There are three famous people in the Bible named Joseph:
• Joseph of Arimathea
• Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus
• Joseph, the son of Jacob/Israel
All three of their profiles are shown below:
Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph was a wealthy man from the Judean town of Arimathea. He was a follower of Jesus and he is the one who buried Jesus after the crucifixion. Details about Joseph of Arimathea are recorded in the New Testament passages of Matthew 27:57-60
, Mark 15:42-46
and Luke 23:50-56
We learn from Matthew and Mark that Joseph was bold enough to ask Pontius Pilate for the body of Jesus. Pilate, the Roman governor who ruled over the land of the Jews, was the one who had ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. After making sure that Jesus was dead, Pilate allowed Joseph to take his body.
Joseph took the body of Jesus, wrapped him in linens and placed him in a rock tomb. Matthew tells us that the tomb had never been used before. Matthew and Mark inform us that the tomb had been carved out of rock. Tourists who visit Israel today are able to view a number of rock-hewn tombs from ancient times, similar to the one described in the New Testament.
After placing the body of Jesus in the tomb, Joseph of Arimathea rolled a large stone to close the entrance to the tomb. It was from this tomb that Jesus was resurrected.
In the book of Luke, we are told that Joseph of Arimathea was a good man who believed in the teachings of Jesus, and that he was a member of the Sanhedrin who had not consented to the action that the council had taken against Jesus.
Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus
Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, was the son of Jacob (Matthew 1:16), and the adopted or legal son of Heli (Luke 3:23), both of the family of David. He lived in Nazareth and worked as a carpenter. Betrothed to Mary, he married her at the instigation of an angel, who informed him of her pregnancy by the Holy Spirit.
At the time of the census, Joseph was required to register in David's city, Bethlehem, and it was there that Jesus was born. With wife Mary and infant Jesus, Joseph fled to Egypt, fearing Herod's wrath, after Herod's death they returned to Nazareth. Joseph and his family went up to Jerusalem on two occasions, once to present Jesus to the Temple, and again, during Passover when Jesus was twelve years old. Joseph is not mentioned during the period of Jesus' public ministry and may have died previously.
Joseph, a son of Jacob/Israel
Joseph was one of 12 sons of Jacob. He was the first born son of Rachel (Gen 30:22-24). He received preferential treatment which angered his ten older brothers. His brothers faked his death to their father Jacob, and sold him to a caravan of Ishmaelite traders who were on their way to Egypt. God gave Joseph the power to interpret dreams, and when the Pharaoh had two disturbing dreams, Joseph was brought before the Pharaoh, and interpreted his dreams, of seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine (Gen 41:8-32).
Joseph also suggested how to put this foreknowledge to good use, by storing produce in warehouses. Pharaoh charged Joseph, then at age thirty the rank and authority of a viceroy. When the famine came, it effected Canaan whereupon Jacob sent all his sons, except for Benjamin, to Egypt to buy food. Joseph broke down on seeing his brothers (they did not recognize him at first), gave them food, and eventually had his entire family move to Egypt to live.
Jacob's family of seventy people traveled to Egypt, and multiplied into a few million before Moses led them out. Joseph had two sons by his Egyptian wife (Asenath), Manasseh and Ephraim. Joseph died at age 110, his body was embalmed in Egypt, and his bones returned to Canaan in the Exodus. The name Joseph means "May God increase."
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