servant, Naaman, who regarded the rivers of Damascus as better than all the waters of Israel, obediently bathed seven times in the Jordan. After the seventh time he was completely healed of his leprous condition.—2 Ki. 5:10-14.
In the first century C.E. John the Baptist immersed many repentant Jews in the waters of the Jordan. He also had the privilege of baptizing Jesus, the perfect Son of God, there.—Matt. 3:1, 5, 6, 13-17.
(Joʹseph) [increaser, adder].
1. The first of Jacob’s two sons by his beloved wife Rachel. (Gen. 30:22-24; 35:24) At his birth, Rachel, because of having been barren, exclaimed: “God has taken away my reproach!” She then called his name Joseph, saying: “Jehovah is adding another son to me,” that is, another son besides Dan and Naphtali, whom Rachel had accepted as her own although they were borne by her maidservant Bilhah. (Gen. 30:3-8, 22-24) At this time Jacob was about ninety-one years old.—Compare Genesis 41:46, 47, 53, 54; 45:11; 47:9.
Some six years later Jacob left Paddan-aram with his entire family to return to the land of Canaan. (Gen. 31:17, 18, 41) Upon learning that his brother Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men, Jacob divided off his children, wives and concubines, placing Rachel and Joseph in the rear, the safest position. (Gen. 33:1-3) Joseph and his mother therefore were the last to bow before Esau.—Gen. 33:4-7.
Thereafter Joseph resided with the family at Succoth, Shechem (Gen. 33:17-19) and Bethel respectively. (Gen. 35:1, 5, 6) Later, on the way from Bethel to Ephrath (Bethlehem), Joseph’s mother Rachel died while giving birth to Benjamin.—Gen. 35:16-19.
HATED BY HIS HALF BROTHERS
At the age of seventeen, Joseph, in association with the sons of Jacob by Bilhah and Zilpah, tended sheep. While doing so, he, although their junior, did not share in their wrongdoing but dutifully brought a bad report about them to his father.—Gen. 37:2.
Jacob came to love Joseph more than all his other sons, he being a son of his old age. Joseph’s adherence to right may also have contributed to his becoming the special object of his father’s affection. Jacob had a long striped garment, perhaps such as was worn by persons of rank, made for his son. As a result Joseph came to be hated by his half brothers. Later, when he related a dream that pointed to his gaining the preeminence over them, his brothers were incited to further hatred. A second dream even indicated that, not only his brothers, but also his father and mother (apparently not Rachel, as she was already dead; but perhaps the household or Jacob’s principal living wife), would bow down to him. For relating this dream, Joseph was rebuked by his father, and the jealousy of his brothers intensified. The fact that Joseph spoke about his dreams does not mean that he entertained feelings of superiority. He was merely making known what God had revealed to him. Jacob may have recognized the prophetic nature of the dreams, for he “observed the saying.”—Gen. 37:3-11.
On another occasion, Jacob, then at Hebron, requested that Joseph check on the welfare of the flock and his brothers while they were in the vicinity of Shechem. In view of their animosity, this would not have been a pleasant assignment for Joseph. Yet unhesitatingly he said: “Here I am!” From the low plain of Hebron he then set out for Shechem. Informed by a man there that his brothers had left for Dothan, Joseph continued on his way. When they caught sight of him at a distance, his brothers began scheming against him, saying: “Look! Here comes that dreamer. And now come and let us kill him and pitch him into one of the waterpits . . . Then let us see what will become of his dreams.” (Gen. 37:12-20) The firstborn Reuben, however, desired to thwart the murderous plot and urged that they not kill Joseph but throw him into a dry waterpit. When Joseph arrived they stripped him of his long striped garment and followed through on Reuben’s recommendation. Subsequently, as a caravan of Ishmaelites came to view, Judah, in Reuben’s absence, persuaded the others that, rather than killing Joseph, it would be better to sell him to the passing merchants.—Gen. 37:21-27.
SOLD INTO SLAVERY
Despite Joseph’s plea for compassion they sold him for twenty silver pieces. (Gen. 37:28; 42:21) Later, they deceived Jacob into believing that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. So grieved was aged Jacob over the loss of his son that he refused to be comforted.—Gen. 37:31-35.
Eventually the merchants brought Joseph into Egypt and sold him to Potiphar (“he whom Ra [the Egyptian sun-god] gave”), the chief of Pharaoh’s bodyguard. (Gen. 37:28, 36; 39:1) This purchase by the Egyptian Potiphar was not unusual, ancient papyrus documents indicating that Syrian slaves (Joseph was half Syrian [Gen. 29:10; 31:20]) were valued highly in that land.
As Joseph had been diligent in furthering his father’s interests, so also as a slave he proved himself to be industrious and trustworthy. With Jehovah’s blessing, everything that Joseph did turned out successfully. Potiphar therefore finally entrusted to him all the household affairs. Joseph thus appears to have been a superintendent, a post mentioned by Egyptian records in association with the large homes of influential Egyptians.—Gen. 39:2-6.
Meanwhile Joseph had come to be a very handsome young man. Consequently Potiphar’s wife became infatuated with him. Repeatedly she asked him to have relations with her. But Joseph, trained in the way of righteousness, refused, saying: “How could I commit this great badness and actually sin against God?” This, however, did not end the danger for Joseph. As indicated by archaeological evidence, the arrangement of Egyptian houses appears to have been such that a person had to pass through the main part of the house to reach the storerooms. If Potiphar’s house was laid out similarly, it would have been impossible for Joseph to avoid all contact with Potiphar’s wife.—Gen. 39:6-10.
Finally Potiphar’s wife took advantage of what she considered to be an opportune time. While there were no other men in the house and while Joseph was caring for the household business, she grabbed hold of his garment, saying: “Lie down with me!” But Joseph slipped out of his garment and fled. At that she began to scream and made it appear that Joseph had made immoral advances toward her. On relating this to her husband, the enraged Potiphar had Joseph thrown into the prison house, the one where the king’s prisoners were kept under arrest.—Gen. 39:11-20.
It appears that initially Joseph was treated severely in prison. “With fetters they afflicted his feet, into