Joseph is one of the best-known figures in the Hebrew Bible, famous for his coat of many colours and his God-given ability to interpret dreams. Owing to jealousy from his brothers, he was sold as a slave, eventually working under the Egyptian Potiphar (Hebrew: פוטיפר Powtiyphar "belonging to the sun," of Egyptian derivation), but was later freed, and became the chief adviser (vizier) to the Egyptian Pharaoh around 1600 BC.
According to Genesis, Joseph was the elder of the two sons of Jacob by Rachel (Gen. 30:23, 24), who, on the occasion of his birth, said, "The Lord shall add [Heb. yoseph] to me another son" (Gen. 30:24). He was born in Padan-Aram when Jacob was about ninety years old. He was probably six years old when his father returned from Haran to Canaan and took up his residence in the town of Hebron.
Joseph was a favorite son of his father's, who made him a multi-colored coat, and was envied by his half-brothers, who saw the special coat as indicating that Joseph would assume family leadership. Their suspicion grew when Joseph told them of his two dreams (Gen. 37:11) in which all the brothers bowed down to him.
The narrative tells that his brothers plotted against him one day when he was seventeen, and would have killed him had not Reuben interposed. He persuaded them to instead throw Joseph into a pit and secretly planned to rescue him later. However, while Reuben was absent, the others planned to sell him to a company of Ishmaelites, also merchants.
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