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“The story of Joseph, the son of Jacob who was called Israel, is a vivid representation of the great truth that’ all things work together for good to (those) who love God’ (Romans 8:28). Joseph always seemed to do the right thing; but still, more importantly, he did it for the right reason.
Joseph turned every experience and all circumstances, no matter how trying, into something good.
This ability to turn everything into something good appears to be a Godly characteristic.
How can we adequately laud the life and legacy of Jacob’s beloved son – the great ancestor of most Latter-day Saints. His Christ-like character stands as a magnificent model for us and all the world. Beset by trials and temptations, he remained true. He endured the chaffing of chains without complaint. He served selflessly and returned love and forgiveness when others would have responded with vengeance and vindictiveness. He had the noble capacity to rise above his temporary troubles and see the hand of the Lord in his life. His indomitable spirit was submissive and sensitive to the living light from the Lord. From and ancient pseudepigraphic text, written well over two thousand years ago as though it were Joseph’s last testament, comes the following:
Listen to Joseph, the one beloved of Israel.
Give ear to the words of my mouth.
In my life I have seen envy and death.
But I have not gone astray: I continued in the truth of the Lord.
These, my brothers, hated me but the Lord loved me.
They wanted to kill me, but the God of my fathers preserved me.
They sold me into slavery; the Lord of all set me free.
I was taken into captivity; the strength of his hand came to my aid.
I was overtaken by hunger; the Lord himself fed me generously.
I was alone, and God came to help me.
I was in weakness, and the Lord showed his concern for me.
I was in prison, and the Savior acted graciously in my behalf.
A slave, and he exalted me.
The author undoubtedly had in mind an earthly exaltation like sitting next to the Pharaoh’s throne. But there is a throne far greater than that. Surely he has now been exalted to a heavenly throne alongside his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather (D&C 132:29, 37).
(The Testament of Joseph 1.2-7, trans. Kee, in Charlesworth, 819)
People like this cannot be defeated, because they will not give up (Hartman Rector Jr., “Live above the Law to Be Free,” Ensign, Jan. 1973, 130).
What prompted Jacob to send Joseph sixty miles north to find his older brethren is not known.
There is some question as to what Joseph’s coat actually was.
The Hebrew word denotes:
“a long coat with sleeves…i.e. and upper coat reaching to the wrist and the ankles, such as noblemen and kings’ daughters wore” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 1:1:335).
One noted scholar suggested that it was “a tunic reaching to the palms of the hands and soles of the feet; the long tunic with sleeves worn by young men and maidens of the better class; in the case of Joseph, supposed by Bush… to have been the badge of the birthright which had been forfeited by Reuben and transferred to Joseph” (Wilson, Old Testament Word Studies, s.v. “color,” 82).
Part of the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and had not decayed.
We simply have no idea what it actually was (some have said it was a shawl).
The following brothers could easily have thought that they should have had the birthright.
Reuben: He was the firstborn of all the sons (he ended up sleeping with Bilhah).
Simeon: He was the second son of Leah and next in line following Reuben. After Reuben fell, he might have thought it was his.
He could have argued that Simeon lost the right because of the massacre of the Schchemites (defiling of Dinah).
He was the first born of Bilhal, who was considered Rachel’s property.
He was the firstborn son of Zilpah.
Joseph’s dreams, which clearly signified future leadership, only added to the resentment among the brothers.
Dream #1 All of his brothers made obeisance to his sheaf.
Dream #2 The sun and moon and eleven stars made obeisance to him
Joseph was taught through dreams, visions and revelations relevant to his future leadership.
Asael Smith (Joseph’s Grandfather) and Joseph Smith Sr. both had seven visions prior to the First Vision.
Genesis 37:19 “The dreamer cometh” “True”
The parallel nature of Joseph’s dreams suggest that this future spiritual deliverance would parallel the pattern of deliverance established in Egypt. This pattern was as follows:
As we see, Israel’s spiritual deliverance unfolds in precisely the same way.
The price received for Joseph, twenty pieces of silver, is the same price specified later in the Mosaic law for a slave between the ages of five and twenty (Leviticus 27:5).
Typically, the price for a slave was thirty pieces of silver (Exodus 21:32).
The Hebrew phrase which is translated as “captain of the guards” literally means “chief of the butchers or slaughterers.”
Some scholars have thought that he was the chief cook or steward in the house of the pharaoh, but other scholars believe that butcher or slaughterer is used in the sense of executioner, and thus Potiphar was the “commanding officer of the royal body-guard, who executed the capital sentences ordered by the king” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 1:1:338).
Either way, Potiphar was a important man, but the latter position especially would give him great power and status in Egypt.
Genesis 38:1-30 Yuk!!!!
Had Judah faithfully kept his promise to Tamar, the seduction would never have taken place.
Likewise, had Judah been faithful to the laws of morality, he never would have sinned with Tamar.
Ancestry is not the determiner of one’s righteousness.
This story shows the lineage that the Messiah would come from.
Why was Tamar to marry the brothers of her husband?
Ancient customs of the Middle East provided that a brother of a deceased man should marry his widow.
The purpose of such a marriage was to produce a male heir for the dead man and thus perpetuate his name and memory. It was regarded as a great calamity to die without a son, for then the man’s lineage did not continue and also the man’s property reverted to someone else’s family.
Thus, when Judah failed to keep her promise to send the youngest son to her, Tamar resorted to deception in order to bear children.
“Judah’s twisted sense of values”
He had no qualms about sending Tamar home with unfulfilled promises nor of picking up a harlot along the road, but when he heard that Tamar was pregnant he was so incensed that he ordered her put to death.
We assume he had been taught and lived the covenant of Abraham. He must have had the priesthood before he was sold, for he exercised it in Egypt (A.T.G.Q. 8:9).
“How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
How does the Lord feel about chastity and virtue?
Jacob 2:28 Alma 39:5 Moroni 9:9
D&C 59:6 Don’t do anything like unto it!
Elder Hartman Rector Jr. taught that sometimes running is the only thing to do!
“It is so important that young people who are unmarried erect barriers against temptation to help them avoid the compromising situations. May I suggest a few barriers.
1. Never go into a house alone with one of the opposite sex.
2. Never, never enter a bedroom alone with one of the opposite sex.
3. Do not peck or pet.
5. Do not read pornographic literature.
6. Do not attend “R” or “X” rated movies, and avoid drive-ins.
7. Do not spend time in drinking or gambling establishments.
(C.R. Oct., 1972, 172-73)
A slave accused of attempting to rape his master’s wife would seem to have deserved the most severe punishment, and yet Joseph was only imprisoned.
Could it be that Potiphar, knowing of Joseph’s character and his wife’s character, suspected the truth and, although he had to take action, chose a comparatively lenient punishment?
Whatever the case, the hand of the Lord certainly preserved Joseph from what would otherwise have. been almost certain death.
The Neal A. Maxwell Institute’s Kristian S. Heal spoke about how ancient Christians interpreted the stories of Joseph, his brothers in Egypt and the woman whose immorality and lies sent Joseph to prison.
The judgment of Potiphar’s wife was a story not found in the Bible, of course, and some contradictory traditions arose around it among ancient Christian commentators.
“There are several important morals to the story of Joseph, and many types for our day. But one of them has to be reconciliation and forgiveness. Forgiving someone who has ruined your life in many ways. Who has done a great hurt and harm to you,” Heal said. The ancient sources couldn’t bear this silence (about the fate of Potiphar’s wife).
Whether through traditions they had received or simply from their own imagination, they tell us what happened.”
When Potiphar saw the honor heaped by Pharaoh upon Joseph, he was afraid and said to his wife, “You have brought all these terrible things upon me. You dishonored me and made me a disgrace and an object of derision.”
Heal said, “He is panicked and he is looking for someone to blame.”
Potiphar can’t see how he can show his face to Joseph. He says he always knew that Joseph was not really a slave and that his wife’s story about Joseph trying to assault her was a sham. Joseph had fled Potiphar’s wife’s advances, leaving her holding his clothes. “If you had been assaulted by him,” Potiphar tells her, “you would have left your clothes in his hands.”
Potiphar’s wife responds, “Truly I have sinned and wronged him. Now don’t be upset, for I will appease him and he will honor you more than all of your friends and he will make you a great man and a ruler over all the freemen and nobles of Pharaoh.”
Potiphar’s wife petitions Joseph and begs his forgiveness. Joseph sends her gifts in response and invites her to a feast where he calls Potiphar “father” and Potiphar’s wife “mother.”
Joseph declares, “Were it not for you, sending me to that prison, I would never have been brought into a situation where I could have interpreted Pharaoh's dreams.”
It is a beautiful example in the spirit of forgiveness that Joseph showed toward his brothers --- and that Christ shows toward sinners.
Heal said he believed this story was the earliest thread of the fate of Potiphar’s wife.
“Other writers just couldn’t stand the idea,” Heal said, “particularly as we see the rise of monasticism and (the idea that) women are the root of all evil. They couldn’t bear the idea of Potiphar’s wife, this ‘brazen hussy,’ being forgiven.
(Kristian S. Heal, Mormon Times, Sept. 18, 2010)
Truly, Joseph is a model to be emulated!
“Nothing in this world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” (Calvin Coolidge, in Wisdom for the Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing, comp. Larry Chang (2006), 226.
Joseph saved Israel from physical death, and will save Israel from spiritual death.
The following are true both of Joseph and the Lord:
This very attempt to destroy him sets in motion events that will eventually save the house of Israel from death.
Joseph is a similitude of the Savior.
Joseph’s brothers are in similitude of us.
Through our sins, we, in effect, have thrown the Savior in a pit. We are the cause of is suffering.
We hold ourselves back from him out of guilt over the pain we have caused him.