40), where he remained for
at least two years. After a while the "chief of the cupbearers"
and the "chief of the bakers" of Pharaoh's household were cast
into the same prison (40:2). Each of these new prisoners dreamed
a dream in the same night, which Joseph interpreted, the event
occurring as he had said.
This led to Joseph's being remembered subsequently by the
chief butler when Pharaoh also dreamed. At his suggestion Joseph
was brought from prison to interpret the king's dreams. Pharaoh
was well pleased with Joseph's wisdom in interpreting his
dreams, and with his counsel with reference to the events then
predicted; and he set him over all the land of Egypt (Gen.
41:46), and gave him the name of Zaphnath-paaneah. He was
married to Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On, and thus
became a member of the priestly class. Joseph was now about
thirty years of age.
As Joseph had interpreted, seven years of plenty came, during
which he stored up great abundance of corn in granaries built
for the purpose. These years were followed by seven years of
famine "over all the face of the earth," when "all countries
came into Egypt to Joseph to buy corn" (Gen. 41:56, 57; 47:13,
14). Thus "Joseph gathered up all the money that was in the land
of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they
bought." Afterwards all the cattle and all the land, and at last
the Egyptians themselves, became the property of Pharaoh.
During this period of famine Joseph's brethren also came down
to Egypt to buy corn. The history of his dealings with them, and
of the manner in which he at length made himself known to them,
is one of the most interesting narratives that can be read (Gen.
42-45). Joseph directed his brethren to return and bring Jacob
and his family to the land of Egypt, saying, "I will give you
the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the
land. Regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land is
yours." Accordingly Jacob and his family, to the number of
threescore and ten souls, together with "all that they had,"
went down to Egypt. They were settled in the land of Goshen,
where Joseph met his father, and "fell on his neck, and wept on
his neck a good while" (Gen. 46:29).
The excavations of Dr. Naville have shown the land of Goshen
to be the Wady Tumilat, between Ismailia and Zagazig. In Goshen
(Egyptian Qosem) they had pasture for their flocks, were near
the Asiatic frontier of Egypt, and were out of the way of the
Egyptian people. An inscription speaks of it as a district given
up to the wandering shepherds of Asia.
Jacob at length died, and in fulfilment of a promise which he
had exacted, Joseph went up to Canaan to bury his father in "the
field of Ephron the Hittite" (Gen. 47:29-31; 50:1-14). This was
the last recorded act of Joseph, who again returned to Egypt.
"The 'Story of the Two Brothers,' an Egyptian romance written
for the son of the Pharaoh of the Oppression, contains an
episode very similar to the Biblical account of Joseph's
treatment by Potiphar's wife. Potiphar and Potipherah are the
Egyptian Pa-tu-pa-Ra, 'the gift of the sun-god.' The name given
to Joseph, Zaphnath-paaneah, is probably the Egyptian
Zaf-nti-pa-ankh, 'nourisher of the living one,' i.e., of the
Pharaoh. There are many instances in the inscriptions of
foreigners in Egypt receiving Egyptian names, and rising to the
highest offices of state."
By his wife Asenath, Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim
(Gen. 41:50). Joseph having obtained a promise from his brethren
that when the time should come that God would "bring them unto
the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob,"
they would carry up his bones out of Egypt, at length died, at
the age of one hundred and ten years; and "they embalmed him,
and he was put in a coffin" (Gen. 50:26). This promise was
faithfully observed. Their descendants, long after, when the
Exodus came, carried the body about with them during their forty
years' wanderings, and at length buried it in Shechem, in the
parcel of ground which Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor
(Josh. 24:32; comp. Gen. 33:19). With the death of Joseph the
patriarchal age of the history of Israel came to a close.
The Pharaoh of Joseph's elevation was probably Apepi, or
Apopis, the last of the Hyksos kings. Some, however, think that
Joseph came to Egypt in the reign of Thothmes III. (see PHARAOH
¯T0002923), long after the expulsion of the Hyksos.
The name Joseph denotes the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh
in Deut. 33:13-17; the kingdom of Israel in Ezek. 37:16, 19,
Amos 5:6; and the whole covenant people of Israel in Ps. 81:4.
(2.) One of the sons of Asaph, head of the first division of
sacred musicians (1 Chr. 25:2, 9).
(3.) The son of Judah, and father of Semei (Luke 3:26). Other
two of the same name in the ancestry of Christ are also
mentioned (3:24, 30).
(4.) The foster-father of our Lord (Matt. 1:16; Luke 3:23). He
lived at Nazareth in Galilee (Luke 2:4). He is called a "just
man." He was by trade a carpenter (Matt. 13:55). He is last
mentioned in connection with the journey to Jerusalem, when
Jesus was twelve years old. It is probable that he died before
Jesus entered on his public ministry. This is concluded from the
fact that Mary only was present at the marriage feast in Cana of
Galilee. His name does not appear in connection with the scenes
of the crucifixion along with that of Mary (q.v.), John 19:25.
(5.) A native of Arimathea, probably the Ramah of the Old
Testament (1 Sam. 1:19), a man of wealth, and a member of the
Sanhedrim (Matt. 27:57; Luke 23:50), an "honourable counsellor,
who waited for the kingdom of God." As soon as he heard the
tidings of Christ's death, he "went in boldly" (lit. "having
summoned courage, he went") "unto Pilate, and craved the body of
Jesus." Pilate having ascertained from the centurion that the
death had really taken place, granted Joseph's request, who
immediately, having purchased fine linen (Mark 15:46), proceeded
to Golgotha to take the body down from the cross. There,
assisted by Nicodemus, he took down the body and wrapped it in
the fine linen, sprinkling it with the myrrh and aloes which
Nicodemus had brought (John 19:39), and then conveyed the body
to the new tomb hewn by Joseph himself out of a rock in his
garden hard by. There they laid it, in the presence of Mary
Magdalene, Mary the mother of Joses, and other women, and rolled
a great stone to the entrance, and departed (Luke 23:53, 55).
This was done in haste, "for the Sabbath was drawing on" (comp.
(6.) Surnamed Barsabas (Acts 1:23); also called Justus. He was
one of those who "companied with the apostles all the time that
the Lord Jesus went out and in among them" (Acts 1:21), and was
one of the candidates for the place of Judas.